Monday, November 30, 2009

What's Your Perspective?

When writing your 2-3 sentence reflection as you answer the question beneath the photo, construct sentences in one of the following ways:

combine sentences with a comma and a coordinating conjunction making a compound sentence. Remember you can use and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet

combine sentences by making one a dependent clause using a subordinating conjunction and the other an independent clause making the sentence complex.

combine sentences using a semicolon.

Check out my new digital learning website: GrammarCloud!

Monday, November 2, 2009

2009-2010 Reflection Journal Entries

It is very important to step back and reflect on what is going on around you. Taking notice of your habits of the mind is the first step to becoming a better problem solver, critical thinker, and communicator. The following are the journal entries that have been assigned in class so far. We will continue to add to the list of entries as we address essential questions pertaining to the grammar and writing skills we are developing in class.

1. 8/20 What kind of communicator are you?

2. 8/25 Compare and Contrast an electronic dictionary vs. a book dictionary. Which one do you prefer?

3. 9/8 Using Lesson 3 of Vocabulary For Achievement, use 3 words in context as you creatively write about an imaginary character.

4, 9/15 After analyzing your writing, share what you have noticed to be your writing habits. Include strengths and weaknesses.

5. 9/16 Check out our class blog and share your thoughts about one particular blog post that you find interesting. Explain why you chose the one that you did.

6. 9/21 How can you grow as a writer? What are some ways that you can improve your written expression?

7. 9/25 Provide an in-depth explanation of how to find a subject in an inverted sentence. What else do you know about simple/complete subjects and verbs?

Check out my new digital learning website: GrammarCloud!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Let's Learn Those Prepositions!!

Why are prepositional phrases important for our written and oral communication?
How can varied sentence structure make my writing more effective?

For the past week, we have been studying prepositions and have closely analyzed sentences to learn how they add detail to describe something or to give the location of something. It is not often that I ask the students to do memorization work, but we will be applying a lot of new skills that will require them to have extensive knowledge about prepositional phrases. That means that they will need to recall all of their prepositions from the list below. They have learned that a subject and verb cannot be found in a prepositional phrase. Sometimes a prepositional phrase is wedged between a subject and a verb, and they are learning to look for this when making sure to have correct subject/verb agreement; they know not to make the mistake of having the verb agree with the object of the preposition. The students are also learning about varying the beginnings of their sentences. When prepositional phrases are moved to the front of a sentence, it adds variety to writing.

Did you know that when you take away a preposition's object that the preposition then becomes an adverb? If you identify a word in a sentence as a preposition, it must always have an object that is a noun or a pronoun. Just locate the preposition and ask the question, "Who or what?" and the answer will the the preposition's object. All of the modifiers in between the preposition and its object are part of the prepositional phrase. If there isn't a "who or what" that follows, then the word that you identified as a preposition is functioning as an adverb.

The following are the most commonly used prepositions that should be memorized. We will continue to reference prepositions as we learn new skills throughout the year.


Friday, September 4, 2009

What Does Good Writing Look Like?

(click on the picture for a larger view)

Writing is a process, and this year we will practice writing in stages to ensure that excellent habits are being learned.

Brainstorming on any given topic is the way to begin writing as you jot down relevant words or phrases that come to mind on any given topic. Does it mean that you have to use all of your ideas when you begin drafting? Absolutely not! You only choose the best ideas that will support your topic and arrange them in an organized way by using a graphic organizer; this is part of planning what you want to say. Does it mean that you can't add new ideas that might come to mind at a later stage? Of course not! You can always add new information, but try to stay focused and limit yourself to completing one stage of the writing process at a time. As you allow your ideas to steadily flow, try to keep from revising and editing sentences at this point; you will have the chance to do that at later stages of the writing process. Think about this: If you are distracted by sentence structure, missing commas, spelling, etc while you are trying to formulate your ideas, great ideas might get lost and forgotten. Remember to take it one step at a time.

Once your ideas have been written in a rough draft, it is time to take a look at the organization of your thoughts. Are your ideas logically sequenced? Do you need to add or take out parts? What about finishing any incomplete sentences? If you have short, choppy sentences, you might want to consider combining them by using a clause or conjunction. After you analyze your written work, reread it again. It is okay for writing to be messy when you are using carets to insert words/phrases, underlining portions of sentences by using arrows to relocate them, etc. It is okay to mark up your paper!

