Week XX — January 27 – 31, 2020

Here are our fifth-grade professors, Ali Panagia and Leslie Sanchez. I did the fourth grade this week. I think it’s better.

The Sixth grade is coming to the end of The Witch of Blackbird Pond. The only witch we found was Goodwife Cruff. We took a vote, so the next book we read will be Milne’s Winnie the Pooh.

Our Student Council is organizing Kindness Week (January 27-31). Our theme is “Kindness Ties Us All Together.”Everyone should wear ties on Thursday, January 30, 2020 to show their support. Our student Council will kick it off on Monday Morning.

A handful of students took my warning to heart, and they have been turning in work, better late than never, up until the report card. I will be doing them a little early as they are due when I am at AstroCamp. I need to have them in the bank before AstroCamp. And I expect that I will. But we can’t hold the train up any longer, so, below, are the new assignments.

Included among them are two peculiar book reports. Fourth grade will do a history report based on one of the If You Lived books that they selected Friday morning. The fifth grade will all be independently reading the same book, The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson. The report form is similar to the one we did for Flying Solo.

Fifth grade will be doing a song by Bob Dylan: The Lonesome Death of Hattie Caroll.bob

Physical Fitness Testing is coming to a fourth and fifth grade near you!MR_O_RUN

What were we doing a year ago?



The Tiger Bowl will be happening Friday after lunch (1:15PM). So much for my evil plans.


4          If You Lived Report, February 17

4          Oral Lang: Harriet Tubman February 7

5          Great Gilly Hopkins Report, February 17

5          Oral Lang: Hattie Carroll: February 7

6          Ancient History Biography Report, February 17

6          Oral Lang:   The Iliad by Homer: February 7

All necessary forms and materials will have been distributed by Monday, Jan. 27, 2020)


Week XIX — January 20 – 24, 2020

ERROR FILE: You know, I discovered on Friday after posting that my record keeping was slightly off regarding fourth and fifth grade students who completed the oral language. The data is a little better than I thought, but hardly encouraging.

Monday, the twentieth, is the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, so no school until Tuesday. Four day weeks, popular with the students, require more serious effort to get five days into four. I will help.

Student Professors for fourth (Raul Mancia, Nicolette Deelo) and for fifth (Jade E. Diaz and Andrew Karp):IMG_1246




I sent home letters as we do every week. As there were no recent relevant spelling, dictation, nor comprehension scores, I posted any missing long-term assignments on the weekly letters. There were very few students from either fourth, fifth, or sixth grade who do not need to have their papers signed and returned on Monday. They will be staying in for recess until they do bring back the signed letter. I am sure that my room will be empty on Monday recess as all of these children will have returned their letters. Who knows? They might even have done some of the work that they didn’t do over the holidays. In any event, this is a warning for the second report card. If you check the letter, you should be up-to-date regarding outstanding assignments.

Our fourth and fifth grade language arts class will be reading some books by Karen Capharte (Knollridge Press), who writes age-appropriate chapter books on the subject of bullying. We have done these books in previous years, and the children have enjoyed them and benefited from reading them. Still, as transgender themes in an elementary setting are touched upon, I wanted to let you know in advance. I assure you that the books are in good taste and are appropriate. I am always available to discuss your concerns. The first one is called My Brother Is a Fifth-grade Girl.

When four and five went to 826LA on Thursday, I want you to know that the sixth grade was still at school and working very diligently.

Our Richland Student Council met with Mrs. Allee to plan our contributions to Kindness Week which commences on Monday, January 27, 2020.

AstroCamp is coming up for the dates February 24 – 26, 2020. If there is any remaining business regarding payments, medical arrangements, etc., please contact Mrs. Altschule as soon as possible. She does a tremendous amount of work to make these trips happen, so we should help out by being as transparent as possible. Let us know what’s going on.

Weekly Chalkboard

Given how little work was done over the holidays, I am still holding up the program by another week. I do not approve of this, as it cheats the high-flyers out of a full program, but it seems pointless to assign another oral language piece when 18 out of 19 fifth graders and 6 out of 6 fourth graders have failed to do their Oral Language assignment, for just one example.


