Filed Under (holidays, writing) by Lee Kolbert on 12-02-2010

These are the days that touch my heart…

“I’ve known you for about a year,

When I hear your voice I just might cheer.

As a teacher, you make me laugh and play,

I want to see you every day.

You never think of me as stupid,

I think I might be visiting Cupid.

Just as I think the day is done,

You show up and it’s just begun.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Filed Under (writing) by Lee Kolbert on 23-01-2010

textimageIn class we’ve been working on writing essays, from start to finish in 45 minutes. It’s a really tough thing for 4th graders. To be honest, it’s a tough thing for anyone; especially if the prompt isn’t “your thing.”  In that time limit, we expect the students to have a well organized essay with clear details and vibrant vocabulary, grabbers, take-away endings as well as generally good writing conventions such as spelling and punctuation. Below is a narrative essay written by Raegan. Raegan is a voracious reader who is one of my best writers. When she submitted this essay, I couldn’t resist asking her permission to publish it for the world to enjoy. It is published as is however, I changed some spacing. Your feedback is most welcome.

The prompt was, “Tell about a time you broke a rule.”

by Raegan
My warm fingers slid across the keys of my phone, almost dancing. “Ding!” My message had been sent. I was in aftercare (boring!) and was bored so I started texting my friends. I could hear the shuffling of Mr.Davids feet coming towards me and quickly stuffed my phone in my jacket pocket. “Close one” I thought to myself.

In school there is this obnoxious rule that your not allowed to use cell phones, and yes I was breaking that far-fetched rule.

As I headed towards the school bathroom to text some more, I passed a yellow sign plastered to the wall that read “NO CELL PHONES!” I started to feel a bit like a criminal, but in the same breath how would me texting my friends do any harm? Without sleeping on the question, I hurried into the ladies room and got ready to start a marathon on a phone keyboard.

My fingers pressed the letters with desire and passion, almost as if they were a vampire who hadn’t drank blood in years. After I sent a message I realized I had to get out of here before someone noticed me. So I put my phone in my pocket and scurried out looking kind of sinister.

I creaked the door open and entered the noisy eardrum-breaking aftercare portable. Luck was on my side because no one had noticed my absent. I plopped down in a chair and started texting under the table. And that’s when my luck faded away.
Mr. David was tapping on my shoulder. I slowly turned around and gave him a worried “hi”. He just looked at me with a smug expression on his face. “No phones in school” and then he gave me a written warning. Oh no was all that was going through my mind.

Ok, so I broke a rule and got a warning. I guessed I deserved it, now I know I shouldn’t brake rules. As my dad says ” You can’t do the time , don’t do the crime!”
Filed Under (games, writing) by Lee Kolbert on 19-11-2009

Writing, writing and morScreen shot 2009-11-19 at 10.26.01 PMe writing! It seems like everything we do involves writing. Well, funny enough… it does! That’s why learning to write effectively is so important. In writing class, the students are becoming master writers who are able to grab their readers’ attention and add interesting details to an already exciting idea.

Improving our writing skills does not come easily. It comes through hard work and lots of practice. Coming up with ideas is always a challenge, so I was excited to learn about this Story Starter site, by Scholastic.com. There’s a virtual slot machine where you type in your name and choose your grade level. Then you spin the handle and you’re given a series of random ideas where you can re-randomize any part you like. Your next choices are to decide between formats such as newspaper, postcard, letter or notebook and you can type your story right into the website (there’s even a dictionary right there). You can even add a drawing. When you print your story, the animation is fun to watch.

Give it a spin. What story idea did you generate?

Filed Under (writing) by Lee Kolbert on 31-10-2009

This post is written by student, Julia, who invites readers to edit this post for punctuation. Other comments are welcome as well.

Wow (Exclamation Point)!

What would our writing be like without punctuation you wouldn’t be able to read words in sentence form or tell if the sentence was sad,excited,scared,nervous or a command If you look at it,punctuation gives a good sense of order to both narratives and expositories. So,instead of “She rushed to the mall I know she loves to shop which is a strong sentence with incorrect punctuation use”She rushed to the mall.I know she loves to shop.”The bottom line is that looking at punctuation as something not tedious and annoying can truly fix up your writing!!!!!!!!!Poor punctuation and good punctuation are like night and day!!!!!!

Can you fix this blog post?

Filed Under (writing) by Lee Kolbert on 28-10-2009

From the same assignment as the previous post, this post is just one more of the outstanding essays from our class. Please add your comment for Brooke.

Once upon a time, there was a nice, fair maiden.  She lived with her mom and dad.  She was as happy as a child getting a present.  Shortly, her mom passed away.  She now lived with her dad in their king-sized house.  Soon, her dad married a mean lady with her ugly twin daughters, Anastia and Brianca.  Oh no!  After her loving dad married the stepmother, he quickly died.  The poor little girl.  That’s when the world went upside down.

