Cultivating Minds Without Losing My Own

Join me on my Adventures in Elementary Education

Weekly Learning Goals Feb. 12th-15th


Happy Valentine’s Day!  Happy 100th Day of School! Happy 4 day school week!  We have a lot to celebrate this week!  First and foremost I want to thank all of the families who ordered books from our Scholastic Book order in January.  Thanks to your orders, we were able to choose over 20 books for our classroom library for FREE!  Not only that, but due to the large order EVERY student in our class got a FREE book from Scholastic books to keep!  

We will be celebrating Valentine’s Day at the end of the day with a brief celebration.  Thank you to our room mom for setting that up!  On Thursday we will be celebrating our 100th day of school.  We will have fun reviewing 100 things we’ve learned this year!  Please see below for our weekly learning goals and helpful videos.

Language Arts:  This week we will be wrapping up our lesson on sequencing and summarizing.  We will have a test on Wednesday covering those skills as well as our weekly vocabulary words and the active and passive voice for verbs.

Math:  We started Unit 5 last week.  We will be continuing working with fractions this week.  Specifically, we will be adding and subtracting fractions and mixed numbers with unlike denominators.


Writing:  We will be going for gold with figurative language this week!  Check out the link below to see what we’ll be up to!

Going for Gold in Figurative Language-1gog7w5

Science:  We are learning about matter this week.  We conducted our first investigation last week and will be conducting our second one this week.  The kids are LOVING science and I am loving seeing them excited about learning!



How to Make a Short Week Meaningful


It’s that month again- November… you know the one where we never seem to have a full week of school and even when we do everyone is sick thanks to the change of the weather!  While there are many days off during November, there are also many valuable teaching opportunities- especially in the area of Social Studies.   So how can we make the most of our shortened time together?  PROJECTS!!!!!!!!  It’s time to shake it up and bring on the projects!  Kids love them, teachers love them, and they lend themselves wonderfully to the stop/start nature of school days in this month!  Below are a few of the projects that we will be completing this month:


First Week of November:  Election Day Project

This week we will be exploring the origins of Election Day, political parties, the voting process, and conducting our own mock election.  The video below explains why we vote on Tuesdays (a question I have often wondered myself as it seems like an odd choice for an election day!).  We will be working through the election process this week and voting for a mock candidate for class president.  Students will listen to campaign speeches from our two mock candidates, vote at the polls, and justify their choices.  They will also be making their own voter registration cards.

*Parents- if you go out to vote on Tuesday after school, take your kids with you and share the process!

Second Week of November:

During the second (and one of the only full weeks of school) of November, we will be researching the origins of Veteran’s Day.  Students will take a virtual field trip to see the many memorials dedicated to our fallen soldiers in our nation’s capital (see the video I created below).  They will then work in teams to design a memorial to honor our local veterans.

Third and Fourth week of November:

During the final full week and our last short week of November, we will be walking in the footsteps of the Pilgrims and learning about the first Thanksgiving.  We will be researching, comparing and contrasting the Thanksgiving feast we enjoy today with the one that those first settlers enjoyed.  Students will work in pairs to create a menu for today’s feast and a menu from the first Thanksgiving feast using various websites like the one below.  We will make a staple of the pilgrims diet- hardtack (yum) to enjoy in class together.

Scholastic’s First Thanksgiving Website

National Geographic’s First Thanksgiving Website

History Channel’s First Thanksgiving Website

This month I am thankful that I get to share these meaningful, cross-curricular lessons with my class!  I will be combining first and second hand accounts as well as multimedia to enhance my student’s learning experiences.  We will be creating, writing, debating, and collaboratively working to produce meaningful and memorable products.  Stay tuned to see the fruits of our labor in upcoming posts!

Write Like A Reporter



This morning we were visited by a local reporter, Chris Torres, from The Daily Journal. He spoke with our 4th and 5th graders about how reporters develop their stories. He focused on encouraging us to answer the 5 W’s, who, what, when, where, and why. He also spoke with us about the importance of reporting true facts.


Below is a video clip from his visit:

A Day in Room 11


I decided to dedicate this blog to answer the question, “what did you do today?” If your child is anything like any if mine they reply, “nothing.” As parents we know that they did a lot more than nothing but aren’t quite sure what “a lot more” actually is. So today I documented what a day in room 11 looks like. Enjoy!

All of our lessons and centers are designed around our daily objectives.

We begin our day with language arts. A few students needed to finish publishing their Diary of a Spider books.



Why did we write these books? We learned from a mentor text, The Diary of a Fly, about sequence, humor, and intertwining facts into a fictional narrative.



Other students were working on their personal narrative rough drafts in the writing center.


After language arts we had gym. Since the weather did not cooperate we held recess inside and just “Let it Go!”


Following lunch, we have our math lesson. Today we were multiplying 2 digit by 1 digit numbers.


Finally, we wrapped up our day reviewing for our social studies quiz on the NJ Social Studies Weekly Website.




