Mr Weis’ Classroom Blog

December 18, 2008


Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 9:28 pm

Not much to say at the moment.  Today we wrapped up Unit 4 in math and had our last reading group meeting before vacation.  We spent a little time prepping for the poetry reading tomorrow at the brunch.  Tomorrow will be a pretty laid back day, with the primary goal of  keeping everything mellow and fun.  Don’t forget to send brunch items with the kids for our potluck.

Also, there’s a bad flu going around so take precautions.  Make sure that your families are getting lots of rest and washing their hands plenty.  Stay healthy.


  1. Reading:  Read for 20 minutes and return the completed, signed reading log.
  2. Language Arts: Vocabulary test tomorrow on: athlete, athletic, type, typical, breathe, breath, revise, revision
  3. Come with an item for the brunch, and a healthy appetite for devouring delicious food and lyrical verses.

Mr. Weis


December 17, 2008

Are you waiting with baited breath for the vacation?

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 6:16 pm


In Language Arts students continued to work in their reading groups and used the passages they found in their books last night to guide their discussions. Tonight, some students have the Word Wizard job (identifying and clarifying vocabulary,) and other students have a Connector job (identifying text to text, text to self, and text to world connections.) Tomorrow will be our last day in reading groups before the break, so most students will have to wait with bated breath (that’s right, bated, not baited. To find out why, follow the link, and take a moment to check out the wonderful Grammarphobia Blog,) while on vacation to find out what will happen next in their books.

In Mathematics we had a review session on Unit 4 and students worked on completing a review packet. The Unit 4 test will be tomorrow and will cover: long division, solving for variables in open number sentences, division with decimals, word problems, and map scales. Make sure students are studying and practicing the types of problems in the study guide. I sent home an answer key with some explanations in case they get stuck.

We got back a couple more fliers for the brunch on Friday. I passed out some more copies of the fliers to several students who said they had lost them. Please return the flier with an rsvp and information about what type of food you can bring. As of right now, it looks like healthy drinks, utensils and sides (fruit would be a great,) are all in demand.


  1. Language Arts: Reading group work – read the assigned section in your book and do your job sheet.
  2. Language Arts: Vocabulary story or sentences with this week’s words.
  3. Mathematics: Use the study guide to study for the Unit 4 test.
  4. Reading: Read for 20 minutes and fill out pink reading log.
  5. Other: Bring back RSVP slips for Potluck Brunch on Friday.

Mr. Weis

December 16, 2008

A Chilly Post on a Three Dog Night

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 9:40 pm
Tags: ,


Did you ever wonder about the origin of the idiom three dog night?  Check out the entry on idiomsite.

Today we began to work specifically with our words of the week and made vocabulary cards for breathe, breath, athlete and athletic.  In addition to discussing the different pronunciations and vowel patterns, we also took special care to make sure that our definitions, sentences, synonyms and antonyms all connected to the correct part of speech. Some students had a little difficulty with this.

In reading groups today, the students discussed their books and began to work with the Literary Luminary job.  Most students have homework tonight to fill out a Literary Luminary Job Page to prepare them for their groups tomorrow.  The Literary Luminary job involves shedding some light (get it? 🙂 ) on specific passages from the book.  The passages may be taken from dialogue or narration, and should be picked while the student is doing their daily reading.  Passages can highlight important, confusing, intriguing, comical, frightening, descriptive, awe-inspiring, archaic-sounding, or any other type of passage which elicits some form of a response on the part of the reader.

In Mathematics we worked with a game called First to 100.  Students brought home their game cards and are supposed to teach the game to an adult and play a few rounds.  Although some of the cards in the game are a bit tricky, the most important concept of the game is that of big idea of how substitution of values of variables builds into algebraic reasoning.  I hope you enjoy playing.

In Social Studies students began some research on various topics connected to the Age of Exploration.  I created a rhythm track with the program Garageband and an acoompanying lyrical verse in the form of a rap.  Students will incorporate their research into their own verses and we will put them together to create a hip-hop podcast about the Age of Exploration.  As some of you may have heard, I got a BPEF grant for technology resources for pod-casts.  As we move through the year, the students will get a chance to collaborate and create their own pod-casts.  It should make for some fun learning.

