Mr Weis’ Classroom Blog

March 25, 2010

Pondering Prisms

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 8:45 pm
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Lately in Math we have continued to explore geometrical figures.  This week we focused on finding volumes of different types of prisms.  The basic formula we have used for finding the volume of a prism is to find the area of the base (B) and multiply it by the height (h).  Our standard formula for finding the volume of a prism is therefor V = B x h.  When working with rectangular prisms, we just multiply the length, width, and height together to get the volume, but when working with a triangular prisms, we make sure to figure out what the correct area of the triangular base is first. Here is a link to a page that tells a little more about prisms and offers a visual basis for the volume formula we have been using.  Our next step in our geometry unit will be to discuss the concept of surface area.

Even as we have moved on to volume, some students are still having a little difficulty properly finding the area of the bases of prisms and are getting confused between finding area and perimeter.  Here are a couple tutorials that come with some activities for differentiating between finding area and perimeter.

In Writing we have been working on constructing conclusions and on building in transition words and phrases into our essays.  We will continue writing in the Response to Literature genre after the Spring Break, but we will shift from narratives to poetry as the subject matter from which we will write.

In Reading we are continuing to read The Sign of the Beaver.  The major focus has been on building active reading engagement skills and strategies.  After starting to move into group work earlier this year, I realized the students first needed a more robust foundation on building reading and discussion strategies in order to help let them get the most possible out of their discussions.  Lately we have been working on creating, classifying, and supporting answers to different types of questions.  I am gradually giving the students more and more control over the specific questions they are to answer after reading each chapter.  The students are now correctly developing many types of questions including in-the-text detail, in-the-text summary, character trait, minor and major conflicts/ resolutions, in-your-head, and word analysis questions about both vocabulary clarification and figurative language use.  It’s exciting to see the many types of questions they create and where they will take our future discussions.


  1. Vocabulary: Finish packet and study
  2. Mathematics: Volume of prisms Study Link 9-9
  3. Reading: Read for 25 minutes and fill out summary section in Reading Log, get Reading Log signed

Mr. Weis


March 22, 2010

Y por eso los grandes amores de muchos colores me gustan a mí

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 5:54 pm
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Today we began our week of learning about Cesar Chavez to coincide with the Cesar Chavez Day of Service and Learning coming up.  Each day we will spend some time learning about the life and work of Cesar Chavez as we lead up to our Friday assembly when several classes will educate about and pay tribute to the life and legacy of Chavez.  Our class will be singing and telling about the song De Colores.  De Colores is a traditional song originally from Spain that has been adopted by the United Farm Workers as a common anthem sung at their meetings and rallies. You can find the tune and the lyrics to the song, in both Spanish and English at this website.  Today, the students read short biographies about Cesar Chavez, categorized some of the information we learned about him, and had a discussion about his work with migrant farm workers. Tomorrow we will spend some time reading some autobiographical passages from people who were involved with the UFW and their memories of singing De Colores.

In vocabulary this week, the roots are bene- good, mal- bad, ante- before, and post- after.  We did our sort today and learned about some of the words with the roots.  An interesting fact I learned today was about the etymology of the disease name, malaria.  Malaria literally comes from roots meaning “bad air,” because when it was initially diagnosed it was thought to be spread through the air. What interesting words do you know with the roots of the week?  Take a look over at the online Etymology Dictionary to learn more about their creation.

In Mathematics we finished up our work with finding the area of triangles, rectangles, and parallelograms.  We practiced accurately measuring heights and bases and applying the formulas.

Here is an online activity for practicing finding the area of a triangle that is plotted on a coordinate grid.  Level 1 will give only right triangles, level 2 will give different types of triangles where you might have to turn the triangle to get the base and you will have to be careful when identifying the height.


  1. Vocabulary: Sort
  2. Mathematics: Areas of triangles and parallelograms worksheet
  3. Reading: Read for 25 minutes and fill out prediction section in reading log
  4. Mathematics (Due Wednesday): Bring in an empty can or box from your house.  We will be using these things for an activity finding volume and surface area.

Mr. Weis

November 9, 2009

The first quarter of our week is already over

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 5:30 pm
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Today was the first quarter of another 4 day week. Wow, time is racing by quickly!  On Wednesday, there will be a school holiday in honor of Veterans Day.  Because we have a short week, we are not going to start a new vocabulary set.  We took the test today for last week’s words, and throughout this week, we will focus on some mini-lessons on commonly misused homophones.

