Thursday, January 31, 2013

Author Visit!

Grammar- In grammar today, the class learned first about conjunctions.  Then, we learned how to diagram sentences with compound subjects and compound predicates.  They were a little confused at first, as they confused "compound subjects" with "complete subjects".  I think we cleared up the confusion, but you may want to address this at home!  By the end of class, the students were diagramming sentences with complete subjects and complete predicates.  Finally, they diagrammed compound sentences, which are two small sentences that are connected by a conjunction.  (Cats meow but dogs bark.)  It was great to see how the new diagrams just "make sense" to them!

Math-  The 4A math class has been working on some very complicated problems with area and perimeter!  They continued to work those brains (I actually think I saw steam coming out of some ears) as they practiced with more problems.  In the 3A class, Ms. Jennifer taught more on meters and centimeters.  They worked through problems involving the addition and subtraction of measurements.

Writing-  In writing class today, Ms. Bev worked with the students on character mapping.  They used the Feather Tale Series books to create a character map, analyzing a single character's traits and providing supporting details.  The next writing assignment will continue to work the same "formula" as the last one, but be based in fantasy instead of reality! 

Science-  Ms. Gail had the microscopes out and ready to go as the class took a look at live protozoa!  They watched for different types of organisms, which they were able to discern the different types with help from their illustrated charts.  The class then reviewed and corrected their at home assignments over chapters 6 and 7.  Ms. Gail discussed with them the classification of organisms and began working on next week's material as they took turns returning to the microscope!

Literature-  It was a very exciting day today!  The author of our literature book, "A Chord of Three Strands", visited our class today!  Holly Moulder discussed the book with these highly enthusiastic crowd of fans.  This was a work of historical fiction.  Holly discussed the parts of the book that were fiction, prompting many great questions!  The reading comprehension, as well as the retention of the details of the book, was just amazing.  Multiple children were asking about specific lines in the book, quoting them without even cracking it open.  They loved being able to interact with the real live author of the book they just read!  Holly brought in a coin, the same type that was thrown to the oracle in the book.  She also brought in a atlatl, which was a Native American weapon.  Needless to say, the class was in awe.  I could go on and on about what was discussed, but what was most important to me was the enthusiasm for learning that these kids displayed.  As Ms. Gail pointed out to me, they have all come such a long way since August!  Although they were all very excited to speak, they raised their hands, waited their turn, and were a shining example of the values of our program.  I have to say, I was beaming with pride!  We love these kids and are so thrilled with their growth!

Social Studies- Mr. Dennis discussed the reading assignment material: The war on the Plains Indians.  They the different battles of Sand Creek, Little Big Horn, and Wounded Knee. Finally, they completed a comprehension exercise over the material.  Again, these reading comprehension exercises are not easy!  However, they help to propel these kids not just in social studies, but across the board with all reading!

Agriculture- The class continued their adventure with "The Life of Fred".  Much to the surprise of no one in the class, Fred's beekeeping business flopped.  We calculated up how many jars of honey he would have to sell at $3 to repay his initial investment.  He would have to sell 412 jars just to break even!  The class and I discussed the pros and cons of running a small business.   Fred's plan flopped because it failed to give good answers to the three questions for success: 
  1. Why are you choosing this particular business?
  2. Does it make financial sense?
  3. Are there any obvious drawbacks?
We will continue our bee lesson next week, as we take the information learned from our new at-home lesson and create skits for the life cycle of a bee!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

More Life Lessons.

Spelling-  We began the week with a new spelling list. Unlike most of the past lists, this one focuses more on spelling than on vocabulary.  The words include "toughen" and "laughter", which use the letters "gh" to make the "f" sounds.  The list also includes words such as patience, collection, and initials, which demonstrate the "sh" sounds in unconventional ways.  Further, the words "likable" and "reversible" use an 'a' and 'i', but sound very similar.  The class was excited about the break from all of the definitions and focus on spelling.

