An Underground Library on Wheels

If you take the E or F train, be on the lookout for the awe inspiring Subway Library Trains!

As of this week, 10 subway cars have been transformed into larger than life libraries – a tribute to one of NYC most beloved institutions, the New York Public Library.  Subway benches are now wooden, the car walls are adorned with bookshelves and masonry work, the ceilings mimic windows and frescos.  However, the Subway Library isn’t just a pretty train, the NYC Public Library and the MTA have partnered to bring commuters six weeks of free downloadable books using the Transit Wireless Wifi network.

How do you get the books, you ask? Well, when you go underground sign in to the Transit Wireless WiFi network.  Once you are on you will see a prompt for  From there you can browse all the available books, here is the list of the available children’s books.  They have a smattering of fiction and nonfiction on a variety of reading levels.

What a perfect way to inspire summer reading in the city! Enjoy!

Here is a silent video that shows you the newly decorated trains!

Can You Solve the Winning Question?

Probability and Statistics is one of the more modern branches of Mathematics (several hundred years old as opposed to tens of thousands of years old).  Having a firm grasp of this new-ish branch of Mathematics, helped a 13 year old win a national math competition last week.

Luke Robitaille won by answering the question below in less than a second. See if you can solve it.  Please comment below with your mathematical thinking.

We will reveal how you can solve the problem on Monday!

Here is a clue, when you are trying to find the probability it helps to consider the possibilities. Enjoy!

In a barn, 100 chicks sit peacefully in a circle. Suddenly, each chick randomly pecks the chick immediately to its left or right. What is the expected number of unpecked chicks?

Wow in the World: NPR’s Brand New Science Podcast for Kids

Eyes Up. Screens down. Jaws dropped.

NPR is thrilled to announce the launch of Wow in the World, a new podcast for kids ages 5-12 that illuminates the wonders of science, technology, discovery and inventions.

This is the first time in NPR’s 47-year history that it will release a children’s program.

Starting May 15, NPR’s Guy Raz and SiriusXM’s Mindy Thomas will take kids and their grown-ups on a journey into the most incredible science and kid-friendly news stories of the week.

Wow in the World is a place where we can tap into the crazy cool things that are happening all around us, every day!” says Thomas. “We want to help spark conversations between kids and other kids and also with their grown-ups that will ultimately lead to their own big discoveries.”

Each episode begins with a series of questions that lead to an explanation about a new amazing scientific discovery or finding. For example, “How long would it take to get to the closest star outside our solar system?” or “How did we Homo sapiens come to dominate the planet?” or “How do astronauts poop in space?” Through comedy and conversation, along with voices from real kids, Mindy and Guy make the news fun and interesting.

“As parents and caregivers, many of us grapple with screen-time,” says Raz. “This show is not just an alternative to screens but a show about celebrating the spirit of inquiry and encouraging kids to ask even more questions.”

Episodes will highlight some of the most exciting new research about space, dinosaurs, animals, technology and human origins.” (see full article here)

Subscribe to the Podcast here.

Follow Wow in the World on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

Listen to a sample below. 

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 10.06.59 AM



April’s Book of the Month: Unspoken

Every year Mr. Bender carefully selects a book for each month of the school year.  These books are always connected by a particular theme which changes from year to year.  This year’s is a really powerful theme, but we aren’t going to tell you what it is just yet.

At the end of each month, we will share the Book of the Month with you in the hopes you will discuss it further with your children. And while you’re at it, see if you can figure out Mr. Bender’s theme!


April’s Book of the Month, Unspoken,  is told through only pictures. In this beautifully illustrated book, “A young girl’s courage is tested in this haunting, wordless story. When a farm girl discovers a runaway slave hiding in the barn, she is at once startled and frightened. But the stranger’s fearful eyes weigh upon her conscience, and she must make a difficult choice. Will she have the courage to help him? Unspoken gifts of humanity unite the girl and the runaway as they each face a journey: one following the North Star, the other following her heart. Henry Cole’s unusual and original rendering of the Underground Railroad speaks directly to our deepest sense of compassion.” Watch a slideshow of the book below.

Here are some resources for you to use at home:

  1. Before you read, pose this question from the back of the book, “What would you do if you had the chance to help a person find freedom?”
  2. Henry Cole reads Unspoken.
  3. Interview with Henry Cole.
  4. The Underground Railroad: Student Activity



Area Model for Multiplication

Hot off the presses, two new videos on the Area Model for Multiplication.  This model is really useful because it uses the Area Model, which students learn in 3rd grade, to find partial products. Finding partial products is often easier because the students are multiplying with friendlier numbers.

In these videos Ms. Goldstick will teach you how to:

  1. Estimate the product before you begin so you’ll know if your answer is reasonable
  2. Decompose factors into friendly numbers
  3. Find partial products
  4. Combine the partial products to find the total product

Want some practice? Try these problems out after you watch the videos!

2-digit by 2-digit

1-digit by 4-digit

March’s Book of the Month: Strictly No Elephants

Every year Mr. Bender carefully selects a book for each month of the school year.  These books are always connected by a particular theme which changes from year to year.  This year’s is a really powerful theme, but we aren’t going to tell you what it is just yet.

