Our Week – December 22

If I had to choose one phrase as a summary of this week I would choose, Learning Community. Our week began with a Trust Fall Challenge with Mr. Caron and ended with a Secret Friend Celebration. At the start of the week everyone took the risk to fall – a first in all my years participating in this challenge. HOW COOL IS THAT! Yesterday we enjoyed lunch together and the sharing of gifts. The time passed in a snap! Thank you for connecting home and school through your conversations and your support of projects that need time and help. Thank you too for your generous donations for the luncheon. I also appreciate your thoughtful emails with questions and concerns. They make me think of ways I can help our class be more successful.   I am grateful for your interest, time and attention.

Learning About Metacognition and Mindfulness

We’ve continued having thoughtful conversations about learning and what we can each do to challenge ourselves. We’ve asked a lot of questions. What is learning? How do you know you are learning? Are some things we learn more important then others? Each morning for the past two weeks we’ve been trying to notice and note things that we’ve learned each day. The goal of this process is to provide the children with to opportunity to recognize that they are in charge of their own learning. They can choose how much they invest in their own learning. They can create their own challenges within each task – should I work fast to be the first done or should I think about trying something I’ve never done before? If something is easy, is it worth doing? If something it hard, is it worth doing? I can I turn something that seems easy into something I can learn from? There are no set answers to these questions. And sometimes we’ve been surprised by what we discover in our conversations.

We’ve also spent some time, both in the classroom and with Ms. Vas, learning about mindfulness. Ms. Vas began teaching us some deep breathing techniques this week. We are hoping this practice will help us match our response to the size of the problem more often. We’ll become more focused and be better able to

Creating a Map of Sassafras Springs

We finished reading The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs. Eben did find seven Wonders, but he wasn’t able to go to Colorado because of an outbreak of influenza. He did get to go to St. Louis though and he also learned the value of community. In the book Eben thought, “I sat there, thinking about the Wonders as the evening shadows settled over the barnyard.   A doll. A bookcase. A saw. A table. A ship in a bottle. A woven cloth. They were all as unimpressive and ordinary as Sassafras Springs, yet each in its own way was a one-of-a-kind marvel.”

And Uncle Alf, the creator of the seventh Wonder reminded Eben, “Now that you’ve found seven Wonders, I’ll bet you’ll notice new ones every day.” We think we could look for Wonders too.

After finishing we decided to build of map showing what we think of as the fifteen most important people and places in the town. We used clothespins for people just like Aunt Pretty did in the story and we used milk cartons for the base of the buildings. We’re adding details to our yards and features to our map.   This is an example of the project that is simple, but can be turned into more of a challenge by thinking about how we can add details to make the scene more realistic. We’re having fun following our imagination.

Why is Snow White?

Snow Angles

We also revisited angles in math while looking at different snowflakes. There are many ways to look at the angles of a snow crystal. Once you start looking it seems as though you can’t stop.

We also discovered why snow looks white when it is made of something clear. We

had fun discovering how and why something transparent becomes more opaque.

Bits and Pieces:

  • Mrs. Hyett visited us on Tuesday to share some Hanukkah traditions. We had sufganyot (jelly doughnuts) and gelt.
  • We continued to talk about The Size of the Problem and The Size of the Reaction with Ms. Vas.
  • We each selected our country for our global geography project.
  • And we hope to collect family stories over the vacation.

Our Week – December 15

It is certainly an exciting time of year. There’s a lot going on everywhere. The children are busy, excited and tired. Please encourage them to make an extra effort to be safe and kind to each other.

Remember: We’ll be having our Secret Friend Celebration on Thursday, December 21. We’ll be eating lunch together in our classroom. Mrs. Peterson has been organizing the luncheon for us. Remember to send the secret projects in no later than Wednesday, December 20. What fun!

Metacognition – Thinking about Thinking/Reflecting on Learning (S.E.L.)

Last week I wrote about changes I hoped to implement in our classroom based on several discussions at parent conferences. We began one this week. We’ve taken steps to slow down and notice how we can be our best in the present. Our Social and Emotional Learning has centered self-control and taking the perspective of others this week. We’ve been looking for ways to practice mindfulness more often in our classroom. Ask your child about The Three Questions and their answers. If you’re not familiar with this book, it is one you can read often. You’ll think of or notice something different with each reading.

