Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Learning Fast Facts Tips & Tricks

Put together by NL0708

Why are fast facts important. It is very important to know your fast facts.By the time you are in third grade you should have them down pack.So here are some tips and tricks by our class about fast facts!

"My best tip is to practice each fact and all of the tricks.'' by TD0708

''To study go to multiplication. com'' by MP0708

Practice as long as you can then do math facts in 2minutes.'' by MJW0708

''Write out your times tables and say them as you are writing them.'' by LN0708.

"I practice for about 40minutes with my parents." by KH0708

''Ask your mom to test you for 20minutes'' by DF0708

''I use a stopwatch and use old math fact test and test myself'' by AB0708

''Show a younger or older sibling multiplication so you can study'' by NL0708

''Rewrite my fast facts'' by JJ0708

''Study with an older or younger sibling'' by GM0708

''Write multiplication over and over again'' by RW0708

''Use flashcards to study'' by MJW0708

''I never liked math but when I studied I tried my best and I got my time test & learned that I do not know 9x8 but I know 8x9 it is just reversed 8x9 & 9x8 is 72 it is the same answer it is just reversed.''CM0708

''For eights you need to know is your fours it is just double double.'' by DD0708

''If you have troubles in nines time tables all you have to do is go down in the tens column & up in the ones column''By RW0708

Do you have more tips and tricks you would like to share? Post them in the comments below.

SRI Test Taking Tips

collected by student MS0708

What is the S.R.I test?

Well the S.R.I test stands for Student Reading Inventory. This test tells you what class you're going to be in. If score high on the S.R.I test like an 1056, you're an 9.0 student like me.

Here are the best tips and tricks:

*Don't give up on yourself or the test. Also don't pressure yourself.
*When you make a mistake try to figure it out. DON'T get confused.
*Use the hamburger method to solve complicated S.R.I problems.
*Don't sit by your friends so you won't get distracted.
*Do brain gyms before the S.R.I test.
*Believe in yourself. Stay focus.
*Use the Answer Checking Strategies.
*Also use Problem Solving Strategies to figure out the problem.
*Read it twice, check your and reread and check again.
*Choose a test topic you're interested in, instead of choosing a topic you don't understand.
*Use steps for taking S.R.I test.
1. Read the question.
2. Read the passage.
3. Read the question again.
4. Read all of the answers.
5. Choose the best answer.
6. Read the passage again.
7. Read the question again.
8. Check your answer.

Clearly, I have told you everything. I gave you eight steps. I gave you details. I told you the topic. Use this tips and get the highest score you can on your next SRI test.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Free On-Line Typing Practice Game

For a free typing web-based (no download required) interactive program and games that run in your we browser go to:

Unit 4 Math Test

Here are the GLCE's (What are GLCE's?) for our Every Day Math Unit 4 on Division. Use these as a guide to study for our test on Wed 12/19 (see We Have a Class Calendar for other test). Remember if you find a good online resources (game, video, or website) post in the comments to share with other classmates.

N.MR.05.01 Understand the meaning of division of whole numbers, with and without remainders; relate division to fractions and to repeated subtraction.

N.MR.05.02 Relate division of whole numbers with remainders to the form a = bq + r, e.g., 34 ÷ 5 =6 r 4, so 5 * 6 + 4 = 30; note remainder 4 is less than divisor.

M.MR.05.03 Write mathematical statements involving division for given situation.

N.MR.05.05 Solve applied problems involving multiplication and division of whole numbers

N.FL.05.06 Divide fluently up to a four-digit number by a two-digit number.

N.ME.05.10 Understand a fraction as a statement of division, e.g., 2 ÷ 3 = 2/3, represent simple
fractions with pictures.

See Also
Our Class Wiki Notebook
Chapter 4 Division Notes

Holiday Party Sign-Up Sheet

It’s that time of year again! Please let us know what you’ll be brining for the Holiday Celebration. Thanks for your participation. Also, let Mr. Ambrose know if you can help out during the party.

