November 9, 2015
by Mrs. Hamman

Learning About Veterans Day

In the United States, November 11 is Veterans Day. In some other countries, this day is known as Remembrance Day or Armistice Day. On this day, we honor those who are serving or who have served in the armed forces. We spent the last week learning more about veterans and Veterans Day.

We read a story in Scholastic News about a wounded veteran named Colton Carlson, who climbed the tallest mountain in South America after he was injured in the war in Afghanistan. This week we’ll be writing letters to Mr. Carlson.

We’ve been working on research skills, so we went on an internet scavenger hunt to look up facts about Veterans Day. We learned all about the origins of Veterans Day and how it is commemorated. Did you know that World War I ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918? That’s why Veterans Day is on November 11!



The answer to the question above is 21.8 million, as of 2014.

At the end of the week we had the honor of learning from primary sources about being a veteran. Through HEC-TV, we participated in a live video conference from Missouri where we got to learn from two Vietnam War veterans, Colonel Jack Jackson and Commander Thomas Mundell. Their stories about serving in wartime were fascinating. During the conference students were able to ask questions, and the veterans answered one of hours. We asked what kids like us should do to commemorate Veterans Day. Commander Mundell said he thought the best thing we could do would be to say “thank you for your service” to any veteran we meet, not just on Veterans Day but any day. Colonel Jackson added that we could also listen to veterans who want to tell their stories. He reminded us to also thank veterans’ families for the sacrifices they make.


We learned a lot about Veterans Day this year. To all of our veterans and their families, we say: THANK YOU!


October 27, 2014
by Mrs. Hamman's Class

Heart of a Hall of Famer

Today our class participated, along with several other schools, in a video conference with Alan Page, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Alan Page was a member of the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears during his playing career. He played in four Super Bowls and was voted the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 1971. He was very successful after his playing career, too. He became a lawyer, and since 1992 has served on the Minnesota Supreme Court.


We were able to ask questions of Justice Page, and we learned a lot about the importance of character. We all took notes during the presentation. Here are some some of the key points we wrote down:

  • It took confidence, mindset, and motivation to play football. He had to be prepared physically, mentally, and emotionally. Preparation is the key to being successful in all areas of life.
  • The six pillars of character are: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship. He thinks the most important one is trustworthiness.
  • You have to know how to collaborate with other people to get along in life.
  • He dropped out of law school the first time he enrolled because he thought it was too overwhelming to do all the reading and homework. Later he realized that the work was hard for everyone, and that he needed to persevere to achieve his goals, so he tried law school again and this time he graduated.
  • He has learned that things that are easy are boring!
  • “It’s okay to question the rules, but don’t break them,” said Justice Page.
  • His biggest role models were his parents. They supported him and encouraged him to try his best at whatever he chose to do.
  • He thought of being a judge because he was interested in the law and he used to want to be a lawyer in 4th grade! He remembers reading about the Supreme Court decision that desegregated the schools when he was young and that had a strong influence on him.
  • When he is faced with a hard decision sometimes he goes with his feelings but sometimes he has to think hard about all the possibilities. If you are trying to make a hard choice, first think about what is the right thing to do, then do it, even if it’s hard.
  • He has learned more from the defeats than the victories.
  • “Prepare yourselves to take on world’s problems because you can fix them and you can make our nation a greater place,” said Justice Page.

We thought it was a privilege to talk to someone who was so accomplished and inspiring!

What did you learn about the importance of character?

March 21, 2014
by Mrs. Hamman's Class

Advice From Real Authors

In our classes this year we have spent a lot of time talking about authors—the real people who write the text we read. Authors make choices as they are writing that affect what we see in their final text. We have been practicing making writing choices ourselves, as we have written narratives, informational text, persuasive essays, and now as we are writing fairy tales.

We have been lucky enough to hear from some famous authors by Skype, videoconference and webcast. Every time we do this we listen for advice about how we can make our own writing better. Here is some of the good advice we have heard.

