If a child can't learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.

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Expository Writing

For the past few weeks, the fifth graders have been learning all about the election process.  They read through books,  researched on websites, watched videos, and took notes throughout the entire learning process.  As a culminating activity, they wrote expository essays to explain everything they learned about the election.  Here are of few of the exemplary essays written by my fifth graders.

Election Process

 The basic process of selecting the president of the United States of America is laid out in the Constitution of the United States Federation. The election process is set up into five categories. The five categories are: the requirements, the conventions, the primaries and caucuses, the debates and the official elections, and the electoral college.


There are several requirements that you must have to become presidents. First, you must be at least thirty-five years of age. Secondly, you must be a native-born citizens of the United States. Thirdly, you have to be a resident of the United States for at least fourteen years. Finally, a person cannot be elected to a third term as president so you can only be president for eight years.

Conventions, primaries, and caucuses

The political parties choose their candidate by holding conventions, which are large meetings attended bydelegates. This year, the Republican convention was in Tampa, Florida. The Democratic convention was in Charlotte, North Carolina. Some delegates are selected by state primary elections. A primary is when we vote for our favorite candidate. In Florida, we have a primary election. In Iowa, they hold caucuses which is very much like primaries except the caucuses don’t have secret votes. A majority of delegates votes is needed to win the party’s nomination. The delegates let their chosen presidential candidate select a vice-presidential candidate.

Election and debate

The election is held every four years on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. In the general election, candidates for the president and vice-president run together on a ticket. Voters select one ticket to vote for, they cannot choose a presidential candidate from one ticket, and choose a vice-president from another ticket.  Before the election day, the presidential candidates and the vice-presidential candidates hold debates. A debate is when two candidates go on TV and they tell you what they are going to do when they are in office. They talk about health care plans, social security, education, the economy, jobs, foreign policy, taxes, the country’s security system, and the oil crisis. They have several debates at different times and they are on the news.

The electoral college

The national presidential election consists of a separate election in each of the fifty states and the District of Columbia. In all the 51 states, the voters are voting for electors. These electors make up the electoral college. The electoral college is not a school, but it is a system to make voting more fair. It takes place on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. Each state has the same number of electors as it has senators and representatives. There are two senators from each state, but the number of representatives depends on the state’s population. There are about 538 electoral votes in the United States. It takes 270 electoral votes to win the election. The votes are counted on January 6. If there is no electoral college winner, then the House of Representatives chooses the president.

The president-elect and vice-president-elect, takes the oath of office and are inaugurated two weeks later on January 20. I think this is a very long, complicated, and expensive process. I am very interested in the presidential election. I am also amazed how it works and I am looking forward to the election and the inauguration which is going to come up in a couple of months. Vote now on November 6, for either Mitt Romney or Barack Obama. Only one can win.


Election Process

                                                                            Election Process

The election for the President of the United States is held once every four years.  You have to be eighteen years old in order to vote for the President.  There are five steps to run for president. The five steps are requirements, primaries, conventions, election, and electoral college.

In order to run for President, there are several requirements.  You have to be at least thirty five years old.  You have to be born in the United States.  You have to be living in the USA for at least fourteen years prior  to running.

Each state has a primary. A primary is when we vote for our favorite candidate to run for president. This year the primaries were from January- July.  Some states have a caucus. A caucus is like you are in a room, you are either a Republican or Democrat. The head of the caucus says, If you are a Democrat come to this side to vote. If you are a Republican come to this side to vote.   Iowa has a caucus.

Every Four years they have a convention for Democrats and Republicans. The conventions are held the summer before the presidential election. This year, the Republican convention was held in Tampa, Florida.   The Democratic convention was held in Charlotte, North Carolina. A delegate is someone who speaks from a party. There is a delegate for Democrats and Republicans.

The presidential election voting is on November 6. The voting is always on the first Tuesday of November. There are debates. The debates are when the two main candidates are on tv and discussing important issues. Each debate, the candidates talk about one issue. The issues are taxes, economy, jobs, and relationships with other counties.

