Long List O' Things
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 1:30 PM
Parents, you may have already received much of this information from Anne, our Room Rep, so I'll try to keep this fairly brief:
- Tomorrow is School Spirit Day and it is Royalty Day. Anyone who wants to dress like a king, queen, prince, princess, duke, duchess, or jester (one student today asked if she could dress as another's maid and I said "why not?" :) Nobody HAS to participate, though, it's just if you want to. If you can't pull a costume together but want to decorate a hat or t-shirt, that's a fun and easy way to do it, too. The only thing we don't want is anyone being a Royal Pain in the Butt:)
- Thanks to Sonya's mom for coming into our class last week and sharing their personal story (and great pics!) of adoption (to go with our Families All Matter curriculum). It was a VERY interesting presentation for all and thanks to Sonya, too, for allowing us to view her cute baby pictures:)
- Don't forget about the final monthly homework project that was sent home a couple of weeks ago. Kids just make a book report poster to present to the class. Find all the assignment details on the sheet that was sent home.
- Tomorrow we have a brief (3 songs) music concert at 10:50. We don't really have anything scheduled for parents in the class this time, so just come to the concert and then you can head on home or back to work. Please come to the performance if you can.
- Next week on, Wednesday (5/22), there is an assembly presentation in the gym at 3:00 regarding the Earth Day gargage sale fundraiser. For this one, parents can come, but only if you can easily make it and want to stop by, meaning don't cancel that important meeting at work for this one. Here we will celebrate our fund-raising prowess and then present some checks to representatives of the charitable organizations kids voted to donate to. Meredith and Will are going to help sing the opening school song; Morgan, Ben, and Everett are going to sing another song; and Ruby and Drew are going to help present the checks (so maybe parents of those kids, maybe, can come or anyone else that doesn't have to knock themselves out to be there).
- Most students took the Reading MAP test yesterday and then most will take the Math portion this coming Friday at 10:00. There's really nothing you can do to help get kids get ready except help them get a good night's sleep, good breakfast, etc.
- I have written a lesson that I've shared with all 1st and 2nd grade teachers to help prepare student's better for the upcoming show at the Ordway. Given that preparation, we're hoping kids will really understand and appreciate the wordless story. More later on that one.
- Haven't posted here for awhile because have just been really busy. I helped serve on the school interview team for a new second grade teacher (for Ms. Mattson's spot) and we hired a great one, I believe. We were busy from 4:30-7:30 three nights in a row after school last week, but it was worth it.
- We wrapped up our science unit and even released our Painted Lady Butterflies at recess the other day. An assessment on the unit is still being graded and recorded that will be sent home soon.
- Read Aloud: I'm reading a nonfiction book to the class called "Now I know Better" where young "kids tell kids about safety." It was published by some doctor's at a pediatric emergency department in CT. The descriptions of injuries are not too graphic and the messages are quite valuable. One student commented outloud: "Wow, I never knew lawn mowers could be so dangerous," which shows that the stories are quite worth it, I believe.
- Today, we sent home some transportation forms that are supposed to be returned by Thurs. 5/16. Even if students do not ride a bus, the forms still need to be filled out, signed, and returned to school. The first class in each grade to have all of their forms in wins free popsicles, so bring them back tomorrow if at possible!
That's all for now. I hope I haven't missed anything. Please see any pertinent emails from Anne and also check the LHCS website regularly for important updates and information.
Thursday, May 02, 2013 3:40 PM
Thanks to Finn's mom, Lora, for teaching our Junior Achievement unit! You can go to the following website to examine the lessons that we completed with the students today: http://www.ja.org/programs/programs_elem_comnty.shtml A fun thing to do with your child would be to click the MP3 link and listen to the "economic rap" song that we enjoyed a few times today in class. Your child also brought home a sheet with all the words to the rap song, which can be used to read and sing along, too! Also, ask your child which was proved a more efficient method for making "donuts" in our class: individual/unit production or assembly-line production (answer, of course: assembly line) Thanks again, Lora, for helping our students learn about business and economics!
Barring another spring snow storm, we are taking a walking field trip to Sunnyside Gardens on Tuesday, leaving right away at 9:45 to get there on time by 10:00. If you are running late on Tuesday morning, you may want to check the classroom first with your child and then drive your child to meet us at Sunnyside if necessary. Of course, it might be better if everyone is on time Tuesday (9:25) instead.
Don't forget the spelling test is tomorrow.
Have a great 3-day weekend everybody. See you next week.
Congrats to Ms. Harich!
Tuesday, April 23, 2013 12:25 PM
Congrats to our second grade teacher Ms. Harich for being nominated by some parents and then winning a teaching award from Channel 9 News! We had a fun assembly this afternoon in her honor. There will be a spot featuring her and our school on Channel 9 tonight at 5, 6 or 9 and then tomorrow morning, too. Way to go Ms. Harich!
Previously, I posted about the Midwest Food Connection, but today I found the more specific page on their website that describes the exact program we are receiving (http://www.midwestfoodconnection.org/spring/). We have done the first 3 lessons and will complete the program with the fourth and final lesson next Tuesday. Thanks to the PTA for sponsoring this interesting, healthy, and tasty program for our kids. Today, each student learned about insects and how many can be friendly for gardening and then everybody sampled some real honey, including the honeycomb wax. Yum:)
Please check your child's backpack tonight for some important handouts. There is a yellow flyer about upcoming Field Day, a salmon flyer about a field trip to Sunnyside, and another salmon flyer about Options Day (which is due back this Friday).
This week's theme for Families All Matter is religion. Today we started reading a story book about an modern-day Egyptian family and how they celebrate Ramadan by fasting. We will also read another book called "What I believe: Kids talk about Faith" that touches on Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Native American faiths. I'm sure many of you realize this, but is truly okay for us to discuss religion in public school as long as I am not endorsing any one particular point of view and that we are focusing on many different faiths, not just the predominant Christian view. If any parents would like to visit our class to read a story book and/or share some personal stories about any of our FAM themes this year (disability, religion, aging, immigration, or adoption), please just email me and let me know and we'll work you into our daily schedule. In year's past, I've had some people share their personal stories about adoption and that has been really great. Again, just let me know. I share personal anecdotes all the time, so it's always nice to hear from someone else for a change:)
Tomorrow is our Read-A-Thon pizza party at 11:00, so kids should still bring a lunch but it can be a lighter one, of course.
Call me an optimist, but I asked the kids NOT to bring snow boots or snow pants to school any longer. If they want to wear rain boots, maybe, that would be fine, but let's leave the heavy winter stuff at home now to keep our coat room a little less cluttered.
Happy Holidays! Let it snow, snow, SNOW!
Thursday, April 18, 2013 4:15 PM
- Kids should all try to wear GREEN for the Earth Day Party tomorrow morning.
- A green sheet of homework came home in every backpack tonight. Please take a few minutes and help your child complete both sides. For the two questions on the back, you can simply tell your kids the answers for them to write down in a few sentences or kids you can help them research the answers on the internet. Bring the completed sheet back to class tomorrow.
- We had a Mississippi Park Ranger come to our class today for a presentation and prior to her visit we had a discussion about the Mighty Mississippi together. You might want to have your child try the following online quiz for a fun bit of additional, optional homework related to today's natural science lessons: http://www.nps.gov/miss/forkids/riverquiz.htm I haven't even tried the quiz myself, so hope it works and that it is fun to do.
- Today, we also had a lesson on this week's theme of aging. In the following weeks we will be studying the following themes in this order: religion, disability (or ABILITY!), and adoption. (We've already explored immigration) For today's lesson, I pulled up the website for the new, local, assisted-living development going up on 50th and Chowen (www.thewatersseniorliving.com) and next time you drive or walk by that maybe your son or daughter can tell you a few things about it. Yesterday, the reserve teacher read a story to them about aging and here is exactly what she wrote in a note to me about her day with the students: " The students really got into the book "Abuela's Weave" and we had a fantastic literature discussion. The kids did an awesome job during reading!!! Your students shared in the discussion great depth in their understanding of differences among cultures and families!!! I've also lived overseas and shared some of my experiences as they related to the story. You have a wonderful and lively class!!! " Yes, she actually used that many exclamation marks, which should make us all very proud!!!
- Our pizza party, where we all get to "Dive in" to some pizzas (that we won from our excellent participation in the Read-A-Thon) has been scheduled for Wednesday, April 24th at around 11:00. You can write on your calendar to send a bit lighter lunch that day if you'd like. Congratutulations again to Room 204 students and families for winning the second grade pizza party!
Music Program Schedule
Tuesday, April 16, 2013 1:45 PM
Here is some information on the upcoming Spring Music Programs in the gym on Wednesday, May 15th:
9:50-10:00a 1st Grade, Rooms 102 & 110
10:10-10:20a 1st Grade, Rooms 108, 107 & 109
10:30-10:40a 2nd Grade, Rooms 201 & 101
10:50-11:00a 2nd Grade,Rooms 202, 203,& 204
Mealworms May Visit
Friday, April 12, 2013 4:15 PM
Some students (optional to do so) may have brought home their life-science materials for the weekend: a culture of mealworms that they can observe carefully and bring back to school on Monday. The mealworms (or beetle larvae, actually) are immersed in their food source (bran) and there is a small slice of vegetable to provide moisture only. Kids can show you the nine sections of the body, including the 3 thoracic sections at the head-end that each have a pair of legs on them. We will be observing the life stages of these specimens as they grow, molt (shed their exoskeletons 5 times) and, on the fifth molting, they become a pupa, which eventually morphs into a darkling beetle. More info at the FOSS website: http://www.fossweb.com/modulesK-2/Insects/index.html There are quite a few interesting things on that website if you hunt around a bit.
Some students (optional, again) may have also brought home their Writers Workshop folder to work on their All About Book project, which is tentatively due around next Friday, but we may extend that yet again as students are really motivated and engaged in their research and writing. It's very encouraging to me that students seem to really have understood the plagariarism concept and that they are working to avoid doing it. I'm so proud of the work they're accomplishing already and I can't wait for us to share the final products.
Weekday Update (with apologies to SNL:)
Wednesday, April 10, 2013 4:20 PM
Yesterday (for the next 3 Tuesdays) we have Ginger coming to our class from the Midwest Food Connection (a small, educational nonprofit affiliated with Linden Hills and other natural foods coops. Go to http://www.midwestfoodconnection.org/ to learn more about this interesting organization. Thanks to the PTA for funding the program! Ginger made roasted pumpkin seeds right before us and each child got a taste. Each student also planted their own vegetable seed, which we will observe growing in class.
Anne already sent some info about the "Garage" sale for Earth Day coming up. Just a couple quick reminders to have your child bring as many things to donate NOW as we are already starting to price stuff and put it on display. Our class is scheduled to shop at the sale on 4/16 and 4/17. I suggested that each student bring $20 at the most each day and any change from their purchases can possibly be donated, too, as it is a fundraiser activity. Maybe your child could do some extra, (earth-day-related?) chores around the house (shoveling, perhaps?!) to earn their own money to shop with and donate? Tell them I said so and blame it on me if you don't just fork over the money:) Optional homework assignment for parents/students to work on alone or together: research charitable organizations for us to donate to. Last year we gave to Minnesota Zoo and Woodlake Nature Center, but maybe this year some other local organization (and I say "local" because it was pretty cool when the organization sent representives to accept those "giant checks" at an assembly we had). Send me any ideas for us to consider and the teachers will narrow down the choices before asking students to vote on who we donate to.
In math right now we are working on a new unit about fractions. See if your child can tell you what the bottom number of a fraction stands for (answer: the number of parts in the "whole" item or set) and the top number represents the number of parts you are talking about. For instance, I've got a dozen eggs and 3 are cracked; so 3/12 are cracked and 9/12 are not cracked of the set of eggs. Add those up and 12/12 equals 1 whole set. Also see if they know that all fractions (except improper ones or mixed numbers) have a value between 0 and 1. Can they tell you what fraction "0.5" is equal to? (answer: 5/10 because the 5 is in the tenths place and 5 is half of 10, right?) More later about fractions.
Wow, our young writers are going like gangbusters (old-fashioned term, I know:) on their All About Books or nonfiction papers. These will be a great addition to their writing portfolios. Students are allowed to bring their green writing folders home to work on the papers (optional to do so), but they must bring them back to school each day to work on in class. There is an assignment sheet in their folders that explains the project in more detail, too, as well as a rubric we designed to grade the papers.
Writers Workshop - All About Books Project
Thursday, March 28, 2013 9:45 AM
Yesterday, we had a class discussion about plagiarism, which might seem like an advanced topic for second grade, but it is not and it is necessary for this writing topic. I demonstrated how copying something word-for-word is not good and then I also demonstrated how to read something, take notes, and then put facts or ideas into your own words. We even talked about photos, too, and someone brought up paparazzi and so I mentioned how celebrity photographers are trying to get original photos to sell to publishers. We defined plagiarism as taking someone else's original work and putting your own name on it. Now, for the papers we are writing, we are not citing sources or giving any credit for photos used, but I would like students to work on putting their writing into their own words. Believe me, any students that can learn how to do this now will be way ahead of the game (in their awareness about how not to plagiarize) for the intermediate and middle grades. I'm just trying to prevent bad writing/research habits from being formed as much as possible. Basically, I reminded them that if, say, you read a page and write down the key facts in words or phrases, and then set it aside for a day or two, and then later you write a page or two using that information there is really no way you would plagiarize because you wouldn't remember exactly how it was written in the source you used. Enough on that for now but we will continue to revisit the topic as we work on these projects.
