WEEK XXXVIII — June 8 – 12, 2020

Our Zooming has concluded due to the necessity of turning in Chromebooks, textbooks, and teacher duties having to do with the end of the year. Report cards will be mailed.

Any possessions that I know belong to a particular student will be placed in the student bag for pick up on June 10, 11, or 12 (Wed, Thurs, Fri), per Mr. Granade’s instructions. I will toss in completed-work folders and some summer reading for the students. This is also when students can return textbooks (hard cover) and Chromebooks.

The link to the entire Culmination video will be located on the Richland site for you to see at your leisure.  https://www.youtube.com/user/RichlandAvenueSAS

I am also uploading the Learn-at-Home video In My Room, the Culmination Slideshow Video, and the final montage, You’ll Never Walk Alone, on the YouTube from this site. I will leave the material in place for a while, unless the RHO comes after me. (The Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization are akin to the Zoom Cops, but for Broadway.)

I was enchanted by Richland when I first darkened its door, but enchantment grew to love. We have good kids, and it was generally amusing. I even had fun learning to try to teach on Zoom. I hope I improved as we went along as that is always what I hope for my students. I think I shall very much miss my upper elementary kids. I know I will be hearing some amazing things about you in my second thirty-three years, of life.

Mr. Olliff, about to begin Kindergarten-First, at his age.


To access the Richland Fifth- and Sixth-grade Culmination Program at 10:00AM Friday, June 5, 2020:

Below is the Culmination Video’s permanent home, for now:


We hope you enjoy it!

Week XXXVII — June 1 – 5, 2020

Addendum: The Learn-at-home video is now available here.

IMG_20200529_125206 (1)Our children are ready to advance onto the next stage of their lives, whether the world is ready for them or not. Into your hands I commend their spirits. It was a somewhat out of the ordinary year, I think for all of us. A few of the kids didn’t come around much, so I hope they are doing very well. The children who did come around on the Zoom and through the GoogleDocs and emails, I thought benefited, generally to the extent of the effort that they put in. I am afraid that for the upper grades there may be some distance learning involved as the years go by, so this was a good little interlude to get them to take responsibility for their own learning, which is all the standards and goals in which I have taken an interest.

There will be a REMOTE culmination program for fifth- and sixth-grades at 10:00 AM on June 5, 2020. The online location will be sent out as soon as we are absolutely sure of it. Fourth-grade students are included in the slideshow, so they are encouraged to attend—on line, that is.

Zoom Times Here.

My mother was always fond of the Jacarandas.

Week XXXVI — May 25 – 29, 2020

MEMORIAL DAY HOLIDAY            Monday, May 25, 2020 is a national holiday. School resumes on Tuesday, May 26, 2020.

Representation of the relative sizes of objects in the solar system

CULMINATION         Mr. Granade will keep us informed about specifics as our school year begins to close out. It looks like there will be a special on-line program to celebrate the culminations of both the fifth- and sixth-grade students. Fourth graders will want to see the slide show. Culmination will take place on Friday, June 5, 2020 at 10:00 AM. I believe we will be making the program available on the school website, so nobody has to miss work to see it. It will be pre-recorded. You will get an electronic invitation to Culmination.

Wisteria House not in bloom.

FINAL ZOOM           We are doing Culmination on the fifth, which really tells us that our final Zoom sessions will occur on Thursday, June, 4, 2020 at the usual times.

Morning Moon over West L.A.

CHROMEBOOK RETURN               One reason why we can’t Zoom the final week is that we have to return the Chromebooks. Student classroom possessions will be returned in a bag that will also include Culmination Certificates and Awards. Report cards will go by U.S. Mail, assuming we still have a Post Office Department, which goes back to Franklin. Again, Mr. Granade will let you know exactly how we will do all this, but I believe that June 10 and June 11 will be the days that parents can pick up the student bags and RETURN the CHROMEBOOKS and any Richland property such as reusable text books.

“Well, what do you think? That God is like Colonel Sanders, spinning around in the sky?” — Mr. Whittier, Biology II, LAUSD

CLASS IS INSESSION     Meanwhile, we are still meeting every day at 9:00 (4th), 10:00 (6th), and 11:00 (5th).  It may be a carefully guarded secret, but there is Language Arts Homework of some sort every school day, including Friday. I have no doubt that the same is true regarding Ms. Danieri’s program. Ms. Danieri and Mr. Olliff Zoom Times Here.

There’s nothing quite as pretty as Mickey in the morning…




Week XXXV — May 18 – 22, 2020

Again, as we’re more or less at home, there’s not a lot of news. I believe the gentleman across the street had a little trouble starting his car this morning, but that’s about all I know.

I was a little worried if I’d left any little girls behind in Room 27.

You know where to find Mr. O and Ms. Danieri’s Zoom Classes.



Week XXXIV — May 11 – 15, 2020

We have hit a groove, man, and I really don’t have anything in particular to share. I am enjoying the spontaneity of our distance world, if a distance world is what we must have. Every now and then, a lost soul shows up. I like that. Andrew even made the Oobleck that we were talking about when did our chemistry lesson in Benchmark. I get a random book report here, or someone who wants to recite there. I like to see the sixth graders taking notes. That’s the main thing I try to get across in Ancient History class, so it’s good to see that some students automatically take notes when we talk about ancient Rome. Other kids are stretched across the couch or the bed looking at important phone messages, but we like to have them on board anyway. I am very thankful for the time that we have. You know where to find Ms. Danieri’s and Mr. Olliff’s Current Zoom Schedules.

Week XXXIII — May 4 – May 8, 2020

ANOTHER ADDENDUM from Ms. Danieri. The Young StoryTellers are back, and they want to work with their students. Ms Danieri has made all the necessary contacts. The following is the downloadable link to the Zoom schedule for the fifth-grade students who wish to continue participating in YST.  I believe some responses are time-sensitive, so parents of current YST participants might check email from Ms. Danieri.

Young Storytellers Schedule

ADDENDUM from Ms. Danieri:

The following PDF file was prepared by Ms. Danieri to coach students on How to Access Schoology. One can download it, follow the steps, and be able to access Ms. Danieri homework on the Schoology platform. Schoology is the platform the District uses in middle school and high school, so students who are proficient in Schoology will have an advantage! How to Access Schoology

We have been away since March 13, about six weeks, and look at what has happened to our school. Imagine six months more, or six years, and sixty. When would it be so cracked, broken, and overgrown that it would take an archaeologist or botanist to even discern that there was ever civilization, if that’s what we called it, on this land? Man fears time; Time fears the Pyramids—but Nature fears nothing for it always wins.

In other news, slowly but surely, we are bringing in our lost sheep, and I am happy to have them on board. (That was a mixed metaphor. Remind me to iron out that bottleneck!) We have a few strays, but there is always a place at the table should they join us once again.

Interested parents, I am hoping to get a learn-at-home photo from all of our students for an end-of-the-year video. Even if they don’t join us on the Zoom, they must be learning something. Technology might be a problem for some, so if you could take a photo on the phone and send it to me wolliff@lausd.net I would be pleased to include your student.

I understand that all of the second semester Young Storytellers will have a chance to work on and complete their projects. A special permission form is necessary, and Ms. Danieri will contact the previously selected fifth grade students.

The Zoom Times are posted per usual linkMR. OLLIFF & MS. DANIERI CURRENT ZOOM SCHEDULE.

As can be readily evidenced, I was in the old classroom the other morning, trying to find evil assignments for my students.

I came across this the other morning on my stroll, and I thought of Tuck Everlasting. I think the sixth grade read that back in fifth grade. Our fifth grade would have gotten to it this year.

Note for fifth grade: Andrew did his State Capital test on line in front of witnesses, and it might help his Social Science grade. Fifth grade students who have yet to do their state capitals have a means of improving their grade. If you already did it, this is not for you. Just let me know, and we can arrange a time.

Week XXXII — April 27 – May 1, 2020

FIELD TRIP #2           Ms. Danieri has arranged another field trip. We are to hear a concert at the Colburn School, the same program that most of our veteran students have attended in years past. It came up very suddenly. It is scheduled for Monday at 10:00 AM, which will interfere with the Sixth-grade class, which we will have to skip. Sixth-grade homework will be a thank-you letter, like Ms. Danieri expects. The fourth and the fifth grades will meet as usual at 9AM and 11AM, respectively, unless the Q&A goes beyond 11AM. I will open the meeting in a timely manner, and wait if necessary.


