Sunday, October 31, 2010

This Week's Announcements

We have an "in-school" field trip scheduled for 11:30. We'll be going to the gym to see a science movie about the Earth and different habitats. Apparently, the company putting this on sets up a mobile "dome theater" so it will be like an IMAX kind of thing. If you haven't sent in your $5 yet, please do so. Thanks.

Also on Monday, check your child's backpack, because several things are coming home:

  • Graded quizzes, POW, and other worksheets from last week
  • A "Homework Alert" to let you know what work was missing last week
  • An Exhibition Checklist so you know what the requirements are for Exhibitions
  • An Exhibition Sign-Up sheet so you can choose a time for your child's Exhibition
  • A sheet that explains Milestone 3, which we should finish up Thursday, but that DOES require a little bit of at-home work/preparation--students need to bring their list of facts back to school on Wednesday
  • a new Book in a Bag form
  • Study Link 3-5
No School--Staff will be involved in a professional development session

Study Link 3-7 will be the night's homework. A new POW will come home also. At 4:30 the Book Fair will be held in the gym!

Information requested for Milestone 3 is due today. We worked on the PowerPoint for this milestone on Friday and will work on it again twice this week.

Fun Friday for students that complete Milestone 3 will be held in the afternoon. POW is due today. 

Happy Halloween!

First of all, a huge thanks goes out to all who made our party possible. If you donated treats or supplies, thanks very much. And a special thanks to Mrs. El-Amin, who came into help out.

I tried to snap a few photos and put them together into a little scrapbook. Take a look:

Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook
Create your own scrapbook - Powered by Smilebox
This free scrapbooking design customized with Smilebox

Saturday, October 30, 2010

First Trimester Exhibition Checklist

Here is the checklist for the first trimester Exhibition. If you're viewing this in an email, you'll probably have to go to the blog to see it. From here, you should be able to view, download, and/or print it. Don't worry, though, I'll provide a hard copy on Monday. I'll also be explaining it in detail throughout next week.

1st Trimester Exhibition Checklist

Thursday, October 28, 2010

POW Help

Here's a movie I made today that might help with tonight's POW. This is a recording of me showing the students a problem similar to the one on the POW...

It should help if you need more explanation or if your child can't remember exactly what to do.

Online Book Club Starts Monday!

I am very excited for our next "Going Global" project. We'll be reading another book out loud but this one is guaranteed to be a hit with the kids (the last one was kind of lame). It's called The Maze of Bones and it's the first book in the 39 Clues series which is an insanely popular series in other schools that hasn't really caught on at UPA. I'm hoping it will spark the kids' interest and that it will inspire them to read the other 9 books in the series.

Two other classrooms at our school will be reading the book, as well as classes in Flint, Kentucky, Wisconsin, and Georgia. We'll be interacting with them and working with them on several activities as we read. It should be pretty cool. I'll keep you posted.

Tomorrow's Party

It is looking like it will be quite a shindig tomorrow. Thanks to everyone who has committed to bring something. If you aren't able to this time around, don't worry about it. There will be other parties to chip in for.

The tentative schedule for events tomorrow is to change into costumes from 1:00-1:30, have treats from 1:30 to 2:30 and maybe play some games, trick or treat through the halls of the school from 2:30-3:00 and then clean up to go home.

Parents and families are more than welcome to attend part or all of the afternoon. If you aren't able to make it, I'll try to remember to take pictures. In the morning, my plan is to get some work done, including a math quiz and to get started on our Exhibition Power Point presentations.

Just some reminders:

  • POW is due tomorrow (I will be blogging some tips for this later today)
  • Book in a Bag sheets and Slice of Life stories are due Monday
  • $5 is due by tomorrow for the mobile planetarium movie
  • No School Tuesday, November 2
  • Book Fair Wednesday, November 3 from 4:30-6:30 (workshops for parents start at 5:00)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Coming Soon: Return of the Book Fair

Wednesday, November 3 from 5:00-7:00, our school will be hosting a Scholastic Book Fair. There will be tons of books on sale at great prices, so it's a great chance to add to your home library or get an early start on your Christmas shopping.

Also, there will be a few reading and writing themed workshops for parents. I'm not exactly sure what all of them will be about (I'll get that info to you as soon as I can), but I do know that one will be about poetry and it will be led by me! So you definitely don't want to miss that one. It will run from 5:00 to about 5:30.

I hope to see you there!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Academic Update

I thought now would be a good time to update you on where we are with our academics...

We finished MEAP prep and have moved on to Mystery stories. Each child will write an original mystery during the next few weeks. We've read several short examples and discussed what the characteristics of a mystery are. Also, we did some collaborative writing that turned out really good.

