Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving Raps

Here are the final two Thanksgiving Raps. Thanks for your patience in getting these posted. They are worth the wait! :)

Enjoy! Thanks for stopping by.
-Miss Russell :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Fun!

On Monday, we read this month's Book of the Month A Plump and Perky Turkey by Teresa Bateman and Jeff Shelly. After reading this book, the students had several choices for responding to this book: 1) Make a Thanksgiving rap, 2) Make a Thanksgiving commercial discouraging people from eating turkey for Thanksgiving or 3) Making a Thanksgiving ABC book. Here are a few of the student responses that we have worked on over the past two days.

We hope you enjoy these commercials and raps. There are more to come! Have a Happy Thanksgiving!! :)
-Miss Russell :)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Water Cycle Fun!

For the past few weeks, we have been learning about the water cycle. The water cycle is the movement of water from Earth's surface into the air and back again. As water moves through this continuous cycle, it changes forms. The Sun's energy (heat) causes water to evaporate and become water vapor. Water vapor rises into the cooler air and turns into water droplets or ice crystals. Water vapor in the air that turns back into a liquid is called condensation. Water that falls to the Earth is called precipitation.
On Wednesday, we brought the water cycle into our class....sort of. We set up a demonstration using a heating element (representing the Sun's heat), a tea kettle filled with water and a tray full of ice (representing the cool clouds). We found that when the water evaporated and rose to the "clouds" that condensation was formed and in turn, we created precipitation. Need a visual? Click on the video below.

Also, take a look at the following video for an explanation by one of our friends about what he learned regarding the water cycle.

Learning about the water cycle has been so much fun. We have also learned a really fun song about the water cycle and we will be making water cycle bracelets. I am glad that you were able to take a peek into our classroom. Thanks for reading!
-Miss Russell :)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Blue Planet

Today we began our new science unit by exploring how much water is on Earth. First, students made their predictions about how much water is on Earth. Next, we used a beach ball globe to represent the Earth.
We tossed the globe 100 times and kept a tally of how many times our right pointer finger landed on water or on land. From this information, we were able to determine a percentage of water compared to land. We did this three times to make sure our information was accurate.

Our experiment concluded that about 72 percent of the Earth is covered with water. Our experiment proved to be almost exactly what scientists say is the amount of water on Earth.

Calendar Math

Here is an example of our daily Calendar Math lesson. The Calendar Math time is always a powerful lesson. We cover many, many topics in this 15-20 minute period.

How many different Calendar Math topics did you count in this lesson?
Miss Russell :)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Rockin' the Standards in Math

This week we learned a song about perimeter and area. Hopefully, this song will help us remember the difference between perimeter and area when we are working with these concepts.

We have some serious superstars! Wouldn't you agree?
-Miss Russell :)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Literary Pumpkin

On Friday the students made a literary pumpkin based on the book Planet Earth: Animals of Africa. Each year classes make literary pumpkins to celebrate our love of reading in a festive way. We chose this book because it represented our grade level theme, "Africa." We made one big pumpkin that represented the Earth and each student made their own little pumpkin representing an animal in Africa. The pumpkins turned out so cute! A HUGE thank you to Miss Young and Mrs. Nikki Colclough for developing such a great idea. The pumpkins will be displayed in the lobby for the rest of the week. Check them out!
-Miss Russell

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Flips, Turns and Area

This week we will be starting a new unit in math. The unit is called Flips, Turns and Area. This unit develops ideas in 2-D Geometry. The following describes the mathematical emphasis for each investigation.

