Thursday, December 22, 2011

Quiz coming home tonight!

Yesterday's quiz ended up with almost a 75 percent average! Great job.

Quizzes are coming home tonight. Please sign them and have your child correct their errors. Then return it to school tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, don't forget the party! Please send in supplies if you can.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Slice of Life Challenge Heating Up!

Students are working furiously to finish their 25 slice of life stories and 25 comments before the end of the week. Many of them still have work to do, so make sure that they're writing during the holidays.

Writing Slice of Life stories and commenting on the stories of others is their main holiday break assignment. Of course I want them to read and start thinking about their next interest project, but this writing assignment is most important! Please remind them to work on it!

As always, email if you have any questions.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Quiz Tomorrow--Review Video

Tomorrow's Math Quiz has 5 parts. Tonight's homework is a review worksheet. We started it in class, but students are required to take it home and finish it and study it. Please go over it with them.

If they need any help, you can use this video, which discusses examples from the 5 sections:

Can't view the video? You'll have to go to the blog to see it:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Party Planning

We'll have a short and small holiday party Friday at about 1:30. Parents, of course, are invited.

In yet another technology experiment, I've created a Google Doc spreadsheet so that everyone can see who has signed up for what. Please add your name and item to this spreadsheet if you're able to bring anything. Use the link below:


The Candy is In The Building

If you sold candy to help fundraise for your child's camp trip, it's here! If it's not too much to carry, they'll bring it home today. If it is too much to carry, please be sure to pick it up as soon as you can! Yum!

Whether you sold candy or not, there's a packet coming home with all the camp info that's fit to print later this week.

Remember, be sure to contact me if you have camp questions. All money is due January 27.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Time for an Update!

So much going on during Exhibition week! I was reminded by a parent today that I haven't been blogging much lately. So true! I love when parents keep me honest. I'm definitely going to step it up in that area, especially because there's a lot students need to be working on at home. Let's start with this week...

POW went home today. It's due Friday. It's a combination of multiplication, addition, and division.

The Slice of Life Challenge continues. Students should be writing one slice of life story per day and posting it to edmodo. They also should be reading their classmates' stories and using edmodo to post comments and questions (and replying to other students' comments and questions.). Be sure to check out what your child has been writing. Some of the stories are pretty good. Remember, the goal is to have 25 stories written by the end of the month!!!

Students in MY reading class have a sizeable reading assignment due Monday. Please remind them. They're reading either The Wednesday Wars, Among the Hidden or Holes. If you haven't subscribed to the reading workshop blog, please do so here:!

Stay tuned for more updates!!!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Slice of Life Challenge!

For December, we are having a Slice of Life challenge! I am challenging the students to write as many Slice of Life stories as they can during the month of December. Along the way, students will earn special slice of life badges that look like this:

Students will earn one badge for writing a story and posting on edmodo. They will also earn badges for commenting on other students' stories.

Students that earn at least 30 badges WILL receive a special invitation to an ice cream party! (At least 25 of the badges must be earned from writing stories).

Need a reminder about Slice of Life stories? Click the homework tab at the top of the screen.

Deadline for stories and comments is December 31!

Questions? Just let me know!


Some dates to remember:

  • December 7: Candy fundraiser money due
  • December 8: Camp Meeting 4:00 p.m.
  • December 8: Milestone 3 due (completed interest project)
  • December 8: Book Fair in the gym
  • December 12-16: Exhibition Week
  • December 23: Last day of school in 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Exhibition Sign Ups

Reminder at Exhibition, student will be presenting ONLY their interest project. Afterward, we will meet as a learning team. Use the form below to select a time:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Taking Control of Learning in Science Class

Students are in charge of the learning for the next few weeks in science class. Each group has a topic to explore (they got to choose) and then they'll demonstrate their learning. In education circles this is called "Student Directed Learning." I call it a great way to teach and learn in the 21st century.

So here's what I did...

The Michigan state standards for 5th grade that have to do with the topic of our unit, "Objects in the Sky," include the following big ideas:

  • Revolution and Rotation of the Earth
  • The Sun
  • The size of objects in the solar system
  • Gravity's effects on planets and the moon
  • Phases of the moon
  • Constellations & stars
  • Lunar and Solar Eclipses
  • Tides
  • Planets and the Solar System

Here's the search engine they're using to help their research. Using this will help narrow down the results. It only searches sites that I've picked out.

I can't wait to see what the students do with this. I think it will be tremendous.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Two November 30 Items to Remember

The fall music concert will be held November 30. Students should report at 5:30. The concert will start in the gym at 6:00. I can't wait to hear what the students have to share and I look forward to seeing you there.

Also November 30, we are kicking off what I hope will be an annual event from now on...a holiday food drive. Please send in non-perishable food items so that UPA-Ellen Thompson can donate them to families in need this holiday season.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Come on in!

You should definitely stop by to visit any time you want. But if you come in soon, you'll be able to see our two new bulletin boards.

It's a lot more exciting than it sounds...

One board has each student's pledge about how they're going to help keep our classroom and school bully free. The other is our Great Team board. Students will use the GT board to recognize acts of kindness and positivism that they observe. It's starting out empty, but it will fill up soon.

I'll post some pictures when I get the chance!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Onward with Learning!

Lots of new stuff is coming up in all subjects. Here's an update..

There has been so much improvement in math this year! Couldn't be more proud of all the hard work so many students have been putting in. We continue to press forward with word problems. These are so enormously important--that's why we're giving them so much attention. We'll continue to do so and continue to find new ways to help students "dominate" these problems as we move forward. We'll also be moving into fraction territory coming up in the second quarter.

This will depend somewhat on your child's reading teacher, so stay tuned for updates on that. I can tell you that (as I blogged about before) I'm sponsoring a new "Book of the Month" club featuring the theme Books from a Series. All students are invited (not required) to participate. Our first meeting will be Wednesday during lunch. There will be a small assignment to complete Wednesday morning that will serve as their "ticket."

We're going to get around to writing fantasy stories sooner or later. The 5th grade teachers and I have been looking for a good model to base this off of and it's proving a challenge. But I think we're close, so hopefully those will start soon. Also starting up soon will be this year's version of the "10 Things" project, which is titled "10 Places." Stay tuned for details and a complete handout. This will be something we work on in December and January.

Social Studies has wrapped up, with students covering the early history of North America. Now we're back into a science unit--Objects in the Sky. We'll be exploring the solar system and other fun and interstellar places.

Will be held in December! Details and sign-ups to come. But ONLY their interest project will be presented.

Poetry on Twitter

We are sharing lines from our latest poem on twitter today. The poem that inspired ours is an amazing one and I want to share it with you here:

Where I'm From by George Ella Lyons

I am from clothespins,
from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the back porch.
(Black, glistening,
it tasted like beets.)
I am from the forsythia bush
the Dutch elm
whose long-gone limbs I remember
as if they were my own.