At the end of each month, we will share the Book of the Month with you in the hopes you will discuss it further with your children. And while you’re at it, see if you can figure out Mr. Bender’s theme!


March’s book was, Strictly No Elephants, by Lisa Mantchev. In the story, a little boy has a very different kind of pet. When the boy and his elephant are turned away from a Pet Club, he and his new friends set out to create a place where creatures of all shapes, sizes, and kinds are welcome.

Here are some ways you could discuss this book at home:

  • Create your own Pet Club and invite friends to come with these invitations from Simon & Schuster.

Discussion Questions

  • Throughout the story, the author mentions kind things that friends do for one another such as:
    • “Lift each other over the cracks”
    • “Brave the scary things for you.”
    • “Give you directions.”

What do you think the author means by each of these? Has anyone every done these things for you?

  • In what ways does the boy help the elephant? In what ways does the elephant help the boy?
  • What is true friendship? What are examples of true friendship in the book?
  • Why were the boy and his tiny elephant excluded from the Pet Club? Do you think they should have been invited into the club? Why or why not?
  • When excluded from the Pet Club, how does the boy react? What actions does he take to change how he is feeling?
    • Have you ever been excluded from a group? What actions did you take?
  • When the boy and his new friends start their own Pet Club, how is it different from the Pet Club he was excluded from?
  • The sign on the new Pet Club reads, “All Are Welcome.” How do you think this message makes the other children feel?
    • Do you think it is important to accept others that may be different from us? Why or why not?
    • How can accepting others, that are different from you benefit you?
  • What lesson is the author, Lisa Mantchev, trying to teach you?

Science Reading Picks from Mrs. Griffith

Here is a great compilation of science books from A Mighty Girl featuring girls who love science, engineering and math!

Pick one up at your local library and get inspired!

I think “Swimming with Sharks: the Daring Discoveries of Eugenie Clark” looks especially cool!

Stay Inquisitive,

Mrs. Griffith

The State Test: An Important Message for Students

Every year Mr. Bender speaks to the 3rd graders – the students taking state tests for the first time.  He draws a big circle and tells them that their entire lives are inside it…then he draws a tiny dot…he tells them that the tiny dot is the test.  He shares that tests are plentiful and necessary in life and can even be fun (he happens to love them) so it is very important to try your best.  However, he wants all our students to remember that in the grand scheme of life…a couple state tests are a drop in the bucket.

Equal Night – The Science Behind the First Day of Spring

Hooray it is officially spring!  Walking through the hallways of PS11 today, you could hear teachers, parents, and students celebrating the arrival of the season!  Everyone looked and sounded cheerful…hopeful even.

A few more hours of sunlight and the promise of warmer temperatures can really affect our emotions, but what does the first day of spring mean scientifically…or celestially for that matter.  To learn more about the Spring Equinox check out what NASA and National Geographic have to say.

(The following was taken from


Earth spins on a tilted axis. As our planet orbits around the sun, that tilt means that during half of the year, the Northern Hemisphere receives more daylight — its summertime — and during the other half of the year, the Southern Hemisphere does.  Twice a year, Earth is in just the right place so that it’s lined up with respect to the sun, and both hemispheres of the planet receive the same amount of daylight. On these days, there are almost equal amounts of day and night, which is where the word equinox — meaning “equal night” in Latin — comes from. The equinox marks the onset of spring with a transition from shorter to longer days for half the planet, along with more direct sunlight as the sun rises higher above the horizon. In 2017, in the Northern Hemisphere, the spring equinox occurs on March 20. Six months later, fall begins with the autumnal equinox on Sept. 22.


ELA Test Prep: What You Need to Know

If you didn’t get a chance to attend the Test Prep meeting, here is a summary of what Mrs. Luna shared with families.

The Breakdown of the Test


Multiple Choice Questions Short Response

(2 points each)

Extended Response

(4 points each)

3rd 31 7 2
4th 31 7 2
5th 42 7 2

What can we do at home?

We work hard to prepare our students all year-long, however if you are looking to prep at home, here is what you should know:

  • Most of the passages come from magazines. In the slides below, you will see a list of recommended magazines you could find at the library or order.
  • There are different types of questions asked depending on the genre of text. On the slides below you will find a list of questions that match Fictional and Informational Genres.
  • The written responses are graded on the rubrics below. As stated above, Short Response are worth 2 points each and Extended Responses are worth 4 points each. The Short Response rubric is the same for grades 3-5, however the Extended Response rubric is different for 3rd grade than it is for grades 4 & 5(see below).
  • You could check out this digital resource that was released by the test makers. You select your child’s grade and content area and you will be taken to a short online test with sample questions.
  • We want all of our children to feel confident and do their very best. The most important things we can do are make sure they read a variety of genres often and keep them calm, fed, and rested.

You can find Mrs. Luna’s Test Prep Power Point in its entirety here.

Here is a tutorial about one of the main test taking strategies we teach our students.