This is a YouTube, not a Zoom.

Question and Answer Session after the Concert:
In the link I just provided, there is text above the video that says something like “join the Zoom Q+A after the broadcast HERE”, and there’s a password. That link will take you to the Zoom Q+A.
The credentials below are what is on that same webpage. Please click the link below to join the webinar:
Our Program       Both the number and the percentage of participating students, many of them as regular as they had been before the disruption, pleasantly surprises me. There is a growing esprit de corps. And, as always, I am delighted that so few students regularly take advantage of my commentaries on their homework. It saves me a great amount of time. But I would not mind if some of the shy would do homework now and again. I am young, and I can handle the load.

While I don’t know of anyone who thinks this form of learn-at-home is superior to what we had been doing for the last one-hundred-twenty years, I believe that the students who are actually engaging every day and doing the assignments are benefitting far beyond what might seem to be or not be a relevant upper elementary curriculum. They are learning to take responsibility for themselves, to self-direct their learning, and the present situation can only accelerate the incidence of learn-at-home cases, whether in high school or certainly in colleges and universities. The students who participate in the sessions in a professional (student) manner, understand the tasks, and then complete them in a timely way are, fortunately or otherwise, preparing themselves for that brave new world. In short, which I don’t do (there’s an aside, Anabell—whoops! There’s another!), even in these difficult times, students can continue to grow.


Cleaning Products     I have been in the business for a spell, and, I suppose because I’ve generally had upper-elementary children who generally know how to be safe around household chemicals, I have never felt the need to caution my students to avoid ingesting cleaning products. Nevertheless, at this juncture, I would endorse the idea that we don’t do that.

Week XXXI — April 20 – 24, 2020

We are getting into a very good rhythm with all this Zooming and Edgenuity. The students who are attending are participating well. I get about 60% of the students to turn in homework from time to time. Some are very regular. Others do what they feel like doing. I’m glad when students participate in any positive way. I think everyone should check in one way or another once a week. We just want to know that we’re all okay, if we are.

We have thirty-six students, and I have to date received ten learn-at-home photos. It is for an end-of-year video, and I want to include everyone in this part of it, even if they don’t really hang out with us on Zoom. Urge your pals.

I am posting a listing of the homework and all of the homework documents along with the Benchmark article on the various grade level pages. I will also attach the documents to the Zoom invitation letter for next Monday through Friday.

GLITCH   For some reason, the 11:00 AM Fifth Grade meeting disappeared from my Zoom control. Seriously. I know it sounds suspicious, like my dog ate the homework, and I missed my last class on Friday, but that’s what happened. Honest! I am guessing it might have had to do with Eastern time as opposed to Pacific time, or some such matter. I will try to avoid the same error next time. I hope the field trip went well. The students have been invited to write thank-you letters for the Rangers, which I will edit on Google Docs or whatevs.

Week XXX — April 13 – 17, 2020

ADDENDUM: From Ms. Danieri Re: Baldwin Hills Overlook Field Trip Friday, April 17, 10AM for all fourth, fifth, and sixth-grade students of Rooms 27 and 28. It is interactive because you will be able to use the chat feature to ask questions and speak with the ranger who is giving the tour. Attendance is mandatory! It will be a fun and an educational experience for everyone!

Please click the link below to join the webinar:


Password: 5M7kmE

Science Field Trip  Ms. Danieri has arranged a virtual field trip with the Baldwin Hills Distance Learning branch. The program is Human Impacts on the Environment and covers topics such as habitat fragmentation, invasive species, pollution, and overpopulation and its effects. Also to be discussed are the native plants and animals in the region and the importance of preserving their habitats. The field trip is for all fourth, fifth, and sixth-grade students from Room 27 and 28. I am sure Ms. Danieri will discuss this on Monday!

The reservation is for Friday, 10AM, April 17, but the bus leaves at—oh, wait a minute. Never mind. The link will be provided.

Ms. Danieri Changes—Schoology Stuff   Here is an important letter from Ms. Danieri about how she is going forward with math through the District’s Schoology platform. She will also be emailing this information to you, but I include it here so that it is less likely to be missed. Mr. Olliff has no idea about such matters. Ms. Danieri Letter April 11

Learn-at-Home Photos   All fourth, fifth, and sixth-grade students from Rooms 27 and 28: As long as we’re sitting in front of the computer anyway, I would like each of you to take a “Learning-at-Home” photo. It could be a screen shot of you from Zoom. Someone could take a picture of you at your Learn-at-Home workstation. You could selfie at your station. Make a current picture of yourself learning at home. You could also do one funny one along with the more serious one. Maybe your baby sister in your lap when you’re trying to read or your little brother riding his trike through the room while you are trying to study. Then, I want you to send me the one or two photos, as an attachment. Even if you don’t come to our Zoom classes very often, I would like to have your current face at your workstation, just as if you did participate. Like mine:Zoom Schedule  The Zoom Schedule is just the same as it was the week before Spring Break. You can find the times and the links here.

Posting and Email   I will be posting the work from this week on the grade level pages, as usual, but I will also be sending all of the materials via the email that invites everyone to the meetings. That way, even if your only access is Chromebook (and you can’t get to my site due to serious District ineptitude), you will still have complete access to everything, and you won’t need to ask me for it.

Zooming  I tried to do some Read-Aloud via Zoom, but I have to say that it doesn’t work for me. Apparently, I need the audience; who knew? Losing that part of the program is a bummer, man. As Miss Elliot, when still a young teacher, remarked, “I live for this stuff!” I don’t believe she ever lost it. Even so, I hope we have an aggressive and satisfying curriculum for each of the three grades.

Stay safe and sheltered!


Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth-grades:

New Richland Memories Essay (draft one, due Thursday, April 16)

Your Learn-at-Home Photograph(s) (due Friday, April 17)

Daily Homework is listed on the Lesson Plan (LP) sheets

SPRING BREAK April 2 – 12, 2020

Mom and Dad 2020The Bread Song https://youtu.be/xbLzUl9eATc

This is an audio recording from May 2009 that Mrs. MacQueen discovered in her files. I put the audio over a more recent PowerPoint that we used when we did the song in the auditorium, May 2018 (?).

Zoom classes ReZoom on Monday, April 13, 2020. In the meantime, get your comprehension done (all three classes), and any outstanding projects. And observe a safe and healthy lifestyle.

These bunnies (above) never got the memo. This lonely soul (below) is doing what we must to keep everyone safe. I will miss you.

WEEK XXIX — March 30 – April 3, 2020

The students and families have been amazing! Last Monday, we started using the Zoom program, and I had a lot to learn. By Thursday, we were running interactive-PowerPoints on line! We have had enrollment up from fifteen to twenty. Our total pool is thirty-seven, so that’s more than half, and it’s not always the same customers. If you know how to get hold of anyone, lead that horse to water, and see if she or he takes a drink.

I will be sending separate emails to all fourth, fifth, and sixth-grade students. You will get a separate notice from Ms. Danieri for math. But all of the links are posted here: ZOOM. There is a new link in the menu up above.

The Weekly Chalkboard has not changed. I know that some students have projects and reports that are ready to be turned in. It’s just that we don’t have a way to do that. I will not assign new stuff like that until we can figure out the next step. But all of the work previously assigned should be completed. A day of reckoning may arrive. I hope sooner, rather than later.

I have posted work and lesson plans with the individual grade levels, to avoid confusion. If you are in fourth grade, for example, you go to the “fourth grade” page on the top menu of this site. There, you can download the Benchmark reading lesson. I will also post it on the screen when we are reading, but you are better off with the document in hard copy. I am also publishing the spelling and dictation. Obviously, one hopes, we can’t do spelling and dictation tests on line. Still, we need to know the vocabulary. We will have a comprehension test at the end of each week. It has always been open book, so that should present no problem.

It has been fun learning about this new way of doing business. Not my favorite, so far, but I like it better than nothing, which is what we had that first week. See you Monday! Remember, different times for math and language arts, and for fourth, fifth, and sixth.



We will resume Zooming the following week, Monday April 13.


