Friday, December 21, 2012

We Made It!!

Today is the last day of school before Winter Break!!!  While there is a lot of excitement in the air, this class is such a joy, the kids are definitely not out of control...just the's kind of quiet in here!  :-)

We began the day with a holiday concert performed by the DHS Marching Band!  This is a special treat that we enjoy each year.

When we returned to class we discussed the idea of a New Year's Resolution.  Then I read the story, Squirrel's New Year's Resolution.  After that, the students brainstormed resolutions they could make.  Finally, they chose a tool, either lap top or iPad, and created a certificate/poster stating their New Year's Resolution.  These will hang on the bulletin board outside of our classroom.

In math, the students finished calculating the area of the rectilinear figure from yesterday.  Then they shared their work, using the iPad and Apple TV, with the class. 

Following lunch and outdoor recess we worked on reading to perform a task and writing to express personal ideas as we made cards and gingerbread men.

We ended the day by watching a student's video presentation.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


The children began their day in art.  When they returned to the classroom, I modeled using the mentor paper, Heating and Cooling, to  guide their writing.  Then the students continued writing, revising and publishing their writing.  I continued working one-on-one with students who needed help.

In math we reviewed calculating the area of rectilinear figures.  You can view a lesson here.  Then the students worked in small groups to calculate the area of a rectilinear figure and show their thinking using the iPad app, Penultimate.  We will share these tomorrow, in class.

Following lunch and outdoor recess, the students continued working on their research paper.  Many of them finished it, too!!  WOO HOO!!

I attempted to meet with reading groups without disrupting the publishing process.  This proved to be challenging.

Yellow Jackets:  We met and identified the theme of the story as honesty.  We used details from the story to support this, in our discussion.  We will begin a new book after break.

Sharks:  We met and I collected their books.  They will begin a a new book after break.

Cheetahs:  We met and read and discussed the last 3 chapters of the book.  Our discussions involved identifying examples of cause and effect and finding sentences in the text that supported our thoughts.

Snakes:  Individual students met with me and practiced reading their books.

While this blog post looks short, we did get a lot accomplished today!  There is no homework!

We will return to a regular routine following Winter Break!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wednesday - halfway there!

After visiting the media center, the children returned to class ready to get to work on their tech tool research project.  First, we evaluated the fourth and final paragraph in the Heating and Cooling mentor paper.  Then, I modeled using that paper as a guide to write my final paragraph for my piece about football helmets.  After that, I wrote an outline on the board stating the expectations for each of the four paragraphs.  This did not contain new information, but was a different way to convey what they have been told and shown in the past.  Finally, the children worked independently on their assignment.

The students are at various places within the project.  Some are gathering more information, some are still drafting their rough draft, some are revising and pothers are publishing their final copy on the lap tops.  Our goal is to have these completed by Friday, before Winter Break.  Therefore, I have been working with individual students instead of meeting with reading groups.

In math, we reviewed how to calculate the area of a rectilinear figure and Mrs. Head showed us a strategy using cubes.  Then we identified how to calculate the area of torn figures.  There is a homework worksheet to practice this skill.

Following lunch and outdoor recess we continued working on the tech tool research project.  I spent my time working one-on-one with students who needed help.  The others spent there time researching, writing and publishing.  We will continue tomorrow....fingers crossed, they will all be done before Winter Break!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Terrific Tuesday

The students began their day in PE.  While they were gone, I began reviewing the rough drafts, for the first three sections of the tech tool writing piece, of the students who thought they were done.  I discovered that the third section, the paragraph of the tech tool as it is in the present, was not what I had anticipated.  This led me to check through the research links, in preparation for conferencing with these students after PE. 

I discovered that deciding which information was the most current and being able to decipher what the articles were saying was quite challenging.  Therefore, when the children got back from PE, I taught them how to skim and scan for key words (such as modern), in order to identify the correct information for the third paragraph.

The rest of the reading and writing block involved students reading about their tools to gain more information and then writing  and revising their first three paragraphs.  I worked with individuals, as needed, to help locate information, revise sentence structure, reorganize their facts within their writing, etc., etc.

At the end of  the block, I felt we had made some progress.  I also decided that after writing their rough drafts, all revisions would be done on the lap help reduce frustration and speed up the overall process.