Writing-  In writing class, Ms. Bev helped the students take their narrative writing assignment and format it.  They will be doing one last revision before turning in the final copy on Thursday!  In this revision, the class will take their single paragraph and format it as to separate out the dialogue from the rest of the story.  Ms. Bev continued to inform the class about the elements of narrative writing, such as characters, settings, problems, events, and solutions.  She read a short story from the Feather Tale Series.  The students then helped to point out the different story elements.  Finally, each child was able to choose their own book from the Feather Tale Series.  They read their story and completed a worksheet on Character, Setting, Problem, Event, and Solution.

Math-  The 4A math class reviewed the at-home assignment on perimeter and area.  They continued to work through similar problems.  Figuring out the formula seems to be the trickiest part!  Those brains were working extremely hard today!  The 3A math class has now graduated to 3B!  They have been learning about meters and centimeters.  Today, they worked with Ms. Jennifer on subtracting centimeters from meters.

Spanish-  The class had a Spanish test today over seasons and weather.  Afterward, Ms. Rose taught the class the Spanish names for family members.   We then had a very lively conversation about the sizes of our families!  This also led to a discussion on genetics, namely eye color.  The class will begin working on a month-long family tree project.  They are going to map out their family tree, including eye color (if known).

Sometimes, you have to be flexible and change your lesson on a dime.  Today, instead of our planned geography review quiz, I realized that we needed to have a little mini lesson in conflict resolution.  You see, during free time, it appears that a game of "army" was misinterpreted by the girls to be a game of "dump leaves on heads".   The onslaught of itchy leaves (and unintentional bugs) was not appreciated, leading to a whole lot of frowny faces.  I am a health educator at heart.  I live for learning moments like this... especially for a group of amazing children who are here for the intent purpose if learning to interact within a group!  We all say and discussed, respectfully and maturely, what led up to the leaf explosion.  The class learned that miscommunication is the basis for most conflicts.  Those who were angry admitted that the leaf-dumpers did not have a malicious intent.  After brainstorming ways to avoid miscommunication (explaining, listening, asking questions, etc), we discussed what we should do once a miscommunication-based conflict does occur.  In the end, classmates took turns raising their hand and sharing times when miscommunications were not cleared up, as well as times when there was a malicious intent to the conflict.  I explained that learning doesn't only come from a book.  They should use each and every event in their lives to become more the best person that they can possibly be.  That in, without a doubt, more important than our geography quiz.

Social Studies-  First, each student showed off their projects on John McCoy and the boom of the cattle industry.  Each and every one of the kids did a great job!  Then, they worked on a map study exercise on Western Settlements from 1850-1900.  When Mr. Dennis passed it out to the students, they thought it would be a piece of cake.  It required more thought that they initially thought it would to label those towns, railroads, rivers, and trails!

Art-  Art was hopping today!  The class began work on a pencil drawing.  They drew a close up picture of a jungle animal, hiding in the leaves.  They then traced the lines of their drawing in glue!  These will dry and we will work more on these next week.  Next, the class worked on a Valentine's Day project, making heart ornaments.  Finally, those who finished everything began a snow globe activity.  The students revolved around the room in "centers", which worked great to meet their individual time needs!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

M is for Microscope.

Grammar-  Today, we reviewed adjectives.  Sure, adjectives tell us that a noun might be pretty or salty or sweet, but we needed to review that adjectives can also tell us how many, which one, and whose.  It took a while for the class to remember that words like "this" or "second" or "children's" can be adjectives!

Math-  The 4A class presented their at home assignments to the group.  They came up with their own real-life examples for needing to find perimeter and area.  After they shared their ideas, the class continued to utilize these skills as they worked in their workbooks.  The 3A class worked through a review test. Not all that exciting, but important, nonetheless! 

Writing-  In writing class, Ms. Bev talked more about narrative writing. I had not one, not two, but three students come up to me, thrilled and excited about their papers so far!  There is definitely a buzz in the air about this writing assignment! 

Science- In science class today, Ms. Gail introduced scientific classification.  At home, the kids colored pictures of German Shepherds... in a funny way.  Today,  they put crayons on those pictures.  Why?  So they would remember the pneumonic:  Kids Put Crayons On Funny German Shepherds!  They talked about different animals with a "Name an Animal" activity.  The students also classified different objects into categories, based on their characteristics. Finally, Ms. Gail taught the children the parts of the microscope, and how it works.  We will be looking at live protozoa next Thursday!