Week XVIII — January 13 – 17, 2020

Welcome Back! All of this holiday cheer comes to screeching halt as school resumes on Monday when we shall resume our program in earnest. Thank you to all of those considerate students who didn’t turn in their work when it was due the final week. Think of all the time I was able to enjoy with the family, the friends, the very time itself and all of it unsullied by half the book reports. But now, perhaps they are being turned in along with the holiday packet.

Sixth Grade will continue reading The Witch of Blackbird Pond and the fourth and fifth will be reading Love That Dog by Sharon Creech,which is obviously in the Kenneth Koch school of teaching poetry.

All three classes will be paying attention to their Benchmark reading assignments (Unit VI, Week 1 — for all three groups). We are halfway through the program.  In sixth grade, we will continue to study ancient Greece.


No long-term assignments assigned this week; hoping to help the late-birds.

Midway Holiday Addendum

Week XVIII will be posted in January. This is an interim posting so that parents will be aware of the student assignments over the holidays.  Here are the three (4,5,6) homework packets that went home on Friday.




Room 27—Midyeardecember fellas



MAKE-UP (only since the first report card):

Learn any outstanding poems; Complete any outstanding reports

4,5          Poetry or Picture Book Assignment

6th:          Imaginary Civilization Project

4th:          The Declaration of Independence (Thomas Jefferson)

5th:          Let Freedom Ring (D. King)

6th:          Marc Antony’s Oration (William Shakespeare)

Reading Log:

4,5,6:     10% of Homework Grade for 2nd Report Card


Week XVII – December 16 – December 20, 2019

IMG_1192QOTW:      Chloe and Kaia have been diligently reminding me that I had not posted the Question of the Week. I gave it to the children on Thursday, but I am posting it here in the event that someone was absent or has misplaced it. The book report is due on Monday.

QOTW:   It’s very difficult to read a whole book if the book is boring. In what ways did the author keep you interested in the book you were reading?

PROFESSORS    Our professors this week were Kaia Jones and Sebastian Villa.

PROGRAM          We have completed the filming of our Holiday program. The sixth grade will be hosting the parents for the performance at 1:00 PM on Friday, December 20, in the auditorium. The 9 AM dress rehearsal is not a full-on show, and the classes will not be invited to attend.

…And One Decorated Scotch Pine is the title of our latest video. If I don’t encounter legal or technical difficulties, I will be posting the combined class (27/28) video on the Class Videos page after the show on Friday. The two students without releases have been a part of the process, but they don’t appear on camera.IMG_1198

RETURN TO NORMALITY          We are hoping to make next week as normal as we can. There will be the standard homework (spelling and dictation for four and five, workbook, questions, and poems for six). We expect to have orchestra, PE, cooking/art, dance, and the holiday program in lieu of chorus. There will be comprehension tests—possibly not for six due to the rehearsal schedule, though I will try to make it happen. We will have finished The Borrowers and have completed The Family Under the Bridge (four and five). We have more than one-hundred pages to go on The Witch of Blackbird Pond, so I don’t expect to wrap that up before the new year.

HOLIDAY HOMEWORK     There will be assignments over the holidays. A page will go home on with the three assignments for four, five, and six; anyone who misses Friday can get it on this website beginning on Friday, the 20th.

DECEMBER 20            I expect I will post the holiday homework, the class video, and the Weekly Chalkboard on Friday (the 20th). I will not be posting lesson plans for 2020 until after the New Years. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas! One more week to go.

Moon Over the Richland Morning

TECHNICAL DIFFICULTY    One student said she was having difficulty downloading the fifth-grade fiction book report form. I tried it, and it seems to be doing alright.

WEEKLY CHALKBOARD: UNCHANGED (but new assignments will be posted on Friday, December 20, 2019.)

4,5,6:   Book Report (Fiction), due December 16, 2019

Fourth and Fifth have their forms.

Sixth can make up their own.

4:        Waiting by John Burroughs, due December 16, 2019

5:            O Captain! by Walt Whitman, due December 16, 2019

6:            from Psalm 137: 1-6, due December 16, 2019

Week XVI — December 9 – 13, 2019

We studied an American folk song about the railroad, and then we tried our own hands at the idea. Here is Serena’s beautiful effort!

