Monday, December 14, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
- read and discussed 24 poems together
- written five different kinds of poems
- completed a class podcast
- created 2 class picture books
- read and discussed 12 fabulous picture books
- completed the first 5 chapters of our American History text and (almost) a project
- completed nearly 2 units of our math curriculum
- written four Slice of Life Stories
- solved four Problems of the Week
- launched a collaborative, all-village writing project
- started an international online book club
- successfully launched our Reading Workshop, complete with Guided Reading
- started our spelling program (a.k.a. "Buddy Study" or "Word Study")
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
I am excited to announce a new project that our class will be participating in...an Online Book Club.
- Unit 1 Math tests will come home today. Please go over them together. Overall, I thought we did well.
- Homework Alerts will be sent home today, as well. Every student will get one. Please sign and return.
- Milestone 1 is due Thursday. This is simply a list of 6 books and/or websites that could be used for gathering information for the interest project. Students who turn their list in Thursday morning will get to participate in "Fun Friday." Fun Friday is an afternoon of fun activities that serves as a reward for finishing the milestone.
- Scholastic book orders went home yesterday. They are due back Thursday, October 15. After school today, I'll be setting up online ordering, which is an easy, secure option. Use the link in the sidebar of the blog to learn how to order online.
- MEAP testing begins next week. More info on this to come.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
- Count Day is tomorrow! Please be in school and on time. Thanks so much!!!
- Milestone 1 is due October 8. For this milestone, students must turn in a list of 6 resources that they plan to use for their interest project. I have a form that I'll send home this week, but if it's just a list of websites and/or books written on a sheet of paper, that's fine, too.
- Book in a Bag turn-in rate isn't what I'd like it to be yet. All of the students have books. Please make sure that they are reading every night, filling out the form, and returning the form to school every Monday.
- Speaking of less than 100 percent return rate...Slice of Life stories are due every Monday, too. Please don't forget.
- We took a unit test in math today. Look for the graded paper to come home by the end of the week.
- Thanks to all who took the time out of their days for Learning Team Meetings. I felt like they were a great success and that we've got some terrific, individualized learning plans in place. If you haven't met with me yet, please give a call or send an email ASAP.
- Remember if you haven't checked out our first podcast yet, give it a listen HERE.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
In class today, we examined “found poems,” poems that are created from sentences that you find, sentences that other people write and that the writer turns into a poem.
Here are two sentences we found in a magazine:
“It’s easy to get lost in this summer scene. With a wooden bench surrounded by blooms an a birdbath, in the distance you could spend hours in this picturesque garden.”
Here’s how we turned it into a poem:
Found Poem #1
Words from Birds & Blooms
Arranged by Room 302
to get lost
in this summer scene
with a wooden bench
surrounded by blooms
and a birdbath. In the distance
you could spend hours in this picturesque
Write TWO found poems. You can find material anywhere. Your job is to arrange it into a poem. Think about things like line breaks, stanzas, sounds, and other poetry “moves.”
Make sure you put “Words from _____” and “Arranged by ____” at the top of your poem so we know where you got your words and who you are!
Due date: Monday, September 28
Monday, September 21, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
- Back to School night is tomorrow (Wednesday) from 5:00-7:00. Come see our new room and get acquainted with the fifth grade curriculum. We'll also be holding a discussion about Exhibitions & Learning Plans.
- Book-in-a-Bag started this week. Every student has a book, a bag, and a reading log. These things need to travel back and forth every day. We'll be using those books every day during reading workshop.
- Scholastic Book Club orders are due tomorrow. Remember, you can order online using the link in the sidebar of this blog!
- Learning Team Meetings will be held next week. I'll start making appointments tomorrow night at Back to School Night.
- There is no school next Friday, September 25.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
- How many stanzas does this poem have?
- What are the metaphors?
- What parts are repeated? Does the repeated part change in any way?
- What words don't you know?
- Do any words have more than one possible meaning?
