Thursday, February 28, 2013

Interim Report Thursday

Please check your child's home folder for their interim progress report.  These are your to keep!

Today was a hectic (but productive) day!!! 

Hopefully, this blog post will make sense...but my brain is drained at this point!

The students began their day by welcoming back a friendly face!!!  I'm sure your child can fill you in.

Then they went to art.

After returning to the classroom, we read a realistic fiction book called A Day's Work by Eve Bunting.  We spend time exploring how the author set up the situation and introduced the problem.  We also discussed what the author may have had to research before being able to write the book.  Finally, we identified the theme of the book.

After that, we discussed needing to have a theme in mind as they write their rough drafts for their realistic fiction books.

While I worked with individual students, the children completed their story maps, identified a theme and began writing their rough draft, setting up the situation, and introducing the problem.

I met with several students helping with revisions to their story amps and finding information to help them write a realistic story.

In math we reviewed equivalent fractions and I introduced a wonderful equivalent fraction web site.  Then we split into group of students worked independently to explore the just mentioned web site and check last night's homework using it.  Another group worked with Mrs. Head to practice partitioning grids into equal groups and naming fractions for shaded and unshaded parts.  They also practiced drawing pictures to help identify equivalent fractions.  The group that was stuck (LOL) with me, worked on a fraction train where they matched equivalent fractions shown in various ways (number lines, pictures and with numbers).  They then had to use correct vocabulary to orally explain to me why the different representations of the fractions and mixed numbers were indeed matches.  This assessment will not affect their report card but will be used to determine placement for math next year.  This will not be the only tool used.  Not all students took part because there were indicators used (provided by MCPS) that helped identify whom should take part.

Boy, that was long...

Tonight, for homework, the children need to complete the second part of last night's worksheet.  If they are stuck, they should view the educreations lesson here.  They can also use the web site mentioned in the above paragraph.  There will be a quiz tomorrow!

Following lunch and outdoor recess the students continued working on their realistic fiction picture book with both Mrs. Benson, and myself, helping individuals along the way.  WE were busy!!!!

We ended the day by going back to the equivalent fraction web site because students were frustrated when they used it independently during math.

Remember, MSA starts MONDAY!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Hump Day

The children began their day in the Media center.  When they returned to class we finally read the entire book of The Memory String by Eve Bunting.  After discussing the book, I modeled completing a story map, similar to the one the children are using to plan their own realistic fiction picture book.  I wanted the children to see how the structure of the map relates to a complete story.

Next, children introduced their main characters to our class by sharing the webs they created in class  and finished for homework.

Finally, I showed the children how to identify a solution to the problem and use the character web to plan events leading the main character from the problem to the solution.

(Believe it or not, I had planned to also teach the structure of writing dialogue in text...but that will wait for another day when we have time!  )

While I meet with some small groups and other individual students, the children will complete their story maps and finish the Backyard Toys BCR.

In math reviewed the various methods we have used to identify equivalent fractions.  Then I took it a step further and introduced multiplying the numerator and the denominator by the same number to produce an equivalent fraction.  View the lesson here. After that, the students continued using Cuisenaire Rods to identify equivalent fractions.  This was a continuation of yesterday's independent work. 

I met with two small groups.  One group practiced plotting fractions and mixed numbers on a number line.  The second group worked on partitioning grids into equal groups and naming the fraction for shaded and unshaded parts.  There is a worksheet for homework.  The top two rows of the worksheet must be completed tonight and returned to school tomorrow.  Tomorrow night the students will complete the middle two rows.  The last row is optional.

Following lunch and outdoor recess the students continued their independent work.

Yellow Jackets:  We met and finished reading and discussing chapter 3 of Journey.  We had a great discussion about what the author meant by, "The camera knows."

Snakes:  We did word work using vocabulary from their book and high frequency words.  Then we retold the first half of the story.  Finally, we read up to page 11 and practiced covering word endings (suffixes) to help decode words.  For homework they need to reread pages 8-11.

Yellow Jackets, Sharks and Cheetahs:  FOR HOMEWORK, they need to read, "Protecting the Pandas" and underline portions of the text that tell why pandas are special.  DO NOT ANSWER THE BCR.

Due to a fire drill, we ran out of time for our social studies lesson.  Instead we discussed the realistic fiction picture book project and I answered a few of the childrens' questions.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Terrific Tuesday

The children began their day in PE practicing yoga cool!

When we returned to class, I told the children that I was quite impressed with their main characters and problem that they identified on their story maps yesterday.  The I cautioned the children to remember that their stories had to be realistic.

After that, I helped the children understand that people, and thus characters, deal with problems in different ways.  Therefore, it is important to KNOW your character so that you can determine what actions he/she would take to solve a given problem.  Then I modeled how to create and web a character.

After that, we identified ways that authors convey a character's traits in text.  One way is through dialogue.  So, we revisited the story The Memory String by Eve Bunting and examined what examples of dialogue, from the story, told us about the character.  We also examined the proper format for writing dialogue.

While I meet with small groups, the students will complete the main character and problem sections of their story map, create a main character web in their writing journal, complete reading group assignments and read realistic fiction picture books exploring the way the author uses dialogue.

Sharks:  We met and reviewed the expectations for answering a BCR.  I then modeled writing a good response to the "Schoolyard Toys" BCR.  Then we revisited my writing and I used different colors to underline the topic sentence, examples from the text, and the conclusion.  After that, the children were told to redo their responses showing what they had learned.

In math the children used Cuisenaire rods to identify equivalent fractions in two different ways.  I identified the unit fraction (the whole) and the fractions they were to break it into.  While the students worked on this task, I met with a small group.  The group's focus was to locate and name fractions on a number line.  We also discussed how to recognize if a fraction is equal to, greater than or less than a whole by looking at the numerator and denominator.

For homework:  Students are expected to practice their multiplication basic facts using the app, A Times Table Game, on Edmodo.  Practice should last at least 10 minutes.

Also, for HOMEWORK:  Students are to complete their main character web using the list below and share it with an adult. 

1. External – gender, name, age, appearance, special physical features (example:  very poor eyesight, lost without his glasses)

Students can draw and then write.

2. Family members, background

3. School situation, friends

4. What the character likes

5. Who the character loves

6. What the character dislikes

7. Worries, fears of the character

8. What the character wants, dreams of

9. Things the character always says, always does

10. Places the character spends time

11. Things that make the character different from other people

12. The history of the character (example: nearly drowned when she was six)

Following lunch and indoor recess, Mrs. Howard met with the entire third grade to do a lesson about test taking.

After that, we read about the reasons the Aztecs moved to Tenochtitlan and the modifications they made. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Marvelous Monday

We began our day with a class meeting.  Our group share gave each student the chance to express what they would change about our class.  Some ideas were not surprising (no homework), others gave me things to think about (reading to the class or playing a quiet game after packing up and before dismissal).  Then we shared compliments.  I complimented the entire class because, Mrs. Delisi, the substitute they have had recently, expressed how much she enjoys this group!  Finally, we shared challenges.

After that we read the story, Grandpa's Corner Store, and identified how the author set up the situation in the story, as well as, how the characters and problem were introduced.

Next, I used a strategy called a slice of cake, where we read only a small piece of a couple of books to examine different ways authors begin their books.

After that, we reviewed the story map for the realistic fiction picture book and I modeled completing several sections.

While I meet with small groups the students will read a short text and accompanying BCR question.  They will identify key words in the question and sections of the text that could be used to answer the BCR.  We will go over this in reading groups.  Next, they will choose a topic for their realistic fiction picture book and begin planning it using a story map.  Finally, they will look over several realistic fiction picture books focusing on how authors begin their stories.

After our math warm up I introduced a new weekly activity...a Monday Math Minute.  Each Monday the students will participate in a timed basic facts practice.  Then, for HOMEWORK, they will take the mad minute home, and finish all problems they didn't do in class.  After that, an adult will check it and the students will CORRECT all problems until the entire worksheet is correct.  Finally, the adult will sign the mad minute and the student will put it in the return to school side of their home folder.  We will do this every Monday in an effort to memorize the basic facts.  The amount of time and the difficulty of the problems will change as we progress.

Following lunch and outdoor recess the children continued working independently , while I met with small groups.

Sharks:  We reviewed the key words in the questions and then facts in the text that could be used to support their response.  We reviewed the format of a good response (topic sentence, examples from text used to name and explain your response and then a concluding sentence).  Students then answered the BCR independently.

Cheetahs: We reviewed the key words in the questions and then facts in the text that could be used to support their response. We reviewed the format of a good response (topic sentence, examples from text used to name and explain your response and then a concluding sentence).

Yellow Jackets:  We discussed what the BCR questions was asking and the importance of naming and explaining the information, from the text, that they use to write their response.  We also reviewed the format of a well written answer.  Then we read and discussed pages 13-17 (the first half of chapter 3) of Journey.

We ended the day with students sharing what they had learned about the Aztec's culture...this was continued from Thursday!  Then we reviewed what we had learned by identifying important aspects of the Aztec culture (eating corn and corn based products, singing and dancing at ceremonies and to honor the Gods, jewelry made out of gold and turquoise and the importance of war).

Thursday, February 21, 2013


So, yesterday, I did some research of my own...I read a 38 page document about teaching children how to write realistic fiction...and I learned A LOT!  Today, we put some of that new knowledge into action!

After returning from art, the children listened to a realistic fiction picture book called My Mei Mei by Ed Young.  The topic of this book was adoption.  After listening to the story and identifying other realistic fiction stories we have read and discussed in class, the children broke into small groups to write a definition of realistic fiction, or the characteristics needed for one to be labeled as such.  We then came together, as a group, and wrote a class definition.

We decided that realistic fiction must:
not be true but COULD happen in real life
have a setting
have one main character
have a problem
the main character must have character traits
the main character must have struggles on their way to solving the problem
the main character must be changed by the solution

After that, I reviewed how to identify topic ideas...reminding the children that each idea must mention a main character and a problem.  Then I shared suggestions of how to come up with new ideas.  These included; reviewing their morning work journal, thinking about realistic fiction books they have read and changing the story by thinking, "I winder what would happen if..." and writing a getting lost type story.

While I meet with reading groups the students will add three ideas to the idea list in their writing journal.  They will also circle the main character in each idea and underline the problem.  Then they will choose a realistic fiction book, from our class collection, read it and identify characteristics of realistic fiction (from our class definition) that they discover in the story.  They will mark these with a sticky note.

Sharks:  We reviewed the list of words with -ed suffixes, in group, and underlined the base word (or root word) and circled the suffix.  I collected their book and we will begin a new text on Monday.

In math we used musical notes to identify equivalent fractions.  In hindsight, I should have captured this lesson on Educreations...but I didn't.  :-(  The students used half, quarter and eighth notes to create a rhythm in a measure (which equals a whole) and then using different notes, they wrote fractions to represent the measures.  While they worked on this independently (after I modeled it, of course), I met with a small group.  My group practiced making a number line and drawing a picture to represent fractions and mixed numbers.

 FOR HOMEWORK:  All students have two problems, such as the one described above, to complete on a chart in their math journal.  Should they forget their math journal, they can do it on a plain piece of paper.  They should create a number line and draw a picture to represent 1 3/4 and 4/6.

Following lunch and indoor recess, the students continued working independently, while I met with more groups.

Cheetahs:  We reviewed last night's homework and discussed the assumption Phillip made (that he and his pen pal would have nothing in common because he is a boy and she is a girl).  Then we identified the theme of the book (don't judge a book by it's cover).  Finally, we discussed the problem in the book and whether or not the book is realistic fiction (it is!).

Yellow Jackets:  WE finally got a chance to thoroughly discuss chapter 2.  We also shared their titles for chapter 2.

Snakes:  We did some word work and practiced writing words from the book and identifying tricky parts in the word.  Then we tried to retell pages 2-7, but the entire group struggled.  :-(

We ended the day with some students reading and writing about a part of the Aztec culture in their social studies journals.  This was continued from last Friday.  The rest of the class shared what they learned by reading what they wrote in their social studies journal last week.

I will not be here tomorrow.  I have my post operation appointment and will be getting my stitches out..and possibly permission to resume running?!?!  (Probably, not)  We WILL have a math quiz!  There is an early release tomorrow, too!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wonderful Wednesday

Just some thoughts...

I LOVE this new curriculum...I really do!  Most lessons are very meaningful.  There is a lot of repetition so that new ideas aren't learned and then forgotten!

With that said, there seems to be times when it is a challenge to get it all in!  :-)  When we begin new projects or switch units, the first few days tend to involve more direct instruction and less small groups.  This creates an uneasiness within me because I fully believe that small group instruction is SOOOO important--it's essential to meeting every child's needs.

As we begin our latest project, writing a realistic fiction picture book, meeting with small groups is a struggle.  However, rest assured, this is on my radar and our instructional time is being used wisely!  Pinky swear!!  :-)'s the lowdown on today....

After beginning the day in the media center, the students returned to class and we read the Cynthia Rylant story, An Angel for Solomon Singer.  We used this story to analyze how a character's actions as related to the setting, the problem and the solution, can be used to infer the theme of the book.  During this lesson, we reviewed the theme Power Point from earlier this year.  We also identified the story elements; character, setting, problem, events leading to the solution, and the solution.

Next, we turned our focus to the writing project, a realistic picture book.  Today we reviewed choosing a topic and then I introduced a story map that we will use to plan our text.  The link will lead you to what we did in class.