One other note, if you have not heard yet, we are going to have a potluck brunch on Friday morning from 10 to 11.  Parents and siblings are invited to come bring some food and enjoy spending some time together before the vacation.  Vicky Simon (Tate’s mom) is helping to organize it.  If you have not sent back a slip about the potluck to RSVP, please make sure to do so as soon as possible.  Thanks.


  1. Language Arts: Reading groups –  read your section in the book, and complete the Literary Luminary Page.
  2. Mathematics: Play First to 100 game.  (Some students – Division practice worksheet)
  3. Reading: Read for 20 minutes and fill out pink reading log.

Mr. Weis

PS Here are a couple links for kids to check out for fun in their spare time:

  • Funbrain – a large resource of games, some educational, some not.
  • Brainpop – A site with some great educational flash videos.  They have a paid subscription service, but they also have a nice selection of free videos.

December 15, 2008

If N = the number of school days left until vacation… Or … Welcome to Pre-Algrebra

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 5:35 pm

What is the value of 20 x N? (answer at the end of the blog)

As we embark further into the world of algebra, here is a comic to enjoy.


Today in mathematics, we spent a little more time with some pre-algebra work with variables. We solved 2 step variable problems by first calculating the value of a variable by performing a simple operation, and then plugging that value into an expression to get a final answer. Students did a great job applying some of the mental math strategies we have discussed as we solved some problems. The students also began prepping supplies for a new math game they will be playing tomorrow. On Wednesday, we will have a review session and on Thursday we will have the Unit test for chapter 4. Some students will receive extra division practice over the next couple days to help them prepare.

Do you have children sitting around saying I’m bored? If so, keep an eye on the blog this week. I’ll be posting links to different games and activities that they can do online that will reinforce work that we are doing in class. Today I’ll provide 2 math links. The first one is to a simple find the variable math game. The game requires students to quickly work out multiplication problems and then solve for a variable with the results. Here it is, see how high a score you can get. The second link leads to a series of math puzzles wrapped up in a quirky science fiction story. The site is titled Absurd Math and the problems build on pre-algebra skills. Make sure to click on the different characters and objects to get all the clues.

In reading, students began their new historical fiction books today. Some groups will begin to have nightly reading and homework for their book, while other groups are doing more in-class work at this point in time. Students may count reading their Literature Circle books towards their nightly reading on their reading log.

This week our vocabulary words are focused on pairs of similar words with short and long vowel sounds. We will be looking into the effects of different suffixes on vowel pattern sounds.


  1. Language Arts: Vocabulary long and short vowel worksheet.
  2. Reading: Read for 20 minutes and fill out independent reading log.
  3. Other: (Literature circle groups) Read section 1 of your book and prepare Discussion Director page.

Mr. Weis

(N = number of school days left = 4. 20 x 4 = 80. The solution is 80)

December 11, 2008

What’s the opposite of Thursday?

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 3:40 pm
Tags: ,


If you were writing a diamante poem, you would have to decide on an opposite of Thursday. Maybe it would it be Tuesday, the day two days after the weekend? Or maybe it would it be Saturday, since Thursday is the day before the last day of the work week, and Saturday is the day before the last day of the weekend. Maybe it wouldn’t even be a day at all. In a Diamante, two oppposites are compared and contrasted in a shape poem that resembles a diamond. Although Thursday may not be the easiest example, it is sometimes fun to try to figure out opposites of things that we ordinarily do not think of as having an opposite.

Today in class, the students continued to work on typing up and illustrating their limericks. When not working on the computer, they began working on a draft of a diamante. For more information on diamantes, follow this link.

In mathematics we spent some time working with our new scientific calculators. We just recently received our shipment of new calculators and the students spent some time today working out squares, and learning how to calculate different exponential values of a number.

Some of the reading groups are moving into historical fiction literature circles. Today they began acquainting themselves with the core roles that they will take on in the literature circle groups. Tomorrow they will present mini-posters to the rest of their groups as they teach each other about specific jobs.


  1. Language Arts: Finish draft of diamante poem.
  2. Mathematics: Page 87 – Variables
  3. Reading: Read for 20 minutes, fill out and return signed reading log.
  4. Other: Study for Vocab quiz – signature, designate, muscle, column, hasten, bomb.
  5. Return Signed and completed homework log.

