Friday, March 22, 2013


Ahhh... the last day of school before Spring can feel the excitement in the air!

The children began their day in music.

When they returned to the classroom, they were given time to complete their realistic fiction picture book, as well as, the Healthful Foods and Financial Decision Making activities.  Additionally, the students were told to clean out and organize their desks so that when we return from our break we are ready to begin the fourth marking period.

Before beginning math, the students who have not shared their realistic fiction picture books with the class, were given a chance to do so.

In math we worked towards the goal of memorizing the basic multiplication facts using the paper games introduced earlier in the week, math fact cafe, Ken Ken and the Edmodo app.

Following lunch and outdoor recess we defined body image and self esteem and had a great discussion about how they are linked and importance of  accepting yourself for who you are.

we ended the day my visiting kindergarten and getting reading buddies.  We read our realistic fiction picture book to our buddy and they read their "Rr" book to us.  Then we began creating Keynote presentations so that we can introduce each other to our classmates.

Have a wonderful Spring Break!

See you April 3!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thriving Thursday

This morning the class was treated to a special guest reader from the Senior Center.  Mr. Gorman read a Dr. Seuss favorite, Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?, to the class in honor of Read Across America Day which was earlier this month.

After that, the students went to art.

When they returned from art, we reviewed the format of a friendly letter and created a class word bank to help us create thank you notes for Mr. Gorman.  Then the class continued publishing their realistic fiction picture books, wrote thank you notes for the guest reader, read and identified what they learned in "Healthful Foods" and wrote about a financial decision they made.

I met with the YELLOW JACKETS reading group.  Our purpose for meeting was to discuss how we proceed after Spring Break.  It was decided that we would stick with the novel, Journey., but we would start at the beginning and meet consistently.  I was pleased with this decision!

In math, the students were given a task to assess their problem solving skills and their ability to compare fractions.  This task was scored and I took notes indicating how the children were able to communicate their problem solving strategies and the number of items completed correctly.

Following lunch and indoor recess the students continued their independent work.  Then, many students had the chance to share their published stories with the class.

We ended the day by viewing the rest of the Power Point about analyzing a nutrition label.  Then we used our knowledge to view actual labels and decide which is the healthiest choice and identify which label belonged to which food. 

We have had a lot of fun learning about nutrition.  I hope your child has shared some of their new found knowledge with you!

There is NO homework tonight and we will NOT have a math quiz tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wonderful Wednesday

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

When they returned to class, we went over a few odds and ends.  First, I shared the link that I emailed to all parents this morning.  I told the children they did not have to download the software (not a class requirement) and they were not allowed to do so without their parent's permission.  Then I showed the students how to use the software with homework assignments posted on Edmodo.

After that, I reminded students that the realistic fiction picture book is due no later than Friday.  My grades are due over Spring Break.  So, whatever is completed by Friday afternoon will be scored.

Finally, I shared the news that we will be getting kindergarten book buddies on Friday.  We will be meeting with our kindergarten buddies on Friday to read a story and work on comprehension skills.  I've never done this before but I am sure it will be a fun and rewarding experience for all involved!

Next, I reminded the students of my personal goal (well, one of them) for the next marking period...I would like to incorporate science and social studies instruction into our independent work.  With that in mind, we defined economics and defined the idea of income, expense and financial decision making.

During independent work time today the students will work on completing their realistic fiction picture book.  Then they will read the Healthful Foods article and write 3 things they learned and 1 question they still have.  After that, they will complete an activity called Money Goal where they have to make and explain a financial decision.

In math we continued working towards the memorization of the basic multiplication facts.  First, though, we learned how to quickly multiply tens, hundreds and thousands, by counting zeroes and adding them to our answer...let me give you an example.  To multiply 3 x 400, you would calculate 3x4 and add 2 zeroes to the end.

While Mrs. Head and I met with small groups, the students chose between 4 different ways to practice the multiplication facts.  One choice was Ken Ken.  Another was the multiplication app through Edmodo.  The last two choices were the games we played, in class, on Monday and Tuesday.  These were games that are printed on worksheets.

