Mr Weis’ Classroom Blog

December 17, 2009

Thank You!

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 9:07 pm

Dear BAM Community,

After multiple faxes, phone calls, trips, and unbelievably frightening amounts
of paperwork, I submitted the final papers to the district today for the Marin
Headlands trip! I wanted to send out an enormous thank you to all the parents
and students who did so much to make this trip a reality. Thank you for
donating items to the bake sales, making signs for the bake sales, working the
bake sales, coming to meetings, organizing the BAM Cafe, contributing food to
the BAM Cafe, decorating and working the BAM Cafe, writing recipes with your
children, putting together a cookbook, soliciting items for the raffle, printing
raffle tickets, selling raffle tickets, writing poetry to read at Books Inc,
bringing your kids and shopping at Books Inc on our fund raiser night, seeking
out grants, helping with grants, getting family members, neighbors, and others
to help support and for anything else I am forgetting to mention.

All together at this point, we have raised $13,666.72!!!

You heard that right.

Since our first meeting less than 3 months ago, we raised over thirteen thousand dollars!

We really came together, and in just a couple months we
were able to raise enough money to completely pay back the PTA, fund the entire
trip, and then some! Everyone deserves a big pat on the back for their hard
work. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Tomorrow, we will have a celebration with all the 5th Grade students together.
I got some fine bubbly (cider), and we will toast each other, our families, and
the community for coming together for a great cause. We will work on some thank
you cards and celebrate an incredible achievement that reminds us all just what
an amazing place BAM is!

Again, I’d like to say thank you so much to each parent for your dedication to
not only your own child’s education, but to the greater educational community of
all of the 5th Grade students! Bravo!


Mr. Weis


  1. Language Arts:  Character Book Report
  2. Vocabulary: Finish packet and study
  3. Reading: Read for 25 minutes and fill out summary section in the reading log.

December 16, 2009


Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 10:30 pm

Well, here goes another speedy Wednesday post.  Wednesday’s always seem to flash by.  Today, we not only had our usual Science, P.E., and minimum day, but we also attended a very special Drama performance by Miss Klein’s class.  This morning we cut breakfast a little short and watched a performance of a play adapted from the book Molly Bannacky.  The play was very well done, and students from 3rd to 5th Grade were all mesmerized by the show.  Thanks Miss Klein for inviting us, thanks to the class for putting on such an informative and entertaining show, and thanks to Canti for doing such a wonderful job directing the whole thing.

In the rest of the time we had in class today, the students did some work on final drafts of their diamantes, and we spent a final day of division review in preparation for the Unit test tomorrow.  We also collaboratively wrote some sentences with the week’s vocabulary words, but we saved our vocabulary related computer work for tomorrow when we will have some more time.

On Friday, December 18th, we will have a quiant celebration in the class in honor of several things including fund raising for the Marin Headlands trip, birthdays over break, and upcoming holidays.  If you would like to contribute an item of food or drink for our celebration you are invited to do so, but in light of the multitudes of other requests for help and recent donations, contributing to this event is totally optional.


  1. Math:  Practice Set 25
  2. Vocabulary: Sentences
  3. Language Arts:  Work on the book report.  The report is due Friday, December 18th.
  4. Reading: Read for 25 minutes and fill out clarification section on the reading log.

Mr. Weis

December 15, 2009

Unearthing Greek Roots

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 9:33 pm

In Vocabulary today, we learned the meanings of some Greek roots including geo- earth, therm- heat, logy- study, scope- see, and meter- measure.  Through applying our knowledge of these and other roots, we were able to dissect some current and past vocabulary words.  Students were able to see a thermometer as a measure of heat, geography as writing the earth, and geometry as measuring the earth.  You might have noticed that this week we have also included a couple math vocabulary words with perimeter (peri meaning around and meter meaning measure) and diameter (dia meaning across and meter meaning measure).  One of our hopes is to integrate vocabulary words from other subjects into our normal vocabulary in order to further develop understanding of the roots, construction, and meanings of these words.