4          Fiction Book Report 3/20/20

Oral Lang: Emily Dickinson Sampler (Learn any two of the four) 3/13/20

I Often Passed the Village  3/27/20

Richland Memories Essay, date unspecified

5          Fiction Book Report 3/20/20

Oral Lang: Emily Dickinson Sampler (Learn any two of the four) 3/13/20

I Often Passed the Village  3/27/20

Richland Memories Essay, date unspecified

6          Dual Time Line Project 3/20/20

Three Philosophies Brochure  4/03/20

Oral Language: maggie and milly and molly and may  3/13/30

Confucius, Analects  3/27/20

Richland Memories Essay, date unspecified


March 25, 2020 – Week II – Day 4

Here are four documents that we might use in our meeting today. I will post them on the screen, but you may want to do download them later, as we will discuss.

How i becam the sissie

Learning from Home



Tomorrow we will have our usual 9 AM Meeting. The children are not yet responding to the homework, but we will try to get them on a regular schedule, which I hope will help.

Mr. O is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Week II – Day 4 – General Meeting
Time: Mar 26, 2020 09:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 115 887 738

FRIDAY THERE WILL BE NO MEETING. The District requires teachers to not be with students, but I remember what Johnny Mathis remarked, “It’s not for me to say…”

Starting Monday, Ms. Danieri and I will be instituting a more regular and specific program, as mentioned below. I will try to set up a regular schedule for those Zoom meetings so that I don’t have to hammer you with emails announcing meetings every day. I see that it can be done. Now I just have to figure it out.

I will be posting  the vocabulary and dictation, which is also what we call a CLOSE read, a small part of a larger article that we amplify. That’s what the dictations really are anyway. I won’t be able to test dictation and spelling, though that might make an excellent lesson regarding the use of spelling and grammar checks. But we will work with the vocabulary, so students might like to have the documents handy, starting Monday. Also, I scanned the Benchmark articles for next week for all three grades. Starting Friday night, students can download the correct Benchmark booklet so that we can read and discuss through next week, when week 2 will become available.  I think it best to have a hard copy, but if you don’t have a working printer or you prefer to print in black and white (instead of color), you know best. I will also be showing the Benchmark articles on the screen during our meetings for those who don’t have the articles printed out so, again, everyone is welcome!

Once again, I see that folks are posting to the web page. It doesn’t work. There’s an article on that on the page itself. You can always use your student’s email for me if you need to get in touch. I am checking email these days more than I ever did as students are sending me their work.

Please understand that we are hoping to provide as much service as is reasonable under the circumstances. I do not intend to place penalties upon anyone who doesn’t show. I would, of course, but it’s not practical under the circumstances. So, if you are providing services to your student, and you don’t feel comfortable Zooming, I have no issue, other than that I miss my children, believe it or otherwise.

ANOTHER NOTE:  Should you hear from or know how to get in touch with any souls we haven’t seen, give them a shout out, and tell them to come on down!

Meeting tomorrow! No Meeting Friday!



March 24, 2020 — Week II – Day 3


Beginning on Monday, March 30, 2020, our classes will be meeting more discreetly. The schedule below is our plan. The Edgenuity part is up to the household. It is a very good self-paced program that the District was rolling out before the current situation took hold. The kids have all been using it for Math, but I am told on good authority that the Language Arts portion of the program is excellent, as well. Students might split their Edgenuity hour between the two subjects, if they choose. PARENT COMM slots on the schedule are times when both Ms. Danieri and I will be available to quickly respond to any of your emails. We can always move forward from that point. We cannot meet with our students one-to-one on any on-line platform. So, we envision having a daily Zoom Session for tutoring or clarifying questions, but students will be kept in the waiting room until we get a congregation of two or more. I believe there is a method for scheduling recurring meetings so that I won’t have to bombard you with daily emails. More on that as I continue to learn.


Ms. Danieri urges parents to come tomorrow or Thursday to pick up Volume I and Volume II of the Math Book. It is essential to the success of the program. 

Like when do I use any color other than black or red on this page? That’s how important she believes it to be. To that end:

Mr. Granade indicated today that parents will be welcome to “drive through” the campus to pick up Chromebooks, if they are necessary, tomorrow and Thursday, from 8:30 AM to 11:30 AM.

Ms. Danieri will put out the Math Books for students of 4-5-6 from 27/28. I would like to put out the two Benchmark Booklets for the next six weeks (for 4, 5, and 6). However, since I do have a 9 AM ZOOM meeting, I will not be able to get the Benchmark Booklets out until after 10 AM approx., which I will attempt to do.


Mr. O is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Week II – Day 3 – General Meeting 4, 5, 6
Time: Mar 25, 2020 09:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 262 420 432

The meetings will soon be more specific to subjects and grades. I must consult with Ms. Danieri or I shall be lost.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020 Lesson Support

Our first Zoom meeting had about fifteen students. We are hoping for more tomorrow. We have our second Zoom meeting scheduled for Tuesday at 9:00 AM.

Join Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 511 517 653

The following photograph is relevant.


Week II — Home School — March 21, 2020

Thanks to all the families who have been keeping up through this site. I have been working with Ms. Danieri (distance) and we have figured out how to get going on ZOOM, which is really not that difficult.

I will be sending out an email to fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students of Room 28 and 27, inviting you to join a class meeting on ZOOM. So look for it. We will try to set up a regular schedule, maybe twice a day, morning and afternoon, just to keep in touch. Ms. Danieri will be doing math and science, and Mr. O will be doing history and language arts, for those we can get on line. There may be a few kinks, but let’s see how we do.

I anticipate (and I have no inside track here, believe me on that!) that Mr. Beutner will want the Chrome Books back in the hands of the children, but how that rolls out, if it does, remains to be seen. Obviously, internet providers could easily make the internet accessible to all during this time, but will they?

So, I am asking you to look for an email that will invite everyone to a meeting some time tomorrow. The ZOOM address is lausd.zoom.us, but I think the invitation will also provide the necessary details. Still, you might want to see if you can get it to work ahead of time, if you are adventurous. I would like to learn if any of you are able to access the ZOOM meeting on the telephonic device that you carry about.

There is no cost to students for the use of ZOOM during this time. And, the little I’ve messed with it, it was easy, quick, and of good quality, though that probably depends upon your equipment and your connection.


Letter to students

Dear 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students,

I want to review our two-week plan for the vast majority of you who were at school last Friday, March 13th, and update the few of you who were absent.

Volume One math books went home with all students. As you know, we skipped many lessons which were duplicate, but retained the books so we could go back to the lessons later on, and practice what you learned.

Now is an excellent time to do that, and you can go to Calculator Soup to check your work. Don’t forget to enable it to show the steps, so you can compare your work to the correct answer, in detail.

Last week we spent the last three full days of math class learning how to use Edgenuity. All of your usernames and passwords work, so you can continue right where you left off.

Log in at: www.clever.com/in/lausd, and then scroll to the bottom of the page for Edgenuity. As you learned, Edgenuity will create a custom math program for you based on how you do on all of your work. If you find that it takes you back to a lesson you already did that is because it believes that you need to work on it some more, so please be patient, and follow the course that it takes you on. Remember that after you take a quiz you should click on it to see all of your answers. If you got an answer wrong please try and figure out what you did wrong – just like we do in class.

Fourth and Fifth graders, please continue to work on your Geosphere google slide presentations. You have extra time now to make them really excellent, and learn a lot about the earth while you are doing it.

Please feel free to email me if you have any questions.


Ms. Danieri


Week XXVII — March 13, 2019

Whoopsie! Forgot to mention that all the students (fourth, fifth, and sixth) are in process on writing their Richland Memories. This is an essay that celebrates at least three of the character building aspects of our school (kindness, for example), the learning, the relationships, and the activities (sports, theatre, dancing, singing, the garden, and all the others). We were supposed to be working on these on our Chrome Books, but students with access to computers can continue to access Google Classroom, or even just the District Email system. If I receive such essays, I will look at them, comment (extensively, as is my wont), and we can go a few rounds, should anyone be up for it.

I have no idea when we shall all see each other again nor under what circumstances, so I wish everyone well, and I hope that you are all safe and taking proper care.


Friday the 13th! Maybe so.

Official information comes from the school, the District, and public health officials. I only discuss what happens in Room 27. Richland will be closed (for at least two weeks) as of Monday, the 16th. We cherish every day together, and I am sorry to have this interruption to our year. Makes me sad, but what doesn’t?