Literature- Ms. Gail led the class through a review of each question from their at home assignment.  Last week, the students had a difficult time with sequencing.  The class, as a whole, struggled with it.  However, this week, they all did an amazing job!  Ms. Gail and I were both thrilled to see that so much progress has been made with this skill!  Ms. Gail read on in "A Cord of Three Strands".  We will be finishing the book at home.  Next week, the author will be visiting with us to discuss the book, her writing, and any questions the children may have!

Social Studies- The class read about and discussed the rise and fall of the U.S. cattle industry.  They then worked in small groups to complete a cross word puzzle vocabulary review of the material.  They are going to begin an at home activity, which will be due on Tuesday.  They will be pretending that Joseph McCoy has commissioned them to design an advertising poster.  They will be creating posters that either encourage riders to work for him, encourage Texas ranchers to send their cattle to Abilene, or design a poster showing how certain factors helped the cattle industry to develop. 

Agriculture- Today was one of those lessons that just ignited the minds of the kids!  As we continue through our lesson on bees, I decided to swerve away from the typical information and bring out a math book from the series, "Life of Fred".  This particular "Life of Fred" book is titled, "Honey".  I chose a few chapters in the middle of the book to begin our lesson.  The class listened as Fred attended his Sunday school class.  There, he learned about honey.  Fred learned many interesting facts, but the one that went over with the biggest reaction was that sometimes, bees make hives in the bodies of dead animals.  (Did you know there were actually Bible verses that talk about this?  The kids were shocked!)  The Life of Fred books integrate math into fun stories.  So, we had some math problems along our way.  For instance, the teacher had to hand out 28 pages to the students, at 4 different tables.  How many students were at each table?  We talked about how bees make their honeycomb with hexagonal cells, because there is no wasted space.  We worked with geometry to discuss how this does not work with octagons or pentagons.  Fred was so excited about honey, that he went home to study up on them.  The class learned as Fred learned.  They also laughed.  Hard! 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Vaqueros with Sombreros

Spelling & Handwriting- We went over the pronunciation and meanings of each word in this week's list, complete with "ominous" stories about "writhing" snakes.

Math- The 3A class moved from their multiplication and division lessons and onto graphing.  They worked on an individual graphing assignment.  The 4A class worked today on finding the perimeter and area of shapes.  Ms. Jennifer set this formula in motion, as they grabbed rulers and tape measures to calculate the area and perimeter of different classroom objects... including our deck!  They will be working on these concepts more at home, but I guarantee having to physically measure the sides and work together to discover the answers will help to set these ideas to memory!

Writing- Ms. Bev looked at each student's at home assignment on narrative writing.  To help guide them, Ms. Bev had given them a narrative "outline".  Basically, it is a formula to help them create a story with each of the given elements.  Does all narrative writing follow a formula, an order, or a certain format?  No.  But, this is an exercise to help them see a process to writing.  In the end, they will have presented the thoughts that were in their head in a written form that they would not have otherwise come up with on their own.  Some subjects are based on concrete facts.  For writing (like math, actually), you can be given tools in which to call upon when the need arises.  Ms. Bev is giving them a mental writing toolbox of goodies to help expand their comfort and ability with the pen.

Grammar-  Today, we continued our lesson on prepositional phrases.  However, instead of discussing adjective phrases, we looked at adverb phrases that describe verbs.  We have been diagramming prepositional phrases since we returned from Christmas break.  The students are really getting comfortable with recognizing prepositions, objects of the preposition, and prepositional phrases.  They are showing a constant improvement with recognizing what the prepositional phrases is describing, and diagramming it under the correct word.  All of those grammar definitions that they have memorized come in handy as we move to more difficult topics.  For instance, the fact that they know that adverbs tell "how, when, where, how often, and to what extent" makes figuring out the adverb phrase much easier!

Spanish- In Spanish class today, Ms. Rose worked with the children on their sentence structure, as they verbally shared their descriptions of the weather.  They had to write sentences for weather during different seasons, as well.  Ms. Rose has also been working with the students on spelling and pronunciation, using their knowledge of the Spanish alphabet.  Finally, the class worked, independently, on a review quiz.

