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Remembering 9/11

It’s a day that is etched into the minds of many Americans as one of the most horrific events to ever witness on television.  I remember being in my first grade classroom when the attacks had been made on the two Twin Towers.  Most of us had not yet made it to lunch but our Principal came on the intercom to inform us of to check our emails as soon as possible.  We were all a little spooked by the announcement anyway but what came thereafter could not have been imagined.  How could something so horrific occur right in our biggest city without anyone else’s knowledge?  So many souls perished that day and so many families are still in mourning over this tragic event.  So many heroes risking their lives for the good of others.  There is no greater love than what these heroes put forth that day, when they laid down their own lives for the survival of others.   It is a day that we will forever be remembered in our nation’s history.  A day that we must never forget!

I ran across a video that I thought spoke volumes about our Nation and its current state.  I hope it encourages you as much as it did me this morning.

Video link:

Remember September 11th

Fairfield’s “Teacher of the Year” Acceptance Speech

Picture Source: http://positivepsychologynews.com/

After receiving numerous cards in emails the past week or so, I wanted to formally thank everyone for their support and encouragement.  Being nominated Teacher of the Year is an honor in its own right but to be accepted and chosen to represent a district filled with such talent is extremely humbling.  There are so many people that have influenced my teaching over the past 14 years and I carry their ideas and thoughts with me each day in the classroom.     Many people have asked that I post my comments at the Opening Day Celebration, so I have attached a copy of my acceptance speech and a link to the Prezi below.  Thank you again for your thoughts, prayers and support.  Have a Wonderful School Year!

PREZI LINK –  http://prezi.com/usgw6lufbdid/thank-you/

ENQUIRER Article:  http://local.cincinnati.com/share/news/story.aspx?sid=196523

Fairfield ECHO:  http://www.fairfield-echo.com/photo/news/fairfield-teacher-of-the-year-named/phsyT/

ACCEPTANCE SPEECH

Good morning and thank you.  Those of you who know me, realize that I probably will embarrass a few of you as much as I can while I have the floor.  No… I’m just kidding!

I am happy to accept this award on behalf of all the incredible teachers I have known over the years.  I used to think that the Teacher of the Year was the best teacher around, but I have learned that many of the best educators are far too humble to be recognized easily.  However, I can stand up here as a symbol of these quiet, hardworking souls; who spend their lives happily serving in the classroom for the good of all of the children with whom they have been entrusted.

I want to thank my brilliant and beautiful wife without whom I would be nothing.  She always comforts and consoles, she never complains or interferes, she asks for nothing and endures all of my antics, and SHE even helped me write this part of my speech.

Well you know what Jim Carrey said, right?  He said…Behind every great man is a woman, rolling her eyes.  No, she is a wonderful woman and I love her dearly.  Stand up honey and wave to everybody.

None of us gets to be good at what we do without help.  So I thought back to the people who have helped me along the way.  Chances are you are probably sitting next to the people you have found to be most helpful right now.  They are the people who help you get through your day…your colleagues, your buddies.   And to those of you who are here for the first time, you are in for a great learning experience in the years to come! Working in Fairfield is synonymous with working with the best in the field.

Most of the people who helped me get started in education were people who grew up in the age of chalk.  You know what that it is, right?  That white powdery stuff that used to fill every classroom in America.  Those individuals understand that their words are much like that of the characteristics of chalk.  They know that if you press your ideas too hard, you are liable to break someone’s spirit.  If you press too easy, then your message becomes unclear.  If you don’t keep your palms out of the way at times, you can smear or distort your intentions quite easily.

You see, words are extremely powerful!  Words leave scars that are invisible to others, but the one who bears them never forgets that they are there.  They have the power to wound or heal.  They have the ability to discourage or encourage.  They can destroy or can breathe life into someone within an instant.  Our children need to know this great truth and it is through us that we can convey its greatness.  My grandfather always says “Don’t tell me, show me!”  Their impressionable eyes are fixed upon us all throughout the day.  Taking notice of our interactions with other students, taking notice of how we treat our colleagues and recognizing when we are using our words for good.

Being the first in my family to graduate from college and attain my Master’s could not have happened without the encouragement and support of my amazing family.  They have prayed alongside me and helped carry my load many of a time. My parents are my great encouragers to this day. I can remember them talking me through many nights in college when I was ready to throw in the towel.  My Mom’s famous line was “There’s no problem too big that WE can’t work out together.”  When she said to me “we can work it out” I felt at once changed and no longer alone, discouraged or afraid. The word ‘WE’ to me is still very powerful.  Thank you Mom and Dad!