Next we moved on to math.  WE reviewed yesterday's lesson, using pattern blocks to name fractional parts of a whole and identify equivalent fractions.  Then the children worked independently, using pattern blocks, to identify unit fractions (wholes), name fractional parts and identifying equivalent fractions.  During this time, Mrs. Head and I met with small groups.  My group practiced identifying mixed numbers on a number line and then drawing a pictorial representation.  Mrs. Head's group worked on partitioning fractions of a set and naming fractions and mixed numbers on a number line.

For homework:  There is an Edmodo assignment.  In short, students will go to the virtual manipulative web site and use the pattern blocks manipulatives to practice identifying unit fractions (whole) and naming different fractional parts.  Then they will use this to identify equivalent fractions.  They need to turn in one set (two fractions) that are equivalent via Edmodo.  They can also print their work or draw a picture of their discoveries in their math journal.

Following lunch and indoor recess we went back to the realistic fiction book project and I explained that all fiction books have a problem or predicament that involves the main character.  This makes the book interesting.  Then I modeled listing 3 ideas for stories, with each idea naming the characters and problem.

While I met with small groups the students listed at least 3 story ideas in their journals.  To get ideas they were encouraged to use the clip art from last night's homework, various realistic fiction books provided in class or their morning work journals.

Sharks:  They reread pages 3-15 and marked the crew's solution using a sticky note.  We then reviewed this and I explained that last week, when they were to write about it, NOBODY mentioned the cable or the we discussed the importance of revisiting the text.  After that we read the rest of the book and identified the sentence that let us know the solution worked.

For homework:  the students need to reread pages 16-18 and list words from those pages that have -ed endings, on the sticky note they were given.

Cheetahs:  Independently they reread chapter 5 and marked, with a sticky, what Phillip was worried about and how he solved his problem.

For homework:  The students need to read chapter 6 and identify, on a sticky note, what surprises Phillip.

Yellow Jackets:  The students reread chapter 2 and marked a place, with a sticky note, that showed how Cat feels about her mom.

For homework: They need to reread chapter 2 and write a title for this chapter on a sticky note...they shouldn't explain it yet!

Snakes:  The students reread pages 2-7 independently then reviewed the root word and suffix chart.  Then we identified the main character and his problem.  We also described kaleidoscopes.  After that we reviewed the sound that the consonant clusters -ld and -mp make. 

For homework: the children need to reread pages 2-7 and locate word that have -ld and-mp in them.

Unfortunately, we ran out of time and didn't get to our science lesson...BUT we did meet with small groups in math and reading!!  :-)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Terrific Tuesday - Practice MSA coming home!

Well....I'm back!  Surgery went VERY well and I am already moving around better than before!  YEY!

Today was a hectic day with many changes in our schedule...stay tuned!!

IMPORTANT:  Your child will be bringing home a letter about our MSA practice AND their practice tests.  PLEASE look these over.  As always, feel free to contact me with questions or concerns.

We began our day by going to an assembly called Laser Science.

After that, we returned to class and read Cynthia Rylant's book, And the Relatives Came.  After discussing the story we turned our attention to our next writing project.

Over the next 3-4 weeks, the children will be writing, illustrating and publishing a realistic fiction picture book.  I shared and explained the expectations for this project.  Then we used a Power Point presentation to discuss where authors get their ideas. 

HOMEWORK:  ALL students need to do the following assignment on Edmodo...
View the clipart.
Create a list of AT LEAST 5 possible topics based on the clip art, in their WRITING JOURNAL.
Choose their favorite and post it in the assignment prior to "turning in" the assignment on Edmodo.

In math we practiced show fractions and mixed numbers on both a number line and by drawing a picture.  Then we used pattern blocks to name a unit fraction (a whole) and determine, draw and name fractions of the whole.  There is no math homework this evening.

Following lunch and indoor recess we visited the computer lab for a lesson about family with Mrs. Howard.

When we returned to class, we spent a lot of time discussing tonight's homework.  Then we charted the fuels we know that are sued to heat and light our homes and classroom.  Tomorrow we will read about the fuels that are used for lighting and heating and add our new knowledge to our chart.  Then, individual students will identify how their learning has changed.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day

What an exciting day!!!!

The students began their day in art.

When we returned to class, I reviewed one of the practice MSA reading BCRs to instruct the children how to attack and respond to a BCR.  Please view the lesson here.  You can also view it through your child's Edmodo account since it is their homework this evening!  Between tonight and next Tuesday, each child is expected to re watch the lesson and post one new thing they learned or want to remember from the lesson.

