Friday, January 14, 2011

Get Out Your Shovels!

WOW!  That was quite the snowstorm we had on Tuesday/Wednesday!  I don't know about you, but I'm STILL shoveling!! It sounds like many of the children were able to make the most of their snowday - I've heard all kinds of stories about snowforts, snowball fights, snowmen, snowblowing, and hot chocolate! :)  Make sure to keep warm this weekend, it's supposed to be cold!!

It is about that time of year when students begin to get a little too comfortable in the classroom and start pushing their boundaries – trying to see what they can get away with. Our rules have not changed, however, and I am still expecting students to be respectful to others and to put forth their best efforts in school. I would greatly appreciate it if you could take a minute to talk to your child about his/her behavior in school. Remind them about the importance of listening carefully and not talking/fooling around during lessons and activities.  Also, review why it's important to treat our classmates with respect (keeping our hands/bodies to ourselves, using kind words, encouraging/supporting each other, waiting our turn/not grabbing, pushing, etc.) as well as our teachers (not talking back, questioning directions, talking when they are talking, etc.).  Hopefully, students will remember and apply these rules and expectations a little more consistently throughout the rest of the year – so we can continue to do fun lessons and activities! Thank you for your help!!

Report Cards
In case you did not know, students’ first report cards will be distributed on Friday, January 21st. The report card is yours to keep, but the envelope in which it comes must be signed and returned. Detailed information about the grading system and expectations will be included with the report card.

"Big News"
In the rare event that your child did not let you in on the secret, please check his/her backpack for a letter from me sharing some personal news.  If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know! :)

And now, for our week in review:

This week, the story in our reading anthology was the award winning Officer Buckle and Gloria, written and illustrated by Peggy Rathmann. Some students had read the story before, some had not – but we all agreed that it was very funny! All students in our class could use some extra practice retelling stories (with a clear beginning, middle and end), so… ask your child to tell you what this story was about!

The reading skill this week was using illustrations to help with comprehension. This story, Officer Buckle and Gloria, was a perfect story through which students could practice applying this important skill. That is because the Rathmann shows things in her illustrations that she does not write in the text. Students must use the pictures to make inferences and draw conclusions about the story.

Due to the snowday, students did not have reading centers to complete this week.  Instead, based on the tips/suggestions learned from Officer Buckle, they worked to design and create their own Safety Poster for students at Elmwood School.  Scroll down to see a few examples!

This week, we worked to identify and spell words with the long u (uuuuu) sound. Some ways that we spell this sound are:

      u                  ui              u_e  (review)
   music             ruin             huge
     flu               suit              tune
   usual             bruise           flute

We continued working with verbs this week. Earlier in the week, students worked to identify present-tense verbs. Verbs in the present tense tell what is happening right now, as opposed to the past or the future.

              She walks to the gym.
              They eat lunch in the cafeteria.

Students also learned to look for and use subjects and verbs that “agree” in their speech and writing. After analyzing several sentences, students were able to come up with the following generalizations/rules:

If there is only one subject, the verb will usually end with an s.
              Joey sits on the bench.
              The dog runs fast.

If there is more than one subject, the verb will usually NOT end with s.
               Mom and I sit on the steps.
               The animals run slowly.

* Most children don’t need the rule to recognize when something sounds “funny.”
           The cats sits on the porch.
           My dad laugh at the TV.

Some students have a lot of trouble with this, however, and need more practice/review!

This week, students were introduced to persuasive writing. We talked about what persuasive writing IS (when someone writes to try and convince the reader to agree with their opinion) and why people write persuasive pieces.  Students then brainstormed some "things" that we might try and convince Mrs. Silver to do.  After much discussion and many classroom votes, we decided that we are going to try and persuade her to help us raise money to donate to BayPath Humane Society.  (I must insert my opinion here:  I was completely amazed that this was the idea generated and voted upon by students! This was entirely their idea and they touched my heart with how honest they were in their desire to help others/animals.  You have some incredible children...)   

I am now looking to get in touch with the director at BayPath to see if there is anything in particular they need and next week we will begin drafting our letter to Mrs. Silver to see if she will help us in our campaign! :)

Well, so long geometry….and hello number stories! We wrapped up and assessed our geometry unit this week, and moved right into Unit 6: Whole Number Operations and Number Stories. We began this unit by discussing the importance of “finding the EASY 10.” Throughout their academic careers, it will be very beneficial for students to automatically recognize when two numbers equal 10. (e.g. 6+4; 7+3; 8+2) Identifying the “easy 10s” will help children solve problems quickly and efficiently.

On Thursday, we practiced using this knowledge to help us solve tricky numbers sentences  - without using fingers, number grids, or paper! Take the following problem:

           27     +     5     +     13     =     ?

1.  We already know the "break-apart strategy" so we know that:
        27 is really a 20 + 7
        13 is really a 10 + 3

2.  Look for "easy tens" in the ones place...
       I SEE:  7 + 3 = 10

3.  Now add up all the tens:
      10 (7 + 3) + 20 (from 27) + 10 (from 13) = 40

4.  Now add up what's left:
      40 + 5 = 45

EASY! :)

I know it looks daunting (especially when I write it all out like this), but it is can be an easy way for kids to add larger numbers - and most children were able to pick it up/grasp the idea right away!! Ask your child to explain it to you!

On Friday, we talked a lot about comparison number stories and Comparison Diagrams. Here are a few things to keep in mind when working with your child at home:

Math Vocabulary/Definitions
     *  Quantity is another word for amount.
     *  Difference means subtraction (in math)

Comparison Diagrams
The comparison diagram has an uncanny resemblance to our friendly math fact triangle. In both the diagram and the math fact triangle, the biggest number always goes at the top. (That is the minuend – the number from which you subtract.) In the diagram, you will notice that the biggest NUMBER goes in the biggest BOX.

When solving comparison number stories/problems, use the diagram to fill in the information you are given. The quantities are the amounts of whatever two things you are comparing.

Unfortunately, I cannot copy/paste pictures in the blog from PDFs, etc. so I can't "show" you what these diagrams look like here.  BUT - here is the link to the Everyday Math parent letter which clearly shows/explains the comparison diagram, as well as upcoming concepts.  Please take a look!

We wrapped up Part 1 of our Maps & Globes unit this week and the children were assessed on Thursday.  For the most part, they did VERY well and I am very happy with all that they learned!

We also spent a good amount of time learning/talking about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this week.  Many students already knew a little about MLK Jr. and we had quite a few discussions about how African Americans were once slaves and how they were mistreated. Students were astounded to learn that they were still treated so unfairly and did not have equal rights up until just a few years ago! Please ask your child to tell you about MLK and why he is such an important person in our country’s history.

Our Mystery Reader this week was our very own assistant principal, Mr. Ljungberg!  Mr. Ljungberg read the story Wild About Books by Judy Sierra and illustrated by (favorite author) Marc Brown.  Not only did Mr. Ljungberg read the story with great enthusiasm and energy, he even shared his own personal story about an encounter with a wild animal!  Ask your child to tell you about it!

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