Mr Weis’ Classroom Blog

February 2, 2010

Prognosticating with Punxsutawney

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 10:02 pm
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Happy Groundhog Day everyone!  Unfortunately, if you are the kind of person who takes meteorological advice from large rodents, we are in for 6 more weeks of winter.  Today, the most famous, and supposedly immortal (there’s a vocab word from last week!), groundhog around made his weather predictions.  The students did a quickwrite this morning and then read an article in class about the tradition of Groundhog Day.  We learned about several old Roman and Celtic  holidays that were blended together and eventually brought over and modified by some German immigrants in the late 19th century.  If you’re interested in learning a little more about the holiday, you can check out the official website of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club here, or you can read the article we read in class on the National Geographic website.

In vocabulary this week, the focus is on the roots mis/mit, flex/flect, fract, and ject.  Today in class we did our usual sort and then had a discussion about the roots, their meanings, and how the meanings come across in words with those roots.

In writing, we are fully exploring the Response to Literature genre, and we began writing a collaborative essay today.  We focused primarily on the introduction paragraph and on how a thesis statement captures the argument that the writer is making to answer the prompt and convince the reader of a point of view throughout the essay.  We read a folk tale and the students gathered together some ideas on a possible thesis.  By the end of the week, we will try to complete the entire essay so that next week each student can begin work on their own essay.

In mathematics this week, our goals are to be able to find percent, decimal, and fraction equivalents and to be able to find the percent of a number.  Students practiced making conversions back and forth between these three ways of representing a part of a whole.  Here are a couple games and a modeling app involving percent, fraction, decimal equivalence.

Mission Magnetite

Compare All Three

And here is a tool to visually model the connection between fracitons, decimals, and percents

If you didn’t send in your slip letting us know whether or not you will be able to attend the drama performance at 6:30pm on Thursday, please send it in as soon as possible.  Thanks.


  1. Vocabulary: Sort
  2. Mathematics: It All Makes Cents worksheet
  3. Reading: Read for 25 minutes and fill out questioning section in reading log
  4. Other:  Tell a family member one thing you learned about Groundhog Day and its history

Mr. Weis


November 30, 2009

Some Thanksgiving Wrap-up, Happy Birthday Mr. Clemens, and an Important Announcement

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 10:55 pm
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So I never got around to finish my Thanksgiving coverage during my vacation last week, but here are a few pieces of information I promised about the holiday.

First of all, in mathematics, we did a little work with some numbers related to Thanksgiving.  Students applied some knowledge about written and standard notation, units of measurment, and estimation to try to match up some numbers with some facts related to Thanksgiving courtesy of the US Census Bureau.  Other than simply taking the census every 10 years, the Census Bureau keeps busy with all kinds of other facts and figures, and periodically they publish figures relating to a holiday.  I took information from this press release and mixed it up so that students had to work to put it back together the best that they could.  For instance, did you know that a projected 250,000,000 turkeys will be raised in the United States in 2009 and be sold for an estimated $3,900,000,000.  Also, 1,800,000,000 pounds of sweet potatoes are forecasted to be grown in the U.S. in 2009, with 437 million of those pounds being grown in the state of California.  Additionally, we learned some other kinds of info such as the fact that there are 3 places In the U.S. called turkey, 5 called some spelling variation of Cranberry, and 28 called Plymouth, and that the average American eats 13.8 pounds of turkey a year.  For more facts like these take a look at the Thanksgiving Press Release and other holiday press releases on the US Census Beurau’s Facts for Features webpage.

As to some other info about the history of Thanksgiving, in class we looked at a timeline of events related to the Thanksgiving holiday.  Some of the important dates included in 1631 when a formal declaration of Thanksgiving was made when a ship full of supplies that was feared to be lost at sea pulled into Boston Harbor, December 18, 1775, when the Continental Congress declared December 18 to be a national day of Thanksgiving in celebration of the win at the Battle of Saratoga, November 26, 1789, when George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving Proclamation by a President of the United States, and October 3, 1863, when Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation for a nationwide day of Thanksgiving as the last Thursday of November. As we discovered, Thanksgiving has roots that expand beyond just the harvest celebration in 1621.

