Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Welcome Back!

I hope you all had a wonderful (and restful) Thanksgiving break!  We are getting right back into the swing of things here in Room 13!

I'd like to remind you of a few upcoming events/deadlines:

* Unit 3 Math Tests need to be signed and returned ASAP.  We still have a few outstanding...

* Field Trip permission forms and checks need to be turned in no later than FRIDAY (Dec. 3). 

* November Reading/Math Fact logs should be turned in tomorrow and/or Thursday.  (I forgot to remind the children today - so they can bring it in on Thursday too!)

* Students will have their +10 Math Fact Quiz NEXT Monday.

* Scholastic Book Orders should be placed (or brought to school) no later than Monday (Dec. 6).  I would like to get the orders in as soon as possible so we get the books BEFORE Winter Vacation.  If you would like to order books as gifts - and you don't want your child to know - please let me know and I will hold on to the books until it is convenient for you to pick them up.  (As opposed to sending them home with students!)  I am more than happy to do this for you - since I think books make great gifts!!

In Social Studies, we are learning all about the Compass Rose.  Students created their own basic compass rose today in class - ask him/her to see it!!  (They came out great!)  From the activity, a discussion about real compasses arose and I promised students that I would provide them with a link that would show/give directions explaining how to make a compass at home.  I'm including that link here:

I hope you have the time (and energy) to try this with your child at home!  It's really neat!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving - filled with family, friends, and fantastic food!! :)  For those of you who are traveling, drive/fly safely!  For those of you who are hosting, good luck!  I look forward to hearing about all your "adventures" when I see the children again on Tuesday!

Below are a few pictures from our Math Lab on Tuesday.  Thank you to Mrs. Gilbert, Mrs. Potenzone, and Mrs. White for helping out! 





Friday, November 19, 2010

I wasn't sure if we were going to make it - but Friday is here! :)  I'm sure you are all looking forward to the weekend - it sounds like some of you have some great plans!

Before I get started with an overview of our week, I would like to remind you of a few things:
1.  Permission forms and money for the Field Trip are due no later than December 3. If you need another permission slip or more information, please let me know ASAP.
2.  I am still looking for 2 parent volunteers for Tuesday's Math Lab from 8:45-9:45am.  Please email me if interested/willing!
3.  Next week is a super-short week.  Students will NOT have a spelling list next week OR a Math Fact Quiz.  Please remember that Wednesday is an Early Dismissal Day (11:25) and lunch will NOT be served.  (Students should still bring in a snack, though!)

Thank you, as always, for all of your help!

I'm Not a Turkey!
First of all, I have to say that I LOVE the turkeys-in-disguise that found their way into our classroom this week!!  After sharing their hard (and creative) work, students worked to complete short poems, told from their turkey's perspective.  They are great!  I hope you have a chance to come in to school and see them.  They are proudly displayed outside our classroom! 

This week, we read Joan Hewett’s story, A Harbor Seal Pup Grows Up. This nonfiction selection tells about a seal pup named Sidney who was abandoned by her mother, rescued, and nursed back to health by caring scientists. Sidney was then released back into the wild to live (happily) with other seals.

This week, we worked really hard to accurately identify and sequence (put in order) important events in a story. At this point in time, we are really trying to sequence events according to what happens first, next, and last.

Suggestion: To reinforce summarizing and sequencing at home, ask your child to tell you about his/her day (orally). Encourage him/her to tell you about the important things that happened at school and to tell them in order. Using time-order words (such as first, next, then, after, finally, and last) will be helpful!

This week, students were responsible for 5 reading centers. They included:

Art Center: Students read and sequenced three groups of sentences about this week’s story. They then illustrated and colored each one.

Phonics: Students created real words with the Phonics Cubes by combining blends and different word families. After recording their words, students highlighted the blends and wrote two complete sentences using their new words.

Graphic Organizer: After reading a small book with their reading group, students recorded 6 newly learned facts.

Games: With a partner, students played the “S” game. After drawing a card, students move 1 space if they just add –s to make the word on the card plural or they move 2 spaces if the word is made plural by adding –es.

Grammar: Students created a flipchart demonstrating their understanding of “tricky” plural nouns.

Nouns & Blends Packet:  Students completed a short packet reviewing the concepts learned this week.

Choice - Antonyms: Students match ice cream cones to ice cream scoops by matching the antonyms. After recording each match, students then create two of their own.

Community Reader
Speaking of reading, Friday was Community Reader Day at Elmwood School!  Our Community Reader was Mr. da Mont from the Hopkinton School Committee.  Mr. da Mont read the story, Miss Bridie Chose a Shovel - which tells the fictional story of Miss Bridie's journey to America and the one possession she was able to take with her...a shovel.  Ask your child to tell you about the usefulness of this shovel!