I moved up some assignments (see below) that I would have assigned on Monday or even the next week. Grade six will need their history texts or some form or research. I explained all of this work to the students on hand today, a dwindling number. All of the documents are on this site whether at the grade level, Access Forms, or both. I can continue to post, but my understanding is that most of the children don’t really have reliable home access. For that reason, I am going with the long-term assignments rather than daily assignments.

I sent home the Benchmark booklet, the worksheet for Unit VIII, Week 3 (which would have been distribute on the 16th).I have assigned a new three-week assignment for grade six: Three Philosophies Brochure. There are new poems for all three grades, and there are old poems for all three grades as not many performed this morning, though some did a grand job.

In other important news, Kaia was our Fifth-grade Fourth-grade Professor, and she knew her work.

We celebrated Tabitha’s birthday, and she was very lovely all day long!


Such good manners, and always the lady!

Not that she didn’t have some friends!

However, I think the rain makes them silly.They used up all my cool bags and rubber bands.

They even launched Mr. O.

Hmmm… But how does rain explain their behavior every other day? Answer me that.

We hope that this virus business shall pass, too, and that none of your circle are affected. Take care. I will be posting when I get word that we are going to be resuming classes. I hate to be business-as-usual, but students have a golden opportunity to get all their important assignments in order. How much video gaming can we do? (A bunch.) Musicians can practice hours a day! Readers can stay occupied! Hope to see you all soon! I will miss my kidlets, but I already knew that.


4          Fiction Book Report 3/20/20

Oral Lang: Emily Dickinson Sampler (Learn any two of the four) 3/13/20

I Often Passed the Village  3/27/20

Richland Memories Essay, date unspecified

5          Fiction Book Report 3/20/20

Oral Lang: Emily Dickinson Sampler (Learn any two of the four) 3/13/20

I Often Passed the Village  3/27/20

Richland Memories Essay, date unspecified

6          Dual Time Line Project 3/20/20

Three Philosophies Brochure  4/03/20

Oral Language: maggie and milly and molly and may  3/13/30

Confucius, Analects  3/27/20

Richland Memories Essay, date unspecified




Week XXVI — March 9 – 13, 2020

Whoopsie! Forgot to send home letters for grade six. We were reading, and it got away. I will send home on Monday, but there are no scores on the letter anyway, so it doesn’t say much. I did send home letters for four and five.

The past week was for parent conferences. Papers went home with sign-up times, and, for grade six, the paper was posted on this site. I hope that anyone who wanted a conference was able to sign-up and make the appointment. Of course, I am always available to discuss any concerns you may have, before or after school. The report card should have been distributed at the parent conference, but I will send home the remaining reports on Monday, the ninth. We already have one week of scores, homework, and general activities, all toward the final report card of the year. Students who hope to improve their marks, or maintain their high marks if that’s the case, will need to do their projects (book reports, time-lines, etc.) in a professional and timely manner. They should do the homework every day because it is the homework return rate which allows me to “help” students in borderline situations. Spelling, Dictation, and Comprehension will continue through the end of the year, and these scores, averaged over the reporting period, go a long way in establishing the language arts grade.

Kudos to our fifth grade professor, Leslie Sanchez, who did the fourth-grade spelling and dictation test.

In sixth grade, we discovered tangrams.

And Anabell, Andrea, and I don’t know who else, have taken to photography.

And we are still experimenting with our art.


4          Fiction Book Report 3/20/20

4          Oral Lang: Emily Dickinson Sampler (Learn any two of the four) 3/13/20

5          Fiction Book Report 3/20/20

5          Oral Lang: Emily Dickinson Sampler (Learn any two of the four) 3/13/20

6          Dual Time Line Project 3/20/20

6          Oral Language: maggie and milly and molly and may  3/13/30


Week XXV — March 2 – 6, 2020

Generally, I would headline with photos from AstroCamp, but I don’t have any.

This week commences the final reporting period. Complete restart. But you have to keep up, from the very beginning.

I know that AstroCamp impacted the return of the appointment letters for parent conferences, so there’s yet time to sign-up for Tuesday-Friday. So far, I have three confirmations. You can get the form on Access Forms.

While the scientists were away at AstroCamp, we stayed very active doing nutrition research.

And Tyler seems to have the hang of drawing horses, more so than Mr. O.

The fifth- and fourth-grades will be reading Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. It is a beautiful book with a serious theme, but perfectly pitched to the age range of our class. The sixth-grade will continue with The Call of the Wild.

I am assigning fiction book reports for the fourth and the fifth grades. I am inviting a few of the fourth-grade students to use the fifth-grade form, if they choose to do so. The fourth and fifth grades will be reading four poems by Emily Dickinson, and choosing two of them to recite. The sixth grade will be doing a dual time-line for their current project. The sixth grade will be learning to recite maggie and milly and molly and may, which starting from the title, shamelessly breaks many of the rules of grammar I have attempted to impart these past three years. It’s by e.e.cummings, so there’s nothing to be done for it. It is harder than it looks because the story is not very clear with lots of imagery just to confuse matters. Punctuation won’t help you now!

Our professor of the week was Sasha Kirilinko, and she was double-fabulous! Like I said before, Chloe, our photographer, goes for the close-up.

Mr. O did the fifth grade.


4          Fiction Book Report 3/20/20

4          Oral Lang: Emily Dickinson Sampler (Learn any two of the four) 3/13/20

5          Fiction Book Report 3/20/20

5          Oral Lang: Emily Dickinson Sampler (Learn any two of the four) 3/13/20

6          Dual Time Line Project 3/20/20

6          Oral Language: maggie and milly and molly and may  3/13/30


INTERIM POSTING — February 24, 2020

I apologize to anyone who might have been counting on me to be on the bus to AstroCamp, as I had promised. After my illness last year, one can imagine what persons might suppose. I am in good health, and there are no immediate concerns regarding my health. I love my work.

Mr. Granade made the decision that I should not go.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we are having a very good interlude with the eleven or twelve students who did not make the trip. We are working on nutrition, technology, math, and lunch. Friday, we can expect a regular posting in the usual manner.

Week XXIV — February 24 – 28, 2020


The Constitution (Sept. 2019)    In posting the video from today, I realized that I had not previously posted The Constitution from earlier in the year by the four-five students. It is now available on the Classroom Videos page.

Black History Program   Angel and Rolando were highly responsible in their behind the scenes work in getting the teachers into the auditorium on time. You try it. Thanks to Dulce and Anabell for their stellar performances as the hosts of our schoolwide program. They were charming, and here’s proof.

Jacob videotaped our Room 27 performance which was brilliantly executed by all of the kids. There were many outstanding individual student performances! They were very creative in putting the dance together. I hope nobody thinks I do such things. I found the song, The February ABC’s, in the abandoned files of one of my early room partners at Sixty-Eighth Street, Rosemary Fields. Over the next thirty years, I have been tweaking it and changing it around, depending on the passing social and political fancies. As the girls said at the performance, the most recent edit came from the pen of Katherine Tager, a very gifted student. I recall Mrs. Field’s radiant smile most fondly, and I am sure she wouldn’t mind. I am hoping our performance is now available on our Classroom Videos page up above. We didn’t get the four-five on video, but I think it was recorded and will be released at a later date.

AstroCamp   This is AstroCamp Week! A major majority of the 5-6 students will be getting on the bus to AstroCamp on Monday morning. It is an excellent program, but I am hearing about twenty degrees at night. There will be school for the balance of our students, but the homework will not be the usual on the Language Arts side. Given that we won’t be doing an entire Benchmark Unit in the absence of most of our citizens, I am not pre-posting homework this week. I will not publish the lesson plan, but it involves Ms. Danieri, so all is well.

Early Release and Parent Conferences   The only concern is the upcoming Parent Conferences. As usual, Ms. Danieri will be meeting with the parents of the fourth and fifth grades. Mr. Olliff—Hey! That’s me!—will meet with the sixth-grade parents. The dates are March 2, 3, 4, & 5 with 1:54 dismissals and March 6 (Friday), a 12:39 release time. I sent home a form on Thursday, but it can also be downloaded at Sixth Grade or Access Forms.

