Thursday, September 27, 2012

Poetry, Projects, and Peas!

After a quick review of the spelling and vocabulary list, we jumped right into handwriting.  As a large group, we discussed and practiced the cursive letter "L".  Because those in the "Transition" book are just learning cursive, I decided to stop and assess their retention.  The entire class was given a sheet of words, in cursive.  These words only contained the letters A-L, plus vowels.  These are the letters that we have focused on so far in class.  For homework, each student will be writing the words twice.  For those just learning, I want to be sure they are able to connect the letters.  For the ones in the "Cursive" book, I want to check to be sure they are staying within the lines and forming their letters correctly.  Often, the easier letters are the ones that tend to get sloppy!

In grammar, each class learned about adverbs today.  We have been learning a lot of definitions in grammar class, and we will be taking time, at home, to review each of them.  This class has a lot of content.  If the students forget what they have learned, it will lead to confusion down the road, when things get more complicated!  They learned the definition of an adverbs, as well as the things that adverbs tell us:  how, when, where, how often, and to what extent.  Today, we focused on adverbs that tell us how and when.

The poem that we are working on memorizing is a tough one!  I explained to the class that we will not be making our video for this one until right before Thanksgiving break.  Although it is not particularly long, it is complicated!  The class will need to study the poem over the next couple months, so that we can make another great video.  The last video is still in the editing process!

Math- In math class today, both classes played a game called, "Who's is the Monkey".  It is a card game, and it was a hit!  The 3A class played using addition and subtraction number bonds.  The 4A class played using multiplication and division number bonds.  It was played with a regular deck of cards, so the kids can play at home!

Science-  In science class today, Ms. Gail used red cabbage indicator to show the class acids and bases. The students took turns adding substances to the beaker, and everyone documented the results.  Observation and documentation is so important!  At one point, a student asked why they couldn't just "dump it in".  In these experiments, they are learning how to set up scientific experiments and understand how to attain accurate results.  They used a graph to record data.  After the discussion and demonstration, Ms. Gail had them do a graphing activity, which was an excellent lesson in negative numbers!  The class had to plot different points on a graph.  In the end, they had a picture of a fox!  They will be working on another graph activity at home.

After discussing the comprehension questions that the students completed at home, Ms. Gail read chapter 5 in "Summer of the Monkeys" to the class today, as they followed along in their books.  The class is LOVING this book!  I didn't hear a peep out of them as they read along with Ms. Gail.  They focused so hard and were so involved in the reading, that Ms. Gail and I gave them a bonus star on their chart!

Social Studies- The class brought in their cereal box projects today!  They each had a chance to stand up in front of the class, show off their project, and teach the class about the historic figure that they chose.  These were awesome!  After the presentations, Mr. Dennis had the students look at the handouts that they have been given over the last few weeks to complete a review sheet.  They will work on finishing these at home.

Agriculture- I switched things up a bit in agriculture today!  We are postponing our lesson on carrots until next week.  Today, we happened to have sweet peas that needed planting!  The students learned about cool weather crops.  They also learned about germination, reasons to start with seeds versus seedlings, and plasticulture!  Everyone had so much to share about their own gardening experiences!  We then walked across the street and planted the sweet peas into the garden.  I explained to the class that each plant has its own needs... amount of water, direct or indirect sunlight, spacing, etc.  These sweet pea plants needed to be spaced 5" apart.  This was a great way for the children to use measurements and math in real life!  We attempted to measure 5", and each student planted a seedling in the soil.  We then watered the newly planted seedlings. It was a beautiful day to get outside, and the class needed the change of scenery!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Papier-Mâché Day

We had a great time at Inman Farm Heritage Days!  All of our animals were raffled off, and we earned $185 towards our field trip fund!  It was a beautiful weekend and I am so glad we were able to share our community with each of you!

Spelling- We went over our new list today.  There were a few terms that the students could not define.  We cracked open the dictionaries and looked them up!  This list contains a good number of suffixes and root words.  Although we discussed these in class, parents might want to specifically point these out, as well.  By the way, the password is spelling word #11!

