"There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going."

Wednesday, January 21; Sonic Night

The Island

Gary Paulsen was an author my brother grew up reading all the time. I actually don't recall ever reading a book by him. However, I know he is able to reach many different readers (especially boys) and is a wonderful read.

We have begun reading The Island which is about a boy named Wil and his adventures in a new town after moving from Madison, WI. Paulsen is doing an incredible job setting the scene for us (the readers) and helping us picture ourselves in Wil's situation.

Throughout the book we are constantly asking questions about characters and trying to identify their motives and mindset while working through various situations. This is a great strategy that quality readers do in order to put themselves in the story and be able to make connections.

Saturday, January 31; Applebee's Pancake Breakfast

Winter Break Writing

The process of writing is such a joy to partake in as the teacher. Watching your children, my students, produce their ideas into a document is a blast.

We began with a brainstorming activity about the top 10 activities that each student participated in over winter break. They had to list 10 from 2014 and 10 from 2015. The idea was that this might be a struggle, which is good because all writers at some point or another go through the struggle of brainstorming.

The students then chose their favorite activity or event and began filling out a timeline to help organize their thoughts. We are now at the stage of writing at least 25 sentences (5 paragraphs) of this singular event. The goal is to have proper grammar and interesting adjectives to describe the moments that occurred. By the end of the week, the students should have a polished piece of writing revised, edited and completed by the help of their peers and themselves.

Guided Reading Stations

We have been working our way through academic language skills and finding the main idea. The goal for the class is to be able to read a paragraph or two and then be able to summarize the meaning of the text in 10 words (or less) only using words that come from the text that has been read.

A good skill to work on this at home is reading aloud fluently. It becomes much easier to comprehend a text if a child can read fluently. The only way to know if your child is reading and comprehending fluently is to practice this skill. In class we will practice this skill by reading unknown texts out loud with a partner twice a week.

1 - Spelling City - activities to help students practice the spelling words of the week. (available at home)

2 - Study Island - activities to help students become more familiar with standardized questions. (available at home)

3 - Mr. Fritz - varies, this week we will be discussing and identifying academic language and how to discover the meaning of unknown words.

4 - Independent reading - students read and are able to take AR tests.

5 - Google Classroom - students are given a prompt to discuss topics with peers from their groups. (available at home)

6 - Close reading/grammar - activity that works on close reading techniques ( or working through the grammar book.

If you have any questions about accessing any of these sites, please let me know! These sites will be under the class website very soon.

Students should be taking an AR test at LEAST once every 2 weeks

Winter Break December 20 - January 4

Learning Graphs and Reading Goals

These are going great in class as the students are focused, engaged, listening and working hard. Remember to converse with them each weekend that they come home.

Reading Goals - this is your child's "reading log" done via google drive. They also set their own personal goals that I discussed with you at conferences. They should be keeping track of these throughout the week. If they cannot fill out at home, I will always provide time at school if necessary.

Learning Graph - this is how they performed in class throughout the week. This should be a talking piece at home and a great discussion point as you can see how well your child listened, worked, focused and was engaged during the day.

BOTH slips need to be signed and turned back in on the following Monday. The class came up with consequences if either is not signed and returned:

Monday - 5 minutes of recess

Tuesday - 10 minutes of both recesses and a call home

Wednesday - 2 weeks of lunch by themselves and a call home (they thought a month, I changed it to 2 weeks)

We are starting to work on your child making the decision on what they have earned for each time frame. This helps hold them accountable and creates a dialogue of where they can improve or continue to work consistently.

Weathering and Erosion

For the last two weeks we have been discussing and learning about landforms, how they are created and the effects of weathering and erosion on these landforms. A test will be given on Friday with a study guide going home on Thursday. Last week we went outside to identify evidence of weathering or erosion in our own backyard (recess playground and other areas outside). With their partners, they will now use an app called "Skitch" to use with their knowledge of non-fiction text features to help others identify what each group identified.


For the last two weeks you should have been noticing homework coming home that had to deal with fractions. We have been exploring fractions with like and unlike denominators, as well as adding and subtracting said fractions. We have also been learning about finding a common denominator to find out which fraction is greater than or less than another fraction. The students (I hope) have realized how important factors and multiples are in order to successfully complete problems pertaining to fractions. Factors and multiples find their root in knowing the math facts that we work diligently on (hopefully) every night as well as in class.

We will always be working with basic math facts. Make sure that your child is practicing 5 minutes a night, as over time this really adds up. Their goal is to know 20 correct answers in a minute by the end of the year.

Spelling Words

Each Monday we will take a pretest on spelling words. The words will be unknown by the students and if a student scores a 20, they are not required to retake the test on Friday. If they score an 18 or 19, they will have the option of accepting the 18 or 19 OR retaking on Friday to try and improve (the highest of the two scores will be accepted). Students who score a 17 or below will retake on Friday. They will come home with their pretest on Monday graded, and ready to study. Remember, just like the math facts practice; it is better to practice 5-10 minutes a night rather than a 30 minute cram session.


If you haven't already signed for text reminders via remind, just text: @fritz to phone number 816.398.7213. This is a great and easy way for you to receive classroom reminders on your phone. (Standard text message rates apply)

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Full disclosure, my twitter account has to do more with my wife, kids, the Royals, Cubs, Bears, and my fantasy football team than it might have to do with our classroom. ;)