Physical Fitness   The fifth and fourth grades are about 80% through our physical fitness battery of activities that culminate in the running of the mile. There were a couple who looked a little wobbly, but no serious injuries, so far. We will pursue the remaining numbers after the return from AstroCamp.

Weekly Chalkboard

New Assignments will be posted Week XXV, after the thrill of AstroCamp.

Week XXIII — February 17 – 21, 2020

Happy Vals in Earnest! Get some roses going.



Thanks to the Fourth-grade Professors, Sydney Martinez and Anabely Aguilar.

Next week is a four-day week, with a Black History Program on Friday to boot. I am told the program is on February 21, 2020 at 1:00PM in the Richland school Auditorium. Room 27 will be in the house, as will Room 28, both in the Upper Grade Chorus and with their individual classrooms.

We have completed our reading of Winnie the Pooh all too soon! I told them about The House at Pooh Corner.

The Sixth Grade debated the issue and chose to read The Call of the Wild by Jack London. It’s what they call old school. The fourth and fifth are approaching the climax of their current literary foray.

I am holding off on new long-term reports and recitations so as not to interfere with the scientific work to be done at AstoCamp, which is the following Monday. This coincides nicely with the end of the second reporting period. The return from AstroCamp is the beginning of the final reporting period. Parent conferences are soon to follow.

We have been doing some cool art in Madame Sandrine’s Monday art class.


Monday, February 17, 2020:

4              IF YOU LIVED REPORT


Date Change: for Grade Six Biography Project

Due to my unexpected absences, I am concerned that our February 17 date is unrealistic. We will make it Thursday, February 20, 2020.

Week XXII — February 10 – 14, 2020


Notice: Per request the sixth-grade biography form is now posted on Sixth Grade and Access Forms. I almost forgot again!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Astrocamp Cometh! (February 24, 2020)

Look at your list and peruse it twice.

Now check it once more, and that’ll make thrice!

We are finishing our core lit books in four/five and six. We will see where to go from there.

The students from Room 28 are working on their Martin Luther King, Jr. program, so that is the focus of our oral language this week. They got the paper from Ms. Danieri. The students of Room 27 are working on their own program contribution, The February ABC’s. The program is scheduled for Friday, February 21, 2020 at 9:00AM. The fourth grade did extremely well on Harriet Tubman this week. And one of our fifth-grade groups blew away the Hattie Carroll performance. I love it when we see the effort and the accomplishment.

I am, as mentioned earlier, going into report card mode. There is still a window for the recalcitrant, but it is rapidly fading. The good news is that the third reporting period begins immediately thereafter and everyone has a clean slate.

Monday, the 17th, is President’s Day, a school holiday, so those assignments are due on the 18th.

Mr. Olliff was the fifth-grade professor this week, and Sasha Kirilinko did an outstanding job as the fourth grade professor of both Spelling and Dictation!


4          If You Lived Report, February 18

4          Oral Lang: MLK February 18 (for Ms. Danieri program)

5          Great Gilly Hopkins Report, February 18

5          Oral Lang: MLK February 18 (for Ms. Danieri program)

6          Ancient History Biography Report, February 18





Week XXI — February 3 – 7, 2020

Thanks to Anthony Gomez and Christopher Natividad for serving as our weekly fifth-grade spelling and dictation professors, respectively.natividadOur Student Council’s Kindness Week Project was a great success. We had a great kick-off on Monday morning, a chalk day, visits, Kindness Ties Us Together Day, a dance party, and the Tiger Bowl!The wind tried to scuttle our plans. Our beautiful sign was a total loss on Tuesday morning after the dastardly attack.But some kind strangers passing by worked all morning to restore it to its former glory!We had many students, parents, staff, and teachers participating in our Tie-Day Thursday.

ties04ties02ties01ties05The coming week should be less exciting, one hopes. We will have a musical ensemble visiting us in the auditorium on Wednesday afternoon. So we will likely be limited to the usual interruptions. The sixth grade is enjoying Winnie the Pooh, which I am glad to see. But we are moving rather quickly, so we will soon have to find a new read. The fifth and fourth grades are about midway through My Brother’s a Fifth-grade Girl. Some of the students have posited possible outcomes. We shall see.

Lastly, just another in a series of reminders that due to AstroCamp coinciding with the due date for second report cards, I will be doing report cards just a tad early. I have been explicit about late assignments. I just don’t like surprises.WEEKLY CHALKBOARD

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

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


Week XIV — November 18 – 22, 2019

There are still available appointment times for any parents who haven’t had a chance to sign up. The Weekly  Chalkboard suggests that there is only one assignment, for the sixth grade. But a biography report was due today for both fourth and fifth, and, out of twenty-five students, I received only one.  That makes 4%. Only four students did the poem, 16%.  The assignments had been posted for weeks, and I alerted the students several times this week. Still, they claim that they never knew. So, how did Leslie Sanchez know? Maybe she listened, and took personal responsibility for her education. Our Friday professors this week were Rosa Lopez and Gabriel Casillas, pictured here.  

Much was happening last week, even though it was but four days. We had our weekly meditation class on Wednesday.

We had our annual STEM project with the cans. Room 27 brought in a little over one-hundred cans. Our engineers and laborers  included Anabell Rodriguez, Tabitha Graham, Rolando Felix, and  Angel  DeLuna. Our theme was minions in the pumpkin  patch.

And we had our Young Story Tellers. Ten of our writers worked with mentors for about nine weeks, writing scripts which were performed on Wednesday afternoon in the auditorium. Each writer came up to the podium to be introduced, and then they sat in the honor seat while their plays were performed. The remaining ten fifth-grade students will have their opportunity after the holidays.

This coming Wednesday, my fourth, fifth, and sixth grade classes will walk over to Webster Middle School to see a collaboration between the students of Webster and L.A. Opera. They will be doing a version of Orpheus, so we have been taking time to read some variations on Orpheus. I have seen L.A. Opera’s Orpheus for students, and it is very well done. Every child should go on this outing. No yellow busses. No boat turning turtle. Just a stroll through the neighborhood. We need permission slips right away!

The next week is Thanksgiving Week, so we won’t be back in school (after this week) until December 2, 2019.

Happy Turkey Day! Hope it finds you and your family safe and well.

Weekly Chalkboard

6:       Historical Soliloquy, due November 22, 2019


Week XIII —November 11 – 15, 2019

Sorry this is late. I had hoped to publish from Texas. Houston apparently had a problem, but it is solved; Mr. Olliff has returned. Because of the Veterans’ Day holiday, we will have a four-day week with all the usual spelling, dictation, comprehension, state capitals, Ancient History quizzes, and all manner of happening activities.

There are still appointment times available for Parent Conference Week, the week of the 18th through the 22nd. A paper went home, but you can also download it from this site— and then send it in with your child. So far, everyone who wanted a particular time got that time. It’s a small class.

I was away from my desk on Friday, but I have heard that Ziggy Legaspi and Chloe Estrada (not pictured) were the professors, and that they did a fine job. Also of note, Veda Clayton was a fine reading teacher on Tuesday morning for the fifth-grade class.Ziggy


Last week, we had another meditation class, the third of six.The Brain Institute at UCLA presented for our students. The presenters were of rather a high caliber, based on their vocabulary. But they loved them some brain science.

Weekly Chalkboard

No Changes from the Previous Week

Oral Language (6,5,4): Due Friday, November 15, 2019

6:       The Rose That Grew from Concrete

5:       Stopping by Woods (The Bells)

4:       The Pasture

Reports Due (5,4): Due Friday, November 15, 2019

4:       Biography Book Report (Standard Form), due November 15, 2019

5:       Biography Book Report (Standard Form), due November 15, 2019

6:       Historical Soliloquy, due November 22, 2019



Week XII — November 4 -8, 2019

randomThis week, the assignments listed in the Weekly Chalkboard section of this page will all apply to the second reporting period. Any previous work ought to have already been turned in. There was much warning and fanfare on that topic, and I gave everyone an extra week or two, but there was very little real response. Many students think of it as a buffet. “I will do this because I like it, but I won’t do that because I don’t.” The next things that happen are the report cards and conferences. That’s when everyone decides that from now on we will be getting the work done. And then we don’t, with a few exceptions. Paul Revere can ride through the night shouting his warnings. “The future is coming! The future is coming!” But it’s up to the farmers to get out of bed and muster.

