Our Week – May 30

How can it be possible that June is here?  It seems only a few months ago that I was meeting 3E for the first time.  When you look at our class timeline you can see many of the things we have done throughout the year.  The photographs remind us of just how much we have accomplished together and we have done a lot.  But yikes, there is still so much more to do.  You will see what I mean as you read on.


Kindness and Forgiveness

This week our Social Emotional Learning focus has been an exploration of empathy.  We have been talking about exclusion and name-calling.  We have been talking about changing rules at recess. or ignoring invitations at lunch and how all of these things bother, confuse and annoy everyone.  And yet, these are all things practiced by members of our class. It doesn’t feel good and we have been talking about what to do when we hear unkind comments or see unkind actions.  Do you let it go?  Do you say something?  Sometimes yes, and sometimes an “I statement.”  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t whether you’re 9 or 50.

We based some of this discussion on the Maya Angelou quote, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  To that discussion we talked about our wish to be given a second chance (and even a third or fourth) if we’d made a mistake.  We all said we didn’t want to be judged as “wrong” forever. We all wanted a chance to learn and change after having made either academic or social mistakes.  Academic mistakes are a bit more private.  Social mistakes are public – we talked about not ganging up, not blaming but rather working with empathy and forgiveness.

You would have been very proud of you children. Just like a crumbled paper unfolded, the marks, the hurt from unkind words and actions remain after “sorry” is said.  It is important to think first.  We are trying to think ahead to be kind.

finishing for book clubsreading togetherreading friends





Learning to Use What We Know – Working for Efficiency in Math

This week we have been working to solidify the relationships between multiplication, division and fractions.  We have been working to use what we know to recognize the relationships between numbers and amount.  This reasoning is a developing skill for 9-year old.  The children are learning that if they know 9×4=36, then they also know that 39 items placed into four equal groups will be nine.  Additionally, they are learning that 2/4 of 36 can be found because one of four in a set of thirty-six is nine.

This is challenging thinking to begin with, but it becomes very challenging if the children have not made the automatic connection between amounts that knowing the facts brings.  We are continuing to play games and have practice activities so that children will become more familiar and automatic with their facts.  We do not have time in our day for the amount they require so I hope they are still playing games and practicing at home. They all are capable – they just have to decide it is worth their time and effort to know them.  Once they make that choice, the world of math will open wide for them

planning for food webdesert sort





Habitat Building

We have begun building our rainforest model as a class.   First we listed plants and animals we had read about.  Next we chose the most common and categorized them – plant or animal and sorted animals according to herbivore, omnivore or carnivore.  Once the animals were sorted we worked to create a food web surrounding a fig tree.  We are having fun with this project.  It is great to work together – to cooperate and collaborate.

We are going to use our class model as an example for the four smaller habitat groups to follow next week.  Soon our classroom will be filled with corners of desert, forest, grassland, and tundra. It is a fun final project of the year.

bromeliad pairDSC04448completed flowerrosy periwinklesvanilla orchidplanning the tree



















Bits and Pieces

  • Our second Book Club continues though it has been challenging for many of the children to meet their deadlines and to complete the work for reading. – only 48% have done the work claiming they are “too busy.”  I see how they choose to use heir time in the classroom so I know this is not so.
  • Currently we are building our digital portfolios.  Be on the lookout for a share schedule in homework folders next week.
  • We are also learning the upper-case cursive letters.  This is sometimes fun and other times challenging as we work to learn the different shapes and forms.
  • We continue to blog every week.  The children would truly appreciate comments.  Several of them post something each week.  Others take a couple weeks to complete a post.  Please keep checking – kids can post from home too as long as they have your permission.

It’s Wednesday – here are some math problems to solve

numbersWe’ve been talking a lot about efficiency and accuracy with problem solving.  Knowing your facts certainly helps and understanding how amounts are related by understanding place value is huge.  I have to say you have grown in confidence and ability  this year because of your hard work.  Practice makes progress.  Keep on working – even when it feels hard.  I am confident you can think it all through.

