October 1, 2014
by Mrs. Hamman

Wonder: Our Favorite Precepts


Our class read aloud for first quarter has been the book Wonder, by R.J. Palacio. It’s the kind of book that makes you think, but it also makes you want to keep reading to find out what happens next. We’ll probably be a little sorry when it ends in a few days!

As we’ve been reading we’ve also been learning a lot about literature. We’ve learned about:

  • Point of view: the book is all written in first person, but there are multiple narrators so we get to hear different points of view.
  • Elements of plot: we’re now reading the resolution of the story.
  • Character development: we’ve seen how characters can change and grow through the course of book, while still keeping their major traits.
  • Theme: we’ve discussed how a book can have more than one theme, and how the message, lesson or moral may be different depending on the reader.

In Wonder, the main character has a teacher named Mr. Browne. Every month Mr. Browne introduces a precept, which he defines as “rules about really important things”, or words that help guide the choices people make.  Some of them are famous quotes and others are written by the characters in the book. It’s been interesting for our class to discuss the precepts as they come up in the book.

R.J. Palacio just released a new book called 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s PreceptsWe’ve started exploring the precepts in this new book, choosing our favorites and writing some of our own. Some of us made Haiku Decks to show the ones we like the best.

Andrew – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Naomi – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Ciara – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Aiden – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Falicity – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Irlanda – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Adrien – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Our next read aloud will be The Fourteenth Goldfish, by Jennifer Holm. We’re looking forward to connecting with others while we’re reading that one, since it’s one of the choices for for Global Read Aloud 2014!

What is your favorite precept?

April 9, 2014
by Mrs. Hamman

One Book, One School

Our school is participating in the One Book, One School program this year. Last week every student at our school received a copy of the book The World According to Humphrey, by Betty J. Birney, and now they are reading it at home with their families. Our friends in Mrs. Moore’s class made a trailer introducing the book:

Humphrey from Amber Moore on Vimeo.

Have you started reading The World According to Humphrey yet?

What do you think about it so far?

February 14, 2014
by Mrs. Hamman's Class

Building Stamina in Reading

In our reading class we’ve been talking about building stamina as readers. We decided that having stamina means being able to do one thing for a long time. It’s something that takes a lot of practice, because no one has a lot of stamina when something is new to them. Just like an athlete, a reader builds up stamina over time.

We have some sixth graders who come to help us in our reading class, and we have noticed that they have great reading stamina. Yesterday while they were reading we took a time lapse video of them, using the Motion Pictures app on an iPad.  What you see in this video is actually 20 minutes of reading condensed into 18 seconds (some third graders from our class are sitting with them at the beginning).

6th Grade Readers from S Hamman on Vimeo.

After they left we watched the video and talked about what we noticed. Here are our comments:

  • They didn’t look up from their books, even when the door opened and closed.
  • They didn’t talk to each other or show each other pictures from their books, they just kept their eyes on the pages.
  • They each stayed with one book the whole time, they didn’t switch books every few minutes.
  • They didn’t get distracted for the whole 20 minutes.
  • They are great role models for us!

The next day, we decided to make our own stop motion video. We read independently for 30 minutes. Our groups rotated during that time, but we were supposed to keep reading. How do you think we did?

3rd Grade Readers from S Hamman on Vimeo.

When we watched our video we decided that we were doing pretty well at building our stamina, but we still need to practice every day if we hope to be as good as the sixth graders.

We thought of three tips for other kids who are trying to get stronger as readers.

1. Make a good choice when you choose a book to read so you’ll want to keep reading it. Choose books that seem interesting to you.

2. Stick with one book even if it’s a little bit hard to read. You can’t tell if you’ll like it if you give up too quickly.

3. Think about what you are reading so you don’t get distracted.

Do you have any other tips for increasing your reading stamina?


