Just a quick couple of updates for the beginning of this week:

The family cultural project has been changed from mandatory to extra credit.  I apologize for whatever stress this caused for your family.  Honestly, I had hoped for this to be a fun, educational project that helped students to understand that we all have histories and aspects of our culture to be celebrated.  Unfortunately, due to the number of students who were unable to gather even the most basic of information, I decided to make this an extra credit opportunity.  This will provide a helpful boost for the students who were able to gather the information and complete the project. 

We have some new substitute protocols for our classroom.  Due to the recent antics when I am unable to be in the room due to training, illness, or meetings, I had to resort to pretty drastic measures.  I met with Dr. Cook and Coach and we are all in agreement that if students earn 3 strikes for being disrespectful, unsafe, or not working when substitute teachers are present in the room or for special area teachers, they will not be able to attend or participate in Olympic Day.  All students were made aware of this on Friday and a letter was sent home to you.  Please review it, sign the bottom portion and return it with your child on Monday.  I am truly saddened that it had to come to this.  🙁

We Have a Dream Too

Today was one of those days that makes me believe I’m doing the right thing with my life and BOY DID I NEED IT!  We are entering the winter doldrums coupled with subfreezing temperatures which can lead to some dicey days in the classroom.  We actually had decent attendance (a minor miracle considering our schools have been hit hard with the flu and nasty norovirus).  Not only did we attend but we came to work! We began our day with listening to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.  I can listen to this every year and never get bored.  He had such a way with words.  When we were done, we composed our own “I Have Dreams Too” paragraph for what we would like to see the world look like for our children and grandchildren.  My class came up with some truly powerful stuff!  Take a peek at our video below:

 That, my friends was not the end of our day!  Due to inclement weather (read freezing and Mrs. Sinone was in no way going to shiver through the rest of the day) we had recess in the classroom and practiced one of our class favorites- yoga!  What a nice way to get healthy and center ourselves before our next activity!


We wrapped up our day getting poetic with similes.  We decided it was time to take down the holiday chains and put our hears on the ceiling- literally!  We created heart mobiles and composed simile valentines for all to see.  In the spirit of figurative language I leave you with a simile that described my feelings for my students at the end of this productive day.  I’m as proud as a peacock of my Room 11 kiddos!

Weekly Objectives for January 21-25

I hope everyone enjoyed their day off on Monday!  We spent our day working on school projects, grading papers, watching the Inauguration activities on TV, and relaxing.  Next year I hope to put together a Day of Service Activity for my class to participate in to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s work and legacy.  This week we will be review his speech and composing our own dreams for how we would like to see our world develop for our children.  Take a peek below to see what else we will be learning this week.

Reading: This week we will be continuing to read our novels and have book discussions in our literature circles.  Each night in addition to their book role sheet they will also be answering an open ended question related to the chapter they are reading.  I am asking that they question be answered using the RASE format.  R= restate the question, A=answer the question, S= support your answer with facts from the chapter, and E=extend your answer to tell how it relates to you, another book you read, or a movie you have seen.  A good answer should be at least 4 sentences long.  This will help to prepare your child for the open ended questions on the NJASK.

Vocabulary: We will be working with words with common roots this week.  The roots we are working with are astra-astro (having to do with space), stel/stell (have a to do with stars), mar/mari (having to do with the sea), and mig/migr (have to do with moving).

Grammar:  This week we will be working with homonyms (words that sound the same but have different meanings).  Specifically we are working with your/you’re and there/their/they’re.

Math: Our exploration into division begins this week.  We will be focusing on reviewing the divisibility rules and the meaning of division.

Writing:   We will continue typing our final drafts to publish our second portfolio pieces.

Social Studies: We will be working with the information sent in from the family interviews to begin our culture projects.  Please don’t worry if you were not able to get very specific information.  As we research our country of origin, we will learn about the customs and compare and contrast them to what we do in our homes.