We have continued reading and discussing 4-5 poems per week. We've been paying very close attention to the finer details of poems and have been talking about poetry techniques (which I call "moves"). When we have written poems we've been practicing those moves. The kids wrote some really interesting poems last week and they got a little annoyed with me because I pushed them to revise. They turned in a poem and then I told them to rewrite it and make 3 changes. Then, when they turned in that one, I told them to rewrite it and make 3 different changes. Finally, they picked and chose from these to create a final draft. This week, we worked on the move of surprise and wrote something I call "Two Word Poems." I know, it seems like a poem can't be two words long, but they can! Ask your child to explain it to you.

Reading & Word Study
Students will continue to meet with their reading teacher daily for Reading and Word Study. If they haven't already, they'll soon be required to write their reading teacher a letter every week that describes their thinking while they read. This is something they'll have to do 3-4 times per month. Usually it's done in school, but may end up having to be finished at home from time to time.

We are moving into Unit 3 on Monday. Unit three covers Multiplication and Division basics. We'll begin focusing on multiplication facts, something that they should have memorized (for 0-9) by the end of fourth grade. Extra practice at home always helps!

The unit on States of Matter will conclude next week. Students have enjoyed learning about solids, liquids, gases, plasma, atoms, molecules, and the periodic table of elements.

Social Studies
This course will begin Monday, November 1. Fourth Grade focuses on Regions of the U.S. We have brand new textbooks and materials for this subject this year. It should be a lot of fun.

Technology Update
We've been using some free time to work on our wiki pages lately. Students have added lots of things to their personal page. We used a thesaurus to complete the "Words that Describe Us" section and then made a pretty cool graphic using a special website called Wordle. Yesterday, we used another cool website called PicLits to create a pretty snazzy version of an original two word poem. Have your child show you, they turned out great.

Going Global Update
Our class theme, Going Global, has not moved forward much lately due to the MEAP test. But, we'll be starting back up with classroom "jobs" again next week and that will help a lot. Also, starting November 1, we'll be reading another book together and will be joined in doing so by several other classrooms from around the country. I'll update you more on that as we get closer. Yesterday, I had a Skype conversation with a school in California and a school in Kuwait (!). We are planning a bigger project for all three schools this winter that focuses on global issues and awareness.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Red Ribbon Week Starts Monday

Please note the following schedule of events for Red Ribbon Week next week. Get those baby pictures in as soon as you can!!!

Red Ribbon Week is the nation’s oldest and largest drug prevention program in the nation reaching millions of Americans during the last week of October every year. By wearing red ribbons and participating in community anti-drug events, young people pledge to live a drug-free life.

Our school will be supporting Red Ribbon Week by participating in the following themed days from Monday, October 25 - Friday, October 29.

Monday               Born to Be Drug Free
                           Students will bring in a baby picture of themselves.        
Tuesday              Sock it to Drugs
                           Students can wear crazy socks to school with their uniform.

Wednesday         Hats off to Saying No to Violence
                           Students can wear hats to school with their uniform.

Thursday            Team Up Against Drugs
                           Students can wear a sports jersey or shirt over their uniform.
                           ALSO: Silly Bandz Day!!!

Friday                 Dress up in Good "Character"
                           Students can bring a costume to school to change into.
                           No goblins, witches, masks, or weapons
Our class will have a Fall/Harvest/Halloween party on Friday, too. More info to come on that regarding supply and donation requests. Thanks!

Poems About Poetry

As I mentioned in my last post, we're reading poems about poetry this week. I'm not sure exactly why, but a huge number of poets have written poems about poems. These are some of my favorite kinds of poems and I hope the students have been enjoying them.

There are lots of reasons I read so many poems with my students. One of them is to get them thinking like poets--to get them to realize that poetry is everywhere and can be about everything. To get them to notice things that they wouldn't have noticed before. And to get them to appreciate language as an art form. All of these are pretty good goals, I think. And still that's only a few of the reasons we study poetry in my classroom.

