Thursday, March 28, 2013

Milking Lesson

Due to a whirlwind day, this isn't a complete run-down!

Grammar- Today was another review day.  The class reviewed prepositions and prepositional phrases.  We talked about how prepositional phrases can be adjective phrases or adverb phrases, depending on the word that they describe.  After doing a few together, the class diagrammed sentences involving these phrases.
Writing-  There were some students who were still working on their proposal letters for the persuasive writing assignment.  Those students turned their letters in today, and all of them were approved.  We briefly discussed different organizational techniques that they can use to plan out their papers.  The class will be working on their papers at home.  While they do, we will have some mini-lessons during our in-class time.  Today's lesson was on letter writing.  I talked to the class about the importance of thank you cards.  I explained to them that I play a game with my kids around the holidays.  They pretend like they are opening a gift.  Then, I tell them what is inside their pretend gift.  Their pretend gifts aren't exciting, or even good gifts! Sometimes it's a package of socks, a dishrag, a rock, a pickle... anything!  Then, my kids have to say say "Thank you" and make up something nice to say about the gift.  For example, they could say, "Thank you so much for the pickle!  It is going to taste great with my sandwich tomorrow!"  The class practiced this skill.  If you can be thankful and think of something nice to say about a dirty shoe, then you can show gratitude for all gifts that you are given!  The students came up with a real example of something that they were given recently, or a favor that someone did for them.  Then, they learned how to format a Thank You letter.  After writing their letters, they each were given an envelope.  They learned to properly address the envelope.  If they knew the address of the person they were sending it to, I put a stamp on their envelope and sent it out today!

Social Studies- Today's social studies lesson dealt with America's role in WWI.  After discussing and reading about the reasons for America's participation, the kids worked in groups of two to put copies of newspaper clippings of events leading up to America's entering the war into chronological order.

Agriculture-  To prepare for the upcoming birth of the baby goats, the class learned how to milk a goat or cow today!  I explained to the kids the technique needed to successfully, and safely, milk.  If you just "squeeze" the teat, the milk will flow back up into the udder.  Therefore, you have to first squeeze with the top of your hand, then "roll" the squeeze downward, helping to force the milk out of the teat.  The perfect way to teach this technique is by filling latex gloves with milk.  We poked a small hole in one of the fingers, and the students were able to work on "milking" the glove into a bowl.  If you do not do it correctly, the milk goes right back up instead of out!

After our lesson, the class recorded the vocals to their agriculture promotional music video.  They did an AWESOME job!  We will be working on recording the video portion when we return from Spring Break.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

(A Little Bit Of) Snow!

Spelling-  The class wrote each new spelling word today, as we discussed the spelling and meanings.  Due to some mistakes that I have seen in writing and grammar classes, I decided to add the words "they're", "there", and "their" to this list.  Let's face it, that is one of the most irritating grammar mistakes EVER!

Writing- The class turned in their proposal letters today.  They used the research that they have found to convince me that they should be able to write their persuasive essays on the topic of their choice.  Many of them were very thorough and well presented!  I approved some of them, and some need to work on finding more facts and sources to support their position.  The purpose of this lesson, besides teaching them proper letter writing skills and practice with persuasive writing, is to help them be sure their writing topic and persuasive argument can be properly supported.  If they are not able to find enough sources to back up their stance, it is better to know in the very beginning!

I taught the class how to organize their information onto a graphic organizer, note cards, and in outline form. It is very important that the kids realize that these techniques for pre-writing are NOT for us, the teachers, but for THEM.  As a class, we worked through a sample essay.  We organized our information for an essay on a current topic in science class: protecting the endangered bats.  The class and I came up with an introduction, and then organized our thoughts into three main concepts.  We used a graphic organizer to show how this essay could be constructed.  Then, we all hit the floor with note cards, as I demonstrated how research and information can be easily moved around, switched out, and reorganized by using index cards. 

Math- In the 3B math class, Ms. Jennifer taught the class how to subtract fractions.  They used a compass and ruler to draw circles, and then divided them to show different fractions.  This was a good visual for their fraction subtraction lesson.  The 4B math class worked more on symmetry today.  They learned about reflection, and got a sneak peak at the next lesson on rotation.