Singing Through the Forest

Singing through the mountains,

Rattling through the forest,

Shooting, running away.

Looking at the stars,

Seeing God up in the sky.

Running, hiding under bridges.

Buzzing in the rail

The pleasant sound of singing through the forest,

Singing through the hallways,

Blessing God is Good.

Let God bless us all.

Helping people is good.

I hope your heart is good.

                             —Serena Santiago

WINTER PROGRAM            In a radical departure from accepted tradition, perhaps due to Richland’s increasing enrollment, it has been decided that the children, of all people, will no longer be invited to the dress rehearsal to hear their friends, siblings, and cousins perform their holiday offerings. They will be allowed into the auditorium only to perform. I understand that the live program will be recorded from the perspective of a single videographer, and then shown to the children, at teacher discretion, sometime in the distant future, long after the reindeer have disappeared. This all is to say that the actual performance will be Friday in the auditorium, December 20, 2019 at ONE PM, after the lunches. Rooms 27 and 28 will participate in the chorus numbers with Mrs. MacQueen. They will also present a video offering, involving bells and other stuff. Our Student officers will be the announcers at the program, unless there are changes that nobody mentioned to me. Mark your flexible calendars. Jacob, as is so often the case, has put together a terrific set. If allowed the time, we expect to be shooting on Tuesday in the auditorium, so, consult with your student and see what can be done to create a representative costume. It doesn’t have to be exact or fabulous. But it would be cool if it somehow represented the character. Or not. That’s OK, too.  Here are  some shots from the stage.

HOLIDAY HOMEWORK (4,5,&6)           I will distribute the Holiday Homework on Friday, December 20, 2019, so everyone should be on hand. However, I will, on that day, post the homework to this web page. Knowing some of my students as I do, there may be some non-compliance, but there will be no excuses. Holiday Homework counts for 10% of the Homework Grade on the next report card. Don’t do it, and you can’t beat 90%, which means I can’t help you in a close call regarding your grades.

HOMEWORK THIS WEEK (4&5)           Because we did not get very far in our Benchmark reading this past week, it seemed useless to do comprehension, dictation, and spelling. But, because we are likely to be done with this video business by Tuesday, I am hoping to get the class back on track. That means that we will be resuming our regularly scheduled program this coming week, or most of it. However, the HOMEWORK will not be posted because we will be relying on our workbooks. Nevertheless, the students would be wise to study spelling and dictation.


4,5,6:   Book Report (Fiction), due December 16, 2019

Fourth and Fifth have their forms.

Sixth can make up their own.

4:            Waiting by John Burroughs, due December 16, 2019

5:            O Captain! by Walt Whitman, due December 16, 2019

6:            from Psalm 137: 1-6, due December 16, 2019




Week XV — December 2 – 6, 2019

We thank Professors Jade Diaz (Spelling) and Christopher Natividad (Dictation) for conducting our Friday testing for the fifth grade. They did a great job!

We have a week off, November 23 – December 1. Once again, this would be an excellent opportunity to catch up. It is early in the second reporting period, so nobody should be behind, but most of the fifth grade are. The fifth grade is, in general, way too careless about their work. They don’t learn the poems, and they don’t turn in the reports. They don’t learn the state capitals, and they do not progress in terms of manuscript or writing itself. We know there are three or so exceptions, but more than half of the fifth-graders are stuck in a rut, playing around and not accomplishing. At this point, a biography book report was due, and not done by many. Two poems are still outstanding for most of the kids. Ask your kids for the Friday letter, and you will be able to put your mind at rest as to who is doing what. The fourth grade is a little better, but not in all cases. Due to conferences, I have had a chance to talk to most of the sixth grade parents.

We will be carrying on with our program, but we will also be doing a video play for the Holiday show. Jacob and I were perhaps a little aggressive, and we are going to rethink the show over the break.  But most of our copious spare time will be spent on the program.

Finally, have a great turkey day.[not clear]


4,5,6:   Book Report (Fiction), due December 16, 2019

Fourth and Fifth have their forms.

Sixth can make up their own.

4:            Waiting by John Burroughs, due December 16, 2019

5:            O Captain! by Walt Whitman, due December 16, 2019

6:            from Psalm 137: 1-6, due December 16, 2019