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
And just to clarify my last post regarding supplies...the list that went home at the end of last year for general classroom requests (mentioned in the comments of the last post)...just go by that one. I don't need anything additional. Use that list as your guide. Thanks.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
- The Summer Learning Page on the class wiki is up and running. Students can begin using it as soon as they'd like.
- Here is a link to some good book recommendations:
- And if you'd like to see how famous my students are, check out this link from 826 Michigan, which details the project they completed last week!
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Third Trimester Exhibition Organizer
Monday, May 11, 2009
3rd Trimester Exhibition Checklist 0809 Grade4
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Students will be required to write one Slice of Life story EVERY DAY from May 1-June 1. All stories must be written in Slice of Life notebooks. All stories must be at least one page.
Now that we've been writing these stories for about 3 months, students should completely understand what is expected. The biggest challenge might be writer's block. (I can almost hear them now..."I'm not sure what to write about.") BUT please remember and remind your child...Slice of Life stories can be about ANY small moment. We live through many, many small moments every day, whether it's standing in line at the bank, eating a sandwich, or looking out the window. And students can write about current small moments OR small moments from their past.
If you still need guidance with these stories, check out this page from our class website. I also came across another great example that might help, too.
I'm going to try to participate in the challenge, too, by writing 30 Slice of Life stories. Maybe you should, as well! I'm looking forward to the results of this Challenge. Enjoy!
- MAP testing started this week. Students took Language Usage on Tuesday and Reading today. We'll finish with Math tomorrow. Students who were absent or who need to retake any tests will do so on May 15.
- MEAP results came home with students today. The state Department of Education does a much better job communicating the meaning of these results than they used to. Take a look, and if you have any questions, let me know.
- Mystery stories were due today. We didn't have time to get everyone's printed, but we should be able to tomorrow. The stories are terrific. Students are required to present these stories at their third trimester Exhibitions.
- Speaking of Exhibitions, checklists for these presentations will go home next week.
- PLEASE don't forget Book-in-a-Bag worksheets and Slice of Life stories are due Monday. I was a little disappointed by the fact that only a handful of each were turned in on time this week.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Julian Rodriguez Episode One: Trash Crisis on Earth by Alexander StadlerIf your child likes the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, and they probably do, then he or she will like this new graphic novel. A quick and fun read.
The 39 Clues series (Spring Gift Books) by various authorsThe third of this series was just released and you can get all three books this month through the book order. I am really into this series about a brother and sister trying to solve a puzzle that could make them rich beyond their wildest dreams. Looking for books to interest reluctant readers? These would be perfect. Looking for books to donate to the classroom??? These would be perfect. :)
So, I'll follow those four recommendations with a note about ordering online with a credit card. I tried this earlier in the year and didn't get much interest, but I thought I'd try it again. Here's what to do...
Class user name: curran
Remember, ordering online with a credit card is completely secure. AND it actually can help us earn more free books for the classroom library than we usually do. Orders are due April 3, 2009.
How could this program be improved? I feel the worksheet is quite simple, the books of high quality, and the time and effort requirements are not overwhelming. How am I missing the mark? Is it because I started it mid-year? That's the only thing I can think of.
If you have any thoughts on the matter, I encourage you to email me or (even better as it would create a type of "conversation" among us) leave a comment by clicking on the "comments" link at the end of this post. Just know that when you do that, your comment can be viewed by anyone! I look forward to hearing from you.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Friday, February 6, 2009
As always, especially with Exhibitions right around the corner, please contact me with any questions or concerns that you have.
I'm looking forward to meeting with you all again during second trimester Learning Team Meetings.
Well, I guess it's because I really feel like I need to be flexible and able to change, on the fly if need be. I try to pay very close attention to how things are going, and respond when needed.
So when I needed to communicate more effectively, I started a blog. When I noticed we weren't practicing problem solving skills enough, I added the POW. When I noticed students weren't reading every night at home, I added Book-in-a-Bag. When I realized the students needed more practice writing personal stories, I started Slice of Life stories.
It makes perfect sense. I'll never be the kind of teacher that does things exactly the same, year in and year out. If I find an idea that will benefit my students or I find a way to improve my teaching, I'm adding it in, whether it's September or January or May.