We began a daily reflective practice of attempting to identify something we’ve learned each day. The first thing we do each morning is to jot something down what we think we’ve learned. We’re working to note and notice events of learning. We’re developing our abilities to reflect and become more aware of when and how we learn. It’s not easy at all. If you give it a try you may discover, as I did, that the expression, “You learn something new every day” is a challenging adage to live up to. Some children are sharing what they are doing, “I learned be aggressive on the basketball court.” Or “I played wall ball in the snow.” Others are writing about things they’ve observed, “I saw a flock of birds. I noticed it because it was in a cursive v and I never saw a flock of birds like that.” Some recorded things they have done at school, “I can make very cool paper leaves,” but most are recalling things they have done outside of school. “I learned how to make pumpkin bread.”

We’ll be making our learning journals next week. And we’ll see how this process of metacognition and reflection deepens and grows throughout the New Year.

Exploring the Importance of Biodiversity

4th grade issued a challenge to “Deck the Halls.” They are responsible for this month’s Community meeting AND are preparing for their community service project to sing carols to residents of local nursing homes. They’ll be sharing our doors in this process.

We met the challenge by creating a Tree of Life. First we made models of our animals out of Model Magic and set them aside to dry. Next we created leaves and learned how to emboss creating veins. Next we added insects – lots of insects. And finally painted our animals and added flowers and grass.   We like our tree quite a lot. If you’re in the school, come and see it.

Throughout this process we read several books, including This is the Earth and Lots: Celebrating Diversity on Earth. They helped add meaning to the last verse of a favorite song in our classroom, Habitat: “People are different from foxes and rabbits, We effect the whole world with our bad habits, Better to love it while we still have it, Or rat-a-tat-tat our habitat’s gone.” We talked about what it means to be stewards of our Earth. Every little thing counts: don’t take more than you need, try not to waste supplies, turn off the lights, reuse whatever you can… You may want to extend this conversation at home by talking about how your family conserves and cares for Earth as well.

Math – Learning Times and Time

In math this week we’ve been learning about time, reading and comparing analog and digital clocks. We are getting better at reading the time and at accounting for elapsed time. We are using telling time as another tool to help us master the 5’s table in multiplication as well. Several of the children have made that connection. As we continue to practice reading clocks and identifying the time more are sure to make that connection.

This week took another round of timed fact checks, adding multiplication into the mix. Thank you for your attention to this at home by playing games and helping your child practice. The facts are learned through lots of repetition. Some of the children feel discouraged, “I’m just not good at this” or “I can’t do this.” Please help them realize they most definitely CAN accomplish this goal if they want to. It will take focus and determined action on their part. It won’t just wash over them between now and the next fact check. Despite how the children felt about the fact check, the class made great improvement.

Bits and Pieces –

  • We’ve been learning about the some of the craft choices authors make as they write. We’re exploring ways to add detail and description, choosing words that stand out and finding ways to engage all five senses. Cynthia Rylant continues to be our mentor. This week we used a chapter out of Poppleton In Winter to learn about planning plot lines in stories and we used The Great Gracie Chase to identify how she used elaboration strategies to reach out and hook us into her writing.
  • We’ve started our collection of interview questions to help us gather family stories. I hope over the break children will have time to collect a few.
  • We’re almost finished with The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs. Eben has collected six of his seven wonders – but he has already reached the seven-day deadline. Will he get to go to Colorado or not? Talk to you child to see what he or she thinks. Check to see if they have a favorite wonder. We hope to make a 3-D map of Sassafras Springs creating the village where Eben walks.
  • While we built our Tree of Life, we put a hold on learning more about mapping and our world. I hope that by the end of next week the children will have selected a country to research and become an expert on.

Our Week – December 8

I have appreciated meeting and planning with you about how we can best support your child’s learning during the next part of the school year.  Thank you for your time and effort. Because of our conversations, I’ll be planning more frequent small group opportunities, begin some reflective journaling designed to help children become more self-directed and setting aside a corner of the classroom as a recording studio where children can document their understanding and comprehension orally. I look forward to discovering how these options will add to the opportunities of our classroom.


This week we explored maps. We read about them. We learned that most maps have six basic elements: keys (or legends), a compass rose, a scale, a title, labels and symbols. We put map puzzles together. We tried to create paper maps of the world. We drew maps of the classroom and worked as teams to create a 3-D map of our classroom. We tried including all of the elements (excluding scale) when we created maps of our yards. Next week we’ll be using our maps to lead us into some personal narratives telling about the places we play and the stories that grow from our games and imagination.