Social Studies-  Mr. Dennis gave the kids a short "quiz" over their at home lesson on Cattle Ranchers.  They then learned all about Mexican Vaqueros.  I'm not sure if they were pronouncing any of it correctly, but they learned about clothing used by the Vaqueros: sombreros, kerchiefs, sarapes, and more!

Art-  Ms. Nancy led the class through their tropical fish project.  They sketched out the fish of their choice.  Then, they took their project from last week (the painting covered in India ink) and placed it under their sketch.  They then traced their sketched, bearing down hard through the layers.  The result was an outline of their fish drawings, through the India ink, showing the colors below!  They worked to scratch off the India ink with a large nail, creating a beautiful look!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Buzz, Buzz!

Grammar-  Today, we went back and reviewed predicate nominatives.  It has been a long time since we diagrammed them!  It was important for us to do a review of prepositions, linking verbs, predicate nominatives, and adjective phrases, because today we put them all together.  We found the prepositional phrases, located the verb and subject, pointed out the predicate nominative, and then recognized that the prepositional phrase acted as an adjective, describing the predicate nominative.  We diagrammed one of these sentences together, but they will be working on diagramming a few more at home.

Writing-  Our writing class has graduated from expository writing, moving on to narrative writing!  Ms. Bev had the class in stitches as she read her own narrative paper.  It was about her son and his interesting temper tantrums.  The story served as a backbone in which to teach the elements of narrative writing.  As Ms. Bev taught the concepts, she pointed them out in her story.  The students began working on their own narrative today!

Science-  In science class, Ms. Gail began by reviewing the students' work from the week.  After discussing what they have learned about cells, the class was given a plant and animal cell diagram.  They weren't just any diagram worksheet... They were shrinky dinks!  The kids colored the different parts of the cells, creating a color coded key.  Then, they put their cells into the oven.  Lo and behold... They shrunk!  It was science magic at its best!  The cells were hung on little rings for the kids to take home... or to pretend that they are plant and animal cell earrings, as the case may be!

Literature-  This class is flying through "A Cord of Three Strands"!  I think this book was perfect timing, as we just finished studying the Underground Railroad last semester. Ms. Gail and the class checked and reviewed each answer on their worksheets from home.  Then, she read the next few chapters, aloud.  As they read, they talked about historical fiction.  Which parts are true?  Did the author make this part up?  Was this part based on fact?  Ms. Gail reminded them that they should remember all of their questions, as the author will be speaking to our class at the end of the month!

Social Studies-  Mr. Dennis began class with a vocabulary review.  The kids have been adding each new term onto their ring of index cards, creating a mobile glossary for them to study.  They read and learned about cattle ranchers today.  Along with this lesson, they are having a miniature economics lesson!  Mr. Dennis used the cattle market to open up a lesson on supply and demand.  By the end of class, they were able to explain the relationship between supply/demand and cost.

Agriculture-  We continued our lesson on bees today.  We reviewed the key aspects of bee anatomy from last week's handout.  Then, the class was given a veritable buffet of craft items.  They were given the freedom to use any of the items they liked to create a honey bee, complete with the key anatomical terms. The kids LOVED the fact that they could express their creativity in any way that they liked!  In the end, we had some seriously fabulous bees!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Shaping Up

Spelling- We began our in-class week with an introduction to the new vocabulary and spelling list.  This week's list, like last week's, incorporates many words used in our next science, literature, and agriculture lessons.  We pronounced each word orally, as a group, and discussed their meanings.  We also looked specifically at the special sound "ch" as in "chorus" or "chemistry".  This sound pops up more than once in this week's list.

Grammar- In grammar today, we went over the sentences that the kids diagrammed at home on Friday.  These sentences each contained a direct and indirect object.  A few students were having a difficult time discerning which is which in the sentences.  It is important to remember that the direct object is the noun or pronoun that received the action from the verb.  The indirect object is the noun or pronoun that the direct object is "for".  This video lesson on Friday was thrown in for extra practice before continuing to diagram prepositional phrases that describe direct or indirect objects.  I graded Lesson 46 from Monday's video lesson.  We will continue to work on diagramming prepositional phrases in another video lesson tomorrow.

Math- The 3A class, using a video lesson, learned about the commutative and associative properties of multiplication at home yesterday.  Today, they continued to work with these properties.  After a multiplication quiz, which they then pasted into their math journals, they worked on different math cards.  Each card presented a different problem, each involving either the commutative property, the associative property, or both.  The students need to continue to study their multiplication tables at home, as memorizing them makes the application of more complicated math concepts far easier!  The 4A class continued their lesson in solid figures.  They worked through problems where they were given a diagram of a 3 dimension figure and had to draw its net, or its flat, unfolded "template".  Then, they were given the net and had to draw the figure that it would make if it were folded.  Finally, the class passed around different nets, each of a different color.  They folded them into their shapes, and filled in a chart for its number of edges, vertices, and faces.

Writing- The class broke into small groups, each armed with either a laptop or tablet.  Each group used to complete a worksheet on topic sentences and supporting details.  While they worked, Ms. Bev took turns sitting and working, individually, with students on their dinosaur assignments.  Once these are completed, the entire class will be moving on to the next type of writing: narrative.

Spanish- Sometimes, I get blown away with the class's ability to complete a difficult assignment.  Today, in Spanish, Ms. Rose gave the students sentences to translate.  The class got to work doing just that.  Using the terms that they learned so far, as well as the lessons that Ms. Rose has taught on feminine/masculine articles, sentence formation, etc, the class hammered out some English translations! 

Social Studies- In social studies today, the class was given a quiz over vocabulary from the Western Mining lesson.  It was obvious that the class has been studying!  Almost everyone made a 100!  After their Vocabulary Challenge, they began working on a Western Mining crossword puzzle, which they will complete at home.  They also read about the Comstock Lode, which was the greatest single deposit ever mined in the United States. 

Agriculture-  No, it's not typically an agriculture day.  However, I did use a bit of the kids' free time to introduce them to our upcoming agriculture project.  They just loved those cute agriculture videos that parody songs and sing about how great farming is.  Well, these kids are going to, you guessed it, make their own!  Yes, even those whose faces turned bright red at the thought of making a fool of themselves in front of my little video camera will come around.  I released the song, sung the first verse and chorus, and planted the seeds of excitement (or anxiety)!

Lists from Winter Garden Fear Factor

Art- In art class today, Ms. Nancy helped the kids finish up their projects from last week.  They had painted over their works of art with red tempura paint.  Today, they scratched off the dried paint, and the results are great!  They also took the crayon work they had started last week and covered it with India Ink.  So many of our projects this year are multi-stepped ones.  It is exciting to see the kids when their artwork makes an unexpected turn!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sodbusters and Exodusters

Grammar- Today, the class had a big review in direct and indirect objects.  It has been a while since we diagrammed them!  It didn't take long for everyone to remember how HILARIOUS indirect objects can be.  you see, in the sentence "Aunt May mailed relatives gifts.", you have to know that "gifts" is the direct object and NOT "relatives".  Aunt May doesn't mail relatives!  Yes, yes.  Grammar is a hoot.  After a review of diagramming these sentences, we added the concept of preposition phrases that describe indirect objects.  "Aunt May mailed relatives in Maine gifts."  The prepositional phrase "in Maine" tells us which relatives.  We will finish up this lesson at home.

Math- The 4A math class continued their lesson in solid shapes today.  They have learned about all types of prisms and their names.  As a matter of fact, I have learned a lot, myself!  I would have never been able to correctly name a "hexagonal prism" before today.  The 3A math class played a multiplication game.  They continued to work on the very important skill of multiplying and dividing, focusing on the "9's".

Writing-  Ms. Bev has been working to get each student to a single point in their expository writing lessons.  It is so important that each child be allowed to work through the lessons at the pace that meets their individual needs.  Those that are further along are working through stand alone writing exercises.  Once they all finish up the assignment, she will move forward as a class to the next type of writing.  The class went over the synonyms and antonyms from their at home assignments.  They also worked on putting together a single paragraph, as a class.  This was done by the students orally, as Ms. Bev wrote the sentences on the board.  They had to remember the scope and purpose of a paragraph, as well as transition words.

