Friday, December 23, 2011

It's HERE!

Our last day before Winter Break is finally here! The children, as you can imagine, are quite excited!!

We began our day with a holiday concert performed by the Damascus High School Marching Band. As always, it was EXCELLENT!

When we returned to reading we only had time to review our spelling quiz!

In math we had our regular warm up and then the students worked on holiday basic fact worksheets. I did pull one small group to teach how to identify all of the factors of a number. They were very focused but when asked whether they wanted more practice, they all voted to return to the fun worksheets...go figure!

Following a visit to the media center, lunch and recess we will share our holiday traditions, pictures and books. I am so excited for this!

I want to wish each and everyone of you and your families a very happy holiday season. While I am looking forward to the break, I KNOW I will miss your children and think about them!

Thursday, December 22, 2011


This morning in reading we reviewed the directions for the Lift-a-Flap pictures and identified tricky parts and what we could do to improve the directions. Students wrote about this in their RRJ after discussing in small groups and with the entire class.

After that the students chose a new set of directions in the Pop Ups book and followed the directions, without help or modeling from me, to create the project.

In math we wrote word problems for multiplication expressions. I emphasized that the students needed to give information (using the factors and making sure they were equal groups) and ask a question. We began a worksheet in class and students are to finish the backside for homework. However, students were given the chance to begin the homework in class. Some did so and therefore, those children did not write homework in their planner.

Following art, lunch and recess the students continued working on their BCRs and their pop ups. Then we shared their pop ups to celebrate their reading to perform a task and their creativity.

We ended the day by predicting the pitch that different sized nails will make and explaining our thinking behind our predictions. We will test these tomorrow.

Spelling packets are due tomorrow and our traditions assignment is due, too!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hump Day

This morning we continued reading procedural text. The students got into small groups and read through many different kinds of "pop-ups". Then, as a group, we voted on one we would make today. Lift the flap was the winner!

After following the directions to make a lift the flap picture scene, the students had a chance to share. It was so much fun to see their creativity!

In math we worked on multiplication word problems. Our focus today was the wording specific to multiplication situations. Key words we focused on included, in all, altogether, total and each. The students worked on a practice worksheet where they were expected to draw a picture and write a multiplication sentence for each problem. They have a similar worksheet for homework with the same expectations.

After math, we visited the computer lab where we began a Sound Web quest (scavenger hunt on the Internet to locate specific information).

Then we enjoyed lunch and indoor recess.

After lunch we split into small groups and using the chart stating the qualities of good writing, the students listed the strengths and weaknesses, as well as a score, for a sample piece of writing. Then the students had time to complete unfinished work.

We ended the day with a wonderful class meeting. Some children were brave enough to speak up about issues and challneges that are bothering them.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


This morning we continued our study of reading to perform a task (reading procedural text). Today's lesson focused on the importance of illustrations. Students used the step by step directions and illustrations to create pop up pictures of peppy pigs.

Additionally, this morning, my high school intern (under my guidance) began working with a small group focusing on phonics and short vowel sounds, in particular. The students worked with letter tiles to build words.

In math we solved comparison multiplication problems. Then the students worked on their basic multiplication facts through a variety of math games including flashcards with me and using the iPads. There is a comparison multiplication worksheet for homework.

Following PE, lunch and outdoor recess we were able to review the characteristics of good writing and use them to score a sample piece of student writing. As we did this, we noted changes that needed to be made in the piece to make it better. Then the students continued working on pop ups and unfinished work while I attempted to meet with reading groups. Unfortunately, I only got to one! :-O

Lions: We read and discussed the meaning of the fable The Tailless Fox.

We ended the day by reading about how sound travels. We learned that sound travels in waves and can travel through most materials. In order to do so, the sound waves must create vibrations in the material. We also learned that sound travels 1,080 feet per second!

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Week Before...

I'm sure I don't need to tell you but these children are excited!!! Keeping this in mind, our focus this week in reading will be reading procedural text. Today we identified the characteristics of procedural text (directions). Then the students followed a set of written instruction to create Papel Picado, Mexican Cut Art.

There will NOT be a reading log assignment this week BUT spelling packets are due FRIDAY!!

Additionally, I will be assigning a "fun" cultural type of activity to EVERY student that will be due Friday. This project is to be done by the students...please do not let this burden is meant to be quite simple.

Here's the idea...I want to spend Friday afternoon sharing holiday traditions, books, etc. that are special to each child. This can be done in many different can be as simple as bringing in your favorite holiday book to share with the class, or bringing in pictures that show a family tradition, or the child can write a few sentences describing a family tradition. This does not need to be an extravagant may be as simple as baking cookies and watching the same holiday video each year or taking a picture each year in the same place...whatever it is your family does.