Investigation 1—Motions with Tetrominoes

-Measuring area by covering a flat space with square units
-Finding systematically all possible geometric arrangements of a given number of squares
-Finding patterns for covering a space
-Comparing area of rectangles with different dimensions
-Describing physical motions in precise ways as a series of slides, flips, and turns
-Comparing two shapes to decide if they are congruent or not after using geometric motions—slides, flips, turns—to try fitting one shape exactly on top of the other

Investigation 2—Finding Area

-Measuring area by covering a flat space with square units
-Comparing the area of two shapes by determining if they cover the same amount of flat space
-Comparing shapes to see if they are congruent through motions such as rotation (turns) and reflection (flips)
-Exploring relationships among shapes; for example, a rectangle can be cut into two triangles, each of which is half the area of the rectangle
-Finding the area of complex shapes by cutting them into recognizable smaller units of area such as square units and half units

The following words are vocabulary terms that students will be expected to know by the end of the unit:

Area - The size of a flat surface measured in square units

Congruent - To be the same size and shape

Flip-To turn a figure over

Slide - To move a figure in any direction without rotating it

Turn - To rotate a figure in place

Students will find all of the possible arrangement of 4 squares. These types of shapes are called tetrominoes. Tetrominoes must have "full sides touching." Students will use these shapes to explore the concept of area.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sunshine Math Kickoff

Yesterday we had a Sunshine Math Kickoff. Sunshine Math is an extra math challenge that is offered to those students who would like an extra challenge in math. If students, are already overwhelmed with their regular school work than they can participate by being a cheerleader. The role of a cheerleader is encourage the "Mathletes" (Sunshine Math Participants) during their Sunshine Math adventure.
At the end of the school year, students who have turned in their Sunshine Math papers at least 80% of the time will have a chance to compete in a "Math Brawl" (competition). The winner of that competition will represent our school at the district competition.
Yesterday's pep-rally was a huge success! Here are some of the videos that the students saw yesterday during the pep-rally.
Miss Hoffmann and Miss Patterson:

Sunshine Math Singers:

Sunshine Math Cheerleaders:

All permission slips are due ASAP!!
What are your plans for Sunshine Math? Will you choose to be a Mathlete or Cheerleader?
-Miss Russell :)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Food Chain Fun!

This week in science we have been working on the relationship between plants and animals through food chains. Food chains show the flow of energy from one living thing to another. All food chains begin with energy from the sun. We also discussed the two types of living things: producers and consumers. There are 3 types of consumers: herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores. These are the main concepts that students learned this week:
-producers are living things that make their own food, (ex: plants)
-consumers are living things that eat other living things (ex: people, snakes, lions)
-herbivore-a consumer that eats only plants,
-carnivore-a consumer that eats only animals,
-omnivores-a consumer that eats plants and animals.
Students worked on making their own food chains in class.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Horray for the Open Array!

Today in class we worked on several student created multiplication and division story problems. One problem that we worked on was a multiplication story problem by Jacob. His story problem was: This year I recorded 12 hurricanes. Each hurricane dumped 8 inches of water. How many inches of water did the hurricanes dump in all? The students came up with many great strategies such a repeated addition, drawing pictures and using a ratio table.

During the closing meeting, I reminded the students that we can use arrays as models for solving small multiplication problems; but, we can also use them to solve larger multiplication problems. I drew a rectangluar array on the board with no columns or rows. I asked the students what numbers we could split the 12 into that are "easy to work with." Without hesitation, I got the answer "10 and 2." Perfect! Then I asked what we could split the 8 into that would be "easy to work with." Anna replied "4 and 4." Perfect again! I divided the rows into 4 and 4 (totaling 8) and I split the columns into 10 and 2 (totaling 12). We didn't draw all of the rows and columns because we decided that wouldn't be very efficient and we would probably get confused.

Now, we had four smaller arrays with dimensions that were very easy to solve. Once we were done finding the products of each small array we added them together and VIOLA! we had our answer!

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Open Array strategy because it will create a better of understanding of the traditional multiplication algorithm when we are ready for that strategy. Today was the first day with this strategy. We will be using it a lot more in the future. Thanks for reading!