Anyway, I counted them up yesterday and by the end of this week, our sixth week of school (29 days, I think), we will have read and discussed 23 poems. Not too shabby. Here's a poem about poetry that we're going to read tomorrow. I think it's lovely. I hope you like it:

"A Loaf of Poetry"
By Naoshi Koriyama

you mix
the dough
of experience
the yeast
of inspiration
and knead it well
with love
and pound it
with all your might
and then
leave it
it puffs out big
with its own inner force
and then
knead it again
shape it
into a round form
and bake it
in the oven
of your heart

Monday, October 18, 2010

Weekly Announcements

Hope everyone had a great weekend. Here are some announcements for the week ahead:

  • MEAP Testing this week on Tuesday (Math) and Wednesday (Writing Day 2)
  • New AMPT schedule starts this week: P.E.--Monday & Friday; Technology--Tuesday; Art--Wednesday; Music--Thursday
  • Milestone 2 due Thursday--20 Facts about your interest project written or typed in your own words.
  • Parents as Partners Meeting--this Wednesday 6:00
  • Silly Bandz--Go on sale this week. 50 cents each. Proceeds go to help 5th graders pay for camp.
  • No Homework until after the MEAP. Thursday they'll have a math worksheet. Slice of Life will be due again on MONDAY, OCTOBER 25.
  • Costumes will be allowed for our Harvest/Fall Fest on October 29. More info on this to come.
  • This week we're reading poems about poems. If that doesn't make sense or if you're curious, read this.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


So, as usual, as soon as I published our homework schedule on the blog, it was changed. The kids can thank Mrs. Martin for persuading me not to give homework during the MEAP. I'll hold off on all assignments until the end of next week. Sorry for the confusion.

This doesn't mean there isn't anything to do, though! Milestone 2 is due Thursday of next week. Milestone 2 is a list of facts about their driving question. These facts should be written in their own words. Every student should try for at least 20. There is no form for them to fill out for this Milestone. Facts can be written out on notebook paper, on index cards, or typed and printed. But please, make sure they are not just copied directly from resources and that they are not just printed directly from the Internet.

The MEAP test has been going pretty well. The kids have been working really hard to stay focused and do their best. And we've had perfect attendance this week, so thank you for that. It's pretty hard to do nothing but test all morning and the change in the afternoon and AMPT schedule is a challenge, but all in all, it's been very good. Two more testing days remain--Tuesday (Math) and Wednesday (Writing part 2) of next week.

The changes in our schedule have allowed us to do some work with technology this week. We've been working on our wiki pages a lot. Feel free to check out your child's page and let them know what you think. Today we're working on typing up some of our poems using Google Docs. Also, I've promised them some extra credit questions on our Edmodo site. Several students have responded to the first one and there will be another one available today.

As always, be sure to email or leave a comment if you have any questions.

Monday, October 11, 2010

MEAP Test Starts Tomorrow

Tomorrow at 9:00, we'll begin taking the MEAP test. Fourth graders will be tested in the areas of Reading, Writing, and Mathematics. We'll be testing Tuesday through Thursday morning this week and Tuesday and Wednesday mornings next week.

Please help out by making sure your child gets a good night sleep, a good breakfast, and that they are at school on time each day. Also, encourage them to do their absolute best.

Every teacher has their own opinions about standardized testing, and I'll spare you mine at this time. Whether it should be or not, it is important to our school and our district that students do well. That's just the way things are in the times in which we live. Thanks for doing your part to help make sure that your children are ready to do their best this week and next.

I haven't completely worked out a homework schedule for this week, but a Problem of the week will go home on Wednesday and will be due on Friday. Book in a Bag reading will continue and their new record sheet will be due next Monday, as will a new Slice of Life story.

Be on the look out for a "Homework Alert" sometime this week so that you're up to speed on your child's missing assignments, if any.

And don't forget book orders are due Friday! Thanks.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

More on the Ford Field Trip

Thanks to Mrs. Stafford for giving me the heads up on this one...

Here's an article from the Detroit News in which our own Selena was quoted...

In the article, if you click the link to see "More Pictures," you'll see other UPA students featured, too.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Student Poetry

I think I wrote last week about our poetry walk. The photos are still available on the blog and now some of the poems are, too. I chose a handful of them to feature on the "Student Work" page.

Here's a sample of the excellent work you'll find there:

by Tamerica B.

You are a
rusty thing
we eat on you
you get thrown out of houses 
and get replaced by your

All you've got to do is click on the "Student Work" link at the top of the blog homepage. (If you're viewing this in an email, you'll have to go to the blog to see it.)

Our First Movie!

Please take a look at this movie we made after reading the first half of the book The Little Prince. If you are a class participating in the Global Read Aloud of this book, please leave a comment below and let us know where you're from!

Scholastic Book Clubs

Orders for the October Book Club are due next Friday, October 15. Did you know that we get free books for our classroom every time we place an order? Last month, I was able to order over 15 free books. Thanks to everyone who placed an order!

Also, we earn even more free stuff when you order online with a credit card. For directions how to do this, click here. It's pretty easy and definitely secure.

There are a number of great books available this month, including The BFG by Roald Dahl (for only $1!), some spooky stories just in time for Halloween, and Wimpy Kid #5, which is available for pre-order (it will ship to the school when it's released on November 9).