Grammar-  Today was a big review day.  The class went over each part of speech, giving the definition and then discussing its role in a sentence.  We gave examples of each.  After our big verbal review, they labeled the parts of speech in different sentences.  At home, they will be diagramming these sentences, as well.

Spanish-  The class has been working through Spanish vocabulary words of items found in a kitchen.  In addition to studying the words at home, the kids should find a way to speak the Spanish terms out loud.  Ms. Rose helped them with their pronunciation.  The class will continue to study these household terms before the next Spanish class.

Social Studies-  Mr. Dennis led the class in a lesson on trench warfare during World War I.  They learned about the strategies of trench warfare that were used in battle.  They also learned about the weapons that WWI soldiers used.

Art-  In art class, Ms. Nancy had various Easter related projects for the class to choose from.  There were eggs of all shapes and sizes!  It's really hard to believe that spring break is next week.  March is usually a month of very unpredictable weather, but by the very end of the month, it is usually warm!  Today, it was not only freezing cold.... it snowed!  The class was thrilled to see a few light flurries come down during class!

Test Prep- Today we began going over the math sections.  We are baby stepping our way through, talking about any problem that anyone missed.  The main skills that need practice are: knowing those multiplication tables, subtracting when you must borrow multiple times, and knowing what a fraction represents.  The fraction section stumped many of them, not because they didn't know it, but because it was just presented in a different way than they expected.  For instance, there was a number line labeled 1-5, with different point on the line.  The question was, which dot represents 3/4.  Almost all of them chose the dot between the 3 and the 4.  This wasn't because they didn't know what 3/4 means, but just that they weren't thinking it through!  We talked about the importance of slowing down and studying the problem before you answer it.  A lot of times, problems are missed because the student fails to see a + sign and subtracts, or vice versa.  Hopefully, we are reducing that possibility by talking it over!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Acting It Out

Grammar- In grammar today, the class first reviewed how to diagram sentences that begin with introductory elements.  Then, they learned about interjections.  Interjections can either be set apart from the sentence with an exclamation point, or they can be followed by a comma.  Either way, they are diagrammed in the same way as an introductory element, on a floating line above the diagram frame.

Writing- The students each looked through the list of persuasive writing topics at home yesterday.  Today, we discussed each topic.  They will be researching the one that they are interested in.  Then, they will have to write a proposal letter to me, persuading me to let them write their paper on the topic of their choice.  In the letter, they will have to explain what resources they have found, as well as some information that they can use to support their stance on the topic.  To prepare for this assignment, I taught a lesson on professional letters.  They learned the format, as well as the fact that you must alter your language depending on your audience.  You wouldn't use the same words in a letter to your friends as you would to the Speaker of the House.

Math-  In math class, the 4B students continued to learn about tessellations. Ms. Jennifer drew examples on the board, and they discussed them.  Then, she gave them each a blank graph.  They used the frame to create their own tessellations. This is practice for their at-home tessellation assignment, which is due in two weeks!  The 3B class worked to compare fractions and calculate equivalent fractions.  They worked out problems together, as well as individually.  This is a difficult concept, and they are doing a great job!

Science- Ms. Gail taught the class about Georgia's endangered species.  They learned about many of them, like the bat.  She explained to the class that the bat population is in grave danger of extinction, due to a fungal infection.  They talked about the problems that occur within our ecosystem when an animal becomes extinct.  They learned about food webs and food chains.  To give a very real illustration of the interdependency within nature, she gave each of them a different card.  Some had animals listed, one had plants, and one had the sun.  She asked each student what the thing on their card depended on.  Then, she handed them the end of a piece of yarn.  The yarn was stretched between the animal and the other animals, plants, etc, that it depends on.  Each students' card was dependent on many different things, and other students' cards depended on them.  The web of yard stretched across the room, giving a visual representation of the important connections between them.  Then, Ms. Gail asked a student what would happen if one of the others became extinct.  They quickly realized that taking one piece out of the web would have major consequences within nature.

