Friday, March 10, 2017 1:00 PM
Here're a few things for this chilly Friday afternoon:
- Thank you to Grace's mom for supplying the treats for our class ice cream party today. We had tremendous participation in the Read-A-Thon and the kids certainly deserved a bit of a celebration this afternoon. Parents, too, deserve recognition for your work and dedication during our month-long Read-A-Thon for reading with your children, helping them find great books, and for modeling a love of reading. Have a little ice cream yourselves, parents, as you deserve something, too:)
- Regarding the March Homework project: directions and a sheet of construction paper were sent home this week. I explained the project to all the students, but here's a little more for parents. Basically, students are to choose a "special place" in the neighborhood that is a public place that most others might be familiar with. A common choice is the Bandshell, but finding a more unique one is more fun. I asked kids to try to choose from this neighborhood area first, but it could be the metro area or even anywhere in Minnesota if needed. Then, they write a detailed but purposely vague (I know, that's a strange writing genre) description that they will read to the class to see if anyone can "guess" their chose place. Of course, if they just write "my place is Sebastion Joe's" that doesn't make the guessing game very interesting; probably don't want to even say "my place sells ice cream" or everyone would know right away (unless you were trying to trick people because your area was actually the frozen food aisle at Lunds). Anyway, I think you get the idea. The written description gets pasted to the outside of the paper. The inside should feature a hand-drawn or printed map along with the name of the revealed place. Each child will stand up in front of the class and read their description, then a bunch of listeners are allowed to guess, and finally the map and place is revealed. It's actually quite a fun project to share, and it's made even more fun if the writing part is done "just right" and so if you can support your young writer in accomplishing that weird...descriptive yet mysteriously vague....style of writing that would help:)
- About the Read-A-Thon prizes: if you and your child believe a mistake was made and you should have had prizes awarded from the RAT, please check the school website and contact the parent coordinator of the Read-A-Thon directly. To me, everything appeared very organized and well-done, but mistakes do happen and the parent volunteers will work with you to solve anything if needed.
- Math facts homework: I've been noticing that many students are struggling when doing math problems because they have not memorized their basic addtion and subtraction math facts (0-9). Or, they've memorized them in the past but need some refresher work on them. It's hard to take precious class time for such drills, so I've come up with a web-based strategy for kids to work on this at home. They are many websites about this nowadays, but most of them are not very good. After quite a bit of internet research, I came across a simple yet effective website that will work. So, please help your child get to: http://ascendmath.com/fcm/html5/ Then, follow these steps: 1. type in name, 2. type in + or - , 3. type in range of 2 to 9, 4. select Time Limit of 2 minutes, 5. select quantity of 40 problems. Here's what we'd like to see: when your child can accomplish 100% correct in addition or subtraction in two minutes, print the results and then have them turn it in to me in class. If your child really struggles with getting even close to that goal, you might want to try making some basic math fact flashcards and study with them for awhile before taking the online quiz again.
Tuesday, March 07, 2017 4:10 PM
- In the middle of April (4/19 and 4/20, I believe) the second grade does a huge service-learning project called our "Earth Day Garage Sale". I'm suggesting that families possibly put a couple of double-strength grocery bags out somewhere and start filing them with gently used toy and game donations for that sale. We would like to break our all-time sales record for the sale this year, and to do so we will need lots and lots of good donations. More information will be coming home in the next several weeks about the sale and exactly what to donate, but you can start by bagging up those things your kids bought at the sale last year:) (kidding...or am I?)
- Speaking of donations: if anybody would like to donate something to the classroom, we could use a plastic tool cart ($89) that I saw at Home Depot last weekend. It is dark grey or black on wheels and we could use it for our science supply cart. So, if you'd like to donate it to the classroom, please email me first and I will let everyone else know that the need was met so I don't get 12 carts suddenly appearing at our door one day:) I promise that one day, when I retire or move on to become the U.S. Secretary of Education, the cart will remain in this school in this classroom to aid the teaching of science for generations to come.
- Red Folders were sent home today. Some include a field trip permission slip (unless your child brought it home and back already). If the slip somehow got lost, please just write a permission slip on a piece of paper and send it with $10 for our upcoming trip to CTC. Thank you.
- We needed 100% participation in the Read-A-Thon to win a class ice-cream party, but we had "only" 97% participation so we did not make it the official class reward:( But....I am so impressed by that high participation number that I told the students that I will reward our class with an unofficial ice cream party:) I may not be able to afford a science cart, but I think I can swing that. Oh, and many, many Read-A-Thon prizes were sent home with students today, too. Congrats to all the Room 204 readers! You are all truly reading super heros! If students earned a Read-A-Thon T-shirt, they should wear to school coming up on 3/17.
- We voted for book winners in the following contest:http://www.starofthenorthaward.org Scroll down to see the list of this year's nominees and you will see the book "Night Animals" which was the vote winner for Room 204. It will be exciting to find out several weeks from now when the official winner is announced after thousands of readers vote. Will our selection win the whole thing? We will have to wait and see:)
- There were very many high scores on the recent math test we took, but a special shout-out goes to Emmett for getting the test 100% correct. Congratulations, Emmett!
