Hey there! You might remember me, Pico de Gallo, from the Mathlete Show: Graphing Data. I went on a vacation to San Diego, California and I want to tell you all about it. Well, here it goes:
When I went to SeaWorld to see the Shamu Show, I didn’t really see the real Shamu Show. Instead, I saw the Baby Shamu Show because on Valentine’s Day a baby orca whale was born. I didn’t really see it until my mom pointed it out. It was so small, about the size of a dolphin. The baby swam so close to its mother so that you could only see it a little when it came up for air.
Before the show started people walked around the stadium selling stuff like popcorn, kettle corn, and soda. We didn’t get any of that. As we watched the show, they said that the baby does not know how to turn or stop swimming, so the mother couldn’t stop for food. They thrust the fish into her mouth while she swam past them.
The day after I went to SeaWorld, I went to LegoLand, a world of Legos. There I drove a Volvo made out of legos (obviously!).
I drove a red car while Luke, my brother, drove a blue one. It was a 45 minute wait, but we did it anyway. This was exciting to me because when we were younger we went to LegoLand and did the drive for little kids. Now we were back and could do the driving for bigger kids. On our way from the “Coastasauras” ride we saw a little shop. My Baba pointed out a Lego Harry Potter and Lego Hagrid.
I started looking for Lego Harry Potter stuff but I had no luck.
At Roppongi, a fancy Asian restaurant, we tried some delicious foods like crabstack, sushi, and a wonderful tasting shrimp and crab roll.
The yellowtail sushi tasted like soft and salty raw fish with a little bitterness. I also tried the shrimp and crab roll which is shrimp and crab rolled up with sushi rice, seaweed and topped with avocado and fish eggs and a special sauce. I had two big bites. I did not eat any of the crabstack.
I went to the Children’s Pool in La Jolla. It had seals that were giving birth. A baby seal we saw was crying for its mommy who was out swimming in search of food. The little baby tried to swim, but he did not know how to. A big lazy, chubby seal taking a nap on the rocks grunted as the baby seal cried for it’s mommy like a real baby. “MOM-ma! MOM-ma!” it said.
We visited the World Famous San Diego Zoo in San Diego, California. There we saw a baby panda with its mother. The baby panda was so popular that they even made a panda gift shop!
Before we saw the pandas in “Panda Canyon” we saw a big gorilla getting fed. Zookeepers threw down big chunks of lettuce for the five gorillas. The gorilla ate from a big bunch of lettuce in his hand. He held it with his other hand, taking the lettuce and shoving it in his mouth.
(This is part 2 of a student post by Piper about her Irish Dance experiences. Click here to read part 1.)
Irish dance competitions are usually done at a feis (pronounced “fesh”). A feis is a dance competition and I dance in front of judges. One really important thing though is to never stop dancing when you are on the stage. Usually when I am waiting for my turn to dance, I listen to the music playing and say all the steps in my head. I am usually not nervous. I am more excited to get up and have my turn. I have competed at over 25 feisanna. My first one was when I was only 5 years old.
I moved from level to level pretty quickly. I have been awarded a lot of trophies, medals and ribbons. At a feis, you have to go to a special room after your dance to see if you place. If you do, your number will be listed. I am usually really anxious at this point to learn if I did really well. I always want a first or a second. When I see my number, I feel joyful. It makes me feel that my hard work pays off.
This weekend I competed at a feis and placed third!
Sometimes I haven’t placed or I didn’t place as high as I wanted, it only makes me try harder the next time. But I am still happy.
This year, in the month of November, I competed in my second Orieachtas.
An Orieachtas (or “the O”) is the next level above a feis. You have to have competed in feis, placed and been picked by your dance teachers to compete. The competition is very hard because dancers who were in the Nationals and Worlds also dance at the “O”. I was very nervous that year and did my best. After seeing all the girls dance, and watching the solo dancers, I was determined to get back to the “O” this year and compete in those rounds.
At times I felt frustrated, annoyed, excited, nervous, stressed out and happy when I practiced for this past year on my two solo dances. It was incredibly difficult to master the steps good enough to compete. But I was determined to place. At the “O” in the solo round, I had to dance a reel.
(Here is a video of me dancing the Reel: “The Tulla Bee Set” at school. I had to dance it in the cafeteria because there is a lot of movement and the classroom was too small.)
After the reel, I waited a few hours and danced a slow jig. Don’t let the slow jig name fool you, it is very fast. The judges combine those scores and only half of the dancers make it to the final round. If your number is called, that means you placed. That was my goal, to place.
