Our Week – September 26

excited about writingWe have had a busy and full week.  Thank you for attending curriculum night.  We hope it was a helpful overview of your child’s year.  If you were unable to attend you will find the handouts in your child’s Friday envelop.  Homework will begin next week so be on the lookout and help your child find time for some reading, working with math facts and word study each day.  Thank you.

How We Are Smart – Multiple Intelligences Theory

We have continued exploring the theory of multiple intelligences.  We have continued reading picture book biographies and memoirs to understand how people grow and change.  Patricia Polacco, who didn’t read until fifth grade, became word smart.  We know because she is a writer and an author.  This week we read stories of Henri Rousseau, Gandhi, and Alan Rabinowitz.  We can even make guesses about how fictional characters are smart using evidence from the action of the stories.  Next week we will begin to identify and graph how we are smart.  This is part of our work to explore self-awareness – one of the SEL pillars.  If the opportunity arises you might to talk to your about his or her strengths and interests to see if they can name their own multiple intelligences – how they are smart.

MI theorymany parts to narrativesexamining the colorchromatography 2


Chromatography – Part 2

Our second experiment has left our room with a slightly pungent odor – the mix of vinegar and rubbing alcohol.  After seeing how water effects black Crayola markers, the children each explore a question of their own.  Most wanted to see what would happen with different colors.  We learned that darker colors like black and brown were made of other colors and the water helped them separate out on the paper.  Knowing this, we selected four different types of black markers and four clear liquids.  We wondered what would happen to the marker in vinegar, rubbing alcohol, seltzer and water.  The results were interesting to see and to speculate about.

We used experience as a springboard for beginning a research project – what questions would we want to explore as a scientist.  We have questions about things like vultures and why people turn red when they are nervous, prehistoric animals and jaguars.  It will be interesting to explore are questions and interests and to find a way to share and present our findings.  You may want to ask your child what they hope to research, learn about and share.  I suspect that several of the children may want to make some changes after they begin this process.  And that’s okay – it part of the learning too.

Personal Narratives

poetry chartsWe have completed our first draft.  These stories tell of ordinary everyday things we do with our families.  This week we worked from our circle and frame charts to make sure details and descriptions were added  – especially to the middle of our story, along with our feelings and thoughts.

We learned about four different types of leads:  snapshot, dialogue, onomatopoeia, and questions.  After reading some examples from narratives we figured out how we had started our stories and chose a different type to lead to explore.  We think that questions and dialogue might be the easiest leads to begin with when writing a story.  We wonder if that will be the same with information and persuasive writing.  We’ll have to see.

Bits and Pieces –

  • We have our second challenge with Mr. Caron.  If it is nice weather we’ll be outside.  Be ready in case it is chilly for the challenge.
  • We completed timed test in all four mathematical operations this week.  I am very proud of our class.  Everyone stayed relaxed and decided to do his or her best knowing that we have the year to practice and learn.  Practice makes progress and now we know our starting point.
  • Each day we begin our reading lesson with poetry – right now we are reading about reading and writing because we are thinking about our work as readers and writers to set goals for our year.  The class enjoys reading them together and many of the children were inspired to write their own.  They have put them on charts and we have been reading them.  There are so many that we have begun having two poetry shares – one at morning meeting and the other at the opening of reading.  The first set is a collection about many different things and the second set is about reading and writing at this point.
  • We are continuing with The Quirks – Welcome to Normal.  We are just getting the “meat” of the story.  It is also helping us consider our own personal quirks and connect to how we are smart.  We are having fun puzzling through how these characters both use and hide their magic.

persuading others a new poemfact practicesharing our writing

Our Week – September 19

readingWe’ve had a busy, fun week:  Dot Day on Monday, Picture Day, and an outdoor challenge on Tuesday.  Along with those things special things, we’ve been learning about scientific inquiry through Chromatography, exploring elements of personal narrative, and working to understand the relationship between multiplication and division. The children have continued reading a lot. They’ve been creating their own poems and stories, and learning about and practicing basic math facts. Above all of the content, we are continuing to learn about ourselves and exploring the habits individuals and groups need to achieve success.

International Dot Day

dotting dotscolorful dotsframing dotsa room of dotsmaking a markdotting dotsInspired by Peter Reynold’s book The Dot, Dot Day is a celebration of perseverance, determination and growing self-confidence.  It is fun, because just like Vashti who feels she can’t draw, we can all make a dot.  We made colorful dots, window dots, and framed dots.  We made dot pins, dot magnets and dot key chains.  We made a class super dot and put them all in a class gallery.