After that, we went to the gym to participate in Jump Rope for Heart.  Mr. Lee did an amazing job coordinating this was a BLAST!

Next, the children enjoyed lunch and outdoor recess.

Finally, we had an awesome time celebrating Valentine's Day!!!  Thanks to Mrs. McNeill and ALL of her helpers!!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wacky Wednesday

Well, my doctor's appointment yesterday was kind of what I expected...I need to have an outpatient procedure (a scope) done on my torn meniscus.  I will be having the surgery on Friday of this week.  I am anticipating a three day recovery period and plan to be back in school on Tuesday.  That way, I will only miss one day of school!

I appreciate your (and your child's) patience and understanding during this challenging time!  :-)  I promise to check email regularly...except for Friday!

On to today...

This morning the children began their day in the media center.

When they returned to class I modeled writing the first paragraph of their Black American Inventor paper.  This paragraph needs to have a good hook (to grab reader's attention) and name the inventor and the invention.

We also read and discussed chapter 6 of Lily and Miss Liberty.

While I met with small groups the students wrote their first paragraph, as described above.  They also finished all Lily and Miss Liberty comprehension worksheet (particularly chapter 5 from yesterday).  Finally they worked on unfinished work and their Statue of Liberty research project.

Sharks:  We identified and discussed the main topic of the book.  Then we read pages 8-11 and identified the challenges faced by the crew of the wrecked ship.

IN math we continued yesterday's lesson, identifying fractions by matching the size of the Cuisenaire rod to the fractional name and space on the worksheet  and then using that to create a whole.

Mrs. Head and I both pulled small groups to practice partitioning groups into fractions and naming parts of the fractions that had been shaded and unshaded. 

For homework there is an assignment on Edmodo.

Following lunch and outdoor recess the students continued working independently while I met with more groups.

Cheetahs:  We discussed Phillip's motivation for telling tall tales to Anna.  Then we read chapter 4 and identified examples in the text where Phillip was creating problems for himself.

Yellow Jackets:  We discussed the family dynamics and the importance of the camera in the book Journey, paying particular attention to chapter 1.

Snakes:  We did word work, practicing vocabulary from the book, and identified root words and endings.

I had to leave early to get blood work done.   The children went down to Mr. Vogel's room for a science lesson before dismissal.  They watched his students' energy vocabulary presentations.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Terribly Busy Tuesday!!!

Please excuse this short and crazy blog post...I had an in-house meeting this morning and am meeting with my orthopedist this afternoon.  But I wanted to ensure you had an idea of what your children were up to today!  :-)

The students began their day in PE. 

After PE they listened to and discussed chapter 5 in Lily and Miss Liberty.

Then they were introduced to a new graphic organizer for their informative writing piece.  They will use the research they gathered yesterday to plan their Black American Inventor informative piece using this new organizer.

Today's independent work included completing the new organizer and a comprehension worksheet for chapter 5 of Lily and Miss Liberty.

In math we used identified fractions on a number line to determine which cuisennaire rod would be needed to create a whole.  For example, if the fraction was 2/8, the children had to recognize that they needed to find the colored rod which would allow them to put two, end-to-end, on the number line from 0 to 2/8...because that is what the numerator shows.  Then they had to recognize that they needed to add 6 more beyond that point to determine the whole (2 + 6=8, which is the denominator).  This was a struggle.  SO, we will continue this lesson tomorrow.  For homework these is a mixed fractions worksheet, for review.

Following lunch and recess, the children will continue working independently, while the substitute meets with small groups.

Cheetahs:  will review last night's homework and read chapter 3.  For homework they need to reread chapter 3.

Yellow Jackets:  will review last night's homework and read and discuss the mood of chapter 1.  For homework they need to reread chapter 1 and write a title for it on a sticky note.

Snakes:  will do word work suing new vocabulary in a new book they will get today.  This word work will have them practice reading and writing key words and explain the meaning of each.  Then they will read and discuss up to page 7.  For homework they need to reread pages 2-7.

They will end the day with a science lesson.  First, they will identify objects that use electricity to produce heat.  Then they will read to find out how electricity helps these objects produce heat.

Monday, February 11, 2013

MSA practice Monday

This morning we began our day with a class meeting. This was the first chance we have had in weeks to do so. Our group share gave students a chance to share something exciting that has happened to them recently. Some students really struggled with this. :-( We also discussed the need to follow first time directions and to demonstrate respect for everyone--students AND teachers!

After our class meeting, we reviewed the Black American Inventor research piece that we will be working on today. After showing the class the organizer we will use to capture our research, I modeled completing it using Elijah McCoy.