Today, we started the week off with a quickwrite on a quote by Mark Twain.  We will revisit his words several times this week in recognition of his birthday on November 30, 1835.  Do any of you readers out there have a favorite Mark Twain quote?  I always enjoy hearing his clever wit and witticisms.

For vocabulary this week, we are focusing on the roots micro, mega, super, and hyper.  We will learn more about the words tomorrow, and then add some sentences to the wiki later on.

Several of the students did their poetry recitations today in class, and I must say I was very impressed.  The students who shared obviously put a great deal of effort into practicing and memorizing the words of their poems.  The whole class really enjoyed listening to a wide variety of poems.  I am excited to hear the rest of them over the next few days.

Speaking of poetry, our next big fundraising event is just around the corner, and it happens to involve some poetry.  I sent home some additional information and an availability sign up sheet about the book sale and poetry reading going on at Books Inc. on 4th st. on Saturday from 6pm to 9pm.  Here is a copy of the flier.  We hope to see lots of 5th Grade families and other BAM families too!


  1. Language Arts: Vocabulary Sort
  2. Mathematics:  Decimal review worksheet
  3. Other:  Return availability sheet for Books Inc. fundraiser by Wednesday.
  4. Reading:  Read for 20 minutes and write predictions in Reading Log.

Mr. Weis


February 2, 2009

Consorting with Punxatawny Phil, Wiarton Willie, and Shubenacadie Sam

Filed under: Uncategorized — mrweis @ 5:00 pm
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Happy Groundhog Day everyone. Across North America some very famous shadows were seen by some furry little prognosticators. (Follow the link for a guess-the-word game that stresses using context clues to make predictions about word choice in current news articles.) Unfortunately it looks as if we are due for another 6 weeks of winter, but I guess in Berkeley that doesn’t mean a whole lot if we get more winter like today!

We finally have a 5 day week, and we will be jamming as much regularity into it as possible as we unfortunately look ahead to 2 more short ones. As we are now doing more consistently, we spent Monday’s reading block on current events. Starting next week we will have the newspaper every Monday, and students will read and respond to articles on their first day back from the weekend. Today we spent some time familiarizing ourselves with a graphic organizer to use with newspaper articles. The organizer sets up an outline for the 5 W questions (Who, What, Where, When, and Why), and also includes a map to use to identify important locations in the article.

We worked on collaboratively reading an article about Groundhog Day this morning. Here is the link to the article we read. Up until today I had no idea that there was not one, nor two, but three famous groundhogs that predict the weather in Pennsilvania, Ontario, and Nova Scotia. Did you know that Groundhog Day can be traced back to a German tradition that in turn came from a European Holiday known as Candlemas day? To read more about the history of Groundhog Day, check out the official site of the Punxatawny Groundhog Club.

In Writing, the students qualitatively evaluated Response to Literature essays through identifying Mechanical/ Conventional and Content based writing goals. Tomorrow they will apply a similar level of analysis on their own essay and set goals for the remainder of the Response to Literature Unit.

In mathematics we spent some time going over converting Improper Fractions to Mixed Numbers. This was an area that many students had difficulty with on the quiz last week. Quizzes were sent home today, and for homework students are expected to correct problems they missed and bring back the quizzes and the corrections tomorrow.

We also spent a little bit of time today checking out President Obama’s weekly address and identifying what he is proposing to do with the current state of the economy. If you haven’t checked out the new Whitehouse website, I strongly recommend it. There is a great deal of information on his policy objectives, and every week he posts a video of a Weekly Address sort of reminiscent of FDR’s fireside chats. For the many people that voted him, and for those that did not, it’s a great idea to try to keep up with what policies and objectives he proposes and what he actually pursues. I’m trying to help the students to understand early on in their lives that they live in a participatory democracy that requires them to stay interested and educated about what their government is saying and doing.


  1. Language Arts: Lit Circle Groups – Read and do jobs to prepare for discussions or work on your final projects. Final projects are due tomorrow for the Witch of Blackbird Pond and 13th Floor groups.
  2. Mathematics: Redo any problems that were missed on Friday’s quiz (focus especially on 1-17). Do Improper Fraction to Mixed Numbers worksheet. Make sure to do the back too.
  3. Reading: Read for 20 minutes and fill out pink reading log.

Mr. Weis

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