BlogScott - Room 204 Daily Classroom Happenings (Note: scroll down page for blog)
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Welcome to the Room 204 news website and classroom blog!

This page is updated about once per week.  Parents, students, or any other interested persons can bookmark this page and refer to it for current information on class assignments, homework assignments, or important announcements from Room 204.  There will also be a "blog" feel to it sometimes, where I reflect on the happenings in the classroom so readers can share in the reality that we are building together in our classroom. The intent is that some of the information can be used for "talking points" with your child, to facilitate conversation and to reinforce learning.  These blogs may be insightful, entertaining, or possibly even mundane, but at least they will be something different to read.   Hope you find this website useful.  - Scott Devens

 

Ready for the Fun Run!
Room 204 News
Wednesday, September 19, 2018 9:10 AM
Here are some news items about our classroom (not "fake news" but better/nicer than the "real news" if you know what I mean:)
 
* I sent home the "old" student writing journals (with pages that ripped out too easily) because our Room Reps donated better writing journals (whose pages stay in there).  Regarding daily journal writing (the first 15 minutes or so each day is all): what I am hoping to help students develop is what I call writing fluency.  My hope is that every student can free write (without worrying about spelling) a minimum of 1/2 page per session. This is easily attainable by some and more difficult for others.  Usually, by the end of the year, all students can achieve this.  How the journals are "graded" is an "N" for less than 1/2 page; a check for 1/2 page; a double plus mark for 1/2 page or more about the suggested writing prompt on the board (it is good to practice writing to a specific prompt); a plus for about 1 page (not about the journal prompt); and a double plus for about 1 1/2 pages or more (not about the journal prompt).  Sorry, that sounds a bit complicated but sometimes the students even "grade" themselves once they get this.
 
I evaluated all the journals before sending them home and there are about 10 students currently struggling with writing the minimum amount each day (not unusual at this time of year).  I hope to help each of them be able to write at least 1/2 page per session by the end of the year.  We can talk more about your child's specific work in this area at upcoming conferences.  The journal writing results in unedited pieces of work, but we also will be writing in writer's workshop where we edit and polish pieces for publication, focusing more on quality than just fluency.
 
By the way, students are encouraged to write about the prompt, but many choose to write about whatever they like.  I've also given each student a list of a couple hundred writing ideas to choose from so that having a topic is always readily available.
 
* Wow, many, many more families have registered and pledged on FunRun.com and now we have already earned 5 of 9 classroom incentives!  Today, we had our tent making event and on Friday afternoon we are going to combine pizza party, pajama day, AND stuffed animal day all in one.  So, parents, please remind your child that they can wear pajamas to school this Friday if they want to, they can bring ONE stuffed animal if they want to, and they can enjoy one or two slices of cheese pizza in the afternoon if they'd like.  But all this is on Friday, Sept. 21st.
I can't list the all the students who have signed up for the fundraiser online any longer because that would be publicly shaming those families who haven't registered yet, but if just 9 more families sign up we can have 100% participation.  Go to FunRun.com to get it going if you haven't gotten to it yet and come cheer kids on during the Fun Run itself a week from tomorrow on Thursday, Sept. 27th at 10:00 on the playground field.
Pledge-O-Meter Excitement!
Tuesday, September 18, 2018 8:45 AM

- What's a "Pledge-O-Meter"?  It's a poster given to each classroom from the Boosterthon fundraiser where we've listed our class incentives for the fundraiser.  We had a class meeting, came up with 18 ideas, voted for our top 9 ideas, and then created our poster yesterday (9/17) on the first official day of the fundraiser.  And we've already earned the first 3 class incentives!  So, the temperature indicator is rising as we reach for the top.  Here are the class rewards we are shooting for:  9. Making Forts  8. Candy Day  7. Pizza Party  6. Pajama Day   5.  Stuffed Animals!  4. Ice Cream Treats  3. Krazy Hair Day!  2. Movie Day!  1. Video Games!

* Students can bring one or two smallish, lightweight blankets and a flashlight to class tomorrow 9/19 so we can make forts in the afternoon and read inside them with our flashlights...what fun! :)

* Today, each student gets a small cup of candy to nibble throughout the day and I guess we are having a pizza party on Friday (so pack a little bit smaller lunch than usual because each will get one or two slices in the afternoon if they wish.).  (I must have provided a good, smallish amount of candy today because nobody got a tummy ache:)

We've already had 11 families register for on the website.  Yesterday, each student brought home a card with info on about the fundraiser, including how to register.  Great job families!  This is fun and at the end...we run!  Somebody sponsored me $2 per lap, so maybe I will have to jog along, too, this year!  No candy for me today, then:)  Also, those kids whose families have gotten some fundraising pledges received some of their individual prizes today.  Congrats to Ben, Henry F., Hudson, Tess, Grace, Nora, and Henry W.  So, we have the CLASS incentives and the INDIVIDUAL prizes to be earned right now, which is really exciting.  Let's go Boosterthon fundraising!

- We have been working on Dreambox at school, periodically in the computer lab and then sometimes in the class using our iPads.  Parents, make sure to help your child do Dreambox Math at home with the goal of completing one lesson per night on average.  Did you miss a few nights during the busy week?  Then have a Dreambox "binge" on the weekend if possible, encouraging your child to complete a few lessons in a row.