Handwriting-  We practiced writing the cursive letter K today.  Although the uppercase K was pretty simply for the class, the lower case k was a bit more tricky.  It was even a little tricky for those who weren't learning it for the first time!  The students worked on focusing, slowing down, and making their pencil go exactly where they wanted it to go.  Handwriting can improve so much when we just slow down and think!  For those just learning cursive, they will need to work on each letter at home, as well as in class.  This is the only way they will be able to be writing cursive border sheets by the end of the year!  Twice a week in class is simply not enough!

Grammar-  After reviewing their work from yesterday's at home lesson, the class showed what they know about adjectives.  We have been working through each type of adjective:  those that tell what kind, which one, how many, and whose.  Today, we verbally gave examples of each type, using them as we completed lesson 15 in our workbooks.  When it came time to discuss adjectives that tell "whose", the students had to be able to tell me whether or not the word was singular or plural.  For instance, book's is singular, but books' is plural.  Finally, we learned another proofreader's mark: adding an apostrophe.

Math- Last week, the 3A class worked on their times tables.  They discussed the 1's, and Ms. Jennifer introduced them to a long term project that they will be working on.  Ms. Jennifer brought in a chart.  Each student will be saying their multiplication tables, one per week and in consecutive order.  If they are able to say them in 30 seconds or less, they are able to put a star on their multiplication chart!  The next week, they will work on the next number and try to gain another star in class.  Today, the class completed their 2's.  In addition, the 3A class also worked on addition problems which require carrying over.  This is something that takes practice to commit to memory!

The 4A class also worked on their multiplication activity.  Each student worked on their 2's today, but it is important to note that it is not a competition.  Each student is trying to complete their own chart!  The class completed a worksheet on multiplication.  The, Ms. Jennifer taught them how to use the bar illustration (showing the part/whole model) for math equations with multiple expressions.  For instance, this is a way to illustrate the math problem 11 + 6 - 7 = ?

Writing-  In writing class today, the students worked on their 3rd body paragraph for their big "beach paper"!  They used their graphic organizers to focus their thoughts.  They even sat, eyes closed, and spent some pre-writing time just thinking about what they wanted to say.  Each student finished writing their paragraphs in class.  I will give these back on Thursdays, and they will make corrections and add these paragraphs to their finals drafts at home.  I am so thrilled with how well these are turning out.  They will definitely be spending time, at the end of this project, sharing them!  Positive feedback is an amazing force!

Spanish-  Ms. Rose had these kids working today!  They have been working on learning the Spanish names for classroom objects at home.  Ms. Rose is taking the terms that they are learning, and teaching the class how to compose complete sentences in Spanish.  After an oral review, the class worked on writing about the weather.  Each child wrote "Hoy el tiemp es..." and then completed the sentence with a different weather description.  Soon, they will be learning the Spanish names for clothing that can be worn in each different type of weather!

Social Studies-  Mr. Dennis taught the class about John Brown and the Harper's Ferry Raid today.  They read about the raid, using what they learned to complete a crossword review.  Tomorrow, they will be finishing up their cereal box projects.  We cannot wait to see their displays in class on Thursday!

Art-  It was Papier-mâché day today!  Ms. Nancy taught the class about armatures for sculptures.  Then, they created armatures out of newspaper, masking tape, and a paper towel role.  This project will integrate what they have been studying in social studies class.  They will be using what they know about the historical figures from their cereal box projects to sculpt him or her from Papier-mâché!  It's a messy process, but a fun one!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hatch Day!

Our eggs began hatching!  The kids accurately used all of the incubation terms that they have learned... and not for me!  I heard them using them in all of their excitement, as they talked to each other about what they were seeing unfold in front of them!

Spelling- The class was given a new list today... List 6!  Can you believe that we are already on week 6?  Last week, I stopped giving the students the definitions to the words on their lists.  We began looking up the words in the dictionary, practicing our use of alphabetical order and guide words.  This is a skill that needs to be worked on at home!  Try having the kids look up this week words, writing down the definitions for each.  Google is nice, but bypasses this important lesson!