Sprouts for The Secret Garden
Literature-  The students listened as Ms. Gail continued reading in The Secret Garden.  They seem to be getting the hang of the dialect, and enjoying Mary's personal growth as a character. 

Social Studies- The class is now learning about World War I.  They read through and discussed events that lead to the war.  In order to help them understand all of the dynamics involved, he handed them each a card with a different country listed.  As he told the story, the child with that country on his or her card had to come up and visually demonstrate the Triple Alliance and Triple EntenteI am sure that this helped them to better understand... as it helped ME to better understand!

Agriculture- Today, the kids really nailed their agriculture song!  They are belting out their parts, and are getting the hang of when to come in.  We are going to work on recording the song next week, so we can begin the process of putting together the video aspects as soon as we can.  I have a feeling that it will take a while!

We headed over to check out Gretta and June's progress, as they rapidly approach their due dates.  Gretta's udder is beginning to fill, and I wanted the kids to it now so they will be able to track the changes.  They learned about colostrum, and how important it is not just to baby goats, but to all baby mammals.  While we were there, the kids stopped to see how big the "chicks" that they hatched have gotten.  They are now big enough to free range with the laying hens!  After a quick stroll by the freshly tilled garden, and a climb on a bale of hay, we ended a beautiful, brisk school day!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Catching Mistakes

Spelling-  Today, the class was given a new spelling list.  I can't believe it, but this is our 28th week of class!  Our list for the week consists of many words from The Secret Garden.  We discussed the meaning of each word, and come up with example sentences.

Writing-  The 3B writing class brought in a persuasive piece of writing, answering questions from the "Persuasion Is All Around You" sheet.  We talked about each piece of persuasive writing, evaluating its effectiveness.  Then, they learned different strategies for persuasive writing.  These strategies were listed in a chart, and the kids will use this for tomorrow's at-home assignment.  The class then used these strategies, as a group, to convince me to let them choose from the prize box!  They made a very convincing argument, even stating what George Washington would do!  By learning and identifying these strategies, they will be able to apply them as they write their own persuasive paper. 

The 4B class had used these persuasive writing strategies to analyze the effectiveness of an article of their choice.  Today, we split into groups, depending on which article they chose from the at-home assignment.  Within these groups, the kids compared their answers for the different strategies that were used.  We discussed and clarified the different types.  Then, the class was divided into two groups.  They named themselves "The Persuaders" and "The Hybrid Writers".  The groups had to use the strategies to convince me that their group should be the one to choose from the prize box.  They utilized many techniques (and a little creative license) in order to get their point across.  They used statements from experts or important people that support their side.  They used logic, numbers, facts, or data, appealed to the audience's emotions, made themselves seem trustworthy and believable, and built a sense of urgency.  As the team leaders presented the arguments, the rest of the class used a rubric to check off the strategies that were used.  It was s tough call, but in the end, the "Persuaders" won me over!

Math- The 3B class worked on equivalent fractions today, while the 4B class learned about symmetrical patterns.

Grammar-  In grammar class, the kids learned about comparative and superlative adverbs and adjectives.  They knew these, but just didn't know what they were called!  We talked about irregular comparative and superlative adverbs, such as well (well, better, best) and badly (badly, worse, worst).  Then, they diagrammed different sentences that contained each.

Spanish-  In Spanish class, Ms. Rose reviewed the material that the students have been working on from their workbooks.  They worked on different pronunciation rules, such as "c" making the sound as in "city" dependent on the vowel that follows it.  They are putting together many different concepts that they have been taught so far this year: Spanish phonics, feminine and masculine articles, and sentence structure. 

Social Studies-  Today, the class continued to learn about our expanding nation.  They learned about the Spanish-American War and the Panama Canal.  They took their knew knowledge and applied it as they deciphered political cartoons of the era. 

Art- In art today, the kids continued stitching away on their tropical bird projects.  We turned on some music, grabbed some yarn, and spent the hour and a half stitching and chatting!

Test Prep- We caught a few really great issues today... most involving library skills.  This is no surprise, as modern families tend to use the internet MUCH more than the library! 