We had drama today with Opera Piccola, and we had a short lesson on casting and then discussed the different roles students will be able to take on in the final performance.  The final performance will include several scenes based on contemporary issues that young people face, a scene from a Native American folktale, some poetry, and prose.  I’ll update you as we practice and work on the performance schedule.

In Math today we continued some work with division review and played a game called Divisibility Dash.  In this game, students take turns using cards from their hand as a dividend with a given divisor.  Each time a student is able to correctly form a dividend that is evenly divisible by the given divisor, they get points.  While the game required a little more deep thinking than Division Dash, the students did a great job of putting effort in and taking the mathematical elements of the game seriously.  If you would like a copy of the directions for either of these games, let me know.  They are possible to be played with an ordinary card deck, and they are great for building number sense and exercising mental math abilities.

In Social Studies, the students finished presenting their projects and then began a scavenger hunt that I created about the different explorers.  Students used each others posters to find countries of origin, places explored, key terms, and interesting facts.  It was fun to walk around the room with them and watch them attempt to put each other’s projects to the test as functional informational resources.


  1. Vocabulary: Definitions and CLOZE
  2. Mathematics: Practice Set 26
  3. Reading: Read for 25 minutes and fill out questioning section of Reading Log.
  4. Other: Work on Book Report character project – Due on Friday, December 18

Mr. Weis

December 14, 2009

… And We’re Back

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 9:20 pm
Tags: ,

It looks like all the internet issues are sorted out for now, and the blog should be back to its regularly scheduled programming.

This week in vocabulary we are focusing on the roots geo, therm, scope, meter, and logy.  The focus words of the week are: geography, geometry, thermometer, horoscope, perimeter, diameter, mythology, etymology.  As we look into the meanings of the roots and the connections to the words, we will delve more deeply into etymology with our computer time activity on Wednesday.

In Mathematics this week we will continue to do some work on division as we finish up Unit 4.  In class today we played a game called Division Dash.  In the game the students took turns as they drew three cards and then used them as a 2 digit dividend and a 1 digit divisor.  They mentally calculated the quotient and then added their quotients until one player got a total of 100.

You can find a visual tutorial on how to play the game if you follow this link.

In Reading, the students finished up their Connections group work based on the story Arrows.  They used sentence frames along and a story graphic organizer and connection graphic organizer in order to develop well though out and clearly stated text to text, text to self, and text to world connections.

In Writing, the students worked on their Diamante poems and many of them completed their rough drafts.  Diamantes are sevel line poems that use nouns, adjectives, and participles to compare to contrasting or opposite subjects.  By the end of the week we will finish all of the diamantes.  Here is a page with a brief explanation and example of a diamante poem.

In Social Studies, the students gave short presentations on their explorers and showed their projects to the rest of the class.  Tomorrow we will do a scavenger hunt and the students will use the information on each others’ posters to complete the activity.  Thanks to all the parents that helped push the projects along through the weekend.

Don’t forget that there is one more project due before break.  It is a character poster with a full illustration of a main character from a book and lots of information about that character. The book report is due on Friday, December 18th.


  1. Vocabulary: Sort
  2. Mathematics: Finish Practice Set 23, complete Practice Set 24.
  3. Language Arts: Finish writing diamante poem rough draft.
  4. Reading:  Read from reading log and complete prediction section.

Mr. Weis

December 9, 2009

Technical Difficulties

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

I had some issues with the internet at my house last night so I was unable to make a post.  I’ll do a quick post this morning with a short piece on vocabulary and a list of the homework. Hopefully everything will be fixed by this evening.

