Cyberchase: Lost My Marbles
Feb 26th, 2013 by jonmoss

Tonight’s homework relates to an episode of Cyberchase (recommended by #17!) that uses map coordinates to help the group of kids to find a lost treasure.  While I adjusted the worksheet to fit the style of coordinates we are using in math, it does tie into the episode.  It might be fun for you to watch the episode before or after you do the worksheet.  (This is optional, but recommended, because there are plenty of good math skills being used in the show!)  I have inserted all three parts of the 30 minute show below.  Remember, these are the only three videos I’m inviting you to watch.  If you click on the YouTube link to watch other videos, you ABSOLUTELY  MUST have a grown-up’s permission.  Enjoy!

Part 1 of 3

Part 2 of 3

Part 3 of 3

Valentine’s Day and Friendship Day
Feb 13th, 2013 by jonmoss

Tomorrow, on Thursday, we will celebrate Valentine’s Day here in school.  Kids are encouraged to bring in Valentines for their friends (for EVERYONE in class, please, not selected friends) and to wear their nicest outfits.  We will have some special treats in class, enjoy a Valentine’s Day story, and reveal the special word clouds we have been working on!  There is also a special celebration during lunch, and a town meeting in the afternoon.

On Friday, the PGS Community Council is sponsoring Friendship Day.  For a $1 donation, students are invited to dress up like a friend.  Everyone will receive a friendship bracelet to give to a friend in class, and students have the option to purchase additional friendship bracelets to give to other friends or siblings for an additional $1 donation per bracelet.  Proceeds will help us to purchase a friendship bench for the playground.

Looking for help with tonight’s homework?  Scroll down to the next post!

MWfWW3: Write about what you know.
Feb 13th, 2013 by jonmoss

Always think carefully to decide if the topic you’re THINKING of writing about is really something you KNOW enough about.

Tip 3: Write about what you know.

Effective writers write about what they have schema about – what they KNOW.  I could write a story about teaching, parenting, technology, cooking, woodworking, or any number of other things.  But, I would never try to write a story about soccer, France, or giraffes, because I know very little about these things.  It’s important to write about what you know for a number of reasons:

  1. It helps you to be more accurate, realistic, and believable in your writing.
  2. It helps your story to stay focused.
  3. It helps you to stay interested in what you’re writing about.
  4. It helps you to develop  a detailed piece of writing.

When you have specific areas that you’re really knowledgeable about, you can make a “pocket prompt” that you can use to inspire your writing.  Because you have schema about so many different things, you should be sure to have several “pocket prompts” that you can use at a moment’s notice!

The tough part is when you’re NOT able to choose the topic of your writing.  Often times, a writing prompt will assign a particular topic to you.  That’s why you should have several “pocket prompts” ready, not just one.  (Sometimes, your ideas just won’t fit with a prompt topic, and you need to make a new plan.  Flexibility is key.)

Imagine my “pocket prompt” is that I know a lot about website design.  I can work that into a lot of different prompts:

Prompt: Write about a time when something special happened to you.
My idea:  I will write about when I got to teach summer campers how to build their own websites.

Prompt: Write about a time when you got lost.
My idea:   I will write about getting lost at Best Buy.  I found one of their computers that they had on display, hopped onto the internet, and quickly made a website called “Lost Kid” where I posted that I was lost in a store and that I needed my mom.  My mom found my site and we went home, but a lot of other people liked the site and now it’s used by kids all over to find their parents when they get lost.

Prompt: A baby elephant walks up and tugs on your sleeve.  What happens?
My idea: I take the elephant back home and make a website called “Found Elephant” where I posted photos of the little fellah.  In a few hours, the Bronx Zoo called and told me that they found my elephant and that the elephant snuck out that morning in a delivery truck.

Prompt: One day, the power goes out for many hours.  What happens?
My idea: Hmm… Maybe the website idea doesn’t fit here!  I need to think of something else I have schema about.  Oh!  I like to cook!  I can write about how my family and I made a whole dinner that required no electricity at all to prepare!  Cool idea!


Snow Day #6
Feb 11th, 2013 by jonmoss

Happy snow day, everyone!  I hope you are enjoying the snow and are making plenty of snow angels, snowmen, and snowballs!  Be safe outside; the sidewalks are mighty slippery!  I found this video that I thought you’d find interesting.  Someone connected a camera to their remote control “helicopter” and filmed the snowfall in their neighborhood.  If you watch for a while, you can see a few shots with a shadow of the “helicopter” which lets you see what it looks like.  Very cool!  Have fun, everyone.  No extra work today – just enjoy the day!