In the book Vashti’s dots are put on display and she is admired as a great artist.  The boy who admires her work does not believe he can “draw a straight line with a ruler.”  Vashti encourages him to make his mark and to see where it takes him.  He does.  We did too.  If you are at the school some afternoon please come and tour our gallery in the hall outside our classroom.  Together we make quite a mark.  We had a fun day creating together.

The River Runner Challenge – Deepening Relationships

DSC04832DSC04810river runnerDSC04819the floating logsAfter a day of creating together, on Tuesday we went outside on the nature trail for another group learning experience.  The class was able to challenge themselves in a physical way: could they cross over sections of swaying logs, pass around a tree and continue to the other end?  Once that challenge was met, a cooperative element was added:  could we divide the class in half and begin from either side, meeting in the middle, passing and reaching the opposite end?  Of course all this had to happen without anyone falling off.  That meant lots of talking, patience and encouragement. Once that challenge was met, an element of trust was added:  could we cross the logs with eyes closed?  And finally could we cross from either end in a blind challenge? Children were encouraged to open their eyes whenever they needed to feel safe and sure.

As an observer, I watched children try something they weren’t sure they could do. I saw them choose to give it a try.  I saw them trust one another.  I saw and heard great care for each other.  There were encouragements, compliments and kind words spoken throughout the challenge.  There was pride in work well done and happiness over the accomplishments of the whole group.   It took focus, determination and real teamwork to meet all four levels of the challenge. 3E is coming together as a kind and strong learning community.

Knowing Ourselves – Social Emotional Learning

This week we began learning about the eight different intelligences defined in Multiple Intelligence (MI) theory.  This is to begin thinking about how we are uniquely smart and how we best learn.  We read different biographies and autobiographies to see if we could identify the ways these people were intelligent.  There are some things we cannot know from the book, but the children had amazing thoughts as they explained how the stories shared evidence of the different ways these people were smart.  We learned about Snowflake Bentley, Michael Jordan and Patricia Polacco.  We will use this work as a springboard for identifying our own top intelligences.  The most exciting thing we are learning of our ability to grow and change our intelligence.  We can do anything we want to do with effort, determination, confidence and time (sometimes lots of time.)

Identifying Habits that Lead to Success

writing and illustratingAlong with learning about MI theory, we have been exploring different parts of school learning to establish a clear foundation of capabilities as the year begins.   We have been talking about how our habits and choices help us achieve goals.  We are all learners.  We have noticed from our shared reading that most people don’t do things easily the first time.  Learning something new doesn’t usually happen in a snap or the blink of an eye.  People work at things for a long time – years and years even.  Snowflake Bentley didn’t get one picture of a snowflake in his first year of trying.  We have noticed successful people try in different ways and they have help, support and opportunity in order to achieve their goals.  Patricia Polacco (children’s author and illustrator) didn’t read until she was in 5th grade – and she was teased about it mercilessly.  We are trying to take notice of what we are thinking and what we are doing.  By being more aware, we think we can become even stronger learners.  We have more to think about with this as we figure out how we are smart and what we do to help ourselves learn.

Chromatography – the science of color

Our science work thus far has been to help the children learn the steps of scientific inquiry and to develop the habit of noticing the “what – if” questions that pop up in our minds as we are working through different situations or encountering new materials.

Last week we put black lines on paper towels and placed them in cups of water.  What would happen?  Most children predicted that the towels would get wet.  None of them predicted that the marker would bleed.  They were excited to see the color run down through the water and even more excited to see blue come out of the black.  This week we got to look closely at those strips of paper.  We discovered that the lines were no longer black.  They were blue and red, sometimes green and orange and even appeared a bit sparkly.  We think water pushes the marker up and pulls the colors out because black is really made of all the colors mixed together.

Now come the “what -if” questions.  Some of the children put several lines, at different heights on their paper towels, and yet the water never went beyond the first.  Why?  Will the same thing happen if we use other colors?  Will all types of black markers separate into the same colors?  What happens if we use something other than water like rubbing alcohol or ginger ale?

practicing factsWe’ll test out our questions and try to become more exact with our descriptions and our observations.  We will work to become more precise in our predictions and more organized as we write our hypothesis and think about how even the most ordinary things can lead us to further and further investigation as we consider what’s next and what if.