If you go to the “Class Videos Available on You Tube” page, the Halloween Flash Mob Thriller video is posted. Jade Diaz (Grade 5), Mr. Ceely (Room 8), and Mary Botello (Jacob’s mom) were the videographers. I mashed them together. It was a remarkable performance!

The fourth and fifth grade will each be doing poems by Robert Frost.

Robert Frost as a young man, looking down the two roads

Robert Frost fairly far down the road.

The sixth grade will do one by Tupac Shakur.

The fourth and fifth grades have completed Trumpet of the Swan and we will next be reading A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. It may seem too soon, but I have my reasons which will become apparent in the fullness of time.

My aunt Marilyn has determined that I will not be present at school on Friday; she believes I will have a cold and that it will be treated in Houston, Texas. There will be a substitute of the highest caliber, so we don’t expect anyone to try to take advantage of Ms. L. I’m a big picture guy, anyway, so who needs me on any given day?

Kudos to our two latest professors, Rosa Lopez and Jonathan Vasquez, and to our fourth grade professor, too.

Photos by Kaia Jones

Weekly Chalkboard

Oral Language (6,5,4): Due Friday, November 15, 2019

6:       The Rose That Grew from Concrete, due

5:       Stopping by Woods

4:       The Pasture

Reports Due (5,4): Due Friday, November 15, 2019

4:       Biography Book Report (Standard Form), due November 15, 2019

5:       Biography Book Report (Standard Form), due November 15, 2019

6:       Historical Soliloquy, due November 22, 2019


Week XI — October 28 – November 1, 2019

Dulce and the Class put together their own Halloween Board.

I am not assigning any new book reports or oral language assignments this week. This is not the result of a sudden generous impulse on my part. Such things don’t happen to me. My problem is that a great number of the students are letting dates sail by with nary a wave nor a tip of the cap. This includes fourth, fifth, and sixth grades. Ms. Danieri tells me that I should soon be inputting grades into the grading machine which must be fed in a timely manner. I will do exactly that as time allows.

The Fifth-grade professors were Lokelani, whose picture is unavailable, and Leslie, whose picture is presented herewith.

Appointments2019 Parent Conferences are coming up in November, the 18th through the 22nd. I am posting a document on the Sixth Grade page. I will also distribute a hard copy early in the coming week. There are only twelve of us, so I tried to limit the times, but I am flexible if you need a time not listed on the paper. Let me know.

The Halloween Parade and Scare Fair looked to be a wonderful success! Chloe and Jade both took shots of the parade. A few are included herewith.


Matters should be up-to-date. Previous “Weekly Chalkboards” should contain any make-up assignments.

Week X — October 21 – 25, 2019

The Richland Avenue Scare Fair is set for one PM Friday, the 25th. Children can get into their costumes during lunchtime to be ready at 1:00 PM, but they may not come to school in costume, for safety reasons. Parents are invited to come and see our frightening fiends.

Here are our two professors for this week: Edwin Bautista and Jade Diaz, along with a professor from last week, Gabriel Casillas.

You might notice a new style of photography as developed by our Historian/Photographer Chloe Estrada. She really gets close.

Thursday was Shake 2019. Rolando got the coveted part of the dead guy who had to be hauled out on a stretcher. Good thing it wasn’t Mr. Olliff who they had to carry! Below is the fire suppression team of Mrs. O’Neal-Mrs. O’Neal-Mrs. O’Neal-Mrs. O’Neal and Mr. Olliff (in the red hat).

There aren’t any new assignments this week, but it is important to get all the assignments done for report cards are inexorably approaching. Of note, the sixth grade will be finishing Holes early next week, and we will commence reading The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. It’s usually a big favorite, but one never knows.

WEEKLY CHALKBOARD All due October 25, 2019:

4th:   I’m Skeleton (poem)

Susanna of the Alamo (Book Report)

5th:   The Bells (poem)

Flying Solo (Book Report)

6th:   Education First by Malala Yousafzi (oration)

EXCEPT: due  Monday, October 21st

Three Day Meal Plan (with calorie count)

Week IX — October 14 – 18, 2019

Much going on at Richland! We got ourselves a little cleanup because Beutner’s Brigade comes ahead of the superintendent so that he never has to see how schools really are. Our school is very nice by historical standards (in my career), but we did get a little short-term polish.


This was Ride Your Bike to School Day, and the students took advantage of that! The photos are by our new Historian/Photographer Chloe Estrada.

Last week, we went to visit Madame Sandrine for another art lesson. The students were interested in the food, but not for another two weeks!

Sixth Grade will be learning a short passage from a speech by Malala Yousafzi, the Afghan girl who was shot in the head for going to school. She is still alive and fighting for the rights of girls and other folk to be educated. We are also working on our three-day food chart project, but we have been bogged down. So, parents, the date is very soft right now, so don’t pressure. If you are inclined to pressure, let’s make sure everyone is up to date on reports and oral language.

Our Fifth Grade Professors of the week Gabriel Casillas (couldn’t find his photo; will work on it) and Veda Clayton. IMG_0820Fifth Grade will be reciting the first verse to The Bells by E.A.Poe. They will also be doing a fiction book report on Flying Solo. We will all be reading the same book and doing a book report on it. The book report form is different from the usual fiction form. It involves answering ten of twenty questions, student choice.

Fourth Grade has completed The Hundred Dresses, and they are now beginning to read about Armond in Paris: The Family Under the Bridge.

The fourth grade will be learning a Halloween poem: I’m Skeleton. In addition, they will be doing an historical fiction book report: Susanna of the Alamo. This will involve a special form. Students will respond to six questions on the special form.


Fourth:       Oral Language:    I’m Skeleton, due October 25, 2019

Book Report:       Susanna of the Alamo, due October 25, 2019

Fifth:           Oral Language:   The Bells, due October 25, 2019

Book Report:       Flying Solo, due October 25, 2019

Sixth:           Oral Language:   Education First, due October 25, 2019

Food Plan Project, Unclear, but we’re going to get her done!

Week VIII — October 7 – 11, 2019

Remember! Wednesday, the 9th, is a District Unassigned Day; these things seem to happen. This week, we have school on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, but not on Wednesday.

If this is Week VIII, then I will be filling out report cards in about three weeks to a month, depending upon when Ms. Danieri tells me it’s time. That means that any missing major assignments should be completed by that time. I will mention on the Friday letter how many major assignments and of what sort are missing, if any. I am also stopping the clock for a week while everyone has a chance to catch up. After that, we will assign more work that may or may not affect the first report card, depending upon the dates.

Our Professors of the week for fifth grade were Sebastian Villa and Ziggy Legaspi.

The fourth grade professor continues to be Mr. O.

Our new Hislorian/Photographer, Chloe, who can’t be pictured here due to release problems, took these shots of the fourth graders reciting The Elf and The Dormouse (two of them, anyway).

She also got some shots of fifth graders reciting Figurative Language.

She did some random shots besides.

Weekly Chalkboard

Sixth Grade:       Just Anything You Need to Make Up

Fifth Grade:        Biography Book Report, due Friday, October 11

Fourth Grade:    Biography Book Report, due Friday, October 11

Week VII — September 30 – October 4, 2019

Monday, September 30, 2019 is an Unassigned Day, which is the District’s way of saying: No School. School resumes on Tuesday.

Addendum:  Forgot to include our two fifth-grade professors from the spelling and dictation for this week, Idalia Cruz and Christopher Natividad.

Wow! The fourth and fifth grades from Room 28 absolutely killed The Constitution video, which was premiered on Wednesday before our Student Council election activities. If parents would like to have a copy of the video, please send a flash drive. It is a little under a Gig (860MB). We can turn it over same day. We can’t post this one on the blog page, but we will be posting future videos.


The speeches that the candidates offered were of the quality we have come to expect here at Richland. We congratulate the elected Representatives from the classrooms, and on Tuesday, Mr. Granade will announce our new officers. Here are some Hit Pix.

The fourth, fifth, and sixth grades have been going to art classes on Monday mornings with Madame Sandrine. Occasionally, she teaches the children some kitchen skills. This week, she had the children preparing banana bread!

The sixth grade will be learning some nonsense verse over the next two weeks. And the fourth and fifth grades will begin reading for their biography book report. As always, keep in mind that the forms for fourth and fifth grade reports, though similar, are often different. I will post the correct form on the correct page, with any luck. You can find them on the Access Forms page of this blog.