In addition to mapping we’ve been exploring the ways people divide up and label the places that we live. It is abstract and seems to feel random to the children. We live in neighborhoods, towns, counties, states, countries and continents. You can see from some of the work sent home this week that this can be confusing. It is interesting to learn about our place in the world and it is interesting to understand how others live as well – the same, but different. Next week the children will be selecting a country to research and share with others.

Family Stories

As we move through the winter we’ll be focusing on narrative writing. Lately we have begun Writer’s Workshop with silent, focused quick-writes. We’re using them to gather snippets and story ideas. We’ve written about time spent with family, favorite meals, times playing outside, favorite memories from when we were younger and seasons we enjoy.

Your child is going to ask you (some already have, and others may need to reminded of this task) what memories you have from when you were 8 or 9 and in 3rd grade. Please tell what you can – these stories do not have to be about school. They can be any memories you care to share and have shared again in the classroom. Some of our quick-writes next week will be attempts to begin writing these stories down.

Also next week, the class will develop a set of interview questions. We hope to be able to talk to extended family members and uncover their stories from third grade (or there about) as well. We are hoping to ask grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins or special family friends to share stories. After the December break, we’ll try to write some of those stories down too. When each of the children has collected a handful to stories, they’ll be asked to choose one to develop, revise and polish until it is ready to be published.

Please don’t require your child to write the stories down outside of the classroom. Their job is to listen well and imagine every detail. I hope you enjoy recalling memories and sharing stories as a family.

Bits and Pieces –

  • We’ve begun to learn about sketch-noting as a tool to enhance comprehension. We’re learning more about visualizing and adding actions and details to our mind pictures as we listen to read-alouds and also as we read independently.
  • We’ve continued reading The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs. Eben has collected four Wonders as he walks through his small town. Talk to your child about the stories he’s collected and the Wonders he’s found. Maybe you have “Wonder” stories in your family too.
  • Several of the children have chosen to write to the authors of the books they read in their book clubs. As part of the book club assignment, the readers were asked to think of questions they might have for the author. These questions lead to the letters. Perhaps there will be a response. That would be exciting.
  • We’ve been exploring graphing, time elapse problems in math and working with larger numbers. We’re identifying the multiplication facts we easily know so we can be more focused on strategies for learning the facts that are harder to add up or count on.

It would be greatly appreciated if you could find time to talk with your child about what it means at your house to put forth one’s best effort. For some children, it seems, working fast is best. That means they skim across the activities doing what they already know rather than extending them to learn “new”. As a result, expectations are only partially met. For other children it seems as though assignments are secondary, being social comes first. Conversation consumes their time. They approach tasks as if they can get them done eventually. As a result of these choices, expectations are seldom met. They simply run out of time. All of the children need support with organizing, prioritizing and managing time. They need to find ways to listen to their inner voice as they explore ideas and find opportunities for learning in all they do whether simple or complex. Our new learning journals are an attempt in the classroom to build these understandings, deepen thinking and strengthen self-monitoring skills. Thank you for your help in exploring these ideas with your child. It is exciting to see how learning grows.

Our Week – December 1

We’ve done a great deal since the last note home. We went to the New Hampshire Farm Museum in Milford to learn lots about living in the mid-1800s. We’ve created and shared our animals and habitats at the Animal Wonderland. And we’ve shared our goals for learning during our student led conferences. Each of these special things happened while we continued on with reading, writing, math and content studies each day as well. Thank you for encouraging and supporting these efforts by talking about them at home and encouraging your child to think more about learning.

Thanksgiving Field Trip and Book Clubs

Two weeks ago we learned that Sarah Hale spent over twenty years trying to persuade the country to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday. She thought a day should be set aside for gratitude and she thought it should be a national observance that could make our country stronger. Four presidents disagreed, but the fifth, Abraham Lincoln, just after the battle of Gettysburg, agreed. He too could see that our country needed a time to reflect on good during a very sad time.

It was interesting to get a glimpse of what family life was at that time at the farm museum. It was different to be sure and while we had fun doing the work on that one cold day, we could see that it might be tough to keep it up day after day.

We’ve also learned lots of different things related to the history of Thanksgiving in our book clubs. Talk to your child about the book he or she chose to read and the information it shares about our national celebration.








