A New SOL Test?

The SOL test for fifth grade reading will be different this year than it has been in previous years.  Before, the test consisted only of multiple choice questions; students were to select the one correct answer.  This year, however, there will be different types of questions.  Some will involve clicking and dragging answers, some will involve selecting a correct answer from a list of five or more, and some will even involve having to choose two correct answers.  This week during class, we have been using the computers to practice these “technology enhanced items” that occur in the reading test.  We have been using the VA Department of Education”s website where  practice tests are also available for math, science, and writing as well.  I am attaching a link to this site.  Please allow your child to revisit this page and practice  the available tests for fifth grade.  He/she should be using the various tools available to him/her with the test.  Take a minute to see what the tests your child will be taking look like and how he/she uses the different tools included.  I think you just might be amazed!


Robot Book Project

Parent Letter    Output Form    Robot Body

Parents, the first book project has been assigned and all information and materials have been distributed.  (As you can see, I am not calling this a book report as that term often is associated with bad memories!)  You should have seen the parent letter already since it contained a portion that was to be signed by you and returned to me.  The project itself is due on October 15.  Since it is a very simple one, I will not be accepting any late book projects.  I will scan a copy of the robot and output sheet and will link them to this post. I have already attached a copy of the parent letter.  If you need an extra copy of any of the forms, just download the ones you need.  It would be best to print the robot on card stock so that it will be sturdier than the output sheet.  Please check your child’s spelling and sentence structure before he/she writes on the output form.  Have fun, everyone!

‘Tis the Season … for Coupon Giving!

When I was a kid, Christmas was my favorite holiday.  I loved stringing popcorn and cranberries to make garlands for the tree.  Wrapping presents, decorating the house, and baking cookies all added up to a wonderful holiday season.  But as I get older, it seems that too much of the holiday is taken up with the sentiment, “What am I going to get?”  Don’t get me wrong – getting presents is great.  However, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that it is often more fun to give presents than to receive them.  The funny thing is, the presents don’t even have to cost anything.  For example, what can you get your mom that she would really like and wouldn’t cost you a dime?  How about a coupon for loading and unloading the dishwasher for one week?  Or what about a coupon that says you’ll clean your room completely without complaining once?  Or even better than that, what about a coupon that says you’ll read to your little brother or sister for 30 minutes to get him/her out of your mom’s hair?  And then there’s your dad….what can you do for him?  There’s always a coupon good for one car wash or one yard raking.  Write a coupon for the job, put it in a box, wrap it up, and watch out for the smiles.  I guarantee you that they’ll be coming.  I think that my coupon gift for my husband will say, “This coupon good for one Tucker free day,” although I’m not so sure that Tucker will like it!

Meet My New Meez

This week I attended TechTrek – the Next Generation.  We did so many neat things with technology that I couldn’t even list them all.  Although the majority of the things that we did were educational and will provide you with a large number of computer activities to do, I did do some playing as well.  Meet my Meez.  Just like me, she would rather read than do just about anything else!  Read on, guys and girls!  I’ll see all of you fifth graders very soon!

Meez 3D avatar avatars games

Google Lit Trips

For the past two weeks I have spent Tuesday afternoon with Dr. Okoye learning how to create a Google Lit Trip.  Sounds pretty cool, huh?  It really is.  Using Google Maps, you plot all of the important locations that appear in a book you are reading.  (That’s the Lit part of the title, literature.)  After you tag the sites on your map, you imbed links to websites, photographs, and video clips that add background information or more detailed explanations about what is happening.  The very first trip I created is for the biography we are beginning this week, Sitting Bull – Warrior of the Sioux.  We will be using it during our study of the book.  Please visit the map and ask your student to explain how it relates to the story we’re reading.  Allow him/her to revisit the information presented in class.



Hooray for Camping!

Our Cabin, Fairy Stone State Park

Our Cabin, Fairy Stone State Park

This summer I discovered a new favorite place, Fairy Stone State Park.  My husband and I took the dog and went camping there.  Now, my idea of camping is probably different from that of a lot of people.  In my world, camping involves staying in the trees by a lake, just like in most other people’s worlds, but then mine veers to the right.  I’m not a tent kind of girl.  I like four walls, a door with a lock, indoor plumbing, and air conditioning.  At Fairy Stone, that’s exactly what I got.  We stayed in a tiny cabin that was described as being one room.  The living room did contain the bed, but the cabin also had a tiny little kitchen and a large bathroom with a huge shower.  Not only did it have a refrigerator, stove, and microwave, but it also had a very nice air conditioner.  Good thing, it was in the mid-nineties when we were there.  Being in the middle of the woods, there was no television or cell phone reception, another plus!  My husband took a tiny tv and dvd player so that he could catch up on a couple of movies.  I, of course, took two new books with me.  We spent four days sleeping late, eating when and what we wanted (pizza and brownies, of course), and walking Tucker in the woods.  And that, guys, is my summer experience with camping.  Will I do it again?  You betcha! 

Blog Assignment 1:  Have you ever been camping?  If yes, what did you like and dislike about it?  If no, would you want to go?  Why or why not?

Debbie and Tucker

Debbie and Tucker

Wacky Wikis!

biography-acrostic-poem  Well, everyone, we’re finally going to start using our Wikis this month.  It took a little longer to complete the PhotoStory book reports than I thought, but I think it was well worth it.  I was very impressed with the students’ work.  You will see them beginning to appear on my blog very soon.

Students were given their user names and their passwords today.  These have been glued into their reading notebooks.  Today I showed them how to access the Wiki for their class.  (The web address is written on the slip with the username and password.)  We went through the steps they will follow to actually work on their page.  They will be completing their acrostic poems for their biographies here.

Letters describing the book report went home today.  However, I will link an extra copy to this post if you need to see it.  Please take the time to edit your child’s rough draft and then view the finished product on his/her Wiki page.  I think you will be quite impressed!

Create Your Own Tall Tale

I always liked reading tall tales because they were so entertaining.  The stories were much more interesting than the real reasons why animals possess certain attributes or why we have mountains, lakes, or rivers.  The example of Paul Bunyon creating the Grand Canyon by dragging his axe is a lot more fun than thinking about it being carved by erosion.

You will have an opportunity to create a tall tale of your own for extra credit.  Click on the following link to access this assignment.


Have fun!!

PhotoStory3 – The Next Adventure

story20boarding20template  photostorytutorial2  media-sources2


Parents, get ready.  Students are gearing up to complete their first technology book report of the year.  A week ago, students were assigned to a group containing three members.  The three members were given the same AR book to read for this book report, a book whose level fits into their individual AR ranges.  Students have been reading in class as well as at home to prepare.  All of the reading must be completed by October 31, and projects are due no later than the end of the school day of November 7.  Students will be allowed to begin working on the report as soon as all of the group members have completed the book and taken the AR test.  There are already quite a few groups that have finished their reading and are ready to begin!


The actual book report will be a PhotoStory3 retelling of the book.  Ms. Okoye, the language arts TRT for the school system, came to Churchland Elementary last Wednesday to demonstrate for the students how to use the software.  Needless to say, they were all extremely excited and ready to begin.  Although we will be completing the project in class, students may search for pictures at home on the internet, save them to a CD or flash drive, and bring them to school to use in their project.


I have attached all resources that will be used by students in the completion of this project.  The PhotoStory3 software is a free download from Microsoft.  In order to download it to your computer, you must have a genuine copy of Windows installed on your computer.  I have downloaded it successfully onto my laptop which uses Windows XP, but I have not tried to download it on a computer running Vista.  Just click on the link if you wish to download a copy. 



I think this project will be an extremely beneficial one for students since it not only provides them an opportunity to work with others in the completion of a project, but it also allows them a chance to use a wonderful piece of software in its construction.