Handwriting- Today, we worked on the cursive letter "H".  As always, I reminded those that are writing in cursive already that they may make their own letters slightly different than me, or the book.  That is fine!  Cursive writing is a combination of writing and art.  There is room for variation!  I did, however, explain that if your H looks like a crazy sideways letter Z or any other bizarre shape, then it isn't correct!

Grammar- Today, each student recited their poem, "Afternoon on a Hill" for me!  I recorded each one of them.  Also, I took up their illustrations.  Each student was assigned a different stanza to illustrate.  I will be compiling their illustrations with their recitations, creating four different compilations on video!  They really did a fantastic job with this memorization.  We will be working on a different poem next week!

We also went over and corrected our sentence diagrams from the at-home assignment.  They are really getting the hang of recognizing verbs, subjects, and adjectives in the sentences.  In addition, they are doing a wonderful job remembering the different things that adjectives tell us about nouns:  what kind, which one, how many, and whose.  These chants and sayings will help them to commit grammar concepts to memory, and keep them there!

Math- In the 4A class, Ms. Jennifer brought in bars for the children to create part/whole models for word problems.  The class took a word problem, and used the colored bars to display what is known, and what needs to be known.  This type of word problem visualization will be repeated throughout the year... and things will get much harder!  We will practice more with this at home.  The 3A class played the game, "What Time Is It, Mr. Fox?"  The older class learned this game last week.  It is a really great way to learn and use the concept of negative numbers!

Writing- In writing class, we have been slowly working our way through an essay about the beach.  Each student has written an introduction, which I edited for them and handed back today.  Those that completed their at-home assignment have also finished their first body paragraph, which I also edited over the weekend.  They received these edited paragraphs back today, as well.  Those very few who did not finish it at home were given time after lunch to complete it.  I am trying very hard to teach these children how to do something that many homeschoolers (and typical school children, as well) struggle with.  DEADLINES.  After homeschooling my first grade twins, I read an article from a college professor and homeschooling father.  He wrote about the formerly homeschooled college freshmen that came to his class.  For the most part, he noted that they excelled at many things, but generally lacked the ability to complete work in a certain time frame.  I made a mental note, as well:  Address this issue as I teach my children!

The class will be working on rewriting and correcting introduction paragraphs and their first body paragraphs at home.  It is important to bring these back in on time, or it will become impossible for me to make corrections and return them to the students for their next at-home assignment.  At that point, editing/revising will need to occur at home.

Spanish- Ms. Rose has kicked up her Spanish usage with the kids, and I love it!  As a homeschool mom, foreign language is one subject that I simply cannot teach myself.  I need someone, like Rose, who can challenge my kids, all of these kids, to comprehend and use the language!  The class worked on phrases, such as for "I'm sorry" and "very good".  They will be working on these more, at home!

Social Studies- In social studies today, Mr. Dennis taught the class about the Dread Scott Decision, as well as the Fugitave Slave Law, the book Uncle Tom's Cabin, and the Harpers Ferry Raid.  One of the important skills that Mr. Dennis has been trying to teach the class is the ability to read, pick out the important ideas, and to highlight them.  In order to do this, each child needs to bring in a highlighter.  They can leave it in their cubby or in their bookbag.  Although they do not have to have it, it would really help these important ideas to leap off the page, as simply underlining it with pencil just fails to do! 

Art-  The class worked more on their puppet projects today.  Their heads were already created, but they needed to make the bodies!  Ms. Nancy brought in exciting new paper choices, and the kids were eager to get to work!  They each designed an animal or human body to attach to their heads.  The creativity level was high!  I saw s turtle, a dragon, a British man, a monster, and a Jamaican girl named Aisha!