Hopefully this makes sense. It leads to me introducing the concept of Student Portfolios. A portfolio is a great way to assess students' progress. It's more than just a collection of their work, stuffed in a folder, though. Everything that goes in the portfolio is carefully selected by both me and the students.
In the end, what we'll have is a great picture of the students' performance and growth over the course of a year (and over two years by the end of fifth grade). It will allow me to make more helpful suggestions in our Learning Team Meetings and more insightful comments on students' narrative reports.
What it means to you, though, is that you'll see a little less returned home to you. I'll be saving it here at school, instead. Especially bigger assignments, such as Problems of the Week, writing projects, tests and quizzes, etc. But don't worry, I'll still keep you informed of progress and scores. I'll just be keeping the finished products in the portfolio.
This is pretty much an experiment. It's something I've always wanted to try and now I'm finally doing it. We'll see how it turns out.
Friday, January 30, 2009
It's critical that they have their facts (at least from 1s to 10s) memorized. I'm certain that ALL of them need some extra practice at home.
We try our best to practice at school, but time is limited and lots of them need more time on this than we have.
The best thing to do is focus on small groups of facts at a time. Don't try to practice them all at once. For example, this week, make sure they know their ones and twos, then next week try the fives and tens, and so on. Trying to learn them all at once will do nothing more than slow you down. The ones they struggle with most seem to be the 6s and above.
How should you do this? It doesn't have to be anything formal. Practice in the car. Or make some flash cards and incorporate it into your nightly routine. By the end of fourth grade, all students need to have them memorized.
I found a fun website that has lots of different multiplication games. You can CLICK HERE to find it. I'm sure it can provide some good practice for them, too. They have four pages of multiplication games! Let me know what you think.
Thanks again, for all your support. I wouldn't ask you to focus on this if I didn't think it was really important.
But there's one problem...not everyone owns the Microsoft PowerPoint software. And it's not very affordable. The Microsoft Office suite, which contains PowerPoint, can run hundreds of dollars!
But if you don't own the software, and your child wants to make a PowerPoint for their exhibition, there are free alternatives. Most are very easy to use. Take a look...
280 Slides--This is a very easy site to use. It doesn't have a ton of different fonts or different backgrounds, but it gets the job done. You can even add images very easily. You'll have to register for this site, but it's free. Once you create your presentation, you can save it on their server so that you can access it from any computer, or you can download it to your own computer. I've used this with kids before and they loved it.
Zoho--You can sign into this site using a Google or Yahoo mail account. Then you can access their presentation creator, which they call "Zoho Show." They also have a word processor, Zoho Writer, a spreadsheet maker, Zoho Sheet, and many other applications. Zoho has more bells and whistles than 280 Slides. And like 280 Slides, you can save your work on their servers and access it anywhere.
Bookr--If you're looking for something really simple, for example if you want to show images and just a little text, Bookr is for you. It allows you to add images from Flickr's website. Just type in a keyword (called a "tag") and it gives you a ton to choose from.
Google Docs--I've talked about this site before. I love it because you can access it from anywhere. You do need a Google account (which comes in handy on a lot of websites) or you can use our classroom account (username: curran310). Google Docs has a presentation option--just click "New" and then select PRESENTATION from the drop-down menu. Just don't forget to hit "save & close" when you're done. We used this to make our presentation about trash and recycling. It's very kid-friendly.
Open Office--This is the only link here that requires you to download anything. You have to download the program and install it on your computer. It's worth it, though, because this program is a perfect substitute for Microsoft Office. And it's completely free. It even allows you to save your work in Microsoft Format so that it can be opened on any computer that's running Microsoft Office! I run Open Office on our Mac computers at school and I love it. Their website has a full load of instalation instructions as well as a help feature that should answer any questions you have about it.
Let me know how these things turn out, if you end up trying them. And be sure to let me know if you have any questions.
Monday, January 26, 2009
2nd Trimester Exhibition Checklist
Tomorrow, I'll be distributing this Graphic Organizer. It should help them stay organized. It gives them a place to keep all their notes in one place. Then, they can transfer these notes to index cards for their presentations. We used something like this last trimester. We'll be working to fill it in during the next week or so in school...
