Friday, March 18, 2011

What a week!!  Between Science Fair and Fraction Burgers, Dinosaur Paragraphs and St. Patrick's Day - we have had one, busy week! I have heard that many of you had an eventful St. Patrick's Day!  I've never heard so many interesting stories about leprechauns rummaging through backpacks, leaving gold coins, and stealing homework!!  Don't be fooled by my married name - I am Bridget Donahue, a true Irish lass at heart, and I believe every one of those stories!!  :)   

Science Fair
What a huge success!! For those of you who were able to attend the Science Fair on Thursday, I am sure you agree that the students did a phenomenal job! The posters and presentations were excellent – many with great pictures and props! As I listened to students explain their experiments to other classmates, parents and friends, it was obvious that a lot was learned during this process. In case you were unable to attend, pictures will soon be made available on the website!

St. Patrick's Day Fun
As a little treat, we had two special readers come and visit us on Thursday!  Two of my students from last year - Emily and Delaney - came and read St. Patrick's Day-themed books to students in Room 13!  (I was very impressed with their reading skills - they must have had an excellent teacher...) Here are a few pictures:

Math Fact Quizzes
As mentioned last week, math fact quizzes have not been going well. The most recent quizzes have been difficult – focusing on subtracting 6, 7, 8 and 9. These facts are not automatic for students yet, and will only become so with more practice and repetition. For this reason, I have given each student a (large) packet of subtraction fact worksheets.  As stated on the cover letter, these are for students to practice at home - they are NOT for homework. If your child completes a few pages and would like to bring them in for me to see, I would be happy to reward this extra effort with stickers, etc. but they do not have to come back to me.  I really appreciate any extra time you can dedicate to math fact practice at home - and so will your child!!

Supplies Needed
You are already so generous with your time and effort that I hate to ask for anything else...but we are completely out of tissues, erasers, and extra snacks! If you have any extras around the house - we would definitely appreciate them!!

Boston Marathon/Kenyan Visitors
As you all know, the Boston Marathon is just around the corner (both literally and figuratively)! We are extremely fortunate here at Elmwood, in that the Kenyan marathon runners come and visit us the week before the marathon!! In preparation for their visit, we will be learning about and studying Kenya (location, culture, etc.) and also doing different projects/activities that reinforce this knowledge. Keep your eyes and ears open during the next few weeks for more information!!

Our Week in Review:

This week, our theme in reading was Saving Planet Earth. We talked A LOT about all the ways that people - and kids, especially - can help keep Earth clean and healthy! The story in our reading anthology this week was a nonfiction Time for Kids article titled, "A Way to Help Planet Earth."

Over the past few months, we have been discussing and identifying some of the characteristics found in nonfiction writing.  This week provided the perfect opportunity to review some of these text features!  Your child should know that nonfiction writing usually:
             * provides true/factual information
             * has real pictures (photographs)
             * has captions
             * has titles and/or headings within the text
             * has additional features such as charts, graphs, tables, inserts, maps, and sidebars

As seasoned readers, we may take our understanding of this kind of writing for granted, but this is something that needs to be pointed out to students.  Encourage students to identify and acknowledge these text features when they read nonfiction writing! 
(PS - Questions about nonfiction text features are often found on the MCAS!)

Our schedule was a little "out of whack" this week with the Science Fair and all of the other exciting things going on, so students were only asked to complete two reading centers.  There were more "choices" for them to work on if these finished these centers, however, and many were able to start and/or complete additional centers.

The must-do centers included:

Writing Center:  Each student was given the name of a classmate and asked to write several statements describing this person without using his/her name.  These descriptions will be posted in the classroom for other children to read and guess!  (Potraits drawn by the students will be placed underneath so guesses can be confirmed!) 

Comprehension Questions:  After reading in a small group, students should complete the accompanying comprehension questions - answering in complete sentences, of course!

Additional centers included:
Games Center: With a partner, students played the "Good Luck?" game by correctly identifying past tense verbs.

Listening Center:  After listening to this week's story with a partner, students then write a paragraph telling how they can help the Earth.

Phonics Center:  Students use magnetic letters to make and break new words, all following this week's spelling pattern.  They then "stamp" each of their spelling words. 

This week's spelling words all contained the sound "ugh."  95% of words with this sound are spelled using "oo" - but, as we discussed, there are always a few exceptions! 

Some words that DO follow this rule are:
     foot, shook, cookies, looking

A few important words that do NOT follow this rule are:
      could, should, would

This idea will get a little trickier next week when students discover that both OO and OU make OTHER sounds as well!!

Students worked REALLY hard this week to complete their fabulous dinosaur research paragraphs - and I am SO incredibly impressed with how these turned out!! The children worked really hard to incorporate many of the sophisticated writing techniques/tools that I have been talking about over the past few weeks, including an interesting hook/lead sentence, figurative language (similes and metaphors), descriptive language (interesting adjectives), and creative closings!  These paragraphs, along with their pasta dinosaurs and beautiful illustrations, are posted in the hallway for everyone to enjoy.  I hope you have a chance to take a look!!

We started our fractions unit this week! Fractions can be a tricky concept, but once students understand the concept of ONE WHOLE - the idea that fractions are simply PARTS or PIECES of a whole, makes more sense!

To make fractions more concrete, students used foam “Fraction Burgers” to create burgers this week! They quickly realized that each part of the burger was represented by different fractions. For example, the bun was 1 whole. The burger was divided into 2 pieces (halves). In addition, the onions were in thirds, the cheese in fourths, the relish in fifths, the tomato in sixths, the lettuce in eighths, the mustard in tenths, and the special sauce in twelfths. The children had a great time playing with these fractions and recording their observations.

At this point, students should really understand the basic, underlying concept of fractions. Specifically, they should know that:

         * a WHOLE is equal to 1 (one entire thing)

         * a fraction is a piece or part of a whole thing
                therefore, a fraction of something is more than 0 (nothing) but less than 1
                (it’s not a “whole” thing)

          * a “whole” thing needs to be divided into EQUAL parts
                 fractions are all equal parts

          * a written fraction has two parts:

                 numerator     --    the number of parts that you are talking about/shaded parts
                denominator    --   the total number of parts

Can your child explain all of this to you??

I encourage you to acknowledge and identify fractions whenever possible in your daily life. Real-world applications will help your child solidify these concepts!  You will be amazed at all the places that you will find fractions!!

It’s back to Social Studies in Room 13. Now that we have wrapped up Fossils, we are revisiting Maps and Globes (Part 2). In this unit we will be learning more about the world in which we live. Specifically, students will learn to identify their street, town, state, country, continent, and planet - and understand the relationship between them all. Students will also learn about the 7 continents (and their important landforms) and the 4 major oceans.

This week, the unit was simply introduced, along with the concept of a boundary. Ask your child what a boundary is. They should tell you that it is a real or imaginary line that separates two places. Can s/he give examples?

This week, our Mystery Reader was Cassie's grandmother, Mrs. Hurley!  Mrs. Hurley read students two fabulous stories:  You Are What You Eat and Other Mealtime Hazards, by Serge Block and How Full is Your Bucket? for Kids by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer.  The children greatly enjoyed both of these stories - and had much to comment on! :)  Luckily for us, Mrs. Hurley donated both of these books, along with 2 others (Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Abe's Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln by Doreen Rappaport) to our classroom library, so students can read and enjoy them all year!  Thank you so much, Mrs. Hurley!!

No comments: