This week we finish our Northwest Coast Native American-inspired masks, with artist-in-residence Maranee, or Mrs. Mimi. The students have worked hard on these masks. They have not only created their own, but based it on traditional coastal masks. Maranee presented several kinds of masks and stories before we designed our own. We begin watching excerpts of Ken Burns’ “Lewis and Clark,” this week with connecting activities based on geography and language arts. In math, we have an assessment and begin a new unit of study on fractions and decimals. Home plays a huge part in this unit! Please not only talk fractions and decimals day-to-day, but discuss how they are related (.75 is the same as 75/100 or 3/4). Knowing how to order decimals and fractions from least to greatest is the zenith of this study. Please talk about how fractions and deciamls play a part in daily life the next time you cook/bake or take a trip to the grocery store. We will have our literature study groups meet Monday and Tuesday and contiinue with our whole-group story, “Sailing Home,” which is historical fiction. Can you share a book title/subject you’ve read that is historical fiction with your child? Also, we talk about author’s purpose: why did the author write this piece? You can also add some of your ideas (newspaper, cookbook, etc..). Is the purpose to inform? Persuade? Humor? In writing, we must be done with our SECOND drafts (biographies) by the end of this week. I’m very impressed at the writing so far. Especially when the students go back and edit and/or change bland words into interesting words that are more specific. Next week, we begin practicing speeches. Speeches based on biographies will be performed the first week back after spring break, so students may have an entire week to practice. Whether they practice much or little will be obvious and a big part of their public speaking grade. Students may dress up as their character/historical figure for their speech. Costumes are entirely OPTIONAL. For homework, please watch my low-budget, but destined for an Oscar, video tutorial on marchyok.posterous.com. It gives you a weekly inside look into expectations for homework. This week, instead of a summary for reading log, students will find ten verbs, ten nouns, ten adjectives, and ten adverbs in their nightly reading books. Math packet or IXL (large multiplication) and spelling (optional spellingcity.com). I also included an overview of our weekly schedule on the homework tutorial. It is now officially our “Homework AND Schedule Tutorial.” Whoohooo! Reading testing will start on Wednesday afternoon, March 21st. As always, make sure your child’s brain and body is well hydrated and well fed. Students will be able to take breaks when needed. My expectation is, like always, they do their best. They are a wonderful group of hard-working students!