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Field Trip, Valentine’s Day, More!
Feb 8th, 2011 by jonmoss

Good evening!  Here is some news for you:

  • Remember, our field trip to the Noah Webster House is tomorrow morning.  Kids have their roles for tomorrow.  They may dress up, but they are NOT required to do so.  Students are asked to bring a bagged lunch and snack to go along with the period food that they’ll prepare themselves.  Please, no glass containers.  Please bring plenty of napkins, kids! :-)  Cameras are not permitted in the Noah Webster House (their policy) and I very very very strongly discourage kids from bringing iPods, eReaders, and other electronics.  (It’s a short bus ride.)  Thank you to all the parents who have volunteered to chaperone!
  • Congratulations to our great readers.  In the two weeks we had the Super Bowl reading rally, Room 209 students read for well over 6,000 minutes!  WOW!  Way to go!
  • Several parents have asked about Valentine’s Day cards.  I’m sorry for the late notice.  Yes, students are allowed to bring in cards.  The rule is that they bring in a card for everyone in class or a card for no one in class.  Kids can copy down a class list if you would like them to do so.  (Have them see me.)  We generally have a low-key Valentine’s Day party.  If you would like to send in some treats, we’d love your contribution!  We could use two families to send in some sort of goodies, one family to donate some juice, and two families to send in plates, napkins, forks, cups, etc.  Please email me if you’re interested.  I’ll revise this post when we have our volunteers in place.  We do not need in-class volunteers for this party.  (Thanks, however!)
  • Haven’t we had enough snow?!  I’ve turned the snow off on our website. Enough is enough, right?
Two quick reminders!
Feb 3rd, 2011 by jonmoss


Just a reminder:  Tomorrow is the last day to bring in your footballs for the Super Bowl Reading Challenge.  We’ll choose two winners tomorrow!

Also, tomorrow is Wear Red day for heart health.  I never got to share this with you because of the snow days.  If you can, please wear red to show your commitment to living a healthy lifestyle!

Life After Six Snow Days
Feb 3rd, 2011 by jonmoss

It feels like my commute over Rte. 44 every morning looks something like this!

It’s amazing to think that we haven’t had a full week of school since December.  I want to believe that next week will finally be the week, but as I write this, I see the little show shower icon hovering in the box for Monday (it had been Tuesday) on the local news stations’ forecast sites.  How has this affected our routines in school?  Hugely.

As I wrote in a recent update, this time of the year is normally a very busy one for us for several reasons.  First, it’s the time when we’re really starting to introduce brand new skills, not just more advanced variations of existing skills.  For example, today, I introduced the students to long division – a challenging skill that won’t come easily to most students after only a single day, and must be reinforced daily for several days before it becomes a comfortable skill for students.  Second, just by luck, it’s the time of year when a variety of assessments all seem to happen at once.  In the past few weeks, we’ve given two CFAs, three universal screenings, and a writing prompt.  Over the next few days, I hope to find time for a grammar assessment and a time skills assessment.  Third, we’re in the thick of CMT preparation mode.  I pride myself on truthfully telling students that we DON’T prepare for the CMTs in our class – rather, we work on skills they’re going to need to be successful as students – and yes, the CMTs are one way in which we measure that success.

You can imagine what six snow days and, I’d estimate, an equal number of late openings and early dismissals will do to the fidelity of our instruction – how precisely our instruction matches what we want it to look like.  As a result, we are forced to compress lessons that “have some give to them”, and we omit areas that aren’t necessary or can be saved for another time.  Please be understanding when your kids come home and report that we didn’t go over a homework assignment from the previous night or that I skipped a spelling assessment.  At this point in time, it really is a matter of triage – the most urgent activities come first.

The kids are also rising to the occasion.  This is the first year I’ve routinely given snow day assignments, and so far, it seems to be working well.  I’ve gotten lots of feedback from kids, and I’m glad that they seem to be seeing it as an opportunity to stay active (rather than as a chore.)  In class, the kids are working hard to maintain a brisk pace in class.  We’re squeezing a lot in the school day, and some of our beloved rituals such as Morning Meeting, CCLS, and silent reading time have been put on the back burner temporarily.  Every now and then, we do take a needed break to pursue topics of interest.  On Friday, for example, when we had Pajama Day, one student brought her Snuggie.  I asked her if it was a Snuggie or a Slanket and explained the battle between both products.  (Allegedly, the Slanket predates the better known Snuggie, and both companies have been battling in court over who is entitled to the idea, and so on.)  This led to a wonderful discussion about patent rights, intellectual property, trademarks, copyrights, royalties, etc.  You might wonder what possible value this could have in a fourth grade class, but you’d be amazed by how many hands shot up with questions or comments – many of those hands belonging to students who don’t always seem eager to participate in typical lessons.  I was surprised by how many people had personal connection and were able to contribute valuable ideas to further enrich the conversation.  This also led us to a very valuable about plagiarism and citation – a concept kids need to start developing now.  It was a nice break from the usual rush to move through lessons and material. But now we’re back to the daily grind, and there’s lots to do. We’re working hard in Room 209, and we’ll continue to do so.