In Mathematics, we are continuing to work with triangles.  Today, students began work on their triangle posters. Each student is creating a poster on which they will measure all the angles and sides of a triangle, prove that the interior angles add up to 180 degrees, and classify they triangle by both sides and angles.

For a quick review on classifying triangles by angles and sides, follow this link. You can put your mouse over one of the types of triangles, and a triangle will appear that matches that classification.  When you are finished reading and looking at them, quiz yourself by matching the given triangles to the correct classifications.

Classifying Triangles

Also, you can check out a whole set of activities about classifying triangles on the website Study Stack.  There are options to use flashcards, a study stack, a study table, a matching game, a hangman game, a crossword, a scramble, a fill in the blank, and a bug match game.  Each activity has to do with the definitions for the different types of triangle classifications.  Keep in mind that this study stack also includes equiangular triangles which are triangles with all 3 equal angles.

Study Stack

In Marin Headlands field trip fund raising news, we made another $270 this weekend at another successful bake sale.  Thanks so much to all the parents and students who helped out.  Also, we are having our BAM Cafe this Thursday, November 12th from 4:30 to 6:30.  Volunteer sign-up notices were sent out last week, and a few still need to be returned.  Make sure to bring them back tomorrow.  The event will happen in the upstairs hallway and we will be offering tastings and selling the cookbook.  Make sure to get ingredients ready to be able to make your dish for Thursday. Also, please return checks for parent contributions to the field trip fund this week.  Thanks!


  1. Reading: Read for 25 minutes and fill out 2 predictions.  Make sure to cite evidence.
  2. Mathematics: Practice Set 21 – Naming angles, division practice, and exponent practice.

Mr. Weis

May 7, 2009


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

April 23, 2009

A test-taking hors d’oeurve of areas and triangles

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 7:51 pm

Our challenge vocabulary this week is made up of foreign words and phrases.  Students will research the words to determine their pronunciation, place of origin, common meaning, and literal translation.  I’m continuing to alter the way I am doing challenge vocabulary, and I’ve decided to set up several mini-project ideas for the final task.  I am also giving a bit more time to work work on the tasks so finished packets are due next Tuesday. The challenge words and phrases of the week are: carte blanche, aficianado, hors d’oeuvre, angst, and faux pas. Good luck to all those students working on the challenge words!

In Mathematics today we did some work with finding the area of rectangles, triangles, and parallelograms.  Students used what they knew about arrays and area models and then developed a formula for finding the area of a triangle and the area of a parallelogram.  Here is a video tutorial that follows pretty closely to what we did with paper rectangles.  The site I am linking to, Math Playground has some other good tutorials too, which can be found here.

Here is a neat little site with and applet that will calculate the area of a triangle by dragging the vertices.  (One note that may cause some confusion:  Although the display only shows the base and height to tenths of an inch, the area is calculated to a hundredth of an inch.  This might cause a bit of confusion when the area equation is calculated, so just keep in mind that the area is calculated with greater accuracy then it looks like it will be.)


As an interesting additional formula, Henron of Alexandria is attributed with finding a formula for the area of a triangle with only the 3 sided known.  You can read about it and do a little activity here.  This is definitely not an equation that is part of the 5th grade standards, but you are still welcome to check it out.

The other new thing we did in class today was to find the area of a parallelogram.  Here is a very neat little applet that shows how the formula for the area of a parallelogram works.  It is helpful to see how the two parts of the object can fit together to form a regular rectangle.


In writing we set the stage a bit for our persuasive writing unit by having the students write about what they think is the most important thing they can do to help the environment.  We discussed Earth Day some, and we will be using some of the ideas of the students to write a model essay.

In Social Studies we learned a little about the ways that the economy developed in the early colonies.  The emphasis in the current unit is to draw connections from colonial developments to values and laws that the USA has today.  Our discussion about the Great Awakening and the effects multiple religions helped us to draw some connections to the value of Freedom of Religion.  Our discussion about the early economic systems will help us draw connections to our modern Free Market Economy.

Don’t forget that tomorrow is the Sports Day spirit day.  Students are encouraged to wear a jersey from a team they play on, their favorite college or professional team, or their favorite team’s colors.  Please leave any sports equipment like bats, balls, cleats, helmets, or pads at home.  I look forward to seeing all the students looking sporty, and I’ll do my best to keep everything under control and make sure everyone is following the rules. That’s a hint as to what I will be wearing 🙂


  1. Language Arts:  Test Prep Packet #5
  2. Mathematics: Test Prep Packet #5
  3. Other: Finish vocabulary packet and study for the quiz.

Mr. Weis

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