3 weeks to go!  We can do this!  Stay on track with me and we’ll be set!

Special opportunities this week:

  • Monday – Leave No Trace is a national organization that teaches citizens how to be good stewards of our environment and keep our outdoors clean and healthy.  
  • Tuesday – Math SOL pt. 1
  • Wednesday – Math SOL pt. 2
  • Friday – Young Scientists’ lesson on force, motion, energy (Please send in your $15 if you haven’t done so already.)

Science – We will finish up our unit on electricity this week and allow time for our bioluminescent creatures next week.  You’ll have to look for them during our PTA Ice Cream social on May 21st.

LA – We are still reading, reading, reading!  Check out our AR post from earlier to see how we’ve used this one tool this year to foster reading across the curriculum through a variety of genres.  I think you’ll agree we’ve had unbelievable success.  Rm#116 has 85% of our team scoring 80% or higher on comprehension and vocabulary.  We’ve read aloud many books this year in addition to several hundred books that the students have read independently.  Our current read aloud is Book I of the Island Series: Shipwreck by David Korman.  This book is a favorite among my students.  We get so involved that we actually finish all three books in the series before we leave for summer.  Many students have received feedback from Engineer Girl – please forward it to me.  It’s good information.  :)

Math – Our SOL is split over two days, Tuesday and Wednesday.  We’ll do awesome but persistence and work ethic will be keys for success!  Be sure to check out our MATH REVIEW PAGE for practice items.   Be on the look out for 5th grade math over the next few weeks!

Thank you all for a fabulous Teacher Appreciation Week!  I am so lucky to be able to spend time with these incredible 22 young men and women.  Your support and teamwork have helped make this an awesome year.  They have grown tremendously since August and I know they’re ready to move on to 5th grade.  Keep reading over the summer and work on pushing those math skills!  Don’t stop – we’ve all grown so much!


Reading? √

I’d say we’re reading like crazy!  There’s lots of discussion about AR out there – Rm#116 loves it.  Here’s the proof (to date):

1406 tests taken

31,448,835 words read (that’s MILLION)

32 books read aloud this year 

100% of our students are in the 10, 25, and 40 point clubs

87% fiction and 13% nonfiction

4609.9 points earned

We’ve met goal after goal and we’re still rolling!  Pick up a book and read with us!  The door is always open . . . 


Math Science Innovation Center

Today, our MSIC representative gave us an opportunity to share the types of energy sources that we knew –  renewable: biomass, hydropower, wind, solar, geothermal AND nonrenewable: oil, nuclear, coal, and gas.  Did you know we use coal to power most of Virginia’s electricity from the southwest region of VA (Appalachian Plateau) in Tazwell County?

Her focus was on solar energy – solar cells are a way to capture the sun’s energy and change it to electricity.  Our experiment looked like this:

Question: How will the size of the solar cell affect the distance the car will travel?

Hypothesis: If the car has the full solar panel (car A) then it will travel a further distance than the car with the less (partially) full solar panel.

  1. Measure and record the length and width in mm the photovoltaic cell for Car A.
  2. Do the same for Car B.
  3. Calculate the area of the solar cells.

Procedure: (summarized) One group at a time.  We will place cars on black tape with back wheels on tape.  When teacher says go, lights will be turned on to activate the panels.  Partners will measure distance.  We will do this 3 times.

Conclusion: My hypothesis was proven correct as the full solar panel car (A) went further than the partial solar panel car (B).  The independent variable was the size of the photo cell on the car. Dependent variable was the distance it went.  The constant variable was that we started lights at same time, the  power of the light, the cars started on the same starting line,  and we all used the same type of car.

Discussion point:  How does the size of the photovoltaic cell change the distance the car will travel?  Ask you child . . .s/he knows why!

Overall, great day with lots of  math and science learning and hands-on! I can’t wait to read the class reflections . . .

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Math sites for review this week.

Start at the top site each day and work your way through the review. Make sure you are clicking on all links and examples.  Let me know when you need help!

Monday: Probability

Tuesday: Estimating

Wednesday: Patterns

Thursday: Graphing

Friday: Properties

4H Ag Day 2015

Sarah Crews planned quite an event: 4th graders from RES and GES rotated among many hands-on, educational stations that highlighted the science behind local agricultural practices;  students learned about animal science, health and nutrition, soil and water, horticulture, and much more; and, special guests included hunters, local taxidermists, 4H students, local producers, Farm Bureau members, to name a few. This was a wonderful opportunity for our youth to make real world connections with the science lessons they are learning in class. #VISTA #handsonlearning #whateverittakes

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Keep checking in for updates!