Therefore, over the next three days, our primary focus will be completing (fingers crossed) this written component of the tech tool research project.

In math the students completed their presentations which they started yesterday.  Then some groups shared them.

Following lunch and recess we visited Mr. Vogel's to discuss the expectations that are involved with the privilege of iPad use.  Then Mr. Vogel shared different gaming systems from the past, including Atari, Nintendo 64 and Play Station.  He identified the changes that were made and explained the human wants that caused the improvements.

We ended the day with a FABULOUS assembly.  We were treated to a scientific skateboard show called Wondergy.  The presenters were very engaging and explained the science behind helmets and certain skateboard tricks.  It was really well done!

Unfortunately, we ran out of time for me to assign tonight is homework free!  Sorry about that!  :-)

Monday, December 17, 2012


We began our day with our regular class meeting.  We started with a group share where children completed the statement, "I am lucky because...".  After that, we shared compliments and challenges.  Once again, the research/writing project emerged as a challenge for many students.

So, we began our reading and writing block by reviewing the requirements for each paragraph.  I reminded the students that the first paragraph was brief and should include the topic and how changes have improved it.  The second paragraph needs to state who invented it and when, how it works and what human wants or needs created a need for improvements or changes.  The third paragraph should include the most recent version, who invented it and when, how it works and what makes it better than in the past.  I also created a sign up for students who need one-on-one help from me. 

After that, we reviewed how text features clarify information in non-fiction text.  Then we read an article about the Florida Everglades and noticed how the text features (especially photographs and maps) helped us, as readers, to understand the text.   We also tied in the idea that the changes in the Everglades were brought about by human wants and needs...just like our tech tools...I pointed out that really, humans wants and needs drive changes in our society everyday!

While I meet with individual students and reading groups the children worked on independent reading group assignments and their tech tools research and writing project.

Snakes:  They read pages 8-10 after highlight the -sh and-ing chunks, using highlighting tape.

Sharks:  They wrote a summary of their book, in the RRJ.

Cheetahs:  These students read chapter 2 and explained the title of the chapter using information from it.

Yellow Jackets:  These children read chapter 6 and explained what Seb will be doing on Saturdays from now on.

In math we calculated the area of  rectilinear (real word!) figures by splitting them into rectangles first.  Below is an example of a rectilinear figure!
After working with the class to identify the area of the rectilinear figure above in several different ways, the children worked in groups, using the iPad, to calculate the area of a different rectilinear figure.  We will share these tomorrow, in class. 
There is an area worksheet for homework.

Following lunch and outdoor recess the students, working with Mr. Vogel's class, completed a service project for the Damascus Senior Center, as part of Mrs. Howard's guidance lesson.  The reindeer the students made will be given to those at the center as a holiday gift.

Aren't they cute???
We ended the day by learning about the different states of matter (solid, liquid and gas).  We watched a video segment and then visited this cool web site.
Just a quick note...
I appreciate you trusting me with your children each and every day!  I truly love working with each and every one of them!
I did not hear any students discussing Friday's horrendous and horrific events.  I just thought I would mention that, because as a parent myself, I am wondering what my kindergartner's day was like today.
Also, we will be using this week to try to tie up loose ends...I am hoping to finish the writing project...fingers crossed...and reading groups will not receive a new book, once they finish their current one, until we return from Winter Break.
As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns, at

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Lesson in Perseverance!

I'm quite sure your children will fill you in when they get home, but today was kinda crazy!  This morning, around 11:00, we lost partial power in our classroom and no Internet access.  Then, this afternoon, we lost all of our power until 3:00ish.  Though it all, we pressed on with our learning tasks!!!

After going to art, we returned to the classroom and I passed back the children's writing journals in which I had provided feedback on the children's second paragraph of their tech tools project.  Then we reviewed the requirements and revisited my model paper.  Next, I modeled writing the third paragraph, about the present tech tool, for the class.

The students then finished making their cards for the cancer patients and attempted to gather more research for their tech tool writing pieces so they could make the improvements that my feedback indicated needed to be made.  Unfortunately, the power thing happened...