Bits and Pieces:

  • We have begun our 3rd chapter read-aloud.  It is the first in a new series called, The Quirks – Welcome to Normal.  See if your child can tell you about the Quirk family and what they know so far.  We are only a few chapters into the book, but the children have enough information to begin making predictions and to wonder how living in Normal, Michigan is going to work for this unusual family.
  • The children are developing a firmer understanding of the concepts that related multiplication and division.  Most of them are able to use both addition and multiplication to represent their math thinking.  And most seem to be able to represent sets and groups to show their understanding of division.
  • Several of the children have posted original poems in the collection of poems we read each day.  A few of them have completed stories that they might consider publishing.

Our Week – September 12

Shared ReadingIt is hard to believe that we’ve completed our third week of school.  It’s been a week of adding routines and guidelines to support our work.  We’ve been clarifying expectations for reading and how we will use our writers’ notebooks.  We’ve been learning how to keep track of the ways we practice our math facts.  And we’ve been enjoying one another.

3E Rules

Our social-emotional learning focus has been centered on responsible decision making.  We’ve been thinking about how we show respect for one another and how we are each contributing to the well-being of our class and our school.  Two weeks ago each child wrote down two or three rules they thought we should follow as a class.  Those were collected on a list of nearly twenty.  Our next step was to decide which rules felt most important to us to follow.  They all were, but we wanted a list we could manage.  We thought that some on the list were very similar.  After voting, rearranging and writing an introduction, we completed the rules we will use to guide our choices and our work together in 3E.  Here they are:

We’ll make the world a better place if we follow our rules.

  • Be safe.
  • Treat others as you’d like to be treated.
  • Always be nice.
  • Only say kind things.
  • Be helpful.
  • Listen.
  • Include others.
  • Be yourself – it’s okay to be different.

                                  signed 3E

Now that our class rules are set, our next steps will be to set individual goals to increase independence and develop skills with self-management and self-direction.reading together

Reading Guidelines

Thank you everyone for helping us build a terrific reading museum on Tuesday.  It was a lot of fun to see how everyone has grown and developed as a reader.  It seemed as though the class really enjoyed looking back and remembering great books shared as a family, the books that were first read and books that have been passed on to the next generation of readers.

Since we know we have all grown as readers and that we continue to grow as long as we continue to read, we established some guidelines for our reading time in the classroom.  These are centered on the choices we make.   Some books are fun to look at and browse through.  Some books are fun and quick to read.  There are many different types of books – genre, they are called.  It is good to try to read different types of books to stretch and grow our understanding.

We are working to grow into 40 minutes of reading a day.  Our goal is that at least half of that time will be spent reading “just right” books.  Other time might be spent with books like record books, almanacs, or comics.  This reading is other done in bits and pieces or for fun.   If we are able to do that, I am wondering how many books we can read this year.narrative writing

Writing Expectations

We’ll be writing every day.   The class knows that.  We have generated a list of the types of things people write.  Ginger told us that people, “write to know their story.”  Sam, the main character from Library Mouse told us to “write what we know.”  Ms. Mirabel from Word After Word After Word told us, “You have a story in there, Lucy.  Or a character, a place, a poem, a moment in time.  When you find it, you will write it.  Word after word after word after word.”  She also said, “Real or unreal.  They’re just about the same.  They are both all about magical words.”

The struggle for some writers in our class is deciding what to choose.  Others struggle with the need to be writing something wonderful and exciting every time.  Our writers’ notebooks will be collections, places we will gather our ideas and begin our stories.  Our hope is that they will be collections of our drafts and attempts that we will dip into throughout the year to find something we will develop and grow and publish.

Because sometimes having an idea to start from is a challenge, we have also begun an idea book.  It is a collection of favorites and memories, people and descriptions that might work to spark a new idea when we find ourselves wonder how to choose and how to decide what to write next.

