Sunday, June 8, 2008

Ahh, Summer!

Hey there, dear FIFTH graders!

It's summer! I celebrated the beginning of summer break by spending the day planting flowers. I find great delight in sitting on my patio on balmy June mornings. Somehow, the grim news in my daily paper doesn't seem as discouraging, and my coffee tastes especially lovely, when I am surrounded by vibrant pinks, greens, purples, oranges and yellows. Of course, Elsa loves to join me - that is, after she has thoroughly sniffed out the corners of the yard and chased the bunnies back under the shed. She has work to do, after all. No summer break for her!

Today, as I sit here at the computer looking out at the drizzling rain, my husband and daughter are riding their bicycles from Hinckley (where Tobie's is - famous for their carmel rolls) to the Twin Cities. Yesterday, they rode all the way from Duluth to Hinckley. By the time they finish this afternoon, they will have ridden over 150 miles. Usually my other daughter and I also pedal in this annual event. It is a fund-raising ride to raise money to fight the disease called multiple sclerosis. It's a difficult name to say, so most people just call it MS. MS affects a person's nervous system, making it hard for his or her brain to send signals to the muscles. It gets worse over many years. Currently, there is no cure, but the bike ride is one way people try to help fight this disease. The money they raise from friends and neighbors, pays for scientific research to help find a cure. Thinking about MS makes me grateful for good health.

That's what's on my mind today. What about you? How did you celebrate the beginning of summer break? Have you ever participated in a fundraiser to fight a disease or to support some other cause?

I look forward to hearing from you! I certainly hope you all have an enjoyable summer!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Books! Books! Books! We love 'em!

Dear student readers,

You have read so many great books this year. I have certainly enjoyed hearing about them. For this week’s blog, make a list of 3-5 books that you would recommend to other readers. These should be books that you have read in the last two years.

Make sure to include the genre (i.e. fantasy, adventure, mystery, biography, science fiction, historical fiction, nonfiction) capitalize the title correctly and list the author. If possible, tell us the number of pages.

Please put one star next to the titles that you’d recommend for third graders, two stars next to the ones that you suggest for fourth graders, and three stars for ones that you’d reserve for kids who really, really read a lot!

Finally, write two or three sentences per book telling us why we should rush out and read your picks. (This part is important! Don’t skimp on it.)

Here’s my example:
**Frindle by Andrew Clements - 105 pages - realistic fiction - I love the characters in this story. From mischievous Nick to his down-to-business teacher Mrs. Granger, this book is about people I both understand and really care about. And, of course, it is a story about words. What English teacher could possibly resist that?!

Have fun with this kids. Give it some thought. I guarantee you that your classmates will use your lists for summer reading ideas!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Week 32 Two options

Hey, fourth graders!
Senator Michel really appreciated your ideas about lengthening the school year. Read his response to you below.

Dear Students:
Thank you all so much for your thoughtful response to my legislative proposal. You had many good ideas and I would like to incorporate your thoughts and amend my proposal. How would each of you vote on the following proposal:

Add 5 - 10 days to the school year and require that those additional days may only come between Labor day in September and Memorial Day in May. In other words, this proposal will NOT shorten our traditional summer vacation.

The additional days would mean fewer 3 and four day weekends during the year. Now what do you think?

State Senator Geoff Michel

This week you have two options for your blog assignment: 1) either respond to Senator Michel’s question (including your reasons for agreeing or disagreeing) OR, 2)since we are currently studying our great state, write a short story about an important Minnesota place or event you have experienced. (Examples: canoeing in the Boundary Waters? walking across the headwaters of the Mississippi at Itasca? watching gigantic cargo ships slide under the canal liftbridge in Duluth? riding the old trolley at Lake Harriet? admiring the centuries old petroglyphs in Southwestern Minnesota? touring the shoe factory in Red Wing during its 100th birthday celebration?)

IMPORTANT - Please write your comment in a word processing program first. Reread what you write to make sure it makes sense. Correct spelling and other errors. Then, and ONLY then, submit your comment to the blog. (Part of writing is presentation. Take the time to do it well.) 75 words or more.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Week 31 Time sure flies!

While it sometimes seems hard to believe, fourth grade will soon be a memory. In no time at all (at least it will seem that way to your parents) you’ll be a young adult living life on your own!