In math, we used our basic fact knowledge and square tiles to construct rectangles with a given area.  The students then drew pictures of the rectangles on graph paper and wrote an equation to match their drawing.  There is a worksheet for homework similar to their classwork.  We will have a quiz tomorrow.

Following lunch and outdoor recess the students returned to our classroom and worked on cards for the cancer patients...with all of the power issues, working on the writing piece was just too frustrating.  During this time I met with several reading groups.

Sharks:  We reviewed their answers to question 4 (homework from a few nights ago) and practiced retelling the story in preparation to write a summary next week.

Snakes:  We reviewed the -sh and-ch digraphs and reread pages 2-6, focusing on fluency.

Cheetahs:  We reviewed unknown words from chapter 1, retold the chapter and discussed the main character.

We ended the day with science (and power!).  We reviewed the meaning of mixture and reviewed which substance would be easiest to remove (rocks) and the observable property that made this so (the size of the rocks).  Then the children worked in groups to remove the rocks from their mixture.  They are now left with a mixture of sand and slat...stay tuned...we will separate these!

I will be out of the building there will not be a blog post.  Students will focus on getting the 3 paragraphs of their writing pieces complete.  There will be a quiz in math that will not be scored and returned until Monday (sorry).  Also, they will read about the "wonders" of Africa and identify which "wonder" they think is the most spectacular.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wonderful Wednesday

The children began their day in the media center. 

When they returned to class we gained some background knowledge about Africa by viewing a PowerPoint of photographs taken of the continent and locating the continent using Google Earth.  After that, we used text features to identify the meaning of the word continent, to help us clarify information we read about Africa using the online Encyclopedia Britannica article.

Next, I shared a student's writing sample, written by one of our classmates yesterday, of their introductory section for the tech tools research piece.  After that, we revisited the Heating and Cooling mentor writing piece and identified what information was contained in the second paragraph, about the past.  Then, using our observations, I modeled writing a paragraph about the past, using my topic, football helmets.

Independent work, today, will include the students drafting their paragraph about the past of their tech tool, making a card for the cancer patients and gluing their letter inside, and using Google Earth and the online Encyclopedia Britannica to learn more about Africa, on the iPads.

This morning I met with small groups of students to work on their writing pieces.

In math we used our knowledge of area to solve a word problem.  The lesson can be viewed here.  Unfortunately, the lesson took longer than anticipated and we did not cover enough material for the classwork or homework I had planned.  SO, for homework tonight, the children should go to the virtual manipulative web site and practice using the site.  I would LOVE for students to construct a rectangle using counters (on the site) and write an equation to represent the area and then print it and bring it in...HOWEVER...this is NOT required! 

For example, they could construct a rectangle with 3 rows of 7 counters in each row.  The equation would be 3x7=21ft.sq.

Following lunch and outdoor recess the students continued working independently while I worked with small groups of students on their research and writing.  Therefore, reading groups did not meet.

We ended the day with science.  First, the students discussed how to separate their mixtures into their original components...BUT, then I ADDED another component to each group's mixture.  So, the new mixtures all contain rocks, sand and salt.  The students then began brainstorming testable ways to separate their new mixtures.  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Terrific Tuesday

The children began their day in PE.

When they returned to class, we began by brainstorming common text features found in non-fiction text.  Then I explained that online text uses those features PLUS more.  Using the article, "Africa" on Encyclopedia Britannica, we investigated how speaking tools and links can help clarify information.

After that, we reexamined the first paragraph in the mentor text, "Heating and Cooling" and identified that we needed to state our research topic and how improvements made it better as we drafted the first couple of sentences in our piece.

While I met with small groups the students drafter the first couple of lines of their tech tools research paper in their writing journal.  They also worked on individual reading group assignments.  Finally, they fixed spelling in their reading and writing journals and completed any unfinished work.

Cheetahs:  I gave a brief introduction to their new book, The Secret.  In class they read chapter 1 and identified any unknown words on a sticky note.  For homework, they need to reread chapter 1 and write a summary in their RRJ.

Writing small group:  We worked on drafting their first sentence for the tech tool research piece.

In math we used an online multiplication game to practice using strategies and solve basic multiplication facts.  There is a basic fact worksheet, for 7s, for homework.

Following lunch and outdoor recess, the students continued their independent work while I met with more groups.