My grandparents (Pearl and Dema Lee) have been my moral compass.  They have taught me what integrity and trust looks like and who I am truly serving in this life and that’s my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! My Aunt Sheila and Uncle Sam are who keep me humble, by keeping my ego in check.  They always find a way to make me laugh, even in most difficult times.  J  My Aunt Gale and Uncle Curt who have taught me about the simplicity of life.  My brother Jason, who has never let me forget all of the horrible things I did to him in our childhood, has taught me the meaning of perseverance. Amy, my bride and love of my life… she has such a heart of compassion and has taught me what “QUALITY time” truly looks like in a relationship.  And of course, our children… My daughter Alyssa and my son Eli who are so precious in my sight and who taught me about thankfulness and joy when they pile onto my lap in the evenings after a hard day at work and shriek with excitement that their Daddy’s home!  They are such a blessing to me! I am so glad that all of my family could be here with me today to share in this moment of recognition.

Many times it is our families who are cheated most by our profession.  We put our heart and soul into our jobs don’t we?  I drive by our school many times and still see some of our colleagues cars in the parking lot at 7, 8 and 9 at night.  They care deeply about what they do and it shows! It’s what makes Fairfield a great place to be.  Teachers and administrators alike, who give of themselves and of their most precious time for the good of our school district.

Our time is precious… The bible says…You don’t know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.

A very wise professor of mine shared something with me that I found to be very valuable in how I organize my time.  He shared this with me during a time when I felt stretched too thin in my life.  He said for me to “Imagine my life as a game in which you are juggling some balls in the air. Because in life, we are always trying to juggle various things at home and at work.  He said, You will soon understand that some of things we are trying to juggle can be viewed as a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other balls are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that principle and strive for balance in your life.  Decide what balls are made of glass in your life and protect them at all costs.

Use your time and words carefully, because neither one of them can be retrieved.  Our lives are a journey to be savored each step of the way! What if everyday was treated like a new beginning where all your worries were put to rest, the moment you fell asleep.  What if our confidence was placed in something bigger than our selves, so our dreams weren’t limited by our own fears and insecurities.

I want to share a story that I believe captures what it is I want to say about the words and time we share with one another.

We all know that a young man learns what’s most important in life from the guy next door.
It had been some time since Jack had seen the old man. College, girls,
career, and life itself got in the way. In fact, Jack moved clear across
the country in pursuit of his dreams. There, in the rush of his busy
life, Jack had little time to think about the past and often no time to
spend with his wife and son. He was working on his future, and nothing
could stop him.

Over the phone, his mother told him, “Mr. Belser died last night. The
funeral is Wednesday.” Memories flashed through his mind like an old
newsreel as he sat quietly remembering his childhood days.

“Jack, did you hear me?”
“Oh, sorry, Mom. Yes, I heard you. It’s been so long since I thought of
him. I’m sorry, but I honestly thought he died years ago,” Jack said.

“Well, he didn’t forget you. Every time I saw him he’d ask how you were
doing. He’d reminisce about the many days you spent over ‘his side of
the fence’ as he put it,” Mom told him.

“I loved that old house he lived in,” Jack said.

“You know, Jack, after your father died, Mr. Belser stepped in to make
sure you had a man’s influence in your life,” she said.

“He’s the one who taught me carpentry,” he said. “I wouldn’t be in this
business if it weren’t for him. He spent a lot of time teaching me
things he thought were important…Mom, I’ll be there for the funeral,”
Jack said.

As busy as he was, he kept his word. Jack caught the next flight to his
hometown. Mr. Belser’s funeral was small and uneventful. He had no
children of his own, and most of his relatives had passed away.

The night before he had to return home, Jack and his Mom stopped by to
see the old house next door one more time.

Standing in the doorway, Jack paused for a moment. It was like crossing
over into another dimension, a leap through space and time. The house
was exactly as he remembered. Every step held memories. Every picture,
every piece of furniture….Jack stopped suddenly.

“What’s wrong, Jack?” his Mom asked.

“The box is gone,” he said.

“What box? ” Mom asked.

“There was a small gold box that he kept locked on top of his desk. I
must have asked him a thousand times what was inside. All he’d ever tell
me was ‘the thing I value most,’” Jack said.