What we need:
[x] Pizza (6 Pepperoni & 2 Cheese) Ms. James
[x] Pop Ms. James
[x] Paper ware (cups, plates, napkins, cuttery) Ms. Lamar
[x] Cake Ms. Lyons
[ ] Fruit Tray
[ ]Chips
[ ]Goodie Bags (8)
[ ]Goodie Bags (8)
[ ]Goodie Bags (8)
[ ]Goodie Bags (8)

Comment on the post below if you would like to volunteer or donate.

Mrs. Lamar

Monday, December 10, 2007

Friday, November 30, 2007

Class Update

Email subscriptions have just been set up so if you made it here it worked! Over the last couple weeks we have been launching our class blog. I believe it is now ready to go officially public and share. I had sent home a letter about the blog and how you can subscribe to it. If you still would like to subscribe make sure you confirm. Remember you can easily unsubscribe at anytime by click on the link at the bottom of each email.

Report cards just went home, if you have questions or concerns email me to set up an appointment and we can sit down and go through the grade more closely. The best time for me is before school, any day and anytime between 7:15-7:45 am.

Here is the direct link to our blog:

A good post to start with to get oriented to our blog is to read
About This Site

Remember one of the most powerful features is it is read and write. So I really encourage everyone to join in on the conversation and comment on the posts.

Unit 3 Math Test

Here are the GLCE's (What are GLCE's?) for our Every Day Math Unit 3 Geometry Unit. Use these as a guide to study for our test on Tues 12/4 (see We Have a Class Calendar for other test). Remember if you find a good online resources (game, video, or website) post in the comments to share with other classmates.

G.TR.05.01 Associate an angle with a certain amount of turning; know that angles are measured in degrees; understand that 90°, 180°, 270°, and 360° are associated, respectively, with 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 and full turns.

G.GS.05.02 Measure angles with a protractor and classify them as acute, right, obtuse or straight.

G.GS.05.03 Identify and name angles on a straight line and vertical angles.

G.GS.05.04 Find unknown angles in problems involving angles on a straight line, angles surrounding a point and vertical angles.

G.GS.05.05 Know that angles on a straight line add up to 180° and angles surrounding a point add up to 360°; justify informally by “surrounding” a point with angles.

G.GS.05.06 Understand why the sum of the interior angles of a triangle is 180° and the sum of the interior angles of a quadrilateral is 360°, and use these properties to solve problems.

G.GS.05.07 Find unknown angles and sides using the properties of: triangles, including right,
isosceles, equilateral triangles; parallelograms, including rectangles and rhombuses; and

See Also:
Our Wiki
Chapter 3 Geometry Notes

We Have a Class Calendar

Click here to see our shared class calendar or look on the side margin of this blog for the calendar buttons and tools. I will do my best to keep this updated so you can know when the next test is comming or highlight important dates from our school calendar.

My Home: The American Dream Contest

A few students in our class entered the 3rd Annual Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC and Scholastic "My Home: The American Dream" contest for a chance to win $2,000. They produced and edited their own movies at home and sumbitted good luck. Check out the their site here to follow the announcements.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Our First Class Podcast

This is our first podcast

1.Podcast welcoming by Mjw0708
2.Class news by Nl 0708
3.Movie review by Jl 0708
4.Book review by Sl 0708
5.Math fact of the week by DD 0708
6.Science fact of the week by RU0708
7.Jokes of the week by Df/JJ0708
8.Current Events by LN0708

I hope you enjoyed the show. If you have any questions, please comment below.

By the Producer

To listen to our podcast just click on the play arrow below. (If you don't see it you may have a filter blocking it, try at home)

Subscribe Free Add to my Page

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Wordcast Lesson #1

Our first "Wordcast" by CB0708 from quarter II SFA Class

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

How to Record a Podcast

We just set up a class podcast with Gcast!

Podcasting by phone is easy! Here's how it works:

1) Call toll-free anytime at 1-888-65-GCAST (888-654-2278) If outside USA: +1-305-437-8719

2) Type in primary phone number, which is our school phone number 313-833-1100

3) Enter 4 digit pin

4) Record your message, and either:
Save and Publish it instantly to our podcast channel, or
Save it in your Master Playlist for future publishing

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Monday, November 5, 2007

Mathcast: Multiplying Decimals Using the Lattice Method

Our first Mathcast!

presented by TD0708
recorded by BH0708

Friday, November 2, 2007

Student Paper: How To Use The Hamburger Method

If, you ever get stuck on a math problem, I got some news for you. My advice is called The Hamburger Method. I’m hungry just thinking about it. If you want an A+ listen up. This is going to be great! Here’s a sample problem I can use to show you how. Let’s Sam has 10 apples and 5 buckets. How many how many apples go in each bucket equally?

