Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Snowflake Luncheon

We had a great day today at theSnowflake luncheon. Thank-you to all of the parents who participated in putting on such a special celebration. The fifth graders all had a wonderful afternoon. Have a great winter vacation!

Mayan Projects

The class completed and presented their Mayan projects. Besides the walkthrough, where many classes came through to view the projects, we did two Voicethreads. The first Voicethread (seen here) presents some background information on the Mayan. The second Voicethread (seen here) present the projects. The class did a wonderful job. Here is our animoto video.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Voicethread on the Ancient Maya

This is the first Voicethread made by the class. It is on the ancient Maya. I can't get it to be enmbedded just yet, but you can get a preview of it here. It is still a work in prpgress.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Word Clouds

Today in class we practiced making work clouds with Wordle and Tagxedo. Here is a paragraph that Ben wrote describing something he is good at without using the word "good".

I am as amazing as the world’s 754th best artist. Once I drew a knife-headed dragon and it was striking. The next day I drew a gold winged dragon and that one was excellent. My friend drew a mustang and messed up so he gave it to me and I fixed it and made it a convertible. Then the next day I drew a no-winged rolling dragon and trust me it was remarkable. My teacher taught my class how to make a paper crane and my first one was outstanding. I am brilliant at drawing and in the art of paper folding. I have made 10 breathtaking paper cranes. One of them was about 2 or 3 inches long and the others are about 6 or 7 inches long. My paper cranes’ tails can move. That is stupendous.

Here is one example of Ben's paragraph after he pasted it into Tagxedo.

Here is a picture of one way it may look in wordle.

Wordle: Crane

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Weekly Reader Online

The class subscribes to Weekly Reader magazine. We have found that Weekly Reader has a digital edition of the magazine with added links, slideshows, movies, read-aloud, and other interactive features. Here are the links to previous editions that we have already read. Students know the "magic word" to gain access to the digital editions. Read, explore, and have fun!

Issue 1 Oil Spill Recovery
Issue 2 Bullying
Issue 3 Holding Court
Issue 4 The Search is On
Issue 5 After the Floods
Issue 6 Out for Blood
Issue 7 Run for It
Issue 8 Who Owns the Artic
Issue 9 Walking Tall

The Weekly Reader website also has a kids only page that you might want to check out.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Partial-Quotient Division

Just a reminder that you can find examples of how to do the Everyday Math algorithms online. This week we are reviewing the Partial -Quotient division algoryithm You can find many animations of the Partial Quotients Method here.

Ancient Maya Quiz

We are starting a unit on the ancient Maya. Here is a fun quiz from National Geographic for Kids that tests your background knowlege. Have fun.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Animal Poems based on William Blake's "The Tyger"

Using William Blake's classic poem. "The Tyger" as inspiration, the class has been writing their own animal poems. Again, we use animoto to turn our poems into animated musical videos. Teachers, If you are looking for a book that teaches how to teach poetry using great poems, then check out this post I made a couple of years ago on the book, "Rose, Where Did You Get That Red?"

Note: Kayla thinks that if William Blake can spell tiger as "tyger", then she can spell shark as "sharc". After all she was inspired by William Blake!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Mayan Projects

A packet was sent home today so that students can choose a Mayan project. Please turn in  your 3 top choices as soon as possible. Here is a video of last year's class and their Mayan projects.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Exploring Tessellations

Today's math lesson involved the fascination world of tessellations.

Here is a site that will let you quickly create a tessellation.

Here is another Tessellation Creator.

Find "enter this site" on Totally Tessellated to explore the history and essentials of tessellations. You will learn how to modify and create tessellations. You will learn about the Dutch artist M. C. Escher and his famous tessellated designs and you can also explore advanced design, art, and other mathematical topics related to tesselations.

Have fun!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Tyger

I created this animoto video to introduce my class to one of the great poems of the English language: William Blake's "The Tyger". We're going to be talking to the animals by writing our own poems based on "The Tyger".

Friday, October 29, 2010

Inca Projects and Presentations

This week the class presented their Inca projects, reports. and posters. You can see their work in the Animoto videos they created.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Piclits: Having Fun Using Vocabulary

Piclits is a creative and fun website that is all about Inspired Picture Writing. I used the site a couple of years ago with my one computer classroom and then forgot about it until I checked a blog post I wrote back then. Now I am in a classroom where each student can use a netbook and it was much easier to use this program.

Students can choose a picture. Then like refrigerator magnets they can choose precise vocabulary words from lists in located below the puzzle to arrange words into poems, sentences, messages, or labels. We just spent about 15 minutes playing around with the words and came up with many interesting piclits. I was happy to see that many students chose a poetry form based on William Carlos Williams "A Locust Tree in Flower". You can view each piclit by clicking or you can go to the website an create your own piclits. While having fun, we were introduced to wonderful and useful vocabulary words. Here are a few examples of our piclits.

PicLit from
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by Heather

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by Cameron

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by Molly

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by Adam

PicLit from
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by Cady

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by Campbell

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by Kayla

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by Amanda

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by Zak

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by Cody

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by Ben

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Everyday Math Multiplication Algorithms

Just a reminder that you can find examples of how to do the Everyday Math algorithms online. Today we are reviewing the Partial Products Method. This method gives student a good understanding of place=value and multiplication concepts. It also has the added benefit of facilitating student use of mental arithmatic as they solve problems. You can find many animations of the Partial Products Method here. Tomorrow we will be reviewing the Lattice Method of Multiplication. This is a very easy metod to use because it relies almost entirely on the recall of the basic multiplication facts. You can find many animations of the Lattice Method of Multiplication here.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Locust Tree in Flower: Digital Poetry

This week we looked at another unusual William Carlos Williams poem called "The Locust Tree in Flower"

You can read about the poem and my lesson here on my Simply Teaching blog. Be sure to check out the "art" version version of the poem. That is strangely weird; not only is the poem fractured into pieces but so is the reader's voice.

Here are our versions of tree poems inspired by William Carlos Williams' poem. We used the animoto program again and learned to add videos to our poems.

Mixtures and Solutions

Monday, October 18, 2010

This is what I like...

Campbell came to school and showed me an ocarina. I had never heard of an ocarina. Campbell bought it during the summer and he knew what it was and how to play it. He told me it goes along with our study of the Incas, Mayans, and Azteks. I looked it up and he was right. Then he played it for me. I like when a student makes connections with things that we are studying. Interesting find and great job, Campbell!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mysterious Inca Brainteasers

Click here to retake the Mysterious Inca Brainteaser Quiz that we used to introduce the Incas. Can you get a 100%? How much do your parents know? You can let them try the quiz too! Grades aren't recorded! This is a good way to review and learn important information.It is found on the National Geographic for Kids website.

Words are Music

"Writing is hard work, but sometimes words come by magic."

This week our reading selection is part of an autobiography by children's author Eloise Greenfield. Here is Eloise Greenfield giving a talk last month on writing.

We also listened to Eloise Greenfield reading a couple of her poems in the book, "Hip Hop Speaks to Children".

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Science: Mixtures and Solutions

Today we started a science unit on Mixtures and Solutions. We learned that a "mixture" is two or more materials stirred together. A "solution" is a special mixture that happens when a material dissolves in water. We made mixtures out of water and gravel, water and powder, and water and salt. We also learned that the materials in a mixture can be seperated. We used filters to try to seperate our mixtures.

Hmm. The screen seperated the gravel from the water. The filter seperated the powder from the water. How can we seperate the salt from the water?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Everyday Math: Partial Sums Algorithm

Today we reviewed the Everyday Math algorithm for addition called the Partial-Sums Method. Most fifth graders have mastered an algorithm of their choice for addition. If the are proficient in using that algorithm then they should use it. They are, however, expected to know the partial-sums algorithm for addition. The method helps them develop their understanding of place value and addition. In the partial-sums method, addition is performed from left to right, column by column. The sum for each column is recorded on a seperate line. The partial sums are added at either each step or at the end.

Here is a video that explains how to do this method: Addition Partial-Sums. The Everyday Math company has put the algorithims used in its program online. The animated directions take you through a problem step-by-step so students can refresh their memories or parents can learn the new algorithims. These are great refreshers, models, and argument breakers!