3E’s Animal Wonderland

On Monday and Tuesday the children put the finishing touches on their writing, habitats and paper mache animals to create their zoo displays. They had fun painting and adding the details to bring their animals to life. It was exciting to have everyone at our museum. Thank you all for making the time for that. It was a wonderful celebration of nearly two months of research and writing and creating. The class learned a great deal through this integrated study of science, reading, writing and art.

We are looking forward to more research projects and new opportunities to share our learning with you.

























Student-Led Goal Setting Conferences

I appreciate the opportunity to listen to the children share their work with you. It is one thing to talk about learning goals in the classroom and to encourage each learner to reflect on what he or she is doing in a way that helps them achieve even more. It is another thing to share and explain that makes that talk real. Thinking about thinking and learning matters. That reflection deepens understanding and third graders are just beginning stages to recognize this. Given opportunities to practice, they will become powerful thinkers. When you ask your child to tell you more about his or her thinking, you are stretching them even more. Why do you want to read a fatter book? How will reading more pages make you a stronger reader? Why do you want to solve problems quickly? How will being fast make you a more skilled mathematician? Each question helps them pause and consider how they can develop more purposeful goals and become confident, self-directed, lifelong learners.

Bits and Pieces –

  • Global Geography and Mapping – We’ve begun learning about mapping. We’re learning about the features of all maps and learning to create them. We’re also going to explore each of the continents and learn about different cultures around the world.
  • Family Stories – We’re going to begin collecting family stories to launch our narrative writing unit. We’ve talked about how some families tell many stories, while other families do not. Either way, all families have some. Be prepared, your children are going to be asking you to tell them about what you remember about being 8 or 9. I hope you’ll have fun exploring those memories with you children
  • Eben’s begun collecting The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs. He’s collected three so far. Talk to your child about the stories Eben is collecting as he travels through his small hometown. We’re wondering if North Hampton has any tales like them. Are there Wonders in North Hampton?
  • We are planning to create a calendar highlighting the animals from our zoo. We’d like to create a business and sell them to raise money for threatened and endangered animals. It’s exciting to help make the world a better place.

Our Week – November 17

Thank you all for selecting a conference time for your child to share his or her portfolio and learning goals. We are looking forward to sharing with you. This week has been full of planning and making. We are putting our portfolios together. We’re creating our animals for the zoo and building our habitats too. And we are reading together in Thanksgiving book clubs. 3E is a busy place.

Building Habitats

On Tuesday morning we began the day with white tri-folds and 24”x36” sheets of paper. By the end to the day, thanks to Kristen Samson, Melissa Romanowsky and Nermina Peterson, our habitat backgrounds had begun to take shape. Thank you for helping us with this project.

As zookeepers, the kids are responsible for housing their animal in a habitat as close to its natural habitat as possible. We’ve had fun this week creating and building those habitats. It is interesting to see how the children think about and interpret what they’ve been reading and viewing. We are looking forward to sharing this all with you at 3E’s Animal Wonderland on Tuesday, November 28.

Our zoo project seems to have inspired many ideas. Thank you for encouraging and supporting these home school connections. Children have created original zoo logos. This week Emily launched her “Good Deeds Club.” The kids are very excited about finding ways to raise money for endangered animals and people in need as well. Annika invented animal shaped pads of paper and taught us how to make them. It is exciting to see how the ideas connect and extend from one thing to another. I think that our animals and the zoo will be with us long after the formal study of habitats and informational reading and writing are over.

Learning A Bit About History

This week we began reading more about Thanksgiving. We’ve learned some about the first Thanksgiving and also some of how Thanksgiving was first proclaimed a national holiday. Did you know this happened all because of a New Hampshire woman, Sarah Josepha Hale? Ask your child what he or she remembers about her and her efforts to set aside a day of thanks in our country. Sarah was a determined woman who did some amazing things in the early 1800’s when opportunities for women were very limited.

We also discovered that some of what we thought was true about Thanksgiving may not be accurate and we are looking forward to understanding more. Here are a few facts we found interesting: About 100 Pilgrims sailed to America on the Mayflower, but 50 of them died in the first winter. There were 22 children. They ate stale bread and cheese. The Indian helped them in the spring. The Indians taught them about corn and planted it with a dead fish. The first Thanksgiving was three days long.

We are looking forward to learning more about the history of Thanksgiving when we go to the NH Farm Museum on Monday.

