Mr. J's Jottings

3rd Week of the Year


Weekly Homework Expectations

- Khan Academy (start in 3rd grade) - designed to be independent (hints and videos)

- Tryatiles - designed to be visual and kinesthetic

- IXL (4th Grade) - MN standards-based


Homework (further clarification)

Homework is an extension of our class work. It also given with the intent to increase the responsibility, purpose, and opportunities introduced in class. I am hoping the work we do at home increases our vocabulary and reading comprehension.

Homework is NOT given with the intent to add stress or to take valuable family time away. iPads should be charged and put away when homework is finished. iPads are not sent home as a form of entertainment.

Reading at least 25 Minutes:

- Minutes are hard to measure. Words understood can be easy to measure (Reading Counts). Research shows the amount of minutes read directly relates to reading comprehension success. I ask that students take the Reading Counts quiz when they're finished with a book so I can gauge their level of comprehension (if they can't find the quiz I have them fill out a sheet.


- The title of this is misleading. This is a website that helps us to practice many things in the English language (parts of speech, writing, vocabulary, spelling, alphabetizing, etc.). However we use Spellingcity primarily for vocabulary. Our week will look like this:

  • I introduce the words, and meanings, on Monday
  • We make the video as a class (using Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic principles)
  • The video is posted on here so students and families can review the words
  • The words, and their meanings, are practiced in class throughout the week
  • Students log into Spellingcity at home to practice the meanings of each word
  • The paragraph writing is a way to synthesize and apply the meanings of all the words in writing
  • Finally, a vocabulary test is given on the last day of the week (results shared Monday)

Too much screen time?

I realize many families may have concerns about too much screen time (television, on iPad at school and at home).

If you are concerned about this, I want you to know I have a "non-digital" alternative. It will look like this:

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Focus + Effort = Success

We are quantifying effort. I want the students to know that "smarts" or talents can only take you so far. Our effort, our persistence and curiosity, is what truly leads to success.

- Please click on the "Arcade" link below if you want to see how hard your child is working (for confidentiality reasons, you will need to know their avatar name)

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What is ARCADE (what is gameification)?

We want to have fun AND acknowledge hard work

* But please know we are not playing video games in the classroom.

Class Dojo

Focus + Effort = Success

The purpose of Class Dojo is to make the students more aware of their behavior. If we do this well, and have purposeful conversations with them, we will be able to encourage the behaviors that lead to success (and discourage the behaviors impeding success).

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Reading expectations each day.

  • The average 4th grader reads more than 100 words each minute
  • We read about 80 minutes each day
  • That equals 8,000 words each day
  • Therefore, each student could have about 96,000 words by now
  • But, I am only expecting 30,000 words by the end of this week

Our goal is at least 650,000 words read this year (for each student).

We won't just be looking at minutes read. Instead, we will look at words understood. Students will take a Reading Counts quiz after they've finished a book. If they understood at least 70% of it they will receive credit for the number of words read.

We will look at this each week.

Why do I keep hearing about my child playing chess?

It is inspiring to see how much Chess helps the brain. I have included a picture representation. I also have a couple of links explaining the benefits of chess.

I have noticed, and many have quantified, how learning to play chess has a direct, positive correlation to academics. It also helps with building relationships and increasing self-control.

Please click on the following if you want to learn more!

10 Ways Chess Helps the Brain

The Benefits of Chess

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Room 161

A place where the 5 C's thrive!

--- Choice, Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, Critical Thinking

"I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious." - Albert Einstein