The electoral college is not an actual college. It is a system that makes voting more fair. Each state gets a certain number of votes based on the population. There are a total of 538 votes in the USA. A candidate has to get 270 votes to win the election. The electoral college takes place in December.

Now you know all the steps for running for president.  If you can make sure in January to watch the inauguration of the new president of the USA. Inauguration means to get sworn into office, therefore, the White House. For more information go online or to a library.



The Process of The Election

There are some times when independence and freedom are so important that it is impossible to put this feeling into words. It happens when a cry for justice is heard and then answered. This longing and urning in our minds will not go away until what you want is yours. So us, the people are in some ways more powerful, and have an impact upon mankind that no single person no matter what race or gender can or will ever achieve. But in the end, it is impossible that everybody is the same. Not all people have the same rights or looks. So there must be someone of power who helps guide the people. So too, was the election born. The election, a way for all people to have a chance for what they feel is right.


The first step to becoming a president, and the least competitive part, are the requirements. To be able to become a candidate, the government has strict rules that must be followed, if you wish to run. The first of these few, but important rules, is to be born in the U.S. Let us say that you were born in Mexico, but the next day your parents immigrated, you would still not be eligible. Following that rule, you must also be at least thirty-five years old to run. The last rule, is that you must be a citizen of the United States for fourteen years or more. The time that you become a citizen is starting at birth. If you have been a resident for thirteen years and then you go away, and if you come back and stay for a year, you can still run.

The requirements are of much importance, but to physically become the candidate for either the Republicans or the Democratsyou must go through the primaries. The primaries is a way so that there are only two people, one from each party, running. Most primaries begin in February. At the beginning of the primaries, there are many people who wish to run for president. Then the people of your state vote for one candidate to represent them. The person who gets the most states is the person who is running against the president, or other candidate. If the president has served only one term, and wishes to run again, then, whichever political party that person is from does not have a primary. Smaller states have caucuses instead of primaries. You sit in a big room and there are people who want different candidates in each corner. They try to get you to vote for this guy or that guy, and if you change your mind you go to the corner you want to vote for.  Also if you leave, you lose your vote.



Something that has to do with the primaries is the convention. The national convention is when the candidates speak about how they are going to help, and what they are going to do to help. They always do it every four years, the summer before the election. It is huge, the states send a certain amount of delegates depending on how big the state is. The delegates are people who are involved enough that the state chooses them to represent them. The delegates come to the convention, and the state believes in them so much that it allows them to vote for what the state’s majority vote is for a candidate. But to prove how trustworthy they are, they vote in private, in other words if the delegate wanted to change the vote when they got to the booth they could. After the votes have been counted up. There should only be one president and vice president running from each political party.



When the voting day on November six actually comes, the citizens vote. When you go to vote it doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat or if you are Republican. It only matters when you have the primaries and the conventions. If you are a Republican, but you want to vote for the Democratic candidate you can. Before the election day, the presidents and vice presidents hold debates and talk about the economy, health plans, social security, oil shortages, and schooling. They try to convince the voter, one last time, and show them what the other person has been doing wrong. Then on election day they count up the the votes.

The way to win the election is through the electoral college. The electoral college is a system that makes the voting more fair. It goes like this, each state gets a certain amount of votes depending on how big a population is in a state. It also matters about how many districts there are in a state. For example, California, the biggest state in population, gets fifty-five votes, while Rhode Island gets only four votes. Different kinds of states have different opinions. Like in the past, the majority of people in California voted for Democrats, while Texas voted for Republicans. There is one last kind of state, which is like Florida. Florida is a swing state, another words it can go either way.
The way to hit majority is by getting two hundred and seventy votes.

I have now explained all the steps for running for president. I have gone over requirements, primaries, the convention, the election, and the electoral college. For the people who have faith in the election, it is most likely that you will vote and use this as a good reference.