Reflecting on What “Best Work” Means

The children have been describing their strengths as readers, writers and mathematician. They have taken time to reflect on their work habits and to consider how they might help themselves grow even further. They’ve been gathering work samples to share as evidence of what they can do at present. They are thinking about what “best” means. Is it neat? Is it correct? Should it show thinking and learning? Can is show mistakes? Should it show mistakes? Isn’t that where the learning is? How do you show collaboration? What of cooperation and creative problem solving? How can you capture the process of learning? We’ve been exploring these ideas and more, as we think about what learning is and when it feels exciting and fun.

Bits and Pieces –

  • We’ve begun 5th chapter read-aloud, The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs. It takes place in 1923. It is first historical novel and it is adding more to our understanding of how things like transportation, schooling and even shopping changes over time.
  • We tried lots of delicious foods at the Food Day Celebration on Tuesday. Thank you to Mrs. Fields for bringing together such wonderful group of displays.
  • We’re continuing to learn how to form the kite string cursive letters.
  • We’ve also discovered that rounding to the nearest 10 or 100 is pretty easy. We can also use that skill to quickly check if some of our other math calculations are accurate or not.

Our Week – November 9

Our FIELD TRIP has been CHANGED from Thursday, November 16 to Monday, November 20. Everything else on the permission slip remains the same.

As my meetings ended after school on Wednesday I realized, with a shock, that it was the end of our week. Our days are full and productive. The woodland habitat we created as a class on at the end of last week is thriving. We followed Derek’s suggestion to create a desert habitat on Tuesday and that seems to be thriving as well. We look forward to making observations of them throughout the school year. This week our classroom time has been full of life science, informational writing, reading of all types and math with angels, symmetry, rounding and problem solving.

The Theory of Multiple Intelligences – our SEL focus

One of the things development psychologists know is that providing opportunities for children to reflect and consider their choices is one of the best ways we can promote independence and self-directed learning. Developmental research shows that third graders are beginning to grasp the power of reflection. Some children are able to consider “what-if” as they choose and set learning goals that extend beyond the information presented in direct instruction. An example of this is: “I am growing as a reader when I learn new words and can figure their meaning out from the story and what the characters do.” Other children are still more concrete in their thinking. They see learning as a “bigger and faster, so better” activity. For example: “I am growing as a reader when I read fatter books.” It is interesting as a classroom teacher to see they whole spectrum. This is a skill that improves with practice, so it is exciting to provide children opportunity to think about how their choices can lead them to success.

This week we explored Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligence. We used different survey questions to think about how our interests and activities mirror the ways we are smart.

We also talked about how intelligence grows. We know we can change and grow in any way we choose. My example is that I am always embarrassed that I cannot dribble a ball and move at the same time. The truth is, I’ve never had the opportunity to learn and I’ve never taken the time to practice.   Clearly if that skill truly mattered to me, I’d practice until I could do it. That is the case for them too. They can do anything they choose to do!

We’ll be sharing that information with you at student led goal-setting conferences at the end of the month.  Look for the conference sign-up on Monday.

Informational Reading and Writing

We’re well into the research process and the children are writing their informational pieces about their animals. This writing will share what the children have learned about their animals. Some of the children are writing as if they are a zookeeper and are sharing what they imagine would be happening in their habitat. Other children have taken a broader view and are writing a piece that is more in keeping with some of the nonfiction they have been reading themselves. Many are beginning to plan their habitat displays.

Looking for Volunteers – If you don’t mind messy projects, I’d love some help while we paint the habitat backgrounds. We’ll be painting the tables and printing paper with both sky and ground colors. We’ll need at least 15 of each. As you can imagine it’s fun, but messy. We’ll be doing this Tuesday afternoon from 1:30 until the end of the day. If you’re able to join us, please let me know. Thank you.

We’ve been exploring how the energy plants and animals need for survival are passed on through food chains. We’ve learned that all food chains begin with the sun and green plants. Some chains have only two links while others have three or four. We’ve also learned that all chains end with decomposers and while they’re a little creepy, we are glad they are here to clean up our earth.

