Thursday, April 30, 2009

Slice of Life Challenge

I am excited to announce a little "contest" for the month of May...The Slice of Life Challenge!

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!


Just a couple of quick notes...

  • 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

10 Things I Love

With many students done with their mysteries, we're getting a head start on our May writing/technology project. This project is called "10 Things" and it will be worked on in class and posted to the class wiki page.

The inspiration for this project comes from a blog post I read on one of my favorite blogs, The Miss Rumphius Effect

For this project, students will make a list of 10 things that they really love. Then they'll write about why they love them. Seems simple, right? Well all 10 things have to start with the same letter! AND they don't get to pick the letter. I do! 

Here's a little slideshow that I showed to students that reveals their letters:

My goals for this project include writing clear, focused, detailed paragraphs; importing photos into wiki pages; using hyperlinks; and using online photos responsibly by citing sources correctly.

This should be lots of fun. It will be worked on at school during the month of May and it WILL be required to be presented at the third trimester exhibition. Stay tuned for more updates and be sure to contact me with any questions that you have.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Mysterious Behavior

Some mysterious behavior was exhibited while students typed their mysteries in class (yes, we're already typing...WAY ahead of schedule! How awesome is that?).

What behavior am I speaking of? Complete silence. And complete focus. Yep. Unbelievable, I know. All I did was give them a computer and turn on some jazz music (why didn't I think of this earlier?). Take a look...

I'm talking absolute silence. (Except for Ileana asking NoahW, "Whose side are you on?" when he started humming along with the jazz music. Hilarious.) 

Please monitor this situation closely at home this weekend. If you notice any other peculiar or mysterious behaviors (such as cleaning their rooms on their own, being kind to siblings, etc.), you just might have to contact your family doctor.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Milestone Two

Milestone Two is due shortly (on April 30). If you recall, the second milestone is the one with the notes. Students should be gathering notes on their driving question. The more the merrier. I'm thinking that the list should have about 20-30 facts on it.

This being the last exhibition of the year, students should aim for it to be their best. Exhibition Week starts June 1, which is only 6 weeks away. 

Look for a checklist for this Exhibition to come home in early May. Sign-up sheets should follow a week or so after that.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Amazing Race

Never content to have just ONE project going on, I've started a social studies project this week that we'll work on for the next few weeks. It's called "The Amazing Race."

The project is modeled after the television show of the same name. (A show I highly recommend, by the way, for people of all ages--Sundays, CBS, 8:00).

In this project, students work in teams to design a "race" across the country. Their job is to write 10 clues that would lead a team from place to place. They'll be using research, technology, and social studies skills to do this.

You can view all the details at The Amazing Race Project homepage.

I'll keep you updated as we go along. It should be fun!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Strange Mysteries

Wayyy behind in my blog postings...sorry....A great way to get back into the swing of blogging is by telling you about the writing project for the month of April: MYSTERIES!

Every fourth and fifth grade student will write a mystery story this month. We'll be looking at the characteristics of mysteries first, and then read a few, before we start drafting this week. Rough drafts should be completed during Spring Break. And final drafts are due April 30.

I think the kids are excited about returning to fiction writing. Hopefully they told you how we kicked off the project last Wednesday...we started by reading the first two-thirds of a mystery story, "The Case of the Missing Billy," together. After discussing it, the entire third floor took part in several crime lab activities. Our goal was to get them thinking and acting like detectives, to help them write better stories. They dusted for fingerprints, examined mysterious powders and fibers, analyzed footprints and teeth impressions, and even interviewed the suspects.

That's right. A brave and dedicated group of teachers (not me) got into full costume and played the role of suspects from the story. It was quite a hoot! Take a look:

From left to right you see: Karen the hairdresser with bad hair, Mr. Grumpy the grumpy landlord, Suzie the frazzled victim, and Mrs. Squalor the bunny-hating gardener.

The kids had a great time. Hopefully they're excited about writing yet another great story. Be sure to ask them about it regularly, and also to help them with their rough drafts during Spring Break!