I want this to be a FUN way to spend the afternoon and learn about family cultures.

In math we practiced writing multiplications sentences using number lines. There is a array multiplication worksheet for homework. I pulled a few students to practice drawing pictures to find the product to number sentences. We also reviewed number lines and multiplication. Finally, the group practiced their basic facts with me using flashcards.

Following music, lunch and outdoor recess we tried to compare two pieces of writing using a chart stating the qualities of good writing. Unfortunately, the circuit breaker tripped several times and we eventually decided to table the lesson until tomorrow. I was disappointed, the kids, I think, were not.

While I met with reading groups, the students continued completing unfinished work and reading to perform a task to make Papel Picados. Miss Claudia worked with a few students to help them locate nouns and adjectives in sentences.

Reading Groups:
Bears: We read The Tortoise and the Hare and discussed the moral.
Crabs: We began reading A Pig in the Candy Store after we reviewed how to break down larger unknown words be recognizing the parts we do know.

We ended the day by attempting to investigate how sound travels. Unfortunately, we did not meet with much success. Therefore, we will try the experiment again tomorrow! :-)

Friday, December 16, 2011


This morning in reading we read the story Adelita, a Mexican version of Cinderella written by Tomie Depaola. After reading the story we discussed the elements and the theme and added it to our Cinderella comparison chart. Then the students had a chance to finish any unfinished work from the week.

In math we had our first quiz for unit 3. This quiz will be scored and returned to students today. Look for it in the math section of your child's binder.

Following a visit tot he media center, lunch and outdoor recess, we discussed the use of feedback in writing a final draft. Then the students continued to complete unfinished assignments while I met with reading groups.

Lions: We finished identifying the meaning of unknown words in the fable The Dancing Monkeys. Then we discussed the fable and the moral.

Bears: We read The Wolf and the Kid and discussed the moral.

Crabs: We read The Baboon's Umbrella and practiced breaking down large words (ex. predicament) and the moral.

We ended the day with a fire drill and by discussing ideas for a SMALL holiday project for next week...details to come on Monday!

Thursday, December 15, 2011


This morning we began our comparison of different versions of the tale Cinderella. We have already read and discussed the original Cinderella and Cap O'Rushes. Today we read a native American version called The Rough Skinned Girl. We also began filling out a chart which we will use to compare and contrast the different versions.

Funny story for today....I asked if anyone knew where Lake Ontario was located and one person, a girl, raised her hand and said Canada. I was impressed and asked how she knew. I expected her to say that she had been there on vacation or something along those answer, "Justin Bieber is from there." LOL!!!

Since we had some great discussions as we read the story and filled out the chart, the students had 5 minutes of independent work time and I did not pull any reading groups. We will get to both of those items this afternoon.

Today, in math, we will focus on the 8s and 9s multiplication basic facts. The students will make flashcards in class and then have a follow up worksheet for homework. PLEASE make sure your child is practicing their flashcards DAILY, only for 3-5 minutes, until they memorize them!!!

Following art, the students will enjoyed lunch and recess.

After lunch the students worked independently while I met with 2 of the reading groups.

Bears: We discussed the fact that most words have more than one meaning and that when using the thesaurus or the dictionary it is important to use the correct meaning. Then we read and discussed the fable The Cat and the Birds.

Lions: We began to read and define vocabulary in the fable The Dancing Monkeys. We will continue with this fable tomorrow.

We ended the day by exploring sound using pitch forks. Some important concepts learned today include:
Sound is created by vibrations
Pitch is how high or low a sound is
Volume is how loud or soft
Frequency is the number of vibrations per second (this was mentioned but not stressed yet today!)

Reading Logs are due tomorrow. We will have a math quiz tomorrow, too.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hump Day

This morning in reading we discussed the story The Master Cat focusing on the question, "Why doesn't the cat share his plan with his master?" After that, the students returned to their seats to complete The Master Cat Packet while I began to meet with reading groups.

Bears: We began our study of fables by reading The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse and discussing the moral. Then the students created an entry in the vocabulary section of their RRJ using the word party as it appeared in the story on page 1.

In math we began our effort to memorize the basic multiplication facts by creating flashcards for the 6s and 7s. The students checked their answers using a calculator. These cards will be brought home tonight and should be practiced daily until they are MEMORIZED. There is a worksheet, for homework, practicing these facts.

After math we went to the computer lab and used Microsoft Publisher to create holiday cards.

Following lunch and outdoor recess, I reviewed my expectations for using feedback, from me, on their rough drafts to write an improved final draft. The students then began working on their final drafts while I met with the remaining reading groups.