One group I met with practiced identifying equivalent fractions.  The second group drew representations of improper fractions.

Mrs. Head worked with students to correctly partition grids and identify fractions.  She also met with a group to identify fractions on a number line.

There is a multiplication worksheet fro homework.

Following lunch and recess the students continued working on their realistic fiction picture book, reading and responding to the Healthful Foods article, and writing about a financial decision.

There is an EDMODO homework assignment.  The students need to read an article and write 1-2 sentences explaining the issue.

Towards the end of the afternoon reading/writing block, some students shared their realistic fiction books with the class.  These will be sent home on Friday, after we share them with our kindergarten buddies.

We ended the day with science.  We began watching a Power Point presentation about nutrition labels.  The class had great questions and comments to add, so we didn't finish.  We will revisit the Power Point tomorrow afternoon.

Students are encouraged to check out this nutrition web site.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Terrific Tuesday

The children began their day with PE.  When they returned to class, I explained the purpose of an author's note and a dedication in a published book.  Then I told the students they had the option of adding one, or both, to their realistic fiction picture books.  I encouraged them to look through books in our classroom to see examples of these two items before adding them to their work.

The students then continued publishing and illustrating their books.  Those who felt their books were complete, added a front and back cover.  Finally, they turned them in for me to bind and grade.

In math we reviewed comparing fractions and identifying equivalent fractions during our warm up.  Then I introduced another game for the children to play in groups of 2 or 4 which will help with the memorization of the multiplication basic facts.  For homework, students are expected to visit and spend 15 minutes practicing the basic multiplication facts.  Students were offered a worksheet as another option, for homework.

Following lunch and outdoor recess, the students met Mrs. Howard in the computer lab to complete a web displaying examples of how they demonstrate self esteem.

Upon returning to the classroom, Mrs. Benson introduced the web site math fact cafe to the students and provided time for them to investigate the site.  I was at an in-house meeting.

There is no Edmodo homework tonight but will most likely be an assignment tomorrow night.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Monday...Marching towards Spring Break!!

With MSA testing behind us and Spring Break ahead, we are getting back to our routine...somewhat!

This week, during our reading and writing blocks, we will be concentrating on publishing and sharing our realistic fiction picture books.  Therefore, reading groups will not resume until we return from Spring Break.

Our reading homework will be via Edmodo.  The students WILL still write the assignment in their, no homework written in planner=no reading homework!  :-)

I am planning to post articles about issues that have more than one side.  This will build their background knowledge and prepare them for their 4th quarter reading, writing and research project.

We began the morning with a class meeting.  Our group share had the students stating their thoughts about the MSA.  Overall, students agreed that some parts were easy and others more challenging.  After that, we shared compliments.  Finally, we discussed challenges that were on the children's minds.

Next we reviewed the characteristic of the literary non-fiction genre and read the book Emma's Poem.  This book was the true story of Emma Lazarus, the poet who scribed the famous poem bearing the lines, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..."

After discussing the book, the students continued working on their realistic fiction picture book (publishing and illustrating) and they also read an article called, "Healthful Foods, " and wrote three things they learned and 1 question they still had.

I met with individual students to help them with editing and publishing their stories.

In math we reviewed comparing fractions and naming equivalents during their warm up.  Then we switched our focus to the memorization of the basic multiplication facts.  We will be focusing on this most of the week. Today the students got into small groups of either 2 or 4 and played a game called 4 in a Row that required recall of the multiplication basic facts.  Students were told to note challenging facts on a sticky note (as the played).  Before going to lunch we shared some of the tricky facts.  Each fact shared (except one) included 7 as a factor.  So, based on this information, the children will have a worksheet for homework that practices the 7's multiplication facts.  I would also suggest that students visit math fact cafe for more help!

Following lunch and outdoor recess I explained tonight's EDMODO HOMEWORK.  Students are to read the article I posted on Edmodo and write 1-2 sentences explaining the issue (problem) stated in the article.