One problem that most of the kids had was not knowing to look up a person's name by the last name.  For instance, when looking up Abraham Lincoln in an encyclopedia, they would tend to look it up in the A's. 

Another issue was with looking up books by their call numbers, and recognizing whether a book would be found on a certain shelf.  For instance, would a book 122.15 be found on the shelf labeled 124-155?

One of the other major points that we addressed today was looking up words with the help of guide words.  Again, with and other online sources, kids do not get the practice that they 'need' with this skill.  We worked on it in class, but they will also have some online games posted on homework hideout for tomorrow!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Persuasion, Predicates, Produce, & (Owl) Pellets!

Grammar-  In grammar today, the class reviewed the four different kinds of verbs.  They practiced the chant for helping verbs, and then pointed them out in various sentences.  After taking time to discuss each type, the class worked on recognizing the different types, using clues from the sentence around it.  For instance, "is" can be a state of being verb, helping verb, or a linking verb, depending on how it is used.  We discussed their answers, and diagrammed sentences that involved each type.  Sentences with linking verbs contained predicate adjectives or predicate nominatives, sentences with action verbs contained direct objects (and sometimes indirect objects), and sentences with helping verbs contained other verbs.  It was a great comprehensive review.

Math- Today was a day of fractions in the 3B class and decimals in the 4B class!  Ms. Jennifer had each class working through review problems on the board and discussing issues that the children were having with the concepts. 

Writing-  In writing today, the 3B class continued to work on recognizing facts and opinions.  We looked through magazines, pointing out sentences of each type.  Then, we wrote them onto a chart.  At the end of class, we chose a movie.  I argued points to support my opinion that it was a terrible movie, while they came up with facts to support their opinion that it was great.  For homework, the class will be finding a persuasive article, and completing the page, "Persuasion Is All Around You".

The 4B class shared their findings from the "Persuasion Is All Around You" activity.  There were some great articles and advertisements, all trying to persuade the reader.  After they shared their findings, we discussed the different strategies that authors use to persuade their readers.  They make their main point, they bring up experts and other important people that support their side of the argument, and they use logic, numbers, facts, and data to make their point.  Further, the authors work to appeal to the audience's emotions.  The class was able to point this out in many of their example articles.  The authors also try to make themselves seem trustworthy and believable.  They may use studies and information to make their argument seem very convincing, and they build a sense of urgency for their causes.   We gave examples of each of these strategies, discussing their effectiveness.  At home, the class will be reading a persuasive article and evaluating its use of the strategies that they learned today.

Science-  In science class, Ms. Gail began with a review of the material covered in their at home assignments.  The children gave answers and made corrections.  Then, the big activity began; the class dissected owl pellets!  Ms. Gail gave each student a handout that showed different bones that they may find in their owl pellet.  As they pulled their pellet apart, they identified and cataloged their findings.  Then, they glued them onto a card.  I remember loving this activity as a child!  It was great to see the excitement among the students as they found skulls, ribs, and all sorts of other bones!

Literature-  The class discussed the answers to the comprehension questions from the past week.  They agreed that the text of "The Secret Garden" can be difficult to follow.  To help them get an idea of the accents and dialect, Ms. Gail brought in a clip from an audio version of the book.  I think this, as well as Ms. Gail's read-a-loud, will definitely help them understand what they are reading at home.

Social Studies-  For social studies today, the class used their reading on reform to complete a set of multiple choice questions.  They worked in pairs to complete their work.  Even though they were able to use their books and handouts, it wasn't easy!  At the end, they were able to combine with other groups to compare answers, looking up any that were inconsistent.  We will be grading them in class on Tuesday.

Agriculture- The first part of class was spent working on our agriculture song.  There are some tricky parts to sing, and I taught the class about syncopation.  By working with them to "stomp" the accents to the lines, the kids were able to make it work.  They drew a dot or star above the words that are accented to help them as they sing. 