Science:    This week, we will be taking a break from science to complete our lofty goals in other areas.  Sophie of course will be in and we will continue to care for her and observe her daily.

Weekly Objectives January 14-18

We have our first field trip this week!  We will be visiting the governor’s residence, Drumthwacket.  Last week we learned the history behind the property and this week we will learn more about the actually building and the etiquette we must use when we visit a formal, historic building.  Remember to check in tomorrow to see our class calling card. 

This week we are beginning our new Literature Circle novels.  Now that our latest benchmark assessments are done, I was able to adjust our reading levels and choose books that were interesting and challenging for everyone to work with.  I am excited we have some great books we are working with!  If you have any questions about the explanation letter I sent home in regards to your child’s reading progress or reading level, please feel free to email me or call the school and leave a message.  I will get back to you as soon as possible.

This weeks learning objectives are listed below:

Reading: We will be continuing to work with comparing and contrasting this week.  Our main focus will be on comparing and contrasting 2 versions of the same story using fairy tales and fractured fairy tales.  Fractured fairy tales are stories that follow the same basic idea of the fairy tale but add in a twist (for example it is told from a different point of view, has an alternate ending, or the characters or setting are altered). 

Writing:    This week we are publishing our second portfolio pieces.  We will be putting the finishing touches on our revisions and typing them.

Vocabulary: Our words this week use the suffixes -ment, -tion, -ly, -ic.  Please see the Vocabulary page for a list of words and their definitions.  Remember, you need to study teh definitions for the test.  You are tested on the word’s meaning more than its spelling (there is a word bank to help you spell them correctly).

Grammar:   We will be working with conjunctions this week.  Conjunctions are words that join two or more thoughts together.  These words are and, but, and or. 

Math:   We are wrapping up Topic 8 this week with a Test on Thursday.  Look for review homework on Tuesday and Wednesday.  For the test I am encouraging students to use the method that works best for them.  Either the “window”, place value chart or the traditional method of 2 by 2 digit multiplication (the way we learned). 

Social Studies:  We will be wrapping up our Drumthwacket unit this week with our trip.  Prior to going we will create our class calling card (a historical etiquette protocol) and review our states geography.

Science: We are teaming up with a class in North Jersey to study hurricanes and their effect on our environment.  We will be studying how hurricanes are formed, when they are most likely to strike, and how they are related to other storms such as tornadoes and monsoons.  We will be using edmodo to help us communicate with the other class to share our research.

Weekly Objectives January 7-11

This week is going to be a very exciting one in room 11.  Monday begins our adventure in hedgehog care!  Sophie was picked up this weekend and is all ready to come in and visit Monday morning.  We are going on our field trip to Drumthwacket, the governor’s residence, next Wednesday.  Please remember to turn in permission slips ASAP!  Below are our learning goals for this week:

Reading: This week we will be focusing on comparing and contrasting different view points as well as topics.  Comparing is telling how 2 things are similar.  Contrasting is telling how they are different.  We will be using a variety of different materials for these lessons including texts and physical objects.

Also during reading centers, I will be finishing up our Fountas and Pinnell Benchmarking.  We do this 3 times a year to check your child’s reading level.  It consists of students reading aloud to me (so I can hear where they are making errors), reading quietly to themselves, and then discussing the information or story they read (so I can check for comprehension.  Once everyone is done, I will be sending home a detailed graph of your child’s progress for this year (or the last 2 years for my friends that looped with me) as well as an explanation of what their level means and how you can help me help them at home.

Grammar: We will be picking up where we left off before break this week and reviewing adjectives and adverbs this week as well as working with prepositions that tell where.  There will be an edmodo quiz on Friday.

Vocabulary: This week our words all begin with the prefixes dis-, fore-, sub-, and under-.  We will be working to both understand what these prefixes mean as well as how they change the definition of the root word.  Check out our Powerful Vocabulary page for a list of the words as well as their definitions.  Our test on Friday focuses on using the words in context, not spelling.

