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.

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