First, what comes on top of every good burger? That’s right the top bun. This bun means "What do I need to find?” When that question is asked you should highlight, underline, circle or box keywords. Example: How many apples go in each bucket? (I underline many, apples, and each.)

Second, is that crunchy and green lettuce, Mmmm. “Reread and find the givens” is what that’s all about. Figure out what do I already know? Look at the sample problem and see what it tells you. Example: Sam has 10 apples and 5 buckets is what I know.

Third, is that red skinny tomato. That red tomato means “Plan and strategize.” Choose a problem solving strategy. The strategies are look for a pattern, make a chart, draw a picture, guess and check, work backwards, solve a simpler problem, or act it out. Example: I have to choose a strategy. It will be draw a picture.

Next, is the best part of a hamburger, that juicy burger. The burger is solve and check. Here we do the math and use answer checking strategies like estimate reasonableness, plug in original equation, and fact triangle check. Example: Draw 5 buckets, split all the apples into each bucket. To check your answer you can do 5*2=10.

Lastly on that bottom bun. This holds the burger together. Now you “Restate” your answer, in a complete sentence. Example: Only 2 apples will fit in each bucket equally.

In conclusion, I have told you that tasty Hamburger Method. I explained every step. The steps were the top bun, the lettuce, the tomato, the burger and the bottom bun. This is a great method and easy to remember. Use the Hamburger Method for an A+.

By BM0708

Saturday, October 20, 2007

How Students Can Log In and Blog

Up until now, the students have been typing their posts in Google Docs (online MS word) and we have been logging into the Blog under the teacher's account and copying and pasting their work.

Class, I think you are now ready for having your own account so that you can login on your own. So I have added a guest author account so that students can log on and make write their own posts anytime they want. Here is how:

Step 1: Go to

Step 2: Login using our class username: studentusers
password: (hint our school and room #)

Step 3: Click on the new post link

Step 4: Write a title, then write your blog post

Step 5: Don't forget to sign your initial code (example John Smith would call himself JS0708 ) at the bottom so we know who wrote the piece

Step 6: Optional-give the posts some labels. If you use more than one use a comma between.

Step 7: Hit the Publish Post button below

Student User Email Address

I have set up a class email address for the students to use so they you can log into online web services with out having to register and give out your own personal email address. It is:

password hint = school and room #

We will be writing this done in our planners for reference but email me if you can't figure it out.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Plant Webquest

Class Webquest on Plants

Click on the link below to begin the "Great Plant Escape"

Plant Life Cycle Videos

Plant Cycle:

Germination/Parts of a Seed --> Maturation & Flowering --> Pollination/Feritilzation --> Seed Dispersal --> retstart back to Germination


Title: Time lapse radish seeds sprouting, top and roots growing

Duration: 46 seconds


Video: (click on screen to play)

Maturation & Flowering
Title: Flowering plants

Duration: 4:33 min


Video: (click on screen to play)

Title: Flowering Anatomy
Duration: 39 seconds


Video: (click on screen to play)

Pollination & Feritilization
Title: Plant Reproduction: Methods of Pollination (

Duration: 3:56 mins


Video: (click on screen to play)

Seed Dispersal

Title: Plant Reproduction: Plant Fertilization ( 39 seconds


Video: (click on screen to play)

Video: Gift of Green - Photosynthesis

These are the types of 16mm film strips I use to watch in school. I found a classic that does an excellent job talking about photosynthesis.

Video: Gift of Green - Photosynthesis (1946)

Duration: 16 min


Video: (click on screen to play)

Plant Unit Standards

Below are the Grade Level Content Expecations (GLCE's), also called standards, for 5th grade. Read also What are GLCE's? Understanding these GLCE's allows you to better prepare for the Science Test on Plants (expected in early November).