Writing: We will be working on editing and publishing our second portfolio piece this week.  Last week we worked on writing a rough draft of a story about a wish a genie granted us that had to benefit someone other than ourselves.  This week we will peer edit, discuss rough draft score with me, and begin the revising/typing process.

Math: We are working with 2 by 2 multiplication this week.  We will begin using tables and charts to help us organize our work, but by the end of the week the work your child will be doing will look very familiar!

Social Studies: Students will be learning about the history of Drumthwacket this week leading up to our trip next week.  We will be creating time-lines, dissecting the state seal, creating calling cards, and learning about what our governor does each day.

Science: This week we will be working on tweaking our hedgehog habitat as needed and monitoring her health and behavior.  Each day a different students will be reporting in our our blog page about Sophie and what she has been up to that day.  Check out our Hedgie Home Page Link!

Creating A Home for Hedgie

Tomorrow is the day!!!!!  My mother, may daughters, and I are driving to North Jersey to pick up our class pet hedgehog.  Everyone is so excited!  OK, so how did I decide on a hedgehog as a class pet?  Well, we have been spending the bulk of the second marking period learning about animals, life cycles, habitats, and food chains.  Each year our district offers classroom teachers the opportunity to apply for Math and Science mini grants for up to $300.  On a lark, I put together a proposal for the purchase of a hedgehog and supplies to create a habitat for it as a culminating activity for our animal unit.  I never really believed they would actually approve this CRAZY idea.  They did. 

What followed next was a lot of research on our part.  Students researched habitat, feeding, and care needs.  I researched breeders.  We settled on purchasing our hoglet from Jersey Hedgehogs in Union, NJ.  (www.jerseyhedgehogs.com)  My students created the following shopping list for me to build our habitat:

Habitat Shopping List:

Large clear Tupperware container with a lid

Exercise wheel

Hiding Dome

Water Bottle

Food Dish- heavy enough not to be tipped over

Cat toys

Bedding material- fleece so we don’t have to keep buying it,  just wash it

Once I purchased all our materials, we set out about making our habitat for the classroom (I made a separate vacation home for our hedgie at our house for evenings, weekends, and summers).  

 First we needed to drill ventilation holes to keep the cage well ventilated and smelling relatively fresh.  To do this, we heated the plastic using my hair dryer before drilling to prevent cracking and make the drilling a little easier.

 Then we measured two inches from the top and made a series of dots four inches apart where we would drill our holes.

We drilled the holes and smoothed out the surfaces.

Then we drilled four holes in the top of the container to use to help us cut out a top ventilation area that we covered with screen material securing it with hot glue.

Once we  were done, we measured and cut fleece to line the bottom of the cage.  We made 2 coverings to we would always have a clean one to replace the dirty one. 

Finally we positioned the water bottle, food bowl, sleeping dome, wheel, and toys in our habitat to make sure it would all fit nicely.  We even added out current Hedgie mascot to test it out.




Welcome to the New Year!

Welcome to the year 2013!  This week we will be undergoing our language arts benchmarking assessments using Fountas and Pennell to so how far we have progressed since September.  I am predicting some pretty amazing results.  We have been working very hard all fall and now it is time to see how well it has payed off.  Just before break, my kids created end of novel projects.  Below are just a few of them.  Unfortunately, the two groups who opted to write and act out plays, when recorded the audio did not come through well. 🙁 .  The options for this project were to create a movie trailer using iMovie for their novel, choose a song and create a music video that best represented their novel, write and act out a play, use extranormal to create an animated scene, or create a movie poster that would persuade people to read their book.  No surprise to me, my little tech savvy friends chose mostly high tech options.  Enjoy their work below!


Ruby and the Booker Boys- music video featuring the song, “Here Comes the Sun” which the group felt best represented Ruby’s personality

Out of Darkness the Story of Louis Braille- music video featuring the song, “Firework” which the group felt best represented Louis Braille’s spirit of determination

A Mouse Called Wolf- movie trailer