- Spelling lists were sent home today and the tests will be this Friday.
- Couple fun events coming up: LHCS Science Fair on 3/16 at Upper Campus at 5:00 and Free Family Fun Day at the MIA this coming Sunday from 11-4.
Food Drive for Kindness all next week!
Wednesday, February 22, 2017 10:55 AM
- Yesterday, grocery bags with an attached flyer about our school's food drive were sent home with each student. Starting next Monday, all students in the school will be able to donate food right away when they walk into school each morning for 5 days straight. They don't even bring the food to our classroom as bins and volunteers will be stationed near the entrances to receive the food right when students walk in with it. It would be really nice if each student in our class could bring at least one item each day of the drive. It would be totally AWESOME if each student brought in a whole bag of food each day. You can have your child reuse that same grocery bag each day or just send them with a new (double bag for strength?) grocery bag each day. Or, no bag needed at all if they bring just one or two items each day, which is fine. Participation is more important here as we will be talking in class about the importance of kindness projects such as this and those discussions will be more relevant if kids have been actively participating, preferably on a daily basis.
- Tomorrow and Friday (2/23 and 2/24) our class has signed up to go to the Read-A-Thon Used Book Fair. This is a fundraiser for the school and it is also to promote reading. Each student should bring a few dollars on tomorrow and the next day this week for shopping for books. Any change can be brought home or just donated to the cause. So, send 1, 3, 5 or 10 dollars at the very most with your child. Most books will cost 50 cents or a dollar. We are shopping at 10:25 on Thursday and 2:15 on Friday.
- Spelling lists were sent home with students last week and the tests will be tomorrow (Thurs. 2/23). The six students not doing the Words Their Way spelling will have new challenging spelling lists sent home with them next week.
- This Friday (2/24) is the final day of the Read-A-Thon. Starting right away next week, students should start turning in their calendars with their total minutes read during the last month. If they did the fundraiser part, they should collect all pledges to turn in with their calendar logs. Again, if 100% of Room 204 students turn in their total number of minutes, we will win a class prize for 100% participation. Kids that did the fundraiser part can also be eligible to win prizes, too.
- Is your child using Dreambox math at home fairly regularly? We are trying to keep up with using it in class, but students can continue to use it at home as well. I did change the settings so that rewards in the program can only be redeemed on Fridays, so that should help the other days be more productive about actual math and make Fridays even more fun:)
- Science update: Ms. Clough has been helping us learn about properties of solids and now liquids. Yesterday, students examined several different liquid specimens in bottles (dish soap, syrup, colored water, hand soap, etc.) to discover some physical properties (color, viscosity, pourability, foaminess, etc.). You may want to supplement this activity at home by doing some simple observational activities with liquids such as taking a baking sheet and pouring small pools of different liquids and observing the differences (same amount of water and syrup spreads out much differently, of course). Then take that baking sheet and tip it slightly and see what happens to the different samples of liquids. You could even add different liquids into the same clear bottle and observe how they mix or don't mix. Shake them up and see what happens. Let them sit (after shaking) overnight and observe any changes. Try to demonstrate the old axiom of oil and water not mixing:)
- Language Arts: We did some Readers' Theatre today where several students performed a brief play. They brought the scripts home and can perform them at home again. If you have fewer people at home than speaking parts, people can play more than one part each or you'll just have to go get some neighbors to help:)
Love is in the Air!
Tuesday, February 14, 2017 4:00 PM
Happy Valentine's Day!
A HUGE thanks to all the parent volunteers that planned and supplied a WONDERFUL Friendship Party in class this morning! Room 204 little cupids decorated cookies (most ate them right away), made some fun emojis on a stick, made another colorful craft figure, listened to some animated stories, and played a fun dice game at stations. A well-deserved break for all the hard work we've been doing in class.
It's Tuesday and a lot of things came home with students today in their red folders:
- There was a blue sign-up sheet for the LHCS Science Fair and I suggested kids talk with their parents to mutually decide whether to participate, depending on how scheduled/busy they already are.
- Another white sheet came home announcing our upcoming Second Grade Read-In on Friday, February 24th, which also happens to be the last day of the Read-A-Thon AND also happens to be RAT Pajama Day! Besides the info that is already on the sheet, students can bring a small pillow, small blanket, small stuffed animal, and small snack (sandwich bag?) in a sturdy bag for the Read-In. If any PARENTS or grandparents want to come read with us that day, too, (to model a love of reading), just show up from 10:00-11:30 or between 2:00- 3:30. Just bring a good book or newspaper and read with us for awhile if you're available (adults do not need to wear pajamas that day:)
- Corrected spelling lists were sent home and our next list was also sent home to study. You've got some extra time to study for this one, though, because the test won't be until Thurs. 2/23. (due to short weeks and other interuptions).
Note: I suggested to the class that a possible healthy strategy for dealing with all the candy they brought home today was to have their parents help them pick out their 10 favorite pieces and to throw out all the rest; just the sheer mention of that idea was very strongly resisted by several students. But, I stand by my idea and encourage families to discuss with their children that candy is (possibly) okay for the occasional treat but that these treats barely qualify as food and have no nutrional value whatsoever. I wish fresh veggies went better with Valentines....
