Mr Weis’ Classroom Blog

January 29, 2009

Tomorrow Will be the Cat’s Pajamas…

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 5:02 pm


if we can get some great participation on our spirit day.  (Cat’s Pajamas Mr. Weis?  What on earth do felines in sleepwear have to do with anything?  Check here to find out more about the 18th century English Tailor E.B. Katz, as well as a plethora of other cat related phrases and idioms.)

Don’t forget that tomorrow is our first school spirit day of the year.  The newly formed student council planned it to be Pajama Day.  So, just roll out of bed tomorrow and come to school in your warm PJs if you have some.  Make sure to wear or bring athletic shoes to use for dance in the afternoon, and please leave any large stuffed animals at home.

Today in school we read an excerpt from Sandra Cisneros’ book The House on Mango St.  In the excerpt, the character Esperanza muses about the origins of her name and about her family history.  Students did a quickwrite about their own names, their family histories, or about the writing in the passage that they read.  Do you have any interesting stories to tell your children about the history of their name, your name, or another family member’s name?  Have a discussion with them tonight or this weekend if you get the chance.  Tomorrow we will work on dissecting the excerpt a little and we will formulate a frame to write a formal response.  The district writing assessment will take place in the third week of February, and we are working on planning and organizing response to literature essays.

7710488178_orig 7710488149_orig


In Mathematics we finished learning about the history of fractions.  We then jumped into using percents and we compared them with decimals and fractions.  We created a class numberline made up of monogram designs by each student along with labels of the decimal, fraction, and percent ratios of the squares that they used to create their design.  We will continue with percents for the next couple days and then will move on to work with exponents and negative integers.

In Social Studies we continued our groundwork to help build a base of prior knowledge so that we can read newspaper articles dealing with the economic crisis.  Tomorrow we will finish up this current events interlude in Social Studies, and next week we will begin our work learning about the early American Colonies and the Revolutionary War.


  1. Language Arts: Lit Circle Groups – Groups should either be reading and filling out job sheets, or they should be working on their project.  Projects for students in the Witch at Blackbird Pond group and the 13th Floor group will be due on Tuesday, February 3rd.
  2. Mathematics: Fractions, Decimals, and Percents Worksheet page 107.
  3. Read for 20 minutes and fill out pink reading log.

Mr. Weis


January 27, 2009

Fractio, Uncia, and the History of Fractions

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 5:37 pm


Today in class we spent some time in math working on gathering journals. A gathering journal is a journal made with paper folded so that it makes a book with little pockets on each page. Students worked on completing little study notecards on topics including: anatomy of a fraction, fraction equalities, improper and proper fractions, simplifying fractions, adding fractions, and converting fractions to decimals. Some students may be completing their journal pages tonight for homework. Make sure that they have a completed explanation on one side of the card and an example on the other side.

I told the students that tonight I would be updating the blog with some interesting information on the history of fractions. Did you know that the mathematical concepts and representations we use today draw from work done by the Ancient Egyptians, Romans, Babylonians, Indians, and Arabs? Follow this link to read a very interesting summary of the mathematical work that led up to modern fraction concepts and representation methods. Take special note of the ways that people represented different types of quantities. Tomorrow in class we will briefly go over the article and students who have read the information on the website will be able to help with some explanations and problem solving.

Several literature circle groups will soon be finishing their books. They will work on final projects for a few days and then will pick new books. If you are interested in reading a book along with your child and possibly coming in to sit with their group once a week, keep your eyes open for a volunteer handout this week. Reading groups most often meet on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday in the morning from around 10:05 to 10:30.

In Social Studies today we began a current events study on the Economic Crisis in the United States. Students began working with some basic vocabulary that will help them to better understand future newspaper articles that we will be reading.

In other news, don’t forget that Longfellow Middle School is having a special event for potential students for next year. If you’d like to go check out Longfellow and all they have to offer, head on over to the Longfellow campus tonight at 7 pm.


  1. Language Arts: Lit. Circle groups – read and fill out job sheet
  2. Mathematics: Finish Gathering Journal first 6 pages.
  3. Reading: Read for 20 minutes and fill out pink reading log.