Groundhog Day Snow Day
Feb 2nd, 2011 by jonmoss

It sure is a good thing that Punxatawney Phil didn’t see his shadow this morning.  Otherwise, he’d have a mighty angry country!  Today is the sixth snow day of the year, and here’s your snow day work:

  1. A few of you STILL owe me your Study Island responses to the Achoo! SAR prompts.  Please get them done.
  2. Please complete the next two Cloze passages and check them over with an adult (if possible).
  3. Remember our math lesson on Monday?  We learned about how there are some story problems where you’re left with a remainder that you cannot divide into fractions (such as a leftover car), some where you can divide a remainder into fractions (such as when you’re dividing money and can move into the cents), and some where you can choose what you want to do (such as when you have a leftover stick of gum – you can cut it up, or just leave it as a remainder).  On a piece of paper (typed or hand written), please bring into school three story problems.  One should have a remainder, one should have a leftover that you divide up as a fraction, and one should be possible with either strategy.  We’ll use these story problems in our next math lesson (whenever that is!)
  4. Play Rags to Riches, an editing and revising game similar to Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

Here are some of the cloze passages that you thought of yesterday!   I never put names on the website, but I wanted to give credit to the folks who came up with these top-notch passages.  So have fun figuring out my clues!

  • This one is by “The Commissioner”: Most people have seen or heard of snow.  It comes in the Winter, and at below 32 degrees Fahrenheit or 0 degree Celsius.  Most of it comes down nice and easy, but sometimes it comes down __________.

    After it is done snowing, it’s fun to play in.

    a fast          b slow          c fall          d hard           e nice

  • This one is by “Dairy Queen”: A ball can be all different _____(1)_____ and sizes.  Some are less bouncy than others.  People can throw balls.  People can catch balls.  People can ____(2)____ with balls.  People can kick balls.  People can do alot of different things with balls.

    (1) A-foods   B-colors   C-animals   D-species   E-numbers

    (2) A-eat     B-run   C-monkey   D-bowl   E-laugh

  • This one is by “The person with the pretend lemonade stand in our math lesson who took $2o to get it started”: Apples are a type of fruit that grow on _________.  Apple trees grow in cold and temperate areas throughout the world.  There are thousands of varieties of apples such as Jonathan, McIntosh, Granny Smith and Red Delicious.

    a. soup          b. kitchen          c. trees          d. blossoms          e. bushes

  • This passage about butterflies is by the person who currently sits closest to the class library: First it starts out in an egg.  Next it is called the larva (caterpillar).  Then they go into a pupa, and finally they become adult butterflies. Butterflies can only ______ yellow, red, and green.  There are tons of species of butterflies all over.  Do butterflies migrate?

    A) hear          B) fly          C) be          D) see          E) eat

  • This passage is brought to us by the person who brought us the delicious German candy recently: The first snowboard was invented in the 1950’s and was not even a snowboard.  It was called a snurf, a combination of skiing and surfing.  Snowboarding was not popular until the 1990’s.  Now there are snowboarding competitions, like the Winter X games.  The best _____ is Shaun White.

    a) snurfer          b) snowboarder          c) skier          d) rider

Snow Day 5 Assignments
Feb 1st, 2011 by jonmoss

Good morning! Today is the fifth snow day of the year (contrary to what I said last week when I thought we had the fifth snow day.) Today’s snow day work is a bit different is a bit different from what we’ve been doing lately.  Complete the following tasks in order:

  1. Make sure you responded to the five SAR prompts on Study Island in response to the Achoo! passage from last week.  As we discussed in class yesterday, it’s taking me a while to work through the five prompts, particularly when I’m re-reading revisions along with kids’ first drafts.  I’m going to try to get through more of them today (but I have Charlie home with me, so we’ll see how much progress I make!)  Please login to Study Island periodically and see if there’s any new feedback waiting for you.  Please make any revisions that I asked you to do.
  2. Please complete the Week C practice problems in the CMT Math Crash Course packet.  Many of you started them in class.
  3. Yesterday, I gave you a packet with part of a story called Thank You, Mr. Falker.  This is a great story by a famous author named Patricia Polacco.  Have you read any books by her?  I think she is a CT author!  (She visited PGS one time, many years ago.)  Please read the passage I gave you.  Answer the SAR question at the end.  EXTRA CREDIT:  When you’re done writing your response, jot down a few thoughts about what score you think you earned, and why.  (Hint – If you think you deserve LESS than a 2, go back and revise your response to make it into a 2!)
  4. Last night, for homework, you completed two Cloze passages.  (I think they were on pages 18 and 19, but I may be wrong.)  If the grown up with you has time today, ask them to help you check them over.
  5. This is fun one!  Write your own Cloze PARAGRAPH (not longer) with a missing word and five choices.  (For inspiration, look through the first few pages of your Cloze packet.)  Email your paragraph and choices to me.  If we have another snow day tomorrow, I’ll post some of the paragraphs for everyone to solve!  Remember to put in good Cloze clues so we can find what word best fits in the blank space!

That’s all!  Be safe if you’re going outside today, and be sure to spend some time reading!  (Remember, you can earn points for Geno’s challenge AND you can earn more footballs!)

When I was your age, I loved it when people read a story to me on a cold, snowy day.  If you’re like me, maybe you’ll like this website that Ms. D-H found yesterday.  UConn basketball players will read stories to you!

Last but not least, here’s today’s Funky Snow Day Video for you.  It’s about palindromes – words or phrases that are the same whether you read them from left to right or right to left.  Such as:

  • dad
  • racecar
  • a man a plan a canal Panama

This is a video that “Weird Al” Yankovic made about lots of palindrome phrases.  You ABSOLUTELY MUST get your parent’s permission before watching the video – they might not like some of the palindromes.  GET PERMISSION FIRST.

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