Finally, are you keeping up with helping your child track their Read-A-Thon minutes? You can go back and estimate if you missed some days:) Remember, if 100% of the students in our class participates by reading and logging their minutes and turning that in to me after the 24th, then our class will qualify for a class reward. And anyone can participate in the reading part without doing any fundraising, so let's shoot for 100% participation. Read On, everybody!
Tuesday, February 07, 2017 3:55 PM
1. Check those backpacks for a LOT of things coming home today. The progress reports have a signature line, but please ignore that as they do NOT need to be signed and returned. As a matter of fact, red folders should come back empty as there are no permission slips being sent home I believe.
2. Tonight is the Read-A-Thon family night at the Lower Campus. You can arrive as early as 6:00 p.m. if you'd like. I'm not sure what time the author is speaking, but I think it's sometime after 6:30.
3. Wow, we had a LOT of engaging science activities today. We had a guest presenter here from "Curious Minds" who had the kids explore solids, liquids and gases (the 3 states of matter, besides the 4th one: plasma). She put dry ice in a hot tub of water and we got to witness the amazing process of "sublimation" as the solid dry ice turned immediately to gas, creating a harmless cloud in the classroom; such fun! Ashley also taught a fine science lesson exploring the properties of solids and some vocabulary words for the materials were metal, ceramic, plastic, leather, fabric and more. The focus today was on kids being able to describe properties of solids with words like pointy, rough, smooth, flexible, rigid, hard, soft, etc.
Read-A-Thon is in full swing!
Tuesday, January 31, 2017 1:00 PM
-Read-A-Thon packets were sent home last week after our school kickoff assembly. I asked each child to sit down with their parents and read through the entire packet. The fundraiser part is optional, but logging minutes (using the bookmark or the calendar) is required homework. Actually, if 100% of our students turn in their reading log sheets (the calendar) indicating the total minutes read, then I believe our class will win something for everyone participating. Again, fundraising is optional.
- For the assembly, Cormac and Ava deserve thanks for entertaining the whole school with their acting abilities! Way to go master thespians!
- additional permission slips were sent home with several students today. If you see that white sheet in your child's backpack, please just sign that and return it to school with your child ASAP. Thanks, parents!
- Speaking of the RAT again, there is a family night and guest author this coming Thursday. See the Connection Newslette or the school website for more details.
- Congratualtions to Henry C. and Isabelle who luckily won a prize drawing for the RAT in our room. They each won a bookmark timer from the PTA. Of course, many were bummed they didn't beat the odds, so I tried to console them by reminding them if they are real helpful at home and nice to their parents, just maybe their folks will buy them one at Creative Kidstuff or Barnes and Noble:)
- Finally, all students are allowed to bring one favorite stuffed animal for THE JUNGLE this coming Thursday in Phy Ed. The stuffed animal does not have to be a jungle animal, as gophers and rabbits are cute and fun enough. No live animals, though, please.
- Words Their Way spelling: for those students that are in this program, spelling lists will be sent home almost each week until the end of the year, including an answer key for sorting. Help your child try to see the partterns in the words by sorting them as a way to study them. When we take the test, I may through in one (or a few, even) additional words (that were not even on their "list" that fit one of the patterns. For instance, if you have studied the word "then" you should be able to spell the word "hen" even if it wasn't on your exact words to study. Hope that makes sense.
- For science, we are starting a new unit called Solids and Liquids. An intro letter was sent home today in student backpacks. Don't forget to send the red folders back by Friday if you can.
- In math, we are learning to about rounding and estimating. Can your child round 124 to the nearest ten (120)? To the nearest 100 (100) and, for an extra challeng, can they round 124 to the nearest thousand (0)? Then, we are learning how to estimate with our rounded numbers, too. Feel free to give your child some 2 or 3 digit problems (like 67 + 22 = ?) and see if they can give you a reasonable estimate (90?). Give them a 3 digit number to round and they SHOULD ask you "round it to what place?" (meaning to the closest 10 or the closest 100s place?)
- Thanks to some funding from the PTA, we have over 20 additional, challenging chapter books for the advanced readers in class. Those fundraisers directly impact the classroom so please support your school's PTA through participation in fundraisers and volunteering as well.
- I will be contacting families about conference coming up in the middle of February. We don't meet with all families this time like we did in the fall and I will be asking to meet with 6 or 7 families to discuss your child's progress in math. Report cards for all students will be sent home next week I believe.
- We have a Friendship Party coming up in class on 2/14. I will be sending home a list of student names to use for Valentines if you'd like. I told the kids we will be decorating fancy bags for Valentine collections in class, but that if they want to decorate their own shoebox at home, instead, they can do that as optional homework (bring the boxes anytime and we can store them until 2/14).
- About 10 students have returned the Advanced Learner Research Project optional assignment that was sent home a week or two ago. If your child still wants to complete that, it is due to me by 2/3.