As you can see we work extremely hard everyday! Make sure to stop by and check out our “scary smart skills” the next time you visit our school!


We Will be Author’s this Week- Goals and Tools for Oct. 14-17




I hope you all enjoyed your LONG weekend!  I know I did!  The family and I went and picked up some pumpkins at the pumpkin patch this weekend and then spent all  afternoon today carving them and roasting the seeds for a nice healthy snack!  This week is another short week thanks to our holiday today, but it will be packed with review activities and our first unit test in Language Arts.

Language Arts:

This week we will be reviewing our grammar skills and reading strategies to get ready to complete our first unit assessment.  We will be taking this test on Friday.  Instead of loading this post up with review lessons, each night this week, your child will have a flipped language arts lesson as part of their homework to review the skills needed to be successful on Friday.  Remember flipped lessons are lessons that the students view at home via the internet to better prepare to practice this skills in class the next day.  The results I get from these lessons will help me to better plan which topics we need to review as a whole class and which lessons only a few people need extra help with.



We will be published authors by the end of this week.  We are wrapping up our Diary of a Spider books (stay tuned for a special blog post Friday!) as well as working on our first portfolio piece.  Below is a short video explaining the 6 Traits of Writing that we will be working with this year to produce the best writing pieces that we can.  All of our work will be scored using these 6 categories.



This week will be working with multiplying 2 digit numbers by 1 digit numbers using the standard algorithm (the way us old people learned how to do it!).


Social Studies:

We will be learning about NJ’s first inhabitants this week, the Native Americans.  Many of us think Native Americans are mainly located in the central and western parts of the country.  NJ however is home to many Lenni Lenape tribe members.  The video below features some of the Lenni Lenape from right here in Cumberland County and details their struggle to hold on to their heritage.  We will be focusing on the Native Americans of NJ this month in our social studies lessons.

Weekly Learning Goals and Tools Oct. 6-9




Brrrrrrrr!  I am sitting in front of a fire as I type this!  Fall is definitely making its presence felt today!  Don’t worry, however, because we will be learning so much this week we will work up a sweat!  This week we begin our month of Respect.  Over the weekend, you had a chance to review our school’s bullying information and sign our anti-bullying contract with your child.  We take this very seriously at RM Bacon!  Ms. Spanbauer will be in this week to speak with the class about respect and get us started on an activity that we will complete as a whole 4th grade class.   There is NO SCHOOL ON FRIDAY due to a teacher inservice day.  Enjoy your day off!


This week we will be working with determining main idea and supporting details.  We will also be starting our first novel for the year, The Chocolate Touch.

Vocab words for the week:  glacier, impressive, naturalist, preserve, slopes, species, wilderness

The Chocolate Touch Chapters 1-3 will be covered this week.



This week we will be working with Multiplying by Multiples of 10 and 100 as well as breaking apart 2 digit numbers to find the product.  The prezi below may be helpful to reinforce what we are doing in class.


We are working on our first book this week.  By the end of next week all of my students will be published authors!  We used the model text The Diary of a Fly as a guide and we all came up with our own versions of “The Diary of a Spider.”  Be sure to stop by the third floor hallway and read our creations next week!


We are finishing our study of ecosystems by creating poster representations of the 5 major ecosystems in the USA.



Bacon Turns 85! Weekly Objectives and Resources Sept. 22-26


happy birthday


Happy Birthday to our home-away-from-home, RM Bacon Elementary School!  On Friday, we celebrate our building’s 85th birthday.  Imagine the history this building has seen and what it could teach us if only the walls could talk!  In addition to another jam packed week of learning, I am challenging my students to join me in completing 85 laps around the playground by Friday.  I did the math for us- we need to walk/jog 17 laps a day to reach that goal.  If we can do this we will also have walked over 10 miles!  Bring your sneakers if you’re up for the challenge!  I know I am!  What a way to help me reach another one of my goals- getting my fitness in daily!  This week’s objectives and resources are below!

Language Arts:

This week we will be wrapping up our study of sentence types and moving onto dissecting a sentence to identify the subject (who or what the sentence is about) and predicate (what they subject is feeling or doing).  I have created log-ins for for each student to use to view a lesson and take a quick check to see how we are understanding this concept.  They will get their log-in information on Monday.  I am super excited to use this tool as it will help me to better assess and work with students on concepts.  (Thanks Andy Bingham, my daughter’s 5th grade teacher for introducing this to me!)

The reading strategy we are working with this week is identifying literary elements such as characters, setting, and plot.  The prezi below will help to support the lesson we will be doing in class.

Our vocabulary words for the week are:

badger, bank, bristled, jointed, patched, ruffled, rushes

We will be using the mentor text The Diary of a Fly,  to help us work on creating a narrative writing piece that has both a sequence that is easy to follow and all of the narrative elements that we are learning about this week.


This week we will be wrapping up our review of place value and taking a unit 3 assessment on Tuesday.  Topic 4 will start on Wednesday with a review of addition and subtraction using mental math and estimation.  The Educreations lesson below will help to review the concept at home.  Students may also work on at home to brush up on both math and language arts skills.  All students were given a log-in sheet last week.  This is a great way to keep learning and reviewing at home.