VS – the study calendar has been sent home since 4.13.  Please make sure you are reviewing nightly as a formative grade is taken the next morning on the topic from the previous night.  Due to beautiful weather this weekend, the VS9 assessment was open book today!  :)  We’ll cover the remaining part of VS 10 this week and will have an assessment on Tuesday of next week.

LA – Our final MAPs is tomorrow.  I’ve encouraged everyone to get a good night’s rest and eat a solid breakfast.  We should be giving 110%.  We’ve got this!  With all of our reading and strategies – we’ll nail it!  Keep reading for your log and AR.  We’ve got 6 weeks left but AR will end early so make sure you reach your goal.  No word study this week.  We are reading aloud Island of the Blue Dolphins.

Math – MAPs test on Wednesday.  Time for review.  We need to be working it nightly.  Review fractions, decimals, place value, long division, graphing, median/mode/range, geometry. LCM/GCF, multiplication, and word problems.  Your choice, just review it.

Ag Day is this Thursday.   Bring your lunch, put on your sunscreen and get ready for an exciting day outside!  (Dress for the weather.)

Kings Dominion is this Friday for Mr. Snead’s students.  Please check with him if you have any questions.

This week is Administrative Assistants’ week.  Let’s show Mrs. Drake and Mrs. Russell how much we appreciate them!

Egg incubation is underway.  We should have chicks by May 1!


VA Studies~VS9: Changes in VA. Please remember to review those notes each night, as we cover a lot of material.  Review SOL HW will be starting this week. Directions are on the HW calendar and needs to be signed nightly. Please let me know if you have any questions. Test next Monday on VS 9 and possible quiz this week.  Please be sure to check agendas for changes. Check blog posts and VS page for review and quizlets for Race to the Gov. House.


Math ~  Median, Mode, Outlier, and Range the beginning of this week.  Quiz on Thursday: Median, Mode, & Range. We will also be reviewing fractions: simplifying, adding, subtracting, mixed numbers, and improper fractions. MAPS tests and SOLs are right around the corner so we will be doing spiral review to ensure retention.


Language Arts~  Word study this week with a test on Thursday. We will be doing lots of spiral review this week: Inferencing, Figurative Language, Context Clues, Synonyms, Antonyms, Homophones, comprehension. Cold Read assessment will be on Thursday since we have Field Day on Friday.  We’ve finished Ruby Bridges and are looking forward to some cool short reads!

Trying to stay on top of it all . . .

We learn a lot in a day and it’s very important that students take a few extra minutes to review nightly.

VA Studies~VS8 Reconstruction. Please remember to review  notes each night, as we cover a lot of material.   Richmond, VA is full of Civil War history  here is list ideas for a weekend field trip if interested: VA Historical Society, Museum of the Confederacy, Chimborazo Medical Museum, American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar, Pamplin Historical Par & National Museum of the Civil War Soldier, Petersburg National Battlefield, Cold Harbor Battlefield. Be sure to check out this link to Richmond Civil War Sites.

LA – We’ve been doing a lot of free writing and nonfiction reading!  Trying to hit all of those strategies.  No word study this week.

Math ~ Measurement.  This week we will cover measuring mass and volume in customary and metric units.  Students need to review all the measurements and will also learn how to convert units from large to small and small to large.  Be sure to review all your notes in your journal.  Quiz Friday on mass, capacity, and conversions.

Active, Engaged Math

“Well, of course you can do that in (fill any subject). Math is different.”

“I can’t use that tool if it does not have a built-in equation editor.”

“I don’t have time for that. My students need to practice solving math problems.”

I can hear these things a million times. I still don’t believe them. Here’s proof that we can have relevant, real-world, engaging learning activities in math class. And these are just three examples.

Cathy Yenca’s blog

Robert Kaplinsky’s lesson ideas

Mr. Orr’s blog


3.16-3.20 UPDATE

VA Studies~VS7: Civil War. Please remember to review those notes each night, as we cover a lot of material.  Test Thursday VS 7A-C.   Richmond, VA is full of Civil War history  here is list ideas for a weekend field trip if interested: VA Historical Society, Museum of the Confederacy, Chimborazo Medical Museum, American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar, Pamplin Historical Par & National Museum of the Civil War Soldier, Petersburg National Battlefield, Cold Harbor Battlefield. Be sure to check out this link to Richmond Civil War Sites.  Don;t forget to practice SOLpass (Randolph) daily.