Then the students worked in their small groups to read about their inventor, using sites from our blog, and listing their findings on their graphic organizer.

After making sure the groups were settled, I began meeting with reading groups.

Sharks:  I collected their last book and handed out a new boo called Iceberg Rescue.  After reviewing important vocabulary such as, upright, glacier and iceberg, I gave a book talk.  Then we read and discussed pages 3-7.  For homework, the children need to reread pages 3-7 and identify the topic of the book on a sticky note.

Before lunch and recess we had our final MSA practice session.  This time the focus was the reading portion.  Today the students completed the practice test.  We will review it tomorrow and both the math and reading practice test will be coming home at the end of this week.

After enjoying lunch and outdoor recess the students completed researching their Black American Inventor while I met with more groups.

Cheetahs:  I collected their old books and passed out a new book, Tall Tales.  We discussed the ideas of a tall tale and exaggeration.  Then we read and discussed the first two chapters.  For homework, the children need to reread chapters 1 and 2.  In their RRJ they need to explain what was Phillip's problem and whether or not they think he will change, and why.

Yellow Jackets:  I collected their book and showed them their next novel, Journey by Patricia MacLachlan.  Then I read a biography, about the author, to the group.  For homework they need to write a definition (using an online or hard copy dictionary) and use the word in a good sentence, in the vocabulary section of their RRJ, for the following words; unearthing, blunt and dismayed.

Snakes:  Due to a scheduling conflict, we did not meet.  They will receive a new book tomorrow!

We ended the day by viewing diagrams of Edison's light bulb and a modern day light bulb.  WE made predictions about how they produce light and then we watched a short video lip demonstrating how it works.  Finally, we discussed the video and agreed that we were all surprised regarding the simplicity of how a light bulb produces light.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Finish UP Friday!

The children began their day in music.

When they returned to class, we spent some time discussing the character analysis writing piece.  So far, the ones I have scored have been well done.  So, I asked the students, what was different...what did I do differently that helped them be more successful.  We also began planning for our next writing piece which will be an informative piece about an African American inventor.

Then the students had time to work on any unfinished work from the week.  This included; publishing the character analysis, the reading comprehension worksheets for chapters 1, 2 and 3 for Lily and Miss Liberty, cursive writing papers and the Statue of Liberty self-guided research.

I met with individuals who needed support on any of the listed assignments.

In math, after a warm up and review of last night's homework, we took a quiz.  This week, for the front of the quiz, each student only had 11 minutes to complete it.  I wanted to get a fluency score.  The back side was untimed.  These have been scored and returned to the students.

Following lunch and outdoor recess the students continued working independently, with the help of Mrs. Benson and myself, on their "finish up Friday" tasks.

WE ended the day by viewing a video clip about the rise of the Aztec Empire.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


This morning the children began their day in art.

When they returned to class we examined a sentence from Lily and Miss Liberty to see how vocabulary used by the author can support the setting.  Then we rewrote the sentence as if it were happening during modern day.  For example, the sentence, "Wagons and carriages passed up and down the cobblestone street," might be written, "Cars and trucks passed up and down the paved street."  Next, we read chapter 4 of Lily and Miss Liberty.

After that we revisited the PowerPoint about comparative and superlative adjectives and adverbs.

While I met with small groups, the students finished their character analysis, revised it to include comparative and superlative adjectives and adverbs and then began publishing their piece.  After that, they were to complete the comprehension worksheet for chapter 3 of Lily and Miss Liberty, which was assigned yesterday.  Then they were to complete all unfinished work before working on their self-guided research of the Statue of Liberty.

I met with a small group of students to review the expectations for the third paragraph of the character analysis paper.

In math we used last night's homework to launch today's lesson.  The lesson can be viewed here,  After the lesson the students went back to their seats to create a number line, showing two wholes, and labeling thirds and then sixths.  Finally, they were supposed to list equivalent fractions that were identified on the number line. 

FOR HOMEWORK:  Students must re watch today's lesson and complete their number line showing thirds, sixths and the equivalent fractions.

Following lunch and outdoor recess the students continued working independently, while Mrs. Benson and I helped individual students with their character analysis and reading comprehension sheets.

We ended the day by reading about the origins of the Aztec civilization.  During this lesson, we discussed that we had read in 3 out of our 3 resources that war was an important part of the Aztec culture.  I took this opportunity to point this out to he students and explain that when we read the same piece of information in many sources it becomes more reliable than when we only read it in one source.  If the fact had only been mentioned in one of the 3 sources, that doesn't mean it isn't true but it might make a good r4eader wonder why it was left out of the other sources.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Hump Day

Ahhh...we are halfway through a week with few interruptions to our schedule!  YIPPEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The children began their day in the media center with Mrs. Rose.

