September 29

Something’s Fishy

This week we learned that BTB can be used to check for acid in water. So, we gathered 4 water samples and tested them. First, I grabbed a sample from a faucet in the school building. The others came from our portable classroom. We took two samples from the water cooler. One from the water cooler itself and the other from the overflow tray. Also, we thought it would be interesting to see if there was acid in our fish tanks we’ve set up around the class. In each sample we found acid, except for the tap water. How did the acid get in the water? The class came up with lots of variables that could have been the cause. These are factors that can change and affect the outcome of an experiment.

fish breathing
fish waste
food waste

The kids decided to run an experiment and to try and change the variable called fish. We placed 3 cups out and filled them with 100 ml of tap water. We knew tap water didn’t have acid in it; so we’ll use it to see what might be linked to the cause of the acid. Next, we put a fish called a guppy in one cup and a plant called elodea in another cup. The 3rd cup just had water. Last we put 6 drops of BTB in each cup to see if it would change its color from blue to yellow, which indicates acid. Nothing happened at first. We decided to wait 30 minutes. Below is a picture of the experimental set-up.








Do you remember what happened? The cup with the fish changed color. The elodea stayed the same and the cup with nothing stayed the same. So, how did the fish cause the water to change? The video link below reveals what happens.


September 22

Getting to Know You

Recently, we had student interviews in class. Students interviewed each other and presented there findings to the class. I wanted to share some of the student responses to our questions. Also, I included my responses.  I thought this might create some discussion at home with parents, siblings and friends.

What is your favorite sport or activity?

Kaitlin: “I like to dance.”

Mr. Magill: “I enjoy the sport of rowing, but it’s probably a tie with running and skiing.”

 Where is the most interesting place you have been?

Seth: “I think it would have to be Silverwood.”

Mr. Magill: “I think it would have to be Maui. I really like tropical environments.”

Tell me one interesting thing you did this summer.

Makenna: “We went camping.”

Mr. Magill: “We went to Pacific Beach in Oregon. It’s a cool little surfing community that’s known for its dory boat fishermen.”

What is something most people do not know about you?

Mohamed: ” I speak 2 different languages. I speak Arabic and English.”

Mr. Magill: “I once road on top of an elephant. It was at the circus.”

September 21

Place Value

Today we began to look at numbers and the value of digits in a number. I used the metaphor of stadium seats (Note: Mr. Rodger’s idea.). Many of you know your position in a stadium determines the value of your seat. If you could choose 2 seats at Safeco Field for a game, based on the picture below, what would you choose? Think about the seats you picked and choose 2 new seats with a higher value. Last, pick 2 seats that would have a value less than the starting tickets. Can you describe how the position in the stadium affects the value of the ticket?

Now let’s think about that in terms of a number. Which number below has the greatest value? Which has the smallest? How does the position of the digit affect the value of that digit?
September 19

Aquatic Environments

Today was a great start to science! We covered lots of material in a short period of time. This trimester environments will be our general focus. To start, we will be observing 2 different aquatic environments. Right now each table group in our classroom is in charge of managing a fresh water aquarium. We will track factual information in an Aquarium Log at each table group. This includes feeding, measuring water temperature, checking the water level and watching fish behavior. It will be a big challenge for all students to keep our little guppies healthy. There have already been some predictions that our tanks are going to get pretty dirty in a hurry.

We started work in our Science Journals by making observations. We discussed the difference between “fact and opinion.”  Students used a diagram to create more meaning for the parts of the environmental system. We learned that these are called environmental factors. Some examples we listed are the tank container, water, temperature of water, fish, etc…  If any of the environmental factors are changed it could affect the living organisms in a positive or negative way.  Below are 2 student examples of journal entries.  Thanks for sharing Julia and Darlene.
September 17


Recently, we’ve been discussing what it would be like to achieve the highest quality art project, creative story, dance performance, math assignment, soccer game, etc…. Last week I discussed this idea further by asking students to reflect on the journey to achieve high quality.

I think this story I’m sharing with you today really helps us to understand what this journey involves.

Dipsea is a race that is very well known across the country for its rich history. The race covers 7.4 miles. It’s the oldest trail race in the US. Dipsea is not the most difficult running race in the world; however, it is treacherous and very challenging. Many racers have become injured while racing on the course which starts at sea level and rises to 1360 feet and descends back to sea level. Different points along the course have telling names like Cardiac, Insult Hill and Dynamite.  The following video gives you a tour of the race course. Please be advised that there is 1 inappropriate word used at the very ending of this video. I’m showing the video to help you understand how challenging our journey towards high quality can be.

At this point, ask yourself “Would you enter this race? Why? Why not?

An 8 year old girl entered this race last year in 2010 and won.  Here’s more on the story of Reilly Johnson.

What do you think it took for her to be able to accomplish such greatness?
Was it easy?
What did she do to stay motivated?
September 17

Quality Work

This week we investigated high quality work. I showed the embedded video below.  Do you remember the questions asked?

What happened when the cyclist fell off of his bike?

How do you think he was able to achieve mastery at such a high level?

After watching the video, I gave everyone an opportunity to share about something that they would like to master. Edgar wrote, “Skate boarding. It would feel good to be an expert at one of the most dangerous and fun sports there is.”

September 10


Code of Cooperation 2011-2012

We’ve been working hard on building our classroom culture. This week we spent time building a Code of Cooperation.  It illustrates our classroom beliefs that will help us to achieve our Purpose, which follows:

-To learn and have fun while working hard on math, reading, writing, science and other subjects, in order to get a good education.

-To be a great student by accomplishing set goals, being respectful, never giving up and working as a team.

I took a picture of our Code of Cooperation after we completed a Consensogram for it. The Consensogram is a graph that shows…to what extent students believe that they agree with it.  The top row of pink sticky notes represents students that felt it was something they agreed with 100%. The next line down shows some students that felt they were mostly in agreement with it (90%). The bottom row represents students that were 50% in agreement with it.  So, they didn’t agree with all of it, but they could accept using it as our guide for cooperating. Holden said he voted 50% and felt like it was an okay Code of Cooperation.  Overall, most people felt like it was something they could abide by.

This is a fundamental piece of our classroom. It provides the foundation that we’ll use to support our learning journey.

What reflections come to mind when you look over the Consensogram and the Code of Cooperation?










September 10

Growing Together

Welcome to 5th Grade!  This year we’ll be working hard to grow as a class and individuals.  Every school year I learn something from the students in my class. I grow as I become more experienced each year with a new group of young people.

What are your thoughts on growing?  How can you grow?  What are your needs and wants for this school year?  Please leave a comment.