Friday, December 10, 2010

The Countdown Is On!

I can’t believe how quickly we are approaching winter vacation…it seems like the first day of school was just yesterday! Let’s keep working hard and push through to the end!

Wee Deliver
The Wee Deliver program has been a HUGE success in the classroom. I have never seen students so excited to WRITE! And you should see their faces when they get mail! Please encourage your child to keep writing those letters! Letters can be written at school AND at home! Don’t forget that you can write letters to them too! (Just drop them in the big blue mailbox in front of the cafeteria!)

This week, students read the story Farfallina and Marcel, from our reading anthology. This story is a fantasy and is written and illustrated by Holly Keller. In keeping with our theme for the week, How Animals Grow, this story tells about a caterpillar (Farfallina) and gosling (Marcel) that become good friends. After spending some time apart, the two friends can’t find each other because they have both undergone such incredible physical changes! Ask your child to tell you how they each changed – and how the story ends!
We have been working very hard on making inferences this week! An inference is when the reader “figures something out” - based on information read in a story, as well as previous knowledge of a subject. Making inferences can be tricky because the information is not directly stated in the text – you must INFER the author’s meaning!
It is not only important that we make reasonable inferences, but also to identify the clues from the text that helped us arrive at our conclusions. In order to help us strengthen this skill, students played an Inferencing Game this week. A card from the game is copied here. How would you do?

Mr. Brown went into an office building. He pushed the button for the elevator. He waited a minute, but the elevator did not come right away. Mr. Brown went to the stairs and walked up to his office on the third floor.
INFERENCE:  It is likely that...
a) Mr. Brown is afraid of elevators.
b) Mr. Brown is in a hurry.
c) The office building is very old.
This week, students were responsible for 5 reading centers, including:
Phonics - Students completed a word-sort by sorting a list of words into 2 columns: words with a short i sound and words with a long i sound.
Grammar After completing a fill-in-the-black activity using irregular plural nouns, students created (illustrated/colored) a flipchart highlighting 4 of the words in the activity.  
Art - Students showed the life cycle of a butterfly by labeling and illustrating each stage.
Games - With a partner, students played the Inferencing Game. Students checked each other’s answers with the answer key.
Writing Center - After correctly sequencing 8 pictures from the story, students wrote one complete sentence about each picture.
Last week, we focused on the most common ways to spell the long a (ayyyyyyyy) sound. This week, we worked on the different ways to spell long i (iyyyyyyyyy) and unfortunately for the kids - there are quite a few! Take a look!
Ways to spell the long i sound:
                 y                  ie                  igh                 i_e (review)
mind           try                pie                sight              chime
child          cycle              tie                 high               kite
Be on the look out for words with these spelling patterns!
This week, we learned about irregular plural nouns. 
As a review, students now know that most plural nouns end "s" (desks). Singular nouns that end with s, sh, ch, x, or z become plural by adding "es" (dishes). Singular nouns that end with a consonant + y "change the y to and i and add es" to form the plural (puppies).
There are some nouns that don't follow ANY of these rules - and these are the words students worked with this week.  Some of these words include:
tooth - teeth
foot - feet
mouse - mice
wife - wives
child - children
person - people
scarf - scarves
cactus - cacti
Although these words don't follow any "rules," most children were able to recognize when a word sounded "weird" (e.g. tooths).  This is why exposing children to rich language and text - through conversations, books, etc. - is so important!!
With cell phones and email, letter-writing is somewhat of a lost art and it is important that we keep it alive! I know that I STILL get excited to receive mail – and it is even more exciting for the children because it doesn’t happen that often! Please encourage your child to write letters – to friends, cousins, grandparents, and more! The more they practice, the more they will internalize the letter format (date, greeting with a comma, body, closing with a comma, and name). They will have great opportunities in the near future (thank-you notes/letters)!
This week, I introduced a new algorithm for double/triple digit addition with regrouping called Partial Sums. Information about the method went home earlier this week and I hope you found it helpful. The students have really been working hard to understand and apply this new strategy and they have been doing a FANTASTIC job!! It can be tricky at first, but with consistent practice (both at home and at school), it will become second nature!!
Below are a few pictures of students as they began "building" bigger numbers with Base-10 Blocks and finding sums...

Just in case you need a refresher, the steps to solving a problem using the Partial Sums algorithm is provided below.  (The blog does not allow me to insert Microsoft Word Files and/or PDFs, so I apologize for not having a visual example to show here!!)
1) Draw a line down the middle to represent the breaking apart of the numbers (into ones and tens). Label columns.

2) Break apart each number and write what each digit “really means.”
      Example:  25 is really a 20 and a 5.

3) Add the numbers in the ones column. Write the sum in the appropriate columns showing the correct number of ones and tens.

4) Add the numbers in the tens column - remembering to add what the numbers REALLY mean (e.g. 20, not 2). Write the sum in the appropriate columns.

5) "Add it all up" - but just what you wrote (NOT the numbers in the original problem!)Circle your answer.

Although the “carrying” strategy may seem a little easier, it is important for students to understand and utilize this strategy– especially since other mathematical concepts rely on it (in future years). Please take the time to understand this method and practice it with your child.

Suggestion: Ask your child to explain it to you! People (children included) remember and understand concepts better when they teach them to others!

Heads Up: Unit 4 is almost complete and students will be assessed next week. Partial sums will be part of the test.

This week, students were introduced to the 4 intermediate directions – northeast, southeast, northwest, and southwest.  They should now understand that these intermediate directions are found halfway between two cardinal directions - and they provide us with more accurate directions and information.  On Thursday, students included all 8 of these directions in their creation of advanced compass roses – which are proudly displayed in the hallway!

Our Mystery Reader this week was Mrs. Saez, Marco's mom - much to Marco's surprise!  Mrs. Saez read the children two wonderful books, including one fictional story and one nonfiction story about what is underground.  The children were (as usual) on their best behavior and truly enjoyed the opportunity to sit back and listen to a good book.  Thank you so much for donating your time, Mrs. Saez - you are welcome back any time!

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