Our Week – November 30

Phew!  What a week – snow, drizzle, warm, cold, wind. Thanksgiving exhaustion coupled with arriving elves excitement has made for a very rambunctious week.  Despite all this, we have begun our national holiday research, created interesting and diverse blog posts, and developed a long list of possible interview questions as we move into the next phase of our family story project.

I hope you noticed the Parent Teacher conference sign-up sheet that was sent home yesterday.  Please let me know if you need to meet at a time different from those offered.  I will be glad to schedule a different time with you.

Crafting Questions that Will Lead to Quality Stories

This week we learned about open and closed questions.  We want to plan interview questions that will inspire storytelling, not single word or sentence answers. We explored the difference between the answers we might expect if we asked, “Do you like pie?” versus asking “What was your favorite family meal when you were growing up?  Can you tell me that story?”

We spent parts of two days thinking about the stories we’d like to collect.  Would they be about things we already knew of, or would we hope to discover something surprising and new?  We created a first round of questions and then thought about them.  We found ways we might tweak our original questions so they could be more open ended to encourage storytelling.

In addition to thinking about how our questions could be answered, we tried to answer them ourselves by doing a quick write to answer one or two of the questions.  Next we will learn about interview protocols so that the children will be ready to conduct their interview sometime in December. Thanks for your help and support with this.

Using a Post-It Note Taking Strategy

Each of the children has chosen a national holiday to research.  There isn’t much information about many of the holidays, so children have to do a lot of inferential thinking to come up with the answers to many of their questions.

In addition to this, we are working to make sure we write our own original thought and understanding in this informational writing project.  The children are reading a page, putting the books aside and writing a post-it about what they think the author was trying to teach them.  It means the research process is slower, but because the children are working in teams they are able to help each other talk through what they understand.

Meeting the Challenge with Cooperation and Communication

This week we met with Mr. Guidi for a challenge.  We were given a rope and asked to make different shapes with it.  We had to make a circle, then a square and a triangle. Our goal was to work together to make the shape – if possible we’d work together as a team to make the shapes while we could see what was happening and then try the challenge over blindfolded to see how well we could cooperate and communicate.

We were able to work through the first step of the challenge, but struggles as a class with focus and behavior so we weren’t able to get to the second part of the challenge. Over the course of the school year we’ll see how our skills at self-control and self-management develop in ways that help our class become more successful so we are able to meet the challenges placed before us.

Bits and Pieces –

  • We had a great trip to Strawbery Banke last week.  We learned about how the traditions of Thanksgiving have changed.  We learned about traditions in the 1630’s and later in the 1770’s and still later in the 1820’s.  It was interesting and fun.  Strawbery Banke gave us family passes so you can go as a family to enjoy another of their programs.  Ask your child what he or she thought was most fun – making the corn husk doll, preparing food as they might have done around the hearth, making the charity baskets to share with the needy, learning about harvest festivals from around the world that have influenced our holiday tradition or creating matzo meal for Mrs. Shapiro.
  • Our nonfiction Thanksgiving themed book clubs have continued to meet.  I think we are all agreed; living at the time of the Pilgrims would have been hard.  Talk to your child about what he or she learned about this national holiday from this reading.
  • We are glad to be reading The Wild Robot Escapes. Roz and the Shareef family she works for just survived a tornado.  We are wondering if Roz will ever see Brightbill again – we think she will and we are wondering how the children will help her escape.  Is she going to be able to leave the family she cares about?
  • Thank you for your continued support in helping the children to understand how to calculate elapsed time. I am impressed with how well the children read the analogue clocks.  We’ll keep working through different strategies to record how the time passed.
  • During some of our Word Study work we’ve been learning about suffixes.  This week we’ve been working with the rules for how to change a singular noun to a plural.  See if your child can tell you the four different rules we’ve learned about.