Another way to avoid plagiarizing is to just read, read, read about a topic and try to become as much of an expert as possible, (really "owning" the information) and then write your own work more from memory than notes. Many students in this class are capable of tackling this project in such a manner and should be encouraged to do so, especially considering how motivated they are to learn as much as possible about their chosen topic!
Today, we read our final book regarding the Families All Matter theme of immigration. It was a picture book story about a girl named Angelina that moves from Jamaica to NY. Students did a simple follow up "brochure" to take home, drawing pictures of Angelina's old and new home along with images of their own home.
Pizza, Calendar, and more
Monday, March 25, 2013 8:35 AM
We won a Read A Thon pizza party! Congratulations to all the Room 204 students and families for being recognized for logging 23,283 minutes of reading, which won us the second grade prize. Wow, that's a lot of reading. Way to go everybody!!
Yesterday, I had a funny cold and kind of sneezed all over the class in a very strange way, sorry. Hope nobody caught anything:)
Today, we start the Families All Matter Book Project and a letter will be sent home explaining the program. Themes for second grade are immigration/refugees, adoption, disabilties/abilities, aging/(vigor?!), and religion/faith. If any parents would like to volunteer to come to our classroom and read any of these books and lead a discussion with the students please email me. Each book has some questions with it to stimulate good discussion and critical thinking about the issues. I'm fine with doing the program, but if anybody would like to help, just let me know.
On May 1st, our building will be rolling out a new "options" program in the afternoon and we are looking for parents interested in teaching a specialized class for our students. Our program is not meant to be exactly like this one, but here is a link to what another school does which might give you more of an idea of what we are beginning to think about: http://barton.mpls.k12.mn.us/Options.html Please contact LH first grade teacher Sue Shuff by emailing her at Sue.firstname.lastname@example.org if you are available to help out in any way. Thanks for doing so! Here is some more info from Sue regarding this: Options Day on May 1, 2013. The planning is very preliminary, but the date and 2:00-3:45 is set. The vision is to offer students the opportunity to choose a class/session that is of personal interest from among a selection of 15 or so options. Each student will participate in one class during the 1 3/4 hours. We will limit each session to 25-30 students. A LHCS teacher will be in each classroom to help the volunteer teachers. We have commitments from several presenters, but probably need a few more. Any parent who is an expert in a field and would be willing or interested in leading a class, let me know. Topics that come to mind are science, arts, technology.
Here are some upcoming events and a few notes to go with some of them:
1-5 Spring Break, No School for
Students and Staff
15 Report Cards to families ?
4/9, 4/16, 4/23, 4/30 9:40-10:40 Midwest Food Connection
program in Room 204 We will have Ginger visit us. Go to this site for more info: http://www.midwestfoodconnection.org/staff/
4/11 and 4/18 1:30-2:30 Art Adventure in Room 204 More info: http://www.artsmia.org/index.php?section_id=117
4/24, 4/25, 5/1 and 5/2 10:45-11:45 Junior Achievement in Room 204 More info: http://jaum.org/our-community/
16/17 Grade 2 “Garage Sale” Event (all day) Right NOW students can start collecting and bringing in any gently used items to donate (books, toys, or anything else that mostly kids--but some adults shop it, too--might want to buy. Most kids buy at least one thing and donate at least one thing, so it ends up being an earth-friendly RECYLING activity!
2nd Grade Hosting Garage Sale to Honor Earth Day
Proceeds will be donated to a local charity chosen by the 2nd grade. Why buy new when second-hand is more friendly?! K-2 students will visit the sale with their classroom Tuesday and Wednesday and should come to school prepared with spending money for both days. Most items will be priced between 25 cents and five dollars. Adults limited to one item on the first day to ensure quality items available to all students. All sale items will be provided by 2nd grade students.
Tuesday, April 16th and Wednesday, April 17th
9:45 a.m. - 4:00 p.m
Please do not hesitate to contact Teresa Coleman with any questions atTeresacoleman7@gmail.com.
16 7:00-8:30p PTA Meeting, UC Media
17 School Spirit “Dress Like Food Day” How is Scott going to dress like brocolli?
18 1:45 p Statewide Tornado Drill
18 Mississippi River Science Presentation (time TBD)
19 Grade 2 Earth Day Parties in rooms
23 5:00-6:30p Site Council, UC Media
26 Carnival @UC
27 Get in Gear Race 8 a.m. at Minnehaha Falls Park
1-22 Grade 2 MAP Testing
6 No School for Students, Staff
Dev/Elem. Classification Day
7 7:00-8:30p PTA Meeting, @UC Media
15 School Spirit Day “Royalty Day” (Dress like a king, queen, jester, knight, or whatever...just don't dress like a Commoner)
15 Spring Music Concert (time to be announced later)
21 5:00-6:30p Site Council, UC Media
24 Lower Campus Field Day
27 Memorial Day Holiday, NO
SCHOOL for students & staff
30 LC Field Day (Rain Day)
4 Last Day of School for Students
Writing Project Update
Friday, March 22, 2013 3:40 PM
Here's some fresh information about the Nonfiction Books writing project:
- All of the students have decided on a topic and many are already starting to gather books or printed articles to keep in their writing workshop folders to use in class during work times. They were given lots of choice about topics and are extremely excited and motivated to write, now, but wide-open choice does make it harder to work on things all together, so read on.
- Parents can REALLY help support us in this project by helping students find any good sources on their topics. This can be done by visiting the library or the bookstore or by simply helping them locate and print information online. Nothing needs to be printed out in color and I would prefer that just black and white printing is done at home (as that is all we can do at school). Later, kids can color-in black and white pictures in class, which works just fine.
- We are behind schedule a bit already and so the due date is already going to be changed. Next week we will get into it quite a bit more, but each student having some research sources at school in their writing folders will really help a lot. Thanks for helping with this!
New, Big Writing Project
Monday, March 18, 2013 4:45 PM
Today, I started introducing our next big writing project: writing a nonfiction book. Each student (on their own or with one or two partners of their choosing) will research and then write a paper on any person, place or thing (lots of choice there, I know). I have been reading some historical biographies outloud to the class to get them started thinking about possibly writing about a person. Of course, a historical person would be better than some pop culture figure, too. Anyway, it is a big project and I'm not even done explaining all the aspects of it to the students. For now, I want kids to start thinking about the following (and possibly discussing some of this with their parents): - What topic do they want to research and write about? - Do they want to work alone or with one or possibly even two other people? That's it for now. I will be showing the students how to read for information and take some notes to get them started. We still need to discuss as a class how the papers will be evaluated, too (that's a whole day's lesson in and of itself). Mrs. Knight, our media teacher, is also collaborating with all the second grade teachers on this project and will be giving the students some instruction on internet researching, too. More on this big writing project later.
Wow, was Fancy Friday last week ever fun. It was so enjoyable to see so many students (almost half the class) dressed up with bright colors, ties, dresses, and even hats. School Spirit Day was, indeed, spirited and thanks, parents, for supporting your children in participating.
We started math switching today for the second time and there will be a letter sent home from the team about that tomorrow.
That's all for now. Hope everybody had a safe and happy St. Patrick's Day. (This teatotaling Scandanavian even had one green beverage to celebrate the occasion:)
Fancy Friday is Coming March 15th!
Monday, March 11, 2013 12:25 PM
Of course, our school isn't the only one celebrating school spirit with Fancy Friday:
Yes, it's sad, but true, that finding such amazing videos is what I sometimes do on my lunch break:)
We brainstormed what "fancy" means today before having a little fun decorating some posters to put up throughout the school. Fancy is: curvy lines, bright colors, accessories (like mustaches, ties, scarves, rings, hats, suspenders, jackets, etc...just any attire that is more than plain or utilitarian), expressive (acting or talking fancy:), and artsy. Fancy can also be luxury or formal attire like suits and tuxes or gowns and dresses. Note: this whole discussion made me realize that I am NOT very fancy on a daily basis, so time to get cracking for Friday with some serious fashion accessorizing.
upcoming event reminders
Monday, March 04, 2013 8:30 AM
- Friday, March 15 is another school spirit day and the theme is "Fancy Friday." This means students can (optional activity, nobody has to do it!) dress up "fancy," whatever that means. Maybe I'll dress up in a suit and tie that day? Students are encouraged to participate by dressing up or dressing fancy or whatever to show school spirit and have a little Friday Fun.
- For those of you that like to plan ahead, the next school spirit day is Wednesday, April 17th and it is Dress Like Your Favorite Food Day. The reason I am putting this out there is because creative costumes sometimes take awhile to put together. But again, an easier way to participate is to just have your child decorate a plain white T-shirt with words or letters about their favorite food. I don't think I can come up with a costume depicting broccoli, so maybe I'll decorate a T-shirt if I have time beforehand.
- The second grade is also planning to hold our annual spring "gargage" sale fundraiser on 4/16 and 4/17 and so families can start setting aside gently used toys or books to donate for that cause. Last year we raised over $1,500 to donate to a couple of needy organizations!
There are many other exciting events coming up for the students, but the above-listed events are the ones parents need to possibly support students with, which is why I'm putting the message out about those. We also have the Southwest High School Green Team visiting our classrooms this coming Monday, a Safe Touch presentation this coming Tuesday, our next math unit where some students switch rooms starting on 3/18, Art Adventure on 3/21 and 3/28, another great science show stopping by on 4/18 (something to do with the Mississippi River), a study about healthy eating with a representative from the Midwest Food Connection, and an Earth Day Party on 4/19, school carnival on 4/26, and Track and Field Day on 5/24! Parents do not need to do anything, though, for these upcoming events on our calendar (except for those volunteering to help with specific events, of course).
I spent all of yesterday afternoon in a creative writing class for adults, which was conducted by local author Alison McGhee. About twelve (disciples of writing:) sat around a table in a cramped (but cozy:) dining room, writing and sharing strategies for developing characters and plot regarding fiction and also practicing a bit of memior writing. I attended with a teacher friend of mine and so he and I talked afterward about how we might implement some of the ideas from the workshop into our own teaching with kids (he teaches third grade in Eagan). One idea is we might write another piece that we've already tackled, like realistic fiction or fables, but this time I may ask kids to write in the first person, instead, to see what that's like. Most writers (adults included) tend to write in third person just naturally, so this would be a fresh experience for most.
Principal Search Ideas
Friday, March 01, 2013 5:00 PM
We asked the students in Room 204 to come up with good traits for a new principal for our school and here are some highlights [ sic on the spelling:) ] from what the kids wrote:
"We need a patent [patient] princible so we can have time to think about what we did."
"you need to be patient because someone could tack [talk] long"
"It is very importint to have a resanable princible'
"strong-willed because being a principal is hard work"
"Leader help people to get stofe done."
"Smart Becose we need ideas"
"well perpard for stof going on"
"you have to be serius to ceep kid's safe."
"sometime's you have to teach a class, so you have to be smart."
"we need a good leader."
"fun! we don't want school to be boring!"
"Principals need to be confident to know what to say to kids."
"If the principal was not kind, kids would be scard."
"If there was no leader, things would fall apart."
"If the principal was not smart, there would be no leaning."
"It is important that the boss of a school is a good leader."
"loving it is important to care for each other."
"It is important that they shod be patient for kids."
"really nice not mean to kid or aduts."
"I think a Principal has to be fair because she/he has to disid what punishmet to give kids."
"Be Respectful to Teachers."
"The principal needs to be smart, confident, patient."
"it is nice to have a principal that is cool."
"The principal has to be a leader because the principal is the boss of the school."
"The principal has to be smart because the principal has to work in the principal's office. And they have to be smart because they just have to be smart."
Metaphors and Similies
Tuesday, February 26, 2013 4:25 PM
(Get yourself a cup of coffee and sit back in a comfy chair, 'cause this is a rather long one:)
News/Blog (all rolled into one:)
Yesterday, we had the final lesson for our science unit on Balance and Motion and, boy, was it a fun one. I wish I would have taken a video of the activity, but I didn't, and so I'll try to describe it as best I can here. If my descripitive writing skills are good enough, then perhaps you will all feel like you were there.
We were investigation rolling motion and kids first worked in partners with a marble and a 4-foot long half-section of foam pipe insulation (just the right U-sized channel to roll a marble in). They were having fun rolling them the length of the tube into a cup at the end, bending and twisting the foam tube like a rollercoaster track. The science teacher's manual then suggests waiting to see if kids suggest connecting the tubes and, sure enough, some did suggest that after a while. So, I showed them how to connect the sections of tube with masking tape, making a longer channel, which gets really exciting. After a lunch and recess break I suggested "What if we connected all 20 of the tracks together to make a giant roller coaster?"