I'm from fudge and eyeglasses,
          from Imogene and Alafair.
I'm from the know-it-alls
          and the pass-it-ons,
from Perk up! and Pipe down!
I'm from He restoreth my soul
          with a cottonball lamb
          and ten verses I can say myself.
I'm from Artemus and Billie's Branch,
fried corn and strong coffee. 

From the finger my grandfather lost
          to the auger,
the eye my father shut to keep his sight.
Under my bed was a dress box
spilling old pictures,
a sift of lost faces
to drift beneath my dreams.
I am from those moments--
snapped before I budded --
leaf-fall from the family tree.

Pretty awesome, huh? The kids are doing a great job writing, too. Check out some of the lines from our poems on our twitter page!

Problem of the Week Vodcast #3

This week's Problem of the Week is a toughie. Hopefully this vodcast will help.

Here's the problem if you haven't seen it yet:

Find digits A and B in the number below so that the following conditions are true: The 5 digit number must be divisible by 4, it must be divisible by 9, and digit A cannot be the same as B...


Student have to write the number they came up with, show their work, and explain in writing the steps they took to solve the problem.

Here's the vodcast:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

No POW This Week!

I mistakenly posted a due date of TODAY for Milestone Two. It's actually not due until next week! Whoopsie.

Couple of things on this...

  1. Sorry!
  2. Anyone that didn't turn it in today (there weren't many) can turn it in by next Thursday.
  3. To make up for this, I've cancelled POW.
Everyone makes mistakes, right? :-)

Subscribe Today!

Is your child in my reading class? If so, have you subscribed to my reading workshop blog yet? If not, please do so today!

That's where I've been posting assignments and work samples and all other sorts of great reading workshop information.

Just go to that blog: 20 Kinds of Awesome and enter your email address in the subscription box. I'm having a drawing for a free book on Monday...only kids whose parents have subscribed will be entered in the drawing!!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

As you know, our first "book club of the month" (well, it was actually about 2 months, but that's okay) theme was "Don't Judge a Book By Its Cover." Participating students selected a book with an unattractive cover and then read it completely.

Along the way we had some lunch-time book club meetings where we talked about our books and completed a project. The project involved redesigning the cover using flickrCC and Picnik, an online photo editor. Check out the results:

Pretty cool. I'm actually going to print them out and glue them over the old covers so that future students will find the books more appealing. I think it was a great way for students to "Leave Their Mark."

Stay tuned for the next book club of the (two) month category: Series Books. AND coming in January, an exciting experiment, the Parent/Child book club.

(If you're viewing this in an email and the pictures aren't showing up, you may need to go directly to the blog to see them.)

Milestone 2

Milestone 2 is due tomorrow!

Milestone 2 requirements include:

  • 25 facts about the interest project
  • Facts must be written in own words
  • Can be written or typed
I think some students have been working on finding facts during technology class. Please just know that the facts need to be in their own words. No copying and pasting!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New Book Club Category!

The last book of the month (that lasted 2 months) category turned out amazingly well. I think we had about 13 out of 17 kids participate. So, for November and December, I'm announcing a new category: Books That are a Part of a Series.

Anyone that wants to participate should choose a book that's part of a series--it does NOT have to be the first book in the series--and start reading. We'll have some lunch-time meetings to discuss as we go along. Students will have to complete assignments in order to get invited to these meetings. Then, at the end, we'll complete a fun project. The book covers we made for the Don't Judge a Book By Its Cover looked really good. And the kids had fun thinking about how to better represent their books so that other kids might read them. I'm in the process of uploading all of those so I can share them with you and so I can print them out and recover the old covers with them.

So why am I doing all this? Don't they read in their reading classes? Well, of course they do, but I'm just trying this out to do a little extra to boost interest in reading and to give them more chances to talk about books and to just have fun while reading. I want them to be lifelong readers. One of the things I like to do most often when I have free time (not as often as I would like, of course) is to read. Books have made a difference in my life and I want to help instill that.

So encourage your child to pick out a series book to borrow from me or the library. There's soo many of them out there.

And stay tuned for my idea for the January Book of the Month club...a Parent/Child Book Group!!!! Details soon.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Camp Fundraiser Begins!

A letter and fundraising brochure should have come home today. Everything in the brochure is $5. Cash and Bridge Card only. (If you have someone who wants to pay with the Bridge Card, please contact me and I'll tell you what you need to do).

50 percent of whatever your child sells goes DIRECTLY toward their camp bill. Camp this year costs $150, so if you sell 60 items ($300 worth), the trip to camp is free!!!

Order forms are due December 7 and the candy will arrive before Christmas break. Let me know if you have any questions.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

This Week's POW

This week's problem is pretty straightforward, so I don't think a vodcast is necessary. Staying neat and organized IS necessary, though. The problem is coming home tonight and is due Friday. Here it is, in case you need a copy:

A huge movie multiplex is divided into 12 theaters. There are 270 seats in Theaters 1-5, and there are 150 more seats in each of Theaters 6-10 than in each of Theaters 1-5.  Theaters 11-12 combined have 6 times as many seats as Theater 4.
Question 1: How many seats in all?
Question 2: If the theater sells a ticket for every seat and each ticket is $9, how much will they make?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Harvest Party Success

We had an absolutely fabulous time Friday. Our morning was heavy on work--we had math, writing AND reading to do. But we got it done and moved on to our harvest party. It was great fun. I think this picture says it all:

That's me and Mr. Kefgen, my partner in costumed crime. Can't wait to see what idea we come up with next year!

Back to the kids, though...all their costumes were awesome and we gorged on treats, too. Thanks so much to all who sent in treats. We put them to good use.

Please remember, Monday is a full regular day of school (without costumes!). This weekend's homework is to finish a poem from class and to show the poems they wrote this week to you so you can check them out. See you Monday!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Red Ribbon Week...Say Boo to Drugs!

During Red Ribbon Week, we dedicate some time to talking about the dangers of alcohol, drug, and tobacco use. An officer from the Detroit Police Department is coming in today to talk to the kids and we'll be discussing it during morning meeting tomorrow. Another thing we're doing school-wide is a door decorating contest. Ours turned out pretty cool. The students did all the work...another example of their ability to cooperate and collaborate on projects. Have I mentioned lately how awesome they are??? Take a look:

Problem of the Week Vodcast #2

This week's problem is pretty tricky. In case you missed it, here's what it says:

On a game show, seven large disks are brought on stage. The numbers 0 to 6 were written on them. The host pointed to a large board and said "You have one minute to attach some or all of the disks next to each other on this board so that a number with more than one digit is made. This number will be the amount of money you won. BUT, the number you create must be divisible by 6, which is the number of people on your team."