Sharks:  Independently they read pages 10-12 and wrote what happened in their RRJ.  IN group we read pages 12-16 and discussed the events of each page.  For homework they need to reread pages 12-16 and answer question #4 (from the back of the book) on a sticky note.

Yellow Jackets:  Independently they read chapter 4 and completed a vocabulary entry in their RRJ for guide and collapse.  In group we discussed chapter 4 and identified the secret (the hinge).  For homework they need to read chapter 5 and identify the tricky part on a sticky note.

Snakes:  Independently they used highlighting tape to highlight the -ch and -sh digraphs on pages 2-6 in their new book.  In group we reviewed the sounds that -ch and -sh make and then read and discussed pages 2-6.  For homework the group needs to reread pages 2-6 and write Eric's two problems on a sticky note.

After a lecture from me about being trustworthy and completing all assigned work before going to the "reading" corner, we made mixtures in science.  Tomorrow we will brainstorm ideas of how to separate these mixtures back into their original state.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Marvelous Monday

We began our day, and our week, with a class meeting.  The students chose to have our group share be about our weekend.  After that, we exchanged compliments and discussed challenges.  I was so proud of the class, because our challenges did not focus on behaviors, but instead revolved around academic struggles. 

The children are frustrated with certain aspects of the research project and with using partial products multiplication.  The fact that students were willing to express concerns about their learning has enlightened me to struggles that I will now plan for in my instruction!  SO exciting!!

After our class meeting, I demonstrated how to make the candy cane reindeer which we will give to the caner patients at Johns Hopkins.  Then the children began making them.  Below are some pictures.
The project took a bit longer than expected, but the reindeer sure are cute!
We skipped over whole group lessons, we will fit them in during the week, and went straight to independent work and small group instruction.
While I met with groups the students finished their research (fingers crossed!), completed individual reading group assignments and practiced writing the lower case letters o, c and q in cursive.
Cheetahs:  We reviewed the happenings in the Key in the Collar, and then reviewed the list of common themes in literature, which hangs in our classroom.  Then we talked about which theme we thought fit the book.  After that, the students wrote in the RRJ about the theme of the book which they thought fit best and used details from the book to explain their thinking.
In math we reviewed strategies for memorizing the 7's facts using a multiplication chart.  Then we used number family spinners to practice writing the multiplication and division facts.  Whichever number the spinner landed on HAD to be the first number in the equation.  For example, if the spinner contains a 35, 7 and 5 and the spinner lands on 35, the possible equations include:  35 = 7x5, 35=5x7, 35 (divided by)7 = 5 and 35 (divided by) 7 = 5.
While the students used the spinners with partners, Mrs. Head pulled a group to work on word problems and I pulled a group to practice using the partial product multiplication strategy.
Following lunch and outdoor recess, the students continued their independent work, while I met with more groups.
Yellow Jackets:  Independently, they read chapter 3 and wrote a summary in their RRJ.  In group we reread chapter 3 and identified synonyms for vocabulary throughout the chapter.  We also reviewed the format for a vocabulary entry in the RRJ...they will need this for tomorrow's independent work.
Sharks:  Independently the students reread pages 2-6 and identified the problem in the RRJ.  IN group we reviewed the problem in the story.  Then we read pages 6-9 and used visualization to help us retell pats of the story.  We also reviewed the fact that  when the letter c is followed by an e or an i, the c makes the s sound (ex. nice, place, etc.).
Snakes:  The children reread their book and, using highlighter tape, highlighted the -er, -ir and-ur combinations.  In group we discussed the sound these letter combinations make and how recognizing the combinations make reading easier.  Then we practiced using this strategy.  I collected their books and some children chose to bring home a book about the White House that I promised to read with them.  WE will all get a new book tomorrow.
We ended the day by defining the scientific terms mixture and solution.   The difference between the two is a mixture can be separated back out into the original states of the materials put together, a solution can not.  Then I modeled making a mixture out of gravel, sand and salt.  Tomorrow the students will be making a mixture and separating the parts back out.
For homework the students need to complete the two BLANK spinners using fact families and then write EIGHT equations for each spinner.  We went over this homework SEVERAL times in class and I modeled it, too.