Standard: All students will compare and contrast differences in the life cycles of living things

2.Describe the life cycle of a flowering plant

Key Concepts: Flowering plant parts and processes- roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruit, seeds, embryo, pollen, egg cell germination, fertilization

Tools: Microscope, hand lens

Real-World Contexts: Common flowering plants, such as bean, tulip

3. Describe evidence that plants make and store food

Key Concepts: Process and products of food production and transport – photosynthesis starch, sugar, oxygen, carbon dioxide, water

Real World Contexts: Plant food storage organs, such as potato, onion; starch storage in plants grown under different conditions.

Friday, October 12, 2007

About this Site

Our class has gone cutting edge and started a class blog. A blog, short for "web log", is an online journal or newsletter of thoughts and information chronologically published where the most current content is on top of the main page. Blogs are a part of the new social read/write web because they allow others to participate and comment on the content. (See also Defintion of a Blog and Why I Switched From a Class Website to a Blog)

My goals are to use blogs as a platform to responsibly teach, model, and give the students the opportunity to explore the new social web in a supervised and safe environment. Please make sure you and your child have read, discussed, and understands The Blogger's Contract. Secondly, I want to use blogs as way to improve the home-school connection. I also plan to use the blogs to put content and tools online that could assist students in studying for tests at home and on the web.

Our class blog will improve parent communication by keeping you updated on the latest news. Another great feature about blogs are they allow you to subscribe to them. You can subscribe by filling in your email address in the box in the right hand margin of this site. Then every time the blog is updated it comes to you through email, so you can stay current with class news and blog posts. (See also Email Subscription: The Simplest Way to Stay Updated)

One of things that make blogs most powerful is the ability to participate in a live conversations through comments. Please read How and Why to Comment on this Blog.

I am really excited about using this new technology to better connect parents, teachers, and the students in order to better prepare them with the skills they need to be competitive in the 21st century. (I recommend you watch Video: Did You Know 2.0 to see what this generation is about).

Please comment on this post below to give any general feedback, questions, or concerns that you have about this blog. Have fun.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Student Paper: A New Kid In A New School

This paper was written by TW0708 and edited by TD0708

After my first day of school I was all right but my first day of school was a challenge. I thought people were going to call me a geek because of my glasses. I was hoping other kids would have glasses too. I didn't want to be the only one with glasses.

First when I got in the classes. I saw people who were wearing glasses other than me. I was happy to see that. The day was starting off well. I knew that the class would not call me a geek. Then I said who is my teacher. It was Mr.Ambrose the most funniest teacher a kid could ever have. He makes us laugh,he plays math games. The games are fun too, they are the funniest games ever. I think I'm going to like this school year.

Mr.Ambrose is a great teacher, he teaches great lessons on math ,prime numbers ,arrays ,and reading too. He teaches better lessons then my old school. I have some friends in this class and they are funny,that makes the classfun. The teacher is my friend and so is the class. They are fun to learn with. One more thing the class is the best class ever. They help each other with school work and to help each other with work we need help with. My teacher Mr.Ambrose is the best teacher ever and a very,very, good person.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

You Can Now Lease Social Studies & Science Books

I just found out that parents can lease Science and Social Studies book with a $65 deposit that will be completely refund if the book is returned in good condition. Also remember you can purchase the Everyday Math Student Reference Book, which I highly recommend because it is an excellent resources to help students and parents with homework and studying.

Contact Mr. Rozier the Science and Social Studies Cooridnator at ext 1201 and Mrs. Boueri the Math Cooridnator at ext 1165 for details and arrangements.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

What Should I Read Next

After teaching reading for a couple years now, I have learned that one of the biggest factors in literacy development with new readers is the importance of them reading something they are interested in. Too many times I see a kid torturing themselves reading an outdated old beat up book for their daily 20 minute reading response homework.

So a big part of my reading class is exposing kids to good books through my daily read a loud and getting them access to good cheap popular books - Scholastic Book Club. When ever I share a book like Holes I tell them about how they can go to Amazon and look up the author and the book and see the links that say people who liked this book also bought... link. Well I this new website makes this whole process much easier to find other books similar to one that you have enjoyed.