What efficient strategies can you use to solve these problems?  Leave a comment so we can all see.

Happy Mathing!

Jordan wants to earn enough money to buy a new skateboard.  It costs $48.50.  He has $12.54,  How much money does he need so he can buy the new skateboard?

Hajna is going on a walk-a-thon to raise money for cancer research.  For every 1/2 mile she walks she will earn 75 cents.  When she finished her walk, Hajna had raised $3.75.  How far did she walk?

Cameron broke half as many balloons as Kaylee broke.  Altogether they broker 18 balloons.  How many balloons did  Kaylee break?

Your mom said you could have all he nickels and dimes in her wallet.  It totals $1.35.  How many nickels and dime do you have?  Explain why you think that is so.

Our Week – May 23

Thank you for all you did to make the Parade of the States wonderful!  It was a great accomplishment.  We truly appreciate what you do.

Thank you also to the marvelous Mrs. Oliver for her tremendous support – willing to meet for extra practices, giving her time for rehearsals and spending the evening with us.  Thank you!

Parade of the States – part one

Playing Our Recorders and Singing –

families at the concertrecorders 1recorders 2recorders 3













Parade of the States – part two

Here are our floats – please check the student blogs for more information about their states.  Some of the posts about the states were finished this week, while other posts will be finished next week.  Mrs. Wyman has helped us create state comics and compose state songs.   (If you read/view your child’s blog, please leave a comment.  They really appreciate your time and attention to what they are doing at school.)


The Parade was fun – here is 3E’s celebration!New York

MississippiMinnesotaNew JerseyTexasWyomingIndianaSouth CarolinaRhode IslandmassachusettsKentuckyTennesseeNew Hampshire50 state floats

















Thank you the wonderful celebration and Parade of the States!

Our Week – May 16

a creative classThank you for all you do to support your children by working on their floats, helping them with homework and celebrating their passions and interests.  They are involved and interested in so much   They are working, but they are tired.   Any things you can do to encourage them to focus on completing the many great projects we have in process – the Wonders books, the class magazine, the habitat models and food chain mobiles – would be greatly appreciated.  I know everyone in the class would like everyone to be included in each of these projects.  Your encouragement and support are greatly appreciated.

Naturalist Teams At Work

a challenge to cooperate, collaborate and teach others

            The children have continued to work in their small groups to learn about four different macro-habitats in our world.  They have listed animals and plants.  They have listed many of the unique characteristics of their habitat and they are beginning to explore the relationships between the plant and animal life found there.  They are working to identify different food chains to understand food webs and ecosystem found in their habitat.

We have learned that all food chains begin with sun and water, and that they end with decomposers or “the clean up crew” as they put it. There is a wide variety of food chains found in each habitat and we hope to discover them while learning about the classifications of plant and animal species.

As a model for this project our class is learning about the rainforest. We are learning through shared readings, paired discussions, writing and drawing.  So far we have listened to A Day in the Rainforest by Jean Craighead George and Afternoon on the Amazon by Mary Pope Osborn.  We have combined these readings with a few picture books, Sparky, The Great Kapok Tree and Crickwing to add greater understanding about how all species are interrelated.  Our next read-aloud resource is the Rain Forest Research Guide.  When we feel we have learned enough we will build a model, much like those found in a Natural History Museum, to show and explain why this habitat is important to our world.