Then the children continued their independent work assignments from this morning.  I, again, helped individual students.

We ended the day by reviewing a Power Point called Healthy Eating, that can be found at  We identified food groups and nutrients that are essential for a healthy diet.  We also discussed the different factors that contribute to identifying and maintaining a healthy weight for individuals.

This week is our school's canned food drive.  If you can help, please send items in with your child this week!

Friday, March 15, 2013

TGIF - Bingo Night!!

This morning I was out of the building but Mrs. DeLisi, a former MCPS teacher, was here in my place.

The class began by revisiting the characteristics of literary non-fiction and then read The Snow Walker, a true story that took place during the blizzard of 1888.  This was the same setting as the historical fiction novel, Anna, Grandpa and the Big Storm, which we read earlier in the marking period.

After that, the class continued working on their realistic fiction picture books.

During math, the students took a quiz on fractions.  These have been scored and returned to the students.  Look for them in your child's math section in his/her binder.

I returned just prior to the students going to lunch and outdoor recess.

After recess, we reviewed how heat travels and the idea that heat will flow between objects in order to equalize the temperature.  We watched a short animated clip, reviewed the chart we created while conducting our experiments earlier in the week, and read informational text.

Then the students went back to their seats to answer two questions:  How does heat travel?  What happens to objects that are different temperatures?  They also had to draw a picture or diagram to support their responses.  These will be scored this weekend and returned to the students on Monday.

We ended the day by visiting the media center.

Don't forget tonight is Bingo Night.  It begins at 6 and runs until 8.  I will be there with my two boys!  Hope to see many of you there!!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Thursday - Class Picture Day

We began the morning with me explaining an idea I had regarding celebrating our mistakes.  I have thought about labeling a portion of our wall or bulletin board space with, Mistakes I Found" or something like that.  Then students would be able to fill out an award for a mistake they corrected and hanging it in that area.  Some students loved the idea.  Others thought it was okay.  None of them, though, disliked the idea.  So, we may do just that!  :-)

Next, we viewed a Power Point about illustrating books and discussed how the illustrations added details to the story.

After that, I reviewed how to begin illustrating the books.  First, the children need to space out their text.  They need to decide which sentences should be on each page and where they want the sentences (top, middle, bottom).  After doing that, they will either print out the story and illustrate it by hand or they can choose to create their pictures using the laptop or iPad. 

Before the students returned to their seats, I revisited how to create pictures, using Pixie for the laptop and Penultimate for the iPad, and then import the illustrations into their text.

Finally, the students went back to work on their stories.  Some finished editing and revising their text, while others began illustrating their books.

In math we reviewed comparing fractions and identifying equivalents.  Then we identified how to name wholes as a fraction (ex. 3/1 or 6/2).  Finally, we made the connection between fractions and division.  For example, 6/2=3, you need to have 6 parts in groups of 2 ( 6 divided by 2), which will give you three wholes.

There will be a quiz tomorrow.  Students should use Quiz 5 to prepare for it.

After enjoying lunch and recess the students went to art.

When they returned they met in their small groups and discussed what they learned from yesterday's science experiment.  Then we gathered into a whole group and shared each group's data.  After that, we attempted to draw some conclusions from the data but it was a struggle.  So I explained how I could look at the information and figure out a few things.

The water in the two cups appeared to move towards the room temperature.  However, the two groups that did not take the temperature of the water this morning, did not see the temperatures get as close to the room temperature as the others.  So, we know that it takes longer for the temperatures in the cups to equalize to room temperature.  Unfortunately, many students struggled with this idea.  So, we will revisit it tomorrow afternoon.

Reminders:  Math quiz tomorrow
Memorize basic multiplication facts (
Media Center tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Writing Wednesday

Ahhh...with MSA testing behind us, we are back to some sense of normalcy.  There are still some schedule related changes but I get to instruct and the students get to learn.  YIPPEE!

This morning we focused on our realistic fiction writing project.