December 10, 2008

Good Wodensday to you

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 7:29 pm
Tags: ,


Did you know that the word Wednesday has roots of its etymology that date back to the Norse god Odin?  After the Roman emperor Constantine set a 7 day calendar with names based on Roman gods, some of the names were changed by Germanic tribes.  Among those changed was Diēs Mercuriī, or Mercury’s Day, to Wodensday.  If you speak Spanish you will notice the similarity of the Roman name to Miercoles.  Many students in the class are quite enthusiastic about learning Mythology, and might be interested to check out a brief explanation of the English names for the days of the week on Encyclopedia Mythica.

Today the students continued on their Limericks and began working on illustrations while I conferenced with individual students to help with revisions.  After we finish the limericks, we will be putting the poems together in a collection, and each student will get a copy to keep.

In Mathematics, we worked through some word problems involving long division.  We rewrote problems as open number sentences with variables, created graphical representations of the problems, applied division algorithms to find solutions, and then interpreted the remainder in relation to its meaning in the actual problem.  For homework tonight, students will evaluate two more problems.  Please make sure they follow each step and show their work on an additional paper or on the back.


  1. Language Arts: Vocabulary Sentences/ Stories with 6 words from the week’s vocabulary list.  Focus on silent and sounded consonants.
  2. Mathematics: Study Link  – Division Number Stories with Remainders.
  3. Reading: Read for 20 minutes and write in Pink Reading Log.

Mr. Weis

December 9, 2008

Beware the luminous Chorah!

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 4:33 pm


Today in class we continued our study of limericks by reading some selections from a book of limericks called The Woozlebeasts.  The book is a collection of poems written about pretend creatures. It was written by John Prentiss Benson and published in 1905.  You can see the book scanned in its entirety if you follow this link. Limericks can be pretty fun to read and are helping the children both read and write with meter and rhyme in mind.

In Mathematics we are headed right in the thick of long division.  Please take care to make sure your children are spending some time and working carefully through the homework problems. You will notice that there is generally not much space on the homework sheets, so if another paper is used to show the work, please send it in with the homework.  Having all the work helps greatly in trying to identify the origins of any mathematical triumphs or travails.  If they are having difficulty, I recommend working with the partial quotient algorithm.

Web page update: If you look to the right on this page, you will see a section of tag words.  Tags are used to identify the subjects in each post.  If you click on one of the words to the right, it will take you to the pages that I tagged with those words.  For instance, if you want to find information about the partial quotient division algorithm, look for the word algorithms in the tags section.  Click on it, and the other posts I made on it, complete with links with more details, can be found.


  1. Language Arts: Vocabulary: Pick 6 words from the sounded/ silent consonants word list and fill out all the information for them.
  2. Mathematics: Sills Link page 83 – Division with decimals.  Please attach all work.
  3. Reading: Read for 20 minutes and write in pink log.

Mr. Weis

December 8, 2008

Bon voyage Saba!

Filed under: Uncategorized — mrweis @ 8:58 pm
Tags: ,


It is with a heavy heart that we bid a fond adieu to Saba today.  Saba and her family are leaving tomorrow to return to living in Pakistan.  We wish Saba’s whole family all the best.  It is a good moment to reflect on how  fortunate we are to live in such a diverse place as Berkeley and to be able to  have our children benefit from being part of such a unique and vibrant community.  Take care Saba!  We will miss you.

In Mathematics today we spent a little time converting measurements on maps to real-world distances using different map scales.  Students may write about a map from home tonight and explain the scale of the map for enrichment.

Math Test retakes and Vocabulary Tests were passed out today.  Make sure students are showing them to you.


  1. Language Arts:  Vocabulary: Silent/ Sounded Consonants Worksheet
  2. Mathematics: Page 79 : Map Scales
  3. Reading: Read for 20 minutes and fill out pink reading log.
  4. Other: (Some students) Finish rough draft of limerick, be ready for a peer review tomorrow.