So place your order online or send in your money and order form by next Friday, please.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Homework Revision

Because of our shortened week, there will be no Problem of the Week. Also, there was no Study Link tonight because of the field trip.

I will assign Study Link 2-8 tomorrow. Milestone 1 is still due Thursday and Book-in-a-Bag and Slice of Life will be due Monday, October 11.

That will do it for this week, I think.

Ford Field Fun

Yes, that's me with Lions starting quarterback Matthew Stafford. The kids got to meet him, too, and hear him talk about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. It was all part of a special wellness event organized by Blue Cross. If you remember, it was Blue Cross that awarded UPA a grant last year which brought the Hop Sports and Organ Wise programs to our school. This was kind of a celebration of that.

The kids got to take part in several physical challenges and drills on the Ford Field turf. It was pretty exciting for all of them. A few even got to shake the hand of the superstar pictured above.

Special thanks goes out to Mrs. Young and Mrs. Stafford for chaperoning the event!

Monday, October 4, 2010

My First Trimester Exhibition

In an attempt to help students and parents, I will be doing my own Interest Project this trimester. My driving question will be: "What are the different birds of prey?"

I will be completing each of the milestones so that you can see exactly what is expected of the students.

Here's my list of resources for Milestone One, which is due Thursday:

  • Wikipedia Website:
  • Exploring Birds of Prey website:
  • Birds of Prey Foundation:
  • Birds of Prey by Robin Kerrod
  • Birds of Prey (National Geographic Guide) by Amy Donovan
  • Raptor! A Kids' Guide to Birds of Prey by Christyna Laubach
Please note that for my websites, I included the complete web address. For books, I included the title AND author.

Stay tuned for my Milestone 2--a list of facts--which for students is due October 21.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

This Week in Room 302--volume 2

Here's our second podcast from our Learning Documentary Production Team. Please take a listen to find out what we've been working on in the last week.

This Week in Room 302--volume 2

This Week's Homework

So, last week, we didn't exactly follow the homework schedule that I posted here. Sorry. These things happen sometimes. This week is a short week, so we'll try to stick to it better:

Monday: Study Link 2-6
Tuesday: Study Link 2-7
Wednesday: Study Link 2-8
Thursday: Study Link 2-9 (due Monday)

There is no school Friday, so the Problem of the Week will be due Thursday. Slice of Life stories and Book-in-a-Bag record sheets will be due Monday, October 11.

And, of course, don't forget Milestone 1, due this Thursday. If you don't have the form anymore, that's okay, just turn in a list of 5-6 resources ( a combination of books and/or websites) on notebook paper or something like that.

Follow the Art Class

I should have blogged about this ages ago, but it slipped my mind, so I apologize to our art teacher, Danielle Seikaly. Danielle has been blogging this year about things going on in the art room. I highly recommend that you check out her blog and subscribe by typing in your email address in the form on her blog (just like on this one).

This week, she features a video about the DIA. I love the DIA. I was just there last weekend with my family and if you haven't been there in a while, I highly recommend it. They keep making changes and improvements and every time I go, it gets better. If memory serves me right, the DIA used to offer free admission for Detroit residents on Fridays (when they're open until 10:00 p.m.). You might have to look into that and see if they still do.

So, please check out Danielle's blog at:

Friday, October 1, 2010

Lots of Weekend Work

I wanted to summarize the large number of things out there that can and have to be worked on this weekend...


  • Finish Book in a Bag record sheet, including the paragraph on the back of the sheet.
  • Write Slice of Life story. Can be done on paper or on Edmodo.


  • Work on Milestone 1--find resources for your Interest Project. This is due Thursday!
  • Finish drawing for The Little Prince if you haven't done so already.
  • Join the Poetry group on Edmodo. (You'll see my instructions for how to do this on your Edmodo page)
  • On Edmodo, reply to the question I asked in the Poetry group.
  • Type the poem we wrote on our poetry walk. Use Google Docs to do this. (Look on Edmodo for instructions on how to do this.)

Announcements for Next Week

Some reminders:

Book in a Bag and Slice of Life are due Monday. The students who posted their Slice of Life story on Edmodo really enjoyed it, so I encourage them, and others, to try it again!

Our field trip to Ford Field for the BCBS Wellness and Fitness event will be Tuesday, October 5. Please try to wear a red shirt and gym shoes that day.

Milestone One is due Thursday, October 7. Paperwork went home for this yesterday. (Learning Plans came home yesterday, too.)

There is NO SCHOOL (for students) on Friday, October 8.

Have a great weekend!!!