Question one: What number did they create so they can win as much as possible?
Question two: How much does each player get?

This is tricky and requires that students know what "divisible" means--it can be divided by without any remainder.

I didn't do the exact same problem, but a similar one for this week's vodcast:

If you can't view the video in your email, please go directly to the blog:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Poems Coming Home

Tonight (just like last night), students are bringing home a poem to share with you. We're writing and reading poems about autumn this week. Their work is turning out really well and I want them to share it with you each night this week. So I'm requiring them to FINISH their poems at home AND share them with you.

I hope you enjoy them!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Note Home

Check backpacks for a note home with information about upcoming events, including next Friday's fall party!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Problem of the Week Vodcast #1

I got out of the habit of making a Problem of the Week video to help with each week's problem. Not sure why. I love the videos and I think they're really helpful. I'm going to try to be more regular with them and I'll call them "vodcasts," I think. Mainly because I love that word.

This week's problem of the week is essentially a division problem, but it also gives good practice for the "guess and check" strategy.

Here's me solving a similar problem. I hope it helps!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Math Test Coming Home

We took a math test Friday. It has been graded and is being sent home today. I need two things:

1. Students MUST redo the problems they got incorrect.

2. Parents must sign it.

Please help them make sure that both things happen and then return it to school tomorrow.

2 Things I Don't Do Well

The original title of this post was simply "Things I Don't Do Well." But that would have been a pretty long list! So I cut it to two. You might not have heard of a teacher writing about something like this before; I guess I'm just different like that! :) I will say that I realized I needed to write this post when I saw that I had 3 voicemails on my phone I hadn't even listened to and when a parent (you know who you are!) had to ask me about 45 times to send an extra worksheet home.

We all have things we struggle with and things we're working to improve. As a teacher, NOT trying to get better in these areas would be a disservice to you and your children. So, I try to continually figure out what I could do a better job of...and then try to do a better job with that.

Here's 2...

1. Setting stuff down and forgetting where I put it.
What the heck? Why does this keep happening? I really need a better system. Until then, I'm blaming the new classroom. I'm just not used to it yet. In the old room, there was one spot where everything went. That way, I always knew where everything was. I guess I need that in this room, too. And if I stopped blaming my new classroom that might help, too. If I've ever been late sending notes home or returning papers, this is probably the reason. I set it somewhere and then forgot where it went. I'll work on it, I promise.

2. Returning phone calls.
Ummm...yea. One VERY patient parent (you know who you are! In fact you're the same person I mentioned above!!!) called twice and I never called her back. Not cool, Mr. Curran! (She's such a nice person, she never even gave me grief about it. Bless her heart.) I've GOT to do a better job, and I will, I promise. Call me anytime you have a question. Test me out, just to see if I'm doing what I said I would! If I've ever not returned your phone call in a timely manner, please accept my apology. It's not a very good thing to do, I realize that. I WILL do a better job in the future.

That's enough for now. Thanks for listening! And thanks for reading.


Some things to keep on the radar:

  • Milestone One is due tomorrow. This is a list of resources. Should be 5 or more books and/or websites on this list. The more, the better. The list can be typed or handwritten. There isn't a form for this, just write it on a sheet of paper or (even better) type it up in Google Docs (then you can copy/paste the web addresses!)
  • There is NO SCHOOL Monday the 24th!
  • All 5th graders will take a quarterly Reading test on Thursday, the 27th of October. This test will cover everything we've discussed so far in Reading Workshop.
  • Our Fall Celebration will be held October 28th. Students are allowed to bring costumes to school to change into. We'll have a small-ish party in the room that day, too. Look for a note soon about sending in supplies.
  • There is a music field trip to a jazz concert at the University of Michigan coming up. Cost is $10 per student. (Shaking fist at sky..."Gas prices!")
  • Stay tuned for announcements about camp fundraiser and a fifth grade camp informational meeting. Camp will cost $150 dollars this year, but you can reduce your fee by selling candy. Details soon!!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Milestone One due next Thursday

Tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday, I'll be discussing Interest Project topics with students. They should have an idea picked out for what they want to explore in the first trimester.

Milestone One consists of resources for their project. They should find 5-10 resources that they'll use to research facts about their topic. Resources can be books, articles, or websites. All they need to do is write these down and then turn them in Thursday, October 18.

Exhibitions are the second week of December. Milestones are used to help students stay on track and to help them create amazing presentations.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Collaborative Poetry Writing

As a teacher, when you find a technology tool that helps students learn, it can lead to awesome things. Now, just using technology to be fancy doesn't work. You've got to use technology to improve teaching and learning. Let me explain...

We've been working on our first poems of the year, Circle Poems. The goal of the Circle Poem is to surprise the reader, to come up with something that makes them think, "Wow, I never would have thought of that." Our first few drafts weren't really big on the surprise element. I wanted the students to be more creative.

Enter technology. So, I set them up on the laptops so that pairs of students were working on the same Google Document. (That way they can both type on it at the same time. Awesome, right?) Then I had them take turns writing a line for their shared poem. I challenged them to surprise their partner. I kept it anonymous, so that they didn't know who they were working with.  It turned out really well. They wrote some really surprising poems.

Take a look at this one:



















Jada and Tamerica wrote that together! Also notice the other feature of the Circle Poem--they "circle" around so that the last word of the poem connects to the title. Pretty cool. 

Want to see a few others? Take a look at our Student Work section!

Exhibition Meeting Tonight!

Tonight's Parents As Partners meeting features the topic of Exhibitions. If you're new to the school and want to know what to expect, please join me and several other UPAE teachers from 5:30 - 6:30 tonight. Or if you just want a refresher/reminder of what Exhibitions are all about, including milestones, please join us, too.

OR if you just want to see my world famous "Birds of Prey" interest project presentation one more time, you should come, too!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Book of the Month Update

As you know, our theme for our first ever Book of the Month was "Don't Judge a Book by Its Cover." Students were asked to read a book with a cover that ranged anywhere from weird to hideous. Books were to have been read by Friday. A story mapping worksheet was assigned over the weekend. Students that completed it (in that it was clear that they read the book) were invited to eat lunch talk about books in my room Monday.

Congrats and thanks to the following students:

Kayla, Kaylen, Keturah, Renard, Danielle, Suhmer, Alexandria, Jenna, Tamerica, and Selena!

Now we'll be moving on to a couple of wrap-up activities with these books, one of which is to design a new digital cover for the book.

Even if students didn't get their story map form completed by Monday, they can still participate in future meetings and the activities. They just have to complete the form first!