But before we did that, I decided it would be better if we elected designated leaders for the activity to minimize potential conflict. So, I integrated social studies with science and we had a real, democratic election after THE STUDENTS generated a list of attributes of a good leader for this project (which were: no yelling at people; not bossy; cooperative; able to accept mistakes; patient with people; treat people fair and be nice; good at science; safe; include people; smart). Then, I opened up the floor and about half the students nominated themselves, half nominated others, and only 2 or 3 politely declined a nomination, meaning almost the whole class wanted to be one of the 4 leaders. [I took an education leadership class once where one author that we read asserted that our country does not need just better leaders, we more importantly need MORE leaders, which was interesting, I thought.] Anyway, I explained how paper ballots can take too much time and then Xaria had a good idea to have people raise their hands to vote, but with their eyes closed, which worked very well. So, all the students closed their eyes and I read the list of names one-by-one while students raised their hands to vote for 4 leaders. Interestingly, all students receieved at least 2 votes and most got 3 or 4, but five students clearly had more votes than the others and the top 4 were Ruby, An, Sadira, Jack and closely followed by Morgan. Wow, were their faces beaming and no one else seemed upset (some reasonably dissappointed) as the election had been fair and well-decided.
So, now, back to the science lesson part. The leaders quickly got to work organizing the efforts of taping and building and lifting the marble track in a circle with one end held up high and the other end down on the floor culminating in a little plastic cup to catch the marble. After about 10 minutes, the track encircled the whole room and we were abuzz with excitement as the marble was launched and crashing with "Ahhhh" each time it fell off. But the students persisted, fixing areas of the track that were problems while I sat back and calmly observed with a fresh coffee I'd fetched while they were at Media. The marble ALMOST made it all the way around and I thought that maybe they might not make it. But they tried again and when it finally hit the cup without falling out or stopping the room erupted with cheers and high fives! Seriously, great! Sure beats taking a bubble test:)
That was Monday. Today, we had a fun 1/2 hour visiting Mr. Carlson's room and reading to/with the kindergartners! Mr. Carlson and I shared with the students later that, while they were reading together, he and I chatted about books ourselves (true:) Again, it was another moment I wish I'd captured on tape, but without my going on and on again, you can imagine how nice it was to see the not-as-young kids reading side-by-side with the little ones.
In writing workshop today, we had an in-depth lesson on similies and metaphors where students first watched a video explaining them, then we read a children's book called "Owl Moon" that had great examples, then we practiced comparing things (eg. a tissue is soft like a piece of cotton, or Scott looks as angry as a grizzly that just stepped on a pin) and now I'm hoping the kids can start using such figurative, descriptive language in the fable stories we just started writing. Yes, this is only second grade, but these kids "get this" and can really practice challenging, creative writing at this young age.
Lastly, a flyer was sent home about the SW Community Education's Sock Hop this Friday night and if you've never been to one of those I'd highly recommend that you give it a try. Lots of fun for kids and great prizes to win and reasonably priced food, too.
We're halfway through the year
Wednesday, February 20, 2013 8:55 AM
There was a blue flyer sent home with all students about the upcoming conference day on Friday, March 1st. This is a day where I usually meet with 5-10 families regarding areas for improvement and I will contact you if I feel there is a need to meet. Or, parents can request a conference, too. I will be contacting some families this week to schedule the optional conferences and if you don't hear from me, you can assume all is well regarding your child's progress thus far in class.
- Book Fair at the Wild Rumpus has been rescheduled for this coming Sunday.
- Don't forget to keep reading and recording minutes read on the calendar for the entire month of February.
- Book drive for Sharing and Caring Hands is this coming Friday. If your child has not donated a gently used or new book yet, it would be great if everyone could bring at least just one on or before Friday. It makes a difference in the climate of the classroom if we are all participating like in something good like this together.
- Wow, thanks to all the parents who took the time to come to our Read-In last Friday. It was great to have so many adult role models demonstrating to the students a genuine love of reading. I've got some pics to go up on the website later.
Happy Valentine's Day!
Thursday, February 14, 2013 4:00 PM
Wow, thanks to all the parent volunteers that helped with our Friendship Party today! Seriously, one of the best class parties, ever! Kids worked in 4 stations writing love letters, decorating (and eating) cookies, making cards, and playing bingo. We also read a couple of friendship books, played a fun group game, and of course exchanged valentines. Kids brought home all of the crafts and goodies from today in their bags. Thanks, again, parents, for a fun and engaging party!
Tomorrow is our Read-A-Thon Read-In and parents are invited to simply come read quietly with our class from either 10-11:45 or from about 1:00-2:45. Kids can bring a grocery-sized bag with any books or magazines, small stuff animal, small blanket or pillow, and a small healthy snack for themselves (no valentine's candy, please). Then, we will spend almost the entire day immersed in the love of reading. Parents who join us can take a few minutes and read student writing portfolio pieces, too, if they'd like. Hope to see as many of your here as possible, just sharing in the love of reading for pleasure.
Friendship Party Tomorrow
Wednesday, February 13, 2013 4:20 PM
The kids are very excited for our parent-led Friendship Party tomorrow. I told them we've all been working hard and they deserve to have a fun party for a change.
Today, in science, each student made their own mobile as a part of our study of Balance and Motion. Next week, students will bring them home after we have them on display in the classroom for awhile. We also have a giant, colorful mobile (made by a professional artist) on display in our classroom thanks to some extra enrichment funds from the PTA. Due to the "real" mobile already on display, the students seemed extra proud of their accomplishments constructing their own mobiles out of simpler materials.
In Writing Workshop, we are just putting the finishing touches on our Realistic Fiction Papers and boy are they looking good. I may have to plan a Write-in (as opposed to a Read-in) where we just write all day and share what we've written. Maybe we could have multiple writing prompts on display for everyone to choose from and we all write for awhile and then share and then repeat? (Hey, I'm glad I'm blogging about this idea so I can go back and look it up again later.) I may even make it a school-wide event, like the Read-A-Thon's Read-in. Hmmmm. Maybe I'll experiment by trying it out on the teachers, first? :)
We had a great field trip to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts recently and it was amazing to see the pieces we'd examined in Art Adventure in "real life" (as opposed to photo reproductions). We only saw a fraction of the exhibits, though, of course, so make sure to take your child there again.
Don't forget the following:
- Read, read, read (and record on your February calendars in the Read-A-Thon packets) every night and maybe raise some money, too.
- Possibly participate in the Dragon Drawing contest for the Read-A-Thon (sheet was sent home with students yesterday).
- Bring gently used or new books to the classroom for our Read-A-Thon book drive (for Sharing and Caring Hands).
- Sign up for the LHCS Science Fair if you'd like.
- Complete the February Homework Project on Black History.
- Is your son or daughter completing an average of 1 hour per week on IXL math program? There is an area on the IXL website where you can check how much time they have completed. Just log in with your child's info and look for how to do that as it's a bit hard to explain but not too hard to figure out if you're on the site. Ideally, your child could have logged about 20 hours so far this year, but not many are too close to that. Or, maybe ask your child to earn a certain number of rewards per week at home, which can also be looked up on the site.
- Read to, with or along with your child at least 20 minutes per night, which can also count for the Read-A-Thon in February.
Cat in the Hat Teacher?
Friday, February 08, 2013 4:15 PM
We had a guest teacher in our room today,
you're kidding, you say, no way!
Yes, it's true, I can't deny it,
Hat, tie, and tail behind it.
The Scott in the Hat,
in the class AND at the MIA,
really, you're kidding, no way!
Yes, it happened, it really did,
That teacher can act like a great big kid:)
Apologies to Ted Geisel, but we did have fun today with the Read-A-Thon's "Dress like a Literary Character Day." Along with yours truly, about 7 or 8 kids also dressed up, including one brave soul with underwear for outerwear as Captain Underpants. And congratulations to An for winning a free book during lunchtime for the costume contest (she was Pippi Longstocking).
Our trip to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts went off without a hitch, thanks to Aidan's mom Julia and Finn's mom Lora for helping supervise! We only saw a small slice of the exhibits, though, so make sure to take your children there soon and often. I was pleased by the many new works they have, too.
Class pictures were sent home with students today, along with a flyer reminding everyone about the Book Fair at the Wild Rumpus this coming Sunday. Also, another flyer was sent home regarding the parent involvement day breakfast this coming Monday. A change this year is that parents do not have to pre-order breakfast, you can just come and have breakfast with your child and then stay for the show (but it's not until 10:50 for our class). After the short music performance, stop on up to the classroom and watch (help?) us decorate our Friendship Party bags if you'd like. The party will be next Thursday morning and then next Friday we have the Read-A-Thon Read-In where parents can come read with us in the classroom. Come help simply model a love for reading by joining us from 10-12 or from 1-3 on Friday the 15th. Hope to see as many of you there as possible. (The day of the Read-In, kids can bring only a grocery-sized bag with any types of books or magazines, a small stuffed animal, a small blanket, a small treat for themselves to eat...but it all must fit within that bag or it's too much to bring.)
Yearbook: to order or not?
Wednesday, February 06, 2013 9:10 AM
When we passed out the Tuesday take home materials, I told the class a brief "story" about a student who didn't order a Yearbook and then felt regret later when the Yearbooks finally arrived and he/she did not get one. It IS true that, every year, at least a few kids bring that story to life and and regret not ordering one, but I'm not saying everyone has to. Keep in mind, though, that kids all want to sign each other's Yearbooks on the last day and, even though I always give out paper signing books to those without Yearbooks, it's not the same for some kids that really wanted one (some kids it doesn't matter too much). If my little story got all the kids to talk to their parents about whether or not to order one, then mission accomplished. But you may decide with your child that Yearbooks are supposed to be special and why get one every year (who has the space to store them all?!) and so maybe get them only for the special transition years (3rd, 5th, 8th, and 12th grades?) or whatever else you decide. Lastly, if you don't order one now and then your child really decides they want one later, they always have some extras to sell but there is no guarantee of getting one. Enough said. A little rhyme: order one or not...but if you don't...don't blame Scott:)
Check Backpacks Tonight!
Tuesday, February 05, 2013 4:00 PM
Lots of things were sent home with students today, including last weeks spelling tests, a flyer about the science fair, a flyer about ordering yearbooks, and a February Homework project for Black History Month. Of course, the reading for the HW project can coincide with reading for the Read-A-Thon. And on that note, there will not be new spelling lists this week to give everybody more time to get in your routines for longer reading sessions that include logging the minutes on the Read-A-Thon calendar. Next week we'll probably have new spelling words.
In reading, we are working on making inferences, so if parents can reinforce that during home reading sessions that would be great. I referred to it as "reading between the lines" or we defined it as realizing something that the author does not say directly. Of course, inferences can be made from a reader's background knowledge of the subject as well as from word or picture clues in a story. For example, a story might go as follows: "Billy Bob walked slowly to avoid slipping. Pucks whizzed by him from either direction. He finally sat down on a bench in the snow." A simple inference is that Billy Bob was probably crossing an ice rink without skates. It wasn't directly said that he was doing that, it had to be inferred. There are multitudes of other easy examples that can be found in everyday reading with your child.
In Writing Workshop we are working on writing Realistic Fiction stories and beginning to use dialogue and quotation marks and everything. Students are working hard at producing some fine, creative pieces.
I reminded students to be on time to school this Friday because our field trip bus leaves right away at 9:45. We will return to school around 12:45 and have a slightly later lunch time at 1:15. Friday is also "Dress Like a Literary Character Day" for the Read-A-Thon, so I guess some of the MIA patrons will get to see some students dressed up a bit strangely:)
Don't forget about the Read-A-Thon family night this Thursday at 6:30. Unfortunately, I cannot be there as I have an important training for a community volunteer program that I am involved with that night, but hope many families can enjoy the program.
That's all for now. Enjoy the warmer (or not so cold) weather!
More Read-A-Thon Info
Friday, February 01, 2013 10:40 AM
Here are a few more tips:
- Creative Kidstuff sells a bookmark with a built-in digital timer which you can get for your child if you like. My son has one and really likes it. (Also, one student said they also have them at Barnes and Noble)
- When calling a friend to get a pledge last night, my friend came up with an interesting idea: he said he would pledge 2 cents per minute (which would be $22.10) but then when I told him my son might read more than his goal, he said he would still pledge 2 cents per minute but only up to $30. This is a great way to raise a few extra dollars (without losing all your friends:) while also encouraging readers to exceed their reading goals! We just wrote the cap amount in the space for fixed-amount pledges on the sheet.
- Of course, if your child doesn't meet their daily reading goal on one day, you can always make up the time on another day as long as they meet the overall goal at the end.
Also, spelling tests were given today and the corrected/recorded sheets will be given back Monday.
Read-A-Thon Starts Tomorrow!