Mr. Weis

January 26, 2009

Library tomorrow

Filed under: Uncategorized — mrweis @ 9:56 pm


I hope you all had a lovely weekend.  Just a quick reminder that we will be going to the library tomorrow.  Please send back any library books from home.  Thanks.

Mr. Weis

January 21, 2009


Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 6:14 pm


Have you ever decifractated a fraction?  You probably have, but most likely you didn’t use that word to describe the process.  The Decifractator is a little web application that converts fractions into decimals.  It can be useful for playing with equivalent fractions and looking for links between fractions and decimals.  I found it along with a number of other really neat Flash based math apps on a website for a school called Ambleside across the Atlantic over in Cambria in the UK.  I’ll forgive them for referring to Mathematics as “maths” and for spelling colour with that superfluous U because they have an absolutely amazing website.  It looks like the school has a strong focus on computer work and programming, and there are many examples of both student and teacher created applications.  Take a look at their Math page here. If you have children of other ages, take a look and see what else they have to offer, it’s all pretty fun stuff.

In other news today, we elected our class representatives.  Thanks to all those that ran.  It was a very close race and all of the candidates were highly qualified.  However, there was only space for 3, so our classroom representatives will be Sachi, Shay, and Maria.  Congratulations to the three of you.  Don’t forget about the special Thursday meeting tomorrow after school from 3:30 to 4:30.

I had a parent come in this morning and ask about Middle School preference forms.  I’m still learning the ropes about the process, but I investigated the matter and found that the forms are to be submitted to the Admissions Office at 1835 Allston Way by Friday, February 6th.  If you have any questions, you can ring them at 644-6504.  Also, some students and faculty from Longfellow will be visiting BAM on Friday from 9:30 to 10:10 to present to the fifth graders at BAM.  If you’d like to come and listen parents are welcome, although the presentation will be geared towards the kids.

Homework today:

  1. Mathematics: study link 103 – decimals to mixed number fractions.  For an added component, create a corresponding column for a simplified fraction and an improper fraction to the table.
  2. Reading: read for 20 minutes and fill out pink reading log.
  3. Other: (Some students who had been absent – finish rough draft of resolution essay)

Mr. Weis

January 20, 2009


Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 8:55 pm
Tags: ,


“On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.”

It sure felt special today to sit in that auditorium with the entire school and watch the inauguration together.  I hope the event was memorable for everyone.  Thanks to the parents who helped out setting things up and thanks to Danya and Chloe for making the great buttons for the class.

Today went really quickly with the inauguration, the field trip to see the National Acrobats of China and instrumental music in the afternoon.  During the time between lunch and instrumental music we finished up the video “At the River I Stand.” For some more information on the Memphis Sanitation Worker strike and King’s involvement, check out this video.  On Friday we had watched half the video and discussed some connections between Martin Luther King’s vision of civil rights and labor movements.  As we finished the video, we made connections between King’s Mountaintop speech and the events of today.  It’s really quite a remarkable speech.  Check out the full text and video of it here.


  1. Writing: Tonight for homework, each student will write a rough draft of a letter to our new President.  In the letter they will get a chance to voice their opinion of what they would like the President to work on as he takes office. We will work on revising the letters and then send them to the White House.
  2. Reading: read for 20 minutes and fill out reading log.

Mr. Weis

January 14, 2009

Some very unfortunate news

Filed under: Uncategorized — mrweis @ 6:08 pm

At the end of the day today, in the time period when students come back from science and pack up before they leave, a 4 Gigabyte USB Flash Drive disappeared from my desk. The flash drive belongs to Miss Klein and she had lent it to me to help her print some papers out for the upcoming Student Council. I had loaded some documents onto my computer and printed them for her, and then removed the drive and placed it next to my computer.

I keep going through my steps again, and again, trying to figure out if somehow I had picked it up myself and put it somewhere. I have spent the last hour and a half looking all around the room hoping that it would turn up somewhere. The more I look, the more the unsettling possibility creeps in that a student stole it. I place a lot of trust in all the students and have a hard time imagining anyone stealing something from me. Sure, there have been a few highlighters and scissors that aren’t turning up, but I recognize that sometimes things get misplaced, maybe accidentally mixed into a book or a backpack. I really can’t figure out how this flash drive could have disappeared accidentally. This comes after the school’s video camera was stolen prior to winter vacation and after the library’s new computers were stolen after vacation. It saddens me that any person, young or old, would steal from a school. I’m wishing and hoping that tomorrow morning the drive will reappear, or someone will come forward and reveal that it accidentally got shuffled in with some papers or a folder. I have great faith in people to do the right thing, and I expect nothing less from the students in my class.

To parents: please check through your child’s belongings tonight and see if you find a small black USB Flash Drive. The drive is of little use for students, but is full of a couple years worth of papers, articles, and educational resources that Miss Klein has stored on it.

I am willing to forgive and move on, I hope that whoever may have made a mistake is willing to come forward, or simply give the flash drive back anonymously.


  1. Language Arts: Lit Circle groups – Reading for the day and job sheet. Vocabulary – Crossword puzzle.
  2. Mathematics: Simplifying Fractions worksheet (Optional Challenge problem on back.
  3. Other: Read for 20 minutes and write in reading log.

January 13, 2009

Tuesday, January 13

Filed under: Uncategorized — mrweis @ 6:45 pm

Today we reviewed the four roots for the vocabulary this week, found their definitions and associated them with some of the words.  In reading students worked in their small reading groups.  Please make sure that your child is doing their reading each night to be prepared for their group discussion.  Yesterday several students did not complete their reading and were not able to fully participate in their group discussions.

In math we discussed different types of fractions and worked on strategies for finding equivalent fractions.  We also did some review on addition with fractions.  Follow the link to a site with a virtual manipulative that visually shows equivalent fractions in squares and circles with their corresponding values on a number line.


  1. Language Arts: Lit Circle Groups – Read the assigned section for today and fill out job sheet.
  2. Mathematics: 2 sided worksheet – Fraction Stick Chart and Equivalent Fractions pages.
  3. Reading: Read for 20 minutes and fill out pink reading log.

Mr. Weis

January 12, 2009

Welcome to the week

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 4:47 pm

Today in class we started out with our new vocabulary of the week.  This week’s words highlight the use of the Greek roots phono, tele, graph, and photo. As the students wrote out their words today, they discovered that some of the words had 2 different roots in them (telegraph, phonograph, telephone, etc.)  We got into a brief conversation about the difference between the terms prefix and root as the students identified the placement and use of some of the roots.

In Reading we did a Current Events activity (I think this is going to be a regular thing to do on Monday since reading groups do not read over the weekends.)  We read an article from today’s Chronicle about the weekend meetings held by BART regarding the New Year’s shooting.  We had a serious and positive discussion last week about the shooting itself, the aftermath, the protests, and student feelings about the whole matter.  It seemed helpful for students to have an outlet to express some of their feelings on the matter and ask questions about some important issues.  I was proud of how mature they all were in our discussion and of the sensitivity and respect they showed each other.  The article today helped give an update of what is going on, and we also used our reading to focus on the Literary Luminary reading comprehension job task.  As we read, students pulled out lines in the article that seemed important and inspired some kind of emotional response, whether it be confusion, anger, fear, joy, frustration, or something else.  Tonight, the students in Lit. Circle groups will fill out a Literary Luminary page on their reading.

In Math we continued our work on fractions and spent some time identifying equivalent fractions and fraction measurements and magnitudes on a ruler.  On another note, over the weekend I located a set of online activities like the one I was looking for last week.  On the web page, students are given different shapes that represent different whole values of 1.  They are then given a secondary shape and are directed to find the value of the area of that shape in relation to the given whole.  Follow this link to the main webpage, and follow the links at the top of the page to activities that get progressively more difficult.  Also, follow this link to open up a java applet with virtual pattern block manipulatives.

We continued to work on our Age of Exploration raps and some students began syncing up their lyrics to record onto an audio track using the computer.  A special thank you goes out to Tate and Carina for helping to explain some of the components and processes used for making musical tracks and recording them in the program Garageband.