Stay tuned for more updates, and for the announcement of the November/December book theme!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Supply Request

I warned you that sooner or later we would need something in the classroom and I'd have to come begging  asking for it. Well, that time is now! :)

We are seeking blue sticky notes for an art project. It's actually for a 3rd floor competition called The Sticky Note Challenge. It's a window decoration competition. The only catch is that they can only use sticky notes to decorate the window!

I'm not going to give away our idea yet, but we do need quite a few pads of blue sticky notes. (Maybe, like, 4?)

Here's an example of a window decoration using only sticky notes. Apparently Post It Wars are going on all over Paris, France in windows all over the city!

If you are able to send some in, we need them ASAP, please! (The winner gets a trophy!) Thanks.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Leaving Our Mark With Video Story Problems

This year, our classroom theme is "Leave Your Mark." What we mean by this is that we are working to create artifacts of our learning that we can share with others, even after we've moved on to middle school.

Our first project for our theme wrapped up this week.The idea: bring math story problems to life by creating "Video Story Problems."

Here's how it worked: students wrote a story problem involving addition and subtraction. I encouraged them to make them rigorous--not just simple, one-step problems. They tested their problems and traded with partners to make sure the problems worked. Then they "traveled" to Curranwood Studios to create their movies. Students added images, recorded audio, and added music soundtracks. Voila, they're ready for the world!

There were a lot of hidden lessons in this project. But one of the biggest ones was about being mindful of your work and paying close attention. Several students made videos in which the story problem didn't make complete sense. In most cases, they left out just one or two words that were needed to understand the problem. But, you learn from mistakes, and we definitely are turning these into "teachable moments."

My overall goal, of course, is to get them to improve when working with word problems. I told them to "picture the situation in their mind, like you're reading a book." A light bulb went off, and I thought of this project, which I had seen done by another teacher whose blog I follow.

I'm working my way through uploading and processing them, but here are two of the first I've got done. Can you solve the problems they're asking?

Kaylen's Video Story Problem: Skittles from Engaging Educators on Vimeo.

Alexandria Video Story Problem: Candy from Engaging Educators on Vimeo.

They sure put a lot of work into videos that are just a few minutes long! It was definitely worth it, and I'm very proud of them. I'll let you know when I have the rest ready and I'll provide a link to them.

Friday, September 30, 2011

We Are Famous!

Okay, maybe not famous, but believe it or not there are people out there in the world besides you and me who read this blog. Crazy, right? But true.

Our blog recently appeared on a list of "100 Seriously Cool Classroom Blogs for Teaching Ideas and Inspiration". (We're #25 on the list and we're listed under our old title "Room 302," but the link still works.)  THAT is epic.

Can you imagine? People use our blog for ideas and inspiration? It blows my mind. I have trouble explaining to the kids that we're part of a global community, that we're part of something bigger than just our school. But I get it, so that's good. And you probably do, too. It's little things like this that remind me that we're doing great things in Room 316, and at UPA in general. I'm glad to be a part of it, and I'm glad you are part of it with me.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

This Weekend's Homework

I wanted to send a clarification about the homework this weekend. I think this will make sense. Here's what they should be working on:

1. Problem of the Week--titled "Bridge Over Troubled Water"  DUE MONDAY

2. Work on reading their book club book (Don't Judge a Book by its Cover project). All books must be finished by October 7.

3. Finally, they have an option...both are due Monday. They can either write a Slice of Life story OR write 3 story problems that could be turned into video story problems. (Problems must be written at first and second grade level --adding and subtracting only. Two steps maximum.)

I explained this to them in class, so they should understand completely! If you have any questions, just shoot me an email.

New This Year: Ten Marks

Ten Marks is a pretty awesome website I learned about recently. It's a way for students to practice math concepts, but it's interactive!

Here's how it works: I create an assignment for them and then they complete it. But it's a little more interesting than that, because Ten Marks provides hints along the way if they need them and video tutorials, too!

I think this will be a great way to support their learning, and I'm working it into our math sessions every day. My goal is to have students using it at least 3 times per week.

For right now, it's just for using at school. If they start using it at home, they'll get to the point where they run out of assignments to do and I don't want that yet. If you want to work on something extra at home, practice math facts! (They are all a little rusty especially in multiplication and division, but addition and subtraction need help, too!!!)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

News and Notes

Just some short updates...

*Guided Reading groups begin Monday! You should have gotten a note indicating your child's teacher. You'll hear more from that teacher next week. If you have any questions, let me know.

*Pancake Dinner Thursday! From 5-7 we'll be hosting our annual Pancake Dinner. Tickets are $6 per person in advance and $7 at the door. And it's all you can eat!

*No School Friday, September 30!

*Our first technology mini-project will start Monday. The students are making "video story problems." Some of them said they need to bring props in from home. Please remind them.

Enjoy the weekend!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Book of the Month: Books Due in 2 Weeks

Our Book of the Month Club is in full swing. Students all have chosen a book. They should be bringing their books home every night to read. They must have their book completed by Friday, October 7!!!

Lots of students are kind of dragging their feet on these books. Please turn the heat up and press/remind them that they should be reading every night.

There is a reading check-in assignment on Edmodo that most students completed in class. If they got it done early, I invited them to eat lunch in my room today to talk about their books.

Happy Reading!

Monday, September 19, 2011

New This Year: Test & Quiz Corrections

This year, in an effort to help students examine the errors they've made on tests and quizzes, I am requiring all students to correct all the problems they've gotten wrong. Also, corrected tests and quizzes must be signed by a parent.

Our first quiz, which we took on Friday, is coming home graded tonight (Tuesday). Please take a look and have your child make the necessary corrections. (Feel free to help and discuss!)

Return the signed paper to school the next day, please. Thanks so much, and if you have any questions, please let me know.

Getting Caught Up

In all the excitement and busy-ness that is the start of fifth grade--and all the new things I'm trying to roll out--I have fallen behind in my grading already. How bad is that?!?

To make up for this, expect a large amount of homework that I've checked in to come home tomorrow.

By the way, the number of students turning in homework has been very high. Thanks for all your help in that.

New This Year: Literacy Stations

In an effort to try to make English and Language Arts instruction more engaging for students, there's been a school-wide change to the way we structure our classes. We'll be using "stations" during Reading and Writing Workshops (and hopefully also during Math, too).

A station is a place a student works for a short time on an assigned task, usually with a partner. In my class we've been rotating among 8 different stations. They include: Independent Reading, responding to prompts on edmodo, editing skills, reading comprehension skills, book making (students read a book and then make a page for a class book), and non-fiction reading.

We're still getting into the swing of things, and kids are learning how to manage their time effectively, but I think it's going very well. As we move forward and start switching teachers for reading workshop, the stations will become more challenging...and this will help boost literacy skills, I am sure. (That switch, by the way, will happen NEXT Monday, not this Monday as previously reported).