Weekly Chalkboard

Fourth:        Oral Language: The Elf and the Dormouse October 4, 2019

Biography Book Report, October 11, 2019

Fifth:            Oral Language: Figuratively Speaking, October 4, 2019

Biography Book Report, October 11, 2019

Sixth:            Oral Language: Nonsense Verse, October 11, 2019

Health: APPROPRIATE Three Day Meal Plan, October 11, 2019

Week VI — September 23 – 27, 2019

Fourth and Fifth grades have been working on our play about the Constitution. It is, taken separately, a very strong group. Good voices, good memories, good concentration─unless you put them together. There were many outstanding performances, and not just our principal players. The narrators and the speakers, who carried the weight and didn’t get the popular funny parts, did a fabulous job!

The video play will be presented on Wednesday, September 25, 2019 at 10:40 in the Richland School Auditorium at 10:40 AM, just after recess and just before our candidates for Student Council President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Historian (photographer) make their impassioned speeches for the support of grades three, four, five, and six. Our elections are always far more dignified and informative than are our quadrennial national elections. In short, you get in trouble for saying that stuff at school, but the TV will run anything that sells toothpaste.

The hiatus from oral language is over now that we have completed the recording portion of our video. (Someone will have to edit the piece, but how hard could that be?) So, for October 5, 2019, the fourth grade will be reciting The Elf and the Dormouse by Oliver Herford. As always, the trick is to understand the story in order to tell it in rhyme. The fifth grade will be working on a poem called Figuratively Speaking by Mr. Genetti and Mr. Oh. Mr. Genetti wrote the first two quatrains, and Mr. Oh completed it for him. Both poems are available on the grade level pages.

The Sixth Grade’s program was not interrupted by the video play. So their week will be normal. Gilgamesh is due on Friday along with the Time Line Report! I did not test comprehension, spelling, or dictation this week for four and five. That means, there will not be a spelling, dictation, or comprehension score on Friday, the twenty-seventh. We will get to the reading and get all of that done by next Friday. Just a little breather. Homework for fourth and fifth will be from the story we read on Friday, except for the Thursday workbook page.

Weekly Chalkboard:

Fourth:    Independent Fiction Book Report due Friday, September 27, 2019

Oral Language: The Elf and the Dormouse, due October 4, 2019

Fifth:       Independent Fiction Book Report due September 27, 2019

Oral Language: Figuratively Speaking, due October 4, 2019

Sixth:       Time Line Project due September 27, 2019

Oral Language: Gilgamesh, due September 27, 2019


Week V — September 16 – 20, 2019

STOP! Sorry! Wrong Spelling and Dictation were posted for Grades Four and Five. This has been fixed. Correct Spelling and Dictation are now posted in the appropriate places. If anyone did the wrong page, I apologize, but you can save it for when it will be useful in four weeks when we begin Unit III. No harm done?

Grade Six Homework  I am still getting used to having fourth, fifth, and sixth grade language arts. I keep messing up the sixth-grade homework by not assigning it, even though it is assigned in my mind. However, as Julie Holiday told us in Bells Are Ringing, “The Party’s Over…” So, starting this week, I am officially changing the Sixth Grade Homework Schedule:

Monday, Read Benchmark UX-WX; Workbook Pages X & X (always the next two pages)

Tuesday, Read Benchmark UX-WX; Write Five Comprehension Questions

Wednesday, Study Geography Terms (or whatever we’re working on); Workbook Pages X & X (always the next two pages)

Thursday, Creative Writing Assignment (This, I do not give in advance)

Starting with this post, for grade six only, I will include the Workbook Page Numbers on the sixth grade page.

The Constitution Play Our fifth and fourth grades are practicing a play about the United States Constitution. For this reason: (1) we are not learning any new oral language projects until the play is completed, and (2) our usual schedule is somewhat disrupted so that we have the time to practice and shoot the play. On the subject of the play, I yet have three students who do not have their photo and video release forms on file. If the situation persists, we won’t be posting photos or videos, including The Constitution Play . Obviously, if there are good reasons not to give permission, I will respect that. But I haven’t heard from anyone on that, hence the pressure.

Reading Selections The fourth and fifth grades are still reading The Trumpet of the Swan. The fourth grade completed Sarah, Plain and Tall and will next begin The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes. The sixth grade will, with any luck, complete the reading of our first novel, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. We have determined that we will next read Holes by Luis Sachar.

Oral Language The fourth and fifth have no oral language assignments except to make up what they have missed so far and to learn their parts for The Constitution Play. The sixth grade will be learning a selection from the epic of Gilgamesh, an ancient Sumerian epic poem.

Weekly Chalkboard

Fourth: Fiction Book Report due Friday, September 27, 2019

Fifth: Fiction Book Report, due Friday, September 27

Sixth: Ancient History Time Line Project:   September 27, 2019

Oral Language: Gilgamesh, due September 27, 2019

Week IV — September 9 – 13, 2019

I think I should have posted the:

Fifth-grade Fiction Book Report Question of the Week:

Are the characters in your book believable? Do real people act like the people in your book? Explain why and/or why not. Give examples from the story.


Back-to-School Night is always fun. I enjoy the visits from the former students, although they don’t really look much like they once did. But the personalities are the same!

I’m also guessing that the Back-to-School Picnic on Saturday, the 7th, was (will be) a big success as it is every year. I hope I saw you there.

The Fourth and the Fifth Grades will be working in earnest on the latest production of The Constitution Play, which we hope to do in both video and live formats. For that reason, we will be pulling back on our Oral Language until after the play passes in a couple of weeks. The date is not yet certain, but I will keep you apprised.

The Fourth Grade will begin working on their first independent fiction book report. It will be just like the Molly’s Pilgrim report, but the students can choose whatever fiction book they would like, not short stories and not picture books.

It seems as if the upper grade students will be getting art from Madame Sandrine next door to my room. I don’t approve as it impacts rehearsal time for the program, but the good news is that I am not in charge. So we’ll do it, along with all the myriad programs that Richland is famous for having.

A notice went home about an Astro Camp meeting on October 8, 2019 at 5:30 PM. We are inviting our fourth, fifth, and sixth grades this year, so it could be a big group. It will be a smaller group if students get three strikes and are therefore not deemed responsible enough. All of your questions can be addressed at the meeting, which is why we have it. It is not necessary to go to the meeting, especially if you have been through this before. You know what to expect. But anyone with questions is very welcome. The actual trip is scheduled for February 24, 2020 through February 26, 2020. The great Mr. Olliff will be on this trip, assuming no repeat of last year’s indisposition.

I have not received photo-release permissions from five upper grade students. We need them to proceed with the videos and weekly professors Help me out here.
Professor Charles Meyers did our spelling this week

Professor Ali Panagia did our dictation this week.

Weekly Chalkboard

Fourth Grade Oral Language: Make-ups for Betty Botter’s Butter

                                       Nothing New: We will be practicing for the play

Fourth Grade Fiction Book Report due September 27, 2019

Fifth Grade Oral Language:     Make-ups for America Will Be and The Preamble

Nothing New: We will be practicing for the play

Fifth Grade Fiction Book Report: Due September 20, 2019

Sixth: Oral Language:      Dekanawida, due September 13, 2019

Sixth Grade Research Report:   Change of Date: September 27, 2019

Week III – September 2 – 6, 2019

The kids tell me I write too many words. Amadeus notwithstanding, my professors used to say the same. So this is me being terse.

Labor Day is more memorable for some of us this year as we were required to engage in some labor action early in 2019.

The students enjoy when we post pictures of our student professors and other classroom activities, including our videos and plays. I need all of the parents in Room 27 and Room 28 to sign the photo release form that went home at the beginning of the year in order to proceed. Of course, if the lack of consent stems from legitimate concerns, and it is not my affair what those concerns are, we will respect that decision.

The sixth grade will be doing an oral language recitation from The Great Peacemaker.

I hope you received your weekly letter on Thursday, the last day of the second week. I send a letter home on the last day of every week, but it is only effective if the parents take an interest in asking for it and discussing it on the day it goes home.

