Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Benjamin Franklin Project

Our class worked on a project with Mrs. Martin's class today. Both classes are reading The Maze of Bones as part of our Online Book Club.

In the book, the main characters are in a hunt for the mysterious 39 Clues. The first clue has them traveling to places Benjamin Franklin lived and they learn about Franklin along the way.

The project involved researching Benjamin Franklin's life and then creating a 'digital poster' with a website called Glogster.

Some of the students got quite a bit done, but others had some technical difficulties (a few even lost their work because Glogster does not "auto-save" like many other sites). For everyone, there's a little more left to do, and this is a website they can access from home.

Here's how:  Go to and log in with the nickname and password they were given today. Their glog will show up once they log in. They just need to click it to be able to edit it.

Lost your nickname and password? Just go to our Google Docs account and open the file called Glogster Log In.

Lost your notes and assignment sheet or need a new one? Just go to our Google Docs account and open the file called Franklin Project.

Hope you get a chance to check out this really awesome site. The kids did a great job. I'll be posting the results after this weekend.

Sample Exhibition Video

Take a look, here's the sample Exhibition I gave yesterday:

My goal was to try to show students what will be expected at their presentation next week. I'll be out of town for a couple days, but I'll be back Saturday, so be sure to email if you have any questions and I'll get back to you as quickly as I can.

Have a wonderful holiday weekend. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Yet Another Exhibition Update

So by now you're either really enjoying all my notes and blog posts about Exhibitions because you find them incredibly helpful OR you are thinking "enough already, we get it!"

Either way, just know that Exhibitions are coming up soon and you won't have to hear about them for another 3 months! Also, please know that for the first Exhibition with a class, I try to be as clear as possible. From here on out, we'll all know more about what to expect, so there will be less to talk about!

Anyway, coming home today is a note about Exhibitions and what to practice for each area. Also, please make sure your child's mystery story and poem have been typed in Google Docs. And finally, please make sure they bring their Exhibition organizer to school tomorrow.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thank You

Parents, I have so many things to thank you for, but for now I'll focus on just one...your Scholastic Book Club orders...

One of the things I love is new books. Yes, I love to read and so I love new books for myself, but even more than that I love new books for my classroom library. New books get kids so excited and when they're excited about reading it makes me happy in ways that words can't describe.

Unfortunately, I am not rich. (I know this comes as a shock.) And therefore I can't afford to constantly buy new books for either myself or my classroom library. That's why I love Scholastic Book Clubs so much. When a handful of families by a few books, I get a few for the classroom. And the more you buy, the more I get.

Because so many of you purchased books this past week, I was able to order THIRTY books...for FREE! Some of these will find a home in our classroom library so that students will be able to enjoy them for years to come. And some of them will be used for the new weekly reading assignments that will replace Book-in-a-Bag.

So a huge thank-you goes out to all of you who ordered this time around and to all of you who have ordered in the past and to those who will order in the future. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Two Exhibition Notes

Today we worked on creating a web for the science part of the Exhibition. A change was made to the checklist recently and students were given a choice of writing and sharing a poem about the three states of matter OR creating a web that shows the characteristics of each state of matter.

I personally think the web is the better option in this case. So I showed them a great website that's easy to use for web-making and got them started on theirs. Most of them, in fact, got pretty close to finishing. I'll probably be able to find a few more minutes to work on these in class, but if they want to work on them at home the website is . The username and password are the same as they are for Google Docs.

Another change to the checklist happened today. I added a poetry requirement! (A non-science poetry requirement). I can't believe I forgot to do this! Don't worry, it's nothing super challenging. We read a terrific poem in class today and I asked students to use it to inspire their own similar poem. It's called "You Can't Have It All." They got started on these today and they'll have to have them done AND read them aloud at their Exhibitions.

Tonight's homework will be to finish these poems and, if possible, type them using Google Docs. They should also try to finish typing their mystery stories. There is no math Study Link today.

This WILL be the last change to the checklist. You can hold me to that. :)

The Countdown is On

As Exhibition Week approaches, things always get a little crazy in my classroom. Ungraded papers pile up, waiting for attention. The room gets a little messy. I'm rarely sitting down or standing still. It's hectic, to say the least.

But that's okay. My main focus in the weeks leading up to Exhibitions is making sure students are prepared. I really want to help students give the best presentations possible. I want them to feel successful and proud of their work. So I try to put as much effort as I possibly can into getting them ready. And I think it will pay off. I can't remember which parent I said this to the other day, but it's true: I feel more prepared for these Exhibitions than any that I can remember. Usually it feels very last minute, but somehow we're getting a lot of stuff done well in advance of the presentations. I feel like we're right on schedule.

