Friday, March 30, 2012


Units, tens, hundreds, thousands...multi attribute blocks (MAB) 
Today the main focus was on the process of subtraction. We discussed terminology such as minus, take away, difference and talked about addition as the inverse operation. We modelled some equations as a class using the above pictured blocks and then students worked their way through equations using the 
Multi Attribute Blocks so that they could physically see what they were doing. Using the blocks really aids their understanding of regrouping. This lesson will be continued and built on next week. Students also completed Monster Grid 9.

We also had a dedicated spelling and handwriting block in which students focused on words with silent letters in them. (See yesterday's blog.)

The afternoon  centred around the Softies unit. Students then took chairs down to the hall and helped set up for tonight's Food Festival at the school. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Rhetorical Questions, Silent Letters and the last yeast experiment

This was a worthwhile way to introduce rhetorical questions. So far, just to recap, in our sequence of work on persuasive texts we have looked at their structure and  the use of emotive language in such texts.  Today, we focused on the use of rhetorical questions and looked at some of the letters to the editor in The Mercury.  After viewing this clip, students completed a cloze on rhetorical questions and they generally did a fantastic job. The cloze is below:

A rhetorical question is a figure of ______ in the form of a ________without the expectation of a _____.
The question is used as a rhetorical ______ posed for the sake of encouraging its listener to ________ a
message or viewpoint.

For example, the question, "Can you do anything right?" is asked not to literally evaluate the abilities of the ______
being spoken to, but rather to  imply that the person ______ fails.

While sometimes amusing and even _________, rhetorical questions are rarely meant for pure, comedic effect.
A carefully _______ question can, if delivered well, persuade an ________ to believe in the position(s) of
the speaker.

Write out this text placing the following words in the appropriate postions so the text makes sense.
question   humorous    consider  speech    person   audience    always    reply   crafted     device

We marked this as a class,  and then went on to read through some of the letters to the editor from The Mercury and we discussed some of the background news behind these letters and the literacy skills needed to compose such letters. Students were asked to read through them twice and select the three they understood the most. They had four questions to answer for each of the letters.

Students all have a A3 copy of this 
The questions were:
What is the title that has been given to this letter?
What is it about?
What is/are the rhetorical questions/s?
Why do you think the writer included this/these question/s?

Students will need a further half an hour on this activity tomorrow. Three students were away today so they will need to review this. I am encouraging students to write full sentence answers and to really think deeply about the issue at hand and their responses.  I gave Mr Stafford the same activity so we can moderate our students' responses together at a later stage.

Today, and for the best part of next week also, students will be concentrating on Silent letters. The spelling bingo list until Easter will be:

science                                     doubt

scissors                                    dinghy

sign                                          halves

choir                                        Christmas

hour                                         castle

knives                                      thistle

hymn                                       knowledge

island                                       gnarled

whistle                                     sword

Tomorrow they have to identify the silent or tricky part of the word and highlight it after the game of Spelling Bingo. I would appreciate if parents could do a parent test on the above words.

Today we also completed the last yeast experiment and I must admit I am glad about that. No more scrubbing out bottles after and before school!  Next, we will be looking at bacteria. The homework for tonight was for students to take home their Marvellous Microorganism books and to thoroughly proofread all the experiments and reports they have completed and to make sure their diagrams are clearly labelled, and their conclusions to experiments are written up to the best of their ability. Some students are also taking home their jigsaws. We will continue scanning these tomorrow.  I will be collecting books tomorrow to assess how they are going with the unit and feedback will be given.
Puting the heat on yeast

Yeast and sugar with cold water, warm water and hot water

The class had their usual music lesson in the morning and I was very pleased to hear a fabulous report back about their behaviour from the relief teacher, always a great measure of their respect and self-control when it's not the usual "traffic cop" they are accountable to. Well done class. I was proud of you all. 

I will have up some camp photos in the classroom by tomorrow. I don't have photos of all  the grade 6 students as I was rostered onto certain activities for the day and evening and unfortunately there were some students I didn't really see much of. 
Tomorrow will be a big maths day focusing on the process of subtraction. Monster grid 8 is also on the cards. 
Parents should have also received a notice about the food fair this Friday at the school, and also one about our excursion with our grade 2/3 book buddies next Thursday to see The Lorax. We will be doing a small literacy unit around this film  focusing on plot and characterisation in preparation for the biggie on Storm Boy which some students are still plugging away at reading. A big thank you to Mrs Faul for organising this.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


X marks the spot, trampolining, every teacher's nightmare!
Prince, one of the camp gems for me

