Mr Weis’ Classroom Blog

May 31, 2009

Field Trip Reminder

Filed under: Uncategorized — mrweis @ 10:25 am

I apologize for not updating the blog much over the past couple weeks.  I have been swamped with end of the year preparations, assessments, and meetings, and I just haven’t had the time.  I wanted to post this weekend as a reminder about our bike field trip tomorrow through Cycles of Change.

On Monday, Cycles of Change with be visiting our school to lead a fun day of bicycle safety education for our class.  They will provide a bicycle for every child to ride to help all students get some experience.  We will be involved in the program for the entire day and will be taking a short ride to have a picnic lunch.  Here are a few things to remember:

  • All students will need to ride geared bikes with handbrakes that have passed a safety inspection.   If your child decides to bring a bike, but it does not meet the requirements, they will be provided with another one for the day.
  • Please bring a bag lunch for our picnic.
  • Wear close-toed shoes and comfortable clothing.

If you have any questions, just send me an email.  Thanks!

Mr. Weis


May 26, 2009

Memorial Musings

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 7:50 pm

Today, after the final three day weekend of the school year, we spent some time discussing the history and relevance of the holiday yesterday.  Did you know that the Memorial Day holiday actually dates back to the time of the Civil War?  In 1868, as per an order by General John A. Logan, Decoration Day, as it was originally called, was declared as a day of remembrance for soldiers who had died in the Civil War.   In a statement known as Order Number 11, he stated,

The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

Initially, the holiday was observed more in Northern States, but over time, and especially after World War I, Decoration Day became a more common tradition around the entire United States.  Memorial was officially declared a national holiday in 1971 through an act by Congress.

In class today we discussed some of the history around the holiday, watched a short video, and then read and shared out about different elements of Memorial Day, including important dates, famous symbols, alternative holidays, and protests associated with the day.  We also read several poems expressing very different emotions about the holiday, soldiers, and war from thankfulness, to sadness, to anger.  I encourage students to take a look at the rest of the poems relating to Memorial Day that we did not have the time to read in class.  They will be available to read for the rest of the week.

We also reflected on some numbers of casualties from wars and conflicts that the United States has been involved in. They truly are staggering.  Students shared some personal connections with Memorial Day and the ways that people remember, or call attention to those who die in war.  Follow the links to read more about the  history of Memorial Day or the history of Memorial Day in Waterloo, New York.

Or watch the following video from the History Channel for a brief overview:

In Writing, students continued to work on their persuasive essays, and most of them worked through a peer revision.  Tomorrow we will have the District Assessment on persuasive essays.  Make sure to get good rest tonight!

In Mathematics, students continued working on their Geometric Solid Cities.  In their cities, they folded centimeter grid paper into rectangular prisms and pyramids and then wrote down the properties of each shape, highlighting information such as the number of faces, vertices, edges, the volume, and the surface area.  I left my camera at home today, but I will try to get some shots up tomorrow.

In Art, we finished up some watercolor landscapes and began work on puppet play scenery backgrounds.  We discussed some about the use of color pallettes to create or support a specific mood, and then the students got to work sketching and starting to paint.


  1. Mathematics: Practice Set 65
  2. Reading: Read for 20 minutes and fill out weekly reading log.
  3. Other: Talk with a family member about Memorial Day and share what you learned in class.

Mr. Weis

May 20, 2009

A persuasive piece of chocolate

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 7:41 pm
Tags: ,


Over the past week, we have been working on our new writing genre, persuasive essays.  To start things out, we read some persuasive essays about why there should or should not be zoos.  Then we collaboratively acquainted ourselves with some new graphic organizers and interactively wrote an essay about why chocolate is not a candy.  The students really got into the topic and each contributed sentences towards our final essay.  Here it is in its entirety, with a small disclaimer.

Warning, the following essay may be used to try to persuade a parent or adult to allow a child to eat copious amounts of chocolate.  The best response would probably be to write your own counter essay.  Make sure to use a clear five paragraph structure, three reasons, and supporting details. Best of luck to you 🙂

Has anyone ever told you that you are not allowed to eat chocolate because it is a candy? If you think Chocolate is as bad as candy, think again. Chocolate is actually very different from candy despite the fact that it is often called it. Chocolate is not a candy because it does not fit the definition, it is healthy, and it is natural.