We moved away from short and long vowels this week and looked more closely at consonant blends. A consonant blend is when two consonants are “blended” together in a word – but you can still hear both sounds. (FYI: SH/TH/CH are NOT consonant blends because you don't hear both sounds!!) 
For example, “st” is a very common consonant blend (think: still, rest, etc.) and you can hear both the “s” and the “t” when you say words with this blend. Although they are frequently found in the beginning of words, consonant blends can be found in the middle and end of words too!

There are many different consonant blend combinations, but this week’s spelling list focused on the following four:     sp sl dr sk

Although both sounds are heard, children often forget to include one of the letters when spelling words with these blends. Slowing down and sounding out words as they write will help!

Who knew there was so much to learn about nouns! By now, students should know what a noun is (a person, place, thing or animal) and know that all complete sentences must have at least one noun. They should also know that some nouns are common (everyday, ordinary) and some are proper (special, unique). Common nouns begin with lower case letters, while proper nouns are capitalized.

Common nouns        Proper nouns
boy                        Joey
town                      Hopkinton
dog                        Spot

This week, we learned about singular nouns (just one) and plural nouns (more than one).

Students should now understand that we make MOST nouns plural just by adding s.
Some nouns, however, need an “es.”
** We add “es” to words that end with s, sh, ch, x, and z
(because if we just added “s” they would sound funny…try it!).

regular         s              sh           ch            x
trees         glasses      ashes      benches     foxes
moms        buses       wishes     itches        axes
schools      dresses     dishes     watches     boxes

Be careful – this can be tricky! 

We have been working really hard this week to elaborate upon our Personal Narratives.  I am hoping these will be completed early next week.  Pictures to come!

We wrapped up Unit 3 this week, and students were assessed on Thursday. (Please make sure to sign and return these math tests to me ASAP!) Students should now have a more concrete and comfortable understanding of money, place value, and time.

*Please encourage your child to keep practicing how to make change! This is a difficult concept and one that needs a LOT of review!

On Friday, we began Unit 4, which focuses on more advanced addition and subtraction strategies. Students were introduced to a new diagram to help them organize important mathematical information.  The name of this diagram is the Start-Change-End diagram, which is used to organize information about something that changes over time (like weight, temperature, etc.).

** Heads-Up! This is the unit in which the double- and triple-digit addition is introduced (with and without regrouping). We teach a very specific algorithm - called Partial Sums - to help students understand the process…no more “carrying!” Don’t worry - additional information will go home with students after Thanksgiving about this new method so that you can learn along with your child!

We are moving right along with our study of Maps & Globes.  This week, students learned about early maps and how they were made. Paper had not been invented yet, so how did people draw maps? What did they use? See if your child remembers that early maps were made in/on:
* dirt
* clay
* stone
* tree bark
* animal skins

Later in the week, students worked to identify some of the common features of maps, including a title and a compass rose.

1. The title tells us what the map is showing.

2. A compass rose tells us the cardinal directions: North, South, East and West. This concept was just introduced, so we are working to solidify understanding.  One way we have been doing that is through some physical activity - students truly enjoy hopping north, taking baby steps east, jumping west, and spinning south!! 

Our Mystery Reader today was Mrs. Potenzone - Ryan's mom!  (He was definitely surprised!)  Mrs. Potenzone read THREE stories to us this afternoon, including The Missing Mitten Mystery,  Fidgety Fish, and The Commotion in the Ocean.  Thank you so much for spending some time with us, Mrs. Potenzone!!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Happy Friday!

This week seemed to "fly by" - thanks to a day off on Thursday.  I hope you all remembered to think of and thank a Veteran yesterday for their dedication to our country. 

Despite the short week, we have been very busy in Room 13.  Keep reading for an overview of this week's work! (Hopefully, this information will provide you with a little "fuel" for dinner conversation!)

The focus in reading this week was on plants. The main selection in our reading books was Eric Carle’s story The Tiny Seed, which describes the journey of a little seed as it travels to “find” a place to grow. The students learned some very interesting facts about seeds and plants through this story. Ask your child why it was good for the seed to be so tiny!

Eric Carle has quickly become a "favorite author" of students in our classroom.  Encourage this by checking out some more of his books from the library and/or from the bookstore.  After just a few pages, you will understand why children love his stories so much!!

