Mr Weis’ Classroom Blog

April 13, 2009

Welcome back!

Filed under: Announcements,Homework — mrweis @ 6:05 pm


I hope everyone had a rejuvenating vacation and is rested and ready for the final stretch.  We have a lot to do in the final months and time is going to move quickly, so please do your best to make sure all students are keeping up and staying focused.

This week in vocabulary we are focusing on Greek and Latin roots that refer to amounts.  The roots are magni (great), min (small), equ (equal), omni (all), and poly (many).   Our focus words of the week are magnitude, miniscule, mince, equilateral, equitable, omnivore,  omnipotent, and polysyllabic.   Students will get some time in class during the week to work on their packets, but they are expected to also spend time working on them at home.  As always, packets are due on Friday.

In reading we started a test-prep focus on literary analysis and response and began to examine the content that will be on the State test.  (State testing will take place April 27 – May 1).  We had a brief discussion about the test and about how we can put our preparation work and the test itself in a positive light.  While each student, parent, and teacher is entitled to their own opinion about the merits of the testing, and while I have my own personal criticisms about the process, the bottom line is that it is the system we have, and we might as well do our best to work with it to get something out of it.   I’ll be doing my best to try to keep my own optimism and the optimism of the students up, and I would dearly appreciate you attempting to do the same.

I’m focusing our test prep work on building a better understanding of connections between the work we have been doing in reading and writing and the way the test and its questions are developed.  We will be looking at the state standards, doing some self evaluation and goal setting, and then working to apply critical thinking strategies to understand the content of literature passages and the types of questions that are asked.  Students will practice creating their own questions, diagramming content, and creating proofs for their answers.   I hope the students will come away from the process with a little more self awareness about their own thinking and abilities in the area of literary response and analysis.

In Writing we worked on some musically inspired poetry as an outlet for telling about our vacations.  We thought to ourselves, if our vacations were songs, what would they sound like?  Would they be fast or slow, loud or quiet, playful or mysterious?  We then looked over some lists of Italian words that composers use to give direction about how their compositions should be played.  We looked at some lists of words used to describe Mood like animato (animated), dolce (sweetly), Con Brio (with spirit), and words that describe Dynamics like forte (strong), piano (gentle), or crescendo (growing).  We also looked at words that describe tempo like lento (slow) or allegro (joyful and fast).  After listening to some varied types of music and applying some of the Italian Composer vocabulary, we began to write poems about our vacations and incorporated the musical terms.  Students should finish their drafts as homework and the finished poems will go up on the wall to replace our homophone riddles. You can look at some terms here.  I chose the wikipedia entry since it has the nicest organization, but looks pretty good to me after I cross referenced it with some other lists.

In Mathematics we began Unit 9 with a pre-test and lesson on Coordinate Grids.  I’ll add some links on the blog with activities about coordinate grids later this week.  Our main focus to get ready for the test will be on working with grids, geometry, and algebra.  We will then do some computation review.

In other news, we exercised our singing muscles a bit today as we practiced singing the song De Colores.  On Friday, our class will sing De Colores as part of the assembly honoring Cesar Chavez.  We will also have several readers share some things that they wrote.  The assembly will be on Friday at 9:30 in the auditorium.

Here is the version we were practicing with, although I will be providing the guitar accompaniment during the assembly (gulp).

Here are the lyrics as well as sheet music if your child would like to learn the lyrics or the music.  Enjoy.

As a final note, our field trip to the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab is on Wednesday, April 15th.  Students are expected to bring a bag lunch as we will be on the trip from 9:30 until 1:30.  I still have one more chaperone space available, so if you would like to come join us, please let me know ASAP.


  1. Language Arts: Rough draft of Spring Break Musical Poem. (3 verses minimum)
  2. Mathematics: Page 199 – Coordinate Grids
  3. Other: Begin work on vocabulary packet (due Friday).
  4. Read for 20 minutes and fill out pink reading log.  *Some students received a new format for this, please check in to make sure they are filling out the correct form.

Mr. Weis


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