When they returned to class we reread the last paragraph in chapter 2 of Lily and Miss Liberty and then made predictions as to what Lily was going to do next.  After that we read chapter 3 and analyzed our predictions.  We realized that the prediction made based upon Lily's character trait of determined was the one which was most accurate!

Next we revisited the model character analysis paper and identified the purpose of the concluding paragraph.  The children immediately noticed that this paragraph restated the author's opinion (the character trait).  Then I pointed out that the author also mentioned how the trait solved the problem and then theme of the story.  We briefly discussed these aspects of all four reading group's books.

Then the students worked, in dependently, on their concluding paragraphs and a follow up worksheet for chapter 3 of Lily and Miss Liberty.  When they finished they worked on any unfinished work and their independent research projects.

Instead of meeting with a reading group, I met with students who have been absent this week and helped them write and revise their first two paragraphs for the character analysis.

In math I reviewed, and captured using Educreations, the lesson using an index card to symbolize a whole and folding it to create halves, fourths and eighths.  I used the creases, created by the folding, to label the halves, fourths and eights on the number line. 

Independently, the children used an index card to identify thirds and sixths.  Then they drew a number line and labeled these fractions on the line.  They also identified equivalent fractions.  Mrs. Head circulated to help students who were struggling.  I met with a small group to identify and name fractions on a number line.

FOR HOMEWORK:  The children need to watch the Thirds and Sixths HW lesson on Educreations.  Then they need to draw the number line that is in the lesson, in their math journals, and label all points on the number line using thirds.

Following lunch and recess Mrs. Howard visited to do a lesson about being healthy. 

After that, we finished reading a story from the Aztec culture and discussed what we could infer about the culture from the story.  War, music, dancing, art and honoring the Gods are very important in the culture.  Then we read a book about the history of Mexico that supported the inferences we had made from the story.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Terrific Tuesday

This morning the students began their day in PE.

When they returned to class we defined the different concepts of character traits (unique qualities a character possesses), motivations (what causes a character to do what they do) and feelings (a character's emotions).  Then we charted an example of each using chapter 1 from Lily and Miss Liberty.  After that, we read chapter 2 and discussed all 3 of the concepts as they pertained to this chapter.

Next, I reviewed the expectations for the body paragraph of the character analysis.

Finally, (ok...I'll be honest here), as I was teaching I came up with a fun idea for students who finish their work, I shared the idea with the kids...The children will choose a topic which relates to Lily and Miss Liberty (the statue of liberty, the 1880's, Ellis Island, etc.) and they will identify questions they are wondering about their topic.  After I approve these questions, the children will use resources such as books and the Internet to locate answers to their questions (reading to be informed) and then they will choose a way to present their information...they can create a Key Note presentation, a poster, etc.  I thought this would be a fun way to read informational text and share the information they discover!

While I meet with small groups the students will complete the second paragraph of the character analysis.  They will complete comprehension worksheets for both chapters 1 and 2 for Lily and Miss Liberty.  Then they can choose a topic to research and list questions they want to learn about.

Sharks:  We met and each child shared their second paragraph.  Together we made revisions to the structure of the paragraphs ensuring that the solution was stated and explained.

During our math warm up we practiced drawing pictures to help us name the mixed number for a given improper fraction.

Then we used index cards to create number lines and label the fractions and mixed numbers.  Today our 3x5 card equaled two wholes.  We labeled the wholes and then found and labeled 1/2 and 1 1/2.

Next the children worked independently on a number line worksheet.  Many are still struggling with the idea that the denominator is the amount of equal parts in ONE whole.  We will work on that concept in small groups tomorrow.  Today, Mrs. Benson and I each pulled a small group to  practice separating wholes into equal groups and identifying fractions when there is more than one item (box) in each group.

There is a mixed number worksheet for homework.

Following lunch and outdoor recess the students continued working independently while I met with more groups.

Cheetahs:  We met and shared each child's second paragraph.  Overall, they did a good job explaining the solution but the children needed to make the connection between the character trait (guilty) and the events leading to the solution.  We discussed this and practiced explaining that part.  Then the students went back to their seats to revise their responses.

Yellow Jackets:  We met and the students shared their second paragraphs.  Overall, the children did a great job identifying and explaining the solution and linking it to the main character's identified trait.  Some students needed to make organizational changes to improve the flow of their writing.

Snakes:  We met and shared their character analysis writing pieces.  Together we made revisions.