Anyway, I guess the point I'm trying to make is that Exhibitions are very important to me and if you feel confused or troubled by anything--please let me know. I definitely want to do whatever it takes to help you feel prepared. This is a team effort, for sure, and you are important parts of that team. Keep practicing at home and, if you do have any questions, be sure to stop by in the morning (I'm usually here by 8:00) or give a phone call or send an email.

By the way, my uprep email is currently down, so if you need to contact me, do so through the blog or by emailing bucurran812 at gmail dot com. Thanks!

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Sad Day in Pencil-ville

Our classroom electric pencil sharpener held on for as long as it could this year. Sadly, though, I don't think it's going to be with us anymore. It led a good life; just think of all those math and writing assignments that couldn't have gotten done without it! In the end, though, sharpening all those pencils day in and day out was too much to handle. What we'll do now, how we'll carry on, I'm not quite sure. Today some of us had to resort to using pens on our math work. Yes, it's that bad.

I don't suppose anyone has an extra electric pencil sharpener laying around the house???

Book-in-a-Bag Under Review

We will not be having Book-in-a-Bag reading logs until after Exhibitions. This doesn't mean I don't want students to keep reading...of course I do. But they don't have to fill out a sheet until after Exhibition Week.

I am currently thinking of re-inventing Book-in-a-Bag in some way. I'm not having much luck getting students to turn in their sheets. I think I'm averaging about 7 turned in per week. One reason for this is because they do a lot of reading already at school. Another might be that they don't really have a need to read these books. It's just kind of extra work. Whatever the reason, I'm going to try to come up with a weekly reading assignment that will do more to improve their reading skills and one that will catch their interest a little bit more.

So, just to be clear, Book-in-a-Bag is suspended indefinitely. It will reappear in a better format in December! Please encourage your children to keep reading in the mean time. Thanks so much.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Exhibition Organizers

On Monday students will receive an "Exhibition Organizer." This handy worksheet helps them organize everything they need to present for each of the subject areas at their Exhibition:

First Trimester Exhibition Organizer
The Organizer has five sections, one for each subject. I will help students to fill in each section with the important information that they'll be sharing in their Presentations. That way, they'll have everything in one place and ready ahead of time. They will be able to use their Organizer to practice their Exhibition in its entirety at home.

Remember, I will be helping them fill out this organizer sheet. But then it is their responsibility to use it to practice. Also, please remember that now is about the time to really start rehearsing the Interest Project at home. Students should practice saying everything they've learned about their topic. This works even better if they practice while viewing their slideshow on Google Docs. 

I really feel like we'll have everything done and ready with plenty of time to spare. As long as the students are practicing what they're going to say for all parts (interest part and subject areas) at home during the next week or so, these Exhibitions will be their best ones ever!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Scholastic Book Clubs

Order forms went home yesterday. Money and forms are due Friday, November 19. Want to order online but can't remember how? Just go to and use the access code GXJ7K.

For about every two books ordered, we get a free book for the classroom!

This Week's POW Video

Here's a video we made in class today that might help you solve the POW "The Key to Success:"

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Exhibition Update

Please check backpacks today for an Exhibition Update. It includes a timeline for our work here in school, explanation of students' at-home responsibilities, and an invitation to attend MY Exhibition on November 23 at 11:30 a.m.

Can't wait to hear what I have to say? Worried it will get lost on the way home? Here it is:

From the Desk of 11-10 Exhib Update

Maze of Bones Interviews

Greetings! We are about five chapters into our newest read-aloud novel, The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan. As I've mentioned before, we're reading this book at the same time as several schools in different parts of the country.

There has been some really good discussion on Edmodo, and our class wanted to do something to help contribute to the conversation. So, we created podcasts debating the question: "Should Dan and Amy Cahill take the money or take the clue?"

Want to hear them? Use this handy dandy Podbean player:

Please leave us some comments to let us know what you think!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

POW Help

Check out this video if you need help on the POW...(Note: there was a typo on the original POW! So I sent a corrected version home tonight)

Monday, November 1, 2010

1st Trimester Exhibition Appointments

Please use this form to select possible appointment times for your child's Exhibition. Plan on the Exhibition and the meeting afterwards to take about an hour altogether.