2nd Trimester Exhibition Organizer
Of course, let me know if you have any Exhibition related questions. As you see from the new countdown timer, the clock is ticking!
*Note: To download (save) either of these documents, click on the title of the document (it's in blue and underlined). To print, open the drop-down menu next to the word "iPaper."
Sunday, January 25, 2009
We had all been waiting weeks for this. I can't really put into words how excited we were. I'm not sure if it was the fact that everything was brand new (chairs, books, desks, EVERYTHING!) or the fact that we had spent the last three weeks actually watching the building being built. (We could see it from the window of the room we were working in..."Look a dump truck!" "Look it's full of dirt!" "Look, they're dumping the dirt!" "Look, they're dumping some more!" And so on.) It was all very exciting.
And no the day was finally here: Move-In Day. I had a TON of stuff. And my room was on the third floor. And did I mention that the elevator wasn't working yet? My dad was there to help me unload. Trip after trip. Up and down the stairs. Again and again. My legs hurt. My back hurt. But I didn't care.
We must have rearranged the room ten times. Moving tables, computers, desks, and chairs trying to get it just right. The final set-up was a lot different than it is now. But I was pleased. I looked around and took it all in. UPA Elementary would be open in two days and I was ready.
I sat down for the first time that day, filled with a sense of accomplishment and pride.
"Perfect," I said, leaning back in my chair, a smile on my face. "Perfect."
- Completed personal narrative, personal essay, Tall Tale, and (almost) persuasive essay writing projects.
- Finished six units of our Everyday Math program.
- Successfully integrated technology into our curriculum--students created powerpoint presentations, edited their own personal wiki pages, and designed podcasts.
- Helped to start a school-wide paper recycling program that has been ridiculously successful.
- Completed first trimester Exhibitions and pushed forward on their second.
- Witnessed the swearing in of the first African American president.
- and much, much more!
What might stand out most to me is their increasing enthusiasm for learning. They have become much more dedicated to their work. And they all seem to love coming to school. I couldn't be happier about this.
The next five months will hold great things, too. We continue to press forward in all subjects, with a keen eye focused on the upcoming Exhibitions. Exhibition Week begins February 23. Checklists went home Friday, so it's time to get started. Be sure to ask questions if you have them. Of course, I'll be posting more on this topic as we go along. So stay glued to the blog! And get ready for a terrific second half.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Number of Book in a Bag record sheets turned in Tuesday: 5
These assignments are part of our weekly routine and will be due again Monday, January 26. B.I.B. record sheets didn't go home until Wednesday this week, so the first two sections can be left blank. If you need info about Slice of Writing, see the class website or the blog post below this one.
Also, several students from the third floor helped me create a podcast to honor the new president. You can listen to it using the podcast tool on this page or on the class homepage. Let me know what you think!
There will be a math quiz Friday (no POW this week). There will be a math unit test Tuesday, the 27th.
Final drafts of persuasive letters are due Monday, February 2.
Milestone 2 is due tomorrow! Exhibition checklists will come home tomorrow as well. Appointment sign-up sheets will be distributed the first week of February.
Questions or concerns? Let me know.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
The house wasn't just cold. It was absolutely freezing. I started the morning routine as usual, although I did make the coffee first, knowing that I'd need it soon to help me warm up.
I was looking forward to a quiet day at work. We were scheduled for a day of meetings--all the students had the day off. My own children, however, had a regular day of school, so I set to work waking them up and getting them ready.
My wife was driving all three kids with her this particular morning, so I helped get them all up, get them dressed, get them breakfast, get their coats, mittens, and hats on, and pack their back packs. Finally, it was time to head into the frigid outdoors.
My ride arrived as they were loading into the van. (I was kind enough to start it earlier, so it would be warm). A friend from work was taking me to work because the cold had been making it difficult to get my car started. I said good-bye to my shivering family and headed off to work.