It was gone. Everything about the house was exactly how Jack remembered
it, except for the box. He figured someone from the Belser family had
taken it.

“Now I’ll never know what was so valuable to him,” Jack said. “I better
get some sleep. I have an early flight home, Mom.”

It had been about two weeks since Mr. Belser died. Returning home from
work one day Jack discovered a note in his mailbox. “Signature required
on a package. No one at home. Please stop by the main post office within
the next three days,” the note read.

Early the next day Jack retrieved the package. The small box was old and
looked like it had been mailed a hundred years ago. The handwriting was
difficult to read, but the return address caught his attention.

“Mr. Harold Belser” it read.

Jack took the box out to his car and ripped open the package. There
inside was the gold box and an envelope. Jack’s hands shook as he read
the note inside.

“Upon my death, please forward this box and its contents to Jack
Bennett. It’s the thing I valued most in my life.” A small key was taped
to the letter. His heart racing, as tears filling his eyes, Jack
carefully unlocked the box. There inside he found a beautiful gold
pocket watch. Running his fingers slowly over the finely etched casing,
he unlatched the cover.

Inside he found these words engraved: “Jack, Thanks for your time!
Harold Belser.”

“The thing he valued most…was…my time.”

Jack held the watch for a few minutes, then called his office and
cleared his appointments for the next two days. “Why?” Janet, his
assistant asked.

“I need some time to spend with my son,” he said.

“Oh, by the way, Janet…thanks for your time!”

Have a wonderful school year and THANK YOU for your time!

ShutterCal – Look Who has add-ED Us to it’s Services

shuttercalendar

So the scoop is this… During a Twitter discussion on New Year’s Day, I saw the idea of creating a daily picture for each day of the New Year.  A snapshot of our lives being lived out for 365 days during the year.  Knowing my limitations, with all the plates spinning in my life, I sought to find an application to make my experience less stressful.  I wanted an app that would seamlessly flow into my life, be easy to import and allow me to print them as a completed #365project.  On the scene, rose Shuttercal.  They are not new, just “new” to me.  They have been in operation since December 2007 and have some great features.

shoebox

www.ShutterCal.com was included in the “best of the web – 2009″ section of ComputerActive! Magazine’s December 2009 issue  and looks to maintain its prestige with lots of new features in the coming year according to their most recent Blog posting

1.  It’s free to sign up…

2.  They have an iphone app for easy upload

3. You can add text/quotes to each image

4.  They provide a monthly printing service

5.  There is even a storage box to house the entire year.

6. Most importanly, they are willing to listen to the needs of their customers

Check out the video for additional information on Shuttercal.

Which leads me to my next plug.  Just the other night, I met a fabulous educator on twitter (@nsharoff) and we were discussing the use of Shuttercal  in the classroom.  Within an hour, I received a text from the Creator Scott Harris.  They are apparently looking to add an educational component to their already excellent services.  Any company that is willing to listen to the needs of their customers with such rapid style is high on my list.

scott harris

Here’s some of what I learned from an email from Scott:

“We are in the first stages of putting together a beta group of teachers and educators to supply feedback as we develop “ShutterCal Classrooms”, an extension of SC designed specifically for teachers and their students.
Picture the ShutterCal calendar structure – within a safe teacher controlled environment where teachers can:

  1. Set up and control a digital classroom, student roster, and student accounts
  2. List assignments on a “chalkboard” forum
  3. Link to other classrooms, and collaborative projects
  4. Communicate, compair strategies, and share resources with other teachers.”

Sound interesting to you?  They are looking for educators like yourself to join the Beta Group?  Simply send an e-mail to feedback@shuttercal.com with the subject “SC classroom beta” and you will automatically be placed on the list.

wallwisher
I hope you’ll take a moment to check out Shuttercal and/or join the discussion.  If you are too busy to join, then post your ideas on this wallwisher that I have created and we can share them for you.

The Thesaurus isn’t prehistoric but it is a”Dino-mighty” idea

thesaurusdino

Prior to our winter break, I shared what my experiences with a visual thesaurus.  Knowing that students with a robust vocabulary can improve achievement, we set forth on a quest to share this resource with the staff.  We invited a great colleague in our district, Bill Miller, to demonstrate the site because of his passion for dissecting sentence structure.  He was kind enough to come to North and share his expertise with the us.