Thursday, January 31, 2013 3:30 PM
We had a fun Read-A-Thon kickoff assembly this morning. Afterwards, all students receieved their Read-A-Thon pledge and information packet and we went over it in class. Here're some highlights from our class discussion:
- Read-A-Thon is exactly 28 days this year, from 2/1 through 2/28
- Parents should go over the entire packet with their child tonight or this weekend
- We have a class goal for everyone to participate by reading at least 40 minutes per day (28 x 40 = 1,120 minutes total!) If we do that, I will personally put on a pizza party for the students! You do NOT have to participate in the fundraiser part, but if every student gets at least one pledge, then our class would win an ice cream party.
- This is NOT just a PTA fundraiser; it is an academic program to encourage time spent reading at home (school reading does not count). We talked about turning off the TV a bit more this month for more reading time (adults, too!). Me included!
- If you decide to fundraise, we talked about how it's more fun to collect pledges by the minute read instead of a flat amount because then you can stick Uncle Henry for more dollars when you exceed your goal! Seriously, good pledge amounts per minute are 1, 2 or 3 cents, but if anyone can get 5 or even 10 cents per minute that would be GREAT! To be safe, kids should seek pledges from KNOWN adults like relatives or neighbors. Again, though, the fundraiser aspect is optional.
- So, starting right now, kids can be trying to get as many people signed up on their pledge sheets as possible and reading everyday and keeping track of the minutes read on the calendar in the packet.
- For dress up like a literary character day, we discussed the many options to choose from. I encouraged kids to come up with an original idea as opposed to just Harry Potter. For instance, one student is reading "Island of the Blue Dophins" right now and so then she could dress up like a blue dophin. Or Clifford the Big Red Dog or whatever! Start planning costumes now.
- Start setting books aside for the book donation. We talked about how those in a homeless shelter probably don't have much spare money for books.
- Lastly, for the Read-In on Friday, February 15th, parents and families are invited! Come just share a literary time with us by reading in the room. We will be spread out reading from 10-12 or from 1-3. Join us for one of those times or both. Bring a younger one if needed. Bring grandparents with their reading glasses, too. Come read with us!!
Music Program Coming Up
Tuesday, January 29, 2013 9:15 AM
There will be a brief music program (in conjunction with Parent Involvement Day) on Monday, February 11th from 10:50-11:00 in the Lower Campus gym. Many of you may be familiar with this concert format from previous years. The concert is held in "shifts" due to the limited space in the gym. Arrive a few minutes early, wait in the hallway until the previous shift is done, and then make a mad dash for the best seats:) The previous shift is from 10:30-10:40 and so, if the shows are perfectly on schedule (not likely), you can find a seat beginning at 10:40. Hope to see as many of you there as possible.
Supplies request: Can as many parents as possible send 1 or 2 (or more?) 70-page, wide-ruled writing notebooks to school with your child. We need to re-stock on these to use for our morning journal writing time. Thank you!
This is exciting: a few students received responses today from our "Letters to an Author" writing project. Their faces really lit up when I handed the letters to them. I reminded the students that, especially considering it's so fun to get a response letter, that they can write to an author anytime on their own after reading. I told them about a cherished memory of mine about getting a full page letter back from Author Golden (Memoirs of a Geisha)(not a racy book even though it might sound like it; the author has an advanced degree in Japanese culture studies) after having taken the initiative to write him years ago. You might want to encourage your child to try this again by 1) getting them some nice stationary to write on 2) having them write a rough draft letter 3) editing it with them 4) having them write a nice, neat, polished, final copy 5) googling the author's mailing address 6) upping their allowance so that they can afford their own postage:)
Writer's workshop: we just started a new project where students are creating their own original Realistic Fiction stories. We are brainstorming characters, problems, solutions, and plot events for our stories. The young writers are really excited about this project and I'm looking forward to some great stories. Thank you to all the parent volunteers that have been coming in each day to help with editing!
Report cards (or progress reports) were sent home with each student today. This time, the cards do not include comments from me, but progress reports will come home 2 more times, including the end of the school year. All students showed good or great gains in reading (although I forgot to attach a yellow sheet with their new reading levels, which I'll send tomorrow) and, if your child's math score seems a little lower than desired, that can be improved before the end of the year. Some students also had a white sheet attached (from the specialists teachers) with comments.
There will be "parent/teacher request" conferences coming up on March 1st. I will be asking several families to meet with me on that day and if I don't contact you for a conference, you can assume all is well and that your child is making progress and that I have no concerns or issues. But if you'd still like to meet with me, please send me an email and I'll get back to you. Thanks.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013 4:15 PM
See if your son or daughter can tell you the basics about what's going on in this photo from what we talked about in class today:
Fill them in with any missing pieces from this Wikepedia description of the famous "Stand in the Schoolhouse Door" incident that took place in June of 1963 where then governor of Alabama George Wallace tried to stop black students from integrating:
On June 11, Malone and Hood arrived to register. Wallace, attempting to uphold his promise as well as for political show, blocked the entrance to Foster Auditorium with the media watching. Then, flanked by federal marshals, Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach told Wallace to step aside. However, Wallace cut Katzenbach off and refused, giving a speech on States' rights. Katzenbach calledPresident John F. Kennedy, who federalized theAlabama National Guard. General Henry Graham then commanded Wallace to step aside, saying, "Sir, it is my sad duty to ask you to step aside under the orders of the President of the United States." Wallace then spoke further, but eventually moved, and Malone and Hood registered as students.
This is beyond the capacity for most 2nd graders to fully understand, but the broad, main idea of our brief talk is that none of the above would have happened if not for the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, jr.
Friendship Party Coming in a Few Weeks
Tuesday, January 22, 2013 8:40 AM
I sent home a pinkish sheet with everyone's name on it for kids to use when addressing Valentines. During our party on Feb. 14th, each student can hand deliver a Valentine into other student's valentines bags on their desks. A word of advice: get to the store EARLY for the best selection of Valentine's or small treats to attach to Valentines. I learned this lesson last school year and so this year I already went last week, but all of you parenting veterans probably know this already:)
Progress reports (report cards) will be sent home with students on Tues. Jan. 29th. Everyone's reading score went up during recent testing and many went up significantly, so that is good news for all and great news for some. The progress reports don't cover everything so we also have optional conferences coming up on March 1st and I will be notifying some families that I would like to meet or families can ask me to meet. Of course, if anyone ever wants to conference at any other time, just let me know and I can set that up as well.
We started our new science unit today, which is Balance and Motion. Today, kids learned about Center of Gravity, balancing a cut-out of a crayfish in a variety of ways. Some other vocabulary terms in this unit are: arch, balance, balance point, counterbalance, counterweight, mobile, stable, system, unstable, weight. More later about this exciting physical (physics) science unit.
We also started a new Shared Reading (or Read-A-Loud) book today: "Black Star, Bright Dawn" about a girl who runs the Iditarod dogsled race in Alaska. Thought it might make everyone feel better reading about someone dealing with 60 below zero who has is worse than us:) Actually, it's an award winning book with a female main character this time.
Optional Homework: National Writing Contest (go to: http://www.tpt.org/?a=kids-events&id=4) Can any room 204 students win this? Encourage your child to possibly go for it. It would be really exciting to see someone from our classroom win an award! There is also a local kickoff event for the writing contest this coming Saturday at Bachman's on Lyndale:
January 26 - Kingfield/Fulton Winter Market at Bachman's
10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Map & Directions
Meet WordGirl and kick off the PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest! Shop for fresh and local meat, cheese, prepared food, coffee, crafts and preserved foods. Stop by the kids coloring station and learn about the Contest! The Market will be located in the Indoor Garden Center atBachman's on Lyndale Ave in Minneapolis.
School Spirit Day Report
Thursday, January 17, 2013 11:35 AM
Here are the countries that were represented for "Diffferent Country Day" today:
Outfits: Canada, Russia, Polynesia, Brasil, Romania (Gypsie), Spain, Japan, Ghana (one student's mom grew up there and the girl wore her mom's outfit), France, England, Mexico, Jamacia, India
Artifacts: Peru (money), Guatemala (wallet), Poland (Scooby Doo book in Polish), Japan (wicker basket), Iraq (10,000 bill), Mexico (coins), Canada (hat: actual Canadian deer fur tuque), France (Eiffel Tower key chain from Paris)
Wow! Thanks to all who participated in this fun and interesting activity!
We had a great "field trip" today!
Wednesday, January 16, 2013 4:15 PM
See if you're child can explain to you why I put "field trip" in quotes (because we didn't really go on a "field trip"...a guest speaker came to us. We had a DNR educator come to us today for a great presentation on mammals in Minnesota. He brought in about 20 actual animal hides to show and for the students to touch. If you like, ask your child these questions from our presentation today to see how many they can answer:
What are the five things all animals (and people) need to survive? (food, water, air, shelter, space)
What is a badgers favorite food? (gopher) (in athetics, it must be the other way around:)
what is the largest wild cat in MN? (cougar, which is also called mountain lion)
what is the largest rodent in MN? (beaver)
about how much does a beaver weigh? (50-75 pounds)
what is the largest mammal in the world? blue whale
can some fox climb trees? (yes, there is actually one type of fox, out of 20, that can actually climb trees)
Students can go to the following website to learn more: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/index.html (click on nature, animals, and then mammals)
Tomorrow is "Dress Like A Different Country" Day for School Spirit Day (an event organized by students from the LHCS student council at the Upper Campus) Looking forward to seeing some of the creative outfits that many will wear to school.
School Spirit Days coming up and more
Wednesday, January 09, 2013 4:30 PM
- Below are some things about School Spirit Days, including the next one this coming Thursday (participation is certainly optional)
From an email I receieved from the office on 1/14:
We have just received the information that Upper Campus Spirit Day will NOT be Wednesday.
They are moving it to Thursday because there is a vocal concert on Wednesday.
To avoid confusion, Lower Campus will also be changing Spirit Day to Thursday.
The change is noted in the parent newsletter for 1/15/13.
The next School Spirit Day is coming up on Thursday, January 17th and it is "Different Country Day". Here's some info on all the upcoming Spirit Days:
Mustache Day was fun, but when I saw the list of upcoming Spirit Days in the Connection, I contacted the parent advisor for Student Council at Upper for more clarification. He said that all the days are intended to be "dress up" days. I am letting families know well in advance of these events so they can make an outfit ahead of time instead of scrambling the night before.
January 17 Different Country Day (dress up like you're from a different country, like lederhosen or black mock turtlenecks for Germany:) (students asked if they could bring artifacts or artwork from different countries to put on display and I said "Why not!")
February 13 School Spirit Day (wear spirit wear) (I've also contacted PTA folks for them to possibly put out an order form soon so kids can be prepared. I also encourage kids to decorate T-shirts if they have no spirit wear and last time about 3 or 4 did that and it was almost nicer than the real stuff...like a homemade card is nicer:)
March 15 Fancy Friday (this is actually just "Dress Up Nice Day" and not meant to imply kids should look like Liberace or that Fancy Ray guy from community access cable:)
April 17 Dress Like Food Day (this is pretty clear and maybe we can we also integrate it with last year's Yum Power themes: is licorice actually "food")
May 15 Royalty Day (dress up like kings, queens, jesters, guards, dukes, duchesses, knights, princes, princesses, emperors, empresses...just anything but commoners)
Go Lake Harriet Dragons!
- Also, don't miss this fun event coming up at Lake Harriet: http://www.minneapolisparks.org/default.asp?PageID=760
- Spelling lists went home with all students today (Words Their Way lists) and of course our test this week will be on Thursday. I'm assuming all parents are familiar with WTW from having used it in 1st grade. Basically, to study, students should be cutting the words "cards" apart and then sorting them, noticing the common patterns like CVC (consonant vowel consonant) and just trying to memorize the "oddball" words in the beginning of the week. Towards the end of the week, someone could read them the words and them they write them and/or sort them as a way to practice them. Or, some students prefer to not do all the sorting and just practice writing and memorizing the words for the test. However you can help the students understand the spelling and the meaning of the words is helpful.
- Some parents are working on our next class party which is the Friendship Party on February 14th. Soon, I will be sending home a list of everyone's first name to be used for addressing Valentines. I told the kids today that it is not necessary that they get a valentine for everybody or the same kind exactly for everybody but they should not do something that could be perceived as mean-spirited and give a valentine to all but one person, for example, as that can be considered a form of bullying. A small candy treat can be attached to the valentines, but healthier options are good, too. Just have kids bring the pre-prepared valentines to school with them in a bag on the 14th and then we will do the exchanging at the end of the party.
Happy New Year
Monday, January 07, 2013 4:35 PM
Happy 2013 everybody! Hope your Holidays were happy days!
Thanks for the beautiful cards (some hand-made by kids) and the generous gifts that I received before break! Your cards and gifts helped make our Holiday time an extra-special one for my family this year and your kindness is sincerely appreciated!
Haven't posted in awhile here, so here are some news bits for your information:
During reading time, I am currently testing each student individually again (like we did last fall) and I will be reporting progress along with report cards that are scheduled to be sent home with students on 1-29. During this testing time, we are still doing Writing Workshop, though, and students just started a new assignment writing summaries of favorite stories.
