Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"Give me liberty, or give me death!"

Instead of Spanish, we began our day with a Multiplication Mosaic. The kids answered multiplication problems, plotting the answers on a grid. The hundred place being the horizontal spaces and the tens place being the vertical. We have discussed mosaics in art class, and I was excited to integrate the two subjects. The students loved it! I can see more of these type activities in our future!

Spelling- The class went over each and every word in the spelling list today, discussing “special sounds” and rules as we went.

Poetry- Everyone is doing a great job with their poetry memorization! We are going to try to have “Hide and Seek” completely put to memory by next Thursday. For those who are still working on it, I suggested that they set a timer for themselves when they study at home. I'm excited for the next poetry video... which for this poem will be an illustrated video recitation!

Grammar- Today's grammar lesson was on abbreviations, initials, and titles of respect. We worked on writing full names, abbreviated names, and the names of our parents including their titles of respect. The kids studied the abbreviations for the days of the week and months of the year, as well. It was a bit of a review, but a needed one!

Math- In the last two lessons in Teaching Textbooks, the kids have been learning about angles. We delved deeper into the lesson today. Not only did we review naming angles, right angles, and measuring angles with a protractor, but we also worked problems where the students had to use the angle measurements that were given in order to extrapolate the measurement of the other angle. I was very impressed with each one of them as we worked through the first problem. Without having to be told, they were able to apply the knowledge that a right angle is 90 degrees, the knowledge that one of the angles within that angle was 60 degrees, and come up with the remaining angle's measurement. Once I realized that the concept was not difficult for them, we worked some more complicated problems. Excellent!

Social Studies- Today was a lesson full of new ideas for the students! The topic of the day was “Declaring Independence”. They learned of the patriot Patrick Henry and his thrilling speech where he exclaimed, “Give me liberty or give me death!” They learned of Thomas Paine's Common Sense, and how it spread the idea of independence among the colonists. They also read about the making of the Declaration of Independence. All of the terms from today were reviewed in a Declaration of Independence crossword puzzle.
Reading/Writing- Each child read their book report paper on “The Earthshaking Earthquake Mystery” today. They wrote excellent letters to movie producers, giving extremely convincing arguments for making this book into a movie! Now that this book is behind us, we will be moving on to a Shakespeare For Kids book.... Hamlet!

Art- Ms. Nancy brought in fabric squares today so that the kids could start work on their story quilts! We will continue to work on creating our stories at home... and work on the quilts in art class on Tuesdays. I think these are going to be great!

Music- Today was a very productive music day. After flash card review, the students went through their recital piece, “In the Morning”. Mrs. Beresford explained how things will lay out for the big night. They are getting excited about sharing their talents!

    Thursday, February 23, 2012

    Taco Fiesta!

    We had a guest speaker today! Ms. Ellen came to our class to teach us about her job as a speech pathologist at the Joseph Sams school.  The class learned about different physical and cognitive disabilities... and much more importantly, learned that they do not matter one bit!  The lesson of the day was that all children, regardless of their abilities, can be a great friend and have a really good time doing the same things that you do!  We watched a video clip of students at the Joseph Sams school laughing, playing, bowling, dancing, and having a blast.  I have said this before about other big life lessons, but some of the most important things that we learn at our school has nothing to do with math, grammar, or writing.  The big lessons, like today's lesson on acceptance and looking past appearances, are the ones that form character... and I am so pleased that Ms. Ellen could share this with our class!

    Spanish- It was our last review day for the big night! We will have a full house tonight, enjoying Mexican food, a bullfighting presentation, and a pinata!

    Spelling- After a very enthusiastic round of “loud” and “soft” spelling list review, we pulled out the letter tiles. The kids worked in teams to spell the words with the tiles. We have some long words this time, so it was a bit tricky not to run out of letters!

    Grammar- Today was a big review of all of our recent topics: predicate nominatives, predicate adjectives, direct objects, and adverbs. For those of you who are prospective students for next year, it is important to note that your child does not need to know these topics for next school year (nor do I expect the returning students to remember everything they learned)! First Language Lessons is a very repetitive curriculum that always begins with a broad review. No stress allowed!

    Math- Practice, practice, practice! We are sticking to multiplication and division for quite some time. Today, we worked long division problems with remainders. This is a concept that is hard to commit to memory without lots of repetition. Keep working on those multiplication tables at home. I will be posting multiplication games each day on Homework Hideout!

    Social Studies- In social studies today, the students learned about the battle of Lexington and Concord. We were all so pleased with the reaction from the animated reenactments that we watched at home yesterday! We will definitely be posting more interactive lessons to correlate with the material!

