Merriman's Memo

A Glimpse into Merriman's Menagerie

Can I State My Opinion?

This week our main focus was on deconstructing opinion writing by modeling and through whole group instruction/participation. We looked at our original prompt which was the following: do you think guinea pigs are good apartment pets? We talked about how good readers, writers and thinkers first look at the prompt before going into the text because they want to read with a clear purpose/focus in mind. Prior to 'researching' our prompt by reading the texts provided, we broke down our prompt by creating a DO/WHAT chart. This was created for students to list the tasks needing to be completed in the writing assignment without overwhelming them. Our chart included these 4 things: READ 2 texts, ANSWER the question, WRITE our opinion, and USE evidence from both texts.

From here, we tackled the research portion of the prompt by reading both texts. We worked on our annotation skills (aka highlighting). We discussed the difference between highlighting text for a certain purpose and highlighting the text because we like to highlight stuff. We worked on highlighting only specific information and even created a key for our task. We highlighted anything that was information about guinea pigs being good apartment pets and put a smiley face by that, and then we highlighted anything where it showed guinea pigs being not good for apartment living and put a sad face by that. The goal of this was to teach them to read text carefully and to pull out information relevant to the purpose of their writing NOT to highlight the entire text. This was a neat exercise in our critical thinking and reading skills.

After this, we completed a graphic organizer that is going to organize our draft. We used the OREO organizer (O-pinion, R-eason, E-vidence, O-pinion restated). We completed this along with including evidence from both texts. Next week we will work on creating a class example of a final paragraph. Students then will begin to work on this process on their own. They will compare their original prompt to the one we as a class worked on and do a reflection of this process.


topic sentence (our opinion)

closing sentence (with transition like 'clearly,' 'in conclusion,' or 'thus.'


text evidence (with lead in like 'the text states/says,' 'according to the text,' or specific title used OR specific paragraph [i.e. 'in paragraph 4, it states...']



pulling apart the prompt (DO/WHAT) chart

transition words (like next, also, along with that, etc.)

ELA continued


This week our centers revolved around practicing skills from last week. Students had to find the main idea and supporting details from chapters on The National Mall, informational text. They also continued to work on answering tough text dependent questions. This week they included putting information into categories. We also looked at the MICA website, which is the testing site that the students will use for the standardized tests. I showed them how the comprehension questions they are working on now, which are tougher than they have seen, are formatted similarly to how they will be tested. The goal is that the more they are exposed to they formatting of the questions, the less daunting they will become. My students are becoming better and better at going back into the text for proof. Keep it up!!

We also worked on subject-verb agreement. We discussed how we talk WAY more than we read or write, so we are often able to hear agreement issues before we spot them in writing. Therefore a helpful strategy in finding agreement issues is to read the question out loud to oneself.

Mrs. Kara Merriman

Sorry for the later newsletter!!! With the Fall Festival, I wasn't able to sit down and write it during my daughters' gymnastics times. As a rule, I will try to get my newsletter will out Friday evenings.

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding my class. Emails and agendas are the best way to get in touch. I generally do not have much time throughout the school day to get to my emails, but I try my best to communicate within a timely fashion. I love your children and want to see them see success in my classroom. My goal is to promote and encourage strong readers, writers, speakers, and thinkers!! Thank you for your support and kindness!

Social Studies

This week we worked on understanding the compass rose and cardinal directions. We practiced following both those and intermediate directions as well. Students worked on defining the parts of a map including the title, compass rose, scale, coordinate map, and map key. We worked on both following directions and reading a map key this week. Last week we really broke down "map dependent" questions and how important it is to go back into the map for proof. This week the goal was that they apply it. We are finishing up our lap books early next week so that they have a study guide for their social studies test on Friday of next week. We will also begin a fun project next week where we begin to apply all that we have learned.

Word Work this Week...'ow' says long o

Our Words to Work on this week...











Important Dates

Bring in Box Tops this week...the contest ends Friday

Sept 23-Oct 1 BOOK FAIR!!!

Sept 29- Book Fair Family Night from 4-7

Oct 2 -End of 1st 9 Weeks/ Geography Test

Oct. 5-9 Fall Break

Oct 15-Report cards/Skate night

Oct 16- ROAR party