Wow, that's a lot of things. Hope I didn't wear out anybody's reading glasses! Have a great day everybody and Go Lake Harriet Read-A-Thon readers!
Plan ahead to Participate!
Tuesday, January 10, 2017 11:00 AM
I held up our classroom calendar and pointed out a bunch of fun activity days coming up for the Read-A-Thon next month (which involve wearing unique costumes to school, mostly) with the students today. I suggested to them to work with their parents on PLANNING AHEAD if they want time to pull off dressing up for these fun activity days. I told them it doesn't work very good when students and parents realize the night before that the next day is "Dress up like your favorite Literay Character Day" because then it's just a BIT too late to gather a costume, usually. It is not necessary that everybody dress up on these school-spirit days, because it boosts everyone's spirits if even just a hand-ful of people dress up; but if NObody does it then it's a bit of a drag. So, here are some things to PLAN AHEAD for (that I got off of the school calendar on the school website, by the way):
- Read-A-Thon (RAT) kick off is at school on 1/26 and then the RAT officially starts on 1/31. Thursday, January 26th is "Dress like a Super Hero Day". Think of all the classic characters you could help your child dress up as: Captain America, Thor, Silver Surfur, Wonder Woman, Ironman, Superman, Spinder man, Metamorpho, Triplicate Girl, Green Lantern, Hulk, etc.
- RAT "Dress up Like a Favorite Literary Character Day" is Friday, February 3rd. Help your child dress as somebody other than Harry Potter? We've read a few books about Helen Keller, lately, or any other fairly recognizable fictional literay characters are good. We talked about just because there have been books written about, say, Justin Beiber, that does not mean he is considered a literary character, right?
- RAT wear one color day is Friday, February 10th. Extra credit for any students that wear University of Minnesota Maroon or Golden Gopher Gold:)
- LH School Spirit Wear Day. Wear school colors or school shirts, pants, or hats. If you don't have any official school apparel, just take a plain white t-shirt and decorate it yourself using fabric paint or markers. Go Dragons! LHCS Rocks! LHCS Reads! I "heart" LHCS! etc.
- Pajama Day, which is also the last day of the Read-A-Thon. 2nd grade will also probably have a Read-In that day (more info about that later).
There are other fun events not mentioned here that will be listed in the Read-A-Thon packet that will come home with your child. Just wanted to give you a heads up about some of these events that might require a trip to the costume store (Party City is a good one) or hours spent behind a sewing machine:) Also make sure to check that school calendar on the front of the website periodically.
23 below zero this Sat? (NOT including wind chill!)
Thursday, December 15, 2016 1:10 PM
The program in the gym followed by the poetry readings and social in the classroom yesterday were....awesome! Of course, you were all brimming with pride (as you should be regarding your children) but part of the joy of teaching is that I, also, get to brim with pride (a fraction of parentel (sp?) pride, but still) for each of the students. I only have one child of my own, so having 27 other part-timers is very nice:) Seriously, their singing, and their writing, and their reading...what a wonderful morning! Thank you all for taking time out of your busy schedules to be here with us and, of course, for sharing your beautiful children with me. And thanks to the parents who bought and served up the punch and cookies! Okay I should stop, before those allergies start kicking in again just remembering it all:)
- a note (confession?) about those Ode Poems: because I was previously thinking of having students share some other writing, we only wrote the Ode poems this week. We wrote them, edited them, and then rewrote them all just before the program. And yet, because we've been working on descriptive writing (including using metaphors), the poems turned out great. We didn't share many of the other pieces we've been working on because they are too lengthy and would have taken too long to share.
- Why all this emphasis on writing? There is research that indicates a reading/writing connection for young learners, meaning that the aquisition of the skill of reading tends to come along better with the simultaneous aquisition of the skill of writing. Many parents read with their children all the time; but how many parents WRITE with their children? But might I write with my child, you might say? One creative idea might be to sit down at your computer and have your child invent and then dictate a story to you while you type it into your computer. Then, work with your child to break it up into scenes or pages. Finally, print it out and have your child illustrate each page (that will keep them busy during the cold, indoor days over break:). And then, lastly, your child could enjoy READING their story to relatives during holiday gatherings. I think you can see the reading/writing connection there, right? Maybe give them some help/guidance first by suggesting 1-3 characters, a setting, and even a basic story idea (I challenge you to make up and tell me a story about Jennifer, Jennifer's friend Charlie, and Charlie's dog Fritz who all get lost one day on a hike in the woods. What happens leading up to the problem and how do they solve it together? Or, any other outrageous story idea.) Many of the students in this class would not need that much guidance, though; you might just challenge them by saying "Mr. Devens said you could write me an interesting story to read. Could you write and illustrate an interesting story? I'd really like to read one written by you." We have even talked a bit in class about the 3 main tensions that make stories interesting so ask them if they will write a story about "man" versus man, man versus himself, or man versus the environment? Some type of CONFLICT makes marriages and stories more interesting:)
- Announcement: we will be getting a student teacher for about 12 weeks or sometime after break! More information to follow later. She has experience in Minneapolis working with kids in the Mpls Kids program and has a keen interest in science, too. For now, you should just know that this is a GOOD thing as you will be getting 2 teachers for the price of one:) I am very selective about who I accept to work with, and so rest assured that this will be a good thing. Looking forward to helping induct a new professional into their career while meeting the needs of the students even better than just little old me:)
- Many students have signed up for Junior Great Books program. I believe the appllication were due today, but if you sent yours back by tomorrow I bet you'd be okay.
