Our Week – August 31

We are off to a great start in 3E. I hope children have been sharing some of the things we’ve been doing in class. At the end of each week I do my best to share important happenings in a classroom newsletter. My intention is that these newsletters will provide you with talking points to spark conversations about school at home. We all know children thrive best when they know home and school are connected. This is one of the ways I try to do that. I’ll send the Friday note home in paper and also post it on the blog. Over the weekend I’ll add your email to our blog so you’ll get a reminder of this digital connection. The photos there will give you an even closer view of what happens in our classroom. (The address is 3enews.edublogs.org)

Our focus during the first three days had been on learning how to work together and identifying habits that will help us succeed. We used You’re Finally Here by Melanie Watt for our central text on Tuesday. Bunny is the narrator of the book and he’s thrilled to see us, but also annoyed and even angry that we kept him waiting so long. Bunny is someone we’d be glad to have in our classroom SOME of the time, but certainly not all of the time. We sorted his behaviors into categories. There were some we’d like in the classroom and the school, and others we hope would be left for outside the school – far, far away.

Bunny asked us, “What took you so long?” and so we answered. Each of the children wrote about some of the things they did over the summer to explain why Bunny had been waiting. Those are up in the hall outside our classroom. If you’re in the school, stop by to see them. We also spent time getting to know each other by playing the name game and name bingo.

On Wednesday we spent time reflecting on how we would like to be known and what we’d like to be known for. We used Quick as a Cricket as a model for this thinking. It has been interesting and fun to see how the children think of themselves and how they describe what is important to them. I’ve done this activity a few times before and I was struck by how careful this class was in their choices. Here are a few examples: “I’m as slow as a toad. I’m as scary as a vegetable. I’m as elegant as a feather. I’m as unbreakable as my heart. I’m strong like a bull. I’m as smart as Albert Einstein…” These descriptions will be up in our classroom with first day self-portraits, first week photographs and mini-me sculptures. They will stand as a record of the start of our year.

We’ve created several graphs and charts. One graph is of favorite colors. Another is of birthdays. We’ve learned how many people and pets are in each other’s families as well. Graphing and interpreting them is a unit of study in mathematics. It is fun to explore a wide variety of info-graphics as we begin to study animals around the world. We also learned the game Tiguous. It is a fun, but challenging game because you have to use all four operations in order to win. Be on the look out for a copy of the game and rules so you can play it at home too.

We’ve been learning about the expectation for each part of our day so the children understand what they are each responsible for as readers, writers and mathematician. Soon they’ll be rating themselves with “exit tickets” so they become more self-aware and are able to monitor their focus and behavior.

By the end of today we will have completed our first chapter read-aloud, Donovan’s Word Jar. We’ve created our own word jar. Right now it is filled with the words that Donovan has been collecting. Soon we’ll add our own words as a way to notice words, build vocabulary and explore spelling patterns.

I am looking forward to next week. I can tell that we are going to quickly move into a daily routine. Your children are eager to learn and willing to work hard. While there is some chattiness, it seems to me that once they feel they have time to talk about video games and other activities during snack and lunch, recess or on the bus that talk won’t continue to impact learning time. I’ll let you know if it becomes an issue.

Thank you to everyone for the supplies. We’ll be starting our portfolios next week by creating a time capsule of sorts much like Carl Sagan saw in 1939 at the Worlds Fair that inspired him (and others) to place a recording onto the Voyager spacecraft.

Bits and Pieces:

  • We’ll be celebrating International Dot Day on Friday, September 15. That is the day the book, The Dot by Peter Reynolds was first published.
  • We will be going to The Franklin Park Zoo on Tuesday, September 19. Be on the look out next week for information and permissions slips.

Thank you for time and support to make this a terrific year.

A Blog Book Review

One of the ways you can share your understanding when reading is by writing a book review to share on your blog.  Here’s one I wrote to share with you, so you’d get the idea:

           Have you ever wondered what happens in a picture book when you’re not there reading it? No? Well, neither had I until I read You’re Finally Here by Melanie Watt. Bunny was so excited to see our class, the readers, that he cheered and flipped and threw confetti. But then he got angry with us for keeping him waiting. I guess he got bored while the book was sitting on the shelf and had to do a whole lot of things that he didn’t want to do. He yelled at us. “What took you so long?” He said some other things too.

