Sunday, September 13, 2020

What makes a school great?

Hello to all my former students who have posted on this blog and have dropped by to see what is happening here since I have retired. Also, welcome to new visitors who have found us; my fourth graders spent a great deal of time posting on here. Hopefully, you have found something that you have enjoyed and we gave you something to think about from time to time. 

After I retired, I found an article whose title was, "What makes a great school?" I have my thoughts, but I also wonder what the students think. I know that I do not have a class any longer, but I hope that anyone who stops by here will post his or her ideas in the comments section. I would love to get a cross section of ideas from across the United States and even the world. As you can see on our visitors map, a large number of people from around the world have stopped by here. 

So, visitors, the question is simple: What makes a school great? Please post your ideas in the comments. Come back and see if anyone has responded to your ideas. I always respond to posts. If you see someone's idea that you would like to comment on, please do so. I sure hope we get some ideas going as I am truly interested in the students' perspective of what makes a great school. 

Thank you for your time-

Michael La Marr

Retired elementary school teacher

Sacramento, California


Thursday, March 19, 2020

School is closed? What????

Well, it looks like we may be shut down for a while. So, what do you think about all the strangeness of the world right now? These are odd times-we need to stay home, we can't go to do the fun things we are used to doing, we can't go to school, and there is no toilet paper on the shelves in grocery stores! Crazy!!!

So . . .  if you'd like to tell us your opinions of all this, use this space to do so. If you've written anything at all that you think we'd like to read while you are being schooled at home, post it here. It would be great to get some conversation going and see what people are thinking.

This gets no grade; just write your best ideas as well as you can! See you in the Zoom room!

Monday, February 24, 2020

What do you think about the internment of Japanese Americans in the 1940s?

The fourth graders have been studying the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. We began by reading Number the Stars which told of how the Jews of Denmark were moved to safety to escape the Nazis. At the same time, the United States gathered approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans from the West Coast and relocated them in camps throughout the country. The fourth graders listened to two books, Journey to Topaz and  Journey Home. They also attended the Time of Remembrance program at the California Museum where they received a presentation about internment and were able to see artifacts about the topic. They were lead through the artifacts by people whose families had been interned.

The students were then given the task of telling what they thought about internment. They were also told that they could explain those thoughts in any way they wanted to. Some of the work that the students created is posted here. Some of it cannot be posted in this format, but for those who can, their ideas are in this post. We hope that our readers learn from the ideas the fourth graders have about the internment of the Japanese Americans in the 1940s. It was a dark episode in our nation's history, and hopefully, something like this won't happen again. By reading our thoughts, we hope to help prevent that from happening in our country in the future.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Sacramento's History

After your tours of Old Sacramento, both above and below ground, what do you think of our state capital's history? You had the opportunity to hear many stories, some of which were crazy! Think of all the stories you heard, and then, state your big idea of what you think about Sacramento's history. Once you have stated your big idea, supply several ideas from the tours along with your own thinking to fully explain what you think of our city's history. You can create any big idea you would like; the key is to support that idea with a variety of reasons and your thoughts. Be sure to have a strong conclusion at the end that will restate your big idea, but don't use the same wording.

Be sure you check your document for good spelling and conventions. Be creative in your wording so that your reader wants to keep reading. Make the ideas exciting and really strive to bring the history of Sacramento to life for the readers of the blog. Not many people know what you now know about Sacramento's history, so teach our readers from all over the world about the beginning years of California's capital city!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

A trip back in time to the California Gold Rush . . .

Now that you’ve had a tour of Coloma, what do you think? Give a review of the field trip. You may discuss any part of the trip or just a single part. A good review will state a big idea about what you think and then have several details to support that big idea. If you have more than one big idea, then you would create more than one paragraph. 

Think of all the things we did on the trip:

  • the tour of the mill, the original mill site and the discovery site

  • the outside exhibits and a discussion on gold from the park ranger

  • the hike to the monument where we saw Marshall’s cabin, the cemetery and the place where James Marshall is buried

  • a visit to the Monroe House that Pearley built in 1925

  • the gold panning

  • the tour of the Pioneer Cemetery where we saw the plot of the Monroe-Gooch family,  a soldier from the Mexican-American War and the headstones for people from all over the world

Is there a part that you like best that you’d like to write about?

