Friday, March 4, 2011

Welcome Back!

Welcome Back!
I hope you all had a wonderful vacation!  From what I've heard from the children, some of you had some exciting experiences - from skiing the slopes of Colorado mountains, to sun-bathing in the Carribbean, to shaking hands with President Obama! Whether you were off traveling the world, or spent the week relaxing at home (like me!), I hope you enjoyed the time with your families!! 

Dr. Seuss Day
Wednesday, March 2, was Dr. Seuss’s birthday! At Elmwood, we celebrated by reading one of my favorite books:  Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!  If you've never read this book, ask your child to tell you a SUMMARY.  Then ask him/her why it's a book for kids AND for adults (especially teachers)! 

Students also had the opportunity to do a few Seuss-inspired activities and games (mazes, wordsearches, etc.)..and they were even given a pattern for a Seussical Doorknob Hanger and a Dr. Seuss bookmark!  I hope they had as much fun on Wednesday as I did! 

Coins for Cures
As many of you already know (through discussions with your child and/or the letter posted on the listserv), Elmwood School is working to raise money for Boston Children’s Hospital. From what I have heard, many of you have visited the hospital yourselves and you know what wonderful care this facility provides to children.

With your permission, students are encouraged to clean the car/couch cushions, do little chores around the house, keep an eye out for loose change at the soccer field…and maybe donate some of that money to help other children. This fundraiser will go on for 8 weeks and each classroom has been asked to set a goal for the total that they think they can collect. The children in Room 13 think that they can collect $100!  I told them I thought that was a little "steep" but they are convinced they can do it!  What do you think?  

Book Orders
I hope you noticed that another "packet" of Scholastic Book Order catalogs went home with children on Tuesday.  I encourage you to look through these catalogs with your child and pick out a book or two - as a special treat!  If you choose to place your order on-line, the code is G2CLN.  Also, if you order on-line, you will noticed that there are a few more catalogs available to choose from! So, if you don't find something you like in the catalog, feel free to browse on-line! :)  The last day for ordering is next Thursday, March 10.  Happy Reading!

Science Fair
Please encourage your child to work on his/her science fair project over the next few weeks. (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 during the weekends. Good luck and have fun!

Our Week in Review:
In reading this week, we began Unit 4 with April Pulley Sayre’s story Splish! Splash! Animal Baths. This is a wonderful story that clearly illustrates and explains how different animals get clean! Students have been thinking and working hard to compare and contrast these animals and their behaviors. Comparing (describing how things are alike) and contrasting (describing how things are different) can be tricky – but doing so helps students focus on important information and helps them make great connections.

A great way to organize ideas/information when comparing and contrasting is to use a Venn Diagram. Students have been utilizing this graphic organizer all week – and they are getting pretty good at it!

Encourage your child to compare and contrast things as they come up in your daily life! (Examples: How are basketball and baseball alike/different? How is tonight’s dinner the same/different from last night’s?)

This week, our spelling pattern focused on… “BOSSY R!” Students learned that the letter R is very bossy when it pairs up with vowels. This week, we looked specifically at the vowels A and O.

We noticed that when R follows A, it makes A say “argh” – like a pirate!
       Examples: star, part, market       (We don’t hear the A at all!!)

When R follows O, it makes the O say weird things too…OR!
       Examples: for, thorn, sort

We better watch out for that R!! He doesn’t sound like someone we would want to be friends with!

This week, we took a good look at linking verbs. These verbs are tricky because they aren’t obvious, like ACTION verbs! Linking verbs are verbs that link the subject of a sentence to the predicate.

           For example:  Marsha is cold.

In this sentence, is is the verb. It doesn’t show action, but it links the two parts of the sentence. Is is a form of the verb “to be.”

Other forms of the verb include:
         was (past tense)
         were (past tense)

Although children typically use the correct verb/conjugation when speaking and writing, most don't realize that it is actually a VERB!  We will keep working to reinforce this concept!

We worked hard to collect real data this week and learned how to use this information to create informative graphs! Earlier in the week, students worked in groups to measure their standing jumps and their arm spans. We then used this data to determine the class “median.” In case you have forgotten, the median is the “middle value” in a set of data. In order to find it, you must first sequence the data (smallest to largest) and then find the number in the middle by eliminating the ends. We used this real data to create line plots, tally charts, bar graphs and pie charts! Fun!

Here are a few pictures of students creating and collecting data: (pictures to come!)
  I am still unable to post pictures! :( 

We also had a Math Lab on Thursday this week!  During this time, students had a opportunity to estimate different weights using dictionaries and a bath scale (with Mrs. Chambers),  solve equal-sharing/division problems (with Mrs. Glazier), and practice their double-digit addition skills playing Addition Spin (with me).  Pictures to come!

Earlier this week, we discussed the difference between fact and theory. After this differentiation was made clear, we talked about the different theories that scientists have explaining why the dinosaurs might have become extinct. The three most popular theories are:

a) Asteroid Theory:
This theory states that a large asteroid or comet crashed into Earth and caused a huge amount of dust/dirt to rise into the atmosphere, blocking the sun’s rays. The lack of sun prevented plants from growing, resulting in the eventual deaths of the dinosaurs (from lack of food and clean water).

b) Climate Change Theory:
This theory states that over time, the climate of earth grew colder and colder.  Eventually, the majority of the land and water froze and it was just too cold for dinosaurs and many other animals to survive. 

c) Dinosaur Disease Theory:
This theory claims that dinosaurs died from various diseases that they spread to each other.  Since there were many more land bridges between continents back in the dino days, these theorists think that dinosaurs were able to travel more and come into contact with many different dinosaurs - spreading and contracting diseases easily. 

Later in the week, we talked about dinosaur names and how they came to be! Did you know that most dinosaur names come from Greek and/or Latin words? Students learned that the word “dinosaur” means “terrible lizard” and we then talked about several popular dinosaur names and how/why they might have been chosen. I then read students Bernard Most’s story, A Dinosaur Named After Me. After that, students were inspired to create and name their OWN dinosaur! What did YOUR child come up with?

SCIENCE & (paragraph) WRITING
Did your child tell you that s/he is becoming an expert on one particular dinosaur?  On Thursday, each student chose one dinosaur to research...and we have been working hard to find resources, identify important information, and record facts about these dinosaurs.  In the end, each student will create a wonderful, fact-filled paragraph about his/her dinosaur.  I'm sure they will be a ROARING success!

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