Our Week – August 29

the classroom waiting to begin Welcome back!  It’s going to be a great year in 3rd grade!

 We’ve had a wonderful start. It seems as though everyone is glad to be back at school.  We have been sharing our summer fun and beginning to think about our hopes and dreams for a new year of learning.  We are getting used to our new schedule and classroom routine.  U.A. classes are at different times from last year and we are all working to learn how to be our best together. The class feels kindness and working to understand others is important.  We have a great draft of class rules started.  It is feeling like we are going to have a thoughtful, caring year of learning.

Home School Communications

I intend to send a note home every Friday.  It is important to me for you to know what we are doing and why.  I know my children were skimpy on the details when sharing what was happening in their classrooms (for years I worked in the school they attended, and I still didn’t know) – so I am guessing some of you might wish for more information.  I will share what I can through these notes.  At first I will send this message both in paper and post it on the blog.   I like the blog best because the news can be shown with photographs so you can see what the children are doing in the classroom.

I hope the weekly memo will provide you with conversation points.  When children feel their families are interested in what they are doing in school they do even better.  Hopefully this note will give you things to talk about.

Knowing Ourselves and Caring for Others

Our Social Emotional Learning Focus

Our SEL learning focus for the first month of school is becoming more aware of ourselves as learners, friends and members of the school.  We have to be true to ourselves, but we also must be respectful and aware of others.  We have spent part of all four of our days defining the kind of learning community we want to build and be part of.  We read The Recess Queen and Do Unto Otters. We talked about the nice things that people can do and the not quite-so-nice things people can do.  We talked about the difference between self-advocacy and tattling.  We talked about kindness and what is important to do to support our classmates’ learning and our own.

We had fun reading Quick as a Cricket  and Wallace’s List as a way to add to this discussion. Each of the children made a self-portrait and wrote a few sentences to describe themselves.  We interviewed each other about “favorites” and listed our “passions.”  We also explored the idea of how our choices lead to success.

Estimation – Reasonable Answers

How many do you think there are?In math we have been working with place value and developing number sense through estimation.  We compared the amounts of the same item in jars of this same size.  We are developing strategies for comparing and learning ways to describe what we see .  We are identifying the information we are actually using to guide our thinking – our estimates are not random guesses after all.

Part of our math block consists of problem solving most days.  There are four problems and the children have been asked to choose at least one that challenges their thinking and abilities.  Making this choice – some feel too hard, some feel confusing, some feel quick. – can be tricky but it will come with time.  Some of the children took real risks in the problems they selected – they weren’t sure how to approach them.  I am pleased they chose to do that.  Trying something new is they only way to learn more.  Other children selected problems that they felt secure in doing.  They were quick and easy, but they knew they could do them.  With time they will all move on to greater challenges, whether on their own or with direction.

As you look at the work in your child’s folder don’t be alarmed if they are incorrect and I did not tell them.  I am using the first two weeks of work to understand them as mathematicians.  The feedback on the problems is meant to let them know what they are doing well and what they may want to focus on next time.  I am hoping to build the confidence and to establish a routine of independence and self-correction.

Writing Routines

                  This week we shared the story of one piece from our ephemera collection.  After reading Ralph’s Story, we met in small groups to help each other tell and develop our stories.  Mrs. Wyman, Mrs. Outsen, and Nurse Julie joined us to help as grow our ideas through telling and questioning.  We have started some great pieces and are excited to write more.

Bits and Pieces:

  •  We enjoyed our first chapter read-aloud this week, 8 Class Pets + 1 Squirrel ÷ 1 Dog = Chaos.  It’s fun that the 3rd grade in the book had fish as classroom pets and we do too.  We are planning to get some neon fish like those in the book.  Fun!
  • Talk to your child about science – what is it and how might it change the way we think and understand the world.
  • We have added a Library time to our day on Friday.  See the printed memo for the full UA schedule
  •  Nearly twice a month we will have challenges with Mr. Caron on Thursdays.  The first is on September 26
  • Grade 3 Curriculum Night – September 26, 2013 – Music Room


It’s Wednesday – what are you working to solve?

numbersI just realized this is our last summer math conversation…school will begin next week.  We’ll be doing math together in just 5 days…

Here are a couple different problems for you to try.  Have fun, and as always, leave a comment to let me know what you’re working to solve.

Choose one of the following numbers:  18. 20 or 28.  Suppose that this number of musicians in a marching band were getting ready for a parade.  How many different ways could they arrange themselves into equal rows?

Record a number sequence of at least ten numbers where each number is four more than the previous number.

Tom drew two jumps on an empty number line and landed on 215.  List five different equations Tom might be describing.

It’s Monday – what are you reading?

