Mr Weis’ Classroom Blog

February 26, 2009

A Quick Reminder

Filed under: Announcements — mrweis @ 7:45 am


Sorry I didn’t get a blog entry up yesterday.  I was busy at school helping with the performance last night.

Here’s what you need to know about tonight, in short and sweet bullet points:

  • Dance dress rehearsal is today at 1:30pm.
  • Students should wear a tank top and shorts underneath their school clothes. (This is so they can quickly change into the dance costumes.)
  • The performance begins at 6:30pm tonight.
  • Students should get to school at 6:15pm and come to the classroom to get dressed.

I hope to see you all there!

Mr. Weis


February 24, 2009

Green Folders Ahoy

Filed under: Uncategorized — mrweis @ 10:28 pm


Today all students should have come home with a green folder filled with materials for you to look at.  In an effort to better connect stray papers that are sent home with you, the parents, I am sending special green folders home every Tuesday.   Keep your eye out for a green folder with a “bring back” and “keep at home” section.   You will find an assortment of assessments, class assignments, and notices.  This week you will find a copy of a response to literature essay along with all the draft work, a social studies assignment, a set of writing goals that each student came up with for him or herself, spring picture notices, a flier about BAM Jam donations (Thanks Vicki!), and a pink letter from me about several events going on at school.  You may also find a graded literature circle project or a reading quiz in some students’ folders.  Please take a look through the folder, keep the items in the “keep at home” section, and send back the others.  I would like to have some items returned so I can add them to portfolios for each student.  Folders are expected to be returned by Thursday, so please send them back as soon as you are finished.


In vocabulary today we spent some time working with homophones.  Homophones are words that are pronounced the same, but have different meanings.  Our vocabulary words this week are made up of pairs of homophones.  For homework tonight, students will sort the words into pairs and then come up with their own list of homophones.  For more info on homophones, check out this homophone online dictionary.


  1. Language Arts: Literature Circle Groups – Reading and Job Sheet.
  2. Mathematics: page 161 – Subtracting Negatives.
  3. Other: Vocabulary Sort.
  4. Reading: Read for 20 minutes and fill out pink reading log.

Mr. Weis

February 23, 2009

Calabash squashes, Chad, cats, and a new art project

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 7:00 pm


On Friday we began a new series of art lessons based on Chadian calabash engraving.  A calabash is a large squash that can be harvested for food, decoration or utilitarian uses.  In the country of Chad, the squashes are left to mature to large sizes, dried out and then decorated through a process of carving and burning.  The designs on the squash are mostly geometric, but can also incorporate figures and animals from stories.

We started out by reading the book Calabash Cat by James Rumford.  The book is filled with illustrations that mimic the styles found on calabash engravings.  After giving special attention to the different patterns and values created in the illustrations in the book, we practiced drawing different line patterns that are common in the geometric designs engraved on calabash.


Taking inspiration from the book, students began illustrating their own calabash animals today.  They started with a bold outline and then began incorporating different patterns and symbols into their illustrations.  When we finish the illustrations, you can look forward to seeing them on the blog.  There are some really neat pieces in the works!

In other news, we spend some time rewinding and reteaching a method for reading and analyzing newspaper articles.  Students read articles from a variety of sections and then worked in groups to draw out and share important information.  Tonight for homework, they will fill out a new note-taking sheet that we will use with our next current events activity.


  1. Language Arts: Literature Circle Groups Reading and job sheet –  Wringer, Library Card, and Dark is Rising,
  2. Other: Current Events – Newspaper article read and fill out Newspaper Article Notes sheet.

Mr. Weis

February 22, 2009

Puppet Supply Donations Wanted

Filed under: Announcements — mrweis @ 3:47 pm


In the coming weeks the class will begin working on play writing as well as puppetry.  In preparation for building the puppets, I’m asking families to search through their craft and miscellaneous cupboards and boxes for extra materials that they may no longer need.  Donations of any of the following will be greatly appreciated and put to good use:

1. Fabric Scraps (All materials and sizes, but large pieces are best)

2. Cardboard Toilet Paper Tubes

3. Craft accessories: googly eyes, beads, buttons, little puff balls, pipe cleaners, etc.

4. Old glue guns, glue gun refill sticks

5. Acrylic paint

6. Sculpey clay

If you have any of the above laying around and could contribute it to the class, it would be fantastic.  Thanks!

Mr. Weis

February 18, 2009

Response(mine) to Response(theirs) to Response to Literature

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 6:31 pm


The students responded to literature today in their writing assessment.  An initial sampling of their responses to having to respond proved to be quite positive, with many students feeling comfortable with the response to literature genre.  My response to their response was also positive, and it felt good to hear many of them feeling accomplished.  After spending a couple hours going through all their essays this afternoon, I shall respond again by recognizing that many of them put forth some spectacular effort in their compositions and their hard work really showed.  (Sorry to cause any confusion with all the talk of responses, but when you get down to it, teaching and learning both are often ongoing feedback loops of responses between the subject matter, students, and teachers.)