Language Arts~  We will share our Civil War Time Capsules this week and circle back to figurative language.  There will be a cold red on Friday.  We will also have an opportunity to free write this week.  :)  There is no word study this week.  Students need to be reading in order to reach our class AR percentage goal of 80% and individual point goals.  Reading Olympics is still going strong.

Math ~  Moving on to Measurement.  This week we will cover measuring length, mass, and volume in customary and metric units. Students need to review all the measurements and will also learn how to convert units from large to small and small to large.  Be sure to review all your notes in your journal.  Quiz Wednesday on length conversions and measuring length.  Quiz Friday on length, area, perimeter, and conversions.

Measurement Sites


Thank you for all the donations for our class basket!  


Dr. Suess Week~ Monday: Crazy Hat Day/ Tuesday: Pajama Day/ Wednesday : Wacky Day~ Mis-match your clothing, inside out, backwards, as wacky as you can!/Thursday: Grinch Who Day? ~Wear your hair like a Who from Whoville or wear all green like the Grinch/ Friday: Favorite Suess Character Day

  • 3/2 Monday: RoadRunner SOL Tutorting Camp: after school starts, 4:30 pick up
  • 3/4 Wednesday: GHS Dance Team visits 3-5 Grades for 1:00 Performance
  • 3/6 Friday: Items due for Silent Auction basket
  • 3/13 Thursday: RES Spaghetti Dinner & Silent Auction
  • 3/17 Tuesday: Young Scientists visit 4th Grade
  • 3/20 Friday: End of 3rd Marking Period
  • 3/23 Monday: REGULAR SCHOOL DAY (This is a change due to snow)
  • 3/25 Wednesday: Chik-fil-A Fundraiser at SP Mall Food Court 5:30-7:30
  • 3/27 Friday: Report Cards go home
  • 3/27 Friday: Individual Picture/ Class Picture Day
  •  3/25 Wednesday: Chik-fil-A Fundraiser at SP Mall Food Court 5:30-7:30
  • 3/31 Tuesday: Reading Olympics Tournament at BES
  • 4/1 Wednesday:4th Grade to Hanover Tavern
  • 4/3 Friday: Spring Parties
  • 4/6-4/10 SPRING BREAK
  • Science~We will finish up this week with Space, Moon, and Planets.  Students will be working on their group project in class and present Wednesday. Test should have been last Friday, so we will have it Monday.
  • VA Studies~We will begin on Tuesday with VS7: Civil War. Please remember to review those notes each night, as we cover a lot of material.   Richmond, VA is full of Civil War history  here is list ideas for a weekend field trip if interested: VA Historical Society, Museum of the Confederacy, Chimborazo Medical Museum, American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar, Pamplin Historical Par & National Museum of the Civil War Soldier, Petersburg National Battlefield, Cold Harbor Battlefield. Be sure to check out this link to Richmond Civil War Sites. Look for a quiz at the beginning of next week.  We’ll start out Civil War time capsule this week as well!
  •  Math ~  DECIMAL assessment was to be last Thursday, so we will have it Monday.  Please make sure to review naming, place value, writing decimals in word, expanded, and standard form, rounding, comparing, and ordering.  Be sure to look over you notes for those reminders and steps.  Next we will move onto Elapsed Time.  There are lots of review sites and videos list on the math page of the blog.  Be sure to make those time lines to help you figure out elapsed time.
  • Language Arts~  We will  have a word study this week.  Test on Thursday.  Last weeks word study will be assessed tomorrow.  Persuasive writing is on the menu, and we will be creating commercials and ads for our G21 “Nab the Tab” campaign.  We will also start new novel studies this week in class.  Be sure to ask your students what book they are reading with their groups.  I will be pulling content Civil War reading into LA too.  Cold Read on Friday.   Great job submitting the Engineer Girl!!

Welcome back!

I missed you!  I hope you had a great time with your family and friends — staying warm!  Hope you’ve been reading Charlotte’s Web!  Technically, we’re on Ch.16 Monday night.

