Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, Everyone!  I hope you enjoyed your time with family as much as I did!  We are back in the swing of things! 

 I have launched the Weather/Social Studies project that I showed you at our November conferences.  The students are learning about the Northeast region of the U.S.  They are focusing on the geography, history, economy, population density, and current weather of the region.  Each team member is assigned to be a different social scientists, and all students are responsible for researching the population density and the weather of the region.  Please refer to the checklist I gave you at conferences (The students also have one in their expanding folders).  The project due date is midnight (posted to the class wiki) on Friday, February 11th. 

We are also in the process of setting New Year’s reading resolutions-specific goals the students have set to improve their reading lives.  The students are continuing to pace their reading in the 15-25 pages per day range in class duirng their independent reading, and they should be reading even more during their 20 minutes of nightly reading! 

This week’s spelling list is one of the toughest this year.  The rule is compound words and knowing which ones are connected, spaced, or hyphenated!  I have encouraged the students to practice more times than usual and to pay specific attention to the format of the words. 

In Writers’ Workshop, we have focused on making our drafts flow.  Yesterday, we practiced how to correctly use the words “and” and “but” by properly creating compound sentences.

We have begun unit 5 in math in which we focus on multiplication of multi-digit numbers.  I will teach and have the students practice a variety of methods in class, all the while encouraging them to choose a method or two that they are most comfortable using.  They will have the option to choose which method they use on the assessment, but they are required to practice each method on classwork and study links.

FYI: Bagel day is this Thursday.

Have a great week!

November 3, 2010

We have been very focused and enthusiastic about our work and learning.  The students are polluting the extra eco-columns to study the effects of acid rain, road salt, and overfertilization on land and water habitats.  Before polluting, each science team researched a particular pollutant and created a public service announcement podcast expaining how the pollutant works and suggesting alternatives.  Several times per week, the students are documenting the changes they are observing in their eco-columns through drawings.  We will begin our new science unit, variables, next week.  Our major learning point is that when we are conducting experiments, we should change only ONE aspect of the investigation while keeping everything else the same.  That way, when we get our results, we will know for sure what caused any changes in the outcome.

The students are continuing their independent reading programs.  Many of the students have read close to 5 novels so far this year!  They have also had 8 reading response journal entries in which they share their thoughts about the plot and characters with me.  We have been reading informational text as well through our Time For Kids magazine issues.  We have also studied the author’s viewpoint in order to help the students understand the big ideas about life that the author is trying to convey to them.  This will help their overall comprehension of the story, its themes, and its character’s choices.  This week, the students will take their third spelling test in spelling city.  We have been working on crafting believable characters with solid plots during writers’ workshop.  We have created a character crafting stragegy that works, and we are learning that a well-crafted character will lead to a believable conflict.

We completed the unit 2 math test last week.  They are all graded and should be posted in snapgrades by this Friday.  I won’t be returning the actual tests until we have gone over them as a class.  We are midway through unit 3.  We have been studying what’s my rule tables, multiplication facts and strategies, and division.  Coming up, we will begin studying true and false number sentences and open sentences (introduction to algebra).

In social studies, we are completing our focus of types of maps and map skills.  Next we will learn about different ethnic groups that have contributed to our culture and ways of life in the United States.

Thank you to Florita Sanders who spearheaded our class Halloween party and to Shannon O’Loughlin for coordinating the event!  It was a great success!  Florita wishes to extend a thank you to all of you for your donations, supplies, and participation.  “The party could not have taken place without everyone’s help,” she says.  Thank you, everyone!

Have a wonderful day!

October 4, 2010

We have been moving along nicely in our study of systems.  The students have completed their terrariums and aquariums.  They have used the computer program called Inspiration to create webs of their ecosystems.  We have discussed the two types of relationships occuring in the habitats: dependent (when only one partner needs the other) and interdependent (when both partners need each other).  The students webbed and linked these two types of relationships in Inspiration (look for scores to post this week in Snapgrades).  This week, the students will join the terrarium with the aquarium to complete our ecosystem.  We will begin learning about 3 types of pollutants: acid rain, road salt, and overfertilization.  We will simulate these pollutants in our extra ecosystems that do not contain animals.

Our independent reading program is well under way.  Please check your child’s reading file to see his/her calendar of scheduled daily readings.  The students have completed two reading response journal entries.  I have collected them to score and return.  The students complete the response journals every Tuesday and Thursday.  They are due every Friday.  Last week, we focused on identifying and flagging moral issues in our independent reading novels.  Today, the students shared the moral issues they flagged last week.

During writers’ workshop last week, we worked on essay writing.  We are focusing on how to organize our ideas into topics for essays.

We finished our study of social scientists last week in social studies, and we have begun mastering our map reading skills.  The students are working on several geography challenges in which they are learning to use the global grid (lines of latitude and longitude), the compass rose, and specialty maps in order to analyze the regions of the united states.

Don’t forget to turn in your Fun Run pledges by this Wednesday!

September 15, 2010

Hello, families!  We’ve have had a lot of new learning going on in the past week!  In science, we have been determing what a system is and how it works.  We have concluded that a system is a group of parts that work together to make something happen.  Today, we analyzed a habitat surrounding a pond and determined how the different plants and animals in the habitat depend on each other.   Our plan is for each team to plan and build a terrarium this week that will house crickets, isopods, and plants.

We have been busy reading during our reading workshop.  We have discussed various genres that the students may be currently reading or may be interested in trying out.  We have also begun practicing and brushing up on our test taking skills in preparation for this year’s MEAP test, which will be next month.

We have learned and practiced a lot of tools during Writers’ Workshop.  We have learned tools for brainstorming, organizing, drafting, and revising.  The students are in various stages of crafting a variety of writing pieces.  Our first piece we started is a personal narrative.

We have been reviewing and building upon our knowledge of geometry during our math workshops.  The students are practicing accurately identifying, drawing, and labeling points, rays, lines, line segments, quadrangles, parallelograms, and polygons.  Look for a study link to come home for homework each night there is a new lesson (which will typically be every night).  The students are saving their corrected study links in their math files (in the expanding folders) so they can use them as a study reference to prepare for the unit test.

In social studies, we are learning about the four types of social scientists: the economist, the geographer, the political scientist, and the historian.  The students collected artifacts at home that represent what each social scientist specializes in studying.  They began sharing them in groups, today, and will finish tomorrow.


  • Homework assignments are written together as a class at the end of each day.  Please be sure to check your child’s planner and have conversations with him/her about what they have learned about each assignment and whether it will be done on time.
  • Curriculum Night is next Wednesday evening.  Please plan to attend as I have a lot of information to share with you that’s not so easy to explain in a hand-out.  If you know in advance that you are unable to attend, please email me so we can make arrangements to touch base at another time.

Welcome to our new Class Blog!

Please take some time to familiarize yourself with our new class blog.  I am excited to use this as a vehicle for connecting home and school, as the students and I make frequent posts to share the exciting things going on in our classroom!

Be sure to check out our Science page.  We loaded a video clip of our Variables investigation!

Our Literacy Fair

What fun we had sharing our learning!  We had parents, grandparents, students and teachers visit our Literacy Fair.  Thank you for your support and enthusiasm.  We learn so much more, working together!

Thank you to the parent volunteers who turned the cafeteria into a festive, fall forum for our Literacy Fair!