Bits and Pieces –

  • This week we’ve begun to explore the rules of rounding to the nearest 10. We are learning this so we can make quick estimates to judge the accuracy of our problem solving. The children have had fun with these activities.
  • We completed Gooseberry Park this week. It has been interesting to compare this with The One and Only Ivan. Both feature animals. Both lead us to believe we can understand the thoughts and feeling of animals, but they are tremendously different and we think were written for totally different purposes
  • We had fun reading books autographed for our class, It’s Great to Be a Dad by Gina Perry (Miles’ mom), Pocket Full of Colors by Amy Guglielmo and the latest addition to the Ball Park mysteries series by David Adler. Thank you to Miles’ mom sharing the event information
  • The Food Day Celebration will be held in the cafeteria on November 15.
  • Due to plumbing issues, our field trip to the New Hampshire Farm Museum has been changed from Thursday, November 16 to Monday, November 20. Please make sure to mark that on your calendars. All children will need snacks and lunch that day that will travel safely and easily. Thank you.
  • “3E’s Animal Wonderland – come see our zoo” is the name and catch phrase the children chose as a class. It was quite a process of voting and negotiating. I think everyone is feeling pretty good about the name. The zoo will be open on November 28 in the afternoon from 2:15 to 2:45 and again in the evening from 5:30 to 6:30. Please do your best to arrange things so the children can be at the evening zoo. Part of this learning process is being able to act as a zookeeper and explain all about the animal to an audience. Thank you.
  • Report Cards will be coming to you via Web2School on November 30. We will meet for parent teacher conferences the following week.

Our Week – November 3

Just as we are getting into a groove, our week ends. The kids moan each time I say, “I’m sorry but it’s time for…” “What, we just got started.” It’s true. Still, I hope your child has lots to say about his or her research, writing, reading and the science and math we are exploring. This week most of our work has been project based. You’ll notice there are few work samples sent home. Thank you, though, for the time you take each week to review that work with your child. Also thank you for helping make time for homework. We’ve got another math fact check coming up in a couple weeks so playing games to give the children repeated practice and help them feel more at ease is much appreciated.

Geometry – Symmetry and Congruence

This week we took some time to name the shapes in our calendar’s pattern. We learned the term polygon and know it stands for all straight-sided, closed shapes. Next we learned the term quadrilateral. It a name for all 4-sided, closed shapes. We already knew about triangles, pentagons and hexagons, but our pattern does have some unusual shapes too.

After looking at the shapes we found congruent pairs. We also looked for shapes that were symmetrical. We discovered, with Tavi’s help, that shapes that had congruent sides and angles, also had the greatest number of lines of symmetry. No matter how or where you divided those shapes in half the reflection was also the same.

Habitats – Creating and Identifying

This week we continued to learn more about habitats. (Ask your child to share the chorus of our new song. It is catchy and fun to sing.) We know that habitats are the places where living things’ basic needs are met. We know those needs are: air, water, sunlight/heat, shelter and companionship and/or safe care. This week we expanded our understanding even further as we began to explore and define the differences between macro- and micro-habitats. Forests are an example of a macro-habitat. A hole in a tree is an example of one micro-habitat found within a forest. Each of the children knows what their animal’s habitat is. Next we’ll be identifying a food web that each animal is a part of.

To bring these concepts to life, each of the children created their own temperate woodlands habitat (a.k.a. a terrarium). The children took them home to observe. We created a slightly larger habitat to observe in the classroom. Please encourage your child to place them in a sunny area – (direct sun for a long portion of the day may be too hot for the plants)– and observe the changes. It should only be opened if it becomes excessively damp and/or mold begins to grow. The sealed jar is its own ecosystem and is a habitat that provides everything the plants need to survive. Help your child notice, if he or she hasn’t already, how clouds and condensation forms. Over time, help them notice how the number of leaves on the partridge berries change or when the mosses’ spores show up. They should last indefinitely, but sometimes its nice to begin again when the forests grows so much it seems more like a murky jungle.

Thank you so much to Amy Hyett for joining our expedition and helping us assemble our habitats. It was great to extra eyes and hands for this project.

