Homework: Monday, October 5, 2015

Math: Most students quizzed over estimating two-digit divisors. A handful worked with me today to review. IF…IF…you worked with me, you need to finish SPB 2.5 Q’s 5, 6, 7, and 8. IF you took the quiz, you have no homework. :)

Reading: Read 30 minutes

Spelling: Work on SpellingCity.com tasks.

Science: Finish workbook for lesson 3. Study dictionary. RE-read lesson 3 in EEI student edition. I would also study the diagram of an aquifer found both in your dictionary and in the visual diagram we looked at today in class.  Remember you can click on the links in this post, or you can find ALL of these items in Curriculum-EEI Science-5.3 Earth’s Water in the drop down menu at the top of the blog.

Paraphrase this!

Today we continued working on paraphrasing text. The point is to read text, comprehend it, and then take evidence from a text to use in written answers.

Today we began reading short sections of nonfiction text discussing tap water. We went through our paraphrasing guidelines (pictured below), numbered the sentences in the section, and then orally rehearsed how we would paraphrase a single sentence.

Screenshot 2015-09-29 06.37.53

I shared with students sample paraphrased sentences, and we compared them to the text to see if they were adequately different.

Students quickly realized paraphrasing is harder than it seems. We heard accidental plagiarism several times during oral rehearsal.

Here is the first section of the text:

Tap Water Is Safer Than You Think

(1) Although the taste (and even appearance) may make you believe otherwise, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the U.S. has the safest drinking water supply in the world. (2) More than 286 million Americans get their water from a community water system. (3) These systems are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which means that they have to meet strict safety standards. (4) No matter where you live in the U.S., the tap water supply is safe according to EPA regulations.

Here are the paraphrased exemplar sentences I shared with students and that we discussed. Note sentences are numbered so you can see the original and paraphrased version.

(1) People in America might think tap water is bad for you. (2) But the U.S. has the safest drinking water in the world says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Community water systems” provide water for most Americans. (3)  To make sure water is safe to drink, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency monitors water agencies. (4) The EPA says all tap water in the United States is safe to drink.

Tonight, students need to paraphrase the next two sections of text-a total of 6 sentences.

PLEASE read your child’s paraphrased sentence and compare it to the original text tonight. Is it different? Did they try to use a different verb? Did they try to switch the subject-verb? Did they use their own words? Or did they borrow heavily using quotes or accidentally plagiarize the text?


Homework: Tuesday, September 28, 2015

Math: Big Book 2.3 Q’s 2, 4, 6, 8 and backside.

Reading: Read 30 minutes.

Spelling: Start spelling tasks on SpellingCity.com

Science/Writing: Finish paraphrasing pages 182-183 in science text book. The three main ideas in this section were:

  1. Three ways salt gets into oceans
  2. How evaporation affects saltiness of oceans.
  3. How evaporation does or does not affect salt.

Paraphrasing and summarizing!

We are working on how to summarize, paraphrase, and quote text as evidence in class so as to avoid plagiarism. This is a life-long skill students will continue to hone through college and beyond. :)

We’re using our science text to do this currently

I’ve added a drop down page under “Curriculum” and under “Writing” called “Summary/Paraphrase.” Today we reviewed what it means to paraphrase. We rehearsed orally. I shared an example of a paraphrase from the previous section of the lesson we had read. We compared the writing to the text to make sure I hadn’t copied word-for-word any of the text.

You can view the exemplar paraphrase below:

Lesson 1 Earth the Blue Planet: Summary prompt for pages 180-181: Describe the Earth’s oceans.

The Earth has 5 oceans: the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Arctic, and Southern Ocean. Oceans are large, salty bodies of water that flow uninterrupted around our planet but are separated by bodies of land called continents. About 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by oceans.

While all oceans are filled with salt water, they do have some differences. One difference is oceans vary in terms of their temperature. Another difference is that some oceans are saltier than others. Yet another difference between the Earth’s oceans is that not all are the same size or depth. The Pacific is the largest and deepest ocean in the world. The Pacific covers 60 million square miles. That’s like placing 60 million squares that are a mile long by a mile wide over the Earth’s surface. If you went to the bottom of the Pacific near the Philippine Islands, you’d dive 36,198 feet deep! The second largest Ocean is the Atlantic followed by the Indian Ocean. The next biggest ocean is the Southern Ocean, and the smallest is the Arctic Ocean.  

All oceans provide resources. Resources are things we use. For example, we drill for oil and natural gas from beneath the ocean. We use oil to make gasoline and use natural gas to heat homes or cook with. We catch food to eat from oceans such as fish, crabs, squid, or seaweed. Cargo ships use oceans to transport things around the planet. We even use oceans for recreational activities such as swimming or scuba diving.