Cinderella!  That’s what they had called her because of the cinders on her clothes and pretty face.  Poor Cinderella had become a slave in her own house!  She had to do tons and tons of awful chores.  Sweep the floor, wash the dishes, do the laundry, and so forth.  Then one day a handsome page arrived on a midnight black horse.  Hear ye!  Hear ye!  The prince is throwing a special ball to see who he will marry.  Every girl in the town is invited.  He was a nice chap, as quick as a wasp, he was off riding to the palace.  When I marry the prince, Cinderella thought, we would move to a nice, pretty house. Anastia cried, “Well you can’t go Cinderella!”  That made Cinderella doubt she would marry the prince.  Brianca yelled, “You don’t have any good clothes.  Right mom?”  Her mom said, “if she finishes her long, long, long, long (long 1,000,000 times), long list of chores first, she can go.”  Sweet Cinderella worked hard day and night and still didn’t finish the list and the ball was starting now!  Cinderella ran to the blooming garden and started weeping on an empty bench.

Poof!  A fairy godmother appeared out of the blue.  The plump godmother gave an orange pumpkin, four white mice, and a green lizard and frog a touch of her golden wand, and they turned into an amazing coach, four horses, and two weird looking coachmen.  Then, she touched Cinderella’s filthy rag clothes, and they transformed to a beautiful dress with a tiara and glass slippers upon her dainty feet.  “At midnight the magic will wear off,” the old fairy godmother said in a hurry, “Shoo! Be gone with you, or else you’ll be late for the ball.  Have a miraculous time.”  As quick as a flash, Cinderella was off.

So, Cinderella went to the ball.  As she arrived, she thought about how big the brick castle was.  It scared her a lot.  When she walked in, no one noticed her including her stepmother and stepsisters!  They have never seen her in such magnificent clothes and without cinders on her face.  The prince asked her to dance with him.  Cinderella was flattered.  She thought to herself, I hope I marry the prince. How angry the sisters were.  Cinderella found out that the prince was funny, kind, and smart just like her!  What a perfect match.  Just then Cinderella saw that it was a minute until midnight, “goodbye,” Cinderella exclaimed.  “Wait!  I don’t know your name,” the prince called after her.  She left her slipper running so fast.  Out of the corner of the prince’s eye, he saw something sparkly.  Her glass slipper!  “I will search every kingdom in the land to find the maiden whose foot fits into this tiny slipper,” he told his dad the king.

Off he went on a quest to find the woman who could fit her foot into the glass slipper.  All day and night he searched and came to the last house in the kingdom, Cinderella’s house.  “Madam, could you try on this slipper?” the prince asked Anastia.  Her foot was longer by three inches.  Brianca’s foot was wider by two inches.  The prince asked if they had any more girls in the house.  “Only our servant girl,” Brianca replied.  “Cinderella! Come down here.”  Cinderella dashed down the stairs as quickly as a bee getting pollen.  Her foot fit into the shiny slipper!  “Will you be my bride?” asked the cute prince.  Cinderella replied, “of course.”  They rode away in his magnificent carriage.

Soon, they had a lovely wedding.  They had a baby boy named Jack and a daughter named Rapunzel.  They learned not to try to love her because when she was 13 they had to give her away for good.  Meanwhile, the stepmom and sisters were seething with rage.  “How ‘com Cinderella married the prince,” whined Anastia.  “No fair,” Brianca moaned.  They were JEALOUS!  They rode on a chestnut brown horse to the gray castle, off to ask Cinderella a question that was going through their minds.

Cinderella was in a boring conference about the kingdom’s profits.  Ughhh. Cinderella didn’t like the castle at all.  Outside was Jack and Rapunzel.  Jack was now 11, and he was outside always climbing up the castle walls.  Rapunzel was with the animals who loved her beautiful voice for 10 years.  It was a short, sweet tune.  Cinderella went to check on each of them.  The sky was so clear, flowers were starting to bloom, sweet little birds were tweeting so happily, and infront of her was her mom, Anastia and Brianca.  Anastia, her mom, and Brianca!  “What are you doing here?” she exclaimed shocked.  They told her that they want to move into the royal castle.  Cinderella would also love to move into a little cottage.  The castle was to humongous and there were too many doors.  It was confusing.  Cinderella discussed switching houses with the prince, and he said of course.  Yeah!

The next day, they packed their suitcases, and Cinderella and her new family moved to a forest and built a log cabin.  They cut down trees and tied them together.  Meanwhile, the mom and sisters had a ball living in the castle.  The prince used the tree tops to make a fort for the kids.  It took Cinderella and the prince all day to build their house.  When they finished, it was breathtaking.  Finally, their new house was finished, and they lived HAPPILY EVER AFTER.