Thursday, February 28, 2013

Finding Their Inner Rockstars

Grammar- Today, we reviewed prepositions and prepositional phrases.  The students remembered that prepositional phrases can act as adjectives or adverbs.  They can describe the subject of a sentence, the verb, the direct object, the indirect object, the object of another preposition, or the predicate nominative.  At home, they will be diagramming examples of each type.

Math-Both classes have been working with decimals lately.  In the 3B class, they have been learning how to add and subtract money.  Although they may not realize that they are doing it, they are learning decimals!  It's not often that the two classes are on a similar topic at the same time!  Next week, we will combine for a large group lesson on working with decimals.  They also need to all be working on memorizing those multiplication tables at home!

Writing-  The class has been doing a phenomenal job with their narrative writing assignments!  As they work their way through the brainstorming that they did on their plot development graphic organizer, turning each "snapshot" into a paragraph, I have been reading their completed work out loud.  This has created excitement and anticipation, as their peers can't wait to hear the next section!  Today, I edited the students' "climax" paragraphs.  While I worked on each individual paper, pencils were flying.  Almost everyone completed their next section "Falling Action", in class.  I made corrections and edited these, handing them back to them later in the day.  They will be revising and typing these for class on Tuesday.  Of course, we will then share the next section with the class!

Science-  Today, Ms. Gail began class with a discussion on mammals.  They discussed adaptions, characteristics, and reproduction of mammals.  I love the interest level when it comes it comes to animals, biology, and nature!  The kids were all ears.  They did an activity where they counted the

Literature- The class began by discussing each answer from the at home comprehension questions.  Then, the kids all piled into the "reading room", listening attentively as Ms. Gail read the last few chapters of Where the Red Fern Grows.  The feeling of sadness was thick.  The only noise that the students made was the occasional turning of pages.  As my son said, "This book gives me a lump in the back of my throat."  Indeed.

Social Studies- Mr. Dennis is out cruising around in the tropics this week, so I took this opportunity to introduce Shakespeare to the class!  We will be learning about Shakespeare in writing class toward the end of the year.  For now, I wanted to teach the kids about the Elizabethan time period, the role of playwrights as entertainment of the era, and Shakespeare's life story.  After a brief introduction, I broke the class into four groups.  Each was given a topic:  The Elizabethan Era, Shakepeare's Home and Family, The Globe, and Special Effects.  They read and studied about their topic, as a group.  Then, each group taught the class! 

Agriculture- Today was the day that the class has been waiting for:  they were given the lyrics to our agricultural education parody song.  We have watched many great farming parody videos.  They enjoyed "Farm It Maybe", "Farmer Style", and "I'm Farming and I Grow It".  They were thrilled at the idea of creating our own agriculture promotion video!  I told them to hold on to their hats!  They are going to have to dig down and find their inner rock star!  It was a fun day of singing and dancing.  (Yes, I even sang into a remote control at one point.  CRAZY!)  We will be working on this super fun project in class, and after class, for the next few weeks!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Brains in our Heads and Feet in our Shoes

Spelling- The next two weeks will be a review of all spelling and vocabulary words that the class has learned so far.  They each worked on review exercises to test their retention.  They will be taking the corrected pages home to work on those that they missed.  We will continue to work through review pages for all previous spelling lists before moving on!

Grammar- In grammar class, we reviewed commas in a direct address and in a series.  Then, the class learned how to diagram sentences that have more than one direct object, predicate nominative, or predicate adjective. 

Math- The 3A math class worked with adding money today.  We will be working more on adding and subtracting money over the next few lessons.  Similarly, the 4A class learned to add decimals today.

Writing- First off, these narrative writing assignments are getting good!  We have been working with a plot development graphic organizer to create easy to follow story lines.  The class typed up their edited and revised introduction and "rising action" sections of their papers at home.  Today, we read some of these out loud.  The "cliff hanger" nature of leaving off before the climax led to hilarious reaction by the kids!  They were all so anxious to hear what happens next.  It was a great motivator!  As the class worked on on their "climax" paragraphs, I went over their typed copies.  By learning to save files on the computer, the kids can easily go back, pull up their documents, and work on any changes that need to be made.  By the end of the day, I had edited all of their "climax" paragraphs, so that they can type them up at home tomorrow.  I can't wait to read them again to the class!

