Cultivating Minds Without Losing My Own

Join me on my Adventures in Elementary Education

100th Day, Valentine’s Day, and President’s Day (oh my!)


We were very busy little critters last week and it has taken me until today to recover!  Last week we celebrated our 100th day of school with a very special math lesson based on fractions using lots of fun (often edible) manipulatives.   In a ill timed twist of fate, the 100th day also fell on Valentine’s Day.  In order to do both holidays justice, we celebrated Valentine’s day on Friday to coinside with our Jump Rope for Heart fund raiser. 

In addition to all of this fun stuff, we learned about what it is like to be a president.  We spent a day envisioning ourselves in the oval office making some big changes.  Students made executive orders to ban smoking, repair roadways, end littering, end bullying, and create harsher laws for violent crimes.  They earned my votes!



This week’s objectives:

Reading: Students will work on summarizing informational texts.  Be on the lookout for our new book-bags.  This week they will be reading about Thomas Edison each night an completing a reading strategy worksheet.

Grammar: We will be wrapping up our unit on confusing words with the verbs throw and catch (appropriate since this is the start of Phillies preseason 🙂 ).  Test on Friday!

Vocabulary:   Students will be working with science words this week! 

Math: Students will be wrapping up long division this week.  We will be moving up to 4 digit numbers as well as multi-stop word problems.

Science:  We will be making predictions about magnets and testing them out throughout the week.

Social Studies: We will be continuing our work on economics and starting chapter 6 this week.

Weekly Objectives February 11-15


We have a very busy week ahead of us!  If we work hard Monday-Thursday, Friday will be a lot of fun!  We will be participating in Jump Rope For Heart on Friday.  To participate each child must bring in a $5 donation.  Please think about donating to this worthy cause.  Those who are not able to donate fear not!  We will be getting our Yoga on in class to help keep our hearts healthy too.

Friday will also be our Valentine’s Party.  Please check your child’s homework folder on Monday for snack ideas and a list of classmate names.

Thursday is our 100th day of school.  We will be doing a special math lesson and I need your help!  Please fill the baggie that comes home Monday with 100 items that are different.  Examples of items are coins, fruit loops, M and M’s, confetti, etc.  These items will be used to make fractions.

Our learning goals for this week:

Reading:  We will be focusing on cause and effect this week.

Grammar:   We are still working with confusing words!  This week we are focusing on whose and who’s and also articles (a, an, the).

Vocabulary:   This week’s vocab list is VERY short!  There are 5 math terms we will be working with and that’s it!

Writing:  We will be working on beginning our research project on inventors this week.

Math:  We are continuing with division this week.

Science:   Magnets are on the agenda for science.  We will be testing items in the room to see what has magnetic properties.


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 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!

Weekly Objectives 11/12-11/16


This week is going to be HUGE!  It is one of only 2 full weeks we have for learning in the month of November, so as you can imagine I’m packing it to the gills!  We will start off our week with World Run Day on Monday.  Remember to wear your sneakers and dress in layers so we can get our fitness on together and raise money for a great cause, the Big Brother/Big Sisters club of Cumberland County.  We will be partaking in our annual Thanksgiving Feast on Thursday.  Fourth graders are responsible for contributing boxes of instant mashed potatoes for our celebration.  I especially look forward to this activity and sharing Thanksgiving with “my kids.”  Finally remember that parent/teacher conferences start on Friday.  Students will have an early dismissal at 1:45 and conferences begin at 2:15.  I look forward to sharing your child’s progress with you during this time.

On our agenda this week:

Reading: This week we will be introducing our Literature Circle Roles.  Once all of the roles are learned, each night your child will read an assigned section and complete their assigned role.  The goal is that since everyone in each group is reading the same section, yet looking at it a slightly different way it will provide a lively and deep discussion about the material.  For the next 2 weeks, all students will be doing the same role sheet each night so that we can learn the responsibilities of each role together.  This week we are focusing on the following roles:

Summarizer- this role includes reading the section, writing a 1 paragraph summary of what happened answering the following questions- who, what, when, where, why, and how.  This person also lists any key pieces of information that are learned in the section.

Illustrator- this role includes reading the section and drawing a picture that best represents what happened in the section.  Illustrations are not judged on artistic ability but relevance to the content read.

Discussion Director- this role includes reading the section and formulating 5 questions about this section only to guide our discussion the next day in class.

Word Worm- this role includes reading the section and listing any new, powerful, or interesting words as well as defining them based on context clues.

Vocabulary: Students will define this weeks words and use them correctly in context.  This week’s words are words with multiple meanings.  Students are responsible for knowing all definitions for each word.

Grammar:We are beginning Unit 2 this week.  We will be focusing our efforts on identifying nouns, classifying them as proper or common, singular or plural, and identifying unique spelling changes for plural nouns.  For your reference see the information below to help your child at home:

Nouns- words that name a person, place, thing, or idea (ex. girl, teacher, house, school, dog, cat, cup, love, hope)

Proper nouns- name specific people, places, or things.  They begin with capital letters.  (ex. Mrs. Sinone, Millvile, White House, Statue of Liberty)

Common nouns- name common people, places, or things.  They are not capitalized unless they are the first word in the sentence.