Some people might ask, “Why is chocolate not a candy?” and first I would tell them, just look it up. First of all, the definition of candy does not include chocolate. This is because the definition of candy clearly includes “boiling down syrup,” which is not used in chocolate. Also, the definition of chocolate is entirely different from candy. According to Webster’s Dictionary, chocolate is, “a food prepared from ground, roasted cocao beans.”

Unlike candy, chocolate can be healthy and beneficial to the body. Chocolate can help you live longer. According to a Harvard University study, men who ate chocolate lived one year longer than those who didn’t. Candy can also give you cavities, but chocolate can actually prevent them. Cacao contains antibacterial agents that can even fight tooth decay.

While candy is an artificial food substance, chocolate is fabulously natural. Chocolate is so natural that you could even say it grows on trees. Chocolate is made from cacao beans that are taken from the cacao tree that grows in Central and South America. Additionally, how could chocolate possibly be considered artificial when people have been eating it for thousands of years? The Aztec people, an ancient civilization from Central America, ate and drank chocolate.

In summary, chocolate is not a candy for 3 different reasons: first, it does not fit the definition, second it is a healthy food, and third, it is natural. Some people might say that chocolate is a candy because it has sugar in it. However, fruit has sugar in it too, and no one would ever call fruit a candy. So next time someone tells you “No Candy,” just pull out some chocolate instead, and if they question you, just explain all the reasons why chocolate is, without a doubt, not candy.

One other note: tomorrow the students will perform their end of the year instrumental music concert.  Both the band and the string orchestra will play a selection of pieces for the enjoyment of the whole school.  It would be great to see some parents too if possible.  The concert will begin at 2:00pm in the auditorium.


  1. Language Arts: Complete at least first two paragraphs of persuasive essay.
  2. Mathematics: Review practice test and prepare for the final district assessment tomorrow.
  3. Other: Continue working on Vocabulary packet.
  4. Reading: Read for 20 minutes and fill out pink reading log.

Mr. Weis

May 19, 2009

Early American Anachronisms

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 9:01 pm

Welcome back to school.  I hope everyone had an enjoyable and restful 3-day weekend and got to spend some time outside in the gorgeous weather.

We will still have a regular vocabulary list this week although I eliminated one of the pages from the vocabulary packet.  The roots this week are gen, mort, and bio.  The focus words are: genre, progeny, generic, mortician, immortal, mortgage, biodegradable, and amphibious. The students got a good start on the packet in class today, so I do not foresee any difficulties in completing it by Friday.

In writing, students began the pre-writing for their own persuasive essays.  We came up with a list of 8 possible subjects and then each student formulated an argument and began planning out the reasons and supporting details to use in their essay.  Tonight for homework they will work on filling out the more detailed graphic organizer and plan at least 2 paragraphs of their essay.

In Mathematics, we worked through a practice test for the end of the year District Assessment on Thursday.  The greatest area of need seemed to revolve around computations involving division.  We will finish up a second review packet and do our final review tomorrow.

In Art, the students began work on some watercolor landscapes and incorporated some crayon relief for lines and boundaries.  They will finish up any work on their landscapes and begin on their scenery backgrounds next week.

In Social Studies today, I added a twist to the reading when I typed up four paragraphs about some different events that brought the colonies together around the time of the Revolutionary War.  As students read through information about the Albany Congress, the Committees of Correspondence, and the First and Second Continental Congresses, they were given an additional challenge of locating a historical anachronism.  As the students learned today, the word anachronism comes from the roots ana, meaning against, and chrono, meaning time.  An anachronism is something that is not in the correct time period.  The most well known anachronisms are usually in books or movies and might involve a character singing a song that haden’t been released yet, or wearing a digital watch in the Old West.  Although we just started the activity before the end of the day, the students seemed to have a great time as they searched through the information.  For those who are interested in reading more about anachronisms in movies,  I’d like to suggest the book Past Imperfect: History According to the Movies. You can read the first 31 pages through google books, including a very scholarly interview with director John Sayles and an essay on Jurassic Park by Stephen Gould.

past imperfect

You can also check out a list of 10 historically inaccurate movies on the site How Stuff Works.   Unfortunately both of these resources are written at more of an adult level and are about movies that few of the children have probably seen, but if you do find yourself watching a movie on a historical subject with your family, I’d suggest to watch out for possible anachronisms and let me know if you find any.