After comparing an exemplar to the text, we jumped in, reading pages 182-183 of our science text and paraphrasing the key ideas.

We analyzed the pages and determined there were three main ideas discussed:

  1. Three ways salt gets into the ocean
  2. How evaporation affects the saltiness of the oceans
  3. How salt is or is not affected by evaporation.

Here is the handout students were given to assist with paraphrasing the text.

Screenshot 2015-09-29 06.37.53


Tonight students need to finish paraphrasing pages 182-183 of their text. PLEASE read their paraphrasing and compare it to the text to make sure they’re not accidentally plagiarizing. It’s VERY easy to do this. It’s human to want to get the idea just right. Encourage your child to use their own words. Switch that subject-verb arrangement. Use a different verb. Leave out some of the details but include the main ideas.

A summary or paraphrase should NEVER be as long as the original text. If your child seems to be rewriting the lesson, stop them and review with them the guidelines above.

This is new. This is a hard skill. They will get it. I was impressed by their work today. This class is REALLY making a LOT of progress! :)

Progress reports. Do NOT freak out.

I know parents want letter grades.

Do. Not. Freak. Out. :)

Grades are a statistical average and do not take into account teacher observation or trends in growth. There are about 4 weeks left in the grading period. You will see growth. I see it every day.

Keep a long view of your child’s learning and grades. They will do better if we work together. They will do better if they persevere and put in the effort and develop the grit necessary to overcome challenges. Your child needs to be at school. They need to be fed and rested and ready to work. We need to keep them focused on their job-learning-and minimize the other distractions in life for them as best we can. I have three daughters: 2nd, 4th, and 7th grade. I know what it’s like to be a parent. Keep reading and talking with your child. And remember that your child is so much more than a letter grade.

Your child receives “feedback” daily by me one-on-one or in small groups on everything we do. It is not possible to assign a letter grade (nor is it necessarily helpful) to everything we do. Students do not receive grades on everything we do, but they do receive feedback. A grade is a statistical sampling on a given day to see how they’re performing.

If you see missing assignments/quizzes, that’s a sign your child has been absent and hasn’t made up that work. It might mean they’re missing too much school. You might want to reflect and ask why that is.

Rigor in school is increasing with text complexity. Reading is KEY. Students need to be reading nightly, discussing what they read with somebody at home as well as peers in school. Please help build your child’s fluency and comprehension by discussing what they read.

Again, please focus on the comments of the progress report. Please rely on the grades as a barometer on trends. The qualitative comments are going to be far more meaningful than the grades overall.

Please note the grade level at which your child is reading and their fluency. Please note their Newsela quiz average. You will see these averages rise the more accustomed students become to reading closely and critically.

I’ve been doing this 19 years, and I can tell you that the 1st trimester grades are always the most interesting. Your typical A students still score A’s. Some of your students who struggle first trimester answer the wake-up call and boost their performance 2nd trimester. And sometimes those straight A kiddos first trimester slack off second trimester and drop down when it comes to grade performance.

I will be out of town this weekend to celebrate my mom’s 75th birthday and not answering emails or phone calls. If you have a concern, PLEASE send me an email and I will be in touch with you next week.


Homework: Thursday, September 24, 2015

Spelling: Spelling test tomorrow. Do the best you can with your Spelling City work. I’m still working out a few bugs with early submissions and resetting work. Not every activity will be compatible with a tablet or phone. Sorry, but that is beyond my control. If you are getting error messages saying an activity won’t load, let me know?

Reading: Read Arctic walrus go where the ice is, meaning fewer for Alaskans to hunt. Try the 820 Lexile first. This is a 6th grade Lexile. If it’s too challenging, drop down a level to 690 Lexile which is 4th grade.

Annotate text ONLY for What information/ideas are presented at the beginning of the text? and What words or phrases stand out to me as I read? 

Highlight text yellow. Annotate (write notes) in margin clarifying why you selected that text as significant (important).

Did you forget your guidelines? Here is a copy below. Need to print out a copy? Click HERE for the link to print your own copy.  No excuses. READ. THINK. ANNOTATE. :)

Reading Progress!

Close reading is a term used when a student reads a text multiple times for different features each time.

We’re using Newsela as a nonfiction source of text that’s available at different Lexiles (text complexity levels). I assign Newsela articles and recommend a Lexile for students.

We are using the Odell Education Close Reading Guidelines to focus students’ reading.

We’ve been annotating text looking for ideas that stood out during a first read and words or phrases that stood out. As we annotate, we underline or highlight text and then make a note in the margin why the text seemed significant. We discuss these and make sense of any confusion we have.

Your students have been doing this more and more the past week and will continue to do so over the next two years. :)

The results?

It’s working!!!!

Here’s a pre-test and post-test snapshot. The lower class average score was before using the close reading guidelines. the higher class average score was after using and learning the guidelines.