Week Four – Six 2012


I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted, and for that I apologize. My extra-curricular calendar has grown during election season. In addition I’m on a district committee of site leaders related to Common Core (more on that in another post). We’re wrapping up our first unit of language arts and other subjects this week and next.

Math Exchange

This class is my biggest challenge. I keep my most challenging students, and add a batch of talkative/attention-challenged kids from the other two classes. Mixed in are a bunch of obedient, but quiet types, some of whom need help but are shy to ask for it. This week was the piece-de-resistance though. Thursday was really awful, while I had a parent observing, then came Friday. I discovered on Thursday that the kids did not have as good a grip on subtraction of integers (which they had done with a sub) as I thought. As if I do not have enough problems, I had our district issued text undermining me. The text comes with sample problems on PowerPoint, which saves me from having to write them up and it projects better than putting the small print of the textbook on document camera. Here was the first problem:

4 – (-5) =

and two of the choices were -1 and 9

The correct answer is…9, but the slidedeck listed -1. This, of course, made more sense to my confused students, because they are used to subtraction problems resulting in a smaller, not a larger number, so I had to spend a lot of time “un-teaching” this errata. The text has a history of errors, and the grade 1-5 versions were recalled and replaced to settle a lawsuit by local school districts. Even then, I still found errors in the fifth grade text last year. ¬†I try to check the text, keys, etc. before using them, but things slip by, and frankly I’m a little peeved that I have to “proof-read” a text that tax-payers paid good money for. So that’s my rant, and I’ll move on.


We have two types of gardens on our campus. a native plant garden,

and, garden boxes planted with commercial seeds. The garden boxes are overseen by a terrific former parent/community volunteer. Since I haven’t done the garden box before, my students have to put the box together to plant in this year. A group did this on Friday afternoon. I could NOT have come up with a better activity for that time, as the kids were full of energy and this was just the outlet. Here’s a picture of them at work.

Hatchet and Language Arts

We’re finishing up a unit on Perseverance and finished reading the novel¬†Hatchet. The kids really enjoyed the novel and were hanging on up to the very end. I’m going to have them do an activity from the study guide book on making a newspaper article about the main character Brian. I’m also going to have them work in groups reading parts of the novel, and answering questions. I’m using questions that I picked up at a Common Core committee meeting I attended this week.


We finished up a chapter on Earth Sciences. I decided to create my own assessment and to start that out, I asked students what they found most interesting about the chapter. Most focused on volcanoes. I did a short response with four questions focused on cause and effect between tectonic plates and either volcanoes, earthquakes, and the movement of continents, and gave them a choice of 2 out of 4 to answer. I also want to feature visual literacy, so I gave them diagrams of volcanoes, the earth structure, etc. to fill in.


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