We ended the day by reviewing the meaning of friction.  Then the children took intellectual risks and explored creating friction using different materials such as, chop sticks, craft sticks, erasers and foam plates.  They identified which objects produced heat through friction.  Then they introduced different variables, speed,  length of time and different materials to determine whether it affected the heat produced through friction.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Mock Math MSA Monday

This morning we had a practice session for the math section of the MSA.  Each year we take the time to do mock practice sessions to familiarize the students with the format of the test and take time to teach good test taking strategies.

This morning I took time to discuss the importance of using strategies and working out all problems on scratch paper.  I also explained the necessity of making sure answers made sense...especially when suing a calculator.  Finally, I introduced the idea of a distractor (the most often chosen WRONG answer).

Then the students completed the two parts of the practice math assessment.

Then we went over both sections so I could model strategies for solving problems correctly.

These test booklets will be coming home in the next two weeks (most likely next week) with feedback and information attached.  I urge you to look them over and discus them with your child!

Since our MSA practice session focused on math, we had reading/language arts during our regular math time.

We began reading a new historical fiction novel title, Lily and Miss Liberty, by Carla Stevens (she wrote Anna, Grandpa and the Big Storm, too!).  Prior to reading the first chapter, we watched a video clip about the Statue of Liberty.  This gave us background knowledge to aid our comprehension of the novel.

After reading the first chapter and identifying the problem and the historical facts, we headed to the gym to visit our school's science fair.  The children and I had a great time seeing all of the fabulous experiments and presentations.

After the science fair, we revisited the model character analysis paper and identified what information the author included in the body.  We realized that the next paragraph will need to include how the main character solved the problem using the character trait identified in our opinion statement.

Following lunch and indoor recess the children will draft their body paragraph.  They will also reread portions of chapter 1 of Lily and Miss Liberty to help them complete a comprehension worksheet involving both multiple choice and short answer questions.

We will end the day by defining friction and identifying examples of friction which produce heat.

For homework there is a short quiz on Edmodo about Lily and Miss Liberty, chapter 1.

Friday, February 1, 2013


The students began their day in music.

When they returned to class we spent time discussing the expectations for turning in assignments using Edmodo.  Right now, my focus is on the process and the actual assignment.  Therefore, I am not being too critical of the children's actual answers.  However, shortly, I will be expecting responses to be complete, well written, using correct spelling, punctuation and grammar.

After that, we recounted the events in Anna, Grandpa and the Big Storm and discussed how Anna's actions led to the events in the story.  We identified how certain changes (for example, Anna and Grandpa walking the entire way to school, instead of taking the El train) would have created a different story.

Finally, we revisited the sample character analysis for Brave Irene and identified the components of the introductory paragraph.  We realized that this paragraph needed to state an opinion about a character trait for the main character and then explain the problem in the story.

While I met with small groups the students wrote their introductory paragraphs and completed unfinished work from the week.  When they were finished they visited Edmodo, explored the new apps that had been downloaded and wrote a message to me sharing their experiences.

Sharks:  We met and revised their introductory paragraphs.  Overall, though, they were on target prior to our session!  :-)

We began math by doing a very cool lesson that I borrowed from Mr. Vogel.  Each student was given an index card which represented one whole.  In their math journal they traced a line the length of the index card and labeled one end 0 and the other 1.  Then they folded the card (the whole) in half and put that point on their number line, labeling it 1/2.  Then we drew a second line, to represent a whole, folded the index card into fourths and labeled those parts on the new line.  Finally, we folded the card in half and marked the half on the line showing fourths.  We were clearly able to see that 2/4=1/2.

After our lesson, we took our weekly quiz.  The quizzes have been scored.  Students should put these in the math section of their binder.  Please be sure to review your child's progress!

Following lunch and indoor recess, the students continued working independently and I met with more groups.

Cheetahs:  We met and reviewed their introductory paragraph.  Most of the group had not followed the expectations that had been discussed and outlined on the board.  SO, I provided verbal feedback, reviewed the expectations, again, and sent them back to their seats to make revisions.  Then Mrs. Benson, worked with individuals to ensure they were meeting the requirements.

Yellow Jackets:  We met and reviewed their introductory paragraph.  Two of the students had great examples, so we spent time focusing on their writing.  One of the two had followed my instructions to a T and used the model paper as a basis for their own.  So, we discussed how it was actually easy for her to write her piece since she kept referring to the model.  Those who didn't meet the expectations received feedback and revised their writing.

Snakes:  We met and reviewed their introductory paragraph.  I gave the students feedback and they made revisions.

We ended the day be defining culture and beginning to read about the Aztec culture.

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