The Election College


Have you ever wondered what the election process is about? Well not until now, because you are going to read about every part of it. There are five categories to the election process. The five categories are requirements, primaries and caucuses, conventions, election, and the electoral college. They all have a big part to say in the election process.


Here are some requirements to be allowed to run for president. First, you have to be at least thirty-five years old. Also, you must be a natural born citizen of the United States. Let’s say that you are born in China, but you move to the United States when you are one month old. Years later, you want to run for president, but you can’t because you are not a natural born citizen of the United States. If our country did not have that rule, then we might have terrorists running for president. Finally, you have to have lived in the United States for fourteen years.

Primaries and Caucuses

What is a primary election? A primary election is when we vote for our favorite candidate. In Florida we have a primary election. Some states have something called a caucus, like Iowa, which brings me to the next part of this paragraph. A caucus is a very difficult thing to explain.  Imagine that there is a room with a square in every corner. Each square has a name of a person running for president. The people go to a square that says the name of the person they are voting for. These people persuade each other to join their square. If someone leaves, their vote will not count. Caucuses can take hours so you might be very annoyed by the time it ends.


Pledged delegates are chosen with the understanding that they will support a particular candidate at the election. What is a delegate exactly? A delegate is a person sent to represent others. Each political party has its own convention. Conventions are held every four years so they are special. A convention is held the summer before the presidential election.


The election is one of the most important parts of the election process, because without it there would not be a president for the United States. On November 6, the election starts. All of the citizens vote for the candidate that they think will make the United States a better place. Just like the conventions, the elections are also held every four years, which makes them special. The most years a president can stay in office is eight years which means that they can only be in office for two elections.

Electoral College

 What does a college have anything to do with the election process? Well, it is not actually a college even though it looks like it. There are 538 total electoral votes. It takes 270 votes to win. If the population of a state is small, there will not be as many electoral votes for that state. For instance, California will get more electoral votes than Kansas, because California has a bigger population than Kansas.


Now you have learned about requirements, primaries and caucuses, conventions, elections, and the electoral college. Now that you know what these things are, you could test a friend though I am not saying that you have to. If you still do not understand the election process, then click on some of the links provided for you.


File:Voting United States.jpg



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Where the Red Fern Grows

Each time a student in my class finishes a book, they are asked to write a review.  The students choose their own books, based on their own interests.  Here is a great review written by on of my students.

Written by: Evelyn M

I recently finished the book Where The Red Fern grows. I thought that this book is one of the best books I’ve ever read in my life. This book is about a young boy named Billy, who has a dream to have two red coon hounds, but doesn’t have enough money. With the help of god, he earns the money and is able to get the two dogs he always wanted. He goes to a different town, and when he comes back, he finds the best names for his dogs; Old Dan and Little Ann. As the story goes on, Billy has a GREAT relationship with his dogs. In fact, they won’t hunt with anyone else but Billy, not even his father. They become the most best friends ever. You know the saying: A man’s best friend is a man’s dog. Billy starts training Old Dan and Little Ann to catch coons. The first hunt with Old D and Little A did not go out so well. The dogs had treed the coon, but it was going to be hard to get a coon out of the tree the coon had gotten in. Billy decided to cut the tree down, so he did. It took two days to cut that tree down, but with the help of his father and grandfather, he manages to make that tree fall. Later on in the book, the dogs get famous, so famous, that he entered a contest, and everybody who entered, (about 2,000 or more people) knew about him and his dogs. The question is, will Billy, Old Dan, and Little Ann win the contest, and will they get lost or hurt? Read the book to find out!

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Drop, Pop, Sukkah Hop

Students worked on comparing and contrasting the sukkahs that their class visited during Sukkot. Each student started with a Venn diagram, and then created his/her comparison essay.  Here is an example of one of the student’s completed essay.