GRA Skype

During the Global Read Aloud, the author of the Marty McGuire, Kate Messner, kindly agreed to Skype with our class. We asked her all kinds of questions about the writing process. She showed us her writer’s notebook, where she writes her ideas and first drafts, and even showed us a draft of her newest book with some of the early illustrations. One of our classmates asked her, “What do you do if you are stuck and can’t think of anything else to write about?” Her advice was,

Sometimes I have to walk away from a project and write something completely different for a while, but usually what happens when I get stuck is I give myself permission to write any old thing, without worrying about whether it’s good or not. I find that usually what comes out is just fine. It’s going to need to be revised later, but if I just keep writing I can get my ideas going again.

Read Discovery

In January we participated in a worldwide event called Reading Discovery which was broadcast from the George Bush Library in Houston. Along with kids from all over the world, we listened to former First Lady Barbara Bush, who has written several books, talk about the importance of reading and writing. When a student in another class asked her what kinds of books you should read if you want to become an author, she said,

All kinds of books! If you want to write about history, read about history. When I was a little girl all I wanted to read about was dogs, and when I grew up I wrote a book about dogs! Read about what interests you.

We watched a live webcast from New York City featuring two of our favorite authors, Jeff Kinney (who writes the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series) and Dav Pilkey (who writes the Captain Underpants series). Both of them are authors and illustrators, so we wondered what they thought was the most important part of their work, the text or the pictures. We were surprised to hear both of them say they both put the words first. We thought Jeff Kinney’s process was interesting:

I sit on the couch with a blanket over my head so I won’t get distracted by anything, I try not to fall asleep, and then I think of jokes…I write down a bunch of jokes and then I think of the story.

The whole webcast was fun to watch. You can watch it here:

We all finished the story they started in the smash-up. Here is one of our classmate’s illustrations of the ending of the story:

Who are your favorite authors?

If you could ask your favorite author for some writing advice, what would your question be?

September 26, 2013
by Mrs. Hamman's Class

Messages Through Time: Petroglyphs

Petroglyphs VCDo you know what a petroglyph is? Today we had a video conference with the Minnesota History Center. We learned about a historic site in Minnesota called the Jeffers Petroglyphs. After our conference we all wrote down some of the facts we learned. Here are a few of them:

  • Petro means stone and glyph means picture, so petroglyphs are pictures that are made in stone.
  • Native Americans drew symbols on rocks to tell stories about what was important to them.
  • We know what the symbols mean because of the oral tradition which is still passed on today.
  • Native Americans used tools made of stone, wood and animal bones.
  • They had a tool called an atlatl. It helped them throw an arrow 2.5 times farther than they could by hand.
  • Native Americans drew timelines in the shape of a spiral instead of a straight line.
  • They planted three sisters gardens, which had corn, beans and squash.
  • Many petroglyphs had pictures of buffalo, which the Native Americans used for food and to make clothes, houses and tools.

After we learned about petroglyphs we tried making petroglyphs of our own. We used sand paper and crayons to make drawings of things that are important to us. Here’s a slideshow of our model petroglyphs. Can you tell what our favorite symbols are?

There is a hiking trail close to our school called Hieroglyphic Trail, where you can see real petroglyphs.  Have you ever seen a real petroglyph?

August 23, 2013
by Mrs. Hamman's Class

Place Value and Number Clues

Video conferencing

This week in math we’ve been working on understanding numbers using place value. We used whiteboards and place value pockets to practice. Mrs. Hamman gives us clues about a mystery number, and we try to figure out what the number is using those clues. By the time we get the last clue, we should all have the same number.

Once we knew how to find numbers this way, we decided to collaborate with another class. We did a video conference with Mrs. Fraher’s class.  They are a group of third graders who go to a school near ours, and they have been working on place value too. They gave us clues about their mystery number and we had to guess it. Then we gave them clues while they tried to guess. It was fun to see that other kids were learning the same things we were!

Do you want to try to guess a mystery number? Here are some clues:

  • It is a four-digit number.
  • The number is odd.
  • Three-fourths (or 75%) of the digits are odd.
  • The digit in the thousands place is the number of legs on an octopus.
  • The digit in the ones place is the greatest single-digit odd number.
  • The digit in the hundreds place is the quotient of 10 divided by 2.
  • When you add up the sum of the digits in the hundreds, tens and ones places, the sum is 21.
  • The digital root of the number is 2.

Can you guess our mystery number?

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