First I did a mini lesson about homophones.  We watched a short video clip, from Behind the Lions, and identified homophones as words that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings.  Then I told the students I had noticed that many students were using the wrong spelling of "there" in their writing.  I wrote all three spelling and the meaning of each on chart paper.

I also took this opportunity to explain to the students that I want to begin celebrating our mistakes.  Too often, we tell students that mistakes are good and we learn from our mistakes but then we acknowledge and celebrate work that is close to perfect.  In my opinion, that sends a mixed message.  So, my goal, from here on out, is to have students note the corrections they make and to honor and celebrate these.  After all, isn't that why we are learn from our mistakes and get smarter??

Next, the children reviewed their rough drafts and looked for the word there in their writing and corrected any mistakes that were made.  After that, they finished their peer conferences (from yesterday).  Finally, they went back to their typed version (either on the iPad or the laptop) and updated these using the corrections they made on their paper copy.

Towards the end of our work session, I gathered students on the carpet to share different ways they can illustrate their books, once they are ready to do so.

In math we split into two groups.  One group practiced identifying equivalent fractions and comparing fractions, both using worksheets.  When this group was finished, they played games that were introduced at the end of last week, practicing both skills.

The second group attempted to solve a multi-step math problem, using a tool on the lap top.  This problem required to follow clues to identify an unknown number.  I met with students in this group individually to listen to them explain their thinking.  Both the notes and the final answer will provide data as we move towards identifying students who will engage in the compacted math curriculum next year.

Following lunch and outdoor recess the students went to PE.

When they returned from PE we reviewed the question we discussed in science yesterday...what will happen to the temperature  of two cups of water (one 99 and the other 1 degree Celsius_ and the air temperature near these cups, over a period of time.  Today we discussed which variables would stay the same (the cups) and which would change.  We also discussed what data we would need to collect and how to record it.  Finally, we talked about how often to collect the data.

Then, the students got to work conducting their experiment.

We will discuss our results and conclusions tomorrow!

Again, there is now homework (MSA reward) BUT we will have a math quiz on Friday (use last week's to prepare) AND students should begin memorizing the multiplication basic facts!!!!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Final Day of MSA...YEY!

This morning we took the final part of the Math MSA.  This also marked the end of MSA testing for our class.  YEY!

After testing, we cleaned and organized our desks.  We also put the room back in order by making clusters of desks and uncovering the items on our walls.

After that, the students got into groups of 2or 3 and using a checklist I provided, read their realistic fiction rough drafts to their group while the other members provided compliments and suggestions about their stories.  This is what it looked like:

Next, the students enjoyed lunch and recess.  Then they went to music.

After music, we had a short discussion about the use of Edmodo.  Then we turned our attention to science.

I asked the students what they thought would happen if we a cup of water measuring 99degrees Celsius and another measuring 25 degrees Celsius sitting on a table in a room that was 25 degrees Celsius.  We charted their ideas, after identifying that water freezes at 0 degrees Celsius and boils at 100 degrees Celsius.

Next, the students got into groups of 4 and began to plan how they could test the theories provided by our class.  They decided what materials they would need and what steps they would need to take.

Tomorrow the groups will follow their plans and decide which, if any, of our hypothesis were correct.

Monday, March 11, 2013

MSA Math Monday

This morning the students took the first part of the Math MSA.  It took most of the morning. 

After the test, and before lunch, we spent time sharing more about our family's cultures.

Following lunch and outdoor recess, we continued working on our realistic fiction picture book project.  The goal for today was to listen to either the iPad or the laptop read our story and correct any omission for awkward word choices.  Additionally, the students were to use spellcheck to correct spelling and an online thesaurus feature to improve their word choice.  Some students were successful.  many, however, ran into some challenges!  We used this opportunity to practice problem solving (to troubleshoot) and risk taking!!

We will continue working on the rough drafts later this week!

Group picture day is THURSDAY.  Forms were sent home today!