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Raising the Bar

In lieu of spelling today, I decided to take the time to speak with the class about the expectations that all of their teachers have for them.  I have created an environment where students can feel comfortable, supported, and positively influenced by their peers.  Expectations are high.  Very high.  We will not tolerate any name calling, negative comments towards others, or any other behavioral issues that affect the happy little schoolhouse that we have.  We discussed how horrible it feels to go to a playground to play, only to find out that one of the children there is just plain mean.  They all agreed that it feels really rotten.  They also agreed that it would be great to have a place where all kids could feel comfortable, safe, and loved.  It may seem like rainbows and ponies and fluffy purple marshmallows... but it is what I expect, and it is what I require.  Each of them seemed to take our conversation to heart!  Hands popped up around the room, eager to share stories of bullies, of arguments with friends, etc.  The health educator in me delighted in their discussion!  We talked about how hitting and kicking hurts our body, but name calling, and even mean looks, can hurt us inside... and is just as real!  The vast majority of the time, children rise to meet expectations.  I have high hopes that this larger class will continue the same environment of peer-support, patience, and kindness that we started with last school year!

Handwriting- In handwriting today, we focused on the letter G.  The uppercase G can be a tricky one!  We worked on visualizing the letter, spelling it in the air with our finger, and then writing it correctly.  Before the students repeat the letter, I make sure that they are correctly writing the letter.  This is to make sure to address any issues, instead of reinforcing them!

Grammar- Today's grammar lesson was on adjectives.  Adjectives can tell four different things about a noun.  They can tell what kind, which one, how many, and whose.  We discussed the first three today.  The class has already learned to diagram simple sentences with just a subject and a verb.  Today, we learned (or reviewed) how to diagram sentences with adjectives in them.  They will be working on diagramming similar sentences at home.

Math- In math class today, Ms. Jennifer taught the kids a game.  This game, What time is it, Mr. Wolf, illustrates negative and positive numbers.  The children stood in a line.  They had to ask a Mr. Wolf what time it was. The starting time is 9:00.  Anything before 9:00 was considered a negative number.  Anything later than 9:00 was considered a positive number. The class would have to move forward or back, depending on the time Mr. Wolf gave.  Occasionally, Mr. Wolf would say, "Dinner Time!"  Then, he/she chased the class!  Not only was this a great way to illustrate positive and negative numbers, it was so much fun that the class chose to play it again during their free time!

Science- Science today was all about putty!  The class was divided into tables of 3.  Each student at the table had to follow follow a recipe, as well as Ms. Gail's directions, to make a slightly different recipe of goop.  The results all had a slightly different consistency.  The class then rotated through experiment stations, documenting different properties of each of their different "goops".  Some were stickier than others, some really imprinted images well, some bounced better than others, some stretched longer than others.  In the end, each table had to choose the goop recipe from their table that they liked best.  They had to create an advertisement for their goop, including descriptions, price, and where it can be purchased!  They all shared their ads with the class.

Literature- Ms. Gail gave the students their "Bridge to Terabithia" test today.  They all did a great job!  As a final project for the book, the class was given a challenge:  to work in groups to build a bridge, out of only straws and straight pins, that could span two chairs at a certain distance AND hold up the heaviest load!  They worked hard to come up with a plan and build their bridges.  They then put them to the test!  The result was a tie!  Two groups had built bridges that could hold up a bar of soap AND a tissue box!  After the activity, the students played a review game, in small groups.  In the game, they had to answer comprehension questions on their reading.  Next week, we will begin "Summer of the Monkeys".

Social Studies- In social studies today, Mr. Dennis were divided into three groups.  Each group was given a different topic:  The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, The Missouri Compromise, and the Compromise of 1850.  Each team chose a leader, who came up to a large poster representing their act.  The leader held up cards for his or her team.  The team had to agree on whether or not the card belonged to their topic.  The leader placed the cards onto the poster and continued on until all cards were gone.  In the end, Mr. Dennis let the class know the number of cards that were misplaced.  The teams had to work together to come up with their ideas on which ones were in the wrong category.  