Math stations and Writing stations will be taking place, too. Stay tuned for further updates. Station time, by the way, is a great time to come volunteer in the classroom. Let me know if you'd like to do that and we can set something up!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Weekend Fun!

Having fun stuff to do on the weekends is really important for me and my family. Last weekend, I found out about something I was very excited about...Second Sundays at the DIA.

Every second Sunday of the month, admission to the DIA is free! On top of that, they have special activities and music going on, too. So mark your calendars for October and go check it out. (Oh, and Fridays are always free for Detroit residents. They're open late Friday nights, too!)

Also in the weekend fun category is the DIY Street Fair in Ferndale this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It's being held in the 9 Mile and Woodward area on the east side of Woodward, south of 9 mile. Here's their webpage: I go to this one every year with the has good music, kids' stuff, great local artists and merchants, and food. Check it out, if you're looking for something to do!

Have a great weekend! (Slice of Life and Reading Club Assignment due Monday)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Back to School Night Wednesday

I would like to invite you to school on Wednesday night at 6:00 for our seventh annual "Back to School Night."

At this meeting, I'll be discussing pretty much everything you need to know about 5th grade and my classroom. This will include, among other things, my project and technology plans for this year, and an overview of the 5th grade curriculum. You'll also get to see some of the things students have been working on already.

I hope to see you there. Again...this Wednesday beginning at 6:00 in the gymnasium.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Delivering Awesomeness

Our first ever "Fed Ex Project" wrapped up today. What's a Fed Ex Project? It's an assignment where a team is given a short amount of time to accomplish a challenging task. They have just a few hours to deliver a finished product. Get it? Deliver a product? Fed Ex? NOW it makes sense!

This week, student's chose teams and were assigned a theme and a bulletin board or wall. They then were given until today at 2:30 to deliver a well-designed board.

There were a lot of lessons to learn about collaboration. That's one of the reasons I assigned this. Some had more trouble with this than others, but that's okay. Just like learning how to write a story or how to add, I want to help my students learn how to work together--how to collaborate effectively. We talked  A LOT about how to do this. And we'll continue to do so throughout the year.

Another reason I assigned this challenge is that it fit's with our theme, "Leave Your Mark." The students got to leave their mark on their new classroom. These boards will stay up for the next few weeks (come see them at Back to School night!) so we'll get to show them off to all who come to visit.

I think it was a valuable learning experience. Want photos of the finished products? We posted them to our twitter profile!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What's Your Sentence?

As I wrote yesterday, our theme this year will be "Leave Your Mark." As a way of kicking this off, our first activity of the year was called "What's Your Sentence?"

We started by watching this video, a trailer for a book I happened to read this summer called Drive:

We discussed it and then students were asked to write a sentence that describes them at this moment and a sentence that describes how they want to be remembered after they move on to 6th grade next year.

We'll be polishing them tomorrow and I'll share them later this week. I have asked students to be prepared to share their first sentence (the sentence for this moment) on Friday. They are encouraged to bring in visual aids, photos, etc to help "enhance" their sentence. For example my sentence is: "I am a husband and father to 3 wonderful children," so I'll be bringing in photos and mementos to share on Friday. Hopefully everyone will be able to bring something in.

All in all, it was a great day. Stay tuned for more posts about the beginning of fifth grade.

P.S. I had note all set to go home today, but I had trouble printing it. I'll send it home tomorrow instead.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Leave Your Mark

Dear Parents,

Some teachers have a new theme every year. Sometimes the theme is centered around classroom decorations and bulletin boards. Sometimes it involves a project or two. Whether it's a nautical theme, a cooking theme, a Hollywood theme, a travel theme, etc, it can be a nice way of decorating a room and creating an engaging, exciting classroom environment.

I tried the theme thing last year for the first time ever, and I think it was a huge success. In typical Mr. Curran fashion, though, my theme didn't really involve a lot of cute decorations. Last year's theme, "Going Global," was more about a mission...a mission to connect with as many classrooms across the globe as possible. And we did it. We worked with students as close as Flint and Anchor Bay and as far away as Turkey, Taiwan, Russia, and Kuwait. It was awesome.

If something works once, I believe you should try it again. So I've chosen a new theme for the 2011-12 school year. Take a look at some pictures of my room and see if you can figure out the theme:

What? You can't tell? You don't see anything? Don't worry. It's not your eyes. You don't see anything because there's nothing to see. The room is completely bare. That's because our theme this year will be...drum roll please... "Leave Your Mark."

What I mean by this is that because this is their last year of elementary school, I want to spend the entire year with their legacies in mind. Much like a President in the last year of his or her term, I want my students to look to the future. How will they be remembered? How can they be sure to make a lasting impression on their classroom, their floor, their school, and their community? What will they leave behind? What will their legacy be?

We'll start with goal setting. I'll be asking the students "What's Your Sentence?" In other words, "What's one sentence that captures who you are? What's one sentence that captures all that you want to accomplish this year?" (Check out the video I'll be showing them as a model by clicking HERE.)

After that, we'll be leaving our mark on the classroom. We'll begin right away to leave our marks by decorating it together. From there, we'll move forward quickly, keeping in mind how special the fifth grade year is (for both students and teacher alike). And as we accomplish great things, we'll share our progress with you and with the world.

Stay tuned for an amazing year. I'm glad to be a part of it. And I'm glad you're here with me.

All my best,


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Come See the New Room!

I'd like to take this opportunity to welcome you back to the 2011-12 school year. I know things haven't officially started yet, but I'm back at work and am working to have everything ready by September 6 at 8:30 a.m.

Normally, that wouldn't be a problem, but this year I've switched rooms. Our "home" at school this year will be Room 316 (Mr. Wetherbee's old room). I'm very excited about it. Fifth grade is a wonderful year and I'm honored to be a part of it.

I'll save all my big ideas and announcements for future posts. If you have any questions, please email me or call the school.

I would like to invite you and your child to come in and see the new room. I'd also like to hold Learning Team Meetings BEFORE the start of school this year. AND I'd like to complete as many reading benchmark tests as possible before the start of the year.

If you can make it in next Thursday, between 10:30 and 3:30, please fill out the form below to select an appointment time. I look forward to seeing you and getting off to a great start with a wonderful group of fifth graders!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Don't Forget to Write!

Hope the summer is going well!

There hasn't been much activity with Kid Blog or Edmodo. Just wanted to offer an early July reminder that those two things are great for students this summer. Have them write on Edmodo about the books they are reading. Have them write about their summer adventures on Kid Blog!

Remember our Kid Blog site is . Their username is in the drop down menu and their password is the same as their Edmodo password.

AND don't forget that the Summer Learning page has all kinds of stuff, including spelling lists and book recommendations!!! Have them blog about the sites they use from that page, too!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Looking Back

Wow, this year went by quickly, didn't it? Some days it seems like it did. What a great year it's been, though. Did you know this marks the end of my TENTH full year of teaching? Talk about going by quickly!