As I waited in the ballroom to hear if my number was called, I felt very anxious. I had my friends with me from my dance school and they cheered me on and said I was good no matter what. Only 16 numbers were called, and mine was one of them! I shouted to my mom, “ I did it!” I had to get my solo dress on and dance one last dance called the St. Patrick’s Day. This dance was a dance that I have been dancing for over a year, and I felt confident.
We had to wait hours, almost until 9 pm for awards in the ballroom. When my competition was called, I climbed the steps to the stage and waited for my number. There were over 4,000 people watching. It was amazing. Every time the judge said a number and it wasn’t mine, I was thrilled. I kept jumping up and down.
I made it to the top 10; I placed 8th which means I am qualified to compete at the Nationals this July in California! I have never felt so happy. All of my friends who dance and my teachers hugged me and crowded around me. It was one of the best moments of my life.
I reached my goal. My hard work paid off and I was so happy.
We had a HUGE snow storm last weekend! Our town got about 21 inches (53 centimeters) of snow. In fact, because we got so much snow and the winds were over 35 miles per hour, the storm was categorized as a blizzard!
Since the roads were so slippery and a lot of places lost power because of the winds, we had snow days (no school!) on Friday and Monday and a delayed opening on Tuesday.
Snow days are one of the most exciting things about winter in Connecticut. The students (and teachers!) get a surprise day off.
In this post we are going to share some of our thoughts and experiences from the blizzard.
During and after the blizzard we took pictures of what it looked like at our homes. Then, when we finally got back to school we talked about our experiences and wrote some descriptive paragraphs about the blizzard.
Here is a slide show with our writing and pictures from our snow day, blizzard experiences:
(Here is a link to learn more about blizzards, snowflakes, and winter weather.)
In writing we have been working on informational paragraphs about topics that interest us. The purpose of informational, or nonfiction, writing is to explain facts and share information with the reader.
We have learned how to start with a topic sentence that introduces the subject of the paragraph and then add supporting sentences with details about that subject. The paragraph should have at least three supporting details. Finally, a good informational paragraph ends with a closing sentence that wraps things up.
Here is an example from Grant, with the topic sentence in red, the supporting details in green, and the closing sentence in blue:
As you can see, we have also been working on adding smooth transitions between our sentences.
Informational writing usually also has special text features to help the reader understand the information. Some of these features are diagrams, charts, headings, photographs with captions, and bold words.
Below are links to some of our paragraphs and diagrams that we typed using Google Drive. Check them out and you just might learn something new!
When I think of Irish Dance, I think of work. There is more to the dance then putting on a wig, make up and dancing on a stage. Irish dance is competitive and it is teamwork.
I began to take Irish dance lessons when I was 4 years old. It was fun then because I was only a pre-beginner. Now, dance means dedication. I practice every day, sometimes for hours, because the steps are very difficult and I have to be on time to the music.
There are different levels in dance. Pre-beginner and beginner levels are the first levels and are the easiest for most people. Advanced Beginner is the next level. You learn more steps in this level.
Novice Level is next. This level is truly when the adventure begins if you are competing.
After Novice, it is Prizewinner, Preliminary Champion and Open Champion. Many never reach the Open Champion level because the steps are so difficult and the competition level of dancers is very high.
To go from level to level, I have to compete at a Feis (pronounced “fesh”). A feis is a dance competition and I dance in front of judges. These judges look to see how good I am at each dance. The judges would look to see if I have cross feet, arms by my side, head straight, tip toes, dance on time to the music and not miss any steps.
We aren’t allowed to video tape during the real performances, so instead here is a video of me performing a heavy jig in my classroom:
In part 2 of this post I will share some of my most memorable experiences at competitions, and explain more about the different types of competitions.
Last week in writing we learned about similes and… snowballs?
First, let’s focus on similes. These are techniques that can make our writing more descriptive.
Here is an example from Sandy:
And here is one from Kali:
Sometimes we need to move a little bit in the afternoons. It gets hard to do our best work if we are sitting too long. So, we have been having “snowball” fights in our classroom!
Well, they aren’t really snowballs. First we do some writing work on a small piece of paper. Then we crumple up the paper. These are our “snowballs.”
When Mr. Salsich gives the signal we throw our snowballs around the room and at each other. After everyone gets a bunch of throws, Mr. Salsich gives another signal and we stop and pick up the nearest snowball. Then we gather in a circle on the carpet and share what other people wrote on their snowball.