There is a "Coffee and Conversation" with our principal Jan Parrish this Thurs. 1-10 at 3 p.m. in the lunchroom. She may be seeking some feedback about our new math strategy (of moving kids to different rooms just for math) amongst other topics.
The PTA-sponsored Read-A-Thon starts in the next few weeks, beginning with an all-school kick-off assembly on 1-31 at 9:50 in the gym. Parents are invited to come to that assembly if they'd like. We are also having a real children's book author come to our school to speak on Thurs. 2-7 from 6:30-8:30. I shared one of his books in class today and here is his website if you'd like to check it out: http://www.davidlarochelle.net/
We have a couple of exciting field trips coming up, but I'll post about those at a later date. That's all for now.
Regular School Day
Monday, December 17, 2012 4:10 PM
Well, we had perfect attendance today and a regular school day filled with our usual routines of math, reading, science, etc.
After much thought by me last weekend and some directives from the school district today, the entire topic of the Connecticut tragedy was not discussed at all today. I would have answered some of the basics had students brought it up, but no one did and so we went on with business as usual, which was probably best with this age group. A letter from MPS Communications Department was sent home in each student's backpack today (purple paper) regarding this topic. Please see that letter in your child's backpack.
We took the test for last week's spelling words today and the tests were corrected and handed back to the students. This week's list will be given out tomorrow and the test will be on Friday.
In science, we had our final lesson on Solids and Liquids today. We are investigating whether "toothpaste" is a solid or a liquid? Students worked in partners today dissolving toothpaste in water and observing the results. Tomorrow, we will observe the solution again after having let it settle overnight. Last week, we viewed a brief video explaining how matter changes from solid, to liquid and then gas and that different matter has different temperatures for doing this. Kids also brought home an interesting solid that we made in class ("slime" or "silly putty") along with instructions for making more of it at home. Just try not to get it on any carpet or furniture, please:)
The math classes with students rotating classes seems to be going well. Remember that after January 17th students will all be in their regular classrooms again for math and then I will post more about math here. (One disadvantage of rotating students is it makes reporting to parents a little trickier sometimes.)
I talked with a few other staff and I guess I'm not the only teacher here who feels quite affected by the Connecticut tragedy (don't know what else to call it). And I'm sure many parents of children in this school were quite sobered by the news that so many young ones of the same ages our kids in this school were harmed. I had to do quite a bit of writing and reflecting over the weekend to focus in on my own feelings of grief, anger, shock, and fear. It's just hard to even comprehend how those directly affected must feel if my feelings are this strong. Fortunately, the weekend allowed me time to center myself enough to really focus on the needs of our kids today in keeping strong routines in place and going ahead with business as usual. Part of the problem is I do have a vivid imagination and can't bear to imagine what it would be like to have been directly affected, but my mind keeps wandering there sometimes. If you're interested, listen to Reverend Justin Schroeder's talk from yesterday (12-16-12, which might take a few weeks to get up on my church's website) on "Incarnation" that really helped me gain some valuable perspective: http://firstuniv.podbean.com/ His message is non-denominational and universal to all faiths (hence the name First Universalist:)
Yet, let's all face it, for caregivers of young children that are this age, news like this is rather stressful. Kids this age are so wonderfully innocent, beautiful, and full of life, which is why we watch them or hold their hands so carefully in parking lots everyday! We are doing our best to keep them safe as they are just beginning to bloom into big people capable of taking care of themselves more. But right now, they depend on us and it seems our society let many of them down in all of this guns-and-mental-health-issues mess and that does hurt those of us who care for this age everyday.
I'm okay right now, really. But if you're reading this and you've got a first grader or especially a kindergartner or know someone who does, please ask them to be especially mindful of their child's teacher during this time of healing and recovery for everybody. I know we are not direct victims in this, but this teacher and all the teachers I've talked to at this school were quite taken aback (at the least) and more like somewhat shaken by the tragic story with so many parallels to our own school community.
In whatever way I can, I will continue the community work I am already pursuing with being more involved in mental health awareness and access to treatment. I don't know much about gun control legislation, but I read something yesterday about how the U.K. made some effective changes (that actually decreased the incidences of these types of tragedies significantly) and I'm ready to support anything similar for our society as some reasonable changes are drastically needed.
We had a fun Spirit Day today!
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 4:20 PM
Yes, today was School Spirit Day (an event sponsored by the LHCS Student Council) and the theme was "Mustache Day". At one point, it seemed like almost 80% of the people in our school (students and staff) were sporting a mustache of some sort. Of course, many fine staches rubbed off or fell off throughout the day, but I was able to have students adhere one, last, adhesive mustache again before dismissal to impress their parents with how much fun we had today while learning:) Watch for some good pics on the website in the next few weeks from this and other happenings.
Students brought home new spelling lists this week on Tuesday and we will have another spelling test on Friday. Due to possible time constraints, if you have to choose between spending more time reading or studying spelling, I would suggest that reading come first. My son and I have been enjoying books together with him reading one page and then me reading the next and so you can try that if you'd like. Due to lack of time, I find it hard to average 20 minutes reading per night, but it's so very important to do!!
In Writers Workshop we are just finishing up our Letters to an Author project, including each student addressing and stamping their own envelopes before sending them soon. Today, I reminded students that the Author Letters are great practice for the Flat Stanley Home projects they can start working on NOW. Just like we do in class, students should be writing a "good copy" (rough draft, skipping lines), having somebody edit it with them for spelling and sentence structure (and paragraph structure?), and then writing revised copies. Everybody agreed they should rewrite their letters at least once, but preferably 2 or 3 times to get a nice, clean finished copy to send to a friend, relative, or even a celebrity. There is one sheet in the Flat Stanley packet instructions that gives good ideas about what kids could say in their letters. A good stocking stuffer for students might be some nice stationary and envelopes for their use? You help give them the addresses needed, but then they should easily be able to write it properly on the envelopes. We'd like each student to bring in at least one Flat Stanley reply to share with the class sometime before Spring Break, so get those letters sent soon. Also, you can bring Flat Stanley with you if you travel out of town for the Holidays and then assemble your own "letter to the class" about his adventures and do it that way, too, if you prefer. Hope these thoughts help.
From now until Winter Break I will be spending quite a bit of time listening to each student read and testing them to determine their current "level" like we did right away in the beginning of the year. Hopefully, we'll see some good gains using this measure and the results will be communicated with progress reports when they are sent home in the next several weeks.
That's all for now. Everybody should quit reading this and get your shopping and wrapping finished:)
Flat Stanley Starts Today!
Thursday, December 06, 2012 3:00 PM
The second grade has a fun homework project called "Flat Stanley" that was sent home today. Students brought home a six-page packet and a couple of Flat Stanley cut-outs that they made in class. Let me try to summarize the project here: We read some fun books called "Flat Stanley" where a character becomes one-inch thick (or flat) when a bulletin board falls off his wall and lands on him while he is sleeping. Later, in the original book, the boy's parents have fun mailing him somewhere because he is flat and fits nicely in an envelope. For this homework writing project, children are being asked to write at least 2 (but more if they want to) letters and send them to someone far away. Your child should write a nice, polished letter. I reminded them to do at home what we do in class by writing a first copy (skipping lines), have a parent or someone edit it. Then they rewrite a nicer copy and repeat the process until they've got a really nice letter without a lot of erasing or mispelled words. The content of the letter should be asking the receiver of the letter to tell them things about where they live (see instruction packet). Then, the recipient writes a letter back to the class that is shared with everyone. Besides fun, the purposes of this assignment are to practice writing and also to learn about U.S. or even world geography from the letters we get back. People that write back often send fun "trick pictures" where they hold Stanley up in the foreground when taking a picture of, say, a cactus so that the little Flat Stanley looks like it is a life-sized person standing next to a real cactus. We have also had highly creative Powerpoints sent to the class, but that is certainly not necessary for anyone to do. I hope the homework packet explains everything else sufficiently. Email me with any specific questions you might have. Oh, one more thing: start sending your letters sometime this month so that you get a reply back sometime in Jan. or Feb. We will share any replies up until spring break, but not after that.
Tomorrow, a letter will be sent home with each student explaining the next math unit where some students will move around to other classes for the next few weeks only for just one hour each day from 10 to 11. Then, after that, we will go back to where everyone is here in Room 204 for the entire day again. The switching around will start this coming Monday and the last day of switching students around rooms (for awhile) will be Thursday, Jan. 17th. The letter also says which teacher your child will have for math for the next few weeks.
Today, we took the Talent Delevopment "test" that I referred to in a previous post. I think the students were very well-prepared to take the different, analogy-type questions. Results will be reported to parents when the scores are available in a few weeks, I believe.
In the current math unit we are working on data investigations. For instance, in one lesson students examine charts of raw data (results of surveys of "number of teeth lost" of particular groups of people). Then, students create graphs of the data and then analyze the graphs to determine trends in the data and describe them. For instance, one graph might show that most of the people in that group had lost only 1 or 2 teeth, so that might from a group of first graders. I asked the class what age group might have been surveyed if most respondents had lost 30 or more teeth and they realized that might be really old people that might wear dentures:)
Don't forget to help your child remember to study for tomorrow's spelling test. They don't have to study the challenge words if they don't want to. Either way is fine. Kids don't make a lot of genuine choices at this age, so letting them decide might be good.
Finally, a big thanks to our PTA Room Rep, Anne, for organizing a great fundraising event at Barnes and Noble last light!
Happy December Tomorrow
Friday, November 30, 2012 4:15 PM
We have started unit 3 in Reading, and I've posted the main focus of the unit, which is: students can use their own background knowledge to make predictions, figure out words, connect to new ideas, and make inferences (reading between the lines!). A recent reading lesson had students practicing "making text to self connections" when they read; that is, thinking about how their own personal experiences can help them understand what they read. This is something parents could be reinforcing at home, too, in reading sessions by asking our young readers to relate what they already know or have experienced with what they've just read. For instance, if reading a story about Curious George going to the Hospital, ask your child if they remember that time they had to go to the hospital themselves for so-and-so. I reminded students, too, that this is why people that have a wide range of experiences often understand parts of books better! So, that trip to the Black Hills you take your kids on helps them to understand something they may run across in their reading better. An excellent book that explains all of this better than I can is "The Read-Aloud Handbook" by Jim Trelease. I highly recommend that any parent interested in helping readers develop check this out.
In math, we are working on a new unit about data investigations. Today, students worked in groups representing data with plastic connecting cubes and then categorizing that data in different ways to understand it better. More about this later.
Next Thursday I will be giving a district test that is designed to identify students that are "advanced learners" (what used to be called gifted and talented) and I will spend some significant time prior helping all students be familiar with the analogy-type questions that are used so that each can do as well on the test as they possibly can. If you want any further information about the test there might be a letter coming home soon (or has it already?) or you can go to this page on the district website: http://giftedandtalented.mpls.k12.mn.us/faq
Writing workshop is going GREAT, especially because of all of our dedicated parents volunteers. Right now, students are working on Letters to an Author and then, hopefully soon, we will be actually mailing the letters and waiting for possible replies.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012 4:40 PM
Whoa, way too long since last post, sorry:( I'll try not to make it too long, though, as we're already into the Holiday weekend...
We've started three new units in Language Arts, Science, and Math in the last week or two and I will be posting more about those next week. We've had some fun and interesting science lessons about "Solids and Liquids" already, though. More to come.
Thanks to Andrew's mom, Sarah, for finishing up our Art Adventure study which had a theme of "Sources of Strength". You can view some pics of the pieces we examined here:
We had a visitor in class this week: Tom the Turkey (stuffed, life-size turkey pillow) that we've had some fun with. We drew random names to see who got to take Tom home over break and congratulations to Natalie:) Hope Tom has fun this weekend with you and your family!
Oops, the custodian is going to kick me out of the building soon. More next week. Happy Thanksgiving everybody!
First Jump Start of the Season Today Already
Monday, November 12, 2012 4:30 PM
While the kids were at media, I helped some grandparents of a kindergartener jump start their car today. Didn't expect to have to do that so soon, but it was nice to help them out as the service they called said it would be over an hour before they could get here. I treated myself to a coffee afterwards:)
Thanks to the few parents that gave scholarships for the National Geographic Magazines program! If we collect over the amount needed, then any extra dollars from parents will go into our 2nd grade team fund for similar projects in the future. Thanks again!
Thanks (well, Thanksgiving is coming up and so I'm getting warmed up) for helping your child work on IXL Math at home. Combined, Room 204 students have tackled over 15,000 problems already this year! That's fantastic!
Thanks for remembering to pack your child's lunch everyday, get them to school on time as much as possible, and help them with homework and reading every night.
Thanks to all of our Writing Workshop volunteers. Students have been working on Class News Story papers and they are looking good.
Today, in reading, we did a little lesson on "pausing to restate what you have read" as strategy to aid comprehension. This is a great one for parents to help with at home when reading with your child. So, at the end of one page or even at the end of the first 3rd of a book, ask your child to come up with just 1-4 words that restate the main idea(s) of that part of the book. For instance, we read a book about how turtles go into their shells to protect themselves from predators. A good restatement might be "hides in shells". Another way to ask it to your child is what 1-4 words would help you remember this part that you've just read. We even did it for the book we're reading together in class for the first 3 chapters: "moves to North Dakota" and if you ask your child what that means I bet they can use it to more easily retell that part of the book to you. Try this as it really works!