It was invigorating to watch Bill as he would dart from one section of the site to another with this beaming smile across his face.  It made me think of how incredible it would be to walk past  classrooms that were filled with students who were eager to learn and share what they are passionate about in the world.  Whether it’s sentence structure, science, math or whatever ignites the curiosity of the mind.  There is nothing more beautiful than passion being lived out.

I wanted to share two articles and a video with you that I think will at least open the flood gates as to how we can use the site to help our students.

The first article I read articulates the use of the site in a typical classroom setting.  I have highlighted a section of great importance from the article.  It would be a great article to stimulate discussion around how this site can be helpful in the classroom.
http://www.visualthesaurus.com/cm/teachersatwork/1743/
Quote from the article
“I want to note from Alise’s anecdote that there were three good teaching strategies in operation in the classroom. The first was starting with the word in a context. The second was tapping into prior knowledge, which is talked about in the literature. And the third was the discussion and the sharing of ideas. The students became actively engaged with the word as they learned its meaning. That’s what I distill from Alise’s explanation. “

The second article is great for motivating those who are reluctant to utilize technology.  You can review the concept of the visual thesaurus website by watching a You Tube video presentation by Heidi Hayes Jacobs.  She does a great job of illustrating how teachers can use Wordle and the Visual Thesaurus combined to help address students individual needs.  She recommends using the wordle website in conjunction with student writing to identify vocabulary words that are repeated.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with wordle.  It creates a visual representation of the text you enter.  It makes frequently used words larger than the rest, thereby showcasing a students tendencies to use repetition in their writing.  We can then use that information to help individualize (tier, differentiate, etc) our instruction.
Taking their wordles, we are able to use the visual thesaurus to show them other synonyms for the words they are using in abundance.  It really makes them think about word usage in a whole new light.

You have got to check out the video embedded in this article to see for yourself.  You won’t have access to the youtube video at school but if you have a minute at home or on your phone, check it out.

http://www.visualthesaurus.com/cm/teachersatwork/2288/

Video link

There is nothing better than seeing students engaged in their learning.  What better way to make them interested in vocabulary than to use their own.  Now there is an idea worth using!  Let’s make learning exciting, student focused and change the way we view school.  Until next time… keep learning, keep sharing and keep the hope alive!

Do You Have That New Car Smell?

newcarsmell

Have you ever owned or had the pleasure of riding in a new car?  Something about that scent of a new car can get you in a state of “wow” quickly.  Everything looks pristine and untouched.  The glass shimmers as the sun penetrates its surface.  Your feet are inclined to sit still for fear of disturbing the freshly swept floor mats.  Something about a new car reminds me of a new school year.  The classroom has been upgraded to “clean” by maintenance staff, the floors shine with that new wax finish and nothing has set foot in that room, or so it seems.  You can’t wait to take it for a test drive around the block!

I enjoy my summers, don’t get me wrong but something happens to me around the middle of August every year.  I get this growing urge to get back into the world of teaching.  My mind begins to compile all that I had learned over the summer into living plans for the school year.  I have learned so much this summer from my PLN on Twitter.  I can’t say enough about what they have meant to my professional learning.  I’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many people from all around the world that I have decided to share my enthusiasm with my colleagues this week in this blog.

I have to thank @Sharnon007 for pushing me to enter the Twittersphere this year.  I had tried opening the door to Twitter on my own but found no value in the platform outside of her welcoming PLN.  It was through those like @tomwhitby, @cybraryman1, and @gcouros and the #edchat feeds that I grew to love the Twitter world.  @Sharnon007 and I had the pleasure of flying to NYC for a Macmillan MacGraw-Hill technology meeting this summer, so I finally met her face to face.   She was as kind in person as I had imagined.  We were asked to share our knowledge of the current educational trends with the publishers as they embark on the journey of creating their nationwide reading series for 2013.  There were four teachers and approximately 20 executives in the room all eager to hear how educators are seamlessly integrating the use of tech into their instruction.  The publishers are keenly aware of the changes taking place in the online world and how it seems to be growing exponentially.  They realize that in order to remain competitive, they must make the “shift” as well.  We not only were able to help them with their research but also were blessed to enjoy lower Manhattan and all its magnificence.  We saw Broadway “Mama Mia”, traveled to the top of the Empire State Building, took the Staten Island fairy to see Lady Liberty and on and on… It was incredible!