But then Bunny apologized for getting angry. He tried to begin again, to show appreciation that we were there and reading. So we’d keep doing what we were doing, he tired to make contract with us. He wanted us to stay and keep him entertained… but then, his phone rang.

I won’t tell you exactly what happened at the end of the book. You’ll have to read it for yourself. I think it will make you smile. I think it might make you think twice about how you treat people that you hope will stick with you and help you out. Read You’re Finally Here and let me know what you think.

It’s Monday – here are some books to check out

Sorry – I’ve been away from the blog for a week.  I’ve been setting up the classroom.  As you know, that’s a LOT of books to move, dust and re-shelf.  It’s mostly done now.  The room looks different, but I like it.  You’ll still be able to find a lot of the books you love – some new ones too.  I hope you’ll visit – you’re always welcome to browse the shelves.

Two of my new favorites are Bobby vs. Girls (Accidentally) and Bobby the Brave (Sometimes) by Lisa Yee.  It is the beginning of 4th grade.  In the first book, Bobby and his best friend (sort-of), Holly meet up at the Labor Day Fiesta.  It’s hard for them to show they are best friends.  There seems to be this unwritten rule about girls and boys being friends at school.  And this becomes magnified when Holly begins to spend more time with Jillian Zarr and her posse.  Bobby’s in the middle of lots of things.  He wants to make his family proud, but he’s not sure how.  He’s just “ordinary.”  His sister is the quarterback of the high school football team.  Yup, that’s right.  Their dad is, “The Freezer”, a retired professional football player – but Bobby hasn’t received any of those abilities.  His younger sister, a 5-year old devotee of Princess Becky’s Planet, always wears a crown and carries a wand in case she needs a little magic.  Bobby thinks he could use some, but so far magic hasn’t worked for him either. There are also his guy friends, Chess and St. James and they’re great, but not always successful.

As you read these books, I bet you’ll smile at the things Bobby does, sometimes because they are funny and sometimes because you’ll know exactly how he feels.  There’s the race for student representative, the class picture, the field trip to Huntington Garden, and a class play-  along with goldfish instead of a dog.  Bobby shows us that it’s not easy to know what to choose and how to be – it seems important to tell others how you feel and to do the best that you can to be kind.

You’ll find out more about these books and even see a video of a soccer playing goldfish at Lisa Yee’s website.  Enjoy!  Let me know if you read them.  I’d love to know what you think – how close are they to what you’re thinking and feeling as you begin your 4th grade adventure?

Keep enjoying great books!

It’s Friday – what if…

I’ve been in our classroom cleaning, sorting through books and trying to get things ready for a new school year.  I remembered meeting Greg Trine last fall and how fun it was to create stories with him.  I checked out  the Melvin Beederman site and that got me thinking…

What if everyone in your family had a super power?

Which family member would have which super power and how would it work?

What would your super power be?

I’d love to know what you dream up.  What could your story be?

It’s Wednesday – here are some problems to solve

Jim is at raking leaves.  He earns $9.00 an hour when he rakes.  Beth is a good babysitter.  She earns $12.00 an hour when she babysits.  Beth works 6 hours in one week.  How many hours does Jim need to work to earn the same amount of money as Beth did?

Henry’s school decided to raise money for field trips by holding a farmer’s market.  They should cabbages, kale, broccoli and potatoes.  After adding together all of their earnings, Henry discovered they had made $303.  If they sold cabbages for $42 kale for $51 and broccoli for $77, how much money did they earn by selling potatoes?

This one will take quite a lot of thinking.  Take your time and enjoy it!

Nick had 3 pet frogs named Doris, Boris and Morris.  He weighs them to make sure they are healthy.  However, the frogs will only be weighed two at a time.

Here’s what Nick found out.  Can you use his data to find out how much each frog weighs?

Doris and Boris weigh 12 grams altogether.

Boris and Morris weigh 16 grams altogether.

Doris and Morris weigh 14 grams altogether.

It’s Monday – here are some books to read

I’m off to a two-day writing camp today.  I’m excited and am looking forward to dreaming of new ways to grow writers in 3E.  One way is to share great books… What are you reading that you think others would like?

