Friday, March 11, 2011

Happy Friday!  The children didn't have school today, but teachers did!  We spent the day learning about a new reading assessment that will (hopefully) help us better assess students' reading and identify areas of strengths/weaknesses. This will aide us in planning more specialized and specific reading instruction. 

Coins for Cures Update
The children at Elmwood School have really been doing a great job collecting coins for Children’s Hospital!! We are well on our way to reaching our school goal of $5000! As a class, students have been doing an excellent job!  Our classroom goal is to collect $100 by the end of 8 weeks. In just the first week, we collected $32.42 and in the second week, we collected $15.25!! We are well on our way! We have had a lot of fun counting the coins together as a class and adding up our totals – I hope our enthusiasm remains high throughout the next few weeks! Thank you again for ALL of your help and support!

Science Fair
Please encourage your child to work on his/her science fair project over the next few days! (Reinforce good time-management!) It is sometimes difficult to find time during the week, so it might be helpful to set aside some time to work on it this weekend!! Good luck and have fun!

Our Week in Review:

This week, we read Goose’s Story, by Cari Best. This story falls under the genre of realistic fiction (it’s not real, but it could be) and tells about a goose who overcomes a physical disability to lead a normal goose life.

Through this story, we revisited/reinforced several reading skills and strategies this week. Specifically, students worked on asking questions to clarify/monitor comprehension and identifying cause/effect.

Since it was a short week, students didn't follow the normal "center routine" - but they did work to complete center-like activities including:

Grammar Work: Students completed a series of activities addressing some of the grammatical skills we have been working on, including the correct use of helping/linking verbs, the correct use of quotation marks, and the utilization of comparative (-er) and superlative (-est) adjectives (example:  tall, taller, tallest).

Art Center: Students chose 2 words from a list and wrote the comparative and superlative form of each word. They then illustrated each word and wrote two complete sentences using 2 of their words.

Phonics: Students completed 2 activities with r-controlled vowels.  The first used magnetic letters to make words, substitute letters, and make new words.  The second challenged them to create real words using -er, -ir, and -ur.  They then used their dictionary skills to check their work.

This week’s spelling rule focused on the other “Bossy R” vowels. These r-controlled vowels (-er, -ir, -ur) all make the same sound - rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr (as in herd, shirt, and curl). Since they all make the same sound, it made this week’s spelling list hard to work with. With repeated exposure and practice with these words however, they will become easier to recognize and remember!

Over the past few weeks, we have been taking an in-depth look at linking verbs and helping verbs. These verbs are tricky because they aren’t obvious, like ACTION verbs!

This week, we focused more on helping verbs.  Helping verbs are verbs that “help out” action verbs.

               For example:     We have met before.

Have is “helping out” the action verb, met. Have is just one of the many verbs that can act as helping verbs.

Encourage your child to keep an eye out for linking verbs and helping verbs. If possible, ask him/her to identify them in various sentences as they read. Good luck – they can be tricky!

Over the last 2 weeks, we have been taking a closer look at the structure of a paragraph.  Students should now understand that a "Second Grade Paragraph" consists of (at least) 5 sentences:
        1.  Topic Sentence - tells what the WHOLE paragraph is going to be about.
        2.  Detail #1 - supports the main idea.
        3.  Detail #2 - supports the main idea.
        4.  Detail #3 - supports the main idea.
        5.  Conclusion Sentence - wraps up the WHOLE paragraph; restates the topic sentence (does not include any new information or details!!)

In second grade, students' paragraph writing can be very formulaic.  Topic sentences and conclusion sentences tend to be ...  boring! 
       For example:
This paragraph is going to be about my birthday.  (topic sentence)
Now you know about my birthday. (conclusion sentence)

In order to avoid this kind of writing, we spent a lot of time this week talking about great "HOOK" sentences.  "Hook" sentences are interesting, lead sentences that GRAB the reader's attention and make them want to keep reading. We analyzed different authors' writing and a few students have been mimicking some of what they read/saw in their own writing!!  (It's quite good!)

Here are a few different ways authors/students may "lead off" their writing:
    * with a QUESTION (Have you ever ever felt happy and sad at the same time?  I have...)
    * with a RIDDLE  (What is blue and green and smells salty?  The beach in Aruba!) 
    * with an OPINION (Second grade is the best!... )
    * with an ANNOUNCEMENT  (Calling all soccer players!)
    * with a NOISE or SOUND (Crash!  When I heard that sound, I knew I was in trouble...)
    * with a SIMILE (I am as fast as lightning on my new bike...)

Students have been working hard to implement some of these "tools" in their own writing here at school - encourage them to try at home, too!! 
Earlier in the week, students used some of the data they gathered last week (their arm span information) to solidify their understanding of range, median, and mode.  They used this data to create a frequency chart, a line plot, and a bar graph.  (Fun!)  Students then had the opportunity to put this knowledge to use when taking the Unit 7 Assessment.  (Look for the corrected tests on Monday.  Please sign and return ASAP!)

We wrapped up our Fossils unit with our assessment on Tuesday.  Overall, students did very well and I was quite impressed with all they learned!!  Keep an eye out for their end-of-unit projects... more info to come next week! :)

Whew!!  We had a busy week, considering it was only 4 days!!  I hope you get lots of rest this weekend - we are back at it on Monday! :)

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