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Monday, August 16, 2010
Reported by Mr. Coley

As the bell rang to begin the fourth day of school, my smiling students all filed into the classroom.  After taking out the Behavior Strike parent letter that needed to be signed over the weekend, the students began working on this morning’s D.M.A. (Daily Morning Activities).  While the class silently worked, I circulated throughout the classroom and checked to see if all students had returned their signed parent letters.  At around 8:45, students took out their correcting pens and we went over the answers to the different D.M.A. questions.  One example of the analogies students completed was century : ________ :: dollar : dime.  The answer was decade.  For only being our second day of doing D.M.A., I was very pleased with how quickly the class is getting a hang of our morning routine.

Before moving on to our first spelling unit of the year, I quickly had students fill out a form asking them to choose passwords that will be used for their accounts for the Room 34 Book Blog.  I’ll be setting up the student accounts over the next couple of days, and the blog will be up and running in about a week.  I think the students are excited to have the opportunity to become bloggers!

It was then time for spelling.  I passed out to students a blank piece of paper they would use to take a pretest on this week’s words.  After numbering their papers 1-20, I administered the exam.  When we were done, I read the correct spelling of each word and students corrected their tests.  Finally, I passed out a list of this week’s words and had students highlight the words they need to work on during the week.

Next, we moved into Reading.  Our first story from our Houghton Mifflin textbook is called “Earthquake Terror,” but before we dive into the text, I took some time to introduce the key vocabulary from the story.  Using a PowerPoint presentation and our classroom’s projection system, I walked students through the process of using context clues to determine the meanings of unknown words.  For example, the word shudder was unfamiliar to most of the class.  But then I put the word in the context of this sentence – The earthquake caused the ground to shudder under my feet.  After seeing the clues in the sentence, most students were able to make a guess that the word means to shake or vibrate.  Context clues are cool!

With the time we had until recess, we had our first Social Studies lesson of the year.  Since our first unit is all about geography, we spent today filling out a sheet that identifies the locations of all the continents and oceans.  I told the class that since we’d be learning all about world explorers later on in the year, we had better have a good idea of the locations to which the explorers traveled. 

After our 20-minute recess, we transitioned into Math.  After another short multiplication quiz, I had the students begin another entry-level math test so that I can get as accurate an assessment as possible of each student’s current performance level.  I broke the exam up into two parts, so today the students only had to complete the first half of the assessment.  I know this isn’t the most exciting thing we’ll be doing this year, so I reminded the class that these beginning-of-the-year assessments will really help me as I place them in the different math classes we’ll have this year.

Once the students put their assessment away until tomorrow, I spent a little time introducing a math activity called Target Number.  To play, you take five single-digit numbers and, using the four basic operations (+, -, x, ÷), try to reach a “target” number.  The trick is you must use each number at least once (you may also use a number more than once).  For example, use the numbers 2456, and 7 and try to reach the target number of 12.  One way to do it would be:

4 x 5 = 20 ÷ 2 = 10 + 6 = 16 – 7 = 9 x 2 = 18 – 6 = 12.

The students did a fantastic job grasping the concept and will get to practice some more tonight, because I gave them a Target Number ILT for homework (ILT stands for Independent Learning Tool – a fancy name for a worksheet).

We had about 15 minutes until lunch, so I continued reading from Among the Hidden.  Woo hoo!  Last time, we learned that Luke's life got even tougher, as his mom had to get a job, meaning Luke was left alone all by himself.  During today’s chapters, something amazing happened.  Luke, who was looking outside through the vents in the attic, saw a face in the window of one of his neighbors’ houses.  A child’s face.  In the house where two boys already lived.  Could there be another third child living in that house?  We’ll find out tomorrow!

Today was our first Early Release day of the year, so when students returned from lunch, they grabbed their backpacks and headed for home.  Because we ran out of time, I told the class that tomorrow I’d announce who the Quiet Seat was for today.  Another great day in Room 34 had come to an end!

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