Bits and Pieces

  • We finished our second chapter read aloud this week – Word After Word After Word.  Ask your child about his or her favorite memory from that book.
  • Ask your child what they have discovered about trees.
  • You may want to find out if they remember the steps for each scientific inquiry and about the two different experiments they conducted this week.
  • We will be celebrating DOT DAY on Monday, September 15.  We’ll be making our mark and seeing where it takes us.
  • Our first Challenge with Mr. Caron is on Tuesday, September 16.
  • Picture Day is also Tuesday, September 16.  The forms are in the Friday envelopes.

math togetherlearning about treestesting our hypothesisrecording observationswriting togetherchromatography


Our Week – September 5

The Grade 3 Curriculum Night will be Tuesday, September 23 starting at 6:00 in Mrs. Oliver’s Music Room

First Homework Assignment Due – Tuesday, September 9

practicing math factsWe’ve had another productive and happy week.  We’ve spent time thinking about how we would like to be together to help each other do excellent work and have fun.  We’ve further explored what it means to be a scientist, defined and created pieces of narrative writing and explored the concept of multiplication as both repeated addition and arrays.  Great thinking has been going on in 3 E.

Social-Emotional Learning (S.E.L.) – Drafting Our Class Constitution

For the past two weeks we have worked to develop our class constitution.  The class has been asked to consider what each of them can do for themselves AND what each of them can do so that others are able to do excellent work. We have been reading, writing, discussing and drawing to decide what rules we would like to have guiding our year.  We have begun to explore how we are able to bring those words into action throughout the school day.

The five main competency areas of S.E.L. are:  self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making.  Each of these areas weaves together as we develop a safe and healthy learning community that supports us as individuals, as a class and as members of a larger school community.  For example, we try to be quiet so we have time to think and understand, so our classmates can do the same and so, as we move through the public spaces of our school, students we may not even know are able to work and think without disruption.

The focus of much this learning has been (and will continue to be) on our choices and how we bring our words to life so that learning happens – not just a bit of learning, but exciting learning that has us feeling proud and accomplished.  We’ll keep you informed about our progress with developing our classroom guidelines that we can enact and live by all year.

Multiplying in Math

circles and starsThis year we have begun our study of mathematics with multiplication.  We are extending their 2nd grade work with skip counting and grouping.  Over the last two weeks we have explored the notion of multiplication as repeated addition.  We know we can use multiplication when we are working with groups that are all the same size.  We have been building groups and sets as well, to show how multiplication can be represented by an array (for us that would be using multiplication to find area).

This week you’ll see some of your child’s work in the back pocket of his or her home communication folder.  You’ll be able to see how we are working to connect set theory with both addition and multiplication equations representing the amounts.  In addition, the children have been learning how to select a problem that stretches his or her understanding.  Each day there are four problems with varying levels of complexity for the children to select from.  This is a skill that develops over time as your child learns more about how to help him or herself learn.

As you look at the work with your child this weekend, you may want to ask how they made their choices.  My guess is that the answer will be, “I don’t know”, but your questioning will help your child realize the importance of becoming more self-aware and self-directed as a learner.  You may also want to ask your child about his or her thinking with their math.  Much of it is done in their heads with only an answer on the paper.  They are learning to how to show their mental skip counting through an equation or how to draw out the sets to show the manipulatives used to guide the thinking process.

One fun and simple activity to help children develop a strong conceptual understanding of multiplication is Circles and Stars.  They have each played it a few times and should have a booklet showing their work.  If you have a die, paper and some time, perhaps your could teach you how to play.

Of course there are many more things to share, but I’ll stop there as I hope you’ll have time to read this note and use it to open doors of communication between your child’s classroom and home.  The better we are able to work together to help your child feel that his or her learning matters, the more learning will flourish.  Thank you for your time and support in our endeavor.

Bits and Pieces –

  • We celebrated the completion of our first chapter read-aloud, Donovan’s Word Jar, by creating a favorite word collection of our own.  We also explored the words we could make with letter Cheez-its.  Celebrations with little snacks are fun.
  • We have begun our second chapter read aloud.  It is called Word After Word After Word by Patricia MacLachlin.  It explores writing in a classroom when an author, Ms. Mirabel, helps them think about ideas and they way that words share feelings, ideas and stories.
  • Thank you to the Stempien, Duffy and Lee families for sending Clorox wipes, tissues and “just-in-case” snacks in for our class.  We are well supplied for now and appreciate your generosity.
  • I want to make sure to introduce the other teachers who are part of our classroom.  Mrs. Caron works with our class each and all day.  Mrs. Berry supports each of the Grade 3 classrooms.  She is with us part of every day as well.

narrative writingexperimenting