Here is the link to take you to the algorithms. Just click on the button for "Algorithims in Everyday Math", then click on grade 5, select an operation, an algorithim, and then an animation.

Friday, October 8, 2010

"So Much Depends...": Digital Poems

The first of our poems are completed on Animoto. These are based on "The Red Wheelbarrow" by William Carlos Williams.

Who were the Olmecs?

We are doing a short study on the Olmec people who built one of the earliest civilizations in the Americas. They lived along Mexico's east coast as early as 1500 B.C. They are often referred to as the "mother civilization" of the Americas, because so many other groups learned from their culture. They built temples on the tops of thier flat-topped pyramids. The people lived in villages and built huge stone carved faces, some as large as 20 tons, looked out over these villages.

Here is an article on the National Geographic for kids website that shows the discovery of 3000 year old Olmec writing. Can you figure out what it says?

"An ancient culture is getting new attention. Featured in the new National Treasure 2 movie, who were the so-called Olmec Indians of ancient Mexico? A very mysterious and advanced civilization, many believe that the Mayan calendar is really Olmec in origin. From pyramids to written language to sophisticated social structure and even ball games, the Olmecs were the mother culture of the Americas."

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Post NECAP Interviews

This week the class has been working hard on the NECAP tests. I am very proud of how much effort each student gave on these tests. The students I watched were using strategies, working slowly and carefully, and doing their best jobs at all times. Let's just say that the marathon testing sessions are over and it was good to see how seriously the fifth graders took this test. The class was very happy to be done with the NECAPs and just as thrilled that they get to do it again next year!

Some students were feeling a little bit dizzy when done.

No really, it was fun!!!

Read for the Record Day 2010

Today is Read for the Record Day and in classrooms across the country teachers are reading Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day.  You can view the book online. It's an old classic.

You can have it read in you in sign language

I think the best way you reaquaint fifth graders with the story is to view the story in a live-claymation video.
Maybe this will inspire some imaginations.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What a good looking class!

Here are our pictures from the first day of school. I wonder how much we will grow and change throughout the year? This video was made from a program called animoto. You can make 30 second videos like this for free on their website. Teachers can get a free educator's license here that lets you make an unlimited amount of animoto videos and the length is not restricted to 30 seconds. I will update this video with a few more photos once those students return their permission slips.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Red Wheelbarrow

Today I introduced the class to one of my favorite poems, "The Red Wheelbarrow" by William Carlos Williams. I made this animoto video to help make the poem come alive.

The class will be writing their own poems based on "The Red Wheelbarrow" and use Animoto to showcase their work. We will be doing it a little bit different than in previous years, but you can find some of my student's work and more information about "The Red Wheelbarrow" here and here.

Monday, October 4, 2010

NECAP Test Week: The 4-Square Method

This week is the NECAP test week for fifth grade students at New Searles Elementary School. Maybe this year (or even last year) you heard of a writing strategy that we call 4-square. We use it to organize and plan answers in our Scott-Foresman reading series as well as in other subjects. It is a simple strategy to use. I think it is a key strategy for writing better answers on the NECAP tests as well as a simple and proven way to improve test scores. You can read my post to parents last year "Think in Fours for Higher Test Scores" explaining the method here.

Inca Projects

A handout is going home today about choosing an Inca project to complete for a Social Studies unit. There are descriptions of the projects as well as items needed to complete the project in the handout. Please make your top three choices. For inspiration, here is a video showing the projects that my class made last year.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The class is thoroughly enjoying the book I am reading to them called, "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" by Brian Selznick. Here is how the book begins with a short introduction:

and then there are pages of pictures drawn by the author in a silent movie style format! Just like this:

Besides the wonderful myserious characters, we are introduced to magic, train crashes, the early days of film making, clock repair, and robotic figures called automatons. While the book is fictional, these events and historical pieces are real. We also learn that one character was a real historical figure.

We are nearing the conclusion of the story. On Friday we watched a copy of Georges Melies' "A Trip to the Moon" with  almost as much awe as Hugo's father would have had when he mentioned viewing the  movie to his son. Here is another version with a narrator reading from the actual script that Georges Meilias wrote to be read along with the film.

Here is a Scholastic quick video book talk.

Here is a post with links that I wrote last year about the book and another post with a few interesting videos that I made in 2009. I enjoy and learn more about the book each time that I read it.