Written by: Jamie B

Last week, we had one of our annual ‘Sukkah Hops’. A Sukkah Hop is what we do in our school to celebrate Sukkot! Sukkot is a Jewish holiday that incorporates building a Sukkah, fun, games, and shaking the lulav and etrog. What is a Sukkah? A Sukkah is what the Jews built while traveling to Israel, for shelter. To this day, annually, we build a sukkah to remind us of what the Jews did.

To build up the laughter and joy, as mentioned, we do a sukkah hop each year, but fourth and fifth grade is a little bit different. In fourth and fifth grade, we get paired up into cars, as usual, but this is the different part. We were separated into different groups to visit each sukkah. We traveled to three sukkot, so that means there were three groups! (The Jaffa family sukkah, Morah Etta’s sukkah, and the Lubliner family sukkah) This was different, because traveled in groups instead of the entire class going to the same sukkah at once.

A little off subject here, but after the sukkah hop, our Jewish studies teacher, Morah Liat, and our Language Arts teacher, Mrs.Teitelbaum, thought it would be cool to incorporate some Venn Diagramming action, into a fun writing assignment about what we liked, disliked, and just thought in general, about each sukkah. Here it goes:

In the Jaffa family sukkah, I noticed there were three walls, which is kosher, but one of the walls of the sukkah, was one of the walls of their house, which I thought was cool. Also, I liked that there was a fan on the sukkah, which was one of the best features! The activity was a puzzle, and when you finished it, each puzzle was one of the arbaat haminim which in english means the four species of the lulav and etrog. That means that each puzzle was either haddas (which represents the eyes), the aravim (which represents the mouth), the lulav (which represents the spine), and the etrog (which represents the heart).

Moving on to the Lubliner family sukkah, which I found to be the best. I liked the activity, the snacks, the decorations, and the “party favors” (they have an etrog tree, so we each got our own etrog). The Lubliner’s sukkah consisted of 3¾ of walls. What I liked, was that instead of the palm tree sechach that most of us know about, they had bamboo, which is used as sechach, and it is still kosher. For the Lubliner’s activity, they had a fun game of “Jew”perdy. “Jew”perdy is Jeopordy, but with questions that only a Jew would know. Example: What are the four species of plants that we shake together to show that G-D is everywhere? The answer is aravim, hadasim, lulav, and etrog, but some of you probably wouldn’t know that if you haven’t read this blog post. Another one of the Lubliner’s sukkah activities (I’m going to call them activities, but more of entertainment) was when Itamar and Elior’s older brother, Avichai, read us a poem that I really liked.

Lastly, there was Morah Etta’s sukkah. There, we played this game called pyramid, which is a different form of a trivia game. Morah Etta’s sukkah had 2¾ of walls, and I noticed that there was regular sechach, like the Jaffa family sukkah. What I think could’ve been better, was that there were no tables and chairs. Instead we were sitting on the concrete floor, but for this game, I think she made a good choice by having us sit on the ground.

What I thought was cool, was that a lot of these sukkot had a lot in common. Like the Lubliner family sukkah and Morah Etta’s sukkah both had cloth walls. Also, the Jaffa’s family sukkah and the Lubliner family sukkah both had tables and chairs, and Morah Etta’s didn’t. As mentioned, I thought it was cool that the Lubliner family sukkah had bamboo instead of regular palm sechach, but they were the only ones that we saw that had the bamboo, so the Jaffa family sukkah and Morah Etta’s sukkah both had palm sechach. I also think it’s cool that there were a few things that all sukkot had in common, like they all were kosher sukkot, they all had decorations, and all activities included some type of trivia.

I really like that we have annual sukkah hops, because it’s fun to visit other sukkot, and to share the sukkot spirit around everywhere. Our family, personally, we don’t build a sukkah, but when we go on the sukkah hop, we feel welcomed to any sukkah! That’s why I feel these small trips make a big difference. That’s why I like sukkah hops.

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It All Started with a Twist!