Lions: We read the fable The Fox and the Dogs and discussed the meaning of the moral and how it applied to the story.

Crabs: We retold the beginning of The Ducks and the fox, the fable we started yesterday. Then we finished reading the fable and discussed the moral.

We ended the day with a class meeting. Prior to beginning the meeting, the students were given an index card. On one side they wrote why they think I was frustrated in the computer lab today. On the other side they wrote one thing they think the class needs to do better.

I used this as a springboard for a great discussion!

Funny side student asked during our class meeting, "Is this your job? I thought this was just a side thing!" Truly. This happened. I can't make it up!!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Terrific Tuesday

In reading this morning we shared the questions that the students listed in their RRJ. Then we did a second reading of the story using directed notes. During this reading the students marked portions of the story which they found to be funny with an F and parts they thought were surprising with an S. We began this task together, as a whole group. The students finished it independently, though.

While I began meeting with reading groups the students completed their directed notes reading and worked on identifying adjectives that answer the question, how many.

Crabs: We began reading a new fable stopping at various points to retell what had occurred so far. Then the students worked in groups of 2 and 3 to reread what we read in group, practicing their fluency.

In math we reviewed addition and subtraction fact families so that we could relate that knowledge to multiplication and division fact families. Students were reminded that when given 3 numbers in a fact family, the largest is always the whole. The other two are the parts. For multiplication the rule is part x part = whole and whole divided by one part = the other part. The students did an independent practice worksheet and then got to work on the iPads or a new multiplication game when they were finished. There is a fact family worksheet for homework.

Following PE, lunch and recess the student's continued working on their assignments and I met with the final two groups.

Bears: We met in groups to attempt to reread Hare and Lion and discuss how the author incorporated the characteristics of a trickster tale into the story. The group was distracted, so we ended the group by discussing what was stressing the kids out...kind of funny to type that but it is the truth! It actually was good to hear how they felt about their workload. I eventually sent them back to their seats to catch up.

Lions: The students read the fable The Ant and the Grasshopper independently. Then we discussed the main characters and their differences. After that, we discussed the moral of the fable.

We ended the day by unpacking our science kit and discussing its contents. WE also learned that sound is created by vibrations.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Brrrr....It's a cold Monday! is ALWAYS colder on Monday, in our classroom, then the rest of the week. Please dress your child appropriately!!

In reading today we began a new Junior Great Books story called Master Cat. We are doing this as our whole group instruction. We began by reading and discussing a poem called "The Cat of Cats". Then I did the first reading of the story while the children followed along. As part of their independent work today, they will be listing questions they are wondering about, pertaining to the story, in their RRJ.

After that, we learned that adjectives are words that describe a noun and usually describe what kind. The students will complete a practice activity where they identify the adjective and the noun it describes.

We ended the block by marking our planner, for the week, with reading log and spelling homework. Spelling packets will be given out today and are due NEXT Friday, December 23. Reading logs are due THIS Friday.

In math, the students received 4 different papers with multiplications tools and strategies to use. These papers will be stored in the math section of their binder. After that, we reviewed arrays and the students completed a practice worksheet independently. Mrs. Benson and I walked around to help those who needed it.

The students need to be able to construct an array. It is on the assessment. However, I did notice today that this strategy is not the best for some of our sloppier friends. SO...I will make sure that all students now how to construct and use arrays but unless they are explicitly told to construct an array to solve a problem, some should choose a different method to help them find the product.

There is a worksheet for homework that goes with one of the papers that is stored in the math section of the binder.

Following music, lunch and outdoor recess I met with all three reading groups while the students worked independently on their assignments.

Bears: We read and discussed the lesson in the trickster tale called Hare and Lion.

Crabs: We discussed fables as a genre and read one discussing the stated lesson at the end of it.

Lions: We discussed fables as a genre. I read a fable, out loud, to the group and we identified the lesson.

We will end the day by beginning our second science unit, exploring sound. The students will list what they know about sound and what they want to learn about sound on a chart in their science packets. If there is enough time, we will also unpack our science kit.

Friday, December 9, 2011


This morning in reading we took our spelling test (PLEASE look for these in your child's home folder...NOT good), reviewed the spelling packet and then the students had a chance to catch up on unfinished assignments...there were LOTS of them!

In math I assessed the number of addition facts each child could complete correctly in a minute. We will be working to improve this. We also learned several tricks to find the products of the 9's basic facts. Finally, we began using arrays to write and solve multiplication sentences.

Due to the book fair being located in the media center, the students met with Mrs. Rose in the computer lab during their scheduled time.

Following lunch and recess the students continued working on unfinished tasks while I provided feedback to individuals students.

We ended the day with students identifying one human characteristic that Damascus does not have, drawing a picture of it, and explaining why it would benefit the community.

We will begin our second science unit on Monday!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sunny Thursday

This morning in reading we tackled the idea of theme in books. I described it as the author's message. The theme is not written in stories yet it is the central idea that drives the characters, setting, problem and solution. We reread The Girl Who Wore Too Much and discussed the theme of excess or less is more.

While I met with reading groups the students worked on their information rough drafts, individual reading group activities, a theme worksheet and other unfinished work, including their reading logs.

Crabs: We met and discussed somebody/wanted/but/so/then as it pertains to their reading group book. I also reviewed the idea of gist and said that when we identify the somebody/wanted/but/so/then we are stating the gist. Then the students returned to their seats to either write a summary or complete a SWBST chart in their RRJ for a score. I gave the students a choice of either activity because both will hit on the same end result.

After enjoying art, lunch and outdoor recess, the students returned to class and worked in groups of four to revise and edit their writing pieces. They were especially excited to do this because I allowed them to use pen to mark their improvements on their rough drafts.

After that, the students continued working independently while I met with reading groups.

Bears: We reread Anansi and Sky King and then used transition words to orally sequence the story.

Lions: We were unable to meet but they completed a SWBST chart in their RRJ based on their reading and yesterday's discussion in group.

We ended the day by reviewing geographic characteristics and the difference between physical and human characteristics. Then we identified, orally, a human characteristic that Damascus does not have that would benefit the community.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rainy Wednesday

This morning we read the folktale called The Girl Who Wore Too Much and practiced sequencing it orally. While I met with reading groups, the students worked independently on individual reading group assignments, a WOW worksheet for our new word utter (to speak or say), a sequencing activity and their reading log.

Crabs: We practiced sequencing by having a student tell the first event from our book and the next person telling the next event (using a transition word), etc. etc. Then we completed the story and discussed the ending.

In math we took the Unit 2 assessment. Scores will come home later this week or early next week. I was a bit disappointed that some students rushed through this test and didn't used the strategies that we have learned and practiced.

Before enjoying lunch and indoor recess we went to the computer lab. In the computer lab the students used the software package Kidspiration to create a diagram demonstrating their knowledge of geographic characteristics. The children's knowledge was based upon our last two social studies lesson and a chart that they had in front of them.

After lunch and recess my reading class sat in a circle and shared their topic sentences and the details they plan to use for their next writing piece. I gave feedback to all.

While the students worked on writing their rough drafts using their planning pieces in their writing notebooks and my feedback, I met with reading groups.

Lions: We practiced identifying the gist or main idea of the book using somebody/wanted/but/so/then, orally. Tomorrow they will write bout it in their RRJ.

Bears: The students read the Anansi story, independently, this morning, marking the parts in the story that were characteristics of a trickster tale. In group, this afternoon, we reread the story and reviewed these characteristics.

We ended the day with a class meeting where we discussed the importnace of listening and following directions. Sound familiar? I LOVE this class...they are great children with awesome personalities...and they are quite bright. Unfortunately, they struggle, daily, to remain focused and follow directions and this impacts their work. SO, once again, we discussed this issue.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tuesday - A Trip to the Book Fair

This morning in reading we read Cinderella and focused on sequencing main events to summarize what we read. Before doing that, though, I reviewed the expectations of our reading logs, answered any questions and modeled writing a letter since that is part of the assignment, to write a letter to me. During this time, we squeezed in a visit to the book fair, too. Look for your child's wish list in their home folder this evening.

In math the students spent the first have of class working, independently, on a review packet for the unit 2 assessment. Then, as a class, we went over each problem in the packet. The students were expected to correct any mistakes and ask any questions they had. They will bring home a completed and corrected review packet tonight. Children should use this to prepare for the unit assessment which we will take tomorrow in class.

Following PE, lunch and indoor recess the students participated in a counseling lesson, with Mrs. Howard, focusing on friendship.

We ended the day by learning about geographic characteristics and how they define a region. Geographic characteristics can be separated into two categories; physical (natural) and human (improvements made by humans to the land). We then shared the pictures that the students drew yesterday and identified geographic characteristics in their pictures and then decided whether they were physical or human.

Monday, December 5, 2011


This morning in reading the students reread Caporushes independently, marking places with an "s" where they felt the main character was keeping a secret or hiding something. While the students worked on this, I met with each student to review their new writing topic and print additional information off of Wikipedia, if needed. After that, we discussed the story of Caporushes using the places they marked as discussion points. Next, I modeled using information from the Internet to write an informational paragraph where my details supported by topic or main idea sentence.