- Something else you may want to do with your children over break: go to a roller rink and practice roller skating with them. Why? Because we have a whole school roller skating event coming up on January 15th. Plan ahead. Give them more confidence to attend the school event by helping them get alll the way around now without falling.
- Today, students took a survey in the computer lab, the results of which will be used by me to improve my practice. Looking foward to getting feedback from our young learners.
- In science we have been working with discovering a strange rotational motion with Zoomers. Kids like it so much, I am allowing them to bring the supplies home over break. The red plastic disks MUST be returned, though, after break. If your child can do it, have them show you how. If they cannot yet, have them show you the basic procedure and then you try to learn it with them. It's really hard to explain and it's a CHALLENGE (but easy...once you know how). If the string breaks, you just have to make another one about a yard long. Here's a video that might help you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sH8_RHaw7ow Good luck!
- We just finished reading a book together (a new chapter book that I project on the screen while the kids follow along) and the students applauded afterwards! That doesn't happen very often:)
Thursday, December 08, 2016 8:45 AM
I will try to keep this brief as we are all so busy this time of year:
- I can REALLY tell many parents have been helping their children learn the math computation from the "optional homework" sheet I sent home recently. Keep working on those with your child if needed as we will be having the second quarter math test, including those types of problems, shortly after winter break. Another thing some students could work on a bit outside of class is the memorization of their basic math facts. They may have already worked on those in first grade, but could still use some help memorizing them. For instance, the harder ones like 8 + 5 or 7 + 8 would be good to study. If kids have to stop and figure out those basic facts in the middle of a solving a more complex problem it makes it even tougher. At the least, you could help them figure it out (if not memorized) by practicing counting up with their fingers accurately (for instance, to do 8 + 5, start with the bigger number, don't put up a finger when you say the number you start with, and then count up until you say 13 with the fifth finger up). Having them MEMORIZED is much better though.....
- The book order is due online by tomorrow (Friday, Dec. 9). Remember, when you shop online in our book club you help us earn bonus points to buy books for our classroom libray. Thanks!
- Wow, what a great STEAM day last Friday. Tons of parent volunteers in the building teaching highly engaging, hands-on activiies. Kids were really excited and I was thoroughly impressed by the inventions class that was held in this classroom.
- Congratuations to Asher and Ellie for being nominated as Students of the Month for November!
- We are reading some award-nominated picture books in class in prepartion for being eligible to vote for the top winners later in the school year. More info about this program can be found here:http://www.starofthenorthaward.org/nominees-2016-17.html We have the entire collection of this year's nominees thanks to the LHCS PTA who funded the purchasing of the books through our school media center. We also have the books that are the nominees for chapter book awards (http://www.maudhartlovelace.org/nominees.html) and just started reading "Wild River" together in class. The students "made" me read multiple chapters of the adventure story as we it was so good we just couldn't put it down! Thanks PTA!
- In science, we are learning about physics (Balance and Motion) now. You could see if your child could possibly explain to you what "center of gravity" means (answer: the center of the mass of an object) and how "counterweights" are used to balance objects by moving the center of gravity closer to the "balance point". We discussed why an SUV vehicle is not as "stable" (another science vocab term we're learning) because the center of gravity is much higher (as compared to the balance point of where the tires contact the pavement) than say a sedan or even a formula one racer. The width of the wheels also enter in there, though, of course, which also contributes to how stable or unstable a vehicle might be. Told them my new Ford Escape even has a section in the owner's manual (yes, I read that) warning driver's of the higher chance of rollover. Understanding these things are very good things to know!
- After next week's concert in the gym (which starts at 10:10 and arrive early for choice seating), parents are all invited to a brief visit in the classroom where parent volunteers are providing punch and cookies. Some students may also be sharing some of their written pieces outloud with the microphone and, after that, all parents can read stories in the student's writing portolios as we mingle and nibble and chat. The latest this event will go would be 11:30 and you can probably duck out even earlier than that (during the mingling part) if you need to get back to work. The concert is a "must see", the public readings are a "must see" if your child is selected the day before (I'll try to send out an email with names of those scheduled to read with the microphone late Tuesday), but the mingling and munching are purely optional depending on your work schedules of course. Looking forward to a fun social next Wednesday!
- Today we were invited to visit a third grade room to visit their "wax museum" where all the 3rd grade students were suddenly missing and, in their places, were lifelike historical figures made out of wax in front of biographical displays! All we had to do was reach out and switch the mechanical figures on (by pushing down their raised thumbs) and then some recorded devices inside the figures would start audiotapes, telling all about the historical figure's life. The third graders must have worked for weeks and weeks carving wax and making audiotapes:) What a great learning experience and something for these second graders to look forward to next school year.