Was there a part that you didn’t like that you’d like to write about?

Do you want to give an overview of the entire trip? 

Did you learn something good that you’d like to share with the world?

Those are just some ideas; you may write about any portion of the trip. This is the final blog of this trimester, so make it your best writing yet! Be sure that you check your spelling and conventions and be certain that you have said exactly what you want to tell the world. 

As always, please comment on each other’s work. Everyone likes a nice comment!

Monday, October 7, 2019

What's your favorite adventure?

Pearley Monroe certainly did have many adventures in Marci Seither's book, The Adventures of Pearley Monroe. He even realized in the final chapter that his adventures were just beginning, so there are more ahead for Pearley and the Monroe family!

Now that we have completed the book, the question for you is, what is the adventure that Pearley had in the book that you liked the best? You will get to create your first blog post around that question. In this writing, briefly tell the adventure that you liked the best. Then, take it apart and explain why you liked it the best out of all the adventures in the book. Really think hard and use your own thinking to explain why that entire adventure is the one you enjoyed the most in the book. Maybe there was a part of the plot that you liked, maybe you enjoyed the way it was written, maybe you liked the history behind it, maybe you found it to be touching, maybe you liked the message in the adventure-there are so many reasons why you can enjoy a piece of literature. Put all your ideas together in this piece and really let the readers of the world know what adventure was your favorite in the book.

Be sure to use multiple paragraphs, spell well, and check for good grammar and conventions. Once you have posted your blog, you can comment on other people's blogs, and hopefully, you will get comments on yours, too. Have fun with this, and use strong wording to let others know just how much you enjoyed Pearley's adventure!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

What's your favorite . . .?

As we end the 2018-19 school year, there is a lot to look back upon. We started the year making paper tables, we met the author of our first literature book and shared our projects with her. We have gotten to go underground twice on field trips, and we visited the site that started the California Gold Rush. On the same trip, we "discovered" the graves of the characters in our first literature book. We had a smoky Friday where we couldn't go to school because it was unsafe to breath. We got to visit people who spoke with up about being interned during World War II, and we nearly took over part of the presentation. Some members of this class helped Del Paso Manor win the Sacramento Region Science Olympiad for the third straight year! We have had amazing discussions in literature where we talked about Annemarie and her family, we discussed the dances of nature through Gary Paulsen, and we enjoyed Jack and Praiseworthy's adventures in the California Gold Rush. Wasn't it nice that Praiseworthy finally got to marry Aunt Arabella! We read about Yuki, Emi and their families as they struggled for freedom. Mrs. Kurihara and Mrs. Barnsworth can never be forgotten! We have enjoyed reading about Milo and his quest to save Rhyme and Reason and all the crazy characters he is meeting along the way. We had a class meeting on the new blacktop where our entire year began turning around, socially. Human Decency became our rallying cry. We have jumped up and down during math because of the excitement we have had in wanting to share the incredible ideas that were created in class. We wowed the community recently with our science knowledge, and hopefully, we inspired some people to explore that subject a bit more. Of course, no discussion of fourth grade would be complete without mentioning our unbelievable time at Westminster Woods! What a great experience we had together, and hopefully, it is one we will all keep in our minds for a very long time. There is more, but those are some of the highlights that come to mind in thinking back on this school year.

Your task in this blog is to select a memory or two, or three . . . you decide how many memories you want to discuss, and when someone asks you, in the future, "What were your memories of 4th grade?" how would you answer that? This blog is about those memories. Years down the road, what will you remember about your 4th grade school year? Tell us the event(s) you select, and then give us your reasoning as to why you think you will remember those events. Your ideas are what will score you well here.

You know how this works: get good strong INTERESTING topic sentences, good details, a nice conclusion, and use good conventions and spelling. What trend do you think will emerge from our writing? Have fun with this!