Mr Weis’ Classroom Blog

February 2, 2009

Consorting with Punxatawny Phil, Wiarton Willie, and Shubenacadie Sam

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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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