If you are interested in more information about this strategy please visit the math strategy videos, look under the Multiplication heading and click "Generic Rectangle." (Generic Rectangle and the Open Array are the same thing.)
-Miss Russell :)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New Month, New Calendar Math

Today is Wednesday, today is Wednesday, October 1st, October 1st. Yesterday was Tuesday, tomorrow will be Thursday, HIP-HIP HORRAY! What a day!
That is the sound of the beginning of our Calendar Math time. I love Calendar Math because I feel that it reinforces skills that students sometimes lack, plus IT'S FUN! I am so excited for the new month of October. In Calendar Math (CM), a new month = new components of our lesson. This month we have added many new components to our CM routine. We will be comparing the weather in Jacksonville, Florida (USA) to that of Cairo, Egypt (Africa). As a class, we will be graphing this information. Students will practice reading and answering the graph about weather. We will also be adding a decimeter (10 centimeters) each day of the month. This will provide the much needed skill of using metric measurement. Our calendar pattern this month introduces us to different types of triangles such as equilateral triangles and isoceles triangles. We will continue to add money for each school day. We will focus on the meaning of a.m. and p.m. in time. We will keep track of the different times that it is "light" (day) and "dark" (night) in relation to a.m. and p.m. We will also be finding different combinations of coins for a given total.
Some questions that you can ask your child about our CM lesson for October are:
Early in the month:
What is an equilateral triangle?
What is an isoceles triangle?
What is a vertice?
What is a decimeter?
How many groups of 10 equal 100?
Is today's number odd or even?
Is today's number a multiple of 3? 4? 5? 6? 7? etc. How do you know?
How many decimeters equal a meter?
What is the weather like in Cairo compared to Jacksonville at this time of the year?
What does it look like outside when it is 3 a.m.? 3 p.m.?
What are all the different combinations of coins to make 47 cents?

These are just a few questions that you could ask. You can even ask open ended questions such as "What did you learn today in CM?" Any conversation with your child about their work in class holds them accountable for paying attention during the lesson. Thanks for reading!!
-Miss Russell :)

Donors Choose x 2!

As you may know, my first proposal for Science Books through Donors Choose has been completely fulfilled and we received the materials on Friday. The 33 books included all different topics from energy, the sun, animals, the moon, volcanoes, force and motion, rocks, plants, and so much more! Students wrote very nice "thank you" notes to some of our donors yesterday. I am SO excited to announce that I have also gotten my second proposal for math books and games fulfilled. YAHH!!! We are so appreciative to all of our donors. I can't wait to receive the math materials. It feels like Christmas in September!
Your very excited teacher,
Miss Russell :)

Multiplication and Division Story Problems

For the past few days we have been working with multiplication and division story problems. The students have been coming up with some fantastic strategies for solving both types of problems. Some of the strategies that we have come up with are: skip counting, using a ratio table, drawing pictures, decomposing, and thinking of multiplication as repeated addition in order to solve. Take a look at the charts that we made in class. There were so many great ideas to share that we couldn't possibly chart them all. The following charts show awesome strategies from Knowlton, Johnna, Michela, Elias, Katelynn and JJ. Nice work boys and girls!!

Today students were introduced to several different notations for multiplication and division. I can't wait to start seeing these different types of notation in their work!

-Miss Russell :)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Open House

WOW!! Tonight we had our 3rd grade Open House and boy was it packed!! The students followed a flow chart to introduce many different aspects of our class to their adult visitor. Thank you, thank you, thank you to those families that joined us tonight. Miss Young and I had such an awesome time visiting and talking with everyone. The students did an amazing job leading their guest around. I could not be more proud of this class.
Your very proud teacher,
Miss Russell :)

Array Game: Count and Compare

Today students learned a new game using array cards. The game is called "Count and Compare." This game helps students practice estimating and comparing the size of arrays based on their dimensions. Ultimately, this type of practice will help students become familiar with multiplication and division. Take a look at the video below to see how the game is played. Students may play this game at home. They just need to take home their array cards, cut them out, and label them with totals and dimensions.