This work in the Naturalist Teams requires both academic and social learning.  I have been very pleased with the way that the children have allocated jobs in their groups, taken turns with various roles and worked hard to share resources and see that tasks are completed.

tundra groupforest group





New and Continuing Book Clubs

we can’t thank Matt and Sky enough for their time to read with us

            This week one of the Humphrey clubs continued and three new book clubs formed.  We are excited to be reading in different groups and to be reading such diverse books.  Matt’s group is reading Riding Freedom by Pam Munoz Ryan.  It is based on the true story of Charlotte Parkhurst, who in 1860, defied the expectations for girls at the time and lived a life that suited her – she loved horses and drove a stage coach.  Sky’s group is reading The Music of Dolphins.  This  story is of a 12 year old girl who has been raised by dolphins.  She is found and rehabilitated to a life with people.  Winter According to Humphrey is questioning how you work together so everyone feels successful and accomplished.  And the last group, Hatchiko Waits is exploring ideas of loyalty and dedication through the true story from Shibuyo in Japan.

The structure of the book clubs and the gift of having Matt and Skyler join our classroom community seems to have convinced many of the children that they capable readers.  They are questioning more and becoming thoughtful, wondering readers.  They are looking to make sense of things and to understand.  I am proud of their efforts to become more thoughtful and more willing to notice that we all think and understand what we are reading differently.

riding freedommusic of dolphinswinter according to humphreyreading to us





Wrapping Up Wonders Research and Writing

            Now that the Parade is a week away the children are beginning to feel the importance of using their time wisely, completing their research and writing about the Wonders.  I think a few of them are feeling concerned about what they will have finished to put on display that evening.  Several of them have commented that they could do it at home because their mothers would tell them what to write.  (Please don’t do that.) This is challenging work but doable.  It requires using inferencing skills and finding words to describe the images they have in their minds.  Because of the effort required, some of them have resisted it.  They have spent time scrolling through images or copying recipes or listening to their state song.  I hope we can help them learn from this.  They’ve had six weeks to research and write about their wonders.  Our goal in this writing project was to learn how organization is important in writing.  Some of the children have used this opportunity to develop leads and conclusions for their writing.  Some have put them main ideas first and supported them with details they found interesting.  They have attempted to add voice to their pieces and truly hope you will be interested in their Wonders.

Bits and Pieces –

  • This week, along with our small group work focusing on social relationship and responsibility, we had some great conversations about exclusion and kindness.  After reading Crickwing we were impressed by how the leaf-cutter ants, who were teased, did not tease back.  They chose to be forgiving and kind.  This made everyone in the story feel relieved and happy.  Good things happened.  We are guessing it could be the same for us.
  • We are reviewing the lower case cursive letters and learning how the capitals are formed.
  • Wa-hoo!  The Parade of the States is coming!  The Parade of the States is coming!

artist-writers' workshopcreatingstate animalswriting about art


Our Week – May 9

vernal pool explorationWe have had a busy week.  We are researching state wonders and habitats.  We are learning about fractions and more about subtraction.  We are focusing in on punctuation and the conventions of writing as we draft summaries, informational pieces and book reviews. Our book reviews were posted on our blogs yesterday.  We also have plans to publish them as a summer reading guide for home and out in the hall to see if we can get other kids to comment on them as well.  Three of our four first book clubs finished this week too.

On top of all this our social and emotional learning focus has been about developing self-awareness.  What are we doing to support our learning and to help ourselves meet deadlines and learning goals.  Our days are certainly full.  I know the afternoons and evenings are full as well.  Your children are busy and tired.  They are excited and worried about the end of the school year coming.  Putting all these feelings and activities together means that the children have to be focused and on task most of the time.  They are working to do their best as time flows on.

Reading and Understanding Creating Personal Summaries

            This week we continued to learn about summaries.  After exploring a lot of ideas and examples, we have come up with a three part guide.  A summary shares the main idea, a couple of details that illustrate the main idea and finally the thoughts and feelings we have about the text.  The last part is the most important because it is the most individual.  It also shares and shows how a person was changed by what was read or heard.  So, if I’m reading The Lunch Lady I might be thinking about how creative the author is to imagine all the kitchen gadgets like the taco goggles or the spatula helicopter, but if I’m reading A Walk to School I might be noticing that the Catholic children walking through the Protestant neighborhood in Northern Ireland is similar to the struggle that Martin Luther King led.  We are working to slow down and really think about what we are reading so we are more aware of our understanding and how we can grow and change.