Agricultural Education- It was candling day today!  The eggs are now at day 15 of development.  Each child was able to get a great look at the moving embryos!  While they were waiting for a view, the class used the egg development models to draw chicken embryos at different stages of development.  The eggs will go into lock-down on Sunday, and hopefully hatch on Tuesday and Wednesday!  There is usually a 48 hour window between the first and last hatch, so we should be able to see some action!
At the end of our day, I gathered the children, once again, for a heart to heart.  Each of the teachers has expressed concern over talking, focus, concentration, remembering to bring in materials, raising hands instead of blurting out, and the ability to switch between tasks in a quiet and responsible manner.  Far too much time is wasted just in not having a pencil, losing their pencil, not knowing what is going on, etc.  Since we have already discussed meeting expectations today, I decided to lay all of the concerns out there for the kids.  Although it is a class of 3rd and 4th graders, the expectations are no different than they were in last year's 2nd and 3rd grade class.  These are attainable, and required for us to meet the desired level of instruction.  The class was reminded that this is a privilege, not a guarantee, and that they are expected to rise up to meet the behavior and typical classroom responsibilities set for them.  We talked about ways to help our brain to focus, as concentrating is not always easy!  We listed the class requirements on the white board, talking in detail about each one. Kids can meet the expectations we set for them, but only if they are clear of what those expectations are!  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Lessons for Life

We began class today by remembering those who lost their lives 11 years ago.  I used this time as a time to reflect and pay homage to those who lost their lives, as well as to those who protect our country and fight to keep it safe.  The reason behind the attacks of 9/11 can be difficult for children to grasp.  Honestly, it is hard to grasp, period.  Although we did briefly discuss the event, I leave further discussion up to the parents.  After our special prayer, we said the Pledge of Allegiance, paying extra attention to every word!

Spelling- The students received a new spelling list today.  Instead of providing them with the definitions, we divided into groups and used dictionaries to look up some of the words.  Although we do have Google and at our fingertips, it still is very important to be able to look up information in an actual book!  To do this, whether in a dictionary, a glossary, or an index, these kids must be able to alphabetize.  Although we will work on this some in class, I highly suggest parents working with children at home.  Give them a dictionary and have them actually look words up!  Typing it in and hitting "enter" robs them of the skill of alphabetizing. 

Grammar- In grammar today, we worked on using proofreaders marks.  So far, they know three!  We worked on some practice sentences before moving on to our next lesson.  The students had their first lesson in sentence diagramming today.  So far, we are just diagramming simple sentences with only a subject and a verb.  This is a review for most of the students, and we will quickly be moving on to new material. 

Math- The 4A class is working on a week-long game which reviews what they have learned about equations!  They are putting what they have been working on at home to use as they work through equations with parenthesis and multiple operations.  The 3A class also did a review game today.  The students took times popping open plastic Easter eggs.  Inside each egg was a math problem.  For some problems, the students needed to use <, >, or =.  For some problems, they had to use subtraction or addition to complete the equation.  They were so excited to be doing math problems in a fun way... and on the patio!

Writing-  We are slowly working our way through a 5 paragraph paper!  The class read their introduction paragraphs out loud.  We discussed any major problems with the introductions so they could make changes, as needed.  I will be proofreading these and giving them back to the students on Thursday.  Those who had not finished their introduction paragraphs worked on them today.  Many of the kids were able to work on their 1st main idea paragraph, as well.  I explained to the class that I will be really pushing them to improve upon their writing this year.  I also explained that ALL authors have to write, edit, rewrite, and sometimes even rewrite more than once!  This is always a task that children hate to do, but at least these kids know that their friends are all in the same boat!

Social Studies- In social studies today, the class learned about the Compromise of 1850, the Missouri Compromise, and the Kansas Nebraska Act.  They read about each one and learned to highlight (or underline) the important information.  Mr. Dennis is trying to teach the skill of highlighting in this way, as it will help them to study and summarize.  If your child doesn't have a highlighter in their bookbag, please get one if you can!  The students used the key facts from the passage and wrote the information onto a chart.  They will work on finishing these at home tomorrow.

Art-  Ms. Nancy is helping the kids work on a puppet project.  In addition to art skills, the class is having to learn to listen and follow directions!  Each of them started out with a square sheet of paper.  After listening and following Ms. Nancy's directions, they had a little puppet!  As a momma, I love activities that teach important lessons that can be applied throughout their classes, and their life!  In the upcoming weeks, we will be working on a paper mache project!  Last year's paper mache was a huge hit.  I can't wait to see what this project is all about!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

It's Oobleck!