 

 

 

Welcome to the 2018-2019 school year!
Monday, September 10, 2018 9:00 AM

Welcome to a new school year everybody!  We're off to a great start already, including the wonderful email from our PTA Room Reps packed with great information.  Watch for more info from me on this webpage about once per week.

I started using this webpage a long time ago when I taught fifth grade at the upper campus.  The original intent was for me to post daily homework assignments right away so that parents could support their kids with getting their homework completed.  Now, I use this page as a place for classroom information that is all in one place, where you can easily read past posts to see if you've missed anything (and so that I don't post things repeatedly:)  So, let's begin:

- Speaking of homework, your child should be doing the following right now each night: 10-15 minutes of reading with an adult (I will talk about this more at conferences, like how to read with your child and how some students are going to need much more time on reading to boost their ability this year), complete at least one lesson using the Dreambox program, and study spelling words.  This week's spelling test is going to be rather difficult for some (I'll be taking it, too:) with all the proper names, so I told kids not to stress out if it is difficult for them; on the other hand, some students might challenge themselves to get them all right.  The spelling test will be Friday, 9/14.

- Eventually, students will be using Dreambox in class almost everyday for 20 minutes or so during math stations, but for now they can get started at home and continue that homework routine of using Dreambox all year long and through next summer if you'd like.  Today, our first home project was sent (Tunnel Books) and so please go over the white instruction page with your child and it is due 9/28.  I showed the kids how the projects are supposed to have a bit of a 3-D effect by attaching pics to the sides of the "tunnel".  I suggested they photocopy pics possibly instead of gluing precious ones to their project.  These will be displayed in the hallway.  Be creative and have fun.  I went a bit overboard and said the tunnel helps us get to know you because it is a window into your soul [lowered my voice], but then Hudson and others thought that sounded too dark:)

- We will have a specific spelling words program that will start in a few weeks.  This list of classmates is more of just a fun, get-to-know-you spelling list.

- Today, all students tie-dyed their white shirts for use on field trips and they look great!  Nice day for such outdoor activities.  We will use the shirts this coming Thursdays on our walking field trip  (of which all families have already turned in their permission slips

- Did I mention the spelling test of everyone's names is the coming Friday?  I think I did so I must be re-emphasizing it:)

- Please, PLEASE do what our most excellent PTA Room Reps suggested and sign up for the school's electronic newsletter.  All sorts of organized info in there including lots of stuff about our upcoming Fun Run Dragon Dash fundraiser.  Last year our school raised around 97k and this year our goal is to break 90k again.  Go Dragons!  The 2nd grade Dragon Dash, by the way, is scheduled for Wed. 9/26 at around 10:00 so try to get that morning off from whatever and come cheer on our student runners in this exciting fundraiser!  Hope to see you there!

- You don't need to do anything about this, but next week the students will be taking a computerized test in math and reading to help me put them into groups for instruction.  I believe the tests are on Thursday and I'll be sharing some of the test results during conferences.

- This week is Bus Safety Week so we are learning all about that.  At the end of the week, hopefully your child can recite the BIG FOUR safety rules to you (which are 1. Stay out of the danger zones, 2. Always sit down, 3. Follow Driver's instructions, and 4. Be respectful.  We go into a lot more detail than that on many things, but hopefully they can memorize the BIG FOUR rules.

- Do you drop your child off at school in the mornings?  If so, the best time for them to arrive is actually 9:25 when the front doors are opened allowing students inside access.  If they get here at 9:25 or earlier, they can come right up to class and start getting organized for the day (sharpen pencils, turn in forms, fill water bottle, use restroom, etc.)

- Regarding birthdays: we don't really celebrate them in the room much in second grade or higher, but I do give each child a birthday sticker to wear on their special day. If they were born during the summer, I give them a sticker celebrating the 1/2 birthday:)  Please do not send sugary treats for birthdays as that is against or district wellness policy, which I agree with.  Now, if you want to send clementines, bananas, or apples for each child let me know.  Actually, if someone sends 4-5 big apples and some little bowls and forks, I have a deluxe apple slicer and cinnamon which makes healthy apple sundaes.  Or, not sending anything is fine, too.  Whatever you do, never send homemade baked goods as that is a no-no.  Thanks.

- Today, I presented a very brief social studies lesson on the 9-11 tragedy.  At this age, some kids are really interested in such things and some kids don't want to hear too much of that adult-type stuff.  So, I just gave them the basics.  My goal is that they at least know what the whole thing was about.  We watched a video, I read a basic description of the events, and then I showed them just the cover of a Strib newspaper I saved from 9-12-2001.  I told the students that if they want to know more about 9-11, there are many many books out there for them to research with their parents help.  Here is the video URL if you'd like to watch it:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iy2L9VeUfc

- Finally (and I know I haven't covered everything) we had a special science teacher visit our class from an organization called Curious Minds.  This is a special science-enrichment program that was funded by a grant from our school's PTA (and where does the PTA get money to fund such things?  from the Boosterthon fundraiser, mostly!).  Kids worked in groups and designed systems for filtering water after watching a video about space program and water use (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCjH3k5gODI).  Next time the guest teacher visits, we will test our filters to see how they work. 

Don't worry, not all the website blog updates will be this long:)