Bits and Pieces –

  • Our school pictures will be taken November 8.
  • We are going on a field trip to the New Hampshire Farm Museum on November 16th. Permission slips were sent home on Wednesday. Please return them, along with the $6.00 fee as soon as possible. This is related to our exploration of National Holidays – we’ll be learning about the origins of local Thanksgiving traditions. Did you know that Thanksgiving became a national holiday due to the tireless petitioning of a New Hampshire woman, Sarah Josepha Hale. (She also wrote Mary Had a Little Lamb.) She was a woman ahead of her time.
  • We are collecting food this week to create Thanksgiving meal baskets for Veterans in need. The school is involved with this collection. 3rd grade students are providing Instant Mashed Potatoes. Our collection will be presented to the Veterans present at our Veterans’ Day Assembly. This will be held on Thursday, November 9th. Thank you to those who have already sent donations in. What a worthy cause and wonderful way for the children to know they can make a real difference.
  • Our classroom zoo will be held on Tuesday, November 28. It will be open in the afternoon from 2:15 to 2:45 and again in the evening from 5:30 to 6:30. It would be wonderful if all the children could be at the evening zoo. Part of the learning process is to be able to act as a zookeeper and explain all about the animal they are presenting to an audience. That said, I know it is nearly impossible to select a time that works for every family. So thank you, for doing what works best for your family.

Our Week – October 27

Another week has zipped by. How we long for more time in our classroom for reading, writing and researching, to say nothing of science, spelling, social studies and math. It always seems as if we are going off to something else… we like those things too, but it is hard to build momentum with all the starting, stopping and re-starting again.

Researching and Preparing to Present Our Information

This week we talked about how much time we thought it would take us to complete our research, plan how that information would be presented and then finally to create our habitats and animal. We decided that we could be done in a month’s time. We are planning to open our zoo on Tuesday, November 28. It will be open in the afternoon from 2:15 to 2:45 and in the evening between 5:30 and 6:30. It would be wonderful if all the children could be at the evening zoo. Part of the learning process is to be able to act as a zookeeper and explain all about the animal they are presenting to an audience. That said, I know it is nearly impossible to select a time that works for every family. So thank you, for doing what works best for your family.

The children are preparing themselves to be able to answer questions about their animal’s habitat and how they are a part of the food web found there. They are learning about their animal’s habits and behaviors. They are learning about the daily routine and family life of their animals. And finally they’re learning about their animal’s diet and what a good home is for them so they feel safe and well cared for.

Most of the children have read two or three books about their animals and have explored several online resources as well. Many of them are selecting the format they will use to present their information and are in the process of typing the information using Print Shop so they are able to polish their work with headlines, caption and labels.

Looking for Recycled Stuff from Home – We’ll start making the animals in art next week. We are looking for small boxes (shoebox size), cardboard tubes, plastic bottles, and any other “stuff” that could be used as the foundation for the paper mache structures. If you have any of those supplies please send them in. We would be very grateful!

Habitats and Food Webs

We’ve been learning more about habitats, food chains and food webs in science. We know that the basic needs of all living things are found in their habitat. We identified air, water, food, shelter, sun and feelings of safety and/or companionship as basic needs. We’ve also been exploring what happens when changes are made in a habitat. It can be pretty surprising. We have more to learn about this topic, but it has launched some interesting conversations in the class. I imagine the children would enjoy sharing what they’re discovering with you at home. If Sharks Disappeared was one to the books we reread as we began wondering about these changes.

Looking for Volunteers – It looks as though we might have a window of sun on Tuesday, October 31. I am hoping to have each of the children create their own mini-habitat (a.k.a. terrarium) in the afternoon between 1:00 and the end of the day. I would be very grateful to have several volunteers to help with this.   If you are available and willing to help out, could you please send an email my way this weekend? You’ll be helping the children gather plants and mosses from the wooded area along the nature trail and then guiding them through the building process. I am planning directions that will ask the children to measure certain amounts and I anticipate that children will need some assistance with this as well. Each child will have a terrarium to bring home AND each table group will make another terrarium to leave in the classroom so we can make observations together throughout the rest of the school year.

Learning the Distributive Property of Multiplication

We’ve continued practicing the steps of the distributive property with multiplication. The children are growing in their understanding. Some of them are solving rather complex problems quickly. It seems as though everyone understand what multiplication is. Now we are ready to focus on multiples and learning the facts. This will take lots of practice and time. Thank you so much for helping and encouraging your children as they endeavor to master this new set of facts.

Bits and Pieces –

  • Our word study focus this week has been on learning all the spelling rules for making nouns plural.
  • We’ve begun reading Gooseberry Park by Cynthia Rylant as our fourth chapter read-aloud. It is an interesting contrast to the One and Only Ivan. It will be interesting to make comparisons between the two.
  • The pattern on our calendar is helping us explore different concepts about geography. We’re learning new terms: polygon, quadrilateral, vertex, acute and obtuse. We’ve learned about right angles too. This is all still a bit confusing to the class. You might have fun looking for different kinds of angles at home. We’ve looked for them in the classroom and discovered most angles are right.