We began our day with a spelling and vocabulary review.  We went around the room, trying to spell the words on the list without looking.  Of course, they could always look if they needed to.  So many of the kids have these words down pat!  We discussed the definitions of each word, especially the more difficult ones.  I hope they are incorporating each new list of words into their typical speech and writing!

In handwriting today, both classes learned (or perfected) the cursive D.  As we learn and focus on the proper formation of each letter, we are trying to work on understanding how to create the letter before we pick up the pencil.  Sometimes, we write the letter, slowly and in unison, with our fingers in the sky.  This is so, when we do write them down, we have a better chance of writing it correctly... preventing bad handwriting habits.  For those who already know cursive letters, this is a great way to take some time to be sure the letters they write are the best they can be.

Grammar-  After reviewing our work from yesterday's video lesson, the class had a big day of new concepts!  They learned about verb conjugation and infinitives.  In order to conjugate verbs, they also had to learn about first, second, and third person.  This was the first lesson of purely new material... and it was new for each and every one of them!  They all know that, when we speak, we naturally change the verb as we change from speaking in first person to third person, but they had never really thought about it before!  I taught them that, although typically you add an "s" to a noun to make it plural, third person singular verbs often are given an "s".  For instance, you would say "They run.", which is third person plural.  However, you would say "Sally runs".  This is third person singular, and the present tense verb "run" is given an "s".  We will be working with this much more in future lessons!

Science-  Ms. Gail taught an exciting lesson today!  The class learned about chemical and physical reactions.  To demonstrate chemical reactions, the children were each given a film canister with vinegar inside.  They all marched outside and stood in a line.  When Ms. Gail gave the word, each of them placed an Alka-Seltzer tab into their canister and closed it tight.  They pointed them forward.  In just a little while, canister tops were popping off!  Now that the class was good and excited, Ms. Gail brought them in, reviewed chemical and physical reactions, and discussed physical properties of different objects.

Ms. Gail read a story to the class, "Bartholomew and the Oobleck".  In this book, there was a king who was bored with the things that came from the sky.  He was bored with rain, bored with the sun.  He was bored with fog, bored with snow.  He wanted something new.  He called for his royal magicians and they created a spell for something new... oobleck.  Although the king thought that messing with the sky would be a great idea, the gooey mess that fell from the sky made him change his tune.  Ms. Gail took her lesson on properties and changes, and the story of "Bartholomew and the Oobleck", and lead the class to their next activity-- Making oobleck, of course!  The class made a substance that would change from a semi-liquid to a solid form.. and then back again!  It was fun, crazy, and a little bit messy, but it was a great demonstration of property changes!  After they discussed the properties of the substance... and how it reacted to pressure, to moisture, to evaporation, etc, Ms. Gail asked the kids to imagine an entire planet made of "oobleck".  The kids had to each design a rocket ship that could land and take off from the oobleck planet!  The students got to work, designing the boosters, the landing gear, and all of the many details that would be needed to land on a planet with such properties.  At the end of class, they each explained their design.  What an awesome science class!

Literature-  After reviewing the comprehension questions for chapters 9 and 10, Ms. Gail taught the class about idioms, hyperboles, similes, metaphors, and personification.  They went through the book, pointing out examples of each.  We will be working on incorporating these into our beach papers in writing class!  Finally, the class finished reading the book.  This was a very emotional book.  In the book, one of the characters says that it's not right for kids of a certain age to cry.  Ms. Gail took time to explain that this isn't true at all.  They discussed that it is perfectly natural to cry when very sad things happen, whether you are a girl, a boy, a child, or an adult! 

Mr. Dennis directed the class through map and graph activities on the North and the South.  They used maps and keys to answer questions, which is exactly the type of information processing that will be expected of them on standardized testing that they will be taking in the spring.  Throughout the entire year in social studies class, Mr. Dennis will be working on such activities, as well as reading comprehension exercises.  All of these skills are skills that will be required of them throughout their education! 

The drama class worked so hard today!  They made it through at least five scenes of The Polar Express.  I am absolutely amazed at how well they have each been studying their lines!  It is only September.  I cannot wait to see what they do in the upcoming months!