After revising, it is time to reread AGAIN for spelling, capitalization, and punctuation errors. Take it one sentence at a time, and read it aloud so that you can hear errors that you might otherwise overlook. Finally, it is time to reread your written work again, and then rewrite it for the final time. Sometimes it takes several times of rewriting something before it is ready to be published, and if you really stick to writing in stages and following the correct process, you will develop excellent writing habits.

The question asked in class was,"What does good writing look like?" The boys worked together to come up with characteristics of good writing that they plan to incorporate throughout the year.

Check out my new digital learning website: GrammarCloud!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Why Do We Write?

In class, we have discussed the importance of communication. Our conversation involved writing with a purpose, and the boys brainstormed some ideas and shared what they believed to be the main reasons for why people write. Afterwards, they compared their ideas to the 4 main purposes for writing: to inform, to create/express, to persuade, and to entertain.

This year, the focus will be on expository writing where the boys will write 5 paragraph essays, newspaper articles, and a research paper. They will also write reflections, personal letters, poetry, and will have many opportunities to give written feedback on others' work. The boys are looking forward to not only collaborating with their classmates but with their peers from around the world.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Friday, July 17, 2009

"Playing for Change: Peace Through Music"

Click here to watch the video

I am following blogs of some very talented educators, and I saw this video posted on a colleague's website. As I was viewing it, it really touched me to see musicians from all over the world come together as one in their efforts to bring "change through music." I shared conversation with the person who posted this inspirational video, and I thought that it would be perfect to begin the year learning about our 5th grade theme, perspective: one's attitude toward something or in regards to something; a point of view. We will cover this throughout the year as we address how one's perspective might change through experiences.

Watch the video, listen to the lyrics of the song "Stand by Me," and reflect on the apparent diversity of the musicians, but also look deeper to gain insight on the importance of global unification: even though we are different in many ways, there are many commonalities that bring us together. I love how this video uses the common language of music to promote change in the stereotypes, prejudices, and oppression that not only plague the people of our very own city of Memphis, but also the people of the world.

What would the world be like if there wasn't diversity?

Why is it important to demonstrate the need to be accepting of others' differences?

How can you make a difference? In what ways can you positively influence others at school or in your community?

Make a connection to the video and relate it to something that you have experienced in your life.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Have a wonderful summer!! I miss you already:)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Research Topics

The 5th grade boys have been researching a topic of their choice.

5A Boys:
King Louis 16th and the Fall of the French Monarchy
Why Hershey is such a Great Company
Why Pixar is the Best Animation Studio
The History of Native American Lacrosse
The History of the Yo-yo
Why Being on Ski Patrol is so Challenging
Why the Yo-Yo is the Best Toy Ever Invented
Why Yellowstone National Park is World Famous
Why Modern Day Zoos Are Better Than Zoos of the Past
Why the Masters is One of the Best Tournaments in Professional Golf
Why Duke University Has the Best Basketball Program in the Nation
The Effects of Autism
Why Lacrosse is the Best Sport Ever
The Importance of Going Green With Solar Energy
How the Dust Bowl was Caused by the Average Farmer and Not by the Forces of Nature
Hurricanes: Causes and Effects
How Computers are Beneficial Today

5B Boys:
Why Performance Enhancing Drugs Should Not Be Allowed
How Antartica is Being Affected By Global Warming
Why Street Racing is an Intense Pass Time
How the Death of a Loved One Can Affect You
The Causes and Effects of Global Warming
How Pancreatic Cancer Affects Lives
The History of Basketball
Why the Credit Crash Affects America
How Brain Tumors Affect People
How Space Travel Has Improved Over the Years
How Going Green Can Affect the U.S.
How F-16's and A-300's are Alike and Different
Obesity: An American Epidemic
The History of ALS
How Navy Seals are Trained for Sea Hijacking
How the Stock Market Affects the United States

5C Boys:
How Smoking Can Affect the Lives of Ordinary People
How the Technology of World War II Affected Its Outcome
Why the Velociraptor is the Deadliest Animal of All Living Creatures
The Affects of Smallpox: Then and Now
How the Armenian Genocide Was the Worst of ALL Time
Why the Deep Sea is Rarely Explored by Humans
Why Mount Everest is the Hardest Feat for Climbers to Conquer
What Happened for the Fight for Fallujah to Unfold
Why O.C.D. is Very Challenging
Why Slamball is the Next Up and Coming Sport
How Cigarettes are Associated to Lung Cancer
How Smoking is Ruining American Lives
How the Beatles are the Best Rock-N-Roll Band of All Time
How Lives are Affected by Dwarfism
The Importance of Creating Better Photos
The Causes and Effects of Diabetes
Leo Frank Murder Case: Innocent or Guilty?

5D Boys:
Why a Dog is a Man's Best Friend
The Curse of the Great Bambino
Bigfoot: Legend or Reality
Why the History of Comics is the Best
How the X-43 is the Fastest Jet on Earth
How Knowing God Improves One's Quality of Life
Why the Cuttlefish is the Most Amazing Animal Known
How Aspirin is Beneficial
Why the Traditions of the Masters Make it the Best Tournament of All Time
Why Computers are Becoming an Essential Part of Life
Why the Yankees is the Best Baseball Team in Major League History
Why the Who was one of the Greatest Rock Bands of all Time
How Modern Day Pirates are an Immense Threat to Every Docking Point in Samalia
UFOs: Fact or Fiction
Big Bang Theory: Myth or Reality
Why Dogs are the Best Animals/Pets Ever

Check out my new digital learning website: GrammarCloud!

Sunday, May 3, 2009


The following information came from *

Many people think of plagiarism as copying another's work, or borrowing someone else's original ideas. But terms like "copying" and "borrowing" can disguise the seriousness of the offense:
According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, to "plagiarize" means

1. to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own
2. to use (another's production) without crediting the source
3. to commit literary theft
4. to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.

In other words, plagiarism is an act of fraud. It involves both stealing someone else's work and lying about it afterward.
But can words and ideas really be stolen?

According to U.S. law, the answer is yes. The expression of original ideas is considered intellectual property, and is protected by copyright laws, just like original inventions. Almost all forms of expression fall under copyright protection as long as they are recorded in some way (such as a book or a computer file).
All of the following are considered plagiarism:

* turning in someone else's work as your own
* copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit
* failing to put a quotation in quotation marks
* giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation
* changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit
* copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not (see our section on "fair use" rules)

Most cases of plagiarism can be avoided, however, by citing sources. Simply acknowledging that certain material has been borrowed, and providing your audience with the information necessary to find that source, is usually enough to prevent plagiarism. See our section on citation for more information on how to cite sources properly.

Example for using quotations

Example for using paraphrasing

*What is Plagiarism? (n.d.) Retrieved May 4th, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Quintura Search Cloud

This site was sent to us by Mrs. Edwards from Nespelem School to help you find informaton on the topic that you have chosen to research! When viewing the Quintura Cloud, you can visually navigate through to find the information that is relevant to what you are researching. Click the words in the cloud to discover popular search topics or surf the web. Refine, save, and share your cloud!

Huntsville Space Center

The boys have been working on the laws of motion and applying it to everyday life. During a recent field trip to Huntsville Space Center, they got to look at the history of NASA and apply Newton's Laws to the G Force and Space Shot rides. In this VoiceThread, the boys are providing information from their experiences as they recall the events of the NASA Space Center that are captured in these pictures.

We are currently working on getting their voices added to the photos seen here.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Let the Research Begin....

Topics for Research?

Brainstorm topic ideas. If you have trouble thinking up creative topics to write about, here are some questions you might ask yourself:

* What am I interested in?
* What do I like to do for fun that might translate into an interesting paper topic?
* What do I feel strongly about?
* What do I know a lot about?
* What would I like to know more about?

* What are some issues or topics that are in the news right now that I find interesting and important?
* What are some issues or topics at my school that I find interesting and important?
* Can my friends or family members offer me suggestions for topics that I find interesting and important?

Evaluate each appropriate topic for ease and quality.
How difficult will this topic be to research and write about?
Is the topic too broad?
Is the topic too narrow?
Remember to get help from the teacher to find out if your topic is manageable. You also might need to do some library and computer research to find out how much information is available about your considered topic.

Pick the topic on your list that you find most interesting and important. Remember, it's much easier to write a paper that you find interesting than one you do not, so take the time to pick out a topic you truly care about.

Get permission from the teacher to make sure that your topic is appropriate and not controversial. Then, let the fun begin as the research process unfolds during English class! Follow my blog posts as I take you through the steps of researching and writing a paper on your approved topic.