Geography- The class completed a quiz today over the first 20 states, in order of statehood.  They found each state on a map.  They also wrote the name of the capital for each state.  These will be used as a study guide so the kids can focus their attention where it is most needed.  We will be adding three more states to the list!

Spanish-  The class continued to work on their family tree posters today.  They are looking GREAT!  They have been reviewing the Spanish names for each relative as they work on their projects. 

Poetry- Instead of social studies today, the kids recited the poem, "Equipment".  I recorded each of their recitations for their newest poetry video.  Due to a scanner issue, I was unable to compile the "Afternoon on a Hill" video from last semester.  While their peers recited "Equipment", the rest of the class worked on their background image for the already recorded "Afternoon on a Hill" audio.

I explained to the kids that Guest's poem reminded me a lot of the Dr. Seuss book, "Oh The Places You'll Go".  I read the book to the class, and they all agreed that there are many similarities!  While Guest writes,

"You're well equipped for what fight you choose,
You have legs and arms and a brain to use,"

Suess explains,

“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” 

Both poems give encouraging words to inspire young people.  Seuss takes it a bit further, as he explains that sometimes, even if you try your best and do the right thing, bad or unfair things will happen.  The class and I even discussed that even adults have to be reminded of that lesson! 

Art-  In art class, Ms. Nancy helped the students continue to work on their 'tropical bird on burlap' stitching project.  These are looking fabulous!  The kids' hand eye coordination has improved tremendously over the course of the year!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Making Soy Lip Balm!

Grammar-  In grammar today, we worked more on the punctuation associated with direct quotations at the beginning and end of a sentence.  We then moved on to learning about indirect quotations.  The students were all able to point out direct and indirect quotations, properly punctuating them.  We also learned the proofreader's mark for inserting quotation marks.  Funny enough, the mark looks a lot like a bird.... and so was born "Birdie McGrammar."  The class had to insert Birdie McGrammar anytime quotation marks were left out of a sentence.  Sometimes he looked to the left, sometimes he looked to the right.  I don't think they will forget this one! 

Two butterflies emerged today during class!
Math- In math class, the students worked with Ms. Jennifer to add and subtract with decimals.  They worked to demonstrate these problems on the board, discussed them, and then worked independently.

Writing- The students brought in their introduction paragraphs for their new narrative writing assignment.  We have been working on plot development in class.  This assignment will help them to think through the stories that they would like to share on paper, develop a clear plot arc, and then give their reader an entertaining story without getting bogged down or sidetracked along the way!  I also took some time to explain to the class the importance of saving their work on the computer.  We have been typing our final drafts in writing class.  However, this assignment will require pulling up a saved document to change, rearrange, and add to the work they have started.  This is a very important lesson for everyone to learn!  This lesson is actually more important as the actual writing assignment... and parents will need to help their child create a folder on their home computer.  After our lesson on technology and writing, we worked on our "rising action" paragraph in class.  Most of the kids finished this paragraph.  They spent time sharing these with their neighbors.  They will take these home, edit them, revise them, format them, and type them up for Tuesday!

Science-  Sometimes, science stinks!  The class has been learning about the three classes of fish: Jawless fish, Cartilage fish, and Bony fish.  Ms. Gail taught about the anatomy of fish, which the class soaked up like sponges.  I actually had a story to tell about fish swim bladders... believe it or not.  You see, double tailed goldfish, such as moors, fantails, etc are prone to problems with too much air in their swim bladders.  One solution for helping them when they bob to the surface is to feed them a pea.  (Yes, a pea.)  When that didn't work, and I realized my fish was soon to be a goner, I opted to perform an abdominocentesis on my fish, pulling air out of its swim bladder with a sterile hypodermic needle.  Much to my surprise, my first fish surgery was a success.  My fish was sinking back into the water, happy as a clam.  After discussing the topic of fish, the group gathered around while she demonstrated a fish dissection!  They were a little grossed out, but not more than they were interested and excited about seeing the anatomy up close!

 Literature- Ms. Gail began literature class with a review of their comprehension questions over the last few chapters.  Then, they continued to read "Where the Red Fern Grows."  According to one of the kids, the book is "really getting intense!"  I love to see these students getting so excited over the classics!

