Friday, February 18, 2011

Happy Vacation!

V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N! Woo-Hoo! I hope you all have something fun and exciting planned for vacation next week! You deserve it! As for me, I plan on getting lots of rest and relaxation so I am ready for the upcoming 6-week stretch through March! I can’t wait to hear all about your wonderful adventures next week! Stay healthy!

Science Fair
The Science Fair is an exciting event in which all second grade students at Elmwood participate. The fair is scheduled for March 16-18 in the Elmwood Cafeteria. Our presentation date is Thursday, March 17 from 8:30-9:30am.  Please refer to the Science Fair Packet to help your child structure and carry out his/her project, as well as plan/create the presentation board. Next week might be a great time to get started!Please let me know if you have any questions!

Persuasive Letters
If you haven’t had a chance to listen to students’ persuasive letters yet, PLEASE visit over vacation! They are WONDERFUL!! Feel free to send the link to friends and family as well!  We will be taking a look at the site in Computer Lab after vacation and I know students would love to see comments from their loved ones!!  Here is the link again: 

If you check the results of the poll, it seems that the children are quite persuasive!!  92% of parents have been convinced!! (Nice job, boys and girls!)  If you haven't completed the poll yet, parents, please do!! 

Thank You
I have to take a moment to thank Mrs. Chabot, Isabelle's grandmother, for creating 24 beautiful covers for our individual white boards - complete with velcro closures.  When Isabelle's mom let it slip that her mother had made similar covers for another second grade classroom last year, I used MY persuasive language to try and convince her to do the same for us!  We are all SO thankful that she was able and willing to make them!!  So, if you are reading this Mrs. Chabot - thank you, thank you, THANK YOU from all of us in Room 13!!

Our Week in Review:
This week was a review week for us in reading. We did not have a new story in our reading anthology, but we did review all of the reading skills and strategies that we have been working on the past 5 weeks. On Wednesday, students applied their knowledge and understanding of these important concepts as they completed the Unit 3 Reading Assessment.

In reviewing these assessments, I discovered that many children still demonstrate difficulty identifying causes and effects within stories. Many children also still have trouble creating summaries. Please continue working with your child to do both of these things! I know that they are difficult skills, and I don’t expect them to be mastered in second grade, but they are important for reading comprehension - and the more practice students can get, the better! If you have any questions about this, please let me know. I would be happy to give suggestions/ideas!

Although the words were new, our spelling list this week was a review of the phonics and spelling rules/patterns we have been studying since the beginning of January. These patterns include:

Long e:
e (she), ea (cheat), ee (seed), y (pretty)

Long u:
u_e (mule), ui (bruise)

ch (chat), sh (shy), th (throw), wh (what)

Other Digraphs:
ph (telephone), tch (watch)

Triple Consonant Clusters:
str (strap), spr (spray), scr (scrap), spl (split)

As always, the review spelling test was a dictation in which students are expected to write an entire dictated sentence – complete with appropriate capital letters and punctuation. How did your child do?

Students continued exploring and learning about different mathematical patterns this week.  On Friday, we combined reading and math with the story about the “Wubbles” – funny little creatures that double every night!  We had fun determining how many Wubbles we would have at the end of 2 days, 3 days, and 1 whole week!  We then learned that Wubbles will “halve” when you give them half a blink (a wink) and students worked to figure out how many winks we would need to get back to one Wubble!  J 

On Tuesday, students participated in an activity in which they pretended to be paleontologists.  Working in teams of 3-4, students listened to a little story/script and gradually “discovered” fossils of an unknown animal.  They worked with their fellow colleagues to try and piece together the bones and determine what kind of animal it could be.  They conferred with other teams and eventually consulted a reference manual.  It was interesting to see what their final conclusions were! 

Later in the week, students played the fossil game, A Twist in Time (which can be played at home, too!).  This game gives students an idea of how difficult it is for animal or plant parts to actually become fossilized!

On Friday, the children learned more about why fossils are important. 
   1. They learned that fossils give us clues about the plants and animals that lived long ago.  People were not around WAY back then, so we do not have any written records describing how things were!  Fossils give us clues - and we use these clues to create theories (predictions)! 
   2. Fossils also give us information about what the Earth was like long ago.  As a class, we talked about Pangea - the "super-continent."  After watching a short video clip and creating a small flip-book, I think students understand the idea/theory that the continents used to all be one giant continent!  Similar rocks and fossils found on opposite sides of the world help to validate this theory!