Check out

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Make and Share a Quiz Online is a free online web based tool that is extremely easy to use and does note require you to register an account. You can make and share a quiz in minutes with 4 steps:

1) Watch this short 2:53 min video to learn on how to use
Click the arrow to play

2) Go to

3) Name and make your quiz

4) Cut "Share this quiz with your friends link" (located on the bottom of the screen) and paste the link on our class blog so others can study from your quiz

I am really excited about this tool. Check out the quiz I made a test your self here is the share this quiz with your friends link

If you make a quiz post your "share this quiz with your friends link" in a comment to this post below

Student Paper: Why Should You Use the Writing Process

This piece was written by student MP0708 in school and was published in order to share tips on how to write a prompt for the MEAP.

Whenever I do a prompt, I use the steps of the writing process. It may take long but its all worth it at the end because I have a great paper. You will have to follow these steps.

To begin, I would like to tell you why you would want to use the writing process. It helps you understand what you are writing about. It also help you answer the question in your writing prompt. Another reason you won't get off of topic. These are the reasons you would want to use the writing process.

First you would want read the prompt. You would want to know what your writing about. Then you should do fatp f stand for form, a means audience t stand for topic,and p stand for purpose. If you have one read the checklist make one if you don't have one or ask your teacher to make one for you. Alway set goals like focus correction errors.

Next you always need to brainstorm because you can get all your idea's out. You can always do five w's and one h which stands for who,what,when,where,why,and how. After do a web it can be very helpful it gives a little information so you can write on your draft. Also do an outline to show how to set it up.

Third is your draft you can make mistakes but not on your final copy. It is alway important to revise and edit it is mostly good to let a friend or partner to do it for you because you may not notice your mistakes. Also you have your final copy. Don't forget starter,transition,and conclusion words.

Truly now you see how the writing process works. Now your paper will turn out perfect. If you want a perfect paper follow these steps. It will help you through all your writing prompts.

Written by MP0708

Edited by BM0708

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Math Fast Facts Challenge

From now until the end of October the 5th grade has begun a multiplication fast fact challenge. The standard is 50 out 50 multipication facts (1-12 times tables) under 2 minutes. We will be taking fast fact quizzes every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Once the student has achieved this 3 times in a row they can move on to the next challenge - 50 out 50 division facts in less than 2 minutes. Last year we spent a lot of time building these reflexes up, it should just take a couple days of brushing off and refreshing these facts back up to speed. It is crucial that we master these basic facts right away since we are moving quickly into more complicated topics (like prime factorization) that assume a mastery of multiplication. If the students don't know their multiplication times table they will quickly fall behind. My two favorite math websites for parents and students to make their own worksheets and timed test plus loads of onlines games are Parents and students please comment below and add your favorite websites, tricks, and tips.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Download Firefox Link

In order to do some more advanced internet work we will need a more powerful internet browser (software that you use to access and read the internet) especially if you have a mac. Unfortunately the mac's default browser, Safari, does not support the kind of work we will be doing on the web so you can download firefox. Firefox is an open source software for free that is very easy to use, it is set up just like the most popular browsers, but it gives you the option to do more.

Download Mozilla Firefox for mac's click here

If you own a PC, as a side note, I strongly recommend giving firefox a try. I prefer firefox over window internet explorer.

Download Mozilla Firefox for PC's here

Thursday, September 20, 2007

What are GLCE's?

GLCE's (pronounced "glicks") stands for Grade Level Content Expectations.
As part of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, the federal Dept of Ed called upon states to develop grade level assessments based on “rigorous academic standards.”

Here in Michigan we call these standards GLCE's and the state assessment that tests the mastery of these GLCE's is called the MEAP (Michigan Educational Assessment Program). The MEAP is given every October and assesses the GLCE's from the year before. So this year in October, the students will be tested on 4th grade GLCE's.