On Monday, April 20th, you should turn in the following:

1. A page of notes that shows you have brainstormed as you have answered the questions above.

2. Three possible topics in order of preference.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Vocabulary for Achievement

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Vocabulary
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The boys got to use their creative side to illustrate their vocabulary. They were instructed to take a VA word and use its letters to demonstrate the meaning of it. They were also to find a synonym and antonym of the word in addition to the derivatives. Each derivative had to include the part of speech since that changes when suffixes are added to the ending of the word.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Reliable Source or Not?

Click here for full screen version

After reading the following information about how to search for reliable internet sources, use this cool technology tool to help you analyze just how reliable your source is.

The Internet is a great resource for research, but you have to remember that it is a public place where anyone can post information. When you want to find a trustworthy source, you need to first take the time to make sure it is reliable. The following are the steps to take to make sure that you have a valid site:

1. Always check to make sure that the source has an author. You can check the author's background to help validate the information.

2. Check the sites URL (http://...) If the site ends in .edu, it is probably an educational site, and you should still be aware of personal opinions. If the site ends in .gov it is probably a reliable government website. You will most likely find factual information here. Sites that end in .org are usually non-profit organization sites and can be reliable and unreliable, so make sure that you are careful not to take someone's opinion as the truth. You can find information on this site that will give you facts, but you may also run across political opinions that might slant one way or the other.

3. You can also follow research suggestions from which suggests that the CARS (credibility, accuracy, reasonableness, and support) method is great for evaluating sources.


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Collaborative Wiki: Sharing Perspectives

What a great opportunity the PDS boys have as they team up with their Nespelem friends to improve on their writing skills! The focus of their writing collaboration will be how to write with a purpose and audience in mind and how all writers express themselves using a unique voice and style. They will also see the importance of writing in organized ways as they strive for the great development of their ideas. The best part of all is that they will learn in an authentic way that is most meaningful. We look forward to reflecting, providing positive feedback, and learning more about our writing partners who are over 2,ooo miles away!

We are thinking critically when we

* weigh the influences of motives and bias, and
* recognize our own assumptions, prejudices, biases, or point of view

I was:
Reviewing the past thoughts: Our actions reflect what we know and believe at the time; reflect on your past ideas, thoughts, feelings, beliefs before your interaction with other ethnic groups and cultures.

What did you know, think, and feel before you began learning about other ethnic groups?

I am:
Understanding the present change: After an experience, reflect on how the experience affects (changes, revises, renews, validates) your own ideas and values.

How have your ideas, knowledge, and feelings changed after working with and learning from another ethnic group?

I will:
Making the future happen: decide to act in ways that demonstrate the values you believe in. To change your future and that of others, make a conscious effort towards sharing and being what has been learned.

How will you set examples and influence others in positive ways based on your current ideas, knowledge and feelings?

How do these ideas, knowledge, and feelings help you make decisions about the the acceptance of other cultures and ethnicities in the future?

Perspectives: I Was, I Am, I Will

Click on our collaborative wiki site that we are now sharing with Nespelem School!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Canvasing Writing Ideas

This is a larger view of the picture needed to complete one of the lino writing activities.

Click on the canvas and begin your assignment for improving on writing attention getters, using vivid verbs and specific nouns, and writing with syntactic variety.

Here are the results to some great collaborative writing! Lino Activity

Monday, February 23, 2009

Walkin' in Memphis with MapSkip

Our latest writing assignment was to write a five paragraph essay about helping our friends from Nespelem School learn a little bit about our life in Memphis, TN. We wanted to show them around town by identifying and writing about the city's hot spots.