In math, we worked on symmetry today and did a few different projects to deepen our understanding of the concept. You could take a few minutes and have your child sketch 2 quick houses for you: one that is symmetrical and one that is assymetrical (the assymetrical one having the roof just a slanted one and the door off to one side, etc.) It's kind of fun. Or point this design idea out regarding homes on your block maybe?
In science last week we started our new unit on "Solids and Liquids" and students practiced describing the properties of solids (like rigid, flexible, pointy, sharp, transparent, etc.) More later about this interesting science unit.
No spelling lists this week yet.
Don't forget to attend the curriculum night this coming Thursday night at the lower campus where Yours Truly will be giving a whiz-bang Powerpoint presentation sure to knock your socks off (not really). If you want, this will be a chance to hear a bit about what we study all year and we will have some time to answer a few questions, too.
New Scholastic book order sheets were sent home with students today, so be sure to check out the fabulous selections and either order online or return the order slip with payment by the due date.
Obama Wins Our School Election!
Tuesday, November 06, 2012 4:15 PM
As expected (for this neighborhood area), President Obama won a landslide victory today in our student election. I think the final results were Obama 313 (or so) and Romney 55. Thanks to the Minneapolis Kids Program for organizing a very realistic voting area on the school stage today where every student cast their vote today.
We also saw a short video in class about the electoral college system which can be found at:
http://magazines.scholastic.com/election-2012 (scroll down a bit and hit the first video on the right side)
I even spent a few minutes on a silly joke, using up some printer ink to make each student a graduation certificate from the Electoral College:) I wonder if anybody online sells Electoral College sweatshirts? I'm sure somebody does...
Due to real voting occuring at school today, students had phy ed class outside on the playground today with no problems.
I did tell students that, if they watch any election coverage on the news tonight on TV or read about it online, they do not have to do their 20 minutes of reading for just tonight.
What A GREAT Harvest Party!
Monday, October 29, 2012 1:30 PM
First of all, what a great fall Harvest Party last Friday! I overheard several students saying to others afterward what fun it was. Thanks to Andrew's mom, Sarah, and her talented group of parent volunteers for providing all the materials and snacks for a very fun time. I was able to play the laid-back role of DJ, which was really appreciated as I was a bit under the weather. Thanks again everyone!
Much of the news info below can be found on our excellent LHCS website (of which this website is a part), so make sure to visit the LHCS home page often for important news and information about our school (http://lakeharriet.mpls.k12.mn.us/index.html).
Don't forget to visit the Scholastic Book Fair in the LC media center this Thursday and Friday. Hours: 8:30--6:30 Thursday and 8:30-5:30 Friday. (There is a Blue Flyer coming home today with this info, too, so check those backpacks.) We will be visiting the Book Fair for a while on Thursday as a whole class and students can buy books then or just browse books and come back on Friday with their families to buy some. I suggested that students not bring more than $20 on Thursday to buy books (if they want to spend more than $20, then please come with their parents on Friday to spend as much as they want! We just don't want second graders carrying much cash around with them in school...)
As part of the book fair, we are also asking students to bring in any loose change this week for the All For Books program (http://lakeharriet.mpls.k12.mn.us/all_for_books_program.html). We have a little container in the room for students to put their donations into.
On that blue flyer that is coming home, it reminds us that tomorrow (Tuesday, 10/30) is Scholastic School Spirit day where students are to wear as much LHCS spiritwear or school colors as possible. Our school colors are white, and the blue and green that you see on the LHCS website. If you don't have any clothing with LHCS (go here to get ordering info: http://lakeharriet.mpls.k12.mn.us/Spirit_Wear319) just take any plain white T-shirt and make your own! I've seen some really cool homemade spiritwear in the past.
This Thursday is Pajama Day, evidently, so kids can dress like that for fun that but no slippers, blankets or stuffed animals.
I reminded students that the school district policy reminds us that we are NOT allowed to celebrate Halloween in school. No costumes can be worn on Wednesday, and that includes no hair coloring or make-up please. If students want to wear something subtle, like a pumpkin shirt or something, then that is fine. Also, on Friday students are asked to please NOT bring any candy to school (except for 1 or 2 pieces in their lunch only). Thanks for helping us downplay this "sugar holiday" this year.
There will also be another Book Fair Fundraiser on December 5th at the Barnes and Noble in the Galleria Shopping Center where yours truly will be entertaining with a story at around 6:45. This is always a fun event and a great way to purchase needed gifts for the Holidays while also helping our school raise important funds.
In math today, we studied how 1-D shapes (lines) are measured using length, 2-D shapes are measured using area (length and width together) and even how 3-D shapes are measured using volume (length, width, and depth). Students practiced building rectangles with tiles and determining the area. If you'd like to see if your student "got" the lesson, cut out 12 little one inch squares and ask them to build a rectangle with 3 rows and 4 columns (if what they construct is standing vertically, that's not right; it should be horizontal). Then have them build one that is 12 rows and 1 column and that one SHOULD be standing vertically. Almost all students mastered this today but some could use a bit more practice at home and we will have some more practice with it in class, too. (Remind them: rows go across and columns go up and down.)
Note: no spelling list this week due to no school on Friday and the Holiday on Wed. evening. I reminded the students that we do, indeed, have spelling every day as we're working on revising our papers (and correcting and learning spelling) in Writers Workshop, but we will also start with another spelling list for HW next week.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012 4:00 PM
Thanks to families for helping students study for the math quiz today on some some concepts that were difficult for some to memorize. Quizzes were corrected and given back to students in their red folders. Thanks to Sonya and her mom for sharing a study aid that they constructed that helped us all better prepare for the quiz.
Students brought home a simple manipulative that we practiced with today (2 straws connected together). Can they show you the following shapes using it:
- a rectangle...which is also a quadrilateral (4-sided shape) and a parallelogram (opposite sides parallel) and a polygon (straight-sided, closed shape)
- tilt the rectangle and it is all of the above but NOT a rectangle any longer (because it no longer has 4 right angles)
- bend straws into a little house and you've got a pentagram (5-sided shape)
- bend into six-sided shape (difficult to do) and you've created a hexagon
- can you make a square?
- tilt the square and you've made a rhombus (but it is no longer a square because it does not have 90 degree angles, but it is still a polygon and a quadrilateral)
- make a trapazoid (shorter top with sides slanting down to bottom) What are two other names for this figure? (answers: quadrilateral and polygon)
- we even made isoscoles triangles (tall, skinny triangle with the long sides the same length; invented by a famous mathemetician by the same name
- can you make an equilateral triangle (all sides the same length)
You could check out the following website with your child to see most of the basic terms we've been discussing in class. There is even a section that describes some interesting topics that we already touched on in class, such as how in geometry a point doesn't really exist at all because it is so small or that a line reaches to infinity (students were very interested in exploring these abstract concepts): http://scienceforkids.kidipede.com/math/geometry/index.htm
Math quiz prep tonight?
Monday, October 22, 2012 5:00 PM
Here are just 4 math questions and answers to help your child prepare for a quiz for tomorrow. Many of the kids know this information already, but it would be helpful if those that do not have it memorized yet studied a bit tonight. Thanks!
Kids will have to write their (brief) answers to these questions for our geometry unit:
1. A quadritlateral is: [a closed shape with 4 straight sides]
2. A rectangle is: [a closed shape with 4 straight sides and 4 right angles]
3. Explain why all rectangles are quadrilaterals: [because they have 4 straight sides]
4. Explain why all squares are rectangles: [because they are a closed shape with 4 straight sides and 4 right angles]
Some of these can seem a bit confusing, so I've tried to make the answers as concise as possible. Thanks for checking to make sure your child can write short answers to these questions!
Heading into MEA weekend
Tuesday, October 16, 2012 4:20 PM
Well, I'm typing this update after school and before the next conference at 4:40. As always, it has already been great connecting with a third of the families and I'm looking forward to the remainder of the conferences. The exchange of information, now that I've gotten to know your children a bit better, is well-timed and very good to do.
Today, in class (thanks to Sonya) we watched the animated film of Tale of Despereaux and the students filled out a chart comparing and contrasting the film with the book we just finished reading together. I didn't get a chance to pour over every student's chart, but there were many, many interesting differences noticed by the students and it would be a great conversation starter for families with their children. It is a very good book with themes about forgiveness, bravery, and enlightenment.
Speaking about enlightenment, please enjoy the following poem which I'm sharing about reading, writing, and the place of standardized testing in our curriculum. I am NOT saying that there is no value whatsoever in students taking standardized tests, but as the author of the poem reminds us, there is SO MUCH MORE to education than that. The bubble tests are one measure to possibly use in determining the achievement level level of students. Please keep the value of such measures in perspective as you consider your child's results on the standardized tests and keep the big picture in mind about their edumacation:
Last school year, I must have said something right to one of the most gifted writers I've taught in all my years of teaching as she thanked me for helping her to "write with passion" at the end of the school year. I hope to possibly inspire this year's group of writers as well and will explain more of that later.
Tuesday take home (and BRING BACK!) folders were sent today. Take note of the pancake breakfast and fundraiser this coming Sunday on France at the odd little Masonic Lodge building near the little shopping strip. My son and I plan on attending around 11 and it would be great to see as many of you there as possible. The cakes are good, I promise:)
Have a good weekend everybody and looking forward to another exciting week of learning together next week!
The cold weather is upon us...
Tuesday, October 09, 2012 5:30 PM
...but kids are still getting sweaty at recess, burning off some of that energy no matter what the temp outside. I've told the students that we only have indoor recess when it is way too cold to go out or if it is raining, so that they should make sure to dress for the weather each day as we most likely will be going outside.
There was a temporary problem with the IXL math website, but I think it has been fixed now. Even though our first day to use it in school is tomorrow, I gave out their passwords to use at home as most are familiar with it from last year. Depending on screen time limits, maybe students could do about 1/2 hour or so each night or more on the weekends if possible. At a minimum, we'd suggest 15 minutes 5 times per week, but some children can certainly do more. We will be working on it each Wednesday in the computer lab in the media center for just 1/2 hour and so it is mostly work to be done at home, but hopefully fun and engaging "work".
There are no spelling words this week and probably not next week due to the short week. After MEA break, we will be starting the Words Their Way spelling program which, again, the students used last year and should be familiar with.
Picture retake day is coming up on Wed. 11/14 and I think the usual routine is if you don't like how the photo turned out just return the packet you will be receiving with your child and they can try again. Or, if you missed picture day, of course.
Well, off to a PTA meeting at the Upper Campus tonight. Have you all joined the PTA? If not, please consider paying the very reasonable annual fee to become a contributing member. Here's how to do it: http://lakeharriet.mpls.k12.mn.us/Sign_Up
Picture Day Tomorrow!
Thursday, October 04, 2012 3:20 PM
Everyone please have students dress up extra nice for picture day tomorrow. Our class is scheduled to have ours taken at 11:00.
For science today, we did a cool balloon rocket demonstration where the vehicle travelled about 20 feet powered solely by air pressure! Each student brought home a kit and here's some directions in case you need it:
- attach one end of fishing line to something like a doorknob or whatever.
- attach straw to top edge of bag with sticky packing tape and then insert fishing line through straw.
- inflate balloon(s) and put into bag (tape extra balloons possibly to outside of bag for more power) and pull line tight. Let balloon go and watch how fast and far it travels and repeat. It will even go "uphill" if you hold the line that way, which is even more dramatic. Buy extra balloons and see how far you can make it go? That's it. Enjoy! (the materials do NOT have to be returned)
Don't forget to have students study the challenging spelling words for tomorrow's test.
Suggestion: it's cold out now and students should have a light jacket and probably not shorts any longer but, hey, never say goodbye to summer if that's your style:)
Wednesday, October 03, 2012 5:00 PM
In today's reading lesson we introduced the concept of figurative language, in particular personification. We also discussed how to "get into" a chapter book, meaning to stick with a little longer book while the characters, plot, and setting are being introduced in the beginning and then allowing yourself to possibly "get into" the story after that. More later on these topics.
We take school pictures this coming Friday at 11:00, so I told students that Friday is kind of "dress up" day for everybody (myself included:) There will be a make-up day later if somebody is not able to be in school at the picture time this Friday.
Red, Bring-back Folders were sent home today. We had an interesting presentation today from a representative of the Children's Hospitals about germs and handwashing (as the flu season approaches). Each student got a FREE book to take home thanks to Kohl's Department Store Company, too! So, get out there now and shop at Kohls everybody.
We also started AR (accelerated reader) today and almost half of the class is voluntarily participating, which is great. Students can go down to the media for AR Wed. mornings from 9:30-10 or Wed. afternoons from 3:30-3:50. Students select a "just right" book, read it at least 3 times at home or at school and then return to take an AR comprehension test of about 10 multiple choice questions and the computer prints out instant test results. It's a great way for kids to practice repeated readings to build reading fluency so having so many kids wanting to do it is great. I told kids if they are getting more than a couple wrong on the tests that they should choose easier books closer to their independent reading level and/or they should read them more times before taking the test.
Today, I totally forgot to take the class to the computer lab for our weekly in-school IXL math session (need to put it on our class schedule that is posted so that the students remind me:) but I see that many kids are continuing to work on the program at home. Keep up the good IXL homework and we will also start working on it some in school starting next week.
Tuesday, October 02, 2012 4:10 PM
A new student (Sadira) is joining our class soon. She just moved here from Colorado and we welcome her along with her parents Lisa and Josh. We're glad you are joining us!
Today, in reading, we had one of the most important lessons this year, which was about using the "five-finger rule" to help readers select "just right books." Here's how it works: students turn to any full page (or any two half pages) in a book they are interested in and then start reading. They put up one finger each time they find a word on the page they can't figure out, and if they are holding up five or more fingers by the end of a typical page, they would probably find the book too difficult at the present time. This method can be used at home, at the library, or in the bookstore to help identify books that are close to a student's ability level. To improve reading ability, it is better to read many, many books at about 95% proficiency than to slog through too difficult books. Now, students can read more difficult books WITH ADDITIONAL HELP (like in guided reading groups in class or alongside an adult at home), but for independent reading the books should be close to their ability level. We will go over this more again at upcoming conferences.
We are going bonkers in Writing Workshop already. Students are working on descriptive papers of special places or simple objects. We are putting completed papers in our writing portfolio. Ask your son or daughter what the secret to GOOD writing is? (answer: rewriting!) We are writing first drafts, editing them with parent volunteers (thank you!) and then creating more polished copies to proudly keep in our Memory Book portfolios. We're not really going "bonkers" people, it's just an expression:)
In math, we are tackling addition and subtraction story problems, following these steps: 1. read the problem and try to imagine the situation it is describing, 2. solve and show work, 3. check your answer (does it make sense or is it close to what you would expect?), and 4. write an equation that describes the problem and shows the solution.
Watch for more Phun Fotos to be added to this website soon. Besides special event photos taken by parent volunteers, I am trying to add a bunch of "everyday" classroom photos each month for your viewing pleasure.
Have a nice summer-like weekend!
Friday, September 28, 2012 4:10 PM
Wow, supposed to be in the 80s tomorrow! I am running for the Linden Hills Coop board and have to sit in a workshop all day on Saturday:) Oh, well, somebody's got to do it...
We had a busy day of reading, writing, and mathematics (that's not quite how it goes:) and music, and storytime, and lunch and recess and more.
In reading, we reviewed yesterday's lesson on previewing books and learned about what level each reader should be reading during independent reading time. I told students that they can tackle books beyond their level at home with support from a parent and we will talk more about what that "support" means soon.
Spelling test was given but tests will be given back next week. The words were rather difficult for some, so make sure to study them as make as practictable for next week's test. Soon, we will be starting Words Their Way program where kids will be grouped and studying words that better fit their current ability level.
The Innisbruck fundraiser has been extended to Oct. 3rd! If you already turned in your packet, you can still enter orders on the website or next week extra packets may be available again (the office ran out). There will also be a chance for families to simply donate through the Annual PTA Fund Drive coming up soon, too, and so you can wait until then to give generously if you prefer.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012 4:00 PM
Oops, this week's Tuesday Take Home Folders just became Wednesday ones. Busy afternoon. Look for them in your child's backpack tomorrow.
This week's spelling words may be a bit challenging for some, so parents please help your child study. Maybe make flash cards, write sentences, take practice quizzes, or whatever it takes to learn how to spell the words before Friday's test.
Today we took a math quiz, the results of which will be shared at upcoming conferences in October.
In today's reading lesson, I read aloud a book called "Don't Forget Fun." See if your child can fill you in on the main idea(s) of the book (about two young kids who try, unsuccessfully, to play basketball with older kids and get frustrated when they are told and they realize that they are not good enough for that yet; their grandfather reminds them to keep playing on their own and have fun while patiently waiting to grow up)
I forgot to remind the students to make sure and bring GOOD WALKING SHOES to school tomorrow for our walking field trip to Linden Hills Park. It can be accomplished in flip flops, but not too easily.
Anybody can be a great teacher for just one day; the challenge is doing it day-in and day-out for the whole school year. Whew:)
Why is having volunteers in the classroom so important? Because, have you heard, kids have many needs, many more than one adult can meet effectively. The more volunteers we have, usually, the better we can all meet the many needs of so many children. It also benefits the whole educational process to demonstrate to children that parents, as the child's first educator, are working together with their teacher for their benefit. I'm sure there are other good reasons, too, but those are the ones that come to mind.
Air Compression in Class!
Thursday, September 20, 2012 3:00 PM
We continued our study of air today with a fun, hands-on activity from our science kit on Air and Weather. Each student investigated the concept of "air compression" using a large plastic syringe and a hose. Cover the tip with your finger and push on the plunger and you are compressing air inside the barrel of the syringe. True solids cannot really be compressed, but more and more of a gas can be forced into a tank or the same amount of gas can be squeezed smaller and smaller, which is pretty amazing, really. I also diagrammed a bicycle floor pump compressing air into a bike tire and a car tire. Why does it so long to pump a car tire up? (each barrel full of air only fills the big space in the tire a little bit) And why does a high-pressure bike tire inflate so quickly (because not as much space in the tire for the air to go) And when each gets close to the desired pressure, why is the bike tire so hard to pump and the car tire pressure does not create as much resistance on the plunger? (because the bike tire air is more highly compressed -- measured in pounds -- than the car tire...90 pounds of pressure vs. about 30 pounds) Some vocab that we have introduced: air, matter, air resistance, syringe, compress, compression, air pressure.
Today's optional science homework: have a parent help you let 5 or 10 pounds out of a car tire and then put it back in with a bicycle floor pump. Then, let 5 or 10 pounds out of a bike tire and replace that with the same floor pump. Which took longer to replace and why? Which was harder to push near the desired pressure and why? Great fun. See you all at Holiday when you get sick of using that bike pump to fill up a car tire:) Those who do this assignment can share a bit in class tomorrow.
There was no spelling list this week, so no spelling test tomorrow.
Today we took the district MAP test for reading and it went fine. The students did a GREAT job sticking with a long test that involved reading over 40 passages (up to a whole, typewritten page long) and then answering questions about them. I'm glad we had interactive, fun science to counteract the testing droll today.
I don't know, after that long, almost-too-creative poem yesterday, what could I possibly blog about today? Give it a rest, Scott.
sell, Sell, SELL!
Wednesday, September 19, 2012 8:50 AM
Hope you all got the bright (very bright) orange flyer in the Take Home (and Bring Back!) envelopes about the Innisbrook fundraiser. I told the class yesterday that I will enhance the class participation award if we win it. In addition to the free pizza party we would win, I will provide juice boxes and another snack to go with our party. We can win the pizza party award for highest participation if each person sells just ONE item (that would be 100% of our class participating), so please help your child get out a bit this weekend and ask friends and neighbors to order some great stuff and support our school at the same time. sell, Sell, SELL! :)
Tomorrow (barring any technical difficulties with the computers) our class will be taking the MAP (district, standardized test) in reading. It's about 50 multiple-choice questions on the computer and it is not a timed test. It will give us some (but certainly not all) information about each child's achievement level. A more useful indicator for seeing where kids are at is the F & P reading tests, which I've almost completed for the entire class. This is where I sit with each student individually for 10-20 minutes and listen to them read and then ask them good comprehension questions (and these tests will be shared with parents at conferences). But...we still have the MAP test tomorrow and so parents please help your child get a good night's sleep, eat a good breakfast, etc. because the computer test is a one-shot deal. (With the F & P test, if a child seems tired or distracted on any particular day, we can just delay the test until another day - not so with standardized tests.) I am biased for good reasons.
There were about 5 items sent home in the red folders yesterday, including a field trip permission slip (return asap) and picture day order forms (also to be returned to me). With the picture orders, I just hold onto the envelopes until picture day and then give them back to the kids when they go to get their pictures taken.
IMPORTANT: I made an error in yesterday's post about the gathering at Anne's, our PTA Room Rep's home, which is NEXT Thursday night (the 27th) from 7-9 and not tomorrow night. So sorry. Please contact Anne with any questions about this sure to be fun event.
The construction noise and dust has not been all that difficult to deal with this year, thank goodness! The teachers have created a little lookout for the kids at the south end of the hallway where they can stand on a stepstool and look right down at the progress being made. I will give kids a chance to watch the building go up now and then, which should be fun and exciting.
Last week I read the article in the Strib about former Viking Wally Hilgenburg. Even though I played high school football and am now an avid Gopher FB fan, I am really questioning the whole viability of this sport sometimes. For instance, I would not want my own son playing it for safety reasons, but then I feel rather conflicted going to watch other people's sons playing it and possibly getting seriously injured from being hit, especially when the hit involves the head area. So, I play football catch with kids at recess, I share my enthusiasm for the U of M team sometimes, but deep down I wonder about the sport (as it is currently played). Maybe some signicant rule changes could occur to make it safer? The Vikings playing flag football? Probably not...but something needs to change eventually as hundreds of NFL players sued the league, I think. What does this have to do with teaching kids? Some perhaps, but hey it's a blog and you get what you get:)
Today, I took a few minutes and wrote this poem during our morning journal writing time. Someone send it to the New Yorker for me, please:) (not really) Who says a blog doesn't relate to teaching? I shared it with the kids as today's prompt was to try to write a poem about fall. Please remember, I am a huge football FAN and this poem just demonstrates my mixed feelings, truly.
by Scott Devens
Football players fall in fall
and trainers ask if they're okay
but leaves fall, too,
and no one checks on them.
No one holds a leaf carefully,
bending a small part,
checking for ligament damage.
No one keeps a leaf out from the pile
in case the little guy has a concussion.
Do we call it fall because
leaves fall or because football players fall?
Colorful leaves, slowly falling to the ground
in a gentle breeze;
football players (in colorful red, yellow,
and orange uniforms)
smashing to the ground
and piling up like leaves.
Rake up those players
and get rid of them.
Beautiful, isn't it?
extra math homework tonight
Monday, September 17, 2012 4:20 PM
Each student should have brought home one sheet of math homework tonight that shouldn't take too long. We did a similar exercise in class. The due date is tomorrow.
Reminded kids this morning about a lot of things and I'll "say" some of the same things here for parents:
- kids should try to be at school so that they can enter the building right away at 9:25. This gives the most time to get ready for the day (put backpack away, connect with friends, sharpen pencils, fill water bottles, use the restroom, etc.) before class begins at 9:35. That's only 10 minutes as it is, and if kids come at, for instance, 9:36 it makes it much harder to get all those preliminary things accomplished. This habit of getting to school as early as it opens will help our students be more successful this school year and beyond (I'm thinking espcially in middle school, where kids REALLY need that precious time in the morning to do better).
- don't forget to sell, sell, SELL!! for the PTA Innisbruck Fundraiser! If your family doesn't have time to sell, you can also just contribute a check to the school, which can actually work out better as 50% of sales go to school but 100% of straight donations go to the school. Either way, buy a lot, sell a lot, or give generously.
- There were 6 or 7 red envelopes not in kid's mailboxes this morning, but only one missing at dismissal, which means that some kids need to remember to take it out of their backpack and put it in their mailbox is all.
- Book orders are due the 28th. I told the sad tale of the student who saw many others get lots of good books delivered because they remembered to order but the sad student did not order books. The Scholastic books are rather well-priced, I believe and so you may want to order as many as you can.
That's all for now. Looking forward to meeting/seeing many parents again this Thursday night at the Ardens.
Can you spell SuperCalifragilisciousexpeealidosus?
Thursday, September 13, 2012 4:25 PM
Forgot to remind students to study their spelling words tonight for tomorrow's test.
I am half-done testing each student individually on reading. It takes a while to do this, but it is worth it for valuable information about each student's particular reading abilities. Should be done with this next week and the information will be used to plan our reading strategies both at home and at school (which we will talk about at conferences).
Science: we haven't done science this week due to all the reading testing, but the next few lessons next week are really fun, engaging ones about air pressure.
Just finished printing my first photo with the new camera that several parents chipped in for on the new printer I bought for the classrooom. Very nice Canon camera and equally nice Epson printer make photos that are super duper! I will start getting some of these pics posted in the classroom (usually of kids working on science or other things) so that when you stop by and visit (anytime, by the way!) you can peruse what's been going on. And then, of course, at the end of the year kids can fight over who gets to take which photos home:)
Wish List: any parents who WERE going to pitch in for the failed classroom A/C system are more than willing to help out with supplying us with some printer ink, instead. We need cartridges for the Epson Artisan 730 printer. They're not cheap and so any help would be appreciated.