  1. Language Arts: Begin pre-writing graphic organizer for persuasive essay. (First 2 paragraphs)
  2. Mathematics: Complete 2 pages of practice test.
  3. Other: Work on vocabulary packet. (Due Friday)
  4. Reading: Read for 20 minutes and fill out pink reading log.

May 12, 2009

Revolutionary Art

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 10:53 pm

As I mentioned yesterday, we spent some time in class looking at political cartoons from the time period right before the Revolutionary War.  My blog post today will elaborate more on the topic and what we looked at in class.

Prior to the Revolutionary war, as tensions grew between the colonists and loyalists, art emerged as an tool for rallying support on both sides.  After the Boston Massacre, Paul Revere’s famous print of soldiers firing on innocent civilians caught the attention of colonists and inflamed anger towards the British.  In class we studied several different pieces of art that were created to stir emotions, whether sympathy, anger, or sometimes a bit of humor at the tense relationship between the colonies and Britain.

As we looked at them in class, we payed special attention to the symbols that were used and how they reflected actual historical events and the sentiments of the colonists.   Here are several of the prints we examined in class.


The Wise Men of Gotham and their Goose

Published by Humphrey Gerrard on Frb. 16, 1776 in the Street Soho.

As you look at the cartoon, pay special attention to what the goose and its eggs could symbolize, as well as what the dog in the bottom left corner is doing on the map of the American colonies.

the colonies reduced

“The Colonies Reduced.”

By Benjamin Franklin, 1767 and published in Great Britain.

One thing in class that we talked about was how important it is to think about what the audience is, and how this impacts how the subject matter is taken into consideration. This print was made for the British to warn them of what might happen to Britain if the colonies should separate.

The repeal or the funeral

“The Repeal, or the funeral of Miss Ame- Stamp”

By  Benjamin Wilson, March 18,1766

If you look carefully, you will see one of the people in the funeral procession carrying a piece of paper.  Looking at the title of the print, what do think the paper is, and who do you think the funeral is for?

pennsylvania advisor

Masthead of the Pennsylvania Journal and Weekly Advisor

Publisher: William Bradford, October 31, 1765

The above newspaper was published the day before the Stamp Act went into affect.  The words around the skull and crossbones version of the stamp read, “An emblem of the effects of the STAMP – O! the fatal stamp.”

skull stamp

Here is another version of a skull and crossbones version of the stamp.

You can click on the first three illustrations to take a look at the websites where I found them.  The bottom two both came from the Library of Congress website that I mentioned yesterday.

Students are currently working on creating their own historical political cartoons.  I’ll post them on the blog when they are ready.


  1. Language Arts: Fill out paragraph 4 graphic organizer for Chocolate persuasive essay.
  2. Math: Study Link on labeling geometric solids.  Optional page on truncated polyhedra.
  3. Other: Continue to work on vocabulary packet.

Mr. Weis

May 11, 2009

Polyhedra and Politically Poignant Pictures

Filed under: Uncategorized — mrweis @ 7:09 pm
Tags: , ,

In looking at the calendar today I was amazed by the fact that this is the very last week of the year that is a compeltely ordinary Monday through Friday week.  We have Monday off for the next two weeks and are then down to the final two weeks in which will have field trips and promotion activities.  Wow, we really have to make each second count!

For vocabulary this week, our roots all have to do with the elements.  They are terra, aer, astr/aster, and hydra/hydro.  Students are invited to try to find the meanings of the roots tonight by deducing a meaning from the words in the word list.  If they are having difficulty, they can check this website from Michigan State University which has a pretty good list of Latin and Greek Roots, their meanings, and some sample words with the roots. There is an option for a printer friendly version that students could print out and put in their binder, or students could go to this website and get an even more concise list that could easily keep as a reference page.

In Mathematics, we mixed in a little bit of art in the form of both drawing and sculpture.  First we did some step by step drawings of geometric solids in 3d.  While we drew, we focused on using foreshortening techniques to make the drawn objects look 3d.  After that, students were given one of 5 different patterns for a 3-dimensional geometric solid.  Upon completing their objects, we learned about the vocabulary terms prism, pyramid, and polyhedron.  You can learn about those terms as well as many others at a Maths Dictionary. (For those unfamiliar with the term Maths with an S, most English-speaking countries outside of North America use the word to refer to Mathematics.)  This is possibly my favourite (get it?) dictionary that I have found this year.  It has an easy to use interface, lots of pictures and graphical examples, nd plenty of little interactive activities.  I highly encourage you to use it for not only students in my class, but for other kids as well.