**Our lunch menu will be last week’s menu ( (2/17-2/20).

Here’s how the week is panning out:

Science – We’ll be working on our group planet web quests with a hopeful presentation date of 2/27.  Be ready on Thursday, 2/26, for an assessment on: relative sizes and make-up of planets; the order of the planets in our solar system; historical contributions in the Earth-moon-sun system; motions of the Earth, moon, and sun; causes of the Earth’s seasons; causes for the phases of the moon; and relative size, position, age and make-up of Earth.  Let these mnemonic devices help you!

LA – It’s the big week to finalize and submit our Engineer Girl pieces.  Thursday and Friday are the submission days.  W will have word study this week with activities and assessments on Thursday.  Figurative language will be the hot topic this week and next – onomatopoeia, similes, metaphors, hyperboles, idioms, alliteration, and personification.   Our class read aloud is Night of the Howling Dogs.  Keep reading for Reading Olympics and AR!  The points and percentages are rising!!  YAY!

Math – We will review decimals hard this week.  Students should be ready to test on decimals on Friday.  The following will be covered: given a model, write the decimal and fraction equivalents; read, write, represent, and identify decimals expressed through thousandths; round decimals to the nearest whole number, tenth, and hundredth; compare and order decimals; and add and subtract decimals.  We’re ready!  

Important dates:

Feb. 24, March 3, 10, 17 - PTA After school classes, 3:15-4:30 (Please pack a snack.)

2/25 - Chik-fil-A Fundraiser at Short Pump Mall Food Court 5:30-7:30.  See you there!

3/4 – GHS Dance Team visits 3-5 Grades for Performance

3/13 – RES Spaghetti Dinner & Silent Auction

3/17 – Young Scientists visit 4th Grade

3/20 – End of 3rd Marking Period

3/23 – REGULAR SCHOOL DAY (This is a change due to snow)

3/25 - Chik-fil-A Fundraiser at Short Pump Mall Food Court 5:30-7:30.  See you there!

3/27 – Report Cards go home

3/27 – Individual Picture/ Class Picture Day

3/31 – Reading Olympics Tournament at BES

4/1 – 4th Grade to Hanover Tavern

4/3 – Spring Parties




Popping Bubble Wrap

What might a sheet of bubble wrap have to do with learning math?

So, in my last blog post I referenced former math teacher Dan Meyer’s online curriculum–offered for free as slides in PDF, Keynote, and PPT formats–that he used with real, live students. His latest thinking about math instruction took him to a different type of online curriculum, using problems he creates, to be presented to students in three acts. You can even see a list of all of the ones he has created, and if that number of examples is not enough to be used with your students, they should provide enough context for creating one of your own.

I wanted specifically to look at the bubble wrap one because bubble wrap isn’t really that important. It’s just a prop. But it’s what I might call a sticky prop, one that is simple sure, but it offers just a little bit of engaging interest to us (or to our students). Popping bubbles is something people like to do, either to relieve stress, because they’re bored, or who knows why. It feels good/interesting/curious to pop bubbles. And your students have likely popped some bubble wrap in the past. And that’s what I mean by a sticky prop: bubble wrap is interesting enough to hook us into the problem.

The cool thing about Dan’s 3-act problem with bubble wrap is, once we’ve figured out how to answer his questions (which often start with us making guesses, then refining our guesses with data points), we can apply it to different situations. If someone a year from now were to ask us “How much do you want for painting the inside of my house?” you might reference a 3-act learning experience. Personally, I’d ask how many rooms, estimate an hourly wage, then guestimate how many hours it would take me to paint those rooms. Most math problems might attack the situation is a very analytical way with how many square feet there are in the house… By design, Dan’s 3-acts are tied to situations that are more real and more every day, and if they all are not practical, they at least are sticky enough to command some interest.

I also like that so many of Dan’s problems involve video as a medium. Short videos demand our focused attention, and we can play them back multiple times, if we missed what we were supposed to see. It’s up to us as educators, I think, to make use of the millions of hours of free video available to us now to think creatively about the potential math, unsolved problems, and curious questions that lurk in short clips.

If you’re interested in 3-act math, I might suggest a few next steps:

  • Read through at least 5 of the examples linked above to get a flavor of a 3-act math problem.
  • Find one that relates to your own content standards, and try it with students.
  • Create your own 3-act, by including images and/or video in the problem. You can create your own, or borrow something with sticky interest from YouTube.
  • Reward yourself with some bubble wrap.