Other resources:
Brian Selznick gives the inside story of "The Invention of Hugo Cabret."
Brian Selznick Answers Readers Questions Now someone has to look for those hidden initials!

Here is a photo of the Paris Train Crash at the Montparnasse train station in Paris, France in 1895.

The train crash is mentioned in "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" along with an illustration. Gare Montparnasse is the train station that comprises much of the setting for the story.

When my son, Andrew was a little guy, he loved "Thomas the Tank Engine". I haven't had to watch this show or  read the books, again and again, for many years, but I recall that this famous accident was the inspiration for one Thomas video, "A Better View for Gordon." If you don't want to watch the whole episode, you can scroll ahead to the 3:00 mark. Enjoy!

There are also a couple of real life replicas of the train wreck  in Brazil.

Here is a wonderfully creepy video of many different automata. Most of these automata were made in France in the middle years of the 1800's. As the video says, "They were a miracle of home entertainment. 3-dimentional movement before even 2-dimensional film had been invented."

It occurs to me as I watch this video and listen to the narrator say this, of automata, ""There hearts are not hearts, but clockwork springs. Their lungs not lungs, but leather bellows." that the automaton in the book is not the only character like this in the story. Hugo "fixes" the broken automaton, but he wanders through the station like an automaton himself fixing the clocks as this is his task in life. Hugo is a character who has suffered loss and has lost his heart and is in need of repair. The author often refers to the cogs and wheels in Hugo's head. Another character who has lost his "heart" and is going through the motions in the toy store is Papa Georges. As Hugo fixes the mysterious automata, he also unlocks clues to other mysteries that help him find his own heart as well as the heart of Papa Georges bringing both of these characters back to life. That is a fitting end to a story that brings many "lost" events back to our recollections.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Do dogs dream?

This week we are reading a story called "Faith and Eddie." Eddie is a dog as well as the narrator of the story. Faith is a girl, who is lonely in a new school. She plays with Eddie a lot and throws sticks for him to retrieve. Eddie loves the game. He was obsessed. He was dogged. Retrieving the stick was all he could think about. He loved playing fetch and was manic about playing. He would wait for hours by the door with a stick in his mouth waiting for Faith to come home so he could play fetch.

Eddie even went to sleep with a stick in his mouth just in case Faith woke up and wanted to play catch. Then he began having nightmares about playing fetch. The stick would avoid him when he tried to catch it or would never come down when Faith threw it up in the air. Poor Eddies dreams were ruining the fun of a simple doggy game.

So I asked the question to the class, "Do dogs dream?" Some of them had stories about what their dogs did in their sleep, but I think this video showing a dog named Biskit answers the question quite clearly.

Monday, September 13, 2010

21st Century Classrooms at New Searles Elementary School

The students and teachers at New Searles Elementary School are fortunate and privileged to be awarded this technology grant. (Nashua Telegraph article here)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Magic Squares

Today the class did a little work with Magic Squares in math class and the students became really interested in these puzzles that were a favorite of Benjamin Franklin.

 Here is a famous piece of art by the 16th century German artist and mathametician Albrecht D├╝rer. It is called Melancholia I and also shows an 8-faced solid and a jumble of scientific instruments surrounding two angels deep in sadness or thought. Can you find the magic square? It was created by Durer in 1514. Do you see how he included the date on the magic square?

You will find a bunch of magic square puzzles to solve on these printable pages.
Here is a bit on the history of Magic Squares.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Fifth Grade Picnic

Have a fantastic summer!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Field Day was a Blast!

Here are three Animoto videos showing the fun that was had during field day.

This video shows the water relay, which was wet! It uses the Animoto new style called "water".

This video uses the Animoto "air" style and shows a variety of field day activities.

Here is the obstacle course, which was everyone's favorite.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

American Independence Museum

Here is an Animoto video of our field trip to the American Independence Museum in Exeter, New Hampshire. Unfortunately, you cannot take photos inside the museum.

Field Trip to the Lowell Mills

Here is an animoto video of our field trip to the Lowell Mills.

Million Dollar Projects

If you had a million dollars, how would you spend the money. Our class spent $28,000,000!