Bit and Pieces
Wednesday, November 09, 2016 9:50 AM
Have sent a few emails lately, but here's the latest "blog" post of happenings in class:
- Congratualtions to Alex and Grace for being named Students of the Month from Room 204 for October. They were nominated by their peers and teacher for being outstanding citizens and will be featured in a Student of the Month display case in the hallway near the gym.
- A flyer is coming home in today's red folder about a special enrichment program we had in class from an organization called "Curious Minds" last Tuesday. Students learned about push and pull forces and then did a super-fun gravity activity making their own roller coasters! Ask your child about that one.
- In science, we completed our Air and Weather unit and also completed our new STEM unit which culminated in a windmill building activity in class. I was VERY impressed with how students designed their windmills, tested them at the "wind station" in class, and then persisted by going back to redesign and rebuild them to make them better. Everyone did a great job sticking with a very challenging activity. I would especilaly like to recognize Grace and Isabelle whose first designs were not successul but they then redesigned their windmill at least SIX TIMES, resulting in a design that ultimately did work very well. Others did that, too, but those two engineers really kept at it:)
- In reading, we are now studying nonfiction and learning about features of nonfiction books. Students will be eventually producing their own nonfiction books in class during Writing Workshop, too. Something you can do at home to reinforce what we are learning in class would be to read some nonfiction with your child and point out to them common features of such texts such as table of contents, glossary, photos and diagrams, sidebars, bold headings, etc.
- In math, you probably saw a signature sheet I sent home with additiona and subtraction problems on it. To reinforce what we are doing in school (and to help your child prepare for the next math test we will take in a few weeks), you could give your child some basic two or three-digit addition or subtraction problems (that include borrowing or trading) and help them work through the steps. For instance, 57 - 29 would be a good one. Instead of using the old-fashioned "shortcut method" (like we all learned in school), have them expand the numbers first like this 57 = 50 + 7 so that they can better UNDERSTAND what they are doing when they are borrowing or trading. On the test, shortcut will be acceptable, but expanding the numbers is better for mathematical understanding. I will send home another practice sheet soon to get you started but you can make up similar or harder problems yourself, too.
- In a few weeks, students will be taking a brief survey in the computer lab about their experiences in school and their experiences in this class. Those results will be used by me to help improve our efforts. Looking forward to getting feedback from the students and if parents ever have any ideas or suggestions you'd like to share with me, please feel free to shoot me an email. Not saying I will be able to make all suggested changes, of course, but the ideas (constructive criticism, both positive and negative) are appreciated.
- I may have said it in an email already, but what a great fall Harvest Party we had not too long ago! Thanks again to parents for doing that!
Guess that's all for now. It's hard to find time for these updates sometimes, but my New Year's resolution will be to get better at finding time to do them more often:)
busy, busy, busy
Wednesday, October 12, 2016 4:35 PM
Have sent out a few emails since the last post, but it's been awhile since blog update so get a full cup of cofffee, sit back, and relax to read this whole thing:
- More volunteers have, well, volunteered: Louisa (Ian's mom) is taking on the class libriarian task AND is handling all the Scholastic Book Club ordering this year, Amy (Isabelle's mom) is doing Writing Workshop on Tuesdays, Cathy (Ian's grandma) is doing writing workshop on Wednesdays. So, we just have two more roles to fill: we could use just one more writing workshop volunteers for Thursdays from 3:15-3:45 and then we could also use a class photographer to take pics periodically and then upload them to the yearbook website (explanatory letter available on how to upload things and could meet with me to get good dates every few weeks throughout the year to take some pics). Please email me if you can do either or these two things.
- Thank you Bri (Clay's mom) for a couple of great Art Adventure sessions, including fun hands-on learning activities, too! Bri will be back in the spring for a couple of more very interesting sessions.
- Picture day was recently and, if you missed it or if you don't like the pics, retake day is coming up soon. I'm sure the date for that is on the school website.
- Congrats to Cormac and Kayla for being nominated by myself (but mostly their peers) to be Room 204 Students of the Month for September!
- Our trip to the CTC was great! Such high quality and entertaining. We were sitting way up in the balcony though, which was a bit woozy:)
- Independent Reading books: At conferences, I will be sharing your child's approximate reading level. This can be used to select books to read at home or in the classroom. More about that at conferences, which start tomorrow night.
- Conference reminder slips were sent home with all students yesterday in their red folders. If your conference is later in the evening or afternoon, be prepared to start a bit later sometimes if we get behind schedule but I'll do my best to keep it pretty close.
- Tomorrow (Thurs. 10/12) is the last day to order Scholastic Book Club books for this first batch. So far, only 3 students have ordered books. Get online and order tonight while you still can.
- Spelling lists are sent home most weeks (unless really short weeks due to MEA or Thanksgiving and such) on Tuesdays and the tests are on Fridays. After winter break, we will change to a different way to study spelling (Words Their Way) for the remainder of the year.
- Today's reading lesson: we learned about figurative language, in particular personification: Read the following poem to your child and have them explain the personification aspect (the tiger having human-like thoughts as personification is giving human-like traits to non-human things).
Sleepy Tiger by Babs Bell H.
