Would Anyone Care for a Bug?

After learning that 80% of the people in the world eat insects as part of their diet, we decided to try them ourselves! First we read an article called “Bugs vs. Burgers” and compared the nutritional value and taste of those two sources of protein.  We found out that bugs provide almost as much protein as beef with much less fat.  We also learned how crickets were grown on farms and in much less time and with much lower costs than raising cattle for beef.  But the question remained…how do they taste?  So we ordered some chocolate covered crickets and superworms, some chili-lime crickets, and some roasted mixed bugs from an online company and sampled them ourselves.  The verdict – mixed reviews!

Grammar and Mechanics

At the end of each workshop, we spend some time on writing and focus on the conventions that will help our words have meaning for those who will read them.  Conventions are like manners – you can eat without having good manners but no one may want to eat with you.  You can write without following conventions of standard English but no one may want to read what you wrote.

This time 4th graders are working on correcting run-on sentences and using correct word order, while 5th graders review comparative and superlative adjectives and correcting sentence fragments.  These skills will be assessed on the upcoming r-Skills tests.

Food: The Good, the Bad, and the Gross

Catchy title for a unit of study, right? Our fifth graders are about to learn more about food than they ever wanted to know. We will start with a look at how New York City schools are trying to make lunches healthier causing students there to have a “food fight” with the chefs. Next we will explore a food that 80% of the world loves to eat – bugs! We will learn about the nutrition found in insects, how they are grown and cooked and even how they taste. How do they stack up to the All-American burger? You will be surprised. Our last reading is called “You Are What You Eat”. Do you believe that is true? We’ll explore and let you know.

Bud, Not Buddy

Our new Workshop for 4th graders is called “Bud’s Breakfast” and is an excerpt from the novel Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis.  It is about a boy growing up during the Great Depression of the 1930s.  Our video story showed us actually footage of the shanty towns, hobos, and soup lines that were part of lives of the people from that era.  Our comprehension focus will be on story elements and how setting, characters, plot, and theme can help us better understand what is happening in the story.  It is refreshing to be working with fiction for a change.

rSkills Testing

This week we have been taking the rSkills test that comes at the end of our workshops. This test assesses how the students did with the material we covered in large and small groups from the rBook.  In each Workshop, we read 3 “readings” which are a variety of text types.  We focus on a comprehension strategy and work on both specific academic vocabulary words and word attack skills.  Our focus with “Coming to America” was sequence of events and we focused on better understanding the articles by taking notice of the order in which things happen.  In “Good Sports” we worked on story elements, and how understanding the setting, characters, plot, and theme makes the story more meaningful.  We worked on subject/verb agreement, possessive nouns, synonyms, and antonyms, just to name a few of the skills we explored.  I am very proud to say that 92% of the 39 students in READ 180 passed the test with a 70 or above – not an easy thing to do.  Way to go, students!

Now we are off to tackle a new workshop!  Stay tuned for a blog post to tell you all about our new topics.

I hope that you have a wonderful “winter” break, with weather that is predicted to be anything but winter-like.  It looks like a beautiful week to have off from school!

I Hope You Are Reading

I hope that you are enjoying the Snow Days this week (in addition to our MLK Day holiday).  I know it can get boring sitting around the house so this is a great time to find a new friend – a good book!  I hope that you will take advantage of some additional down time to read, read, read!  And remember, you can let me know when we get back that you finished a book and would like to take the Reading Counts! quiz for that book.  It will be added to your scores and earn you a new bead for your brag tag.

Looking Back and Ahead

December was a wonderful month full of lots of special things. We continued our second Workshops, had a chance to “show what we know” as we took the Reading Inventory, and celebrated our successes. I was so proud of the many accomplishments of the READ 180 students!
January is a fresh start and I am looking forward to starting back with renewed energy and drive that will take us to the end of the year. We will be finishing up our second Workshops, working on eReads, making use of our Audio Books, and moving through the software, tackling new segments and topics daily. Welcome back!

Good Sports

Fifth graders are working on a new workshop called Good Sports.  It is a work of fiction about a girl who is not good at sports and her attempt to change that.  We will be looking at the elements of fiction writing including setting, characters, plot, and theme.  We will also be working with the academic vocabulary and multiple meaning words and word families.

Coming to America

Fourth graders have begun a new workshop entitled “Coming to America.”  We will be learning about young people who have moved to America to have a better life.  We will hear about immigration in our country and how we truly are a mixture of many cultures and races.  Our comprehension strategy focus for the workshop will be sequence of events and we will introduce new academic vocabulary and review synonyms and antonyms.  If you would like to share about your ancestors’ heritage or tell about your own “journey to America”, we would love to hear it!


Although the quarter ended a few weeks ago, we have just had time to recognize our outstanding readers and reflect on our progress during our first nine weeks.  We had several people in each class that met or exceeded the goals they had set for themselves at the beginning of the year.  We honored our Highest Lexile Growth and our Most Words Read students in each of our classes.  Then we looked ahead to the new quarter and set our goals to work to achieve.  I am so proud of my READ 180 students.