Living Wax Museum – STEAMing learning

The 4th graders at RES have spent a couple of weeks learning about Famous Black Americans.  Students researched a favorite Famous Black American, collaborated with peers and teachers discussing and debating pertinent information, created props from recyclable materials that represented their chosen American, and “became” that American in our annual RES Living Wax Museum.  In school, we invited the 3rd graders to visit our museum!  To top it off, we presented at the GCPS School Board meeting for the public to “push our buttons.”  It was such an incredible learning experience for our students, staff, and community!

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So glad to see so many friends at our 3rd annual Conundrum day!  What an incredible morning spent creating, constructing, and collaborating!

Science – We are learning all about our solar system and the planets.  Check our earlier post to see our mnemonic devices!  We will also start a STEAM Planet Walk Webquest this week with outher 4th graders from RES.  We can’t wait!

Webquest: Group Project Site

LA – Novel studies will be completed by Wednesday.  We have allotted a lot of class time for these – 30 minutes daily for 5 weeks.  I feel confident we’ll get them finished. Word study tests and activities are on Thursday.  Our Living Wax Museum is moving along!  Great research and lot of creativity!  I’m excited for our grade level presentation at the School Board meeting! Engineer Girl is coming to a close and we’ll be ready for you to slide in Feb. 23-27 to submit with us.  This has to be done at school unless I receive notification from parents.  It’s been a really cool topic this year!

Math – Decimals!  We’ve got them!  YAY!  They’re much easier than fractions!  Look for a quiz on Thursday.

Important dates:

  • 2/10: Wax Museum- Students need to have costume at school for presentation to 3rd Graders.
  • 2/10: 5:30~4th Graders are Wax Museum Greeters, for Black History Month, at the School Board Meeting.
  • 2/12: 4th Grade Valentine Exchange-bring in Valentine’s for each class member if you plan to participate.  NO PEANUT PRODUCTS PLEASE!  An email was sent home in January with student names.
  • 2/13: Early Release at 1:10; Third Box Tops for Education Collection: Please send in all that you have collected.
  • 2/16: President’s Day- NO SCHOOL
  • 2/18: GHS Dance Team visits 3-5 Grades for Performance
  • 2/24: PTA After School Classes begin 3:15-4:30
  • 2/25: Chik-fil-A Fundraiser at Short Pump Mall Food Court 5:30-7:30.  See you there!



  • 2/2~ “One District One Book” Kickoff: Reading log will be one chapter a night. Read Aloud, Silent Reading, Family/Pet Reading, whatever you want.  Be creative and send me a picture to post on the blog!  We’re going to tweet about it!
  • 2/7 Saturday~ Conundrum Day at GMS 8:45-11:30 – SEE YOU THERE!
  • 2/10 Wax Museum: Students need to have costume at school for presentation to 3rd Graders.
  • 2/10, 5:30~4th Graders are Wax Museum Greeters, for Black History Month, at the School Board Meeting. MORE INFO TO COME AT THE END OF THIS WEEK.
  • 2/13  - Early Release
  • 2/16 – Presidents’ Day Holiday – NO SCHOOL – Lots of historical venues are open and free TODAY!

VA Studies~ Test  on  VS 6: Forming the Constitution~ Wednesday.   Please study those notes nightly.  Students are working on Famous Black American research for our Wax Museum.  All research and prop building is being done at school, however students do need come dressed for their presentation on Tuesday, February 1oth. Don’t wait until the last minute think about what you will wear as you “become” your famous person. We will send out a grade level information sheet about presenting at the school board meeting on Feb. 10th.

Science~Thursday we start on SOL 4.7 on Space, Moon, and Planets.  We will be working on a group project in class starting next week.  Be sure to ask your student about their planet.

Math ~ We are finishing up our unit on fractions with Mixed Numbers and Improper Fractions. Our test will be on Tuesday and will include: equivalent fractions, simplifying, ordering, comparing, adding, subtracting, mixed numbers, and improper fractions.  It is a lot of material and should be reviewed. Students have specific notes and steps in their Interactive Math Notebook that they can review.  Also, many math reviews have been emailed for you.

Language Arts~  We will have word study. We are using some of our language arts rotations to work on research for our Famous Black American Wax Museum.  We will also be covering persuasive writing using some AWESOME Super Bowl adds to help us prepare for our Nab the Tab drive!   This week is also our One District One Book kick off.  Students across the county will be reading the same book and same chapters each night.  Read a family and get everyone involved.  The big reveal will be on Monday!