The sleepy tiger in the zoo
Opens his eyes and looks at you.
He stares and gawks at you a while,
Then yawns his great big sleepy smile,
And turns his head and stares some more,
Then stands and gives a big loud roar!
To say, "Well, well, it must be true!
We have new animals in the zoo!"
The sleepy tiger in the zoo
Meanders closer to look at you:
"They don't have hair at all like me;
They also have no tails, I see.
"What could these animals possibly be named?
They don't look wild; they're surely tamed."
But, to be sure, he stares some more;
Then stands and gives another roar!
"Aha! You jumped!" he thinks in glee.
"I see you animals are scared of me!
"That's why these bars are everywhere
Keeping me out here , and you in there!"
Ask your child to also explain another part of our reading lesson today. Ask them if they can recall why we said "Chapter Books are boring"? (answer: they are often boring in the first 1/4 or so because the author might be simply introducing characters and setting). Why is that important to realize? So we don't just give up on a long chapter book after just a few pages!
- Monthly Home Projects: students briefly shared their tunnel books with the class and, boy, are they great! We are waiting for corks strips to be installed in the hallway, but we will display them on student desks during conferences. Leaf projects have been coming in so that means they must be due soon (I can't recall exactly, but it must be soon:)
PeaceOneDay celebration tomorrow!
Tuesday, September 20, 2016 4:35 PM
Here are lots of announcements. I'll try to be concise to keep this a quicker read:
- Celebrating International Peace Day brings the world together, expresses our desire for nonviolence and allows us to make peace together.
With 1,300 K-8 students across two campuses it is a rare event to be in the same place at the same time. This year, in celebration of International Peace Day on Wednesday, September 21st, we will come together as one school, one community, to show our commitment to global peace. Students will collaborate to create banners that express what peace means to them and walk from each campus to come together at a local park. Once assembled, students will dance in unison as part of the international movement "One Day, One Dance," a symbol of unity and our part in the broader global community. Students will also spend time this day reflecting on peace, discussing what peace means and experiencing what it looks like to come together to make peace.
- video about how peace day was started by founder...http://www.peaceoneday.org/
- There are a few good vids on that website that explain the origin and purpose of the "PeaceOneDay" events. We watched them in class but you may want to watch them again at home with your child (tonight if you can). Also, here is a link to a song and lyrics that everybody will most likely be singing along to at the event tomorrow, which you may want to let your child view repeatedly tonight, too, if you have time. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FH9-Cy8TcaA It's a pretty great, catchy tune (from the 2010 World Cup Soccer, I believe).
- Lastly, about this event, sorry for the late invite, but if you'd like to stop by Linden Hills Park tomorrow to watch this unfold (if the weather holds out and we even go), please plan to be there from 2:30 to 3:00 or so. Parents often can't attend assemblies like this in the gym due to space constraints, but at the park please come if you'd like to and hope to see you there!-
- Several items were sent home in take-home folders today, including picture day order forms (picture day is coming up Oct. 7) and a flyer promoting a special event for Room 204's very own Asher and his family coming up soon.
- 100% of families are now signed up for conferences and I will send a small reminder sheet (with your familie's date and time) home with your child when we are about a week away from conferences.
- Fundraiser packets were sent home last week, so hopefully students and families are working on that already. About 50% of the sales go to the PTA, but remember if you like to just do a straight donation to the PTA (100%, of course) and skip the selling part that is fine, too. But who couldn't use some quality wrapping paper or chocolate anyway?
- Yes, my supposed twin brother Jeff taught last Friday when I thought I was going to be out for the day but then was able to send "Jeff" to work in my place when I realized I didn't need to stay home that day. We had some fun with that one:)
- Science update: we are learning about "air pressure" and "compression". We did a couple experiments today, one showing how air does indeed take up space, and another showing how air (a gas) can be compressed, but that water CANNOT be compressed.
- Finally, thanks to the following parents for volunteering in our classroom for this year: PTA Room Reps - Trudy (Bubba's family), - Jessica (Asher's family), and - Julie (Anna's family). Junior Achievement - Shawn (Ellis's family). Art Adventure - Bridget (Clay's family). And Writing Workshop Monday sessions - Gretchen (Jonas's family). We still have the following volunteer needs if anyone else is willing to take these things on for the benefit of our increased learning this school year:
We need 3 more volunteers for Writers Workshop; one for Tues, Wed, and Thurs. each week. You have to be available to work the same day each week almost every week, starting 10/3 probably. It is from 3:15-3:45 each day helping edit student papers in the classroom and training is provided.
We need 1 or 2 parents to take on the book club ordering process. Can be done on your own time mostly. You would distribute the book order sheets and info about once a month to students, collect the sheets (paper or online), send in the paper orders, and finally open the books when they arrive and get them distributed to all the correct students. I cannot do this task on top of everything else I already don't have enough time for, and so if somebody is willing to do this that would be great. The kids LOVE ordering books and we use the bonus points earned from ordering to order new books and supplies for the classroom. Who can help promote the love of books and literacy in our room this year?!