Social Studies- Today, the class presented their posters on famous inventors.  Of course, we had six Thomas Edison posters!  Each student was able to come up and share with the class what they had learned.  They chose an inventor, gave information about the inventor's life, and listed the important inventions and how they impacted the lives of others.  They had to show some of the inventions that the inventor is most famous for, giving details.  I love that this class gives my own kids the opportunity not just to do projects, but to stand up and show them off in front of their peers!  All of these beautiful children have come so far!

Agriculture- The Fayette County Farm Bureau Women's Committee visited class today to talk to us about soybeans!  They discussed properties of and uses for soy.  Then, the class made their own soy lip balm!  This was an awesome crossover activity for this lesson and the last, as the lip balm was made of both soy and beeswax!  Perfect!  They added a little peppermint oil to give the balm a yummy smell.  The class even designed their own labels.  Thank you so much to the Women's Committee for sharing this activity with us!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Recreation, Immigration, and Direct Quotations

Today, the class began with a new spelling and vocabulary list.  We went through the definitions together.  I repeated to the kids that it is not important to learn a certain definition word for word.  The important thing is to understand what the word actually MEANS!  They wrote down definitions of any words that they didn't know to study at home.

In grammar, we reviewed the four types of sentences, as well as how to diagram them.  I was so impressed that they remembered how to diagram the understood (you) in command sentences!  They were reminded that, in order to make diagramming questions easier, you should rearrange the words to form a statement.  This just makes it easier to find all of the verbs and locate the subject.  Finally, we reviewed rules for punctuation in a direct quotations.  We will be using these rules as we write our next narrative assignment!

The students brought in their comic strip narrative organizer today.  We first discussed sequencing and plot formation in narrative writing.  Then, the class broke into pairs and worked to peer review their story boards.  They gave each other feedback on the story lines, helping their classmates to create an easy to understand plot line.  Next, we all discussed the "tools" that we have added to our writing "toolbox".  They have learned about character development, setting, descriptive writing, "hooks" to capture the readers' attention, keeping your paragraph on topic, and more.  We will be using these tools to help us to create a longer narrative paper! 

Together, we took a story line (my true story of a fox eating our chickens), and plotted it out in our story plot graphic organizer.  We made sure, as a group, that we had an introduction, a rising plot, a climax, a falling plot, and a resolution.  While we created our group story board, we discussed how these elements need to stay clear, even when we add detail and richness.  Sometimes, it's easy to get completely off track and lose our readers!  Once our story was roughly drawn out in story-board format, we verbally created a paragraph for the introduction paragraph, alone.  One of the kids came up with the excellent idea to begin the story with the "beep, beep, beep" of an alarm clock!  Way to pull those readers in and "hook" their attention! 

Once our example paragraph was complete, I left the students to work on their own introduction paragraphs.  This is simply a paragraph to introduce the character(s), the setting, and to get the reader acquainted with the story.  I am stopping the kids there!  We will be looking at these paragraphs on Thursday, moving on when they are edited and revised.  I reminded them of their previous narrative writing papers... and how amazing they were!  We are going to "eat an elephant" by taking one little bite at a time... and end up with a fabulous story!

Math- In math class today, Ms. Jennifer worked with the kids on decimals up to the thousandths.  They converted fractions to decimals, including problems with mixed numerals.  They also worked to put decimals and fractions in increasing and decreasing order. 

Spanish-  The kids were all a buzz, working on their family tree Spanish posters!  They are putting their Spanish words for relatives to use, and hopefully helping to commit them to memory.  There are leaves and stems and tree trunks scattered throughout the room... and the happy sound of children being creative together!

In social studies class, Mr. Dennis taught the students about immigration.  They read at home about the Statue of Liberty and immigrants flocking to the U.S. from 1880-1920.  The class worked today on an activity where they were able to make up a character, filling out their own "immigration papers".  They loved creating a background for their character, including their reasons for wanting to come to the United States!

In art class, Ms. Nancy had the students bring in a picture of a tropical bird.  The kids practiced sketching their bird onto paper before committing to draw in, in marker, onto burlap.  Once their main lines were drawn, they used yard and a needle to stitch over the lines, with corresponding colors.  The kids really learned how to sew well during our Civil War puppet project!  They did an amazing job today!