I also have had the pleasure of working on a tri-state initiative called #edcamp Cincy with @Steelepierce, @charrod and 15 others from the region who can be found by visiting http://edcampcincy.org  If you haven’t heard of #edcamp, it is a “non-conference” for educators.  The entire agenda is created on site by teachers and for teachers.  The bonus is that there is no advertising or promotional propaganda.  Read more at http://edcamp.wikispaces.com  We have already met f2f once and twice via Elluminate.  It looks like a great format for teaching and learning to take place.  Judging from our mentors experiences in #edcamp Philly, we will have plenty to keep our heads spinning for quite some time.  Our hope is to share our passion for quality teaching and to showcase how having a PLN can enhance your professional development for the the positive.  Look for updates on our site as we draw near to the October 9th #edcamp Cincy unconference.

One additional highlight for my professional growth this summer came as I had the opportunity to assist a group of teachers on twitter with an elementary chat session called #elemchat.  The co-conspirators for this chat have been Tania Cash (@tcash), Dorie Glynn (@doriedance), Nancy Ehrlich.  L@nancyteaches,  and @louwinsr Louise Winsor.  Lately, they have been the ones I have communicated with most frequently and learned the most from professionally.  They are incredible educators and a real joy to work with each week.  We have had only a few discussions online but our latest session was shut down due to Twitter API overload.  So I think its fair to say that the chat is growing and progressing rather well.

Perhaps its a need to empty out in order to fill up again, but I felt the need to share a few of the summer highlights as the new school year approaches.   I have a full tank of gas and I am ready to put the pedal to the medal. Vroom! Vroom!

Moving forward in education

I recently learned that the Emu and the Kangaroo are both important symbols to Australia because of their defining characteristics. The emu has an interesting foot that consists of only three toes. All of which face forward and help the animal to have tremendous balance.  The same characteristic is exhibited in the kangaroo. The kangaroo can balance itself by using its tail. However, both animals have a great deal of difficulty going backwards. They will immediately fall when they attempt to do so.

It reminded me how we feel in education at times. We want to go backwards, retracting what we have said or done, rather than finding ways to continue moving forward.  How many times have we thrown the baby out with the bath water when we encounter a societal change, politcal philosophy, economic change, etc. Rather than being creative with what we are already doing. Please don’t try and show another prepackaged program to a veteran teacher. “Been there, done that”, will ultimately be their response. If we know what good teaching looks like then our focus should remain there at all times. Building upon what we know and not expecting teachers to make this huge leap from one side of the spectrum to the other every 5-10 years.
Lately, the push or emphasis is on technological advancements, of which I am a huge fan. However, we seem to get so caught up in the tools or teaching the technology, that we have lost an entire group of educators in the process. Teachers with varying levels of tech competencies are now being valued on their ability lead a class in technology based practices. Why can’t the focus be on good teaching and learning. As Chris Lehman says, “Technology must be like oxygen: ubiquitous, necessary, and invisible.
I am proposing that we remain like the emu and the kangaroo in education. Let’s continue moving forward with what we know and remain balanced in our approach to teaching. It’s all about the learning that takes place in the classroom. It’s about building upon student interests, making school relevant and keeping schools safe for children to learn. Technology should definitely be an intricate part of that equation.  What we must consider, is that not everyone can dive in head first and come up swimming the first time. Sometimes we need to use kickboards (simple tools/ideas) and teach these individuals to use them for their own learning.  We must help one another keep our heads above water in this ever changing system.   Are you handing out kickboards to someone you know is struggling?  Sometimes they are afraid to get in the water and try to swim, right? Never give up hope…  When balanced, kangaroos have a very powerful kick to unleash! We need learning ~to be continued…

Treasures Schedule

Week
Grade
Unit
Weekly Theme

Main Selection
Leveled Readers
AL – Approaching Level
OL – On Level
BL – Beyond Level

Comprehension
Strategy
Skill
Phonics / Spelling Skill

Grammar Skill

Writing Mode
Writing Trait
8/31/2009 Start Smart
AL:
OL:
BL:


9/7/2009 School Days David’s New Friends
AL: School Star
OL: Sprouts
BL: The Get-Well Wall
Analyze Story Structure (TE) Story Structure (PE)
Character and Setting
short /a/a, /i/i Statements and Questions Personal Narrative
Personal Narrative paragraph-event (first day of school)
Ideas
Attention to detail
9/14/2009 Making Friends Mr. Putter & Tabby Pour the Tea
AL: City Garden
OL: Garden Park
BL: Over the Fence
Analyze Story Structure (TE) Story Structure (PE)
Plot
short /e/e, /o/o, /u/u Commands and Exclamations Personal Narrative
Personal Writing- description of a neighbor or friend
Sentence Fluency
Complete sentences
9/21/2009
OLSAT 8, Stanford 10

AL:
OL:
BL:


9/28/2009 Firefighters at Work Fighting the Fire-TFK
AL: Call 911!
OL: How We Use Fire
BL: Wildfires
Summarize (PE/TE)
Main Idea and Details
short /a/a, long /a/a_e Subjects Personal Narrative
Test Prep Writing: Personal Narrative
Voice
Use of lively words that show enthusiasm
Writing Strategy: Add words
10/5/2009 Being Yourself Meet Rosina
AL: Guide Dogs
OL: Signing a Language
BL: Technology that Helps
Summarize (PE/TE)
Main Idea and Details
short /i/i, long /i/i_e Predicates Personal Narrative
Personal Writing– introducing self to a new friend
Ideas
Adhering to the topic
10/12/2009 Coming to America My Name is Yoon
AL: Remember Me
OL: Daniel’s New Home
BL: Eva’s Journey
Summarize (PE/TE)
Make and Confirm Predictions
short /o/o, long /o/o_e Sentence combining; Day 1: Combining Subjects; Day 2: Combining Predicates Personal Narrative
Journal Entry about a personal experience
Voice
Use of lively words that show enthusiasm
10/19/2009 Review

Writing Topic: Write about a time when someone helped you. Be sure to tell how you felt before and after you got help. Remember to tell the event in order.



10/26/2009 Plants Alive! Tiny Seed, The
AL: Plants You Can Eat
OL: Amazing Plants
BL: Power-Packed Plants!
Summarize (PE/TE)
Draw Conclusions
short /u/u, long /u/u_e Nouns Explanatory
Poster about how to do something, contains three steps
Organization
Picture and text match; correct sequencing of steps
11/2/2009 Animal Rescue Harbor Seal Pup Grows Up, A
AL: Whale Watch
OL: Save the Tigers
BL: Bald Eagle Alert
Summarize (PE/TE)
Sequence
blends /sl/sl, /dr/dr, /sk/sk, /sp/sp, /st/st Plural Nouns Explanatory
How to care for an animal (e.g. a pet; class fish or other animal; backyard birds). Include labels, notes
Ideas
Attention to detail
11/9/2009 A Hospital Visit A Trip to the Emergency Room-TFK
AL: Hospital Helpers
OL: Stay Healthy, Stay Happy
BL: It’s Easy To Be Healthy!
Summarize (PE/TE)
Sequence
long /a/ay, ai Proper Nouns Personal Narrative
Test Prep Writing
Organization: Topic: beginning, middle, end
Adhering to the topic; beginning, middle, end
Writing Strategy: Sequence Map
11/16/2009
last week of trimester 1
How Animals Grow Farfallina and Marcel
AL: Little Bat
OL: Hermie the Hermit Crab
BL: Pip the Penguin
Generate Questions (TE) As Questions (PE)
Make Inferences
long /i/i, igh, ie, y Possessive Nouns Letter
Letter to a friend
Ideas
Attention to detail
11/23/2009
Thanksgiving 11/25-27

AL:
OL:
BL:


11/30/2009 Staying Fit There’s Nothing Like Baseball
AL: Tom’s Tryouts
OL: Harry’s Game
BL: The Laughter Club
Generate Questions (TE) Ask Questions (PE)
Make Inferences
long /o/o, oa, ow, oe Plurals and Possessives Explanatory
Explanation Explain something you like to do and why you like to do it
Voice
Use of lively words
12/7/2009 Review

Writing Topic: Write a how-to article about how to take care of something. Give steps in the right order. Use details to help the reader follow the steps.