note taking strategiesOne Day in the Rainforest

Note Taking Strategies

            We are reading an informational book during our chapter read aloud time.  It is about the rainforest – a main habitat type that we do not have in our country.  We are learning about different note-taking techniques.  One is technique is to sketch the motion or action of the text.  Each picture should have some indication that change is happening and should have a caption that explains what the action is and where it is leading.  This is a stretch from the static sketch of one thing mentioned in the text.  It is challenging the children to engage with the reading and really think about what they are hearing.

A second strategy is called Bullet and Box.  With this strategy the children collect and bullet information or main events in the part of the text they are reading or hearing.  At the end they are writing a summary statement and placing a box around it.  Again this is asking them to listen carefully and to thinking beyond the text.  They are learning to connect and synthesize ideas.

This is a challenge, but many of the children have realized they are remembering more about the book because of the work.  Many have also realized they are thinking and wondering more about the information they are learning.

Fractions – Recipes and Number Lines

            One of the ways we have been exploring fractions is to look at different recipes.  We have been doubling them and cutting them in half.  Through this work together we have again noticed that with fractions bigger numbers mean smaller amounts.  We are learning how to add fractions with like denominators and how we can divide them into even smaller amounts.  We have played the Fraction Barrier game in class and a fraction bingo game to help the children become more comfortable with what fractions are.  Finally we have been working to use fractions on number lines with different ending points.  That way we know that 1/4 of 100 is 25, but 1/4 of 336 is 84.  Fractions certainly challenge us to think in different ways.  They are intuitive in real-life situations, but confusing when working with paper and pencil.  Any chances you have to share fraction work through cooking or building, crafting or sewing with your children will certainly add to their understanding.

fractinsfraction game


Basic Facts

            This week, as indicated on the homework summary, the children took three timed test for the basic facts they have been working to master through all their practice this year at school and home.  We all agreed subtraction might be most challenging, next was multiplication because it was so new and then addition because it is most familiar.  Proficiency, or meeting the standard, is being able to correctly solve 65 of 70 problems in 7 minutes or less.  Many of the children have reached that goal with at least one operation.  A few were able to meet it with two.  In all the busyness of spring I hope the children will be able to fit in some fact practice although I do understand this is a real challenge at this time of year.

 Bits and Pieces

  • The children seem to be enjoying learning about their states.  They are creating comic in Technology and getting ready to share what we know on our blogs.
  • We have formed four Naturalist Teams.  In then the children are learning about the main habitats in our country.  They will create habitat displays to teach others about them.
  • We are also organizing ourselves and our work for end-of-the-year student-led conferences.

using dictionariesforest teamtundra team

book clubswriting to an authorstate peoplestate animals

It’s Wednesday – here are some math problems to solve

numbersI know you might has solved one of these problems today in class, or tried one and given up in frustration.  Fractions are a different way of thinking about numbers and amounts.  Be patient with yourself.  It takes some time to understand.  Let Pablo Picasso quote be your guide:  “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.”  Remember learning takes effort, practice and mistakes.


Jake is reading the second Warriors book, Fire and Ice.

The book has 336 pages.

 He has read 1/4 of the pages.

What page is he on?


Liam has read the ten graphic novels in the Lunch Lady series.

They each have 96 pages.

How many pages is that?

He is has read 3/4 of the pages a second time.

How many pages is that?

How many pages has he read altogether in both the first and second reading?


Juliana read Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie.

She decided to practice using fractions with the number of pages.  The book has 128 pages.

She made a number line and labeled the left side 1 and the right side 128.

She marked off 1/2, 1/4 and 3/4.

She labeled each fraction with the page number it would be.

What did her number line look like?


Katie and two of her friends were sharing some cookies.

