Mr Weis’ Classroom Blog

November 24, 2008

Monday, the penultimate day before vacation

Filed under: Uncategorized — mrweis @ 6:27 pm

Today we were quite lucky to have Lucy’s father, David Rosenthal, prior teacher at BAM, published poet, current teacher with OUSD, and recipient of far too many appositives in this sentence, visit our class to teach a lesson on poetry.  Students explored the sonic qualities of poetry and delved into multiple patterns of making connections as they exercised their language muscles.  He will be returning tomorrow for another appearance as he focuses on some specific strategies for creating awe-inspiring haikus.

In Mathematics, students took a cumulative test on Unit 3.  I brought home the stack to grade and will hopefully have them finished by tomorrow.

Tomorrow we will be doing some work in social studies on learning about primary sources as we delve into the myths and realities of the history of Thanksgiving and connect material to our current studies about the Age of Exploration.


  1. Reading: read for 20 minutes and create your own 1 day log.  Make sure to include the title of the book, author, pages read, and a method of showing your comprehension.  You may use a method we have used in class (summary, time line, connections, predictions, questions, visualization) or get creative and create your own.

Mr. Weis


November 20, 2008

Thursday, Check-up day

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 3:57 pm


Today we had both a Vision Screening and a Dental Screening for the students. The students were very well behaved during both, and kept themselves busy with reading, word puzzles and quizzles. Although such events break up the academic time, we all know that good health is often a necessary precursor to good learning.

In class students worked through a peer revision of their Color Poems. We used a frame to set up the basic structure of the poem and then worked on revising by changing the order and layout and by adding alliteration, sensory adjectives and prepositional phrases. Some students began their final drafts or may be bringing their drafts home to type tonight.

In mathematics we spent some time with the homework from last night and the second problem that involved some algebraic representations of the patterns between the number of sides on a polygon, the number of triangles that can be drawn inside the polygon, and the total number of degrees in a polygon. We worked through the problem and found several different ways to come to an algebraic expression. Tomorrow we will work through a Unit study guide and on Monday we will have a test covering data tables, angles, triangles, and polygons.

A special thank you goes out to all the parents who contributed to the Teacher Appreciation Luncheon. What a tasty and thoroughly appreciated meal!


  1. Language Arts: (optional) Work on Final Draft of color poem.
  2. Mathematics: Practice Set 21
  4. Homework log: Get homework log signed by parent.

Mr. Weis

November 19, 2008

Bonzer mate, a fair dinkum audience today

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 4:58 pm
Tags: ,


(That means “great job friend, a genuinely good audience today” in Australian slang.  Australian is one of our vocabulary words this week, so I thought I would throw in a little flavor from down under into the blog today.  Many of the students acted as a very respectful audience during both poetry reading and science power point presentations today.)

Today rushed by quite quickly.  Students finished presenting their poems that they brought in and we worked on our first drafts of our color poems.  In mathematics we reviewed the homework and how to use what we know about right angles, adjacent and opposite angles to find a missing internal angle in a polygon without using a protractor.  We also discussed finding the total amount of degrees in an internal angle by dividing a shape into triangles.  Here is a description of the process that we used. Tonight for homework, students will complete a chart and identify a pattern between the number of sides and the amount of internal degrees in a polygon.


  1. Language Arts:  Write a short story with the 6 vocabulary words we are studying this week.  Students are also allowed to write a poem as long as the lines of the poem show that they understand what the word means and how it can be used.
  2. Mathematics:  Page 94, angle measures in polygons.
  3. Reading:  Read for 20 minutes and fill out pink reading log.

Mr. Weis

November 18, 2008

Cartogrpahical Conundrums

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 5:24 pm

Today in school we embarked on our journey of learning about the Age of Exploration. We examined several very old maps from the 1480s up to the 1600s and compared the information on those maps with the maps in modern atlases. We posed questions and identified problems with each map and then thought about what insights into the minds of explorers each map gives us. It is quite interesting to see what geography was known and recorded at the time. Click on the name of each map to find out more information about it.

Ptolymey’s World Map 1482


The Cantino Map 1502


The Caverio Map 1505


Waldseemüller World Map 1507


We also spent some time to give students a chance to share poetry with the class. Thank you very much to all those who shared, from those who read short comedic pieces, to those who wrote their own, or even in one case sang. Today was the day the Introduction to Poetry Packet was due, and unfortunately despite check-ins and lots of notice, a number of students did not complete the entire assignment. In the future, please encourage students to keep up with projects. Students had 6 days to complete 3 assignments, and space to schedule their work on the packet. It is important that students learn to manage their time and plan their work, especially in preparation for Jr. High when there will not be as much structure or support.

Tonight students have vocabulary homework with the words for this week using the suffixes -ian, -ist, -or, and -er. The 6 words we are focusing on are: guardian, finalist, specialist, decorator, believer, and Australian. If you see words with those suffixes in books, magazines or articles that you are reading, make sure to share them with your children.