12/14/2009 Telling Stories Head, Body, Legs: A Story From Liberia
AL: Wasted Wishes
OL: Three Wishes from a Fish
BL: Three Dog Wishes
Monitor Comprehension: Reread (TE) Reread (PE)
Cause and Effect
long /e/e, ee, ea, ey, y Action Verbs Persuasive
Persuasive Poster: When/ why something is important
Organization
Picture and text match
1/4/2010 Safety First Officer Buckle and Gloria
AL: Home Safety
OL: Road Safety
BL: Water Safety
Monitor Comprehension: Read Ahead (TE) Read Ahead (PE)
Use Illustrations
long /u/u, u_e Present-tense Verbs Persuasive
Persuasive Speech: how and why you should stay safe when biking
Ideas
Attention to detail; clear message
1/11/2010 Creatures Old and Older Meet the Super Croc – TFK
AL: 100-Year-Old-Animals
OL: Extinct Animals
BL: Living Fossils
Monitor Comprehension: Adjust Reading Rate (TE) Reread (PE)
Summarize
digraphs /ch/ch; /sh/sh; /th/th; /hw/wh Past-tense Verbs Personal Narrative
Test Prep Writing: Personal Narrative
Organization
Adhering to the topic; beginning, middle, end
Writing Strategy: Events map
1/18/2010 Curtain Up! The Alvin Ailey Kids: Dancing As a Team
AL: Sarah Hughes, Figure Skater
OL: Zhang Nan
BL: Gregory Hines: Tap Dancing Man
Visualize (PE/TE)
Summarize
digraphs /ch/ch, tch; /sh/sh; /th/th The Verb ‘Have’ Persuasive
Persuasive advertisement
Voice
Use of lively words
1/25/2010 On the Farm Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type
AL: Eggcellent!
OL: Knitwits and Woolly Sweaters
BL: What Good is Goat?
Visualize (PE/TE)
Cause and Effect
blends /scr/scr-, /spr/spr-, /str/str Sentence combining Day 1: Combining Sentences; Day 2: Combining predicates Persuasive
Persuasive Letter to the Editor
Word Choice
Precise Words
2/1/2010 Review

Writing Topic: Think of something you would like your community to change or do. Write a letter to convince people you are right. Include facts and opinions and remember to use your opinion words in your letter.



2/8/2010 Animal Needs Splish! Splash! Animal Baths
AL: Yaks of the Mountains
OL: Giraffes of the Savanna
BL: Sloths of the Rainforest
Generate Questions (TE) Ask Questions (PE)
Compare and Contrast
r-controlled vowels /är/ar, /ôr/or Linking Verbs Expository
Summary ( gather information, take notes, and summarize )
Conventions
Punctuation and capitalization
2/15/2010 Animal Survival Goose’s Story
AL: Dolphin Rescue
OL: The Last Pond
BL: The Lost Elephant
Generate Questions (TE) Ask Questions (PE)
Cause and Effect
r-controlled vowel /ûr/er, ir, ur Helping Verbs News Story
News Story (may research information)
Ideas
Attention to details
2/22/2010 Helping Planet Earth A Way To Help Planet Earth–TFK
AL: What Happens to Your Trash?
OL: Spoiled by a Spill
BL: Simple Ideas to Save the Earth
Generate Questions (TE) Ask Questions (PE)
Description
variant vowel /u/oo, ou Irregular Verbs Persuasive
Test Prep Writing: Persuasive
Organization
One main idea and supporting details
Writing Strategy: Make a list
3/1/2010
last week of trimester 2
Wild Weather Super Storms
AL: The Snowed-Under Sled
OL: That’s Wild!
BL: Storm Riders
Monitor Comprehension: Reread (TE) Reread (PE)
Make and Confirm Predictions
variant vowel /ü/oo, ui, ew Irregular verbs Expository
Comparison/Contrast paragraph-about weather
Ideas
Attention to details
3/8/2010 Habitats and Homes Nutik, the Wolf Pup
AL: The Rainforest
OL: The Coral Reef
BL: Grasslands
Monitor Comprehension: Adjust Reading Rate (TE) Reread (PE)
Make Inferences
variant vowel /ô/au, aw Contractions Book Report
Book Report/ Review
Word Choice
Precise words
3/15/2010 Review

Writing Topic: Write about a topic that has something to do with the earth, ocean, or sky. Think of the main idea you want to share about your topic. Think of details that tell more about the main idea. Remember to use your own words to summarize the facts and details you find.