They each had 2 and 2/3 cookies.

 How many cookies did they begin with?

Leave a comment to share how you solved the problems.  If you have some fraction problems for us, share those to.

If you’re really into fraction thinking go to  Hajna’s blog.  She has some great problems for you to solve too.

Happy Math!

Our Week – May 2

DSC09835 I can’t thank you enough for the conversations you’ve been having with your children about their work and responsibility to meet expectations.  Self-awareness is such an important component of our social and emotional learning curriculum. The class seems more aware of the consequences of their choices.  There has been a bit less chatting and greater attention to work quality.  The class is making an effort to think of ways to make “good” work, great.  They want their work to be included in the book review collection.  They want to have a page or more in our class magazine.  They want to teach the visitors to the Parade of the States about their state and the Wonders found there.  They can also see that our days are limited and we are trying to make the most of them.  We have set deadlines. I think the children understand that their work cannot be included if these deadlines aren’t met.  I hope they know they can work at home – but that’s an added responsibility too.  They have to bring it back.   I know they will continue to need our reminders and support.  Many are working hard to stay focused.  They are working on self-control and deserve to feel proud of their work and effort.

Forming Naturalist Teams

            We have begun exploring habitats.  On Monday we did a carousel to collect facts and questions about the four main habitats found in our county.  The children chose their top two and tried to think of what they knew about them.  Next we formed Naturalist Teams to learn about grasslands, forests, tundra and deserts.  Each group will become experts and teach the rest of the class about that habitat.  They will be turning a corner of our classroom into a display showing the food webs and chains found in those habitats in our country.  It is another way of learning more about our country and also finding ways we can take better care of our earth.  The children are just beginning this work and seem to be looking forward to creating their habitat models.

Note -Taking – what’s it for?

            We are exploring different ways and reasons for note taking.  We know that note taking helps us hold on to the information we are learning.  It can help us think more deeply about our learning as well by being able to look back and reconsider connections and facts.  We have been taking notes while listening to read alouds throughout the school year.  Many of those notes are captioned sketches that trigger memories of important events in the book.  We have been taking notes in our books clubs.  Those notes have been a sentence or two to capture the main events of each chapter and to wonder about character changes and growth.  As we are learning about the wonders in our state we are working to learn how to take notes when researching.  We are trying to develop the strategy of reading a page or section, looking away and writing what we understand.  After the note is jotted we are looking back in the text to check for specific information – numbers, dates, names…  We are working to develop these habits so we don’t end up copying from what we are reading.  Many of the children have begun to recognize how these strategies help them understand more.  Notes are a way to making thinking clearer and more complete.  Talking to your child about this work may help him or her think about how notes help us remember and understand more.

Fractions – looking closer

We are continuing to grow our understanding of fractions.  This week we spent some time adding fractions with like denominators.  Applied what we are learning to recipes.  We worked to double a recipe to see how that changed how the fractions were recorded.  And we worked to cut the same recipe in half.  This was a fun way to explore fractions and think about the information the different parts of the fraction give us.  If you are using a recipe while you cook at home this would be a great opportunity to explore fractions together.   Next week we will be exploring fractions with linear measurement.  We’ll be exploring fractions as we draw.



Bits and Pieces

  • We’ll visit the Book Fair on Monday to create our wish lists.
  • We’ll be finishing our Humphrey book clubs next week.  We’ve been looking up new words and learning how to use the dictionary.  We have been looking for evidence in the books that support our claims. We like having Sky and Matt join us each week.  They are helping us to be more aware of meeting deadlines
  • We have a challenge on May 8 with Mr. Caron
  •  How is the float building going? Most of the children say they are working on the float, or are at least making plans for how and when it will get done.  That’s a great thing because it means you are all thinking about it and finding a way to fit the float construction into your already full schedules.  Thank you so much for your time and effort.  Remember save May 22 for The Parade of the States.

Here are some pictures taken by our class photographers this week.