Our Week – October 20

We’ve had a week of firsts. We had our first outdoor challenge with Mr. Caron. We set up our individual blogs and had our first blogging session. That means that very soon first blog posts will be published for the world to read and respond to. And we had an assembly to learning about safety with digital media with speaker, Katie Greer.

Blogging Begins

This week Mrs. Wyman helped us set up and personalize our individual blogs. We were able to create a tagline and choose font and background colors. We planned our first post on Tuesday and began typing it on Wednesday. It takes a long time to type (We can see why we’ve been practicing with Typing Pal and have accounts so we can practice even more often at home) but it is an exciting new format for writing. It’s very motivating. To date eleven of the children have completed and published posts. The other students are creating and planning. It feels pretty exciting to be using the computers – both laptops and desktops.

Ask your child if he or she has had the chance to complete a post. Have them show you where to find it. They would love to know that you are seeing their work at home. Please leave a comment when you have a moment. It will definitely put a smile on their faces. Please share the address with grandparents, family and friends. Having a wider audience for writing is exciting. Because of this the children often take more care with spelling and grammar though, of course, it’s not perfect. For the first posts, if the children asked me to, I edited their work. Soon those responsibilities will be all on them. Reading their blogs is fun! Their personality already shows. I can’t wait to see how they grow throughout the year.

Interestingly enough one of the main messages we heard from Katie Greer was to never talk to anyone we don’t personally know. We had that discussion in class and the children know that nothing will go on their blogs – post or comment – that is not purposeful or caring. We also learned of the permanence of our digital footprints – even a 3rd grade blog stays forever.

Science Switch from Forces of Flight to Animal Habitats

For the past two weeks we have been sharing books written using different formats. This week we were finally able to read a book, If Sharks Disappeared, to learn about a cause and effect format. We also read I, Fly. This mentor text showed us how me might develop a character to present the information in a narrative story format. Hopefully this mini-unit will provide the class with some examples to model their writing after as they present their information to those who visit our zoo.

This week we also began our research process. The children spent some time writing what they think they already know about their animal and some questions about things they hope to discover. They gathered resources from the classroom so far and have begun reading what they think of as easiest first. This is so they are able to build their background knowledge and are able to understand more information as the level of complexity increases. They began a note taking process of recording 3 facts from their reading, 2 questions they would like to ask the author and finally 1 thing they thought was most important. They are very excited to begin this process and are looking forward to sharing all they learn with you.

Bits and Pieces:

  • The distributive property is beginning to make more sense. We are working through each step and it is helping us understand the process of multiplying with larger amounts. We do not fully understand the process yet, as you’ll see from daily practice sheets, but we’ll continue to work with it.
  • This week our shared reading focus as been on math and how math helps us organize our world. Math really is everywhere. We’ve been focusing on how diverse math is from numbers, to graphing, to measuring, to probability and beyond. We are going to set class goals and finally, from these discussions, the children will set goals of their own.
  • We began “Wonderful Word” Wednesday. This is the day of the week we will begin our new set of spelling words. This week the our feature words were selected to help us review long and short vowel, spelling patterns for long /i/ and a few commonly misspelled words:
  • We enjoyed working together to help each other cross the swinging logs on the river runner challenge this week. Our other scheduled challenge dates with Mr. Caron are: November 20, December 18, January 22, February 19, March 19, April 16, and May 21.
  • From reading Dr. Anderson’s newsletter sent home on Thursday, I understand we are having Halloween event at 2:15. Staff has not been given details about this. If you have questions, please contact the office.
  • Remember – Our school pictures will be taken November 8.

It’s Wednesday – here are some problems to solve

 We’ve been learning how the Distributive Property can help us multiply larger numbers.  Use the picture to remind you of the steps, and then give these problems a try.  You can leave your equations and solution in a comment when you do them.

Miles was reading The Stick Dog series.  Three of the books had 238 pages.  The other three books in the series had 208 pages.   How many pages did Miles read altogether?

Jack had 28 moves in his kata.  On Wednesday he practiced the kata 5 times in a row because he was working to earn his brown belt.  How many moves did he practice altogether on Wednesday?

Emily was writing a story.  She wrote 241 words in each page.  Her story had 9 pages.  How many words did Emily write in her story altogether?