Slide with the cold...brrr...spray at the top


Back from camp, tired after the 6 o'clock start to drive back to school to teach on the grade 5s. Yesterday was pretty full on with billy carts, waters slides, flying fox, trampolining, and archery. I supervised the water slide for two hours and was very busy trying to keep the wrinkles and annoying bumps out of the slipway. It was then onto billycarts. The students worked hard on the concept of actually doing the helmet up, and steering of course. A lot of my boys said they really enjoyed the archery. The billycarts were popular too but some students weren't too keen on the dragging the cart back up the hill part. They played flags and then did a six way tug-of-war. Then it was tea, diary writing, a pretty long walk in the dark along Possum Trail. I wish my torch had been a tad more powerful so I could actually see where I was going. We played a couple of games of spot lighting and then it was supper and bed. Anyone still awake after 12 turned into a pumpkin.  

Today was a  good day even though I felt like something the cat had dragged in. I must be geting old. First up we looked at the skills needed for decoding maths questions, and the possible strategies that could be utilised to solve them with Mr Stafford's 5's and mine, and then we did a maths relay. They were very good listeners and we did a lot of maths problem solving. I really liked the way these students looked after each other and tried their very best.  Then after recess I repeated the Maths activities with Mrs Franz's grade 5's and Mr Moore's class, a bit more of a challenge because I didn't really know the kids. However, now I have a handle on their names and characteristics.  In the afternoon Mrs Franz and I  took all of the grade 5's together and we viewed a video about bullying, looking at the forms it can take. Tomorrow we will look at possible solutions. Now for the early night I need. :)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Maths Relay, Magic Words Performance, One Hundred & Softies

This morning basically went, Spelling Bongo, Spelling Test, Quiet Reading and Maths Relay. The relay was extremely close. It was won by a team of boys. All but one group finished the 20 questions.

After recess we all attended a performance called Magical Words starring Sarah and Jan by Brainstorn Productions. Here is a bit about it:

"The Magic Words looks at values, respect and general rude aggressive behaviour. It’s about not pushing in, waiting your turn, saying please and thankyou, and saying sorry if you do something wrong.

Rolf is constantly on detention, has no friends and although Mum and Dad give him everything he wants, he is extremely unhappy. When he has to co-operate with a classmate, Rhiannon, to finish a project they are rude and aggressive.

Their bad feelings begin to radiate through the universe creating havoc on other planets. An alien spacecraft crashes to Earth and Rolf meets Zanna, who is on a special mission to find the secret to happiness.

When he pursues some-one he knows will be able to provide the secret to happiness, Rolf begins to see the direct result of his selfish, obnoxious behaviour. Mrs McKay is appalled at his lack of manners, he bullies the library monitor and insults the cricket coach.
When he smiles, waits his turn, says “excuse me”, “please”, and “thank-you”, tells the truth and considers other people feelings, a whole new world opens up to him. Through one painful lesson after another Rolf and Zanna discover the secret to happiness is giving and receiving respect, feeling proud of your actions, and cooperating to reach a goal.

A spectacular finale with singing and dancing from around the world reinforces the message that wherever you are, using the magic words changes people lives."

After this we managed to do Monster Grid 7. Following the lunch break, I modelled how to play the One Hundred Game with a grade 5 boy as my worthy opponent. Students seemed to enjoy this and played in pairs with the winner being the one who did the best over three games

Then finally, much to everyone's delight, we had forty minutes to do some of our Softies Unit. Rhetorical questions will have to wait until later next week. Many students are up to the pattern design stage and are starting to cut out the shapes they need and think about the order of sewing. They did a marvellous job of cleaning up after themselves and Mr Hopwood who is cleaning our room at the moment is happy with the way we leave the classroom.


Grade 5 students took their tote trays down to Mr Stafford's classroom as they will be working in that room on Monday whilst I  am at camp with the grade 6 students. They will need to go directly to his classroom upon arriving at school. I will return Tuesday morning to teach Mr Stafford's class and mine on Tuesday in our classroom. Now, this means I have to get out of bed at 6 in order to drive back from camp. Hmmm, could be interesting. Good luck to all those students participating in the Huon and Channel Swimming Carnival on Monday.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Emotive Texts Presentations and some peer assessments.