MWfWW2 Follow-Up
Feb 8th, 2013 by jonmoss

Happy snow day, everyone!  If you would like to write the story that you planned last night, feel free!  Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Set a timer for 45 minutes since your goal is to create a story that can be fully developed, from beginning to end, in 45 minutes.
  2. If you tend to type slowly, consider writing it on paper first and then typing it afterwards.  It may be a good idea to type into Microsoft Word first and then to paste your story into the website comment box.

Have a good day!  Be safe in the snow!

MWfWW2: Make sure you can resolve your story.
Feb 7th, 2013 by jonmoss

Tip 2:  Make sure you can resolve the story in the time and space you have been given.

Think about some of the best stories you’ve read.  Think about some of your favorite authors.  Many of the best stories out there have the right amount of detail to fill 50, 100, 200, or even 800 pages.  But if you think about Harry Potter (or do I mean Perry Hotter?), J. K. Rowling never could have written the same kind of story if she tried to squeeze it into only a few pages.  With that many events happening, the story would have been confusing and awkward.

Effective writers consider their purpose.

That means that, as an author, you need to think about WHY you are writing.  If you’re planning on writing a novel, you will probably want lots of different details and events that will fill a book in an entertaining way.  If you’re writing an informational brochure that advertises a product, you will want to think about what will make people want to buy your product.  If you’re writing a short story, you want to be direct and focus on key details and events.

As an author, you might have a time limit to work in. You will often need to track this time yourself. (You may not have this lady here nagging you.)

Most of the creative writing you do in school is short story writing.  When you plan the events of a story, make sure you are developing a story that you can tell from beginning to end in the time and space you are given – often in 45 minutes and on no more than three sheets of paper.

Your assignment this evening is to PLAN (not write) a story that you would be able to fully write (beginning to end) in 45 minutes.  Think about what details you want to include and what events will best fit, since you may not be able to include each and every idea that pops into your mind.  Here is your topic (as chosen by a class vote):

Imagine you had the opportunity to go back to any time or place in history.  Describe what happened.  How did you get there?  Who did you see?  What did you do?  How did you get home?

Leave a comment describing what key EVENTS and DETAILS will be in your story.  We should have an idea of what your story will be.  (Imagine that you’re writing a SUMMARY of your story before you actually write the whole story.  Odd, huh?)

Have fun!  Remember, if we have a snow day tomorrow, stop back for a follow-up activity.

MWfWW1 Follow-up
Feb 6th, 2013 by jonmoss

Watch this video to understand tonight’s assignment.

4:02pm – The video is still processing.  You can also view it here:

STEP 1 (Click to reread your classmates’ ideas for keeping the story under control.)

STEP 2: Post a comment to THIS post explaining who you think did a great job creating a story that was under control, so that the problem was actually solvable.  Remember, we’re focusing on who did a GOOD job, not who was less successful.

STEP 3:  Optional – If you think that you can revise your ideas from yesterday to make your story more “under control,” feel free to do so by replying to your post from YESTERDAY.

MWfWW1: Keeping your story under control.
Feb 5th, 2013 by jonmoss

Don’t be this author! Don’t “write yourself into a corner!”

Tip 1:  Keep your story under control so that you can resolve the problem!  Don’t write yourself into a corner!

We all know the story of “You Know Who’s” House Disaster.  (No names on the website, remember?)  It’s the story of the girl who plays ping-pong in her basement and bursts a pipe, flooding the basement and eventually the whole house.  Filled to the roof with water, the house lifts off its foundation, floats down the hill, and ends up in the middle of traffic where it gets smashed to smithereens by two tractor trailers.

Zounds!  It is a fun story, but how in the world can we RESOLVE the story?!  This story has gotten out of control,  and there’s no easy way for us to solve the problem.

Your assignment is to revise the story so make it more controllable.  You can change it at any point, but don’t rewrite the whole thing.  (For example, don’t get rid of the flooding basement problem.)  Focus on making changes that would allow you, as the author, to stay in control of the story so that you can resolve the problem at the end.

Don’t WRITE the new version of the story.  (That would take a long time!)  Instead, describe what EVENTS would be in your story to keep it controlled for you, as the author.  Your revisions must include a SOLUTION to the problem.  Begin your response like this:

If I was the author, I would ________

Remember, no names at all.  Also, if you choose to give feedback to a classmate, keep your comments kind and constructive.

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