Maybe it's because it's the most recent one, or maybe because I'm in a reflective mood, but I feel like I've learned more from this past year about teaching than any other. Although, when I think about it, I'm pretty lucky because it seems that each year of my career has taught me many new things. What have I learned in 10 years? I'm glad you asked!

  • Parents Make All the Difference--I have to put this one first because it's most important. Having caring, involved parents makes the learning environment so much better. When you think about the number of hours you entrust me with your children each week, each month, etc, it's mind-blowing. Without your support--the contributions to the classroom, helping with homework, nagging about homework, chaperoning field trips, checking the blog, prepping for Exhibitions, and so on--my job is a million times harder. Thank you for all that you do!

  • Be The Right Kind of Teacher--I try to be two kinds of teacher, actually. I try to be the kind of teacher that I would have wanted as a kid (fun, challenging, engaging, caring) AND the kind of teacher I'd want my own children to have (challenging, engaging, communicative, empathetic, honest, etc.). I not completely there yet, but I'm trying. 

  • Keep Evolving--When I was a kid, the teachers taught the same grade every year. And they used the same lesson plans, activities, and worksheets every year. Year after year. Decade after decade. I just can't be that kind of teacher. It's important for me, and for the students, that I keep trying new things to help them learn. Sure, some successful projects get reused, but that's because they were successful in the past, not because I'm lazy. And even when they get reused, I always look to make them better the second and third time around.

  • Communicate!--Parent-Teacher communication used to be a huge weakness for me. Weeks would go by without me sending notes or newsletters home. Then I had kids. I became a better teacher in a lot of ways after that (see second bullet point above), but one of the most noticeable ways was that I became much better at communication. I hope you've enjoyed the blog. Most importantly I hope the blog has made you feel connected to your child's classroom and their learning environment. I hope it's made you feel like you know what's going on. Because that's why I do it. Did you know I've blogged over 150 times this year?!? Thanks for reading!
Seriously, thanks for reading this really long post. And thanks for a great year. I've definitely learned more than 4 things in 10 years, but those are the big ones. One thing I like about my job is that I'm constantly learning new things. I love learning, I really do. Getting students to do the same is a rewarding challenge for me.

I'm really looking forward to fifth grade already! Enjoy the summer!

Give Calculation Nation a Try This Summer

I've found a great site for math games, Calculation Nation. I like it for a few reasons:

  1. It was created by the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics, so it's based on important math standards.
  2. The games are really fun.
  3. Students can play the games "against" each other.
The only catch is that you have to sign up for an account. So if you want your son/daughter to use Calculation Nation this summer, go to their site and register today!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Summer Learning Page Complete

Just in time for the end of the year, I've completed the summer learning page. In my humble opinion, it's pretty awesome. It includes:
  • A reminder to use Edmodo for discussing summer reading
  • A list of totally awesome books recommended by ME
  • Spelling and Vocabulary learning activities
  • Math games and learning activities (Please check out Calculation Nation, which is pretty sweet. But you need to create an account for your child)
  • Link to the Kid Blog writing project (see my earlier blog post about this for instructions)
  • Ideas for building technology skills. (including a new idea about using Vocaroo to make a podcast...see my earlier blog post for instructions)
Speaking of technology skills, the students have a pretty deep toolkit that they've developed this year when it comes to technology. Anything they learn can be turned into a blog post, a Google Doc presentation, a section of their wiki page, a Glogster project, and more. 

So now it's up to you to keep them busy with all of this. You can find it all by clicking on "Summer Learning" at the top of the page. Maybe a schedule will work best for you--perhaps an hour or so a few times a week reading and playing math games and blogging, etc. I think if you do this, their learning will definitely continue throughout the summer months.

I'll try to blog a few times each month, too, just to say "hi" and to share any ideas I have. I'll be checking my email all summer, too, so feel free to drop me a line.

Happy Summer!

Podcast This Summer with Vocaroo

Here's a site that students can use to make their own podcasts this summer: Vocaroo. It's free and sooo easy. They can make a podcast about anything: their books, their travels, their thoughts, you name it, the sky's the limit.

Here's how to do it:

1. Go to 
2. Click the button that says "Click to Record"
3. In the alert that pops up, click "Allow" to give Vocaroo access to your computer's microphone.
4. Start talking
5. When you're done, click the "Stop" button.
6. Click the bar that says "Post to the Internet." That will give you a web address that they call the "Vocaroo Link"

7. Highlight the Vocaroo link and use the edit menu to COPY it.
8. Paste this link into an Edmodo post or a Kid Blog post so we can all access it.

That's it. Super-easy podcasting. Give it a try...I can't wait to hear what they have to say this summer!!!

Great Summer Writing Idea

When most teachers talk about working on skills over the summer, they usually focus on reading and math. Well, if you haven't figured it out by now, I'm not like most teachers. In fact, I think a good summer learning program should focus on reading, math AND writing. And I think I've found what could be a great project for summer writing...blogs!

I love blogging. I currently have 3 blogs (this one, my blog about poetry, and my blog about using technology in the classroom). I really enjoy the satisfaction of writing for an audience. Knowing that someone out there (even if it's only one someone) is reading what I write makes me try to be a better writer. I think this can work for kids, too.

So I've found a safe and free website that allows me to create blogs for each of my students. My idea is that each student should try to blog once a week (or more!) about what they're up to this summer. Doesn't have to be anything exciting, just write. Hopefully they'll keep in mind that they are writing for an audience and that will push them to write their best.

I'll be going over all of this in class tomorrow, but just so you have them, too, here are instructions for students on how to write a blog post:

1. Go to
2. Click "Log In" in the upper right hand corner.

3. Choose your username from the drop down menu. Then enter your password (it's the same as your edmodo password)
4. To make a new post, click "New Post" at the top of the page.

5. Then give your post a title and type your post in the text field. When you're done (be sure to proofread) click the "Submit for Review" button. No one will be able to read your post until I review it and approve it.

So now that you know HOW to blog, the question is WHAT should you blog about??? Here are some ideas:

  • Write about places you visited
  • Write about things you do
  • Write critiques of movies you see
  • Write critiques of songs you like
  • Write critiques of websites you use
  • Write a post about something that's your favorite. (example: favorite cereal, favorite restuarant, etc.)
My best advice for starting your blog is to check out this blog that's written by a 6 YEAR OLD boy in Iowa:  Once you read it, you'll definitely understand what to do. 

Just remember, two things...

1. Your writing can be viewed by everyone with our blog address. Make it your best! Especially capitalization, punctuation, spelling, etc.
2. Nothing you write will be posted until I approve it. I'll do my best to approve it quickly, as long as I feel it's your best work.