It is important parents know and understand the grade level content expectations of their child so that they can:

-Learn what students need to know by the end of the school year
-Discuss student progress during Parent Teacher Conferences
-Support learning at home that is aligned with what is being taught in the classroom and tested on the MEAP
-Understand their child's MEAP score

More Information:

*Michigan Dept of Ed complete list of all GLCE's by grade click here

*Michigan Dept of Ed made more condensed and user friendly guide just for parents, click here

*Michigan Dept of Ed official MEAP page click here

*Ann Arbor put together a nice organized collection of all the 5th grade GLCE's click here

See Also:
Download Last Year's MEAP Test for Practice!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Top 100 5th Grade Math MEAP Vocabulary

Thanks to RW07 for going through our review packet and finding the top 100 words on the MEAP. Making flash cards and studying these words would be great preparation for the big test.

number line
expanded number
how many
multiplication sentence
factor pairs
prime number
mental math
number sentence
number line
greater than
equivalent fraction
improper fraction
mixed number
square centimeter
square inch
right angle
acute angle
obtuse angle
reflex angle

Download Last Year's MEAP Tests for Practice!

Many parents have been asking what they could do to help prep our students for the MEAP test. The best advice I can give is to click on this link to download the MEAP test that last year's 5th grade students actually took.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Video: Did You Know 2.0

Parents you must watch this video, it will give you insight into the world your kids (and their generation) are a part of.

8:01 minutes


Karl Fisch

Additional Resources:Did You Know? 2.0 - Additional Quotes and Questions
To download an transcript of the video click PDF or Word

What do you think? I would really like to start a discussion in the comments about this.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

How and Why to Comment on this Blog


One of the major features of a blog is the ability to comment. Since blogs are published and organized in a chronological order, the latest news is always on top and commenting allows readers in a community to participate and have conversations around relevant issues sharing advice, opinions, or useful links. This makes blogs more social and interactive adding a forum or discussion board like feature to all content published versus the old traditional websites where it is one way discussion-the writer informing the reader.


To comment on this blog simply click on the comment link on the bottom of each post.

A screen will come up that looks like this :

Type your comment in the box

Then click on Anonymous.
(We are using Anonymous because, I don't want you giving out your name our your email address)

Finally click on "Publish Your Comment"


Your comment will not be published immediately. There will be a delay since all comments need to be moderated by me, the administrator. I have put this setting on to censure all comments to ensure they are appropriate for our students.

Also remember our class Blogger's contract and the system we set up to protect our identies.

"Instead of using your name when writing posts or comments, use your first and last initials followed by the school year. Our class will know who we are, but strangers will not. (Example John Mike Smith from the 2007-8 school year would call himself JMS0708 )"

Parents you can type your full names or you can use the initials system above (Mrs. Jones= Mrs. J) on the bottom of the message but please don't use your child's full name in your message. Unfortunately I already had to decline 2 very nice comments because parents mentioned their child's first name and they signed with their last name. I know this may seem like a stretch but I want to make sure we do this with the utmost responsibility and safety to make sure this experience becomes positive and fun for everyone.

Go ahead and try to comment on this post, click on the link below. Let me know if you have any concerns or suggestions.

Additional Resources:

For more information about how to comment check out this great blog post
How to comment like a king (or queen!)

The Blogger's Contract

I understand the power and responsibilities of publishing to a large global audience and participating in an educational dialogue online through blogs. There are some rules and codes of conduct to follow in order to keep our blog educational, fun, and safe.

Blog Rules

I will always write in a way that protects the identity of my classmates, my family, and myself.

I will always write in a way that brings respect and honor to my school, my family, and myself.

Blogger Code of Conduct

I will never use my name.
I will never give out my address.
I will never give out my email address.
I will never give out my phone number.

I will keep my writing educationally related.
I will be responsible for everything I publish; if I make a mistake I will fix it.
I will do my absolute best to write truthful and useful information.
I will not copy other people’s work.
I will never write to cause harm or to hurt the feelings of others.
I will set a good example for others.

Blogging Instructions

Remember all comments go straight to the blog administrator, your teacher, so there will be a delay in publishing your posts and comments. This is so that the teacher can screen all new content that is published to the blog.

Instead of using your name when writing posts or comments, use your first and last initials followed by the school year. Our class will know who we are, but strangers will not. (Example John Mike Smith would call himself JMS0708 )

When we sign into the blog to publish a post or comment, we will use the class email address. This is so we do not give our our personal information.
Our class email address is __________________
Our password is __________________

I have read, understood, and agree to follow the blogger's rules, code of conduct, and instructions.