"If we didn't have these meetings today, our school would have been canceled for sure," my ride stated as we drove off.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Didn't you watch TV this morning? Every school around is closed because of the cold."
"Oh no." I knew immediately that I had done all that work for nothing. I had forced my family into the cold and gotten them up before sunrise for nothing.
With one phone call I checked on their school. And then I made the call to someone who was sure to be unhappy.
"Hello?" my wife answered...
So there's an example of a Slice of Life story. Notice that it's about an everyday event, nothing special. These stories can be about something recent or something from the past. It did have a problem, but a Slice of Life story doesn't have to have one. It wasn't very long either. Just a little story about a little "slice of life."
These should be recorded in a separate notebook that your child can dedicate to this weekly assignment. OR they can post them on their page on the class wiki. They should know how to do this, although if they've forgotten there are instructions on the class website. These are due Tuesday.
If you want to challenge your child, push them to write more than one story per week. If you want to challenge yourself, try writing one and sharing it with them (or all of us...you could post it as a comment at the bottom of this entry!).
Also, please remember you're invited for Inauguration Day festivities Tuesday. Please come and visit/help/spend this special day with your child.
And, milestone 2 is due next Friday. This consists of notes for your child's interest project. If you need something to shoot for, I'd say try to get 15-20 facts written down by your child in their own words (printed from the Internet doesn't count, sorry).
Have a great weekend. Stay warm.
Monday, January 12, 2009
This is a great activity for kids to work on from home (or from any computer with web access).
I've posted instructions here on the class website. It's pretty straight-forward, but it's worthwhile and enjoyable.
I'm looking forward to the finished product. If students take advantage of the class time available for this and work on this from home, it should turn out to be pretty awesome.
Oh, and just an additional note...they will be required to show some of their Curran-pedia entries at their second trimester Exhibition!!!
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
We're going to try to get some of the typing done at school using Google Docs. By using this website, they can work on their document from any computer. They should know how to access it, but just in case they forgot, their are instructions on the class website.
Second, if your child already typed theirs, can you please email it to me as an attachment?
Thanks so much. I really want to get these published into a class book of some sort and both of these things will help to make that happen.
I'm dedicated to continuing to work on last year's resolution. I have lots more ideas about writing, and there's always more improvements to make. But we all know how most resolutions end up...many fall flat (don't ask how often I've gone jogging in 2009!). So I'd have to say that last year's was a total success.
So, what's this year's teaching resolution? I've thought a lot about this, and I know I'm seven days late, but I think it's going to be: Make my teaching more individualized. I'm going to work harder to have every student working on individual academic goals. I want my teaching to better reflect the diverse needs of my students.
How am I going to do this? Not quite sure yet. But it starts with the resolutions the kids wrote for themselves in class on Monday. Don't know what your child's resolution was? Ask them. I'm going to try to hold them accountable. We'll be following up on them regularly and working toward making them happen. This could be a very successful learning experience, not only when it comes to their academic resolutions, but also in terms of learning how to set goals, making plans, and carrying out their plans. I'd call all of those things important life skills, for sure.
So I'll be blogging a lot about this (and the many, many other things going on in 2009) in the coming weeks.
By the way, what's your resolution? If you'd like to share, click the link below that says how many comments this post has. (example: 0 comments) Let us all know what you're working on in 2009, at home, at work, with your kids, etc. The comments feature is a great feature of blogs as it allows for interaction of the writers and readers.
Happy New Year (again)!
Monday, January 5, 2009
This month holds some exciting and important events for us. We will be...
...publishing our tall tales and starting a persuasive letter writing project.
...taking the Winter MAP test.
...moving from multiplication to division.
...taking part in a school-wide Inauguration Day celebration.
...continuing our successful homework routines (POW and Book-in-a-Bag) and adding a new one.
...turning in Milestone number 2 for our second trimester Interest Projects.
...and much, much more.
Details on many of these things will come to you in the coming weeks. The new year always fills me with a bit of excitement, and this year is no exception. I can't wait to see the places this class is going to go, and I appreciate the huge role you play in that. Keep in touch and check for a note coming home tomorrow.