This morning I arrived at school and the smart board wasn't behaving itself so I did a switcheroo with the lessons. The technician had the problem rectified by the beginning of recess. Tomorrow will have to be a big maths day. So we had a literacy focus. Each group of four presented their emotive language texts about the dog attack. Some students were much more prepared than others and had done their homework which was to revisit the passage they wrote on Tuesday and refine it ready for today's session. I gave them all an extra fifteen minutes to tweak the group's presentation. We discussed the importance of peer assessments as in this task they were writing for an audience. Each group was assessed by both me and their peers. These assessments are available in your son or daughter's portfolios along with other work samples. The students were positive and enjoyed this session. A few of the students had even used rhetorical question well. This will be a small focus for tomorrow.
After recess the students went off to music and I decided to put my head in a took a few photos after slogging away writng up their individual assessments.  They were practising Rocking Dogs and learning about rolling on, which apparently they were finding very challenging.
It was then back to the classroom and onto Spelling Bingo and then Monster Grid 6. Seventeen students are now getting the 100 facts done under ten minutes and are at least on the graph. The quickest time is 3:31 by a grade 6 boy. Mind you he has a very competitive and determined grade 5 girl breathing right over his shoulder. The record for doing a Monster  Grid in my classroom experience is a cool 2:21 and I would be struggling to beat that. I handed out a few practice grids to those students who thought they would use them to do some further practice. 

We were about to start learning about the hundreds game after lunch when suddenly I lost half my class to injections so we did silent reading instead whilst I read the remaining  students feedback about their emotive language texts just in case they struggled with my writing. They each have at least one goal to pursue.

The day finished with the 2:10 assembly where one female student who is a fantastic writer,  read out a descriptive chapter she had written for a novel, and a handful of students shared their microorganism jigsaws.  The Photo Story about Clean Up Australia Day will be shared in a book buddy session, as apparently there wasn't time today.

Students are expected to finish their jigsaw tonight and to do some research about their microorganism. Many students are getting the Photo Stories loaded on a  USB  so they can share things they do at school  with their parents. 

We did a quick 5 minute reflection on the days and discussed the importance of putting up hands in the classroom and listening with respect. Only a few students are still struggling with this.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Persuasive Texts, more on square numbers and some interesting new art

Today Persuasive text writing was a major focus with students looking closely at some tips. Grade 6 woodwind students did not see this amusing little clip but saw the one below this text.

Research is important, have information to back up your argument

Be creative and use humour

Appeal to the audience's emotions

Use real life experiences or stories

Reason through the other point of view

Then come up with a rebuttal

Stick to the subject and don't get personal

Students watched the following short film to take notes on the tips listed above.

Today students also completed a second lesson on square numbers and did Monster Grid number 5.
Daily Phys.ed was cancelled due to bad weather.

They had their usual art lesson and have begun making relief pictures which they will print with later.

In the afternoon they proceeded with their jigsaws, the microcosmos competition, quiet reading. The usual ins and outs for music options occurred from 12 0'clock onwards. A few students learned how to scan a picture and save it whne making the picture for the top of their jigsaw boxes. A few other students published The Other Side piece.

We will finish the Photo Story lesson tomorrow as the whole class wasn't together from 12 o'clock on wards.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Square Numbers, Emotive Language, and...Photo Story Instruction

This morning students did the normal spelling bingo game and then it was  time to do a quick survey with students writing about what they know about digital cameras, computers, programs and what skills they feel they well as listing what they would like to learn about. 

It was then on to Monster Grid number 4.  The good news is that now 13 students are doing the hundred facts in under 10 minutes, which means at least they are now on the graph. Spare monster grids are available from the classroom for extra practice. 

We then moved on to a structured lesson on square numbers, starting with the basics and moving into some more demanding questions for a small group. To begin with we read out the different definitions of square numbers from four different maths dictionaries and watched two short film clips about them,  one in which there was glaring error. We discussed the fact that you have to be astute  and not blindingly accepting when using online materials as sometimes  they do contain errors. We then did a very hands on activity using grids and counters to model square numbers. Students have to complete their explanation of how square numbers work tonight for homework. Being able to reflect on a lesson and mathematically explain their thinking are higher order processes and a really great way to measure a student's understanding of a concept. Other areas of maths which this lesson focused on were arrays and area. Four students also have a Copy of Storm Boy to read over the next few weeks.

Making square numbers

Square numbers to a hundred
After their first daily physical education lesson, about 11-25 by the time all students were back in the room, we talked about the importance of personal organisation and discussed different way that tote trays could be organised as about a third of the class is experiencing problems with looking after and storing their gear. A little more time was given to complete the square numbers activity and then it was on to emotive language.