Friday, March 8, 2013


Remember...due to the snow day, our MSA schedule has changed.  We will be taking the Math MSA on Monday and Tuesday of next week!

This morning we focused on our writing project.  First, though, we had a few mini-lessons.  We began by comparing and contrasting the Ipad and the laptop for the use of publishing our writing.  We charted the strengths of each and then the students were given the option to pick the one they preferred.  The only caveat...once they chose which technology tool they would use, they had to stick with changes!

Next, I modeled using my story map to write the events that will lead my main character from the problem to the solution.  I  pointed out the need for, and my use of, transition words to identify changes in the scenes.

After that, I reviewed verb tenses with the class.  I pointed out that I had noticed many students were changing the tenses as they wrote.  I shared a piece of student writing, which I had typed up, with the class.  We analyzed the piece, identifying the verbs in each sentence and determining whether they were past or present tense.  Then I shared that I prefer to write in the past tense and together we edited the sentences that needed verbs changed from present to past tense.

Finally, the students worked independently to finish their rough drafts and begin typing their writing.

In math we began listing rules we use to compare fractions and I introduced a new one...thinking of a landmark fraction.  A landmark fraction is one we know well, such as, 1/2 or a whole.  We think about how the fraction relates to the landmark fraction and use that knowledge to compare the two fractions in the problem.  For example, 1/3 and 9/10...1/3 is less than a half and 9/10 is almost a whole.  Therefore, we know that 9/10 HAS to be greater than 1/3. 

After practicing this rule, the students got to choose how they were going to practice comparing fractions or identifying equivalent fractions.  Their choices included new games I introduced today and a few apps on the iPad.  During this time, Mrs. Head and I worked with small groups.

My first group practiced identifying and naming mixed numbers on the number line.  My second group worked on partitioning grids into equal groups and naming fractions that identified the shaded and unshaded parts.

Mrs. Head's first group practiced identifying equivalent fractions.  Her second group identified and named fractions on a number line.

After enjoying lunch and recess the students worked on different activities.  Some students finished writing their rough drafts.  Other students typed their rough drafts on either a lap top or an iPad.  The rest practiced telling time to the minute (a review from last year) using an iPad app.

We ended the day by sharing what the children had learned about their family's culture.  It was so much fun finding out new things about each other!!!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Our week continues...It's Thursday!

I hope all of you survived the 10+ inches of snow that we were promised and didn't get...

Just a note about testing...due to the snow day MSA testing has been pushed back a day. That means we will NOT have testing tomorrow. Instead we will take the math portion of the MSA on Monday and TUESDAY of next week.

This morning we were introduced to a new genre of literature, literary nonfiction. This is nonfiction (true facts) written in the form of a story. After discussing this type of writing we viewed two video clips to build our background knowledge about the subject of the book, Kate Shelley, a teenager who saved over 200 people by getting word out that a bridge had collapsed during a terrible storm. This stopped the Midnight Express from continuing onto its intended path over the collapsed bridge.

After identifying what we learned from the video clips, we read and discussed the story.

Next, reviewed the writing dialogue resources (worksheets) they received last Friday. First, we identified the punctuation and capitalization rules for writing dialogue in text. Then we reviewed the list of words that we could use instead of the word, "said".

Finally, the students worked on completing their rough drafts for their realistic fiction picture books and added dialogue to their writing. If they finished early, they were to find examples of dialogue in realistic fiction books and copy them, correctly, into a chart in their RRJ.

As they students worked, I met with individuals who needed help with their rough drafts.

In math we used pictures to compare fractions with the same numerator but different denominators.  The students are truly beginning to understand that the larger the denominator, the smaller the pieces will be.  While students completed 5 problems in their math journals, Mrs. Head and I met with small groups.  My group practiced partitioning grids into equal groups and naming fractions for the shaded and unshaded parts.  Mrs. Heads group worked on identifying equivalent fractions.

Following lunch and recess the students went to art.  When they returned to art, we viewed a Power Point about how culture is shared.  Then the students discussed what they learned with a partner and created a web, showing how culture is shared, in their social studies journal.