Apologies to those of you who noticed that I assigned the wrong Spelling/Dictation to fifth grade last week. It may not have seemed as integrated with our reading as it should most weeks, but it did no harm. Many of the children picked up the error, so someone is paying attention. On the other hand, as it was really from the fourth grade reading, we might have expected better scores all around. That is, though we had seen it before, it was, in many cases, as if we hadn’t ever studied it at all.

As we see, the Weekly Chalkboard is filling up. There’s just a lot to do and limited time in which to do it. Some students are already slipping behind on assignments. I like to have me some fun, but with the understanding that it is an uphill climb that demands real effort.

Finally, I hope we see everyone for Back-to-School Nite (and Bingo, if my young sources are correct) this Thursday and the Back-to-School Picnic on Saturday. I expect to arrive around noon, so let’s hope they save some goodies for me. Hope to see everyone there!

Weekly Chalkboard

Grade Four: Betty Botter’s Butter, Sept. 6, 2019

Grade Four: Molly’s Pilgrim Book Report, September 3, 2019

Grade Four: Molly’s Pilgrim Book Report (Improved) September 6, 2019

Grade Five: Fiction Book Report, Sept. 3, 2019

Grade Five: Fiction Book Report (Student Selection), September 20, 2019

Grade Five: No Oral Language/Rehearsal for Constitution Play

Grade Six Oral: Dekanawida’s Argument, September 13, 2019

Grade Six Research Report: September 20, 2019 (This will be posted later.)



Week II — August 26 – 30, 2019

[The fifth-grade Question of the Week has been added to the bottom of this post.]

We got through our first week, and it was very nicely done. The sixth grade is a small group of twelve, and we have been getting along very well, delving into Ancient History, reviewing the Gettysburg Address, looking into the world map, and reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I have them for exactly half of the school day, and I look forward to making up some lost ground with some and forging ahead with others. It is a great group of students!

The fifth grade has matured from last year, though still a bit too chatty for a split 4/5 class. Because of the split, the fifth grade will be learning to work more independently than they otherwise would have had to do. This seems to me to be a good thing. We will be reading both Benchmark (the booklets like last year) and also the new Making a New Nation text. I haven’t had a new hard-cover history book since 1993 (when I would have been about six years old). I can’t let go of the old one, so we will be using it as an alternate source.

The fifth grade has been assigned to read a book of their own choosing from my back table, not from all the extant literature available to them. I do this because I want them to understand what sorts of fiction books I have in mind for them. In other words, except in rare cases, it is not particularly helpful for fifth-grade students to be reading Curious George as their book report project, and I will take into account whether a book is appropriate to the particular student. Let us agree that Curious George, though laden with significance as an allegory for colonialism, is still a bit young for fifth grade. My students have a wide range of abilities, so I don’t absolutely proscribe very much—with the exception that we do not do Captain Underpants under any circumstances; it is the art that offends.

We have a tiny fourth grade, made up of five students. But they are very good students! 100% of the class did the first poem, Dreams on time and well. They read Molly’s Pilgrim and are working on their first Mr. Olliff-style book report, in class (so that they know what’s expected on future projects). They will be working on their Benchmark readings, learning to do manuscript, spelling, dictation, and comprehension tests. We are currently reading Sarah, Plain and Tall and, along with the fifth grade, The Trumpet of the Swan. They seem very bright, and I have high hopes for the new fourth grade.

Different from last year, this year all three groups will be taking their Grammar books home for homework. They can’t lose them as we only have so many. It will usually be on Thursday nights of five-day weeks that I send the books home, but that rule is not hard and fast. For example, this week and next week are four-day weeks, so there will only be homework three nights, and, for fifth and fourth, the homework will come from their dictations and spelling. The sixth grade use their grammar books more often at the beginning of the year.

There will be no school on Friday (the 30th) and Monday (the 2nd). I don’t understand why, but there it is. So, the fourth grade Molly’s Pilgrim report will be due on Tuesday, September 3, 2019 and the fifth-grade independent report will be due the same day. If completed ahead of time, then I would be pleased to have them on the Thursday, but that is not required. The September 6 dates yet stand.


Fourth: Molly’s Pilgrim fiction book report due Tuesday, September 3, 2019 (Most of it will be done in class, and I will accept it, if completed, on the previous Thursday.)

Fourth: Oral Language: Betty Botter’s Butter, due Friday, September 6, 2019

Fifth:    Fiction book report due Tuesday, September 2, 2019.

Fifth-grade Question of the Week:

Most books present a moral or a lesson. Sometimes the lessons are very simple, and sometimes the lessons are more difficult. What lessons did the characters in your book learn?

Fifth:    Oral Language: The Preamble to the United States Constitution, due Thursday, August 29, 2019.

Sixth:    Oral Language: The Gettysburg Address, due, again, August 29, 2019 (for those who have not completed all three parts!)



Week I — August 19 – 23, 2019


DADFor most of my sixth-grade students, this will be the third year that they’ve been associated with me. They generally know what to expect, though I do hope that they will be a little more independent and responsible for their own learning this year—as they would have to be had they gone straight to Middle School. We will be partnering with Ms. Danieri in Room 28, and she will be in charge of the math and science curriculum. For fifth-graders, I will be your history and language arts teacher, and it won’t feel very different from last year. For my fourth-grade recruits, and there aren’t very many, I will be teaching history and language arts for about 50% of the day.

To the new parents, this weekly blog is a great way to keep an eye on the assignments that are coming up on the horizon. In spite of my verbosity, it only takes a few minutes to check in once you know your way around. For forms, like book reports, go to Access Forms. For weekly homework pages (in case the dog eats it), go to the page for fourth grade, fifth grade, or sixth grade. I also post the weekly lesson plan on these pages, so you can have a general idea of where we are. I never guarantee that I will be exactly on the stated schedule.

As might be expected, we will be reading novels in class this year for all three grades. The fourth grade will start with Barbara Cohen’s little story, Molly’s Pilgrim.


We will be working on a book report for that book in class so that students will be prepared to do their own independent book reports as the weeks progress. You can look at the Fourth-grade model, to get an idea of what’s expected on the Access Forms page.

The fifth grade and fourth grade will be reading E.B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan. Most of our class books are largely for the joy of reading, and we don’t do major assignments based on those books. Of course, fifth graders will be doing book reports on novels of their own choosing, though I limit their choice on the first round. If you wish to see what the report might look like, here is a link to the Model-fifth grade book report form on the Access Forms page. (We no longer do the eighth page; I wasn’t getting high-quality work.)

I got some new books for the sixth grade this year, and we will be starting with a book I haven’t been able to do for a long time: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

Fourth-grade students will learn a poem this week called Dreams by Langston Hughes. We do a lot of memorization. I think it’s a good muscle to work on. Fifth grade will do America Will Be, also by Hughes. It has summed up my view of American history for most of my teaching career. I’m not as sure as I was that it will be, but I hope to present the same positive vision for this generation of young Americans. In sixth grade, we look into Ancient Rome, so students will get a “distant” mirror view of where we are going. As to oral language in sixth grade, we will return to the point where we left off in June: The Gettysburg Address. Mrs. Pearce, my fifth-grade teacher, was of the opinion that most students could learn it, and I agree. If the student already knows it and has done it, this will just be a refresher. But many of our late-fifth-grade students did not accomplish the task that Mrs. Pearce had set out for them. I will see that we all do our best to succeed. I think it’s an important rite of passage.

Fifth-grade students will also learn their states and state capitals. We do not do this all at once. We give the test weekly, and consider the skill mastered when the student has made 100% three times, but it doesn’t have to be consecutive weeks. I will help the students with some learning strategies for the state capitals. After that, more fun surprises.

For those unfamiliar, if you click on the menu item for the particular grade you are interested in, the weekly homework and oral language assignments are available for perusal and download. Another menu item is the one called Access Forms. I post the forms as we come to them as I prefer that the students wait until we discuss the particulars.

Weekly Chalkboard

Fourth: Dreams by Langston Hughes (Recitations due Friday, August 23, 2019

Fourth: Five Page Book Report on Molly’s Pilgrim (due Friday, August 30, 2019)

Fifth:   America Will Be by Langston Hughes (Recitations due Friday, August 23, 2019)

Fifth:   Standard Eight Page Book Report Due Friday, August 30, 2019 (Select Books from Classroom Library)

Sixth:   The Gettysburg Address (Recitations due Friday, August 23, 2019)