Friday, December 7, 2012


After beginning the day in music, the students returned to class to review affixes (prefixes and suffixes).  Following a review mini-lesson, the children worked collaboratively, in small groups, to complete a word map for an assigned affix. 

Their assignment included; taking a picture of the task, cropping the picture and importing it into Penultimate (an iPad app).  Then they had to define the affix, identify three words that sue the affix, draw a picture and write a sentence for one of their identified words without the affix and then with the affix.

We shared most of the groups work via the ELMO.

In math we took our third quiz for this marking period.  They are scored and should be in the math section of your child's binder.

Following lunch and outdoor recess, we brainstormed ideas we could write in our holiday letters for the cancer patients.  Then I modeled writing my own letter.  While I met with small groups the children completed their tech tool research, completed reading assignments from yesterday and wrote their holiday letter for the cancer patients.

Sharks:  I collected their technology books and introduced their next boo, Alligator in the Bathtub.  We did a picture walk and I introduced the word visible.  Then we read up to page 6.

Snakes:  We discussed how training our minds to identify suffixes, such as -ing, can make breaking down a word easier.  Then we read through our book and highlighted -ing endings using highlighter tape.

We ended the day by looking over, discussing and voting on craft ideas.  The students really liked a candy penguin that a parent shared and we are currently searching for the directions/ingredient list.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


This morning the children began their day in art.  When we returned to class we reviewed the central message in the play, "The Calabash Kids".  Then we compared that play to the other play we've read, "The Hidden One".  Both plays were written by the same author and we sued the comparison to gain more information and a deeper understanding of both plays.

Our whole group writing lesson involved us evaluating the first paragraph of the mentor writing piece, "Heating and Cooling".  We identified that this paragraph clearly stated the topic of the piece AND how improvements made by technology benefited user of the tool.

While I worked with small groups, the children continued gathering research using the Internet and books.  They also completed individual reading groups assignments.

Cheetahs:  Reread chapter 5 and wrote a summary of the chapter in their RRJ.

Sharks:  Revisited portions of the text to answer the "after" reading questions in their RRJ.

In math we reviewed using multiplication and partial products to determine the area of a given figure.  The children began a worksheet in class and they are to finish it for homework.  The last problem on the worksheet is a CHALLENGE problem that is OPTIONAL.  There will be a quiz tomorrow that will cover word problems and determining the are of a given figure.

Following lunch and outdoor recess the students continued their independent work while I met with small groups.

Yellow Jackets:  These children read chapter 2 and wrote a summary of the chapter in their RRJ.

Snakes:  We identified the number of sounds (not necessarily letters) in words and used elkonin boxes to identify which letters spelled each sound.  Then we read and discussed pages 18-23.  For homework the students need to reread pages 18-23.

We ended the day by defining the concept of a geographic region.  Then we began identifying some of the common regions in the world.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Hump Day

Well, we are half way through our week and halfway through our research for the tech tools project!

The children began their day working with Mrs. Rose in the computer lab.  There they began researching their tech tool in the present.  Some questions and confusion arose.  SO, when we returned to class, I modeled researching my tool, the football helmet, in the present and adding the information to my graphic organizer.  Then we had a question/answer session.

Since the research lesson was fresh in their minds, the children then went straight to independent work.

Independent work included reading groups assignments and continuing their research for their tech tool.

Sharks:  We reviewed last night's homework and then the children read "Getting Around" independently and we discussed how getting around has changed, in group.

Yellow jackets:  The children read chapter 1 and identified the main characters and problem.  Then, in group, we discussed the main characters, the setting and the problem.

In math we used multiplication to calculate the area of a rectangle.  You can view the lesson here (it's not pretty...we had some distractions!  :-) )  While the students worked independently I met with two small groups.  The first reviewed today's lesson.  The second used multiplication to solve a problem of the day.  There is a worksheet, focusing on the 9s multiplication facts, for homework.

After enjoying lunch and outdoor recess, Mrs. Howard visited to do a lesson about responsibility.  Please make sure your child talks to you about the "I Am Responsible" worksheet they received in class and ADD to it!