If you are interested in learning more about array cards and their purpose in multiplication and division, please visit the following links:
What Are Array Cards?
Teaching Multiplication and Division

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Battle of the Books

Battle of the Books is a reading competition for third, fourth, and fifth grade students at Chets Creek Elementary. To participate in the competition, students read books from the Battle of the Books List. The fifteen titles used in this competition are the Sunshine State Young Readers’ Award nominees for this year. Battle of the Books culminates in three “battles” where teams buzz in to answer questions about the books. Last year Mr. Montisano and Mrs. Nash’s Third Grade “Bookaneers” won the Battle of the Books! These amazing third graders received gold medals and a pizza party for their class!
Here is the Battle of the Books List:


1) The Blue Ghost - by Marion Dane Bauer
2) No Talking - by Andrew Clement
3) Missing Manatee - by Cynthia DeFelice
4) The Sloppy Copy Slip-Up - by DyAnne DiSalvo
5) Phineas L. MacGuire . . . Erupts!: The First Experiment - by Frances O'Roark
6) Stumptown Kid - by Ron J. Findley & Carol Gorman
7) The Thing About Georgie – by Lisa Graff
8) The Homework Machine - by Dan Gutman
9) Dexter the Tough - by Margaret Peterson Haddix
10) The Ghosts Grave - by Peg Kehret
11) Rules - by Cynthia Lord
12) Roxy and the Hooligans - by Phyllis Naylor
13) Clementine - by Sara Pennypacker
14) The Stupendous Dodge ball Fiasco – by Janice Repka
15) Listen!- by Stephanie S. Tolan

In class we have already read No Talking and we are currently reading The Thing About Georgie. We love the battle books!!
A huge THANK YOU to Mr. Pieri for typing up the list of Battle Books.
-Miss Russell :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Growing Plants

Today is Day 7 of our plant growing project. We have been watering them everyday and have a source of heat and light (Sun) on them at all times. We have some plants that are growing like crazy and some that haven't germinated at all. (I am slightly fearful that Carter and Anna's plant may take over our room one of these days like in the book Plantzilla.) Out of all of the plants, the lima beans have grown the fastest. We are also starting to see some sprouts from the radishes and peas. Every day we go to school we can't wait to see the progress that our little plants have made over night. The students have also been recording their observations in their science journals. Through the clear cups we are able to see the awesome root systems of the plants. The students have also been able to identify the stems and leaves or their plants. Our class has quite the green thumb!
-Miss Russell :)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Silly Story Problems

Today I constructed our first Standards Based Bulletin Board. The purpose of a SBBB is to give students and parents several examples of work that meet the standards that we are working on. This SBBB centered around two story problems dealing with repeated addition and multiplication from our "Things That Come In Groups" math unit. Although there were many excellent pieces of work, I chose work from Trinity, Taylor, Luke and Jake for this month's board. Also, every student drew either an octopus or giraffe to help decorate the board. Nice work kiddos!
-Miss Russell :)
(A HUGE thank you to Susan Ammons for helping put the SBBB together.)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Resource Schedule

At this time, I only have a partial resource schedule to share. As soon as I get the schedule for the rest of the year, all students will receive a copy and be taught how to use it. Here is the resource schedule for the next few days:
Thursday, September 11th- Media
Friday, September 12th- Art 2
Monday, September 15th- PE 2 (Don't forget to wear tennis shoes!)
Tuesday, September 16th- Character Education
Thursday, September 18th- Science
That's all that I know for right now. I will keep you updated as I receive information.
- Miss Russell :)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Scientists At Work

Check out these pictures from our work in science this week.

Roots, Stems, Plants, and Flowers...Oh My!