Other than responding to literature, the students had P.E. this morning.  In the coming weeks, we will have the state physical fitness testing.  Please make sure that students are getting good rest and coming to school on Wednesdays dressed ready to be physically active.

In Math we did some more work with adding positive and negative integers, and we practiced applying both numberline and zero pair models.  We then briefly went over the 2nd Trimester Study Guide.  I made up a packet for students to use tonight as an answer guide and resource as they try to figure out how to do the problems they missed.  I also passed out an outline for students to use to categorize the types of problems on the test.  Students are expected to categorize the problems into concept areas such as “simplifying fractions, adding decimals, and finding fraction-decimal-percent equivalents.  After categorizing the problems, students will identify which concept areas to direct their studying towards.  This should help them organize their final review in class and at home tomorrow before we have the District Assessment of Friday.


  1. Language Arts: Vocabulary – Choose 2 worksheet. Students brought their vocabulary dictionary rings home today and will pick pairs of past vocabulary words to write with as they create their own sentences.
  2. Mathematics:  Correct missed problems on Study Guide.  Categorize problems on Study Guide Review sheet.
  3. Reading: read for 20 minutes and fill out pink reading log.

Mr. Weis

February 17, 2009

You’ve got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative…

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 6:29 pm

latch on to affirmative, don’t mess with Mister In-between…or rather, maybe we should mess with Mister In-Between and figure out what happens when we combine positive and negative integers.

Today in class, we worked with adding positive and negative integers.  We used several different models to help illustrate what really goes on in the math problems.  First, we used a numberline and plotted both positive and negative numbers.  Then we showed what happens on the numberline with math equations.


Check out this link to get an idea of what we did, and this link at Funbrain to play a little game with a numberline.


Next, we used counters to create “zero pairs.”  This can be a very helpful model for students to use to get the idea of what is actually happening when negative and positive numbers are added together.  Check out the link at NRICH Mathematics and watch these two videos to see it in action.

In writing we spent some time working on another Response to Literature Essay.  Tomorrow we will have the District Writing Assessment, so make sure students come well rested and ready to read and write.  Good luck all!

In Social Studies, we began our unit studying the early  European Colonies in North America.  We began some research that we then used to start building our classroom wiki.  You are welcome to browse around our wiki at the moment, but please keep in mind that it is a work in progress and is just starting out.  As we go on through the year, students will take an active role in building an entire wiki site as a compendium of our knowledge.  This is just the second week of experimenting with the wiki.  I’ll let you know when we start getting some substantial updates to it.


  1. Mathematics: End of Trimester Study Guide.  Do the problems and be ready to discuss problems and concepts in our review tomorrow.
  2. Mathematics: Negative Numbers Study Link page.
  3. Reading: Read for 20 minutes and fill out pink reading log.

Mr. Weis

February 11, 2009

Pondering Podcast Predicaments

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 5:47 pm

Well, I’ve probably spent close to 5 hours in total trying to get the Age of Exploration rap podcast up here.  It turns out I ran into a whole host of problems, from not being able to see the chapter markers, to issues with the m4a enhanced track format, converting to m4v, and then again to an MPEG4 file.  Then I had issues with uploading and tried to get it up as a viewable video using  The current streaming video for some reason lost some of the images and is out of sync.  You can still watch it but to see the product closest to what the students intended, click the link to the M4V for your computer or the M4A for the Ipod.  It has been quite an ordeal, and at the moment I still can’t get a video file embedded the right way.  So, here is what I can do right now and stay on the lookout for future updates.

Here is an embedded link through Google Video. (Streaming video, but we can’t view it through the filter at school.)

Here is a link to see the streaming video at teachertube. (We can watch videos on teachertube at school.)


Here is a link to download the original M4A file.  (When played in an ipod, the pictures should show up if you have an ipod with a screen.  Just download the file into your itunes library and then put it onto the ipod.)

M4A File

Here is a link to the podcast as an M4V file.  This will open up as a video slideshow. You can view it using itunes or quicktime.

M4V File

That’s all I have time for tonight.  Over this 4 day weekend I have plans to work on our class wiki as well as to upload some images of student work into the blog.  Stay tuned!

Also, I will be giving a few minutes at the very end of the day for passing out Valentine’s Day cards. As is the usual school norm, students will only be allowed to pass out their cards if they have one for everyone. There are now 26 students in our class. Here is a link to a class list if you want to write names on the cards.


  1. Language Arts: Finish final draft of The Dunes response essay if it has not already been completed.
  2. Mathematics: Order of Operations Worksheet.
  3. Other: Vocabulary crossword puzzle.