In class we explored the literal meaning and origin of the roots of the week.  We learned that photo means light, graph means to write or record, phon means sound, and tele means from a distance.  When we put these together, we can deduce the meanings of many words.  Telegraph becomes to write from a distance, telephone becomes sound from a distance, and television becomes to see from a distance.  We also noticed the root syn/sym in a couple of the words. Syn or sym mean to bring together.  This knowledge allows us to figure out that a symphony brings together many sounds, and photosynthesis means bringing together light.  We can apply the knowledge of these common roots to many other words.  As you go about your day today, keep your eyes and ears peeled looking for other words with the roots of the week.


  1. Mathematics: Study Link – Estimate and Calculate Quotients
  2. Vocabulary: Definitions and CLOZE
  3. Social Studies: Work on Explorer Project (Due next Monday)
  4. Reading: Read and fill out questioning reading log entry.

Mr. Weis

December 7, 2009

14 21. __ 7 19 20 8 __ 15 12 8 __ 12 __ 18 6 9 9 25 19 __ 11 16 21 __ 17 16 6.

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 8:09 pm
Tags: ,

In Vocabulary this week, we are working with the Greek roots tele, phon, photo, and graph. Stay tuned tomorrow for the focus words of the week and some etymology.

In Reading, the students began reading a story called Arrows about a girl who follows some clues as she tries to discover their meaning and eventually comes across a cryptogram.  Cryptogram’s are puzzles that require a cipher, or key, to solve.  Check out this little cryptogram maker to try your hand at some cryptograms.  You can adjust how many and what type of letters are given to you at the start in order to change the difficulty. You can also make your own cryptogram with your own phrase (like the title of this blog entry.  I used underscores to separate the words.  Can you figure it out? )

Some pointers for solving substitution cryptograms involve thinking about letter frequency, spelling patterns, and words that are commonly placed next to each other.  For some hints, you can check out some interesting info on letter and word frequency and the most commonly used letters and words at this website.

Students spent some time in Social Studies today gathering information about their explorers onto their graphic organizers to use in their reports.  As the students begin to work on their projects, please follow the guidelines on the assignment sheet.  Please look back on them several times over the course of making the project to ensure that you do not skip a requirement or step. Thanks!


  1. Math: Decimal multiplication review worksheet.
  2. Vocabulary: Sort (Make sure to add extra words with the roots. Use a dictionary if you get stuck.)
  3. Social Studies:  Work on Social Studies project.  (Due next Monday, December 14.  Students will get one more class period to work on their projects, so plan accordingly.)
  4. Reading:  Read for 25 minutes and write 2 predictions in your reading log.

Mr. Weis

December 3, 2009

Some Particulars Pertaining to Partial Quotients

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 8:00 pm
Tags: ,

In Mathematics this week we have been doing some work with the partial quotient division algorithm.  The first time that I learned about this algorithm was just a few years ago, and I imagine many parents have probably never heard about it.  In the blog today I will spend a little time discussing it and presenting some resources to better acquaint ourselves with it.

Part of the Everyday Mathematics curriculum’s focus is to promote sense-making in computation.  While it is possible to make sense and analyze each step of the standard long division algorithm, many students encounter difficulty with those steps since they do not show visible evidence of place value.  In class we discussed reasons why the partial quotient algorithm could be important to learn and the reasons we came up with included:  it provides an alternative method for people to use if the standard algorithm is not working for them, it can work well with mental math because it focuses on breaking down larger numbers into sets of smaller friendly numbers and multiples, and there are multiple methods to solve a problem which allow people to capitalize on their own strengths with multiplication knowledge.

The first link I’ll provide goes directly to the University of Chicago website and a video slideshow you can watch that walks through the entire process.  This is a great primer for understanding the basics of the algorithm.

Second, I’ll provide you with a link to download powerpoint slideshow by Rina Iati from the South Western School District in Hanover, Pennylvania.  I think it is pretty well done and has a few more examples and practice problems.

If you still have questions about the partial quotients algorithm, feel free to drop me an email or send a note and I can take some time to walk you through it or provide you with some written materials.  While I don’t think I would use it for all my long division, I can see definite advantages to using it for mental calculations and for certain sets of numbers that I immediately recognize as multiples.