Social Studies:

This week we will be taking a trip WAYYYYYYYYYY back in time to discover what NJ was like during the age of reptiles.  Take a peek below to see what some of our very, very, very old neighbors looked like!



This week we will continue working with our study of weather, but delve deeper to understand how weather effects the ecosystem.

Lesson Objectives and Tools for Sept. 15-19


I am looking forward to meeting all of you at Back to School Night!  We will be hosting our parents beginning at 7:00 on Tuesday, September 16th.   All families are asked to report to the gym for Dr. Cook’s opening remarks and then you will be dismissed to the classrooms to visit ME!  For those of you who can not make it, I will post our Back to School Night Prezi on Wednesday so that you can have the same information.

back to school night
Your kids ROCK!!!!!!!  We completed a full week last week and let me tell you, I held nothing back!  We completed almost an entire chapter in Math and our first story in Language Arts.  Students learned how to log in to our Math and Reading website which we will use daily in class, Below are our objectives for the week as well as some tools to help support what we are learning in class.

Reading:  This week we will be focusing on determining the Author’s Purpose.  We will also continue working with Sentence Types focusing this week on Exclamatory and Imperative Sentences.

Vocab Words: Docks, migrating, scan, scent, warf, yearned

Math: This week we will be taking our first math test on Tuesday, covering multiplication facts and how they relate to division.  After that we are moving into exploring Place Value and how it helps when comparing and ordering numbers.  

Social Studies:  We are continuing our study of New Jersey this week focusing on the 4 regions of NJ as well as some of the Tourist Stops that have historical importance.

Science:  We will be starting an investigation about what goes into forming our weather.  The link below will lead you to an informative webiste that we will be using during our science lessons and centers this week.

Whew!  I’m exhausted just reading over this!  4th Graders, I hope you’re ready!!!!!!

Weekly Objective September 8-12


This week starts our first full week of the school year!  I hope you are as ready as I am to jump in and learn!  Every Sunday I will post our learning objectives for each subject for the week as well as helpful and informative videos, Power Point presentations, Prezis, or other helpful links to ensure that you have as many resources as possible to help your child be successful.  Before I jump into our objectives for this week, I want to let you know that Thursday, September 11th, we will be wearing red, white, and blue in honor of Patriot Day.  Any student who wears all 3 colors will earn 5 extra credit points on the social studies quiz this week!

patriot day

Language Arts:

This week we will be reading and excerpt from Because of Winn Dixie.  Our vocabulary words for the week are as follows:

Grand, memorial, peculiar, positive, prideful, recall, selecting

Our reading strategy of the week is identifying the sequence, or order of events, in a story.

We will also be using sequencing in our writing lessons this week as we begin writing our first personal narrative.  In grammar we will be working to identify the different types of sentences.

In math this week, we will be spending quite a bit of time reviewing our multiplication tables as well as the properties of multiplication.  In addition we will be beginning to link multiplication to division and working with patterns.

Social Studies:

This week we will be working to learn about the counties of NJ as well as where we are located in our region of the country.  We will also be working on understanding the difference between weather and climate.


We will be reviewing Science Safety this week and creating posters to hang around the room to remind us how to be safe while we conduct experiments!

As you can see, it’s going to be a busy week!  Expect homework assignments for Monday- Thursday nights in the form of a short math worksheet (10 problems covering many areas of math) and a short reading passage with 4-5 comprehension questions.  Also, any classwork that is not completed in class is the student’s responsibility to complete for homework.

No April Fools in Room 11! We are All About Education!


Finally some weather that is somewhat like spring!  This means three things- our schedules are getting busier, our allergies are becoming an issue, and spring fever is on its way!  I am asking for donations of hand sanitizer and soft tissues to help us through the allergy season.  Due to the increase in sneeze related disinfecting our hand sanitizer supplies are dwindling and our poor noses would greatly appreciate softer tissues than our nurse supplies!  I’ll even toss in extra credit points on your child’s lowest test grade to sweeten the deal!  This week’s learning objectives are listed below!  Also please check our our upcoming events on the Important Dates page to the right. Check out our new laptops!  Woo Hoo!



Math:  This week we are reviewing skills to prepare for the next RAC test.  We will be focusing on converting fractions to decimals, line plots, multiplying fractions by a whole number, and solving word problems. 

Language Arts:  We are reading “Encantado” this week, which is a non fiction story about the Amazon River Dolphin.  We will be researching both Amazon River Dolphins and Bottle Nose Dolphins and writing a compare and contrast essay.  The prezi below is one that we will be using to introduce this essay format.

 growth chartScience:  We are learning about plants.  We have studied their life cyles,seedlings photosyntheis, and parts.  We will be reviewing this week along with charting the progress of the seedlings we planted last week.  We were surprised to see seedlings when we came in on Monday!

The Prezi below will help to review for our Plant quiz on Friday!



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