Zoey and her cat, Sassafras, explore the world with the eye of a scientist.  Zoey uses goggles, like most scientists do, to protect her eyes.  She runs experiments and uses the information she learns through them to make changes and to answer questions.  The changes and the questions she answers though, are about creatures from the magical world.  In Dragons and Marshmallows, Zoey has to discover how to help a sick baby dragon.  It takes her a while, but eventually she discovers what dragons need to thrive.  If you like science, but also enjoy living in a world full of magical possibilities, make sure to read all of the books in this series. They are lots of fun.

Last year I read some of the books in Brad Meltzer’s Ordinary People Change the World series.  We had Abraham Lincoln, Jim Henson and Albert Einstein in our classroom.  I remember Gavin reading them and asking if we had others. We didn’t then, but now we do.  The books in the series are quick biographies highlighting a special trait that made each of these people stand out and helped them change the world.  Rosa Parks teaches us to stand up for ourselves.  Martin Luther King, Jr. teaches us that eventually we can accomplish dreams when we stand together.  Helen Keller teaches us that we can overcome obstacles if we remain determined.  And Jackie Robinson teaches us there are many ways to be brave.  On his website, Brad Meltzer says, “These aren’t stories of famous people.  This is what we’re all capable of our our very best days.”  I believe that too!  I can’t wait to discover all you can do!

What books do you recommend?  Let us know what you’ve been exploring!

As always, Happy Reading!

Make a Plan to View the Eclipse

I hope you’ve heard about the eclipse.  It’ll be here in 17 days, 3 hours, 34 minutes and 25 seconds  – well that time changes quickly, but you can check out the exact time by clicking on this link.  There are lots of different resources about the eclipse.  I learned a lot from this quick video.  I think you’ll enjoy it too.  Make sure to get some glasses.  Check with the town library.  They might have some.  I know you can order them online too.  Ask your family about them.

The total solar eclipse is a real big deal.  It only happens once in a life time and the last time a eclipse like this moved across the United States like this was in 1918!  We aren’t going to see the full eclipse but even in New Hampshire it will look as through a bite has been taken out of the sun.

The Exploratorium is going to set up a live stream on the path of the total eclipse so you can watch it happening.  It only last for short time, so make a plan.  That way you and your family won’t miss it.

There are a couple of thing you can do to see the eclipse if you don’t have glasses.  There are some direction on the Exploratorium link above.  Mystery Science has some directions for a pinhole projector that I’ve attached here.  There is also going to be an Eclipse Party at the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in in Concord.  The schedule says there will be events happening between 10:30 and 4:00.  The maximum viewing time for the partial eclipse is around 2:45.  There are several resources on that site as well. Check them out and make a plan.

The next total eclipse will be in 2023.  You’ll have to travel to see evidence of that one.

Enjoy!  Science is cool!

(The blue letters are live links.  Click on them for the information mentioned in the post.)

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

We have five different bird feeders.  We love to watch birds, but sometimes it seems as if we really have squirrel feeders.  Right now as I type, two gray squirrels are arguing about who should be eating first, two other gray squirrels are chasing each other up a tree, two red squirrels are foraging under a different feeder and two chipmunks are racing from the feeder to their home along the stonewall.  Yes, there are some birds around too, but by far, the best fed animals in the yard have fuzzy tails!

Watching them prompted me to do a little research to see what kinds of problems I could create.  Fun Fact:  Squirrels bury  2/3’s more seeds than they recover.  That means they plant a lot of trees!

It is guessed that squirrels eat 187 nuts or seeds each day. How many nuts and seeds will five squirrels eat altogether in one day?  How many will they eat in a week?

Squirrels can run 20 miles per hour.  How many miles will they have run in 6 hours?

Squirrels can leap 18 feet.  How many feet will a squirrel go altogether if it leaps 6 times?

Chipmunks are hoarders.  That means they hide A LOT of food underground for later.  In one burrow the chipmunks had stored 21,574 nuts, 1,869 berries, 45 bird eggs and  32,083 seeds.  How much food had the chipmunks stored altogether?

Flying squirrels are amazing gliders.  The length of a typical glide is 78 feet.  The longest glide is around 295 feet.  How many more feet did the flying squirrel glide in the longest glide than in the typical glide?

Writing these problems reminds me of the Maryann Hoberman poem we shared together.  Do you remember it?

Nuts to you, and nuts to me!

Walnut, chestnut, hickory,

Butter-, coco-, hazel-, pea-

Nuts to you and its to me!

If you find time to do these problems, I’d love to know.  Leave a comment.  Do you have any stories about squirrels in your yard?  I’d love to hear them.