After making progress with our music, we headed outdoors.  The kids and I made our way to the garden, which is ready to be tilled under in preparation for the warm weather garden.  We needed to pull up the carrots, so the kids lined up and all had a section of the row to pull.  There were carrots EVERYWHERE!  After the carrots were harvested, we moved over to the other plants that were petering out.  Some were still good.  The kids pulled them up, cleaned them, and placed them in our bag.  Instead of leaving the other plants to be tilled under, the class pulled them up and gave them to the goats and chickens.  It was a beautiful day!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Facts, Fractions, and Sentence Fragments

The kids' "Secret Garden" opener projects have sprouted!

Spelling-  After our big two week review, we are back to learning new words.  This week's list consists of words from our current social studies topic, the Progressive Era, our recent biology lessons, and vocabulary words from the first few chapters of The Secret Garden.  There are many "rule breaking" words in this list.  Many of them have an "e" at the end that does not cause the preceding vowel to make a long sound.  For instance, the words desolate, suffrage, and cartilage look as if they would have a long vowel sound in their final consonant.  The class will be studying this list at home, and we will be working on a crossword puzzle later in the week.

Grammar- Today the class learned some new concepts!  Last week, they learned that two smaller sentences can be combined together by a comma and a conjunction to form a longer, compound sentence.  Today, they took that idea a step further.  They learned what happens if that connection (or "splice") isn't strong enough to hold the two smaller sentences together!  They learned about comma splices and run-on sentences.  Further, they learned that there is another acceptable way to join the sentences together; you can join them with a semicolon.  The students will be working on diagramming compound sentences that use both methods.

Writing- Today, the students presented their completed stories!  There are still some final revisions that need to be made, but we were able to read them out loud and give the eager audience conclusions to the many story lines!   I truly believe that reading them aloud after completing each section helped to keep the students motivated to continue developing their plots.  Their peer audience also provided a tangible reason to add adjectives, adverbs, and transition words. 

We are moving on to opinion and persuasive writing.  To prepare, we reviewed last week's lesson on fact and opinion.  We also discussed the purpose of persuasive writing.  At home, they will be finding a persuasive article of their own.  It can be from a newspaper, a book or movie review, a magazine article, etc.  They will be answering some questions on the article, as well as bringing it in for further discussion. 

Math- The 4B math class worked on dividing numbers that contained decimals.  They have been working with decimals for a few weeks now, and are doing a fabulous job adding, subtracting, multiplying, and now dividing.  The 3B math class was introduced to fractions today.  Ms. Jennifer taught the concept by allowing the students to color in different fractions.  Then, they learned to write the fraction for each image.

Spanish- Today was test day in Spanish class.  They have been working for weeks on the Spanish names for family members.  Today, they put what they learned to the test.  Instead of simply testing them on rote memorization, Ms. Rose used questions such as "Abuelo es __________ de mi mama.  This incorporated the vocabulary that they have learned with the articles and pronouns that they know.  It also required the students to truly think about what each word means, not just regurgitate the definition.

Social Studies- Mr. Dennis began by reviewing the material from Friday and Monday.  The students have been learning about the Progressive Era, and muckrakers.  They read about the Progressive Movement and reformers of the time period.  Using the text that they were given last week, as well as the material that they printed from home, they worked in small groups to complete a crossword puzzle.  On Thursday, this lesson will continue, so be sure to review the reading, if needed!

Art- Today's art class was spent working diligently on their stitching projects.  The kids' patience is amazing, and these birds are looking great!

Test Prep- The class has been working through the Language Arts section, at home.  In class, we are going over each missed problem, discussing it in detail.  Today, we tackled issues such as:
  • If there is a passage, then the answers to questions in that section will be found, or will pertain to, that passage.  (For instance, the opposite of the word "poor" may be "rich", but not if it is referring to a snake's "poor eyesight".)
  • If you are having trouble discerning the genre of writing, figure out what its purpose is.  Is it to entertain the reader?  To inform them?  
  • Sometimes, the answer is obvious because the other answers are just plain wrong!
  • Take your time and read all of the directions.
  • Read the questions carefully.
  • Don't be tricked into thinking that command sentences (imperative sentences) are fragments just because the subject is an understood "you".
  • Sometimes, the answers to the questions are ALL correct, but it is asking you for the BEST answer.