Student Sign X____________________________
Parent Sign X____________________________
Date X ____________________________

Monday, September 3, 2007

Rules of Organization

One of the big differences between 4th and 5th grade expectations is student organization. Parents, I am going to need your help with this, so here are the rules of organization that I will need your assistance in enforcing:

*Every paper has its place (no loose papers!)
*Notes always stay in notebook unless directed to rip out (no lost papers!)
*Use both sides of the notebook page (no wasted space!)
*Save all handouts & HW until the after the unit test is over (you will be graded with the study tracker!)
*HW folder has two pockets: Left side=Return and right side=Leave Home

Class Supply List


1 x large three-ring binder that holds:
6 x single-subject notebooks each labeled with name and: Journal, Math, SFA, ELA, Social Studies, Science
6 x two-pocket folders each labeled with name and : HW, Math, SFA, ELA, Social Studies, Science
3 x Pencils, 1 x pen, 1 x highlighter, 1 x dry erase marker, 1 x pencil sharpener

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

My Best Summer Practice Advice

I am frequently asked for "summer packets" or ideas on how to keep your child's brain working during the summer. So here is my professional prescription for the school vacation:

1) Read. Of course the obvious, take them to the library or the book store and keep them reading each and every day for at least 20 minutes at or above their reading level. Don't know what level a book is? -- ask the librarian. Don't know which book? -- type in "NY Times Best Seller List" into your search engine and click on "Children's Books." They break it down into the nation's best-selling picture books, chapter books, paperback books, and series for kids. Is your child a picky reader? If there is a book that you or your child really enjoyed (for me it's the book Holes) type it into and look at "Customers who bought this book also bought" (which is usually listed below) to see a list with reviews of other books similar to your favorite book.

2) Write & Type. Have your child keep a journal. I recommend blogs as the new writing method. A blog is an online journal that anyone can set up. Set your child up on a free blog (I like or - you can make them private so that only your child and you can view the entries), and make a daily habit out of it. Not only will this expose them to the web but it also will get them practicing on their typing -- an essential 21st century skill. Here are two links for your kids to learn and practice keyboarding skills.

a) For a free typing web-based (no download required) interactive program and games that run in your we browser
go to:

b) For a free typying software application you can download onto your computer go to:

3) Test.
In Michigan, we take the MEAP test (Michigan Educational Assessment Program) every October which assesses the state standards for the previous year's grade level content expectations. For example, 4th graders take a test on everything they were supposed to master in 3rd grade. Do you know you can get access to these state-wide high stakes tests? On the Michigan Department of Education's website they have the actual MEAP Tests that were administered for the last 8 years for all the grades! Here is how to access them:

1.Go to the search engine and type in "Michigan MEAP Released Items." Next, click on the first result that comes up.
Or if that doesn't work try this:

a) Go to the Michigan Department of Education's website at
b) Click on "School Assessment and Accountability" on the left margin
c) Click on the "Michigan Educational Assessment Program"
on the left margin
d) Click on "Released Items" on the left margin

2.No matter which method you used above, next click on the "Elementary link" (they also have links for the Middle and High School tests).

3. Now you will see a list of tests by grades and year.
Choose the test you want and click on the link to download the pdf file. When you click on the link, Acrobat or Adobe should download and open the file for you -- most computers already have one of these programs installed.

4. Then you can print the file and give to your child to practice. They are long tests so you can have them do just couple sections a day.

So which tests should you use? If my child just completed the 4th grade this year I would do the Math and Language Arts from 2006 (except for the Reading because the stories are not accessible due to copyright laws). This was the exact test they took this past October that assessed everything they learned from 3rd grade. I would make sure they have mastered it all and if they are still are having trouble I would go back to 2005-1998 versions
for 4th grade for some more practice. Then I would have my child take the 2006 5th grade Math, Language Arts, and Science (5th grade is the first year they take the science test and it is a tough one). This will be very similar to the next test they will be taking this October in 5th grade which assesses everything they learned in 4th grade. Again, if they are having trouble go back through 2005-1998 for some other versions from 5th grade for more practice.

I believe that these are some of the best "insider secrets" for empowering parents with technology to give their children an educational advantage at home. Enjoy, good luck, and have a great summer. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions.