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.