Sunday, October 28, 2012

Charitable Friday

This Friday (November 2) is Charitable Friday!  For $1.00 you can take a dress-down day, and all money will be donated to Pennies For Patients to help fight Leukemia and Lymphoma.

The Week of October 29, 2012

Monday marks the first day of the second term of school!  I can't believe how fast this year is going!  Time flies when you are having a good time :)

For the remainder of the year, all grades will be recorded in the PowerSchool gradebook program.  You can check your grades at any time by clicking HERE or on the PowerSchool link to the right.

Let's begin this term by studying some consumer skills in math.  Over the next week, we will focus on finding sale prices (percent off) and calculating sales tax on items.  This is a skill you will use for the rest of your life...just ask your parents!  We will work together in class and then you will be given homework Monday and Tuesday night to complete.  In addition to this work, please complete your journal (it's all about finding sales prices) and your TenMarks activity by Friday.

In science, we will continue our talk about plate tectonics, but talk more specifically about the landforms that are created as a result of shifting lithosphere.  Here's a great introduction to some of the different landforms we will talk about.

Over the next two weeks, you be studying such landforms.  Please use the following choice sheet to guide your research.  Please note that this assignment is due THURSDAY, November 8th.

Watch Your Steppe Choice Sheet

You will have a vocabulary quiz this Friday based on the following words:

fan-shaped deposit of sediment at the mouth of a stream

mound or hill of wind-blown sand

flood plain
The flat land along a stream or river that floods on a regular basis, sometimes every year.


where the river flows into the ocean

nearly level area that has been eroded or where material has been deposited

a large nearly level area that has been lifted above the surrounding area

stream that flows into a larger river



low area of land between higher land, often where a river flows

a narrow body of water that connects two larger bodies of water

a large area of flat land that has no trees on it

There's a lot of information out there on the Internet about landforms, but I would suggest starting your search at the National Geographic Landforms site.  It is thorough, well researched, and includes many great pictures.

I will be attending the National Science Teacher's Association conference in Atlanta this week.  I will be out Thursday and Friday.  I'm expecting wonderful grace and courtesy from you while I am away.  Be sure to keep checking the blog while I'm gone, because I will be posting pictures of all the awesome science stuff I see!

Ms. Carol and myself will be continuing parent/teacher conferences this week.  We've really had a nice time meeting with families, and I look forward to talking to those who have conferences scheduled for this week.  If you need to cancel your conference for any reason, please contact me ASAP so we can reschedule.

Finally, if you celebrate Halloween and plan on going trick-or-treating, be safe a follow these suggestions from the Center for Disease Control (

Alphabet letter SSwords, knives, and similar costume accessories should be short, soft, and flexible.
Alphabet letter AAvoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.
Alphabet letter FFasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.
Alphabet letter EExamine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them. Limit the amount of treats you eat.
Alphabet letter HHold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you. Always WALK and don't run from house to house.
Alphabet letter AAlways test make-up in a small area first. Remove it before bedtime to prevent possible skin and eye irritation.
Alphabet letter LLook both ways before crossing the street. Use established crosswalks wherever possible.
Alphabet letter LLower your risk for serious eye injury by not wearing decorative contact lenses.
Alphabet letter OOnly walk on sidewalks whenever possible, or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.
Alphabet letter WWear well-fitting masks, costumes, and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls.
Alphabet letter EEat only factory-wrapped treats. Avoid eating homemade treats made by strangers.
Alphabet letter EEnter homes only if you're with a trusted adult. Only visit well-lit houses. Don't stop at dark houses. Never accept rides from strangers.
Alphabet letter NNever walk near lit candles or luminaries. Be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes.

Have a wonderful week,
Mr. Trent

Friday, October 26, 2012

Chicken Soup for the Soul

We really enjoyed our chicken soup for lunch today! Thanks, Ms. Carol for organizing the lunch. A special thank-you to all the families who donated soup!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Picture Day!

Don't forget that tomorrow (Friday) is picture day, and (since it is the last Friday of the month) it's also a dress-down day!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ratios & Percents Review

Today, we reviewed ratios and percents in preparation for tomorrow's quiz. Students made wonderful teachers as we discussed finding percents of numbers and plotting ratios on coordinate planes.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Power School Parent Access Information

Starting next Monday, you will have 24/7 access to your grades through the PowerSchool Parent Access program.  To gain access, please see Ms. Esther in the front office for your log-on information.  You must show Ms. Esther a photo ID to get access to your account.  I've attached a copy of the documentation you will receive at your child's parent/teacher conference.  I would suggest just stopping by Ms. Esther for your logon when you come in for your conference.

You can access the Parent Access of PowerSchool by clicking here:

I've also added a link to the program in the "Useful Sites" section on the right side of www.

Do you have a smartphone?  If so, there is also a PowerSchool app you can download!  There is an app for both parents and students.  More information can be found HERE.