We ended the day by charting the changeable and non changeable physical properties of a pencil.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Terrific Tuesday

The sun is shining...and the Redskins beat the Giants!!!  Of course, it will be a terrific day!  :-)

After going to PE and participating in our December fire drill, the children returned to class and we finished reading the play called The Calabash Kid.  After discussing the central message and using context clues to determine the meaning of calabash, we moved on to writing.

In writing we reviewed the idea of transitional, or linking, words and phrases.  Then we examined their use in the sample writing piece Heating and Cooling.

While I meet with small groups, the students will glue a list of linking words and phrases into their writing journal, they will complete their research on the past section of the tech tool graphic organizer, they will complete individual reading group assignments and they will highlight linking words and phrases in the Heating and Cooling writing sample.

Sharks:  We reviewed last night's homework and then read about improvements made to playgrounds.  For homework they need to read pages 12-13 and identify the problem with the design of the bike.

In math we watched a video lesson about using partial products to quickly solve multiplication facts with 6 or 7 as a factor.  View the lesson here.  Then the children completed two problems, independently, using this strategy.  There is a basic fact worksheet for homework.

Following lunch and outdoor recess, the students continued their independent work, while I met with reading groups.

Yellow Jackets:  The students received new books.  We discussed grandparents and great-grandparents to activate background knowledge for the new book called Saturdays with Pop.  For homework the students need to read chapter 1.

Cheetahs:  The children used last night's homework to write summaries of chapter 4.  Those who didn't finish will need to do so for homework.  In group we discussed the problem of the book, which is the mystery surrounding the key on the dog's collar.

Snakes:  Independently they circled the letters in their word lists from homework that produced the long e sound.  We went over these in group.  Then we read pages 12-17.  For homework they need to reread pages 4-17 and list all words with the long a sound.

We ended the day by reviewing the concept of observable physical properties and beginning a discussion about how applying heat could change these.

PLEASE NOTE:  I have rearranged the "pages" on the blog to help you locate links to lessons and web sites easier.  As always, I would love to hear feedback!!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Marvelous Monday

We began our day with a class meeting.  After having a group share, where each child shared what they did over the weekend, we jumped right into planning our holiday action project.  We decided we would definitely make cards for the patients.  Then we brainstormed a list of ideas for the craft part of our project.

In reading, we received a new play called, "The Calabash Kids".  We began reading through it and suing the text to form inferences and make predictions.  We will finish our read-through tomorrow.

Next, we read through a "mentor" piece of writing which we will use to guide both our research and our informative writing about our tech tool.  We analyzed the purpose of the introductory paragraph and noted what questions we would need to answer while conducting our research.  These questions included; What was the tool like?  Who invented it?  When?  Why?  What were the challenges that required technology to invent something to replace it?

While I met with reading groups the students worked on independent reading group activities, continued researching their tech tools and practiced writing a, d and g in cursive.

Sharks:The children reread pages 4-5 and named 2 examples of technology that surprised them.  Then we discussed this in group.  After that we read pages 6-7.  For homework they need to reread pages 6-7 and explain how computers have changed, on the sticky note I provided.

We began math with our usual warm up.  After that, I introduced a basic fact and logic game called Ken Ken.  Then we visited the book fair in the media center.  When we returned to class, we played two games of Ken Ken as a whole group.  For homework, I would like the children to visit the Ken Ken site and play 1 game.  Children who can not access the Internet should have a parent write a short note and sign it, in their planner.

Following lunch and recess, the children continued their independent work, while I met with more small groups.

Yellow Jackets:  These students read the Bath time section and wrote a main idea statement in their RRJ.  Then, in group, we read and discussed the Fall of Rome.  Tonight they need to compare/contrast at least 2 characteristics of the Roman Empire to present day using at least 2 words from the glossary correctly.  This should be done in their RRJ in a paragraph.

Cheetahs:  They read chapter 2 and answered the question, "What is mighty important?" in their RRJ.  Then we read chapter 3 in group.  For homework they need to read chapter 4 and draw the beginning, middle and end in their RRJ.

Snakes:  We read up to page 11 and answered questions using the text.  Tonight they need to reread pages 4-11 and write words with the long e sound, from those pages, on the sticky note I provided.

We ended the day with a science lesson!!!  We defined the concept of observable properties and actions that we can take to change some.  Then the students chose an item around the room and identified an observable property.

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