On Wednesday, students dove into another biography - that of Florence Nightingale.  As students now know, Florence Nightingale was an amazing woman who helped better hospitals and healthcare world wide!  Known as "the lady with the lamp," Nightingale was tireless in her efforts to heal/help injured soldiers and poor people at a time when it was not "proper" or "ladylike" to do so!  Florence Nightingale helped establish the first training school for nurses and because of her, nursing is now a very well-respected profession!

Here are a few links for those children that want to learn/do more:

Our last Mystery Reader before vacation was Mr. McCarron!  Gavin was so excited to have his father here as a reader - I think he was quite surprised!  Mr. McCarron read two of his "favorite books" - One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss and I Spy Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold.  The children thoroughly enjoyed listening to these two funny stories and we all appreciated opportunity to just listen and relax before the end of a long week!  Thank you so much for coming in, Mr. McCarron - you are welcome any time! :)

** Pictures to come!  Apparently, I've run out of space because I've posted so many pictures of the kids!!  I am working on a solution - I appreciate your patience!! :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Persuasive Letters

Persuasive writing is an important, and sophisticated, genre of writing - and students have been working hard to create persuasive letters to you!  By now, you have probably received and read your child's persuasive letters! :)  Were you convinced? 

To further weaken your resolve, I have videotaped students reading these letters - and you can see them if you visit:  There is also an option to leave a comment for your child and/or other students in our classroom.  I hope you do!! Before leaving this site, please complete the parent poll at the top right!

I hope you enjoy these videos/letters!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Monday!

Field Trip
Don't forget:  Our field trip to Mechanics Hall is this Thursday!  Students should have a nice, hearty breakfast (there won't be time for a snack before lunch) and should wear comfortable, layered clothing.  Also, ALL students must bring a lunch (and drink) from home - no one will be buying lunch on Thursday!

Thank You!
Thank you all so much for your help and donations last week with our science "experiments!"  The children had a blast "digging" for fossils.  Keep reading/scrolling to see pictures of them at work!

Science Fair
As you know, ALL second grade students will be participating in a Science Fair this year. Presentations will take place over three days, and students in Room 13 will be presenting on Thursday, March 17th from 8:30-9:30 in the Elmwood Cafeteria. All parents and families are invited and encouraged to attend!

Each student should submit a proposal by Wednesday (2/16) for approval. Once approved, students should begin planning their projects/experiments, gathering materials, and maybe even starting to collect data. By the 17th, they should be ready to present their projects/boards and explain their results to an audience.

Please refer to the Science Fair packet for guidelines and samples. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to ask!!

Weekly Update
I didn't have a chance to update the blog last Friday - so this update will recap all the fun from last week, as well as today's Valentine's Day excitement! :)

MOOOOO!!! If you didn’t know, we read Doreen Cronin’s award-winning story, Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type last week. If you have never read this story, I recommend that you do! It’s a fantastic story about some very clever farm animals!  Many students really enjoyed this story and started looking into some of the other stories written by Doreen Cronin. Some of these include: Duck for President, Thump, Quack, Moo, Dooby, Dooby, Moo, Diary of a Worm, Diary of a Spider, and many more!  You might consider checking some of these books out at the library/book store!! 

Click here for Doreen Cronin's official website (to see other books she's written, learn about the author, and more!)

Using Click, Clack, Moo as our text, students reviewed some important reading skills and strategies. Specifically, they have been working to create good visual images as they read and to identify cause-and-effect incidents. Please encourage your child to practice these skills/strategies while reading at home! 

Last week, students were responsible for five reading centers this week, including:

GamesWith a partner, students played a spelling game by spelling words with triple-letter blends (scr-, spr-, str-, spl-).

Phonics: Using the Word Family Linking Cubes, students created 12 new words, using the triple-consonant blends str, spr, scr. They then wrote two complete sentences using two of these words.

Writing: Students answered comprehension questions about the story using complete sentences!