Fast forward about fifteen years. Imagine yourself at the age of twenty-five. Life is good. Where do you live? Are you working? Doing what? Are you going to school? Studying what? Are you married or single? Do you have any children? What do you do in your free time? Any special memories from fourth grade at Normandale?

Write a letter to your old fourth grade English teacher, Mme Powell, to catch her up on what you are doing. Please be specific. Write using complete sentences and correct letter format.

If you prefer, you may hand write your letter and turn it in to Mme Powell at school by Monday, May 19.

I can’t wait to hear from you!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Week 30 Choice Week!

Some of you have been eagerly waiting for another "choice week" to continue the stories you began weeks ago. Well, here is your chance. Whether you choose to write a completely new story or finish an older one, is up to you. Either way, be sure to write your story in a way that includes your five senses, paints a picture for the reader, and focuses on the important events. (Don’t tell us about getting up, eating breakfast, and riding to the park in the car, if the story is really about the winning goal you scored in the soccer game!) At least 100 words, please. Don't be intimidated. You can do it!

Challenge: Try including dialogue in your story. Look carefully at my example to see how to use punctuation correctly when your characters are speaking.

I’ve Always Wondered What Happened to the Fur We Pull From Her Brush…

“Mom, come look at this,” Britta called.

My eyes dropped to the ground where my daughter squatted. Cupped in her hand was a delicate whirlwind of sticks and grass. A bird’s nest. Its mission hopefully completed, it had most likely been blown out of the tree during last night’s thunderstorm. This particular nest was more wispy than most I’d seen. I stooped to get a closer look. Silky strands of red, grey and white wound in swirls amidst the twigs and dried grasses.

“Interesting,” I began, “these colors remind me of something…” I glanced up and noted Britta’s widening eyes.

“Elsa!” we exclaimed in unison.

Hearing her name, our favorite fur donor streaked across the grass, squeezing her wriggling mass between us and toppling us both onto our backsides. As we laughed, she swished her fringed tail in one face while licking the other, then pivoted to make sure neither of us missed out on her generosity.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Week 29 Senator Michel asks for your ideas!

Have any of you ever visited the Minnesota State Capitol in Saint Paul? If you do, you might see Lexie’s father, State Senator Geoff Michel who represents Edina and West Bloomington. This week we have asked him to blog with us about an issue at the state capitol that affects schools and kids:

Hello Normandale! I hope you can help me. An issue that will be getting a lot of attention at the Capitol over the next few years is whether we should require more days in school - a longer school year - for Minnesota children. Currently, schools in Minnesota average 170 days per school year. The average in other states across the country is 180 days a year in class (that is two weeks more). Other countries, like China, have school years that are more than 200 days long! If you were a Minnesota State Senator how would you vote?

I appreciate your thoughts about this important topic. I will take them into consideration as I make my own choice. Your opinion counts!

Here are some pros and cons to consider before you cast your vote and state your reasons for your vote:

PROS (in favor of more days in school): If we want Minnesota kids to be the smartest in the world we need more time in the classroom. We are falling behind other states and countries and could learn more with more time in the classroom. Minnesota teachers are great and we could accomplish more and learn more if we spend more time with them. We could add more days without shortening summer vacation if we had fewer days off in the middle of the year.

CONS (against more days in school): The school year is already long enough.Vacations and time off from school is important for kids and families too.Minnesota schools are more productive than other states and countries and we do not need as much time in the classroom. More days in school would cost more money - we have a deficit right now because the economy is in recession and should spend our money on other priorities.

How would you vote and why?

Write a topic sentence stating your opinion. Then write a "tabletop" sentence explaining one reason for your vote. Add two specific examples or details ("legs") to support your reason.

As always, be sure to 1) write and save your comment in a word processing program first, 2) revise your work to be specific and clear, 3) correct any errors in spelling, punctuation, and capitalization, 4) cut and paste your writing into the comment box on the blog, 5) add your first name and code before publishing your comment.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Special assignment - Novels

(Note: If you are looking for the “true story” blog assignment, which is due Monday, April 28, read the NEXT entry - Week 27.)


This assignment is a substitution for those students who did not have their questions for our book discussions today (Friday, April 18):

Please write a paragraph (at least 5 sentences) explaining why you would or would not recommend this book to someone else.

This assignment is due on Monday, April 21. If you complete it by then, it will take the place of your missing discussion questions.

I'll look forward to reading your opinions!

Note: I am the only one who will be reading this assignment. Your comment will not be published.