Mr. Weis

December 4, 2008


Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 11:20 pm

Not much out of the ordinary happened today.  Students reviewed this week’s vocabulary by reading each others’ vocabulary stories.  They then met in their reading groups and continued to work though a reading guide highlighting the comprehension srategies we have discussed this year (predicting, clarifying, questioning, summarizing, and making connections.)  When they finish the story they are currently reading, they will move on to a historical fiction novel that will connect to our next Social Studies unit on the early American colonies.

In writing we discussed limericks more, and had a pleasant surprise when Maria brought in Nonsense Verse by Edward Lear.  Today’s lesson focused on analyzing and diagramming limericks by Edward Lear and several of the Lear poems we discussed were from that book.  Thanks for bringing the book in, and I encourage others to send in books to share as well if they connect to what we are studying.

In Mathematics we continued to work with the parital quotient division algorithm.  Several students’ eyes lit up as they finally seemed to get it.  Some others are still working to gain a grasp on the algorithm.  We will continue to offer some practice through revisiting the concept throughout the year. It can never hurt to have another algorithm tool on one’s mathematical utility belt.

In Social Studies we have been learning about the Age of Exploration.  Following our study of some primary source maps, we continued on to focus on some journal writings and oral histories, and then watched a video on the origins and impacts of the Spanish and Portuguese exploration to the Americas.  We have also stopped along the way to identify earlier explorers such as Marco Polo, the Vikings, and Zheng He (thought by some to have sailed to the Americas in 1421, seventy years before Columbus.)  The students have been quite inquisitive and their questions and involvement in discussions and classwork helps me to incorporate their interests into my teaching, something that I value a great deal and that benefits all of our learning.

Tomorrow there will be a retake of the Unit 3 Math Test for those who want to try to improve their score.  Thanks to those students who attended the Lunchtime Review session today.  I appreciate your commitment to your learning.  Good luck tomorrow.


  1. Language Arts: Finish Limerick Practice packet.  Make sure your limerick creation has the proper rhythm and rhyme scheme.
  2. Mathematics: Practice Set 24.  Show your work on the back of the page or on additional paper.
  3. Other: Study for vocabulary quiz, math test retake.
  4. Reading: Read for 20 minutes, fill out pink reading log, get it signed and bring it back to school.
  5. Homework Log: Have a parent sign the completed homework log and bring it back to school.

Mr. Weis

PS Saba’s father Imdad is coming in tomorrow to give a presentation about Pakistan.  If any parents would like to pop in to listen and watch, you are welcome to do so.  He will be presenting from 9:30 to 10:15.  Thanks Imdad!

December 3, 2008

Long Division Algorithm Decisions

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 4:51 pm

Is there another way?

Happy Wednesday to everyone.

Today I spent the first part of the morning at Emerson Elementary to observe and collaborate a bit with some 5th grade teachers there. I got some wonderful new ideas that I’ll be working on putting into action and communicating to the 5th grade team here. We had a substitute come in up until recess, and I got a glowing report back from him. Thanks to all the students who did their part to help out with the routines we have in place.

In Mathematics today we applied some of the ideas and concepts we have been talking about over the past couple days to a new division algorithm. The algorithm is called the partial quotients division algorithm and can be a pretty powerful tool for making estimations, doing mental calculations, and for just doing long division. I’m sure that many adults remember horror stories from learning long division. If you know that your child has difficulty with Long Division or is prone to making little mistakes in their calculations, make sure that they spend some time getting comfortable with the partial quotients algorithm. Here is a link to a website that goes through all the algorithms in Everyday Math, and here is a direct link to a quick explanation and example of the partial quotient algorithm. Also, here is one more site I found that has examples of different algorithms and short videos showing someone doing a problem. I hope those help. I know this algorithm will be new to many parents, but it will be well worth your time to spend a few minutes to acquaint yourself with it so that you can better understand what your children are doing, talk to them about mathematics strategies, and help them when they need it.


  1. Language Arts: Vocabulary Story – Write a story with the six vocabulary words of the week ( classify, straighten, beautify, lengthen, visualize, and analyze)
  2. Mathematics: Page 77 Division – Use the partial quotients algorithm to solve the division problems. Show your work on the back of the page.
  3. Social Studies: (some students) Finish Social Studies Page: Columbus Wasn’t the First.

Mr. Weis

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at