Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Kwakiutl and more!

Today we covered the Northwest tribes in depth. Our notes are online and ALPHA students (and anyone else who was absent) needs to catch up. I will be doing a notes check tomorrow for a grade!!!

It's also Tuesday, Newsday. We looked at articles on a newly discovered set of asteroid belts and what the COROT satellite has been up to. Scientists believe that we will discover several Earthlike planets by 2012 using COROT.

I am passing out a note regarding Halloween bags, and every student will bring home their bag today or tomorrow. This is NOT mandatory, but is like our pencil policy ("take a pencil, leave a pencil"). We will not have a party on Halloween if our policy is the same from last year.

I was very pleased with the work ethic today. Most of our Indian legends are published and out in the hall, so feel free to come by and check out the great work students are doing!!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Today we published our final copies of our Indian legends (most of us, anyways). Many of the published pieces are hanging outside our doors, so feel free to drop by the 4th/5th grade hall and see how they turned out!

I'm very pleased at the work flow and the better overall efforts in writing. Students are truly understanding paragraphs, strong beginnings and solid endings to their narrative writing.

Our RUNNING WRITING this week is straight out of the Social Studies standards. We are talking abut how Native Americans used their environment to obtain food, clothing and shelter. Students should think about how tribes used wood in all kinds of ways if they are stuck and need a prompt.

We also started mapping out where various tribes lived in the United States. Here's a sample of one room's work. We will continue working on this Tuesday and Wednesday!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Stormy Friday

We did quite a bit today; spelling test retakes, final copies of (most) Indian Legends, and watercolors in homeroom. Students will take these home on Monday; I didn't quite have enough time to take pictures. I also posted next week's running writing topic which is basically standard SS4H1(b) to the letter. We also had counseling by Mrs. Virdin about bullying.

Above is another map from our SS4G1 (Physical and manmade features) project. Check out our class map. This, too is a work in progress.

I will be giving out a rubric for a project next week.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Spelling Test on Friday

SS4G1 Wrap up...we will continue to work on map skills all year (Skills Matrices on Georgia Standards). Here is a great example of a student who did a "little more" than the required work from the rubric. I always encourage my students to stretch their thinking and creativity and really feel that N.G. did in this case. It is called "Fabulous Island"....fantastic~!

I hope everyone had a restful weekend. I graded the spelling tests over the weekend and the grades were fairly poor. I will be retesting on Monday. If you haven't seen the list, it's over on the assignments page on our website, or here is another list...

Native Americans

We have a 1/2 day on Wednesday and Thursday is Art Night!!! You can buy your student's artwork for 29.95 and a portion of that money goes back to the school.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Becoming civilized

Today we talked about the beginnings of civilization. For years (perhaps centuries) archaeologists thought that people gathered in cities for warfare. Then, in the last decade, this theory was proven *technically* incorrect by the discovery of the Caral Valley.

Archaeologist Ruth Shady is the foremost expert on this site, and it just keeps getting better and better!

Archaeologists found no weapons, battlements or bodies whose evidence would indicate violence. They did find lots of fibers, no pottery, but a lot of flutes!Scientists discovered a large ceremonial ruins just this year. The fascinating thing is that these sites are 20 miles from the ocean, yet there were fish bones in nearly every place archaeologists look.

Eventually, scientists found a 5,000 year old fishing net (!) near the coast and tied the two sites together. There were cotton seeds everywhere in the Caral Valley, and even though it is desert now, it was a lush agricultural site 5,000 years ago. Wow!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

SS4G1 Wrap up

Today students worked on their physical maps. We went through at guided practice with all sections, then students had time to work on their individual projects. Ideally, they will finish tonight as homework!

Here is the example we did for homeroom. The rubric for this assignment can be found over here. I am trying to get those students who are close to that upper grade an opportunity to make a better quarter grade!

We got the Spirit Stick again because 100% of the students showed up with blue or orange on (yes, I counted blue jeans). Way to go, homeroom!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

SS4H1-Historical Understandings

Today we are writing standards in our notes about Paleo-Indians. Remember from vocabulary that Paleo means old. These were the first Native Americans. You can see on our notes that scientists had 2 theories on how people came over.

I also published the maps rubric and spelling list on our upcoming assignments page. We will be doing several sections in which the class develops a smartboard map. I'll try to post them this week.

Don't forget Harry Wong's sage advice, "people who work and put in effort always achieve more than those who do not!"

The standards we are working on for this chapter are:

SS4H1-The student will describe how early Native American cultures developed in North America.

a. Locate where the American Indians settled with emphasis on Arctic (Inuit), Northwest (Kwakiutl), Plateau (Nez Perce), Southwest (Hopi), Plains (Pawnee), and Southeastern (Seminole).

b. Describe how the American Indians used their environment to obtain food, clothing, and shelter.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Recent changes

Your spelling list is online...

I added a games page to our website:

I added a literacy page:

Our new podcast is up:

You can still see Schoolhouse rock videos:
http://jamesarnold.vodpod.com/ or

I added photos to our "working" folder and other images to our site on Picasaweb.
I updated our student work page; it contains a new slide show from our homeroom state projects!

If you still need an invite, please email me! Have a great weekend.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Drama Friday

Drama Friday

This Friday in some sections we went into an Indian legend called Cold Wind, Chinook Wind in our Social Studies text. A more violent version of the tale can be found over here...http://www.firstpeople.us/FP-Html-Legends/Chinook-Wind-Yakima.html

We are still trying to adjust to being back in from ITBS testing and everyone is pretty tired in general. Next week is Spirit Week!

One of the ways we're interacting with the textbook is to do "Sticky Note Wednesday" each week. Students write relevant comments and questions about the text on stickies, then we try to answer questions about the text. The students are coming up with some very interesting ideas and queries?

If you haven't checked out our "somewhat" weekly podcast, it's over at http://mrarnold.podbean.com/

Have a great weekend, don't forget to wear your favorite team shirt on Monday! I have a student bringing in a Florida shirt for me (in theory)....the travesty!

Thursday, October 2, 2008


We're finally on our last day of testing! Yes! Now if we could actually get a straight week of pure instructional time. The other 4th grade teachers and myself feel like we're caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place due to all this testing. I think we've only had one actual week of normal scheduling in eight so far.

Procedures and routines are so important for most kids. Some can roll with the punches, but I can tell you that not having well established schedules creates a lot of problems in terms of getting the curriculum done. We are behind the pacing guidelines for Georgia because we have had numerous tests and "burnt days" as I like to call them, i.e. picture day. My lead teacher always told me to watch out for behavior problems on these type of days. Was he ever right!

We'll be going headlong into our unit on Native Americans next week, even though we'll only probably have a couple of "normal" days. You can catch this week's running writing that will be due October 10.

Here's a KWL from one of our sections...