FOR HOMEWORK:  Students are to find out about their family's culture, through discussion with an adult, and write about it (jot down ideas) in their social studies journal.  We will share these ideas tomorrow, in class.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

MSA - Day 2: The Final Reading Session

This morning the children completed the final part of the reading MSA. 

This did take the majority of the morning.  The students really put in a lot of effort!  I was very proud of  them!!

The math portion of the MSA is currently scheduled for this Friday and next Monday morning.

After completing the MSA, we compared fractions with the same numerator but different denominators.  We used pictures of pizza divided into eighths, fourths and halves to recognize that a larger denominator means that the pizza is shared with more people and thus the pieces are actually smaller.  Then we watched a video clip to reinforce this idea.  After that, the students worked in small groups to compare 2/3 and 2/8.  Overall, the students grasped this concept with ease...however, not to be a downer, I know from the past, students will forget what they have learned and easily revert to thinking the larger number in the denominator equates to a larger fraction.  So, we will review this a lot!!

Following lunch and outdoor recess the students went to music.

When they returned to class, we read two realistic fiction stories, both written by Patricia Polacco, called My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother and Chicken Sunday.  After identifying both the main character and the problem in each, we focused on how the author used the actions and words of the main character to solve the problem.  Hopefully, this will help the children as they finish writing their rough drafts, solving the problem they have already written about.

Again, the homework is to relax...although we didn't write it in the planner this evening, I bet the children will not forget to do it!  :-)

Monday, March 4, 2013

MSA Monday

We started the day by completing the first or two parts of the Reading MSA.  I am very proud of the children.  I saw students using their strategies and putting effort into their work.  Yippee!

After that, the rest of the students shared their rough drafts (up to introducing the problem) of the realistic fiction picture book assignment.  As we did on Friday, after each child shared, the class offered two things the author did well and then we checked to make sure the main character, setting and problem were easy to identify.

Following lunch and outdoor recess we reviewed the symbols used to compare things in math; greater than, less than, and =.  The students were told to remember that the mouth opens to the greater (or larger) side.  Then we watched a short animated clip explaining that when the denominator is the same, you merely have to look at the numerator to determine if two fractions are equal or one is greater than (or less than) the other.

Next, we reviewed the terms; symmetry, area and perimeter.  The students practiced this math vocabulary in various ways.  Some used the virtual manipulative web site and others traced pattern blocks and square tiles.  Here is some of their work:

HOMEWORK:  Students are to relax, go to bed early and eat a good breakfast!

Friday, March 1, 2013


MSA testing begins MONDAY!!!  Please be sure your child gets a full night's sleep, eats a big breakfast and arrives on time.  Once testing begins, students are not allowed to enter the classroom...they will have to wait in the office!

This morning, I went to a training about assessing and selecting students for the compacted (accelerated) math curriculum in 4th grade.  I returned to school in time for math.

While I was there the children went to music.  Then they listened to the realistic fiction book, My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother, by Patricia Polacco, and identified elements of realistic fiction, including the problem and solution.  After that they briefly reviewed using dialogue in their writing and received two handouts, that will be used as resources and stored in the writing section of their binder.  WE will go over these, more in depth, next week.

In math, the children took a quiz.  These quizzes have been scored and returned.  They are expected to be stored in the math section of their binder.

Following lunch and outdoor recess, we divided into two groups.  One group, sat with me and shared their realistic fiction rough draft.  For each student who shared, we (the class and I) explained what we thought the author did well and then we checked to be sure each piece included an identifiable main character, setting and problem.

The other group worked with Mrs. Benson to catch up...meaning, finishing up their story map and beginning their rough draft (setting up the situation and introducing the problem).

After that, I gathered the students on the carpet and constructed a chart displaying our schedule for the next two weeks.  (See below.) Due to MSA testing, there will be many changes.    Then, the students organized their desks and we moved them into rows, again, preparing for testing.

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