    Writing- In writing class today, we took to the floor and worked with word tiles. It was a great review of grammar material... and the kids learned an important lesson: That our subjects are not free standing and are interrelated. I cannot believe that I heard, “Hey! This isn't writing! This is grammar!”


    The grand opening of Tact Fiesta was a complete success!  The class did an amazing job in their jobs as hostess, servers, and cooks!  Their Spanish was excellent and the bullfighting presentation was superb!  All parents, children,and teachers had an absolutely awesome night of food, entertainment, and fun!

    Thank you, Ms. Joanne!

    Tuesday, February 21, 2012

    Story Quilts

    Spanish- Our kids and our classroom is getting prepared for Thursday night's Mexican Restaurant project! The bullfighting presentation is coming together... the costumes are made... the room is being decorated... and the students know their Spanish words! I can't wait to see it all come together for a fun night with the families!

    Spelling- We went over each and every spelling word today, discussing the tricky aspects of each one. There are many homophones that we went over today: poor/pour/pore, chili/chilly, and threw/through. There is also the homonym “type”. It is a homonym because it can either mean type as in “I like to type on the computer” or type as in “What type of drink would you like?”.

    Poetry- We will be working on memorizing the entire poem “Hide and Seek”. I am hoping to work on our next poetry project toward the end of March!

    Grammar- Today, we diagrammed more sentences that contain adverbs that describe other adverbs. The kids are getting really good at this! We also worked on our preposition memorization. Keep those preposition cards in the bookbags, as we will be using them in class as well as at home!

    Reading/Writing- We combined reading and writing, as we continued to work on our book reports. The students are writing letters to movie producers describing the book that they just read and working hard to convince the producer to turn the book into a movie! In an elaborate dramatization, I played the part of the movie producer as he goes through his mail. Hopefully, I showed the kids how they need to have an exciting, descriptive, and convincing letter in order to capture the attention of their reader!

    Math- We drilled multiplication tables today with both a skip counting lesson and a speed game with multiplication problems. In addition to teaching textbooks, we will be spending time at home doing online multiplication games and online flash cards. I suggest setting a timer and encouraging your child to play only the multiplication games for a certain time. Repetition is the key, and a time set aside for this will help them know that the goal is not to only answer each problem one.... it's to practice over and over!

    Social Studies- Today, the class learned about the first battles in the American Revolutionary War. It was a big day with lots of information! They discussed Paul Revere's ride, “the shot heard 'round the world”, Bunker Hill, The Second Continental Congress, and The Olive Branch Petition. All of the talk of soldiers and battles created a lot of interest!

    Art- Ms. Nancy helped the kids bind their watercolor technique books today. They practiced stitching with needle and thread as their bound the pages. After they completed their booklets, Ms. Nancy read to them the story by "Tar Beach" Faith Ringgold.  Faith Ringgold is known for her story quilts -- an art that combines painting, quilted fabric and storytelling.  Ms. Nancy introduced their new project that will combine art class with creative writing.  The kids will be writing their own stories and creating their own story quilts!  We will start brainstorming our stories at home on Monday. 

    Thursday, February 16, 2012

    Work When We Work. Play When We Play.

    Spanish- Practice, practice, practice! Today was another day of practice for next week's Mexican restaurant night. As you could probably guess, the bullfighting presentation is the funnest part of class! The kids are learning the art of bullfighting... and enjoying taking turns being the bull! Can't wait to serve our families a Mexican dinner and show them all that we have learned!

    Spelling- Our spelling list this week is full of words from history. They completed a worksheet that helped them define each of the words.  Although the spelling may not be as much of an issue on this list, the vocabulary seems to be...  Keep working on them at home!

    Grammar- We have already learned about adverbs that describe verbs, but today, we learned about adverbs that describe adjectives and other adverbs.  These do not tell us how, when, where, or how often (like the ones we previously learned).  These tell us "to what extent".  For example, in the sentence "He ran very quickly.", "very" tells us to what extent he ran quickly.  We began diagramming these adverbs, as well. 

    Math- We have been studying division for a couple weeks now, and today was a day to go back and review what we have learned. There is a big skill that will help tremendously with long division. Multiplication! Once we have those multiplication tables memorized, it will become easier to get through the division problems. Keep on working at home! After going through some problems together, we played a multiplication review card game. To drill the multiplication tables, the kids drew a card, rolled a dice, and multiplied the two together. The student with the highest product collected each players card. It's a great (non-boring) way to do multiplication!