Students need to have a handle on this if they are to write convincing persuasive texts, which is our next port of call in literacy. (We have also been focusing on idioms). Each table had to write about an incident about a boy or a girl being bitten by a dog in a park, or wherever the group decided. Four viewpoints have to be represented with the writer trying to persuade the audience that their version is the most convincing. The viewpoints come from:
the dog
the child,
the parent of the child
the dog owner

Most students really tried hard with this and I have asked students to revisit and further refine their written pieces this Wednesday night for homework.  Some students have started publishing their pieces and are gaining experience in  inserting a relevant image. Students can either write the top copy up by hand or publish it.  They will be receiving a peer assessment on this task as well as from me.

After lunch students had extra time to revisit their emotive language piece, quiet reading and then a 40 minute lesson on making folders, finding a program, transfering images from a variety of sources, cropping photos and making a Photo Story. We are using the photos from our t-ball game. This lesson will be continued tomorrow.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Danger Words...and new desks to come :)

These are the words students have been having the most problems with over the last four weeks in a wide selection of written pieces. This chart is now up in the classroom and students will  need to thoroughly check their written assignments to make sure none of these words are incorrect.

The latest t-ball photos taken on Friday are also up on the store room door.

Today: assembly, Japanese, P.E. and Library. In the afternoon we concentrated on spelling words with the au pattern. We also looked at same of the words in our language that have the combination mn:

I asked students if they could find out any other words that might have this unusual combination.  I can think of a few. In some the n is silent and in others it is not.

Homework tonight is to finish the spelling level they are on. A couple of students managed to finish this in class time today, well done!

A small group of four students who didn't need to do the lesson on the au words started cutting out and sewing their softies. They worked very well with limited supervision.

Students have set up the A-Z sheet ready for the microcosmos competition which is mentioned in the blog preceding this one.

Below is a picture of the days of the week activity the students did in Japanese. 

Students finished their Japanese lesson with the game at the following link:

The best news of the day is some new desks for the classroom and some vital mathematics gear  are on order. Yipeeeee!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Yeast Experiment (take 2) and T-Ball in the drizzle

This morning students survived the test on contractions with the average score being 8.8 out of 10. This was followed by Silent Reading time in which I marked them and gave individual feedback to students. We then did our second take on the yeast experiment. This time it worked. We will do the next practical session on the coming Thursday as I am loaning our precious bottles to a fellow staff member to use during the first half of next week. Like me, he inherited casi nada.

After lunch we did a small comprehension activities where students located the keywords in a text about yeast. and learnt to locate the key sentence (idea) in a paragraph.  We also explored some boxes and had four riddle-offs (Guess the answer to a riddle.) I also carried out the South Australian Spelling Test to pinpoint exact spelling ages as the SWST test only measures to 12.0+, this one will measure to 15.5+.  It will also give me a second set of data  just in case any student just had a bad test first time around with the standardised test administered in their first week back in February.

In the afternoon I explained the rules of t-ball and we headed out onto the oval for a game. The equipment was a little bit of a challenge but we still had fun and the students were amazing with their sportsmanship. We came back in at 2:40 as it was raining quite heavily at this stage. We ended the day with a quiz and did the seating draw for next week. I still owe each team an innings.

The stand before the top fell off

Next week there will be The Grand Microcosmos Competition where students will have to do quite a bit of concerted reading to match information panels to beautiful and fascinating images of life under the electron microscope. They will have to read the written texts and the visual texts very closely looking for the clues which will allow a correct match up. Feel free to drop in before school if you would like to give your son/daughter a hand.  Each student will be given a sheet with the letters A-Z and will write what they think is the corresponding piece of text, all of which carry a number from 1 -26. All correct entries will go into a draw for a prize which  actually haven't thought about yet. We will be looking the differences between a run-of-the mill microscope and an electron microscope.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Top views, side views front views, whole school assembly

The day started with Spelling Bingo and a discussion of idioms and similes. We then did a formal handwriting session, discussing basic letter formation and exit strokes. Each student has a handwriting guide which they can work through at their individual pace. 

Today, in mathematics, the main focus was on looking at top, views, side views of constructed cubic centimetre shapes. We also reviewed the main planar shapes and finished off our cube evaluations.  Students completed the Monster Grids and we now have ten students coming in under ten minutes.

A small group of randomly drawn students redid the yeast test to make sure the latest yeast batch is okay. Tomorrow morning all groups will run the tests again and finish off observations. I worked with the grade 5 boys today focusing on writing instructional texts. They seemed to have a good knowledge of the requirements of this genre.  We had a whole school assembly at 2-10 where students got to know their Daily Physical Education leaders and a few certificates for being positive were handed out. If any student wants a copy of the Swimming Carnival Photo Story just send along a storage unit of some description and I will make a copy.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Out-of-date Yeast!