For this week’s writing assignment, the students were to choose a picture of animals and create a story with a dialogue.  We were working on the use of proper quotation marks and punctuation marks.  Here is an example from one of my fifth graders.

 Click here for Jamie’s blog.

 In 1985, Michael Truman opened up a new, huge, and up-to-date movie theater. It was a hit! In the first three days, the theater had 1,500 customers. Michael thought he would become rich! Until one day, that year, when everything fell to the floor.

“Come on, get into the steel room! Twister!” screamed Michael. “Ok, ok we’re coming!” exclaimed Hoppers with a stuffed mouth, munching on popcorn. “What’s the code to get in?” panicked Popo. “It’s, It’s… I can’t tell you,” answered Michael. “HURRY UP!” Screamed Popo. “It’s ok, it’s ok, I’m here,” answered Michael, panting.

“TWISTER?” Lulu and Alex asked at the same time. “Buboom,” they both exclaimed, while bumping hips, as always when they say the same Words at the same time. “Someone get me out of here!” Popo exclaimed while heading to the door, looking outside at the twister. “Never mind, I’m good here,” replied Popo in a whisper to himself.

As everybody made their way into the steel room, Michael was the last one out, and he noticed one of the glass doors flew off. When he saw this happen, he slammed the door shut, and turned the key.

Inside the steel room, there was a puny television, and a couch, big enough to sit two people. “Ok, I have an idea,” Popo
confessed, “how about I sit down first, then everyone else, so I don’t have to see anything?” “Sure, why not,” replied Alex, in an unenthusiastic way.

As everyone sat down, Michael asked, “Care to watch a movie?”
“Yeah,” replied Lulu, “but I’m afraid of scary movies,”
“Ok, not scary,” Michael whispered to himself, looking through the bin of tapes. “How about The Wizard of Oz?” asked Michael.
“I saw that movie yesterday, do we have to?” asked bunny.
“Do you want to watch a movie?” questioned Michael.
Bunny replied, “Yeah, but-”
Michael interrupted, “This is the only one in here that’s not scary.”
“Ok fine,” Bunny replied with a sigh.

“I think this movie is sort of scary. Dorothy got caught in a twister, and we are in the middle of a twister, so…can we not watch this?” asked Popo. “…but after, Dorothy gets brought to a happy place!” replied Fred. “Plus, what else would we do?” asked Lulu. “Hmmm,” Lulu and Alex thought, and said out loud at the same time. “Buboom!” they exclaimed, again, while bumping hips.

That “Baboom” made it a long way. The twister stopped, and the entire theater was ruined. Michael thought to himself, ” I have spent all his time and money on building the theater, and now it’s been torn apart”, but no. This place became a success again. With donations from everywhere, there was even more money than the theater needed to be rebuilt, so Michael donated the leftover money to people who lost their homes during the twister.

Thanks to the community, life got back to how it used to be. To think it all started with a twister. It’s like “The Wizard of Oz”. It all gets better at the end, and it did.


Google Docs is a Fabulous Teaching Tool!

A few weeks ago, I realized that I needed to change my normal routine for writing.  Typically, with my old class, of only 11 students, I was able to have them draft, proofread, peer conference, have a teacher conference, edit and then publish each week. With my larger 4 class, I immediately recognized that I needed to change things up a bit.

 I decided to use Google Docs for each writing assignment.  The students start each writing assignment in Google Docs and share it with me for my review. I am able to go on and write comments, suggestions, highlight areas to edit, etc.  It is time consuming, however, it has taken the place of my need to have a conference with each student during class.  They read my notes, make changes, and then publish.  It was so cool to be commenting on several students’ drafts at once, and see that they were working on it simultaneously. I basically was having teacher conferences on Google Docs.  The kids loved it!  I was also really  impressed with how nicely their assignments turned out.  They really listened to my suggestions.

Next week we will do the same thing, but they will also be sharing their document with two peers.  That way they can peer edit without having to be in class. It has been an interesting  change, which appears to be an excellent teaching tool.

