Mr Weis’ Classroom Blog

October 15, 2009

Writing Memoirs and High Tech Graphic Organizers

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 10:30 pm
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Knots in My Yo-yo StringWhat It IsChildtimesPicture 8

Throughout the year, we will spend about 6 weeks each on specific writing genres.  Our first writing genre this year is memoir.  Some memoir writing we have done so far includes our 4th Grade Memory Poems, our Mathographies, and a memoir connected to a mode of transportation.  As we have been writing memoirs, we have also been reading lots of memoirs including selections from What It Is by Lynda Barry, Knots in My Yo-Yo String by Jerry Spinelli, and Childtimes: A Three Generation Memoir by Eloise Greenfield.  Our next memoir will be a food memoir and will focus on a specific experience, either positive or negative, with food.  We’ve been doing some prewriting brainstoriming lists of foods, and today we read a piece by the poet and prose writer Naomi Shihab Nye called Mint Snowball and we identified some writing techniques used to enhance the descriptions in our writing. We highlighted the use of sensory details as well as some figurative language and similes as we read about the author’s memory of a mint ice cream treat from her childhood.

One day a week, during our literacy block, we check out the laptop mobile lab and the students use the computers.  The past few weeks we have been doing some basic computer literacy work with Mac OSX and learning about formatting and word processing using Microsoft Word.  This week the students were given a chance to experiment with a web-based graphic organizer called allows users to quickly create cluster graphic organizers, save them on the web and print them out.  The students began organizing some of their ideas about possible food memoir topics.  You can take a look and try making some bubbls yourself by following this link.


  1. Vocabulary: Finish packet and study words for test.
  2. Math: Study Link Page 33 – Open Number Sentences
  3. Reading: Read for 25 minutes and fill out Reading Log.  Get Reading Log signed!

Mr. Weis


October 16, 2008

Lettuce or Lattice? Well, actually neither one of those.

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 4:14 pm
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Today in Math we learned a new algorithm for doing multiplication. The word sounds like lettuce, but it is actually lattice. The algorithm is a little like a lattice in a garden in that it involves straight diagonal lines, but it is quite different in that it is used to multiply numbers and not support vines. The algorithm involves lining up the factors around boxes, multiplying each digit, and then adding up totals along a diagonal axis for each place value. For an example, follow this link. Written publication of the lattice algorithm actually dates all the way back to the 13th century (1202) when Leonardo Fibonacci wrote Liber Abaci and explained the lattice algorithm for multiplication that he had learned based on Arabic numerals. Tomorrow we will be delving more into why and how the lattice algorithm works and how place value factors into it.

In Language Arts, Ms. Isreal came in to do an activity using short segments of a newspaper article and connecting lines of text with strong sensory details. Students used their imagination and clues in the given text to produce their own connecting sentences and fill in the gaps of the story.

For homework tonight, student’s will work on planning their final memoir to begin a rough draft on tomorrow. We have talked and written about different memoir topics from our childhood imagination to learning how to do something to food, parties and important family members. This will be their chance to pick their own memory to write about. Encourage them to think about memories that stand out to them. If they get stuck it might be a great opportunity to break out the family photo album or some home video to spur some ideas. Students will be filling out a graphic organizer of their choice. I made several choices available and also left it open for students to create their own graphic organizer to help plan. For some links to some other kinds of graphic organizers, click here or here.

One quick note about the Sally Foster fundraiser. Thanks to all the students who brought in orders. If there are any more orders out there, send them in tomorrow. It’s your last chance to get it in before they are sent out!


  1. Language Arts: Graphic Organizer Planning for a Memoir.
  2. Mathematics: Study Link Book Page 43: The Lattice Multiplication Algorithm.
  3. Reading: Read for 20 minutes and write in pink reading log.

Mr. Weis

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