Today we had fun and games doing the Yeast Feast experiment. The students set up their own data collection pages and generally did a great job with their observations. But, why wasn't at least one of the balloons being filled with carbon dioxide? Had we been mistaken with the water temperature? Well, I looked on the bottom of the yeast container and found our problem, out-of-date yeast. So it will be back to the supermarket!

Students had their art lesson with the specialist art teacher for forty-five minutes.

Spelling Bingo on the contractions went ahead as usual, first up. They also had a partner. test on their ISL words. Again, any testing and signing off after five ticks by parents would be greatly appreciated.

Music options was all the go  from twelve o'clock onwards with some students being out for the nearly entire afternoon.

We went through all the different kinds of graphic organisers students could use to organise their thoughts for writing tasks in their Writers' Notebooks. Ask to have a look at this book at some stage.

We also did a lesson on contractions...and play three games of Contraction Bingo.

Students have been asked to work on their handwriting tonight and also their microorganism jigsaw puzzles.

The swimming carnival photos are on display in our classroom and there was no available spaces in the library. Feel free to come and have a look. I have made a Photo Story of the day which will be shown in tomorrow's assembly.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Maths Relay Part 2 and the Swimming Carnival

This morning before the swimming carnival, the students participated in another maths relay, this time using intermediate and advanced maths problems. They stayed in the same teams they had on Friday. Students quickly realised understanding the question was as important as any maths skills they needed to apply. This time there was 40 points difference in the range, with the top score being 87. Measurement questions and fractions caused the most crumpled eyebrows.  
Sample questions

Team work helps

This week, the spelling bingo words will be words are contractions such as doesn't, didn't, o'clock etc. They will be tested on these words on Friday morning. 

We left school at 11-30 to make our way to the Hobart Aquatic Centre. The swimming carnival went off well with us just making it back to school by three o'clock. I snapped off quite a few photos whilst on crowd control (which always seems to be my job.) I had the photos developed at Big W and backed them. Hopefully they will go up in display in the library or in some central place in the school tomorrow. I've just noticed I haven't captured all swimmers and I apologize for that.

Swimming Carnival
Also, I desperately need funnels for Science tomorrow.
Thank you Andrea for the games for the classroom, greatly appreciated.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Maths Relay

Okay, another day done and dusted.  The usual Spelling Bingo followed by the spelling testing of the two groups. The words causing the most issues were receipt and reindeer. Students should have added any corrections to their ISL cards. Silent reading is usually done Monday mornings for 20 minutes whilst I mark the tests and give students their individual feedback.

The Maths Relay really went extremely well with students competing to answer fifteen maths problems at the basic and intermediate level. I must say I have never seen them all working so hard! The teams of four  were of mixed ability and the range between the top team and the "bottom" team was a mere 7 points, so the teams are very competitive. They all finished within seven minutes of each other as well. The average score was 71.3, and the mode was 71. The winning team scored 76 points. On Tuesday we will run another relay using intermediate and advanced questions. 

After recess, we revisited the self evaluations  paragraphs on the cubes as some were a little light on in content. Three students shared some really good examples and we discussed the use of  full sentences answers, how to write a logical paragraph pinpointing problem areas, and areas of success. I then modelled making a cube from cardboard from scratch, and students had their second attempt, all being issued with an A4 piece of cardboard. I only saw one lip drop this time. Most were  much better but we agreed we need to get some PVC glue which is easier to work with than glue sticks, as this batch are of  dubious strength.  I will get my hands on some over the next few days. 

After lunch we cleaned up Australia for twenty five minutes with our book buddies and then returned to class to complete any unfinished work for the week. I will use the photos I took of this momentous occasion to demonstrate how to make a PhotoStory next week.  Five students have extension on The Pinballs because of absenteeism for one reason or another. One student shared her PowerPoint on The Pinballs and she did a fabulous job. One student has finished his jigsaw of a hydra and it is amazing. He should feel very proud of himself. I worked with three students who learnt how to make a folded box which will contain their completed jigsaws. 
Thankyou Rachel for sending along some measuring cups.

REMEMBER Tuesday is the swimming carnival and students need to pack the appropriate clothes for the day. I suggest a couple of plastic bags also for all those soggy towels.

And now...sigh, I better go do a week's housework.
Enjoy the long weekend.