    Science- The class has been discussing weather recently in science, reading, and even writing classes. The kids reviewed the terms that they have learned so far by matching up vocabulary cards with the definitions. (It's amazing how taking words off of a “worksheet”, cutting them out, and walking across the room to match them makes a review so much more fun!) We continued the lesson by discussing the difference between weather and climate, learning about air masses and fronts, and exploring the factors that affect climate. The students cut out paper spirals. Our heat source had a short and wouldn't turn on, so we will be taking our spirals home to do the demonstration! Hold the spiral 15cm above a heat source (la light bulb works well). Discuss what causes the spiral to spin!

    Social Studies- Today's class was all about the First Continental Congress.  Mr. Dennis brought in a skit for the kids to read through (with silly hoity-toity voices, no less!)  They learned about the Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, and George Washington's roles in the First Continental Congress, and the unified response from the colonies to the Intolerable Acts. 

    Reading/Writing- We finished "The Earthshaking Earthquake Mystery"!  After reviewing our vocabulary words and talking about what we liked about the ending, I introduced the class to their next writing assignment.  They will be writing a book report in the form of a detailed letter. Their letter will be written as if they were going to send it to a movie producer. The purpose of the letter is to inform the movie producer about the awesome book that they just read and convince him or her that it should be made into a movie!  The paper needs to describe and tell about the book, give reasons why they liked the book, explain why it would make a great movie, and give ideas for how to make this into a movie!

    After pumping the class up about their awesome assignment, the kids began their brainstorming session during class.  They each worked incredibly hard on their lists and/or graphic organizers.  I am trying to help them learn that the more that they brainstorm and capture on paper, the easier writing their rough draft will be!  This class, that did not start out liking to write (and still will not admit that they do), sat in total silence and brainstormed, pencils flying, for over 30 minutes.  Many of them even started rough drafts!  We have come such a long way this year!

    A fierce battle ensued.
    Every good battle scene deserves a bow.
    One thing that I have learned to appreciate this school year, even more than I already did, was the value of loosely organized play. When left to their own imaginations, these kids can create, explore, reenact, invent, and self-direct. So often, educators forget that certain education can also happen without the outside influence of lessons, projects, or plans. With a subtle nudge, these kids spent their 20 minute free time in a completely adult-free world of pretend... that involved a pretty impressive storyline that I could describe as a combo of Greek mythology and McBeth. There was a king, a king's son, a guard, animals, and a few swords created from a ruler with a wadded up strip of paper towel through the hole to form a crossguard. There was a fierce battle with an imaginary cyclopes and possibly, if I understood correctly, a minotaur. We learn. Play helps process. I love it.

    Tuesday, February 14, 2012

    Happy Valentine's Day!

    We had a guest speaker today! Mr. Brian (or Professor Jeffers for today), came to talk to the class about soil horizons, permeability, water quality, pollution, soil classification, and all sorts of other awesome topics! We even learned about how septic systems work. Nothing keeps students more interested than a guest speaker, cool equipment, and a lesson about dirt, and poo!

    In science, we have been studying our Earth's resources. It was great to see the kids connect our our lessons in environmental responsibility with the agricultural discussions that we have had this year.  I see a writing assignment in our future!

    Spanish- The kids made their Spanish name tags today. Ms. Joanne is helping them prepare for the big night.... Be ready for a fiesta!

    Grammar- Everyone did a great job with their video lessons from Friday and Monday! We went over each sentence together. I am so impressed with their abilities to find the prepositions, knock out those prepositional phrases, and locate the objects of the prepositions! We had a review today of adjectives. Sometimes it can be difficult finding the subject or object of the preposition with all of those adjectives in the way. We practiced diagramming some very descriptive sentences so we don't forget how to break them down!

    Math- We have been doing some hands on activities with division problems that result in a remainder. Today, we finally picked up the pencils and worked some problems. Their mastery of long division is a work in process, but we are going to stick on this topic for quite some time. I encourage you to spend some extra time practicing long division problems at home!

    Social Studies- The kids learned all about the Boston Tea Party today.

    Writing- What an awesome writing assignment! A couple weeks ago, the kids drew names. They have been working on writing papers about the friend whose name they drew. Today was the unveiling of their projects! First of all, I loved that all of the anticipation this Valentine's Day was focused on excitement about getting to read their papers to their friends... and getting to give them the portraits that they made. So often the point of giving is lost at holidays. Although they were excited about playing and making our no-bake cookies, giving their “presents” was far more important to them!

    Each child stood in front of the class and read their paper. It described their friend, told stories about him or her, and explained how he or she is a great friend.... without saying the person's name. After the paper was read, the class guessed whom it was about. Then, the “friend” came up and received the paper and the portrait that was drawn of them. I could not have been more pleased with the outcome!