Here are a couple from this week’s assignment. (the students had to write a dialogue post using a picture of animals) We were working on proper use of quotation marks and punctuation marks.

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Chatty Animals

For this week’s writing assignment, the students were to choose a picture of animals and create a story with a dialogue.  We were working on the use of proper quotation marks and punctuation marks.  Here are three students’ creative stories.

A Prehistoric Conversation

A long time ago, in prehistoric times, there were dinosaurs. The dinosaurs hunted for food, stayed with their herd, tried to avoid carnivores, and tried to survive the big jungle environment. Once there was a young raptor being chased by a huge  T-Rex,‘‘ I`m gonna get you!’’ roared the intense T-Rex.
“Just see what happens!” yelled the little raptor. The little raptor ran as fast as it could, but the T-Rex was still close behind. Up ahead was an end of a mountain. “I’ve been trapped!” screeched the raptor. “You set this up! Didn’t you?’’ asked the raptor. The T-Rex said in reply, “No, I really didn’t. But that was actually really awesome!”
“So wait, you’re trying to hunt me down and before this you already ate something. I know because before you saw me I saw you eating a triceratops.” proved the raptor.
“Well, I did already eat something….” said the T-Rex.  Before he could finish the sentence, the raptor interrupted, “You see! Then why do you want another meal?”
“Why not?” asked the T-Rex. ”If you want another meal, then don`t eat me! Choose a different dinosaur,” replied the raptor. “Look, I see a big herd of macrophalangia.” “ Really?” replied the T-Rex. ”Ok!”. As the T-Rex ran a distance from the raptor, the raptor tried to escape. He ran through the dark jungle leaping,gliding, and the raptor escaped from the T-Rex.
Click here to visit Julia’s blog.
Once upon a time, there was Baily the Bunny, Mr. Bear, Mama wolf and Baby wolf.  Their owner loved them a lot, but one day… their owner walked into a store without them.  Their owner had never left them anywhere.  They got really scared!
So, they decided to make a plan of how to get out of the car.  “I think we should bang on the windows until someone hears us,” Baily suggested.  “No, I think we should call 911,” argued Baby wolf.  “I know! Maybe we could dance until our owner comes back!” Mr. Bear exclaimed.  “But what if I don’t like dancing?!” Baily complained.
“Hey look, it’s our owner!!” shouted Baily.  “Woooooo Hoooooo!!!!” cheered Baby wolf.   “Shhhhh!!!” whispered Mama wolf.  “Everyone, get back in your places!” Mama wolf continued, “Don’t let our owner know that we can talk!”  “I’m baaack!” the owner greeted them with a smile.
Here is a picture of my favorite animal:
   What is you favorite animal?
Click here to visit Arin’s blog.
It was a hot summer afternoon and the lion had just awoken when he overheard the foxes conversing, “I hope the lion doesn’t attempt to eat us again today,” whispered the fox on the left. “I know right,” sighed the fox on the right. Just then, the lion jumped out from the bush he was hiding in and scared the foxes. Then, the foxes ran as fast as they could to get away. “Run!” yelled the fox on the left. “No, hide!” exclaimed the fox on the right. They both managed to jump into a bush on their side. “I hope we don’t get eaten,” commented the fox on the left. “Be quiet,” whispered the fox on the right. The lion came to a sudden halt, sniffing the air. ”I smell two nice foxes that I want to……. play with!” yelled the lion. “Do you think we can trust him?” asked the fox on the left. “Of course I do!” yelled the fox on the right. “Hello Mr. lion!” exclaimed both foxes. “Why, hello there young foxes,” replied the lion. “Can we play together?” asked the lion. “Sure,” replied both foxes. “Let’s go to the field!” exclaimed the lion. Then, the foxes went off to play with the lion and played happily, it eventually became their daily routine and they lived happily ever after.
Click here to read Griff’s blog.