  1. Language Arts: Vivid Vocabulary word lists. Copy words from the word sort and write additional words with the matching suffixes.
  2. Mathematics: Study Link Page 69
  3. Reading: Read for 20 minutes and fill out the pink reading log.

Mr. Weis

November 17, 2008

Tesselations, Hailstones and Halibut Bones

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 4:00 pm
Tags: , ,


Welcome back to school and finally a normal week sandwiched in between all these short weeks. Today we spent some time reading a book of poetry called Hailstones and Halibut Bones by Mary O’Neill. The poems in the book incorporate metaphors, similes and personification all in conjunction with different colors. We began writing today by writing similes connecting sensory experiences with colors. We then used the poems in the book as inspiration and expanded our lists. Tomorrow students will get a chance to begin writing their own poems, elaborating on their similes, and adding more figurative language.

In math today we spent some time practicing measuring internal angles in polygons. Students were given a chance to create their own irregular polygon and measure the angles. Irregular polygons are polygons with different sized sides as opposed to regular polygons which have sides of the same length. Students then summed up the totals of the internal angles of their shapes, and we will chart the total number of degrees in internal angles of polygons on a large number line tomorrow.

After science we took some time to blend in our current study of polygons and angles with Tessellations in an art project. Over the next week and a half, students will get a chance to learn how to create three different forms of tessellations, all along the way exploring the application of what we are learning about angles in our geometry lessons.

During a brief lesson on the history of tessellations, we looked at the etymology and the history of the word tessellation. Etymology is the study of words including their history of use across multiple languages and over time and their roots and cognates. Have you ever wondered where a word came from? Dictionaries will often have some information, but a great online resource to check is The Online Etymology Dictionary where you can find more information about words like tessellate. Add it to your bookmarks today!


  1. Language Arts: Finish Poetry Packet – Interview, Poetry memoir (including pre-writing, rough draft and final draft), and Preparation to read a poem to the class tomorrow.
  2. Math: Practice Set #20
  3. Reading: Read for 20 minutes and fill out pink Reading Log.

Mr. Weis

November 13, 2008

Making Connections and Identifying Polygons

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 5:26 pm


In Language Arts today we spent a little time working on building a library of graphic organizer templates. Students created templates of timelines, story maps, cluster webs and comic strips. As the year continues, their collection of templates will grow with each new planning organizer. Students are expected to use one of the organizers we discussed today or to create their own planning organizer to begin their memoir on poetry due next Tuesday. I will be checking their progress on the three poetry assignments tomorrow in the morning.

We also spent some time using a new graphic organizer to help record connections to literature. Making connections between what we read and ourselves, other books and the world around us can help us to better comprehend what we read. On the new version of the Reading Log, students are able to make the choice between a connection, clarification or question. If they write a connection, please make sure they explain the part of the book and the connection to self, text or world.

In Mathematics, we spent some time reviewing the last quiz and how to label angles. We also began some work with polygons. Students prepared supplies for a game called Polygon Capture. The game involves matching clues about the sides and angles of polygons to pictures of polygons. For homework tonight, students will play the game with a friend or family member. If you need a quick review on concepts related to polygons, look back a couple posts to find information on different types of angles, or click here for information on polygons and on parallel lines.

Did you know that video games use polygons to make graphics appear 3 dimensional? Follow this link to learn more about how polygons are used by video game designers.

Tomorrow is our field trip to Cal to go see the Womens’ Basketball season opener. Make sure that students bring a sack lunch and comfortable walking shoes. Also, please do not bring any money, as we will not be stopping to buy food or merchandise at the game. Thanks.


  1. Language Arts: Continue working on Poetry Packet. Bring in work so far to show progress.
  2. Mathematics: Play Polygon Capture with a friend, sibling or adult and get a signature.
  3. Reading: Read for 20 minutes and write an entry in the pink reading log. Get the log signed by a parent and bring it in.

Mr. Weis

November 12, 2008

Don’t know what to measure to make a congruent triangle? Try the angles.

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 5:07 pm


It was great to be back after such an extended weekend and have such a pleasant morning. We had our busy, busy Wednesday schedule today, complete with P.E. and Science. In P.E. students ran the mile again, with some students showing some real improvement in effort over last week. In Science students have been working with the laptops to create power point presentations about Solubility, Evaporation and Absorption. Did you know that Ms. Green, the science teacher, has a blog too? You can check it out at

In the classroom we worked on finishing up our headline poems. They will soon be on display in the hallway to adorn the rather sad looking and barren walls. I also passed out a homework packet today to work us into the poetry writing unit. As part of the packet, students are responsible for completing 3 assignments including an interview, a memoir, and preparation for sharing a poem to the class. The entire packet with all 3 assignments is due Tuesday, November 17th, and I will be checking progress on Friday. Make sure that students are creating a plan to work on a part of the packet each day and that they are keeping up with it. Let’s all help build good work habits and do our best to make certain the terrible beast of procrastination is kept at bay.