    Our no-bake cookies were super yummy. This is a recipe that two of our students learned at their cooking class at the recreation center this month. I must say, the highlight of the entire experience was crushing the graham crackers! Each student made their own mini-batch of cookies, which meant that each student got to crush their own graham crackers. FUN!
    • 8 whole-wheat graham cracker squares, finely ground
    • ¼ cup raisins (or however many raisins they want)
    • ¼ cup smooth natural peanut butter
    • 3 tablespoons honey
    • unsweetened coconut
    Combine all ingredients except coconut in a bowl (or a baggie, like we did). Roll and squeeze into balls or pat into cookies and roll in coconut.

    Music- Mrs. Beresford worked her magic yet again today, as the kids flew through music flashcards, practiced playing “In the Morning” as a group, and worked on “America the Beautiful”. It amazes me how much these kids get through in such a short amount of time!

    Happy Valentine's Day!

    Thursday, February 9, 2012

    "Tut Tut, It looks like rain." ~Pooh

    Spanish- We are really getting a feel for how our Mexican restaurant night will flow! Each child has a different role to play, and we spent the day working on our parts, and practicing the Spanish words that we will need to know! Be thinking of how many people will be joining you on Feb. 23rd at 6:00 and let me know as soon as possible. We need to begin making reservations!

    Spelling- We reviewed spelling list 22 today by jumping from tape to tape. Each child had a different path to follow. For each correctly spelling word, they could take a jump to the next tape. Each path lead to a hula hoop in the middle of class! Although it took some longer than others to reach the hoop, the kids cheered each other on... and ended the game with a big hula-hoop-group-hug!

    Grammar- The students made flash cards today to help them memorize their prepositions. Now, instead of cracking their workbooks, they can practice there prepositions anywhere! I am so impressed with their grasp on prepositions and prepositional phrases... and now, also with objects of prepositions. We did lesson 51 together, circling the prepositions, underlining the prepositional phrases, and putting a box around the objects of the preposition.

    Reading- Today, we discussed the major change in Nick and Curie's attitude towards the men in the black sedan. They had a completely different theory about the men, and we talked about the evidence that Nick and Curie found that helped them to change their ideas. We also reviewed the vocabulary for chapters 11 and 12. As of next week, we will be finished with “The Earthshaking Earthquake Mystery”! By popular demand, we will be picking up another of the “Shakespeare for Kids” books and reading Hamlet next. Can you believe that Shakespeare is back by popular demand? WOW!

    Math- Again, we used hands on learning to get a grasp on dividing with a remainder. We used dimes and pennies to represent tens and ones. The students divided the coins into equal groups, getting a strong visual on the pennies that remain. We wrote the division problems on the board, but the students did not work with a pencil and paper today. I want them to get a good understanding of WHY before they jump into the process of long division. Hopefully, this will provide them with the basic understanding that they need to master this concept on paper!

    Science- We learned all about clouds and weather today! First, we talked about low and high pressure systems (they will be learning more about this at home online). I illustrated these systems by placing a latex glove over a mason jar, securing it with a rubber band. The kids attempted to reach inside the glove and pull it out of the jar. They were all so impressed that they weren't able to do it! Next, we discussed the different types of clouds and what they tend to mean. The students each created a cloud finder wheel. This wheel helped them to figure out which clouds were in the sky today! They made a chart that they will use to keep track of the types of clouds that they see each day. The wheel will help them to make predictions about what the weather will be like that afternoon/evening. Finally, we MADE the clouds that we learned about. Using shaving cream, the kids molded and shaped different types of clouds... stratus, cirrus, cumulus... all can be illustrated very well with shaving cream! As you can imagine, the kids LOVED this project!

    Writing- We discussed the Valentine's Day writing project today. The kids only have until Tuesday to take their graphic organizers, write a rough draft, have a grown up help them revise and edit it, and write a final draft. In addition, they will be coloring a picture of their friend. Make it big and neat! They will be presenting their papers and pictures to the class for Valentine's Day on Tuesday.

    Social Studies- The topic of the day was “Conflict”. The class learned about tensions in Boston, The Boston Massacre, The Boston Tea Party, and the First Continental Congress. They have been working at home on a long-term project; a timeline of the American Revolution. Today was packed full of events to add to the mix!

    Tuesday, February 7, 2012

    Hangin' Around

    Spanish- Today, the kids learned even more important words for their Mexican Restaurant night (now to be held on February 23rd – No more changes!). They were drilled on their word lists and practiced our bull fighting demonstration.