Plural nouns- name more than one person, place, or thing (ex. bushes, cities, people)

Singular nouns- name one person, place, or thing (ex. student, fish, city)

Writing: This week we will be beginning working on persuasive/argumentative writing.  We will be focusing on choosing a side of an argument and writing to support our opinion with facts. 

Math:  Students will be working with multiplying with multiples (3×5, 3×50, 3×500), breaking apart factors to multiply(3×35= 3×30 +3×5), using mental math to multiply (3×19 is like 3×20 then subtracting 3), and using rounding to estimate multiplication ( 7×28 is estimated to 7×30)

Social Studies: Students will be working with geographical landforms and terms.

Science: Students will be able to determine between food chains and food webs.

Witches Walking Wacky and Dogs Doing Math- Sound a Little Crazy? Nope Just Another Day in Room 11


Holy mackerel Batman!  We accomplished SO MUCH today I’m still reeling!  We have been publishing our writing and part of that process means a conference between me and each of the students in the class.  During this conference we discuss the pros and cons of each writing piece.  It is a very special time working with each child individually that I really look forward to.   A pattern became very evident as we conferenced.  We are using the same words over and over in our writing.  This is not good.  So today we bid adieu to some of our favorite words and with the help of some wacky witches legs we welcomed some wonderful new alternatives.  Each student created a snazzy set of legs to help us come up with creative ways to have our characters move through our stories.  Walk was getting old!  Borrowing some Aerosmith lyrics we put together a bright, fun hallway display.

Sadly some words needed a more permanent farewell.  We held a funeral for the following words in class today- said, pretty, good, and bad.  These poor words have been used to death! As a sign of appreciation for all the use they have given us, we decorated their tombstones with some updated synonyms to use in their place.  Hopefully our graveyard does not have to grow as the year  progresses.  Please encourage your child to use new words whenever possible!  As some wise woman once said (OK it was me, and while my wiseness may be yet proven the words work!) ” You can never have too many words or too many shoes!”                         

It ws not all word games today.  We joined the RM Bacon Dog Pound and started our journey.  SumDog is a website that allows students to practise and review skills at their own pace.  Each student has a log-in and can access the site from home or school.  I have added it to the links portion of this site.  Students will use the quick log-in option and our school code is Rm_2.  Students should have written their user name and pass code in their agendas. 

Finally, at the end of the day we had a visit from my stepson, Tyler.  Tyler is a pretty cool kid who happens to have some challenges when it comes to learning.  He is instructed in reading using braille and has also been learning sign language.  Last year, we  learned quite a few signs throughout the year.  Tyler shared a braille story book with the class and let them feel how he reads.  All in all it was a pretty cool experience for us all.

Our Afternoon with Taylor Swift and the R.E.D. Campaign


Anxiously Waiting for the Webcast to Start!This afternoon we had an awesome experience!  We participated in  a live web cast with the one and only Taylor Swift! offered an afternoon with Taylor to help launch their R.E.D. campaign which stands for Read Every Day.  Coincidentally, Taylor’s new album is also titled Red. 

Taylor Swift is an avid reader.  As she says, “It’s fun to escape from your life and jump into the lives of different characters.”  Students in the live audiance as well as the students in our class gasped with excitement when she mentioned the titles of her favorite childhood books.  They have something in common with a super star!  Some of her favorites include the Harry Potter series, Charlotte’s Web, and Star Girl (which I can see flying off my bookshelf in the days to come!)  She chooses books based on other people’s recommendations.  Her favorite genre is historical fiction.  She loves to imagine living in another time.   She told the students, ” No matter what you are reading you’re picking up knowledge that is impacting you whether you realize it or not.” 

Ms. Swift has clearly been seen and impact of reading on her life.  She credits reading with helping her to be a better song writer.  She won a national poetry contest in 4th grade and wrote a novel while on vacation when she was 12.  While she admits these were not her best pieces of writing, the encouragement of her parents, friends, and teachers helped her to realize that she had real potential.  She encouraged us to focus on learning and studying as much as possible and to find something that we love.  If we can do that it will help us get through those bad days and tough times in life.  I have to admit I was blown away by how wise this 22 year old is!  She reminded us that we can find beauty and magic everywhere we look if we use our imagination. 

When it comes to writing her music, Taylor says the process changes every time.  Sometimes a lyric or melody will just come to her and she has to whip our her cell phone to record a quick reminder so she won’t forget it.  Many of her songs are about things that have happened to her or her friends.  Some are about movies or books she has read.    For example the song, “Mean” is about an article written about her music.  The critic was mean in his criticism.  When that song became an anthem for anti-bullying she said that was one of the proudest moments in her life.  She says she was lucky to have good, stable influences in her life to keep her on the right track.  Below is a couple of clips from our web cast.


Taylor even sang to us!

We Love you Taylor Swift!!!!!!!

Well needless to say Taylor Swift inspired us not only to read more, but to write more too!  We spent the remainder of the day publishing our first piece for our portfolio, an expository  essay on what it means to be a good citizen.  In addition to typing that and getting it in its best final form, we used Doreen Cronin, author of The Diary of a Fly, as a mentor to help us create our Diary of a Bat book.  A silly take on being a bat infused with actual facts about bats.  Stop by the third floor hall to take a peek at the work of some up and coming authors from RM Bacon Elementary School!


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