December 8, 2013
by Mrs. Hamman's Class

Abraham Lincoln and The Gettysburg Address

The Angle, Cemetery Ridge, Gettysburg, PA
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Pat Henson via Compfight
The Gettysburg Address is one of the most famous speeches in American history. It was given by President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, on November 19, 1863. We read that this year was the 150th anniversary of the speech, so we decided to do some research about the speech to learn more about it. Here are some facts we learned:

  • The Gettysburg Address was given at the site of a Civil War battle which was fought July 1-3, 1863. They wanted to dedicate the field in memory of the people who died there.
  • President Lincoln was not the main speaker on that day. The main speech was given by Edward Everett, who spoke for two hours.
  • The Gettysburg Address took only about three minutes to deliver, and was about 272 words long.
  •  There are several hand-written versions of the speech with a few differences in wording. Because there was no video or sound recording back then, no one knows exactly what President Lincoln said on that day. We studied the version of the speech contained in the National Archives.

After we did a close reading of the speech, we tried to memorize parts of it. Almost all of us memorized the first sentence, which says:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

A group of us made a recording of the speech. We thought it was a good opportunity to try out our green screen for the first time this school year!

As we learned about the Gettysburg Address, we also researched information about the life of Abraham Lincoln. We were lucky enough to be able to borrow a Traveling Trunk from Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Park, in Kentucky. The trunk contained books, games, and reproductions of items Abraham Lincoln would have used during his life. We had a great time exploring the items in the trunk! Here are a few pictures:

The trunk contained replicas of clothing people in Lincoln's time would have worn.

The trunk contained replicas of clothing people in Lincoln’s time would have worn.

There was a set of Lincoln logs in the trunk, which we used to make a model log cabin.

There was a set of Lincoln logs in the trunk, which we used to make a model log cabin.

We learned how families like the Lincolns made “windows” for their log cabins using brown paper and oil. Can you see that the paper becomes translucent?

We learned how families like the Lincolns made “windows” for their log cabins using brown paper and oil. Can you see that the paper becomes translucent?

The trunk even contained a replica of Mr. Lincoln's stovepipe hat!

The trunk even contained a replica of Mr. Lincoln’s stovepipe hat!

What do you know about the leaders of your country?

November 19, 2013
by Mrs. Hamman's Class

Exploring Photojournalism

On November 7, our class went to the Mesa Arts Center to see National Geographic Live. We heard from Paul Nicklen, a photographer for National Geographic. He talked about his adventures photographing animals in their habitats all over the world. He said that he got interested in nature when he was a little boy, exploring his home on Baffin Island in Northern Canada.

We decided to explore our own environment and learn more about our natural surroundings. Our school is surrounded by desert, and just to the south of our school there is a marked nature trail called Traynor’s Trail, which is named for a former teacher at our school. Last Thursday our whole third grade went on a walk on the trail, led by Mrs. Salmon, who is an expert hiker. We took pictures of the unique desert plants we saw on the way. Here are collages of photos made by members of our class (made on iPads with the PicPlayPost app).

Collage by Natalie

Collage by Natalie

Collage by Kyle

Collage by Kyle

Collage by Ezme

Collage by Ezme

Collage by Nick

Collage by Nick


When we got back we did some research about some of the plants we saw. Here are some of the facts we learned:

  • Barrel cactus can grow greenish fruit and orange flowers.
  • The palo verde tree grows yellow flowers and 2-3 inch pods filled with seeds.
  • Palo verde is the state tree of Arizona. Its name means “green stick” in Spanish.
  • A barrel cactus can grow up to be ten feet tall. They hold lots of water so they can last a long time in the desert.
  • Mistletoe is a plant parasite which grows on desert trees. It takes nutrients away from the trees and if it isn’t controlled it can kill the tree.
  • Cholla is sometimes called “jumping cactus” because the fruit can break off and cling to people and animals when they walk by.
  • The Saguaro cactus is protected in Arizona. It can be a home and provide food for many desert animals.

We didn’t expect to see many animals on our walk. Most desert animals stay hidden during the day, and the snakes and other reptiles we sometimes see in the desert are usually dormant this time of year. We were very surprised when a sharp-eyed hiker noticed this animal. It was off the trail, hiding under branches that provided camouflage, but Mrs. Moore was able to get a good picture with her camera.

Photo by Mrs. Moore and used with her permission

Photo by Mrs. Moore and used with her permission

Can you see the rattlesnake? That was a good reminder for us to always stay alert when walking in the desert!

Have you ever gone on a nature walk?

Can you define all the bold words in this post?

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