Finally, students are able to view each other's blogs and leave comments. From the blog homepage (, click on any of the student names in the list:

Then you can read what they're writing and leave friendly, positive comments or ask questions, just like on Edmodo.

I can't wait to read what students write. Please encourage them to spend some time blogging about their awesome summers. I'll be following along very closely and leaving lots of comments.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Publication Celebration Tomorrow

Just a reminder, our final Publication Celebration will be held at 12:30 tomorrow. We'll be having a pizza lunch and sharing our keepsake stories.

All parents are invited. I hope to see you there! (My room is really messy at this time of year, but I'm inviting you anyway! Feel free to talk about me behind my back.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Spelling and Vocabulary City for Summer Learning

Continuing my additions to the Summer Learning Page...

Today I added links to Spelling and Vocabulary activities and games. I'll be using Spelling and Vocabulary City for this. They have sample spelling lists organized by grade level for kids to practice with, play games with, and then take a quiz on. They also have spelling and vocabulary games. Finally, I've got some personalized lists on my own Spelling City page. But you have to scroll down to find them...they look like this:

I'll be adding more lists throughout the summer. So check back regularly!!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Gearing Up For Summer Reading Fun

I've got the edmodo page all set up for summer reading. Today we worked on creating book recommendations. Students posted recommendations of books they've read this year. That way, if students are looking for suggestions or ideas, they have a place to look.

I'll be posting a question or two each week for students to respond to on edmodo. And of course, they can also post questions or comments or replies at any time they want to about the books they are reading.

I also posted my summer reading list of books that I recommend. You can also find this list here on the blog by clicking on the Summer Learning link at the top of the page.

Stay tuned for more info about Summer Learning opportunities!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Congrats Athletes!

The following students passed their fitness test and will be rewarded with an invitation to Mrs. Marbry's field day activities on Monday from 12:30-3:30. (Note: this is different from our third floor field day on Wednesday):

  • Selena
  • Kaelyn
  • Shauntia
  • Keturah
  • Suhmer
  • Kaylen
  • Alexandria
  • Renard
  • Ezekiel
  • Romance

Field Day Info

Wednesday is one of my favorite days of the year--Field Day. Here's the info for you:

Where: Wayne State Intermural Fields (Warren & Trumbull--we'll walk)

When: Wednesday, June 15  Depart at 9:00 Arrive back at UPA at 2:30ish

Who: All 4th and 5th graders

Cost: $5 (due ASAP

Food: We'll be cooking dogs, chips, juice, and popsicles

Dress: Appropriate free dress will be allowed. Gym shoes required. Please dress for the weather (hats, sunglasses, etc.)

What to Bring: Water Bottle

It should be a great time!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Year End Publication Celebration

I would like to have one final Publication Celebration next week. We've been working on typing up our Keepsake stories. I am going to be putting them together into a book. I promised everyone that finished all four of them on time (the last one was due May 31) that they could come to the celebration.

I'd like to make it a pizza theme this time and have the party at lunch on Thursday June 16. If you can help out, please fill in the form below:

Let Them Eat Cake

Our annual carnival is Friday and I am once again helping with my favorite carnival game, the cake walk. We're pretty much ready except for one thing...we need cakes!

If you are able to donate a cake (or any baked good such as cookies, brownies, etc.) for the cake walk, whether it's home made or store-bought, please drop it off to me or the front desk in time for the start of the carnival Friday.

Thank you!

Have You Seen Me?

It's time for that end-of-the-school-year-ritual...packing up the classroom library. There seem to be several missing titles that I'm trying to track down (including several of the popular Bone series pictured above). If there any books hiding in backpacks, cars, bedrooms, etc. that belong to me or the school, please send them back soon. Thanks!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Summer Learning Time

Summer is upon us. There are several things I'll be providing by the end of the next week that will help you  if you're looking for learning activities during the summer months. This will include:

  • Links to vocabulary and spelling activities
  • Links to math games
  • A Summer Reading List
  • An Everyday Math workbook
  • An Edmodo group for discussing Summer Reading books
So stay tuned for more info!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Where in the World is Mr. Curran?

I pride myself on the fact that I blog on a very regular basis. However, lately...ummm...yea, not so much. The end of the year is always tricky when it comes to time management, but this year takes the cake. By "take the cake" what I mean is this: I've been really struggling to manage time, get everything done, and get students ready for exhibitions.

Why after over 10 years of teaching is this year so challenging? Not sure, exactly. But please know that even though I haven't been keeping up with my blogging, the students and I have been working very, very hard in the classroom. Whether it was prepping for authors' night and the Poetry Cafe or trying to get our last writing project done or prepping for Exhibitions or completing the 3-week Amazing Race project or starting to film our Newbery movies or working on a comic-writing and drawing project or finishing our Great Lakes collaborative project with schools in California and Kuwait or having a Skype game show with a school in Anchor Bay get the point. It's been busy.

So fear not. We ARE working hard. And we will continue to work hard, right up until the final minute of the final day of school. There will be no slacking in Room 302. We've got a lot to do and we're going to get it done.

So I'll try to keep you more informed in these last two weeks. Stay tuned for blog posts about the aforementioned Amazing Race project which was, in a word, amazing; the Newbery movies; our final Publication Celebration for our Keepsake stories which will be held the last week of school; field day ($5 is due next Friday for this); and much, much more.

Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Update Time

The amount of information to share with you at the end of the year is pretty insane. I will do my best to keep you updated.

  • First of all, Exhibitions are sneaking up on us. A sign up sheet is coming home for those of you who haven't signed up yet. Please choose some times from that sheet and send it back Monday. Or, you can sign up online at this link: Please note that only the times that are open are the sheet are available. If you already have signed up, your time is noted on this sign up sheet, too.

  • Milestone 4, a completed interest project is due WEDNESDAY!

  • Also, the 5K Walk/Run is on Belle Isle at the Bandshell on Saturday. Race starts at 9:00. You can register starting at 8:30.

  • There is no school Friday May 27 and Monday May 30.

  • Zoo Field Trip is Tuesday May 31. The cost is $8 per student. Every student will need a bag lunch. Chaperones are still needed. (You'll have to pay the $8, though).

  • The annual UPA Carnival is June 10 at 5:00.

  • The annual third floor Field Day is at Wayne State University on June 15. We are seeking $5 per students on this one to cover the cost of lunch.

  • The fourth/fifth grade awards ceremony will be June 16 at 9:00.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Exhibition News

The checklist is coming home tonight (along with a homework alert)! Please take a look at it and let me know if you have anything to ask. We'll start making Exhibition Organizers beginning next week.