Well, gotta go as my son and I are going to go enjoy this beautiful late-summer/early-fall day by going on a bike ride, picnic, and reading together around the lakes. He checked out a Captain Underpants book from the media center here, and so the classics will have to wait:)
(The headline of this post is from a short, few minutes activity where I ask kids "Are there ANY questions?" One asked if I could spell it and there it is, even though in Webster's it might be different. Oh well, close enough:)
A Day of Remembrance
Tuesday, September 11, 2012 4:00 PM
We had a brief social studies lesson on the 9-11 tragedy today. We went through a slideshow on a website just so that all kids were familiar with the basics of what happened. I emphasized less of the tragic nature and more of the heros (like the people on the Pennsylvania plane). I also stressed that we have Muslim families in our school and community and that it was extremist ones involved in the terrorism, not like the vast majority of peaceful Muslims. Here is the website we used and, of course, we used the elementary section:
Most of the students were VERY interested in learning more about this event in history and I told them they could talk to their parents or have their parents help them find one of many books at the bookstore or library about the subject. I just wanted to do something brief so that if they saw it mentioned on the news they would know what is being talked about.
For those that are interested, there is a memorial concert at the Lake Harriet Bandshell tonight at 7:00.
In other news, a huge thanks to Everett's mom, Anne, for organizing the social at Linden Hills Park last night. It was great to connect with parents a bit more and to hang with the kids in a relaxed, non-academic way:) I had a lot of the fruit "pizza", which is healthy, right?
Reminder that the first Homework project (Tunnel Book) is due on Friday, September 28th. The books order forms that were sent home today are also due back on the 28th I believe.
Spelling lists were sent home with students today along with lots of other stuff in the Red Folders. We will have a test on Friday on all 24 of the words (lists one and two). (They are common sight words to help with Reading and Writing.)
Thanks to Anne, again, for helping organize our classroom library of books and for taking home a BIG tub of new books and then "leveling" each of them (looking them up on a website and then labeling them with the reading level). It is most excellent to have new, leveled books for students to read and enjoy in the classroom.
There is a "Coffee and Conversation" meeting with the principal in the cafeteria or media center this coming Thursday from 9:45-10:45 for any that are available and interested in chatting about any ideas or concerns for the school. Here's one if you're trying to think of something: is there ANY way the older part of the school can be retrofitted for Air Conditioning, possibly as a part of the work being done for the addition? Ahhhh, who cares anymore because the hot days are over...:)
We will be taking the MAP (standardized tests for reading and math) on the following dates: Reading 9/20 10:00-12:00 and Math 9/26 2:00-4:00. There really isn't anything for parents to do to get children ready for these tests except help them get a good night's rest and eat an especially good breakfast. We will take the tests again in the spring and then compare the results.
I shared with the kids just a little bit about my own remembrances of 9-11. I was teaching at a Middle School in North Minneapolis and I recall the teachers combining kids in classrooms and then everyone just watching the news on television together. It was very somber. Some parents came and picked their kids up from school early. In the beginning, we were all wondering if the Twin Cities might be attacked at any moment. During those moments, I recall feeling an extra big burden of responsibility for the safety and security of the many students that I was supervising. I still have an orginal newspaper from 9-12 that is getting a bit yellowed now, but that vividly reminds me of that tragic day in history. Maybe I'll hit the bandshell for a while tonight to hear a patriotic song or two...
Friday, September 07, 2012 3:20 PM
In science study, each student made their own simple parachute to experience the concept of "wind resistance" first hand. The materials can be kept at home (for as long as they last) and don't need to be returned to school. I suggested they drop it from a high spot at home as we only stood on chairs in the classroom to launch them. Soon, we have some hugely interesting activities where we investigate air pressure, using tubes and hospital-type syringes. More later.
Next week I will be testing all of the students individually for reading, which takes a while. I encouraged the students to bring some favorite books from home for independent reading while I am testing.
Wow, 100% of the students brought their "Bring Back" red folders back before the weekend! Great job families supporting your children and helping them stay organized and ready to learn!
Don't miss the Fulton Fall Festival this weekend at Pershing Park! A flyer was sent home previously and I think it is from 11-3? There is also Woofstock at Linden Hills Park, too, so a lot is going on this Saturday.
Well, the great classroom A/C experiment has finally ended. Thanks to the many parents who chipped in for the A/C unit, but we tried it for a while and it just didn't help enough to justify the cost. After I finally just measured the room and did some calculations from a website that I found, I realized that any affordable unit for a classroom this large would just not be big enough to make the room actually feel cool and comfortable. Oh well, school ends the first week of June in the Spring and so hopefully it won't be too much of a problem then anyway.
Super Science Lesson Today
Thursday, September 06, 2012 3:40 PM
We had a fun and engaging science activity today to discover more about air (to understand weather better). Students worked in groups with tubs of water, submerging an upside-down vial under the water and observing how a paper towel stuck in the bottom of the vial did not get wet (due to the air in the vial keeping the water out). Young scientists would tip the bottle and watch the bubbles escape, too. Then I shared about how scientists can live in an underwater sealab with a room with a bottomless pool to enter the ocean; why doesn't the water flood the sealab? Because the pressurized air keeps the water from flowing in. I told students they can experiment more at home with a drinking glass in a container of water; amaze their parents by keeping a paper towel dry with the glass fully submerged under water! We even discussed olde-fashioned diving bells and how a similar concept kept the occupants dry; maybe kids could research that more online?
We are studying bus safety this week and kids will be bringing home some things on that this Friday, including possibly some coloring sheets that do not need to be returned. See if your child can tell you the Big Four safety rules: Stay out of the Danger Zone, Always Sit Down, Follow Driver's Instructions, Be Respectful. We've also discussed very specific procedures for crossing in front of the bus after getting off, including reminders to watch for cars because not all drivers stop for the stop-sign arm! The district also has all students practice a bus evacuation drill at least once each school year, too.
Can your child tell you what the 4 Bees are for our school? (Bee Respectful, Bee Responsible, Bee Safe, Bee your BEST!)
Take Home Folders Sent Today
Tuesday, September 04, 2012 4:10 PM
Take Home (AND Bring Back!) Folders went home today. Students should return them by this Friday to school. There is the monthly homework project (Tunnel Books) which I explained in depth to students and which has an very detailed letter of explanation as well. They can do their best, take their time, be creative, and try to have it turned in to me by 9/28.
There is another note about "Homework Expectations" that should have read "HW MINIMUM Expectations" because of course they can read longer if they'd like to! Also, I explained that if they miss reading one night (yes, we all get busy sometimes) then just add the missed 20 minutes to next nights reading (or have a longer Saturday "Read-A-Thon" to make up for too busy nights during the week). With a wink, I said I don't expect anyone reading under the covers with a flashnight after lights out, either:) That letter should be sent back signed, I guess, too (in the red folder?).
It was hot in the class today (a lot less so thanks to our A/C unit!) and we heard that tomorrow fall will arrive again. Yeah!
First Science Activity Today
Friday, August 31, 2012 4:15 PM
Today, we had our first activity in "Air and Weather" science unit. The "Learning Target" (something the staff is working on making more clear to students in each lesson; written as an "I can" statement) was: I can use objects to see how they can be moved by air and/or how they can move through air. Some vocab terms were: air (a combination of gases), matter (all things are either solid, liquid, or gas), invisible, and air resistance. Ask you son or daughter if they can tell you a little bit about air resistance they learned in science, perhaps? Other observations: air can lift things, heavy objects fall through air faster, forceful air moves things really far.
We took our class names spelling test but didn't have time to correct it in class. Kids brought them home and can correct them with their study lists and just keep them. Obviously, I'm not recording their scores on this one.
We are doing something called "shared reading" which is like me reading outloud to the kids, but I project the pages on the screen and encourage kids to read along with me as much as possible. We are reading Kate Dicamillo's "The Tale of Despereaux" and are on chapter 10 of 52, Kids seem to really like it.
Today we did a lesson on our school's behavior expectations policy, discussing the 4 "Bees", which are Bee Responsible, Bee Respectful, Bee Safe, and Bee your Best. I acutually use this at home with my own son in encouraging him to do what's expected outside of school and it works pretty well. You may want to do likewise. We made some giant paper Bees to remind us of the expectations and to dress up the room a bit.
We had a reading lesson today about taking care of books in the classroom. We explored how if each person straightens up just one or two books each time they use the book bins, then the room will get neater and neater over time as opposed to messier and messier. Kids seem to have bought into this and are implementing it quite well.
Monday we are jumping into regular math lessons more and more about that later.
If you child has not brought a plain white T-shirt, please have them do so soon (you can write the name with permanent pen on the inside of the collar or I will and you can a couple extra shirts if you want, too). Also, we need each child to bring 50 or 100 clear sheet protectors soon, too (about 10 kids have already done so). Sorry Red Take Home Folders did NOT go home this week, but they will come home this coming Tuesday.
Hope you all saw the email from our Room Rep Anne. Please consider volunteering in the classroom if at all possible.
Stayed up a little late listening to U of M football last night, but not until the very end at 2 a.m. (playing in Vegas)! Okay, I'm a pretty big fan and almost stayed up for the whole thing:) Last summer, I wrote, produced, casted, and starred in a short video trying to win a free trip to Vegas for last night's game and it's a good thing our video didn't win or it would've been hard to get back in time to teach science today:) Here's the short film, where the contest was to answer "How are you getting ready for Vegas and the Gopher football season", for your viewing pleasure:
I really thought it was the best video, but we didn't get enough votes on Facebook to win. Oh well, at least the Gophers won last night:)
Have a great Labor Day weekend everybody and maybe my son and I will bump into you at the State Fair.
Pile Driving "Lesson"?
Tuesday, August 28, 2012 4:55 PM
Yes, I grasped a teachable moment today and drew a cross section of what is going on outside of our classroom windows and explained how workers are driving metal posts to hit bedrock for the building foundation. More information can be found at:
The noise isn't as bad as I thought it would be.
The a/c unit is plugged in and working now in our room, thanks to all those who pitched in to donate it. This made it possible to give a math test (beginning of year first test just to see what they know) instead of going outside to escape the heat.
We also completed a couple of simple writing lessons. I shared with the students that most of them write only one or two sentences when prompted now, but my goal is that all students can easily write one page or more in a short amount of time on a subject of their choosing.
Some of that "news" seemed rather bloggish, hmmm? More later.
First post of the 2012-2013 school year
Wednesday, August 22, 2012 3:40 PM
Great to see most families at the Open House and ice cream social! If you could not make it the other night, no worries, just bring child and supplies to first day of school and plan to take just a few extra minutes to fill out some paperwork. Looking forward to a great school year.
Thank you to Everett's mom, Anne, for volunteering to be our PTA Room Rep this year! Not to put the pressure on her, but we will have a great school year due to EVERYone's hard work this year, including me, Anne, the students and (here it comes) you when Anne contacts you to help out with this or that throughout the year. Working together with a division of labor (and a true labor of love for the students) we will ALL do a tremendous job of meeting the student's needs for a fun and rigorous school year.
It's 3:45 on a Wed. and I'm in the building almost all by myself after a long day of staff development. The construction workers have gone home, too, and so it's nice and quiet around here without any piling-pounding noises:)
I had a very nice, relaxing summer filled with fun, enriching activities with my 1st grade son Spencer (who goes to school at this place, too). We also had many long, lazy mornings with our own little "Read-A-Thons" in bed together where we'd read 10 or 15 picture books in a row. We did that mostly to make up for missing too many readings times before bed due to being overly busy, if you know what that is like. I've only got one child and can't even begin to imagine how some of you do it with 3 or even more kids. I comment about relaxing summer to convey how much I am really ready for this school year to start: that is re-energized and charged up to go back to work. I know lots of professions could use such time off to re-energize, but teaching really needs to have it I believe. What I'm trying to say is I feel like I have a more-than-usual amount to give this year and I'm not just saying that. It would be bad karma to not be completely honest in a blog. Just wait because I probably won't be blogging like this come May:) Seriously, I will pace myself and give and give right up until 4:00 on June 4th, 2013:)
This may sound a bit weird, but I put a Wish List item on the board that I'd be willing to come to dinner (and bring dessert) at one of your homes and someone snatched that one up right away. I've often dreamed of having a little "Family Involvement Program" called "Dinner with Mr. D." where I visited all the students homes that way near the beginning of the year. So, I am extending that invitation to any families that would like to do so. I'm not just looking for a free meal, either:) I think you can understand that making a personal connection with such a brief visit sends a strong message to students that teacher and families are really concerned and working together on their behalf. I am available a couple of evenings a week for this "program" and so just contact me if you are interested. This is taking the parent/teacher conferences to the next level and I'm excited to see how it goes. I've read in the past about how some teachers visit everyone student at home every school year and I'm not saying it has to be everyone, but it's always been an interesting idea to me.
Finally, what's my name this year for students and parents? It's gonna (you can spell like that when blogging, I understand:) be: "Scott" (not Mr. Devens, not Mr. D., not Your Highness, just plain "Scott." I have a variety of reasons for this and understand that it's been done by other teachers at this school in the past so that's just the way it is. Notice it's not "BlogMrDevens" it's "BlogScott" :)
See you all Monday. Time to get out of the building before I get locked in overnight!