The writing process was used to help turn a few ideas into a well developed ESSAY. Some of the great attention getters that were used to hook the reader are as follows:
  • What city has the best barbecue, is home to the king of rock-and-roll, and is always hopping?
  • The sweet sound of Memphis blues fills the streets of Memphis.
  • "Yes!" I exclaim, with a rib in my hand, while the Memphis Tigers' point guard, Tyreke Evans, makes a three pointer against Tennessee. Oh, how I adore the Memphis Tigers and ribs.
  • This city is like a playground for hyper children, but even more entergetic. This awing urban area is known as the soul of the Mid-south.
  • Exhilarated, enthusiastic, and fully prepared, the sightseers are eager to arrive.
  • "Walkin' in Memphis" is a song of the great City of Blues.
  • Get ready to “put on your blue suede shoes” and head to the “land of the Delta Blues!"
  • Dismissing the powder-like snow from my mind I thought about Bar-B-Q, basketball, and blues. As I took off on a plane from Denver I wondered what it would be like to show an out of town person the sights of my hometown, Memphis.
  • The birth place of the blues, the new city sensation, and the loving generations make up the great city of Memphis!
  • Sights, sounds, and great food are all a part of one of the greatest cities in the United States.
  • Rendezvous, Graceland, and Beale Street are Memphis at its finest, but the Tigers, Grizzlies, and all the Rock n' Roll are, too.
  • Flashy lights and beautiful music bring the town of Memphis to life everyday. When Memphis comes to life you have no chance of stopping it.
  • The sky revealed its blanket of blue over Memphis, the city of history. Over time, many things have changed in our aged city, but some have not moved on.
After putting the finishing touches on the essays, it was time to take our visitors to these locations on the map. Each student located a favorite Memphis site and added a descriptive paragraph of support from the essay. Before long, stories were present all over the city and pictures were uploaded to provide a great visual.

To complete our unfinished project, we will be adding our voices which is another great feature of MapSkip. We hope our friends from Nespelem School will enjoy learning about Memphis history and its many wonderful sites. Before long, they will have the option of listening to them as well. Click on the picture for a short cut to MapSkip.

Here is a direct link to St. Jude in Memphis, TN where a student added his voice. Click here!

We have received a wonderful message from the co-founder of MapSkip where he comments on the fabulous work that the PDS boys have done! Check it out by clicking on the links below:

First Message
Second Message
Third message
Fourth Message

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Prezi Presentation Using Linking Verbs

We have been practicing using linking verbs, distinguishing between linking and action verbs, and justifying why one is better to use to enhance writing than the other one is. is a nonlinear presentation that allows so many options that a PowerPoint can't. It is a great way to display information, and at the same time, provide visual representations by uploading pictures, drawing arrows or lines, highlighting, etc. It is a great way for a visual learner to analyze a sentence for parts of speech. The frames on Prezi can help to organize and keep ideas separate, and a path can be created for the order in which the information can be presented.

I am looking forward to an opportunity for the students to be able to have their own account because it will benefit all of the different learning styles.

Monday, February 9, 2009

PDS Meets Nespelem School

Google Map of Grand Coulee Dam, WA and Memphis, TN

Out of the several listed "hot spots" of Memphis, which three would you recommend to Nespelem school? Give specific reasons to support your location of choice that is flagged on Google Map.

Connecting Perspectives

Connecting Perspectives: Honor the Past to Plan the Future

Nespelem School

Living History | Linking Friends | Honoring Pasts | Valuing Visions

A WebQuest for 5th Grade Language Arts and Humanities

Presbyterian Day School

Friday, January 30, 2009

Mind Mapping With Linking Verbs

Mind Map created by Kim Pruitt with GoConqr Forms of "Be" verbs:


Other linking verbs:


Check out my new digital learning website: GrammarCloud!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

"Linking" to Blooms Taxonomy

Blooms Taxonomy

Knowledge: Can you recall a list of linking verbs?
Comprehension: How would you compare a linking verb to an action verb?
Application: How would you show your understanding of a linking verb?
Analysis: What is the relationship between the two words that the linking verb connects?
Synthesis: How can you test whether or not a verb is linking or action?
Evaluation: Justify which verb, action or linking, enhances writing.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaugural Words: 1789 to Present

Choose one president from the past on the presidential time line and click to analyze his words used during his inaugural speech. Then click on Barack Obama to compare. How is their language alike? different? Give reasons for the likenesses and differences that you list.

Inaugural Time Line: 1789-Present

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

I found this Glogster created by Brenda Dyck that is great support for our study of the Civil War. Make sure to click on the links where you can find more information on President Lincoln.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Class Wiki Page

We are currently in the process of naming our class wiki page. Student recommendations have been posted, and now it is time to vote! It is going to be hard to choose because of all the creativity and thoughtfulness that went into coming up with a catchy title.

Using our wiki page for collaboration on given assignments has not only sparked more interest among the students, but it has given a greater purpose for learning grammar and becoming better writers. Now that our work is available for the world to see, revising and editing has become A LOT more meaningful. Class Wiki