Here is the sign-up form for the 3rd trimester Exhibitions, which will begin June 6. Because it's so close to the end of the year, there were be little to no "wiggle room" when it comes to rescheduling. Please keep this in mind and choose 3 times that will work for you. If there's anything I need to know or any special requests, please put them in the "additional comments" section.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

POW Postponed

Tonight's math review didn't get done in class by everyone, so I'll send the POW home tomorrow. The math review should be finished and brought back tomorrow.

The Days Are Flying By

Lots of info to share today...

  • POW will come home tonight. Due tomorrow.
  • Math test tomorrow. Review worksheet will come home tonight, too.
  • Book orders are due tomorrow. Every book you order helps me earn bonus points, which I use to buy books for the classroom library. The budget is tight this year, so these will probably be the only new books I'll be able to add to the library. Your help is appreciated.
  • The Celebration of the Arts is next Wednesday, the 18th from 5-7. This event combines the art show with a display of students' literature. There will be a Poetry Cafe with open mic. There will also be refreshments and giveaways! I hope to see you there.
  • Keepsake stories are due Monday!
  • Homework Alerts will come home TOMORROW!

Friday, May 6, 2011

New Homework Alerts

EVERY student will be bringing home a homework alert tonight. It highlights some important recent assignments that are missing. If your child isn't missing any (there were quite a few of these, yay!), there is a note to that effect. Please sign and return these to school on Monday. Thank you!

May's Writing Assignment: Keepsake Stories

In the spirit of Critiques of the Week and Slice of Life stories, this month students will be required to write a "Keepsake Story" every weekend. They'll have one story due each Monday for the next four weeks. I'm sending a note home about this and explaining it to students today (we've been talking about it all week), but just so I make sure the info gets to you, here is what's on the note:


Each Monday in May, students will be required to turn in a “Keepsake Story.” A Keepsake Story is what I call a story that gets passed down from one generation to the next.

Here’s how it works. Students will interview a family member of an older generation (parents, grandparents, etc. NOT siblings) and ask them to tell a story they remember from their childhood. It can be a story about a special event or a small story about something minor. Students should encourage the people they are interviewing to tell the story with as much detail as possible.

Then, students will write these stories down in their own words. It’s important that the students write them themselves. They should stay true to the story, but they need to use clear writing and all the skills we’ve learned this year (Using proper grammar, using proper punctuation, using quotation marks, etc. etc.).

They can turn these stories in on a sheet of paper OR (even better) type them up in Google Docs.

Stories will be due every Monday in May (the 16th, 23rd, 31st—Tuesday after Memorial Day) and the first Monday in June (the 6th). We’ll create final drafts of each one and publish them in our final class book of the year, which will make its debut at our final Publication Celebration sometime during the last week of school in June.

If you have any questions, let me know. I’m very excited about this project, and I can’t wait to read the stories!


Yea, so remember that one time when I blogged about a contest where we could win an author visit via Skype? The winners would be determined by votes...which were to be left in the comments section of the blog that is hosting the contest.

Well, I can't believe this, but we won! Author Hillary Homzie will be visiting our class via Skype sometime in the fall. Is that crazy, or what?

Now it's time to thank the voters who made this possible: our fantastic art teacher, Ms. Seikaly; Mr. El-Amin, Ezekiel's dad; and Mrs. Temske our online 39 Clues & Regarding the Fountain book club partner from Roswell, Georgia! It was actually Mrs. Temske's vote that put us over the top.

I seriously cannot believe it. You gotta love Fridays.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Weekend Update and Other Announcements

I might have set a new record for days without blogging! Almost two weeks! So sorry...on to the news:

  • First, a huge thank you to Ms. Wyckoff and Ms. Cooper for chaperoning our DIA trip. I think it was a really good experience. The DIA is one of my favorite places in the city. I was so glad to be able to share it with the kids. They really seemed to like it a lot. We're hard at work revising our poems. The final drafts of them are due next Thursday. Which brings me to...
  • Milestone 3 is due next Thursday, the 12th. For this milestone, students must have completed three things: 1. Their DIA poems must be typed into Google Docs. 2. Their storyboard for their Newbery project must be completed and turned in.  3. Their script for their Newbery project must be completed and turned in. Milestone 4 will be due Wednesday, May 25th. For Milestone 4, students must turn in their completed Interest Project (this can be a board, digital presentation, etc.) AND must have their completed Exhibition Organizer turned in. The Organizer will start getting filled out in school next week. On Monday of next week, you'll receive a checklist for the Exhibition and a sign up sheet for appointment times.
  • The last round of MAP testing starts Friday, May 6. We'll take a test in Reading, Language, and Math again. I'm looking forward to analyzing this data to help me set goals for next year. As their teacher, I know they've all learned so much this year. It will be fun to have test data that supports that conclusion
  • The amount of things we have to do before June 17 is mind-boggling. Just so you know, I work until the final buzzer, and I expect students to do the same. May and June are not times for coasting to the finish line. I'll drop the sports metaphors and try to say it clearly--we'll be working hard every minute of every day until the end of school. We have lots to do. Personally, I think the last two months are the time when you have to work harder than you have all year. And that's what I intend for us to do.
  • Mark Your Calendars...the first annual "Celebration of the Arts @ UPA" will be held Wednesday, May 18 from 5:00-7:00. It will feature an art show, music performances, and a student writing showcase (including a Poetry Cafe...organized by guess who!). Oh and also good food and great giveaways. I hope you can make it!
  • Mark Your Calendars again...our fourth grade end-of-the-year field trip will be to the Detroit Zoo. Fourth graders learn about living organisms in science class and this trip will help us in that pursuit. Cost has not been finalized yet, but I expect it to be $5-7. Chaperones will be needed, so please contact me if you are interested. The date for the trip is Tuesday, May 31.

Phew! That was a lot. That's what I get for not blogging often enough. More soon.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

End of Spring Break Reminders

Happy Easter to all! I hope the holiday and the break has been enjoyable. It has been for me!

In my experience, these last eight weeks of school are almost busier than the previous 28 combined! Be sure to read the blog often, as I'll be trying to post as much as possible about our goings-on. Just a couple of reminders about what's coming up this week:

  • Newbery books should be done. And both sides of the note-taking sheet should be completed. We'll get started on the moviemaking process very soon.
  • Internet Safety Workshop and Family Math Night will be held Wednesday. The workshop starts at 5:00 in my classroom. I'll be talking about ways you can help your child be safe on the 'net. I strongly encourage all to attend. For Math Night we'll be sharing some math games with you and even giving some away!
  • Milestone 2 kind of snuck up on me. It's due Thursday and consists of notes for the Interest Project. Notes should be about 25-30 facts written in the student's own words.
  • DIA Field trip is Friday! A bag lunch will be required. I have two parent chaperones already, but if you're still interested and available, let me know. The more the merrier!
More to come for the week's ahead. See you Tuesday!