  1. Language Arts: Vivid Vocabulary Worksheet, Lit Circle Groups – read the next section of your group books and fill out the Literary Luminary page.
  2. Mathematics: Fractions – Study Link Page 97
  3. Reading: Read for 20 minutes and fill out pink reading log. (This can be Lit. Circle reading)
  4. Other: Finish rough draft of New Years Resolutions writing.
  5. Other: Bring back signed copy of the Unit 4 Math test if you did not bring it back today.  (All students were given their Unit 4 test to take home on Friday and have signed by a parent or guardian.  On each test there is a notecard highlighting concept areas that were performed well and areas needing review.  Please look over the test and card and send it back signed.  Thanks!)

Mr. Weis

January 8, 2009

Parts, wholes, and ratios

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 6:01 pm


Today in math we used different pattern block manipulatives to experiment with shifting the value of the whole in fraction problems.  I went online to look for a similar type of virtual manipulative game and unfortunately didn’t find anything exactly like what we were doing.  However, I did stumble upon an easy to use math problem simulator that focuses on ratio word problems.  You can check it out by following the link to  Thinking Blocks.

I fiddled with the interface for a while and think that it offers a good variety of problems to meet a wide range of skill levels.  Also, the built-in system of using manipulatives and the scaffolds that order the steps you take can be helpful to develop a useful pattern to solve ratio word problems.  Additionally, the activity has a very clear tutorial and offers advice about what errors are being made and how to fix them.  So if your child is finishing up their math homework quickly and is looking for a challenge, hop on over to Thinking Blocks Solving Ratio Word Problems.  If one set of problems seems too easy, navigate through the different ones.  Some of the advanced ones really require you to think carefully and organize all the data into complex relationships.  Also, for the algebraically inclined, work on writing out algebraic relationships and check them at the end.

Also, I’d just like to take a moment to say thanks to all the kids.  To be honest, sometimes it can all get pretty overwhelming at a first year job.  I’m often one of the last ones out at night, I come in on the weekends, and overall really put in a great deal of my time and effort in developing things for the class.  Coming back from a vacation can be a difficult transition, but this week I have really appreciated seeing students enjoying learning, finding challenges, and appreciating working with each other.  I realize things don’t always work out perfectly, but we are all learning through our struggles, whether they may be keeping organized, memorizing our spelling or math facts, finding new ways to challenge ourselves, or working with others.  I’ve really had a great time coming back this week, and every day I’m finding lots of joy in the smiles I see.  To all those who have made something positive out of their learning this past week, a heartfelt thanks goes out to you. Take care.


  1. Language Arts: Literature Circle Groups – Read and fill out job sheet, be ready for a quiz on your book tomorrow.
  2. Language Arts: Vocabulary sentences or story.  Focus words: monotonous, trilogy, biennial, bilingual, monologue.
  3. Mathematics: Fraction and Mixed Number Practice, Page 95
  4. Read for 20 minutes and fill out reading log. (OK to use Lit circle reading.)
  5. Other: Bring back signed homework and reading log.

Mr. Weis

January 7, 2009

If a biannual series of events occurs biennially, how many times will it occur in 2/5 of a decade?

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 10:37 pm

Sound confusing?  Just remember that an event that is biannual happens two times a year, while something that occurs biennially happens every other year.  2/5 of a decade is four years.  When you break things down from the circumlocutious title I chose today, you get an event that occurs twice a year, every other year, for a total period of four years, meaning it will occur four times in that time period. This week one of our vocabulary words is biennial, which began a conversation in class today about the difference between biennial and biannual.

In Vocabulary we spent some time going over the words monotonous, trilogy, and biennial.  Tomorrow we will finish up reviewing the final 3 focus words of the week.  While we were talking about the word trilogy, we began a conversation about what a series of stories with other amounts is called.  I asked students to take a look and see if they could find any out tonight.  I did a little research and didn’t come to any really comprehensive information.  I did find some references to groups of four being called both quadrilogies and tetralogies, with tetralogy being considered the more proper term because of its Greek root.  Anyone know about any other terms?  Please share if you do.


  1. Language Arts: Lit. Circle groups – read section in book and fill out Connector page.
  2. Mathematics: Practice Set 29 (front and back)
  3. Reading: Read for 20 minutes and fill out pink reading log.

Mr. Weis

Next Page »

Blog at