The reading comprehension skill/strategy for this week was drawing conclusions. The children had to use information gathered from the story (from words and/or pictures) and use it to draw conclusions about plants and seeds. As with most of our comprehension skills, this can be tricky at times and we will continue to work on it throughout the school year.

Since we had such a short week we deviated slightly from our regular reading center routine. Students were asked to complete the following 3 reading activities:

Art:  In this center, students practiced writing sentences in which they list things – and separate each item with a comma (using commas in a series). Each student wrote 3 sentences, each of which contained 4 items. They then separated each of these items with macaroni (in place of commas) and illustrated their sentences.

Grammar:  The grammar center focused on differentiating between common and proper nouns this week. Students completed several activities addressing this concept.

Phonics:  Students used the Phonics Linking Cubes set to create 4 different short u “word families” (with 4 words in each family). They then chose one of their words and used it to write 1 complete sentence.

This week, our spelling list focused on short u and the u_e pattern. This pattern creates a “long u” sound. The _ (underscore) represents a consonant. Words that follow this pattern include:

       rude    confuse   sure    flute    fume    June

This can be tricky because many words that have the long u sound are actually spelled other ways! (Examples: school, blue, knew) Yikes!

Grammar & Writing
1. As students already know, nouns name people, places, and things. Nouns can be further classified, however, as common nouns and proper nouns. This week, students worked hard to differentiate between the two.

Common nouns name everyday, regular things.
Examples: girl, ocean, cat

Proper nouns are those nouns that name specific people, places or things.
Examples: Suzy, Pacific Ocean, Fluffy

Proper nouns are always capitalized because they are special. Common nouns are NOT capitalized (unless they begin a sentence).

2. We have also been working on using commas in a series. Students should understand that commas are used to separate 3 or more items in a list.

Example: I like apples, oranges, bananas, and pineapples.

I hope to see them start applying this knowledge in their writing!

Awesome Art Activity:  Eric Carle Art
We have been reading his stories and studying his art and it's unanimous - we love Eric Carle!  After watching him create several of his original collages (on video) we decided to give it a try ourselves!  Students are currently drafting their first personal narrative and we thought it would be a great idea to create a collage to accompany each story! Take a look below to see students as they go through the process:

And here are a few examples of finished collages:

Aren't you impressed??

On Monday, students worked together to collect and graph data! Students first determined how many pockets they had that day. Then, we recorded all the data and created a bar graph! Through this activity, students were introduced to the concepts of median (the middle value) and mode (the most frequent value). These are some fairly “grown-up” concepts – don't you think??

Later in the week, students were introduced to the concept of making change. This is a very difficult concept for children – and one that needs frequent review. I have noticed that some students have a difficult time understanding that they should even GET change back when they pay too much!! (If you think about it, most of us pay with credit cards and/or debit cards and students never see change being given for purchases!)

For adults, the easiest way to make change is to just subtract the amount that you owe from the amount that you paid. Many of us are able to do this easily in our heads or on paper. This is a much more difficult task for children, however. At this point in the year, we have not talked about or learned how to subtract multi-digit numbers – and I do not expect students to use this method to find change.

Students have learned that they can find change by counting up from the amount that they owe to the amount that they paid – and they keep track of this difference by drawing the coins that they used to count up.

Example: David buys a toy for $0.65. He pays with a dollar. How much change does he get back?

Here are the steps we follow:

1. “Put 65 in your head.” (Start with 65)

2. Count up to a dollar.
65  + D + D + D + N  = $1.00
(I counted: 75 85 95 100)

3. Now, add up the coins you drew:
D + D + D + N = 35

4. David receives $0.35 in change.

Students can also count BACK from the amount that they paid to the amount that they owe – but this is a lot trickier and most students get tripped up just counting backwards, so it’s not a strategy I recommend at this point in the year.

Whatever method your child chooses, please help him/her by providing LOTS of opportunities to practice.  This is a difficult concept and requires a lot of review! 

Social Studies

We began our first Social Studies unit this week – Maps and Globes. As you can imagine from the title, students will be learning all about maps and globes in this unit. As discussed in class, a map is a picture that shows us a place. It can be anywhere/anything – your classroom, house, bedroom, solar system, body, etc! A globe is a 3-D model of the earth. We had a great discussion this week identifying the differences between maps and globes, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each. Ask your child about it!

Mystery Reader
Our Mystery Reader this week was Henry's dad!  Mr. Edwards read us a wonderful story by Dr. Seuss titled, The Butter Battle.  This story not only followed the wonderful rhyming pattens Dr. Seuss is known for, but it contained a very important lesson for readers about respecting others' opinions and traditions.  Thank you so much, Mr. Edwards, for spending time with us in Room 13!