In Social Studies today we looked at some political cartoons from the time period right before the civil war.  We identified symbols and connected the images with historical people, events, and opinions of the time.  I will go into more detail and provide some links tomorrow, but for today, students are encouraged to explore the archives at the Library of Congress website.  Follow this link and take a gander.  This is a great resource for projects for students of all ages, so I encourage you to bookmark it.  Sometimes it can take a bit of searching to find exactly what you are looking for, but persistence can really pay off.

prints and photographs


  1. Social Studies: Join or Die worksheet.  Also, please sketch or brainstorm an idea for your own historically accurate political cartoon from the time period of the Revolutionary War on the back.
  2. Mathematics: Page 245 First try to guess if the shapes will make rectangular prisms, then try cutting them out second.
  3. Other: Finish Vocabulary Sort
  4. Reading: Read for 20 minutes and fill out pink reading log.

Mr. Weis

May 7, 2009


Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 6:57 pm
Tags: ,

Today we had our third day of puberty education.  We will have the final lesson tomorrow.  Students will bring home their workbook on Friday, so if you would like to get a better look at exactly what they were learning, ask to take a look at the workbook when they get home.

In reading we began a new Reader’s Theater play that is based on the true events of the Boston Massacre.  We were able to exercise our dramatic reading muscles while we learned of the tyranny of the King and Parliament through the eyes of the colonists.  On a side note, the play had the term lobsterback, which I subsequently found out was not actually used in the Revolutionary War time period,  You can check out some background on the term lobsterback as well as lots of other info on the Revolutionary War on a really well-written blog called Boston 1775.  The writing is definitely more adult level, but just in looking back over the past several weeks I found some pretty interesting and well documented entries.  If you are a US history buff, I strongly encourage you to check it out.

Boston 1775

In writing we dissected a persuasive essay and identified specific writing strategies the author used to make the argument more convincing.  We did some interactive writing and made a chart of these strategies and then chose our first topic to write a persuasive essay on together.

In mathematics, we will have the Unit 9 test tomorrow.  We have been doing some good review work this week by making posters and the flash cards, but I also passed out a study guide with tutorials for each type of possible problem.  The test will include: coordinate grids, area of rectangles, triangles, and parallelograms, and volume of prisms.  Please look through the study guide, practice with the flash cards, and create practice problems based on the study guide concepts.

I’ve mentioned the Brainpop website before, but today I found a direct link to one of their videos on the Glencoe publishing site.  It is a pretty straightforward video on finding the are of basic polygons.  There is also a quiz to take attached to th video.  Enjoy.

Brainpop polygons


  1. Mathematics: Study for Unit 9 test.  Use the study guide and flash cards.
  2. Other: Finish vocabulary packet and study for the test.
  3. Social Studies: Read pages 104 and 105 and answer all questions.
  4. Reading: Read for 20 minutes and bring back signed reading log.

Mr. Weis

May 5, 2009

2 Point Perspective on Art and War

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 10:51 pm
Tags: , ,

Our schedule was quite a blur today, from Puberty Ed. to a quick Vocabulary session, library, Math, Art, Social Studies and Music, we barely had a chance to catch our collective breath.

In Vocabulary, we went through our words of the week and deduced the meaning of the roots of the week from analyzing some complete words.  As we progress to the midpoint of the week, please make sure that your child is working a little bit each day on Vocabulary so they can be finished and ready for the test on Friday.

In Mathematics, we continued some work with area and volume and did some review.  The unit 9 test will be on Friday and will include Coordinate Grids, Area, and Volume.  I’ll pass out a study guide to assist students with each topic on the test.  In the mean time, here is a neat Interactive Surface Area and Volume web app.


In Social Studies we are continuing our work with the Revolutionary War and we began to look at some specific Acts that the British passed that got the colonists riled up.  As we learn more about the Revolutionary War, we will be paying special attention to the point of view and perspective of both the colonists and the loyalists.

There used to be a nice website on PBS kids called Liberty Kids, but the link no longer works.  While I look for other more kid-friendly websites, here are a couple other sites through PBS that are actually companion sites to video series.  While the content is a bit high level, there is quite a wealth of information, scans of primary documents, and multimedia content, so take a gander and see if you find anything that sparks your interest.