One other note.  Tomorrow, the class will be presenting a song at our monthly school assembly.  We have been doing some singing and practicing in the classroom, and if any parents have a free Friday morning, it might be fun to come check it out.

Also, tomorrow is crazy hair day.  Here is a little copy of the flyer.  Please note that all styling is expected to be done before school.  Please leave the hair products at home.  Thanks.


  1. Mathematics:  Study link pg. 81  (please show all work)
  2. Vocabulary:  Finish packet and study for quiz
  3. Reading:  Read for 25 minutes and fill out summary section in reading log.
  4. Social Studies:  Look for resources on explorer for project

Mr. Weis

December 2, 2009

Fortunate for Fact Families

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 8:42 pm

Every Wednesday, we do some kind of activity with the computers, and I try to integrate other subjects in creative and engaging ways with some basic technical computer skills.  This week, the students had 2 main tasks.  The first task was to use the dictionaries to finish up their vocabulary work today by using the dictionaries on the computers.  The second task was to complete a series of activities about limericks using websites listed on my delicious page.  Students read about how to write limericks, investigated poems by Edward Lear, and got to read from a variety of sources of limericks old and new.  They recorded answers on worksheets and then shared out information and poems that they found.  Tonight students will continue their work in writing some of their own limericks in their Limerick Packet.

In Mathematics we took a close look at division, including some work with fact families and with different algorithms.  Fact families connect numbers and operations and are used to help recall unknown number facts quickly.  Here is a basic game using multiplication and division fact families.

Here is a link to a page with printable fact family flash cards. There are directions for making them and using them on the site.  If your child is not totally clear on their basic division facts and the relationship between multiplication and division, these might be very helpful.


  1. Language Arts:  Limerick Packet
  2. Mathematics:  Study Link Page 77 – show all division work
  3. Vocabulary: definitions and CLOZE
  4. Social Studies: Show parent/ caretaker project description, get signature and return it.
  5. Reading: Read for 25 minutes and fill out clarification page in reading log.

Mr. Weis

December 1, 2009

Electronic Dictionaries too on Tuesdays

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 10:52 pm

Today in Vocabulary we began going over our vocabulary words of the week, and we used the dictionary software that comes on Macs to look up the first half of our words.  Although we will continue to use the paper dictionaries in the classroom from time to time, the students will also sometimes get the chance to use electronic dictionaries.  If you have a Mac, just look for the little icon with a red book with a capital and lowercase A.

We continued with some poetry recitations and then had a drama session with Opera Piccola.  The students are currently developing some themes, plots, and scripts using their personal life experiences and drawing ideas from some writing exercises they have done in class.  Today we discussed some about the use of dialogue to show and not tell specifics about a scene by focusing on what and how people say what they say.

In Mathematics we did a little review on decimals and place value and then the students reviewed their performances on the Unit 3 test.  Each student prepared a note card highlighting things they did well on the test and areas that they could improve on.  Tonight they are responsible for showing the test to a parent, getting the note card signed, and then returning the test tomorrow.  Please remind your child to show you their test so you can keep up with their progress.  This week we will begin work on the next unit, and we will thoroughly investigate the operation of division.

We had an unplanned fire alarm which led to a modified schedule in the afternoon, so we did not get a chance to go over the Explorers project today.  We will begin the project tomorrow, and you should get information on the project requirements tomorrow.


  1. Language Arts:  Limerick Packet sections 2, 3, and 4.
  2. Vocabulary: Crossword and Wordsearch
  3. Reading:  Read for 25 minutes and fill out questions in reading log
  4. Mathematics:  Show Unit 3 test to parents/ caregivers, have them sign it, and return it to school tomorrow
  5. Other:  Bring back Books Etc. fundraiser availability sheet.

Mr. Weis

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