Last week I shared what was in my pile to read next.  I hoped that if I told you I would read those four books, I would make time to get them done, but school is starting and I didn’t find the time for all of them.

Here’s what I did read that I think you’d like too.

Melonhead and the Undercover Operation Zero to Hero (Ghost Buddy Series #1)Emily and Jackson Hiding Out








I really like Melonhead.  He makes me laugh.  When I am reading I know things aren’t going to work out – (I thought, “Oh, please make the deliveries first.  Just do it and then go watch.  Oh, you really have to.”  Knowing, of course, that he and Sam would not do that.) – and I can totally understand the reason for the choices they make.  Melonhead is all about doing and working really hard to keep out of trouble so his mom doesn’t have to worry about him.  His dad travels often an in Melonhead and the Undercover Operation he gives Adam a list called The Melon Family Guidelines for Life that he hopes will help Adam and his mom stay calm.  Its a list of 9 actions to consider and take like 2. plan ahead or 4. when in doubt, ask an adult or 8. remember the ways of ladies.  These G’s for L replace the Remind -o-rama with do’s rather than don’ts – and they sort of smooth things out.  Melonhead works very hard to follow them but that can be difficult when you take being a Junior Special Agent for the FBI seriously and you feel certain that the newly posted person on the 10 Most Wanted Criminals in the country lives in your neighborhood.

The characters are terrific – even if they only make a cameo appearance in this book.  The actions are laugh out loud, but not outrageous.  I don’t know which I like best: the human periscopes or the old lady disguises.  I like how Adam and Sam have friend that are girls like Jonique and Lucy Rose and friends that are old like Pops and Madam and Mrs. Wilkins.  And there is a serious side too.  I am glad there are four Melonhead books so far ( a new one is coming out on September 10), along with four Lucy Rose books because these are great characters to have around.

Billy Broccoli is moving into a new house with a new step family and going to a new middle school – the very same school where his mother is principal.  Billy is small for his age – usually the smallest in his class and while he totally loves baseball, he’s not that good.  You see he’s a bit of a klutz.  Right from the start you can tell that things are not going to go smoothly for Billy.  Then enters his neighbor, bully and football star Rod and his ghost, room resident from the early 1900’s, Hoove.  Billy is trying to figure out how to survive in all his new situations and Hoove is trying to receive passing grades from the ghost board so he’ll be able to travel and see the world.  He’s been trying to pass for 99 years and it hasn’t worked yet.  Time runs out when he hits the 100 year mark so Billy and Hoove work to help each other out.  I like how they do it.  At first I wasn’t sure, but the more I read the more I realized they are going to help each other out – one will gain a bit more confidence and the other humility.  I liked  Ghost Buddy – Zero to Hero and I’m looking forward to reading the other two books about these characters.  I am anxious to see how they change and grow.

The last book I read was the sequel to Emily’s Fortune.  In the author’s note at the end of the book Phyllis Reynolds Naylor wrote:  “sometimes after you finish writing a book, you feel as though there’s more to the story and so you write another.  That’s what happened after Emily’s Fortune was published.”  I’m glad she did.  When you read Emily and Jackson Hiding Out you get to find out what happens in Redbud.  Do Emily and Aunt Hilda get along?  Does Jackson join their family, or does he go on West?  Will Uncle Victor leave them alone?  What of the ladies and the prospectors from the stagecoach?  It’s fun to read and find out.  It won’t be what you expect.  Isn’t that one of the best things that can happen in a book!

Math Wednesday – How about some numbers of the week?

numbersToday is the 14th day of August and it is the 312 day of 2013.  That gives us three numbers of the week:




I just typed them in standard form.

Can you write them in word form?

Can you write each number in the expanded form?

Can you find two different ways to represent them with base ten blocks?

Can you find the sum of the three numbers?

Can you find the difference between the largest and the smallest numbers?

Have fun – numbers are everywhere!

It’s (the day after) Monday – what are you reading?

Mason Dixon: Basketball Disasters

Melonhead and the Vegalicious Disaster Zero to Hero (Ghost Buddy Series #1)








I have a stack waiting to read:  Mason Dixon Basketball Disasters, Melonehead and the Vegalicious Disaster, Ghost Buddy – Zero to Hero and The Adventures of a South Pole Pig.  The first three are part of different series that I really think are great for third and fourth grade readers.  I hope you’ll read some or all if them.  I have read parts of these series already (see other Monday posts) and I like how real the characters are.  They are ordinary kids with the same kinds of questions worries and wonderings of kids in our classroom and school have.  They help you know you’re not alone.  I plan to take the time to finish them this week so I can tell you what my favorite is.  The last in that list is another “maybe” for first read aloud.  It looks totally different and that’s what is so appealing.  We’ll see.The Adventures of a South Pole Pig: A novel of snow and courage








The Golden DoorThe book that I finished and hope everyone who is a fantasy fan – and even those who think they are not – will read is, The Golden Door by Emily Rodda.  Her writing is exciting and suspenseful.  She writes so that even though you, as the reader of fantasy,  know some of the things that are bound to happen – the youngest brother is going to be the chosen one, the magic is going to help him at the last minute, some of the ancient ways have been lost or misunderstood – you are not going to know how they will unfold at all.  I love that!

Rye, pure of heart, is the youngest brother living in a land plagued with skimmers.  They come to Weld by night in search of prey – they eat any living thing they can find, human or beast.  Recently the attacks have been more severe and the Warden needs to take action.  He issues a proclamation.  It is a quest. Any man 18 or older who accepts the terms of the quest will leave Dorn by a secret way.  While outside the city they must find and destroy the source of the skimmers.  Upon returning he will become the future leader of Weld.  Rye’s oldest brother, Dirk, is strong, steadfast and a determined leader.  He is 18 and among the first to accept the challenge.  A year later he has not returned.  Sholto, the middle brother, is studious and scientific. Different, but determined as well.    By that time he has turned 18 and is among the second group to go.  Two years later when neither has returned, Rye and his mother move to the Keep because they need the Warden’s protection and support to survive.

Rye can’t bear this life and determines to find his brothers and bring them home.  He also accepts the terms of the quest and is off alone – others no longer believe the quest is possible.  Readers quickly know that though Rye has deceived the Warden by saying he is 18, he has not broken any of the terms of the quest. He has not going to destroy the skimmers and has no desire to become leader.  He has gone to make his family whole again.  Readers also know that Rye is part of something much larger than he realizes.  It seems that he is “the one” who will be able to set things right, but what they are and how that will be done is a mystery.    You’ll be eagerly turning page after page to find out why Rye has been chosen and what he will do to fulfill his destiny.

This is the first in a trilogy.  What is exciting as a reader is knowing I will have to wait to the very last page of the last book in order to find the complete answer to my questions and fully understand the magic and mystery that surrounds Rye.

Friday Fun – hope your day is great!

Last weekend I went to The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Northampton, Massachusetts.  I went to see the three galleries, explore the studio and listen to Lita Judge talk about how she makes books.

eric carle sketchOne gallery has an exhibit sharing a biography of Eric Carle in both photographs and artwork.  It was really fun to see how his art has changed, but also stayed the same.  I liked seeing the lobster poster that Bill Martin Jr. first saw and caused him to ask Eric Carle to illustrate his first book.  That was Brown Bear, Brown Bear.  I also liked seeing how Eric Carle used foam core and colored dowels to make a model of a sculpture that he later made out of steel.

pigeon banner Another gallery was full of Mo Willems’ sketches, plans and final artwork for all his books.  It is Pigeon’s 10th birthday and so the museum was highlighting his work. (He is from Northampton too.)  The gallery was full of pigeon, Gerald and Piggie, knuffle bunny and Leonardo.  There is a Gerald inspired sculpture in front of the museum too.  It was installed earlier this year.  sculpture

The final gallery displayed all 26 pieces of art work that had been put into an alphabet book called A Garden of Ordinary Miracles.  I wished that I’d be able to share it with you all – you would have loved the art work.  The colors are richer that what shows in the book and you’d have love the way the the author/illustrator, Robert Zakanitch played with handwriting and alphabets almost as if the final artwork were part of a sketchbook for practice and experimenting.  If you click on the links you’ll see some of what I mean.







Lita Judge is from from southern New Hampshire.  She grew up in Alaska and she shared some photographs taken there of bears and eagles, owls and seals.  She uses those images in her book illustrations and in her story ideas.  She also went in dinosaur digs for several years starting at 14.  It was fun to see how all the things she loved growing up now show up in what she does and loves now.  She shared a video of her parrot and her cat – and then shared the draft of a books she is in the middle to creating right now.  I wish you were there – you would have been amazed at what she shared.  You would have been inspired by what you saw.

I hope you get to go to the museum some day.  Make sure you check out the schedule so you can choose the just right day for you!

It Wednesday – here are some math problems to solve.

numbersHere are some problems to try this week.  I hope you are having a fun keeping you math mind busy.  Have you played any games?  Do you still thing you know all your addition, subtraction and multiplication facts.  While you’re sitting at the beach one day why don’t you play some math war.  Have fun with numbers.

Ella ate 1/4 of the cherries for her snack.  How many cherries were there to begin with?  How many did she eat?  See if you can come up with at least four different possible answers for this problem.  There are lots.

Which is larger?

a) 1/4 or 3/8?

b) 3/6 or 1/3

Explain your reasoning.

Chris says the fraction 6/6 is equivalent to 1.  Jon says 6/6 is equivalent to 6.  Who is correct?  Explain how you know.

Leave a comment to let us know what you solved and how you thought about the problems.  If you can, write your own problem in your comment so we have more math to try.

It’s Monday – what are you reading?

Captain Awesome Saves the Winter WonderlandI did read the Captain Awesome books.  Eugene McGillicudy is definitely “Super Dude’s” biggest fan.  He has all 429 issues of the comic book.  He has formed the Sunnyview Superhero Squad with his best friend Charlie and the class hamster, Turbo.  He’s an ordinary boy, but he knows that evil is always close by.  It is his job to stop evil from doing it evilness and Eugene does a pretty good job.  On Friday I said I’d let you know which was my favorite.  I think Captain Awesome Save the Winter Wonderland might be, but I am glad I read them all.  You don’t have to read them in order, or even all of them, but there are little bits and pieces from each of the books that keep adding up.  I wonder what would happen in our class or in our school if we had a Captain Awesome.  What would you do if there were a person who dressed as a super hero because it made him feel confident and capable of doing the things he felt he needed to do?  Things like winning the spelling bee to defeat the braggy girl who put classmates down and embarrassed them in front of everyone or like diving into the deep end of the pool for the first time.

Check out the Captain Awesome website –  Don’t miss the trailer.  It is fun.

8 Class Pets + 1 Squirrel [Divided By] 1 Dog = ChaosI’m also looking for the first read aloud for our class.  I think I may have found it in 8 Class Pets + 1 Squirrel ÷ 1 Dog = Chaos.  Twitch, the Squirrel lives in the trees outsider a school.  He begins the story be explaining how much fun he has on the jungle gyms people leave in their yards for him often centered around a snack bar.  While he’s telling about this new “spinney disc” he loses track of time and gets chased away by a swooping owl.  Twitch runs to escape the owl, but unfortunately scampers across a dog’s nose.  The dog takes up the chase and, desperate to escape, Twitch runs through the open door of a school.  The dog runs in too, but being evening the custodian puts the ladder away, shuts the door and leaves for the night.  Twitch and the dog are shut in and the chase is still on.  The classroom pet of the room where the action of the chase is taking place tells each chapter – there are eight.  You’ll be eagerly reading to the end to find out how it all works out.  You’ll be laughing and shaking your head in surprise.

Emily's FortuneI also may have found the first read aloud in Emily’s Fortune.  I am still in the middle of this suspenseful, funny adventure so I’m not sure.  Emily’s just trying to make it to Aunt Hilda’s in Redbud.  She is trying to stay out of the clutches of Miss Catchum of Catchum Child Services and I’m happily reading to find out if she does.  All the while wondering how Jackson might help, why having a turtle named Rufus is important and bad things what Uncle Victor is up to.  If you have a chance to read either of these books let me know what you think – is it a good book to begin the year with?  Let me know.  In the meantime, what are you reading?

Friday Fun – a bit rainy right now so that means it’s a great day for making!

This summer I’ve been s searching for some interesting sites to learn new things from.  Some are for reading and some are for making.  Here are a few of my recent favorites. I think you would really like them too.

baby elephant born in the Netherlands  The first one is Zooborns – you guessed it, that’s what it’s about.  The site showcases all different types of animals born in zoos.  It show pictures and tells how the animals are cared for and important things the babies do.  Yesterday’s post was about a new baby elephant born at the Emmen Zoo in the Netherlands.  The baby weighed 220lbs when it was born.




Another site I think you’d like is a current events magazine.  It’s called Youngzine and its subtitle says “news and more for the young.”  It has a lot of interesting pieces of news.  Of course this issue has a story about the new Prince George, but there is also new about animals and science.  One article tells about the two new moons that have recently been identified orbiting Pluto.



squishycircuits_003-580x375.jpgThe last site I have to share with you is Sylvia’s Super Awesome Maker Show!  Sylvia Todd is 11 and she shares some amazing things.  I like clicking on the Episode tab so I could watch her how-to videos.  She an incredible maker!   So far my favorite is “Squishy Circuits” episode, but I haven’t watched them all.  She teaches you how to do some pretty amazing things.



Have fun on this rainy Friday.  If you check out any of the sites, let me know what you think.  If you have other suggestions leave them in a comment so everyone can explore. Enjoy!

(I took the pictures shown here from the sites mentioned in the links.)

ps – I got the other five Captain Awesome books.  I’ll let you know my favorite on Monday.  Have a great weekend!