Science- In science class, Ms. Gail reviewed the material in chapter 2.  To kick off the biology lesson, Ms. Gail brought in a short clip of Mr. Nye the Science Guy to talk to the kids about cells.  The class learned about the different parts of a cell, drawing them on their cell diagrams. 

Literature-  The class began their new literature book today, "A Cord of Three Strands" by local author, Holly Moulder.  The book is a book of historical fiction, set in the days of the Underground Railroad.  The class listened attentively as Ms. Gail began reading the first few chapters of the book.  I can already tell that this is going to be another one where they end the class period in a chorus of "awwww!".  They are never ready to quit!

Social Studies-  The class has been learning about the Great Plains.  Today, they worked on vocabulary from their reading assignments.  They added terms from their reading to their ongoing vocabulary notecards.  The class then began working on a handout titled Western Mining Activity.  This handout follows the corresponding reading, and will be completed at home tomorrow.

Agriculture- We began our agriculture class by talking about our Fear Factor game.  The students brought in their lists of vegetables, in order from "I like it" to "I don't like it".  I was suprised by the number of new vegetables in the "like" or "don't mind it" categories! 
Afterward, we began our unit on bees!  Today was an overview.  We touched on the different types of bees, the number of different species of bees, the then we narrowed in on honey bees.  The students have a lot of background knowledge on pollinators, and bees in general.  But, over the next few weeks, we will be learning about bee life in an in depth study!  To close class, the students worked in small groups to try to guess which parts of the honey bee corresponded with the given terms. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Polygons, Prepositions, and the Great Plains

Today, we began compiling a book list.  Each child added the names of books that they have read and enjoyed.  I hope that this will get the kids excited about reading!  I will have the list posted in the room, as well as linked from Homework Hideout.

Spelling- I introduced the class to list 18 today.  It's a fairly difficult vocabulary list, but it incorporates many words that will be learned in science and literature class this week!

Handwriting-  During first semester, we took things slow, working through the alphabet letter by letter.  As we begin our second semester, the structure of our spelling class will change.  Those in the "C" handwriting book will be working on applying their cursive skills to their spelling lists.  Those in the "T" handwriting book will be working on perfecting their cursive skills with in class lessons from the workbook.  The "C" class will no longer need to bring their books to class. 

Math-  Ms. Jennifer worked with the 3A group on multiplication and division by 9.  They have been adding to their math journal as they work.  The 4A class discussed solid shapes today.  They earned the names for many different 2 dimensional and 3 dimensional shapes.  Ms. Jennifer brought in examples of each shape, formed from card stock.  The class passed around the objects, naming them properly. 

Writing- Ms. Bev taught the class about synonyms and antonyms today.  After their discussion, each student was given two words.  They had to come up with synonyms for those words, using the thesaurus.  They had to use those alphabetical order skills to do so!  Each student chose a synonym for the words on their card.  Once everyone had finished, Ms. Bev used their synonyms to come up with a new (hilarious) version of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star! 

Grammar- Before the break, we were working on prepositions, prepositional phrases, and objects of the preposition.  We also learned about prepositional phrases that describe a subject, acting as an adjective.  Today, we reviewed what we learned way back then, and went on to learn about prepositional phrases that describe direct objects.  The class worked through many examples, and ended the lesson by diagramming a few of these types of sentences.

Spanish-  In Spanish class, Ms. Rose discussed the similarities between Spanish, Italian, and French.  They reviewed common Spanish phrases.  As they did, she wrote the Italian and French translations on the board to illustrate their likeness.  Now that the students are more comfortable speaking out in class with their Spanish words, Ms. Rose had them translate some sentences, as a group.  They created little booklets of classroom items.  Today was a great review day after a nice long break!

Social Studies- Mr. Dennis went over the material that the students read on The Great Plains, as well as their map activity from yesterday's at home assignment.  They learned about dust storms, farming, the use of sod, and the Homestead Act.  The class then worked in small groups to complete an written activity based on their reading.

Art-  In art class, Ms. Nancy taught the students about the work of Paul Klee.  They learned about his abstract style of art.  Specifically, they talked about his painting, Senecio.  The students then worked on their own versions of Paul Klee's work.  After they completed their projects, some students needed to continue to work on their Civil War era puppet project.  It was definitely a packed day in art!