Recently in science we have been learning about plants, their parts, and needs. We spent Monday and Tuesday planting a variety of plants such as lima beans, grass, flowers, green peas, and radishes. We have learned that there are 4 main parts: roots, stems, leaves, and flowers. There are also 4 things that plants need to survive: water, space, light,and air. On Monday, students made predictions about what would happen to a lima bean when soaked in water for 24 hours. On Tuesday, students dissected the lima bean to observe the inside. Students were able to identify the embryo (new plant), stored food, and seed coat. They recorded their findings in their science journal. Next we will be learning about animals. Did you know that plants and animals have many things in common? More to come...
-Miss Russell :)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Multiplication Story Problems

In class we have been working on multiplication story problems. Here are some examples from Kayla, Emily, Katelynn, and Jessica. Nice Work!
-Miss Russell :)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Farewell Miss Young! We will miss you!

Today was Miss Young's last day before her big trip to Africa. Yep, AFRICA! She will be going to Swaziland, Africa to help people and learn more about their culture. She will be spending a little more than 2 weeks there. This year she is bringing along our class mascot Chet the Bear. (Look closely to the picture at the right, can you find him?) While in Africa, Chet will be journaling about his travels on his blog. We will certainly miss Miss Young while she is gone but we can't wait to hear about all of the exciting stories and see wonderful pictures of her time in Africa.
-Miss Russell :)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Today we started our "Things That Come in Groups" math unit. This math unit focuses on the development of multiplication and division skills. Today we began our unit by brainstorming "things that come in groups." Some of the ideas that the students came up with were: wheels on a tricycle, fingers on a hand, socks in a pair, eggs in a carton, triplets, and sides on an octagon. The students use this information to make story problems such as "Miss Russell bought 3 cartons of eggs. Each carton has 12 eggs. How many eggs does Miss Russell have?" When asked to solve this problem, many students used an addition equation such as 12+12+12 to solve. The concept of multiplication was then introduced. We think of multiplication as "groups of" things. This problem could be represented with the following multiplication equation 3x12=? In class, I discourage the use of ambiguous terminology such as "times." For this equation we say 3 "groups of" 12. Using the phrase "groups of" gives a more concrete understanding of multiplication. It also allows students to create a mental picture of the problem in order to solve, in case they get stuck. The students caught on to this concept very quickly today and they were excited to hear that they were solving multiplication problems. I love this unit and can't wait to see what awesome ideas the kids will come up with next!

-Miss Russell :)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Free Rice

One of my very favorite websites is This website is great for both kids and adults! On this website you can improve your vocabulary, grammar, math and geography skills. For every correct answer, a donation of 20 grains of rice is made to needy areas around the world. This website is so addictive. Also, what is better than giving your brain a workout AND helping people in need. How cool!

-Miss Russell :)

Science Happenings

This week in science we are kicking off the school year by reviewing the "Science Process Skills" that scientists use when they investigating events or places. The "Science Process Skills" have reviewed include some of the following:

  • observing
  • classifying
  • estimating and measuring
  • inferring
  • predicting
  • making and using models
  • forming questions and hypothesis
  • investigating and experimenting
  • collecting data
  • interpreting data
  • communicating

We have done many fun "lab stations" to investigate these different process skills. We've have made paper airplanes (investigating and experimenting), we have estimated the volume of a ball of clay (estimating and measuring), we even made music with water-filled plastic bottles (forming questions and hypothesis). Another lab station was for the students to make a small example of a lever. A lever is a simple machine that helps make work easier. This lab station left a lot of kids questions "What is the purpose of this simple machine in real life?" I could tell they weren't believers when I told them it makes work easier. So I proved it to them. I started by asking if they thought they could pick me (the teacher) up off the ground. They unanimously answered "no." I set up a wooden plank (bar) and brick (fulcrum). Eventually, after some experimenting, the students were able to set the fulcrum close to the load (me), I stood on that end and a small girl stood on the other side of the wooden plank. She was able to lift me off the ground using this simple machine! After the wide-eyed stares and "oohs" and "ahhs," I think you could say I had 33 believers in simple machines. This week has been fun in science and I believe it will set the tone for the rest of the year. I can't wait for more wide-eyed stares, "oohs" and "ahhs" this year in science.

-Miss Russell :)