3/22/2010 Life In the Desert Dig, Wait, Listen: A Desert Toad’s Tale
AL: Sonoran Desert Animals
OL: Australian Desert Animals
BL: Kalahari Desert Animals
Summarize (TE)
Author’s Purpose (PE)
diphthong /ou/ow, ou Pronouns Fictional Narrative
dialogue (for a fictional character or animal in the desert)
Voice
Lively Words
4/5/2010 Play Time! Pushing Up the Sky
AL: Sky Colors
OL: Why the Sky Is Far Away
BL: Sky Seeds
Visualize (PE/TE)
Problem and Solution
diphthong /oi/oi, oy I and me, we and us Play
Fantasy-short play
Organization
Play structure
4/12/2010 Exploration Columbus Explores New Lands–TFK
AL: Discovering Shipwrecks
OL: Exploring the South Pole
BL: Discovering Lost Cities
Summarize (PE/TE)
Main Idea and Details
schwa /?/a Possessive Pronouns Extended Response to Literature
Test Prep Writing: Extended Response to Literature
Conventions
Punctuation and capitalization
Writing Strateg: Use details
4/19/2010 In the Garden Ugly Vegetables, The
AL: All About Pumpkins
OL: All About Tomatoes
BL: All About Corn
Summarize (TE/PE)
Sequence
consonants /n/gn, kn; /r/wr; /m/mb Pronouns-verb Agreement Story
Story (realistic story about a family)
Ideas
Attention to detail
4/26/2010 Our Moon Moon, The
AL: Let’s Visit Space!
OL: Star Sailor
BL: Wathcing the Stars
Summarize (TE/PE)
Classify and Categorize
hard/soft consonants /k/c, /g/g; /s/c, /j/g Contractions Fictional Narrative
Description of an imaginary place; setting )
Ideas
Adhering to the topic; beginning, middle, end
5/3/2010 Review

Writing Topic: Write a story about a character who has a problem and then solve it. Remember that your story should have a clean beginning, middle and end.



5/10/2010 Count on a Celebration! Mice and Beans
AL: Saving Sofia
OL: A Party and a Half
BL: A Lucky New Year
Analyze Story Structure (TE) Story Structure (PE)
Fantasy and Reality
endings -dge, -ge, -lge, -nge, -rge Adjectives Descriptive
Poster/flyer: description of an event
Word Choice
Precise words
5/17/2010 Creating Stories Stirring Up Memories
AL: Illustrators at Work
OL: A World of Words
BL: Shutterbugs
Analyze Text Structure (TE) Text Structure (PE)
Draw Conclusions
r-controlled vowels /är/ar; /âr/are, air Use ‘a’ and ‘an’ Poem
Descriptive Poem
Voice
Lively words that show enthusiasm
5/24/2010 Worlds of Art Music of the Stone Age–TFK
AL: A World of Colors
OL: A Collection of Cats
BL: A World of Puppets
Analyze Text Structure (TE) Text Structure (PE)
Make Judgments
r-controlled vowels /ûr/er; /îr/eer, ere, ear Adjectives that Compare Fictional Narrative
Test Prep Writing: Fictional Narrative
Organization
Beginning, middle, end
Writing Strategy: Story Map
5/31/2010 Inventors Then and Now African-American Inventors
AL: Telephones Then and Now
OL: Cars Then and Now
BL: Computers Then and Now
Monitor Comprehension (TE) Reread (PE)
Compare and Contrast
r-controlled vowel /ôr/or, ore, oar Adverbs Biography
biography
Ideas
Attention to detail
6/7/2010
last week of trimester 3
Review

Writing Topic: Write an article that compares/contrasts 2 objects or people. You may want to write about your 2 favorite foods or your 2 closest friends. Write the facts in an order that makes sense. Use compare/contrast words to make your meaning clear.




About

My name is Eddie Thompson and I am a fourth grade teacher in the Fairfield City School District.  I have been blessed with a beautiful wife, a son and a daughter.  Nothing can describe the experience of parenting your own children.  Prior to having my own children, I thought that loving children was easy, natural and food for the soul.  After having children of my own, I’ve grown to have a greater respect for good parenting.  I see it everyday in the children I teach and the people I teach with at Fairfield North.  Everyone wants to be a good parent, a good person, a good employee and then life struggles get in the way, right?  I am so amazed by the genuine sharing and growth that can take place during those times of struggle.  The more we can learn from one another, the more helpful we can be to those that surround us in our day to day lives.  I hope that by sharing some of my experiences in teaching and in life, that you might gain insight into the power of teaching, sharing and learning.  I also hope that you do not remain silent in the lurking world of blogging, so that we can learn from one another.

The thoughts and views expressed on this blog are in no way a representation of the thoughts and views of my school district.