    Agricultural Education- We had an awesome lesson from Ms. Joanne today about beekeeping. We learned the first steps to starting a hive. Did you know that when you order bees and they come in the mail, the bees will not go to the bathroom inside the pack? They wait until they are released because they respect each other so much that they will wait for days to go. We thinks bees are way smarter than they are given credit for!

    Today we made good on that deal that the kids came up with during their Kings' Day lesson. Before we cut the Kings' cake, the kids decided that if the teacher was the one who found the prize, the class could go to a fun field trip.... to the jumpy place. Well, lo and behold, I found the prize. So, we piled up and went to go jump out all of that Tuesday morning energy! Needless to say, it was a very exciting day!

    Handwriting- Once again, I am very impressed with the students' border sheets! Our border sheet wall is filling up with beautiful works of art. Excellent job!

    Social Studies- Today, Mr. Dennis taught the kids about the role that political cartoons play in political media. Each student found photos of Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and President Obama at home. This helped them as they looked through various political cartoons today. They were given steps in reading/interpreting a political cartoon, applying it to Benjamin Franklin's “Join or Die” cartoon.

    Art- The students completed their Valentine's Day mobile project today. Last week, they melted bits of crayons between two layers of wax paper.  Today, they cut these into hearts to be suspended from a cute red dowel.  After they finished assembling their mobiles, they completed their watercolor technique booklets.  For kids who thought they knew all there was to know about watercolor, they sure learned a lot!

    Thursday, February 2, 2012

    "Where's my trailer? I need water. Fill my trailer with water!"

    Spanish- Today, Ms. Joanne helped the students as they continued to prepare for the grand opening of their Mexican restaurant, Taco Fiesta! In addition to finishing up the menus and signs for the school house, they worked on their bull fighting presentation. It was just as feisty a morning as it sounds!

    Spelling- Today, we had a written speed quiz. The kids raced to write down the spelling words correctly. Instead of a humdrum “quiz”, it was a fun, high energy race for each word! It is amazing how just a little change in wording can turn a boring review into an exciting game!

    Poetry- We finished filming our video for “My Shadow” today! I will post it as soon as it is ready!

    Grammar- Today, we took our lesson on prepositions a bit further with prepositional phrases. We are going to continue to try to memorize the list of prepositions. The kids put the first three lines to the tune of the ABC's to help them stick!

    Reading- I can't believe we are almost finished with “The Earthshaking Earthquake Mystery”! We discussed chapters 9 and 10 today, reviewing all of the vocabulary words found in the chapters. I loved that the kids remembered the word “scarp” from “The Indian in the Cupboard”! Excellent!

    Math- The kids were introduced to remainders in division today. We used manipulatives and split them up into equal groups. They were able to see with their own eyes what happens if you divide 35 by 4. There are some that are left over! After working with the visuals, we then worked through the concept together on the board. We will be doing actual long division problems on paper beginning Tuesday! This will give us some time to get comfortable with the concept before it is introduced in Teaching Textbooks (Lesson 62).

    Science- Our group project continues! All five kids spend science class working on their water cycle skit. They went over the changes that we made and revised it yet again so that all characters were pleased with their scripts. Luckily, I did not have to order bigger trailers or sparkling water imported from a spring in the Alps. After the revision process was complete, they worked on their costume signs. I will video their presentation on Tuesday!

    Social Studies- The class continued talking about the conflicts between Parliament/Great Britian and the colonies over taxes. They also discussed cause and effect relationships, using a diagram to get a visual on the decisions made by British Parliament.

    Writing- In lieu of store bought Valentines, our class will be doing a writing project that shows how much they appreciate each other. This is a super top secret assignment, not to be revealed until the Valentine's Day party! The kids drew names, secretly. Each student will be completing a graphic organizer about the classmate that they drew in class.

    The organizer has three main parts:
    1. A description of the person. This can include a physical description that tell about their friend. Think about all of the things that make the person different from everyone else. How are they unique? This is the section that can include age, appearance, likes and dislikes, etc.
    2. Personality Traits. In this section, think about adjectives that describe your friend's personality. What are they like? What about their personality makes them unique? Describe why they are special.
    3. Behavior: How does this person show that he or she is your friend? What have they done or how do they act to let you know?

    It is very important that each of the kids do their very best on this assignment. They need to think deeply about their subject. The more time and effort that the students spend making their descriptions meaningful, the more special they will make their friend feel this Valentine's Day!

    This is a top secret project! Telling any classmate the secret will ruin the surprise we have in store!