February 9, 2009

Go Google Googol or a Googolplex

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 8:30 pm
Tags: ,


Welcome to Monday and a new week, albeit another short one.  We started the week off with our Monday Current Events reading with the newspaper.  Students spent some time perusing the Chronicle and identifying articles they were interested in.  We discussed the page numbering system and how to follow parts of an article from one page to another, and then students focused on one article and filled out an information sheet.  We then had some sharing and learned about everything from last night’s Grammy Awards to the personal account of the airline captain who safely flew the flight a couple weeks ago into the Hudson River.

In writing, students continued their work on Response to Literature essays.  We are containing to focus on organization and navigating a response path that includes elements of summary, opinion, and supporting quotations.  Some students should be finishing their first draft of a new piece for homework today.

In mathematics we explored exponents and more specifically powers of 10 and scientific notation.  As part of our work, we created charts of different “names” for 10, 100, and 1000.  For example, the number 1,000 can be renamed as 10 x 100, 20 x 50, 200 x 5, 2000 x 0.5, 0.1 x 10,000, or many other ways.  We discussed the shifting powers of 10, and then spent some time learning different prefixes and their corresponding powers of 10 (including milli- from our vocabulary word millimeter and its power of 10^-3).


In the middle of our discussion I brought up googols.  Although these days “google” has taken on a very different meaning.  Long before it was the name of a website, google was only known as a googol and probably most often thrown around my mathematicians and quiz show afficionados.  Did you know that it is presumed that there is not a googol of any known object in the universe.  Take a guess as to what it means and then follow the link or just google googol on your own.  Also, check out the following video to get an explanation by Carl Sagan about googols and the even more elusive googolplex.

One note on the Social Studies podcast and rap.  I had a few more pictures to add from one of the student groups, but the final product should definitely be up by tomorrow.  Apologies for the delay.


  1. Mathematics: Pages 147 and 149 – powers of 10 and scientific notation.
  2. Language Arts: Vivid Vocabulary sheet with new vocab words, Finish Draft of Response to The Dunes.
  3. Reading: Read for 20 minutes and fill out page in the brand new Pink Reading Log Notebooks!

Mr. Weis

February 5, 2009

A sopping, sodden, soggy, and saturated Thursday

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 7:08 pm
Tags: ,

As much of an inconvenience as the rain can be, especially for cycling commuters like myself, I still am greatly enjoying having a rainy day today, especially after reading this article last week.

Today we had a very packed academic morning with a final review of vocabulary words, reading group meetings, and working with a new graphic organizer for our response to literature writing.  We are currently focusing on identifying and incorporating more direct examples from text to support our response claims in our essays.  After all that, the rain dissipated enough to afford the students the pleasure of only a slightly soused recess. We then had our Unit 5 math test and some early finishers tried their hands at Strimko puzzles.  Strimkos are logic puzzles that follow a similar premise as sudoku but incorporate a little more variation.  You can check them out at the official website here.


Following all that, we added the digital images to our podcast, which should finally be completed and up on the site this weekend.  Now that the students have become familiar with podcasts and have worked through the process, there are going to be some new opportunities coming for them to make their own.  Within the next couple weeks you will begin to see podcast book reports, so stay tuned.

(Here is a sneak peak at the podcast in progress using the program Garageband)


Speaking of technology, also forthcoming are some Wiki projects.  Wikis, like the website wikipedia, are collaboratively written webpages or collections of webpages. Wikis allow many users to access, modify, and add to the webpage content using an easy to use interface and markup langauge.  We will begin our first Wiki project tomorrow, and I will be modeling how to build and edit a Wiki site using our current read aloud book.  It should be a fun project, and as we move on in the year students will get to work on their own collaborative wiki projects.


  1. Language Arts: Study for Vocabulary quiz – etymology, thermal, geology, stethoscope, millimeter, diameter.
  2. Reading: Read for 20 minutes and fill out pink reading log.

Mr. Weis

February 4, 2009


Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 6:11 pm

Today we spent some time going over our roots (logy, geo, therm, scope, and meter) and our words of the week (etymology, geology, thermal, millimeter, diameter, and stethoscope).  The students shared some of the additional words that they came up with and we looked for how they connected to the meanings of the roots.

In P.E. the students have been doing some endurance work with different kinds of sprints to help prepare for the Physical Fitness Testing.  They have also been playing soccer.

For Mathematics today we had a classwide review of all the concepts that will be covered on the Unit 5 test tomorrow.  Students took notes of the different types of problems dealing with fractions, decimals, and percents.  For homework tonight they were advised to bring some of their notes in their math notebooks, their fraction gathering journals, and their reference book home.  Good luck studying!


  1. Language Arts: Literature Circle Groups – The group reading Wringer has job sheets, and the group reading Witch Child should be working on their final project which is due on Monday.
  2. Mathematics: Study for Unit 5 test.
  3. Other: Vocabulary Crossword puzzle.  You can find the puzzle here.
  4. Reading: Read for 20 minutes and fill out pink reading log.

Mr. Weis

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