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Thursday, August 12, 2010
Reported by Mr. Coley

Smiling faces greeted me as my students entered the classroom ready to face their second day of fifth grade (smiles are always a good sign for a teacher). The first thing we did was get out and pass in the school forms that were due today. Once all the paperwork was out of the way, students wrote down their homework in their Minder Binders and checked their mailboxes. In their boxes students discovered catalogs for this month's Scholastic Book Club. I gave the class a few moments to thumb through the pages, and several students eagerly circled some books they'd like to purchase.

Following our morning business, it was time for students to work on a multiplication quiz and beginning-of-the-year math assessment. We discussed how they weren't real “tests” and that there wasn’t any pressure. I just needed to see the level at which each student is performing, as this will help me place students in the appropriate math groups.

Next, it was time for writing. Like with the math assessment, I wanted the students to give me a sample of their writing so that I would have an idea of the level at which they are writing. I asked the class, “What do you think are the two most important inventions?” After brainstorming a list of inventions, students were given a piece of paper and asked to write about the inventions they thought are the most important, and why. Some students didn’t quite finish, so I asked them to finish up for homework. I am looking forward to reading what they wrote.

Once the assessments were out of the way, I led the class in a critical-thinking activity called "You Be the Jury." I read a courtroom case to the students and displayed pieces of evidence related to the case. The case was called “The Case of the Sleeping Prisoner.” It was awesome to see the students' keen attention to detail. There were many good theories as to why the defendant was guilty or innocent, and I was really impressed with how many students correctly determined the defendant was innocent. Way to go, class!

After recess, we started to make time capsules. I gave each student a large envelope and a couple pieces of paper. On the papers students recorded a list of their current favorites (favorite food, color, song, television show, etc.). They also traced their hands and drew self-portraits. I even measured each student’s height with pieces of string. The students then put their papers and string in their envelopes and gave them to me. I am going to keep them in a safe place until the last day of school, when we’ll open them up and see how much we’ve changed!

With the time remaining before lunch, I pulled out the book we started reading yesterday, Among the Hidden. Yesterday we learned Luke wasn’t allowed to play outside anymore because the woods around his house were being cut down (Luke had to hide because he is a third child in a country where families are only allowed to have two children). Today we discovered Luke's dad doesn't want him going into rooms if the shades aren't pulled down, because he doesn't want to risk Luke being seen from someone looking in the windows.  He now isn’t even allowed to eat breakfast in the kitchen with the rest of his family.  Bummer!

Following a delicious lunch, the students returned to the classroom for some silent reading. While they read, I pulled students back one at a time to do some fluency testing with me. This year I am digitally recording students as they read. This way, students can listen to themselves afterwards to hear how they sound as they read, and I can keep a digital portfolio to show progress. I love technology!

Yesterday, students began creating symmetrical name creatures.  Unfortunately, students were having a really difficult time getting their name to reflect on the other side of the page.  After a little experimenting on my part, it appears that because I used a little higher quality construction paper than I’ve used in previous years, the paper absorbed more of the crayon, making the reflection much harder to produce.  Therefore, I decided that we needed to go with a different project (of course, students could bring their name creatures home to finish if they so desired).  Today, students created what I call Neon Names.  After writing their name in cursive with a Sharpie, students then took colored markers and drew concentric-like lines around the letters of their names.  By drawing lines of different colors moving out from the name, it created a neon sign effect.  Only a few students finished, so we’ll continue to work on the project tomorrow.  I can’t wait to see all of the finished products, because the partially finished ones already look awesome!

With a couple minutes remaining in the school day, I unfortunately had to announce that the Quiet Seat was not quiet today. I could tell the class was a bit disappointed, so I reminded them that with tomorrow comes another opportunity.  With that, the second day of school had come to an end.

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