In mathematics today we discussed congruent shapes and different kinds of triangles. We learned about equilateral triangles, isosceles triangles and scalene triangles. Here is a website with definitions of the three types of triangles, information about the roots of the words we use to name the different kinds of triangles, and a neat web application that allows you to make your own triangles. We also spent a little time today talking about congruent triangles and angles and how to create a congruent shape with a protractor and a ruler.

In an exciting turn of events, we are going to be foregoing our usual Friday afternoon plans to attend the opening Womens’ basketball game of the season at Cal. After lunch we will take a walk over to the campus to eat lunch and then attend the game. Free posters and other goodies will be available, so there is no need to bring any money. Please send children with a sack lunch. If it is not possible to arrange for a sack lunch, let me know and lunch will be provided.  Also, we have a couple spots still open for chaperons, so if you would like to come along, just let me know as soon as possible.


  1. Language Arts: Begin Poetry Packet (Due Tuesday November 18)
  2. Mathematics: Page 61 Angles and Triangles Review
  3. Reading: Read for 20 minutes and complete an entry on your pink reading log.
  4. Other: Bring back a signed permission slip for the field trip on Friday.

Mr. Weis

November 6, 2008

Late Night Angle Update

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 8:08 pm


Another long evening of conferences, but I wanted to quickly chime in on what’s going on.  Today we had an emergency bus evacuation drill, but I’m happy to report that all students quickly and safely evacuated the imaginary bus accident.  Also today, we began our new poetry writing unit with Headline Poems.  Students spent some time cutting out headlines and words they found in yesterday’s paper to use to craft their own poems.

In math today, we spent some time discussing Opposite and Adjacent Angles.  Students learned how to figure out the size of the four angles formed by two intersecting line segments after only measuring one of them.  We discussed how two angles are adjacent if they are next to each other and that they are Opposite or Vertical if they are directly opposite of each other.

Tomorrow will be the final day of regularly scheduled conferences.  If you still need to schedule a conference please send a note or give me a call letting me know what alternative arrangements might work for you.


  1. Language Arts:  Comparatives, Superlatives and suffixes page.
  2. Mathematics:  Page 59 Angles in Figures  (For problems 1,2 and 3 students may measure the angles if they have access to a protractor at home, or they may estimate measurement of the angles if they do not.)
  3. Reading:  Read for 20 minutes and fill out pink reading log.  Please make sure that students completely fill out all the sections on the reading logs before you sign them tonight.

Mr. Weis

November 5, 2008

All the news that’s fit to blog

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 6:34 pm


There was a great energy in the classroom today, with many of the students quite enthusiastic about the presidential election results. It really is something special to see students so engaged with what is going on around them politically. To funnel that enthusiasm towards learning today, I brought a large stack of newspapers into the classroom. (I actually had to go to 4 stores to get enough copies, it seems that more people than usual were interested in reading about such a historic occasion.) We spent a little time acquainting ourselves with the newspaper format and layout, and then the students got an opportunity to peruse several sections and read some articles pertaining to the different people and issues from the election yesterday. I’m working on getting copies of the newspaper more often to keep students updated on current events, so you can soon look forward to having them come home with smudgy newspaper ink on their fingers and critical thoughts about current events on their minds.


  1. Language Arts: Vocabulary identification and story. Students will identify words as comparatives or superlatives and then write a story with six vocabulary words in it.
  2. Mathematics: Study Link page 57 – Angle Measures
  3. Reading: Read for 20 minutes and write in your pink reading log.

Mr. Weis

November 4, 2008

Election Day

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 7:02 pm
Tags: ,


I just finished my last conference and am running out the door to go vote, so I will keep it short and sweet. In vocabulary we spent some time discussing the differences between superlatives and comparatives. In reading, we worked in reciprocal teaching groups and read an article about the elusive Bigfoot. In mathematics, we got our feet wet with protractors and students made some great connections and reached some good levels of understanding about vertexes, angles and degrees.

In the afternoon we spent some time discussing the election process and exploring the rather odd workings of the electoral college. The only homework I gave tonight was for students to spend some time having a discussion with an adult about the election. Feel free to share as much or as little about your personal political opinions, but please take some time to at least have a discussion about your feelings about voting and elections. I believe it is our civic duty to pass on to young people our thoughts and experiences, both positive and negative, about how democracy is put into action in this country and how the process has personally affected us (again both in positive and negative ways.) I’d encourage students to check out multiple news sources, TV, Internet, Radio and Print to learn about the election results and get a comprehensive view of the process. Thanks!


  1. Have a discussion about voting and the election with an adult and get a signature.
  2. Read for 20 minutes and write in your pink reading log.

Mr. Weis

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