Poetry: Students used a thesaurus to find 3 synonyms for 5 different words.  They then used 3 of these new words in their own, unique poem!

Graphic Organizer: Using the short story read in small reading groups, students matched cause and effect events and then sequenced them as they occurred in the story.

This week is a review week in reading.  We are working to solidify some of the important reading skills addressed in the last few weeks.  Students will be assessed on Wednesday.

Last week was another week of triple-letter consonant blends: str spr scr spl.  Check your child's spelling notebook to see how s/he did. This week is a review week - and students can expect a dictation on Friday!!

We have been working on writing more sophisticated second grade sentences this week, by combining two simple sentences with words like and, or, and but. This can be a little tricky – and sometimes children take it too far (ending up with LONG run-on sentences)! We will keep working on it!

Ealier last week, students spent a lot of time exploring and experimenting with the concepts of multiplication and division through various manipulatives and situations.  They were given the Unit 6 Math Assessment on Thursday.  Keep an eye out for these in the next day or two.

After the assessment, we began Unit 7, which focuses on patterns and rules. In the past few days, we have been working on:

a) becoming more aware of and confident in finding “easy 10’s” or complements of 10

          10 + 0         0 + 10
           9 + 1          1 + 9
           8 + 2          2 + 8
           7 + 3          3 + 7
           6 + 4          4 + 6
                   5 + 5SCIENCE
(These are SUPER important!!)

b) counting by 2’s, 5’s and 10’s - starting at ANY number!

c) describing patterns

In math today, students predicted, tested, and graphed the number of candy hearts in a box of Brach's Candy Hearts.  Many of their predictions were pretty close to the actual number of hearts in the box!  (We are getting much better at estimating!) Here are a few pictures:

Last week, students had the opportunity to experience how paleontologists look for and dig out fossils!! On Tuesday, they saw how different layers of sediment may hold different kinds of fossils.  Take a look at students observing different layers of sediment (jello):

On Wednesday, with the help of several fabulous parent bakers, students participated in a “Cookie Excavation!” Each student excavated two cookies, recording and classifying the “fossils” found within each cookie. Stay tuned for pictures!! 

Students have been learning all about how fossils are formed and how they are found! They should now be familiar with the following concepts (important vocabulary words are highlighted):                       (Please review these ideas with your child!)

* Most animals/plants do NOT become fossils. (Most just die and rot and/or are eaten by other animals/insects.)

* Most/many fossils are found where there was once water. In these cases, the plant/animal dies, sinks to the bottom of the ocean/sea and slowly decays (the soft, fleshy parts rot away). The plant/animal is then covered with sand, dirt, mud and other sediment. Over thousands of years, the layers of sediment increase and the pressure of the layers turns the sediment to rock. The skeleton of the plant/animal eventually disintegrates and water/minerals seep into the empty hole/mold. This then hardens, creating a cast fossil of the plant/animal.

* Most fossils are found in rock, but many fossils are also found in ice and amber.

Our Mystery Reader last week was Mrs. Regan. Mrs. Regan read two fabulous stories:  A Mountain of Mittens by Lynn Plourde and The Missing Mitten Mystery by Steven Kellogg.  I think the children really enjoyed these stories - and many of them could relate to missing mittens!!  Thank you so much for coming in and spending some time with us, Mrs. Regan!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Happy Monday!

This might be our first full week in a long time!  I'm excited!!

Just a couple quick updates/reminders:

Field Trip
* The field trip to Mechanics Hall in Worcester is scheduled for next Thursday (2/17). 
* Students should have a good/big breakfast that morning because they will NOT have snack.
* All students should bring a bag-lunch to school that day (including a drink).  We will be eating at Elmwood but will NOT be buying lunch. 
* All students should be on time that morning!  We are boarding the buses at 8:30!!
* Students should wear comfortable shoes and clothes.  Layers are best!

Most students were assigned a multiplication number story for homework tonight (due Wednesday, 2/9).  The same expectations apply to this story as did for other stories.  Students should use the checklist to make sure they do everything that is required!

An additional checklist is included on the Homework & Projects page, just in case you misplace yours at home!

Math Games
Students were introduced to Array Bingo today!  Scroll down to see a few pictures of them...hard at work?  (Or having fun??)