We also could really us a class "librarian" to support our reading literacy. This is a little simpler, but just as important as helping order new books. This person comes to our room (anytime your schedule allows) and straightens up the books in our classroom collection. I have seen parents do this in as little as a half hour. Of course, if you come less often it takes longer. This saves precious instructional time when we don't have to have "straightening sessions" during the school day.
The first person to email me can help with any of these important volunteer positions. Here's hoping some parents are interested and available to help if at all possible. Thank you!
We are anti-bullying experts now!
Friday, September 09, 2016 8:45 AM
Here are some Room 204 happenings:
- we've completed our anti-bullying lessons, culminating in a lesson on how to confront a bully (if you feel safe doing so) because this school/world needs bystanders to speak up. We actually role-played while learning the difference between Passive, Aggressive, and Assertive communication. Optional "homework": ask your child to request that you stop bullying (you play the bully part) someone else in a Passive (no eye contact, barely speaking up, withdrawn body language, not expecting results), then Aggressive (getting into someone's personal space, speaking loud and fast, tight body language, demanding), and finally in the more desirable Assertive (calm, asking you to please bullying as you are hurting others repeatedly, telling you they will tell an adult if you don't stop bullying, helping you realize you are bullying if you don't even know that are doing so) manner. We spent quite a bit of time on this, so they should be able to act it out with you.
- Last Tuesday, two permission slips were sent home in the red folders; please sign those and send them back with your child as soon as possible. Note: some kids were confused about when they should bring their red folders back, thinking they don't do so until they return the homework project. That's not right as the red folders should be back at school by Friday each week; they shouldn't be leaving them at home over the weekend for any reason. We need them returned each Friday so we can use them again the next week on Tuesday.
- Today, we prepared our t-shirts for tie-dyeing. Hoping for good weather on Monday so we can get outside to color the world!
- We also wrapped up our bus safety review for the year. Students took a bus safety quiz, we corrected it and discussed it together, and they should be bringing the corrected quiz home. Some were excited to quiz their parents about it at home, which obviously would be a way to reinforce the learning for the students so play along with that one:)
- If you are in town this weekend, don't forget to hit the Fulton Fall Festival this Sat. 11-3 at Pershing Park. Maybe see you there.
More later. Have a great weekend everybody!
First post of the school year!
Thursday, September 01, 2016 4:10 PM
And it's a doozy....:)
Welcome to the hilariously titled website (Blogscott) where your child's teacher posts information about class while also trying to post clever reflections on life and learning (like what a blog would have) but I always have trouble coming up with the time for the blogging part. I'll work on that, but meanwhile on to some class news:
- Take home (AND bring back folders) were sent home with students last Tuesday. Of course, please try to send the red folder back before this Friday (9/2) so that it will be sure to be here and ready to go again next Tuesday. What a system! What a country! (see, that wasn't too reflective, but at least not so drab:)
- Have your child bring a water bottle to school to keep on their desk. This is much less disruptive than going out in the hall for constant drink breaks and it just may help your child stay hydrated better.
- It gets quite cold and drafty in our classroom sometimes and so have your child bring a light sweater or sweatshirt to keep in the room or on their coathook to wear if needed. If your child never stops moving and is always in motion keeping their muscles warm, maybe not so needed:)
- We have Phy Ed. on a random schedule a different day of the week always, so you may want to have your child keep an extra pair of tennis shoes tied together and on their coathook, too, so they always have something to wear for Phy Ed. Not necessary if they sleep in tennis shoes, never wearing anything else.
- We have gotten organized. I helped our students label exactly 182 folders or notebooks (I''m not kidding with that number) to use throughout the year. Thank you, parents, for obtaining the supplies your child needed and having them to school on time, too. Those pre-ordered boxes are awesome!
- Most have, but if your child has not brought a plain white t-shirt yet, they should do so soon.
- We played a fun game in class today (Hoboshaknockemrockem?) and the following students were victorious: Gia got the gold medal, Morgan got the silver, and Ava got the bronze. It was pretty exciting, but I"m not sure I spelled it or say it correctly?
- We've learned about bullying: what it is and how to help prevent it. See if your child can tell you that it is something bothersome or hurtful that happens over and over (one occurence that stops isn't really bullying). Can they tell you what to do if they are a bystander and see it happening? (answer: confront the bully themselves if they feel safe doing so or otherwise tell an adult at home or at school about it.) I shared some of my own true stories about bullying, way back in my school days when it was not talked about and when it sometimes really go out of hand and very hurtful. It is a better world we live in where we learn what it is and work to prevent it together. See the poster that we are putting in the hall that we all signed about bullying rules.
- Kids can bring small toys or games in their backpacks to play with at recess, as long as it doesn't become a big problem.
- We are looking for more parent volunteers than those who already signed up at open house. For now, I will just say we need 1 or 3 PTA Room Reps to help plan our 2 class parties during the year. I don't ask Room Reps to much more than that ever. Let me know if you can help coordinate those 90 minutes events in class. One party happens on Fri. 10/28 and the other one happens on Tues. 2/14. Let me know if you can be a PTA Room Rep for our class. Soon, I will post a few other volunteer positions we need filled, too. More later.