This afternoon the students will work independently while I meet with all three reading groups.

***SPECIAL NOTE...I just completed this entry and tried to post and lost the rest of this will be quick...SORRY!***

In math we used conversions to compare feet and inches. While the students worked on a practice worksheet I met with two small groups. One group worked on drawing three different rectangles with the same perimeters. The other worked on identifying the area and perimeter of figures. There is a worksheet for homework.

Following music, lunch and outdoor recess, the students worked on the following activities while I met with reading groups; listing 3-5 details in their writing notebooks that support their main idea/topic sentence, completing a past and present tense verb worksheet and practicing their word wall words in cursive. If there was time they were allowed to work on their reading logs, too. If not, they are to do that at home.

Remember reading logs and spelling packets are due Friday!!

Reading Groups
Bears: We read about and identified the characteristics of trickster tales.
Crabs: We continued reading The Old Lady who Lives in a Vinegar Bottle and worked on phrasing by pausing at punctuation marks.
Lions: We used the title of chapter 4 to predict what the chapter would be about and then read to check our predictions. We also worked on phrasing by pausing at punctuation marks.

We ended the day by listing the things that make Damascus special. Then each student drew a picture of their community, either from the school or their home. If the picture was not completed in class it must be done tonight, at home. WE will use these pictures for our social studies lesson tomorrow.

We will visit the book fair tomorrow morning!

Friday, December 2, 2011


This morning in reading we reread part of Caporushes and identified and discussed examples of inference in the folk tale. Then the students had a chance to catch up on unfinished work for the week while I met with reading groups.

Bears: We met and discussed how locating information with post it notes and our discussions in reading group should be used when responding to BCRs in their RRJs. Then I shared one of their classmates responses so that the students could hear an example of how their BCR from Wednesday should have been answered. We will begin a new book on Monday.

In math we took our final quiz for unit 2. The quizzes and have scored and returned. Look for them in your child's math section in their binder.

Following a visit to the media center, eating lunch and enjoying outdoor recess, the students shared their new writing topic and their main idea or topic sentence. I gave feedback to each to help the class understand what makes a good topic sentence and how to improve those that needed it.

I continued to meet with reading groups while the students continued their independent work.

Lions: We read chapter 3 in their book and then discussed the idea of "gist". Finally, we revisited SWBST (somebeody/wanted/ to identify the gist of the chapter.

Crabs: We reread the first 10 pages of the book and retold what happened. Then we read two more pages and discussed character traits for the Old Woman and evidence from the book that supported the traits.

We ended the day by saying goodbye to a friend who is moving and passing out the library books. Reading class ran over so we didn't have time for our social studies lesson. :-(

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Junior Great Books Thursday

This morning in reading we began working with the English folktale Caporushes, which is part of the Junior Great Books program. This program is designed to introduce students to "rich" literature that invites great discussion. Today we read the story and listed questions we were wondering about on chart paper.

While I met with reading groups the students worked on individual reading group assignments. They also chose a new topic to write about and wrote their main idea/topic sentence. After that they sorted past tense and present tense verbs on a worksheet. Finally, they completed any unfinished work and worked on their reading logs.

In math, we split up into small groups to solve a measurement problem that used skills the children had learned but was presented in a new way. This forced the students to work together to decide what the question was asking and what skills they knew that would help them arrive at the solution. After each group shared their results, the groups that made mistakes were given a chance to go back and correct their work. There is a worksheet for homework and we will take our unit assessment on Wednesday of next week.

Following art, lunch and outdoor recess, both Mr. Vogel's and my homeroom had the chance to listen to some "twisted" fairy tales from the book called The Stinky Cheese Man. Then, once Mr. Vogel's class left, my homeroom reviewed the production process for blue jeans from two different factories.

This was a change in our plan due to some last minute scheduling conflicts.

We did have a shortened afternoon reading/writing block where the students continued their independent work from the morning while I met with some reading groups.

Lions: We reviewed their homework from last night which only half of the group did. :-( Then we retold chapter 1. After that we read and discussed chapter 2, out loud. Next the students were expected to reread the chapter and do a 5 finger retell (one finger for each idea they state). The students struggled with this...however, they later redeemed themselves when they stated some wonderful predictions for the rest of the story with SOLID support as to why they think the way they do.

For all reading groups...reading logs are DUE tomorrow. This means the students must have 4 entries on their charts and ONE letter written to me using ONE of the ideas on the list in the packet.

We ended the day by revisiting the production process and completing a written activity independently.

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