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?

Our Week – October 13

Our days just seem to fly by. They are full with reading, writing, math and science. They are also filled with opportunities to learn more about collaborating, cooperating, and the importance of considering other’s needs before personal wishes. Manners matter and a calm, focused classroom helps us all meet with success more often.

Science of Flight

Friday is our final launch. In the scenario, the glider is delivering supplies to an area devastated by a typhoon. They’ve had fun working through the challenge of creating a glider that could fly a straight distance of 7 or more feet and carry weight.

The children worked through a design cycle to create a glider that followed specific criteria. The class explored the difference between inventions and innovations. That discussion also influenced some of the children’s design choices too. Talk to your child his or her design and building choices.

This week I noticed the children learning from their test flights. They began to wonder, “If my model isn’t gliding straight, how can I change it so it is more balanced?” They began to fly their gliders with questions in mind and were more strategic in their changes. They began consider cause and effect relationships as they designed wings shape and size. The children are using what they’ve learned about balanced and unbalanced forces and considering how they affect flight. They are becoming more careful observers.

On Monday we’ll complete the unit with a final assessment and then move on to our next science study of habitats, food webs. We’ll begin the research part of our zoo project.

Developing As Writers

This week we’ve focused on the qualities of great writing and the habits a writer needs to write well. The children reflected on who they are as writers. They considered what makes writing easy and what makes it challenging. They reflected on what they most like to write and how they would like to challenge themselves as they continue to grow this year.

The class enjoys creative writing. They have strong voice and clearly enjoy sharing their work with others. They have fun inventing characters and creating poems and songs. Each day we read a few poems together that highlight the theme we are learning about. I’ve had a hard time finding poems about writing and mentioned that during our shared reading time. Because of that, we now have a couple poems written by classmates that we read together each day. It is fun to share with a wider audience.

Informational Writing

As we look forward to launching our animal research project, we’ve been learning about different organizational structures for writing. We’re doing this so the class is aware of different choice they have as they prepare to share their research at the zoo. So far we have learned about a Descriptive Structure by reading About Habitats – The Seashore. That has a main topic and the information is shared through subtopic chunks. We learned about a Sequential Structure as well. That structure follows a step-by step format. We read about A Day and a Night in the Desert. Another example the children might use is a life cycle. The final structure we were able to explore this week was Cause and Effect. We read If Sharks Disappeared as an example and to help the children consider how their animal fits into the web of life specific to its habitat.

As we move further into the research process you may want to talk to your child about the choices he or she is considering. How will it be interesting to share what they know with others? The zoo will be an open house event so families will be able visit each habitat and learn about each animal there.

Bits and Pieces –

  • We’ll be having our first challenge with Mr. Caron on October 16. It will be outdoors, weather permitting, so the children should be prepared. It can be chilly on the Nature Trail.
  • We finally have the date for our school pictures – November 8.
  • We began learning about the Distributive Property of Multiplication this week. As you look through your children’s math problems this week, please let them know that you notice their effort. Most of the children are working to solve two or three problems a day. They are trying to select challenging problems and to use as much multiplication (and even division) as they can. It’s not always perfect, but they are growing and having fun. I am proud of them.
  • As we read The One and Only Ivan, Ivan has just realized he can remember his past. He’s been in his “domain” at the mall for nearly 10,000 days. Ruby is not being treated well and the class is feeling pretty sad about the whole thing. At this point, the class is wondering if this sad book can change. It is hard to know how sad and lonely the animals feel.
  • This week we completed the Clock Climber word practice this week so we’ve learned our first set of cursive letters. Those sheets are in the folders this week. The class did a nice job with the practice. Let them know you appreciate their effort.

Thank you for your support with homework and helping your child make the time for it and reminding them to record their choices.

Our Week – October 5

Our week has been full of reading, writing, science and math. The children seem excited about what they are doing. They seem to enjoy being together each day. They are creative and hardworking. They are enthusiastic and kind. They like challenges and are learning how to support each other through them. They are eager to learn and do all they can. They’ve added a daily survey writer to our jobs list and created a storyteller’s time so that one student a day can read a book or poem of their choosing to us. They’ve added their personal touch to even the smallest things – this year, the teacher’s helper on our jobs chart is “The Teacher’s Pet.” ♥

Reading Challenge

Last Friday we began talking about setting goals and finding ways to document growth and learning. (We are preparing for Student Led Goal Setting Conferences to be held in about a month.) Because of this discussion, our class wondered if we could meet the challenge of reading 3 just-right books each month for the remainder of the school year. If we each do our part, the class collectively will have read 405 books. That seemed possible and exciting. I checked in with them on Monday, and they still wanted to give it a try. It feels exciting and doable if we keep our focus. We decided that we’d start keeping track by recording finished titles on strips of paper as if they are the spines of books on a 2-D bookshelf. We’ll put them in the hall so everyone can see our progress.

In the meantime, each of the children set personal reading goals. We also set reading goals as a class. Reading growth is tricky because much of it is invisible. We are excited to describe ourselves as readers now, and are looking forward to seeing how we change throughout the year.

What Is Multiplication?

Together we’ve developed an understanding that multiplication is repeated addition. One way we’ve practiced this model is with the game Circles and Stars. We are looking forward to learning more and more of multiplication facts. It is challenging to count or add on accurately when the amounts are large. We know about repeated groups: four groups of three can be represented as 3+3+3+3 and also as 4×3. We’ve learned about arrays and know the rule of reading down and then across so that four rows of five is 4 by 5 or 4 x5. The last way we are learning about multiplication is as a ratio model. If there are six horses then we can figure out how many legs there are as well. This week we’ve created some three-step riddles multiplication riddles. We’ve been having fun with the format. Our plan is to illustrate them and post them in the hall so everyone can try to answer them.

Homework Check-In

How are thing going with homework this week? A few of the children have mentioned that it has been challenging to find the time. They are busy and tired. If homework doesn’t fit in easily, we totally understand. Your child’s best effort is all that is expected and is appreciated. Learning to find and make time is a habit we are hoping to help the children develop over the course of the year.

Scanning briefly through the folders, I can see that some of the children have remembered to record their reading, while others have not. Some children have kept their reading record in their folders to bring it back and forth, while others have taken it out. Presumably it is being kept in a safe place. Whatever works best for your family is fine! Most of the children said they are already reading each day (Yahoo! Thank you!), so recording is the extra step. Thank you for reminding them. Hopefully it will only take a few gentle nudges before this becomes routine. Next week I plan to send home directions for a couple of games we’ve been playing in the classroom. They are really great for developing fact fluency. I hope you’ll be able find a bit of time for game playing next week. I know you are busy, so thank you in advance.

Bits and Pieces –

  • We’ve reach the part in The One and Only Ivan where he’s made his promise to Stella to help Ruby get to a better place than the Big Top Mall. We wonder what he will do.
  • We’ve continued to build and fly gliders. We are trying to discover the best wing and horizontal stabilizer combination for a long, straight glide. Next week is our final step in the challenge. In our simulation, we’ll be trying to send relief supplies into an area that has been devastated by a typhoon. It will be interesting to see how the teams use what they’ve learned through the flight trials to design their final glider.
  • We’ll be having our first challenge with Mr. Caron on October 16. It will be outdoors, weather permitting, so the children should be prepared. It can be chilly on the Nature Trail.
  • We’ve completed learning all of cursive Clock Climber letters and will practice writing words using those letters next week. It is an exciting accomplishment. The class is looking forward to the next letter set.

Thank you for talking to your child about what’s happening in the classroom and supporting their learning efforts. Thanks also for talking to them about the work that is coming home – most of it math at this point. Their thinking and organization is interesting to note at this point in the year. It will change so fast.