The first site is connected to the video special Liberty: the American Revolution


The second site is connected to the series Freedom a History of US


For the past few weeks in Art, the students have been learning how to draw interior and exterior spaces with one and two point perspective.  While the students have been working, I was reminded of a video art program I did in elementary school called Mark Kistler’s Draw Squad.  I looked him up and found that he has a website with hundreds of video tutorials on specific drawing lessons.  The website requires a paid membership, but there are 12 free videos to watch that offer a preview of what the lessons are like.

Mark Kistler

I also found Mark Kistler’s Youtube page which has another 15 videos.  You can find his videos here.  Also, here are a few videos that cover basic 2 point perspective for you to watch here.  I actually remember doing these drawings when I was just a little kid and acquiring them as part of my doodling repertoire that I still use to this day.


  1. Mathematics: Practice set 62
  2. Other: Continue to work on Vocabulary Packet
  3. Social Studies: Write two Cause and Effect pieces of information from pages 101 or 102 (finish if not completed during class)
  4. Reading: Read for 20 minutes and fill out pink reading log.

Mr. Weis

May 4, 2009

Nine Men, Morris, and Monday

Filed under: Uncategorized — mrweis @ 8:15 pm

Welcome to a new 5 day week.  We’ve only got a few of these left, so I’m trying to squeeze in as much as possible.  Hopefully we will end the year in a strong sprint and not run out of steam when June comes around.  Today we began our puberty education classes, and I’m happy to report that the students were mature, inquisitive, positive, and respectful.  We will have 3 more classes: one on Tuesday, one on Thursday, and one of Friday.  If you have any specific questions about the content of the program you may ask your children directly about what they learned, you may ask me any specific questions about what material is covered, or you may check in with Ms. Collins to see the materials and outline of the program.

We are going to be combining subjects together for the rest of the year to try to get through them a little quicker.  One way we will do this is by integrating social studies, and specifically our work with the Revolutionary War, along with writing and reading.  I’ve got some books, plays, and writing activities that will all fit together.  Today we began researching the causes of the Revolutionary War, and we organized the information we found into a cause and effect chart.  We identified key words to let us know a cause and effect is being discussed such as because, as a result, and subsequently.  For homework tonight, students will read a short article about what colonial life was like for children and then make a chart of similarities and differences between their lives and colonial kids’ lives.  

In the article, there is a short description of a commonly played came from colonial times called Nine Man Morris.  The directions didn’t come out well on the copy, so here are a couple links to play the game online.

Here is a 2-player version:

no man morris 2

And here is a 1-player version with a computer opponent:

no man morris 1

Both versions are complete with instructions.  Enjoy!

In Mathematics, we continued our work with area and volume.  Students did some work finding the volume of different kinds of geometric solids, and then created posters with area formulas and examples of area for triangles, rectangles, and parallelograms. 

In vocabulary we began work with the roots leg, mod, biblio,  and jud.  The focus words of the week are prejudice, bibliography, legislate, allegiance, moderate, legally, delegate, and judgment.  I encourage students to look the words up on the online etymology dictionary to get a better idea of the roots.  


  1. Mathematics: Page 215 – Calculating the volume of 3-dimensional prisms.
  2. Social Studies: Colonial Kids – Read article and complete chart.
  3. Other: Vocabulary Packet – Begin work on packet.
  4. Reading: read for 20 minutes and fill out pink reading log.

Mr. Weis


May 2, 2009

Saturday Update from San Diego

Filed under: Announcements — mrweis @ 10:53 am

I apologize for not updating the blog this week, but as you all know, I haven’t had a computer and I’ve been feeling a little down.  I don’t have much to update about the computer other than the fact that a police report has been filed, and I spent a lot of time this past week passing out fliers and making phone calls.  I am actually out of town this weekend in San Diego to celebrate my Mother, Father, and Grandmother’s birthdays, which all happen to fall on May 1st!

Yesterday I sent out a letter to every student at BAM pleading my case to have the laptop returned.  Along with the letters I sent out blank recordable DVDs.  It is still my hope that the laptop is returned, but I am trying to take every action possible to also help potentially get my data back.

I was able to resurrect an old dinosaur of a computer at my house, so I expect to be able to resume blogging again next week.  In the mean time, if you don’t have anything else planned today, why not head over to Berkeley’s wonderful Comic Relief for free comic day.


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