PowerSchool Parent Access Informaion

Progress Reports

We will not be sending progress reports home today since parent/teacher conferences will start tomorrow.  Please return your request form if you have not done so already.  I'm looking forward to seeing you at conferences!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Week of October 22, 2012

When sitting down to plan this week, I quickly realized that we have A LOT going on!  I'm ready to see the exciting things this week will bring!  Are you ready to join me?!?

In Math we will continue our discussions about ratios.  This week, we will use equivalent ratios (proportions) to solve percentage problems.  Get ready for classroom lessons and homework (Monday and Tuesday evening) to help you prepare for a quiz on Thursday.  Your TenMarks assignment will also help you prepare.  Below is a great resource you can use to practice ratio work.  It includes everything we've been talking about, and there is an answer key located at the end.  Feel free to use it for extra practice.   The topic we are focusing on this week starts on page 37.
Ratios and Percents

In science this week, we will continue our work with plate tectonics.  Your "Clean Your Plate" choice sheet is due this Friday.  In addition, we will have a test based upon your study guide this Friday.  Here's another copy, if you need it:
Plate Tectonics Study Guide

Please use this week to finish your work and prepare for your test.  As an added science bonus, your journal topic deals with plate tectonics, too!

Please take note of the following item:
1.  I will be attending a meeting this Thursday morning.  I'm expecting exemplary grace and courtesy when the substitute teacher is working with you.
2.  This Friday is Fall Picture Day.  Be sure to wear your's also a dress-down day!
3.  This week is Red Ribbon Week!  Coach Leslie has some fun things planned to celebrate being drug-free.
4.  Parent/Teacher conference start this week.  If you have not done so already, please complete and return the conference sign-up sheet.  I will sent home a note stating your conference date and time.  It is best if your child attends the conference with you.  Here's a great resource from the Harvard Family Research Project that may help you get the most out of our short time together.

Parent Teacher ConferenceTipSheet 

Busy, busy, busy!  Let's get this week started!

Mr. Trent

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Researching Tectonic Plate Movements

We've been busy this week researching tectonic plates and the theories associated with the supercontinent Pangaea.  Students have relied on many sources for research, but have really learned a lot from such websites as and the online Encyclopedia Britannica.  

Brainpop and Encyclopedia Britannica offer a vast amount of research materials.

In addition to these online resources, students are enjoying hands-on models showing the movement of the continents and continental/oceanic plates.  Today, Ms. Cathy brought in an awesome model from the Savannah State University Marine Science School that shows how tectonic plates meet to form boundaries, such as the mid-oceanic ridge.  

Pangaea:  One Giant Jigsaw Puzzle!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

First Term Conferences

Can you believe it's time for first term conferences?!?!  I've sent home the attached conference sign-up form.  Please review it, choose at least 5 times that are most convenient for you, and return it to your child's homeroom teacher by this Friday (October 19).  I will send home a slip of paper stating your conference time as soon as I get your preferences.  We will try our best to accommodate one of your choices.  I look forward to talking to everyone about the amazing things going on here at Ellis!

Conference Form Oct

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Week of October 15, 2012

"The greatest sign of success for a to be able to say, 'The children are now working as if I did not exist."   -  Maria Montessori

We've been spending a lot of time this year focusing on following procedures, practical life skills, and working together as a community.  Such skills are just as important as anything you will learn in your core subjects because they enable you to enjoy an optimal learning environment.  As a Montessori teacher, it is my goal to  help you reach a point of comfort and self-regulation that you and your classmates can function in the classroom even when I am not present.  On Monday, I will not be a school.  Please keep in mind all the procedures we've put in place.  I'm expecting a positive report when I return.

On Monday, Ms. Diane wil  introduce the science vocabulary words for the week.  She will teach you some study tips to help you prepare for your vocabulary test on Friday.  When I return on Tuesday, I will get you started with our next science topic: place tectonics!  I will share the following presentation, and we will work together to fill in the missing words during our lesson.  

Here are your vocabulary words and a study guide for next Friday's chapter test.
Plate Tectonics Study Guide

To help focus your studies, I invite you to complete the "Clean Your Plate" choice sheet.  Three connecting activities must be completed by the end of worktime Friday, October 26th.
Clean Your Plate Choice Sheet

In math, we will be taking a look at graphing ratios.  This lesson will combine what we've been studying about ratios, and line-graphs that you've studied in past years.  I really think you will enjoy making the graphs!  Here's an awesome site that shows what we will be doing.  You will have math homework Tuesday and Wednesday evening.  In addition to this, please remember to complete your weekly TenMarks assignment by Friday.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!  I'll see you Tuesday morning.

Mr. Trent

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Saving Our Soil

With so much talk about the importance of soil, it's obvious that this natural resource deserves our protection. We used models to represent fields that have been plowed using soil preservation techniques (like contour plowing). Such practices can really go a long way in protecting our topsoils.

Monday, October 8, 2012

More than Peanuts!

Many people associate George Washington Carver with peanut farming, but his research in soil fertility also influenced farmers to change their planting strategies to increase their harvest. Here a student creates a portrait of Mr. Carver while researching his life and work.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Are You A Spelling Whiz?!

Do you have what it takes to be a spelling be champion?  Ms. Rebecca, our media specialist, just announced the 4th-8th spelling bee which will take place in January.  Start brushing up on your spelling skills!  The following guides and much more can be found at

How to Study for a Spelling Bee Spell It 2013

The Week of October 8, 2012

What beautiful weekend in Savannah it has been!  I hope you've taken advantage of every second of your time off, and I look forward to hearing about how you spent your weekend when we gather back at Ellis tomorrow.

This week in math we will be talking about ratios and rates.  Your first questions may be "what in the world is a ratio!?!?"  Well, you will soon come to see that the work we've been doing with fractions and division fit nicely into our ratio lessons we will have this week.  You actually already have all the knowledge you need to be ratio/rate experts!  This site has some great explanations as to what ratios are and how you may use them in your daily life.  Do you want some more practice with ratios?  Check out this game.  For even more practice, be sure to complete your ratio TenMarks activity this week. It is due by Friday.  You will have two homework assignments, also.  All this practice will hopefully prepare you for a quiz on ratios this Thursday.

In science, we will be continuing to discuss soil.  On Monday, we will focus specifically on the differences in soils found in different climate zones around the world.  Here is the PowerPoint I will present:

I will give you plenty of time to continue with your "Rake the Leaves" choice sheet.  The three assignments from this sheet are due this Friday.  In addition to that, your science journal starter is also due Friday.  We will finish our research about soil at the end of the week when you take your soil test.  Here is what you will need to know for the test:


soil- a loose mixture of rock fragments, organic material, water, and air that can support the growth of vegetation
soil structure- the arrangement of soil particles
soil texture- the soil quality that is based on the proportions of soil particles
bedrock- the layer of rock beneath soil
humus- dark, organic material formed in soil from the decaying remains of plants and animals
leaching- the removal of substances that can be dissolved from rock, ore, or layers of soil due to passing of water
parent rock- a rock formation that is the source of soil

Weathering (rock materials are broken down)
1.     chemical weathering (weak acids, air)
2.     mechanical weathering (ice, plants, abrasion)
Soil (loose mixture of rock, organic material, water, and air)
1.     residual soil- remain above parent rock
2.     transported soil- blown or washed away from parent rock
3.     Soil Horizons (See picture below)
4.     Soil and Climate
a.    Tropical Rain Forest- Nutrient poor soil because of leaching, thin topsoil, and lush vegetation with great demand for nutrients
b.    Desert- low rate of weathering means soil is created at a slower rate
c.     Temperate Forest and Grasslands- Some of the most productive in the world because of high level of weathering (moderate rain, freezing temperatures).
d.    Arctic- Slow soil formation.  Little rain and cold temperatures cause animals/plants to decompose slowly.  Little humus.
5.      Soil Conservation
a.    Ways to stop erosion (loss of topsoil)
                                                       i.     contour plowing- plow across the slope of hills
                                                     ii.     crop rotation- planting different crops from year to year to use less nutrients

Soil Horizons

Ms. Carol and myself will be sending home progress reports this week.  Please remember to review it with your family, sign it, and return it to your homeroom teacher Tuesday morning.  If you have any questions or comments, simply write them on the coversheet of the progress report, and we will get back to you as quickly as we can.

I'm looking forward to another great week,
Mr. Trent

Friday, October 5, 2012

It's More Than Just Dirt

This week we've spent a lot of time taking a close look at soil. Students shared their discoveries many different ways. Some created large flip books showing soil horizons while others dissected soil into and placed it into different categories.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fieldtrip to Tybee Burton 4-H Center

Today, I sent home a permission slip for the Tybee Burton 4-H Center.  We will be visiting the center November 14th.  I'm excited to share that we will be taking a close look at coastal critters and dissecting sharks!  The trip will cost $15.00.  Slips and money are due no later than November 7.  Please have your child pack a brown-bag lunch (school lunches will also be available for purchase).  Please let me know if you have any questions.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Hachiko and Chemical Weathering

To introduce the concept of chemical weathering, I told the story of Hachiko.  Hachiko is considered to be one of the most loyal dogs that ever lived!  A bronze statue of him can still be visited at the Shibuya Station in Tokyo.  Chemical weathering, caused by thousands of people petting the statue's paws for good luck, has caused it to get worn down.

Photo of Hachiko (left), Photo of bronze Hachiko statue (right)

There's a great movie about Hachiko that was made a few years back. Here's the trailer.  The movie is available on Netflix.