It is a fun way to get some movement and share our ideas.
Here are some similes from the students about how quiet the room was when we were writing our similes:
And here are some similes about how loud the room was during our snowball fight:
Two weeks ago, on October 29th, the east coast of the United States got hit by a massive hurricane named Superstorm Sandy.
Here is a picture of the hurricane on October 28, the day before it hit us:
When the storm hit us in Connecticut we got strong winds that knocked down hundreds of trees and lots of flooding from the ocean storm surge.
Many of the downed trees fell on power lines, so most of us lost electricity for almost 5 days! Because most of the town was without power, we didn’t have school for a whole week. While there was a lot of damage to the town and it was difficult without power, luckily no one was seriously hurt.
When we got back to school last week we talked and wrote about our experiences from the hurricane. Here is a slideshow of some of our writings and photos we took from the mighty storm:
In writing we have been talking about how memories can give us great ideas to write about. We have also been working on using interesting, descriptive words (like “enormous“) in place of boring words (like “big“).
Here is a slideshow of some writing we did about special memories from this past summer. We tried to use at least four descriptive words in each piece.
“Ding-a-ling! Ding-a-ling!” The bell that signaled the end of recess rang out over the playground. The students grumbled quietly but their feet marched across the playground into perfect straight lines. All the feet, that is, except for those belonging to two students who stayed huddled behind the big slide.
“Maximilian, we have to line up! You’re going to get us in trouble again.” exclaimed Tiffany, scrunching down behind the slide. “Oh, relax Tiffany. We’ll sneak in right after we investigate that wobbly rock I told you about.” Replied Maximilian. “And my name is Max.” His name really was Maximilian, but nobody called him that except his mom – when she was mad at him, and his friend Tiffany – when she was mad at him.
When the last student and teacher had gone inside the two friends sprang from their hiding place and darted over to the large flat rock that Max pointed to. “This is it.” said Max. “But this rock has always been here.” replied Tiffany. “I know, but I’m almost positive it wobbled when I stepped on it today.” Said Max. “Here, help me try to lift it.” The two friends started to dig around the edge of the rock.
Dirt got stuck in their fingernails, but they didn’t mind. Max never minded getting dirty, and if it was part of an adventure Tiffany didn’t mind too much either. When they had scraped away enough dirt they started to push and heave at the rock. All of a sudden, it lurched to the side and a gust of wind blew up in their faces. Wind? From under a rock? “Now this really is an adventure,” thought Tiffany with a smile.
“Wow!” Max exclaimed. Wow indeed. At their feet was a large hole that seemed to stretch away under the ground in the direction of the school. “Let’s check it out,” said Max, starting to climb into the dark hole. “Uh, I don’t know Max. What if it’s dangerous?” asked Tiffany. But Max was already out of sight inside the tunnel. “I hope I don’t regret this,” murmured Tiffany as she peered in after him and began to crawl.
At first it was pitch black inside the mysterious tunnel but then a dim light flickered on and off from somewhere in the distance. Finally the light stayed on and they looked around them. The tunnel was made of moist dirt and rocks with little roots sticking out of the walls and ceiling. Max and Tiffany noticed that the air was warm but pleasant, and there was a faint scent of mint. As their eyes adjusted to the dim light they realized it was tall enough for them to stand. The two friends glanced at each other nervously (but excitedly) and then began walking slowly down the tunnel.
As they got deeper they noticed that the walls began to get smoother and the air was less damp. Then, far off they caught the sound of… something. “Uh, I don’t think we’re alone in this tunnel.” Max whispered. “Yeah, I agree.” replied Tiffany. As they pressed onward the walls got smoother and smoother until they seemed to be made of polished stone. The dim light began to brighten. As they turned a corner their eyes rested on something that made their mouths fall open in amazement. The two friends gasped and stared at the incredible sight before them. “I was right,” murmured Max. “We aren’t alone in this tunnel.”. . .
We have been reading and writing nonfiction, or informational, texts. The purpose of nonfiction texts is to explain things and give information.
To write a short informational paragraph, it is important to present the information clearly. You want the reader to understand what you are explaining.
Here are the steps we used to write our informational paragraphs, with the color coding that we used:
We also talked about how it’s important to use descriptive writing, strong word choice, and transitions to keep the writing smooth and interesting.
Here are some of the informational paragraphs that we wrote using our Google docs accounts: