Announcing … The Parade of the States

This week the children will be choosing the state they will research and present at The Parade of the States. During the next week and a half, the children will be identifying the wonders from their state.  They’ll be choosing a state symbol to learn more about.  They’ll be identifying a famous person from their state, as well as choosing a man-made wonder, a natural wonder and a state festival, tradition or celebration.  Children may choose other Wonders if they would like to represent them on their floats.

These Wonders will be represented on the floats they will present in the Parade of the States.  Here are some samples of floats from past years to give you all some ideas.

The floats may be a sandwich board,









Or on a wagon, rolling suitcase, cooler, skateboard or an original base.





Suggestions of how to build each type of float along with the following criteria and more detailed instructions will be sent home on Monday, April 13.

Size Criteria:

  • Sandwich Board/Float should be no more than 36 inches long.
  • Sandwich Board/Float should be no more than 48 inches high.
  • Sandwich Board/Float should be no more than 30 inches wide.

Design Criteria:

  • The float obviously represents your state and shows its uniqueness.
  • Clearly represents your, the student’s, own ideas, work and effort
  • Shows common easily found materials were used to create the float.
  • Clearly demonstrate your, the student’s, best effort and creativity.

Content Criteria:

  • Represent and label your Wonders on the sandwich board or float clearly and accurately.
  • It is a fun project and such an exciting celebration of our country and a year of learning!  We can’t wait to see you on Thursday, May 23!

Our Week – April 19

Thank you for the conversations you are having at home about behavior and effort.  Thank you for the conversations about friendship and inclusion. Thank you for helping your children to find ways to make our classroom a happier place for learning and fun.  It has made a difference.  What a great way for our class to move into vacation.

Wonder World

In addition to feeling better about how we are using our time in the classroom and being a friendlier classroom community, everyone put forth a great effort this week to meet research and paragraphing expectations of our project.  It is important to step back and consider how many different skills and abilities come into play in this learning process.  The children are reading complex information with little background knowledge.  They don’t know much about history, religion, politics, economies or geography, and yet, using the idea of “Wonders” each student identified places, people and events they found beautiful, interesting and amazing from their country.  Once they uncovered the Wonders, they dug deeper to understand each topic in more detail.  They learned ways of determining the importance of the facts and to organize them into subtopics.  In this project, their writing has become more organized and less list-like.  They’ve paid attention to proper nouns  – there were a lot of them – and tried to attend to sentence conventions as well.

As the displays are coming together, the children are feeling a real sense of accomplishment. They can see they have grown as researchers and writers since their Holiday Palooza presentation.  They deserve to feel proud of themselves and their accomplishments.

We can’t wait to share all our learning, research and information writing in our global geography museum.  Wonder World will be on Monday, April 29. We’ll be ready to share between 2:15 and 2:45 and again between 5:15 and 6:00.  We hope to see you there.

Book Clubs – Endings and Beginnings

We completed one round of book clubs and intend to begin another when we come back from vacation. The children kept up with their responsibilities to be prepared to meet and discuss the main events of the chapters. They practiced using a several different responses and, at the end of the club meetings, were able to select the response type that helped them recall and question what was happening in the reading.   Most exciting for me has been seeing children begin their own book clubs and use the response strategies independently.

The children can see the benefit of reflecting on what they are reading and taking time to note the important details.  Some of the children have tried to write everything, so we’ve been trying to decide what they author’s essential message is and talk about (rather than write) the details that we notice to support our ideas.

Bits and Pieces –

  • We have continued our work with fractions.  We’re labeling parts of groups and parts of a whole when it is divided into pieces.
  • Green Ember is an exciting read-aloud.  We are still putting all the pieces together and can’t wait to figure out what the battle is about and who the sides are in this fantasy adventure.
  • We’ll be welcoming Ryan Harrington into our classroom when we return to school after vacation.  He is moving here from South Hampton.
  • We were able to transplant our Swiss chard seedlings into our square foot gardens and can’t wait to see how they will have changed when we return in a week’s time.
  • A REMINDER –  The Parade of States will be on Thursday, May 23th.  The event will begin with a Recorder Concert in the cafeteria. The Parade of States will follow in the gymnasium.  We’ll ask the children to arrive at 4:45 with the concert to begin promptly at 5:00 with the float parade to follow.  The children will be selecting their states to research the week we return.  They’ll identify their wonders – the items they’ll be placing on their floats – that week and into the next as well.  Please be on the outlook for details about this project the week we return.
  • It was a really busy week.  I didn’t take the usual amount of photographs.  Sorry that so few children’s photos are included in this week’s family letter.

Our Week – April 12

The children are feeling the pull of spring. They love their freedom from winter coats and the ability to run and play. They are excited to be out and feel exhausted by a longer day and many more in-school and after-school activities. With this has come a wave of impatience, unkindness and silly behavior.  It is sad and disruptive as it creeps into our classroom.  Children are being excluded and sometimes hurt, and those causing those feelings are having a hard time owning up to their choices.  We’ll continue to talk about this and deal with issues as they arise.

In addition to these friendship challenges, were continuing to find ways to meet behavioral and academic expectations.  It is likely that we waste between 15 and 20 minutes everyday.  The cumulative effect of that loss is noticeable now that we are in our last 40 days of school.  We’ve decided that those who chat and goof around when independent learning practice is to be happening, or those who talk over lessons will miss recess to complete the work they did not do.  We hope this never happens – but can serve as a reminder to stay focused, and to behave as expected.

Open Circle – Problem Solving

This week we began a multi-lesson unit centered on problem solving.  A problem is defined as a situation the caused people to be confused or upset. We’re learning a six-step problem solving process.  The first is to stop, calm down and identify the problem.  “I feel _____ because _____.”  The second step is to decide on a positive goal and think of several solutions. Next each solution is evaluated. And finally, the last step is to make a plan and try it.

Social problems are tricky. Friends don’t always want to listen, and as I said at the beginning of the newsletter, our classmates do not own all of their behaviors and choices.  It’s a learning process and one we’ll get through.  Right now, however, there are some hurt feelings that are not lessening yet. L  With attention and effort that will change.

Fractions in Math

We’ve begun to focus on basic fractions.  We’re identifying them as part of a whole and as fair shares.  We know that a large group can be divided into smaller groups. We know that piece can be cut into smaller pieces.  Each of those parts is a faction if it is even and equal.  We’re learning about numerators and denominators, proper and improper fractions and even mixed numbers.  This is another challenging concept to understand.  The class has been doing a nice job with that.

During our daily problem solving more and more of the class is comfortable with the standard algorithm with addition.  Most of them are feeling secure enough with place value to understand how amounts will combine to be recorded.  Subtraction remains a challenge for most and a super challenge when there are zeroes. This is to be expected, but we will persevere.

Global Geography Museum

This week we chose the name for the event where we will share the seven Wonders of the sixteen countries we have chosen.  We have decided to call it Wonder World.

The museum will be on Monday, April 29.  We’ll be set up and ready to share between 2:15 and 2:45 and again between 5:15 and 6:00. We hope those times will work for most, if not all of the children to attend.  They will be prepared to tell you about the Wonders they uncovered and why those places, people and symbols are important to their country.  They should also be able to tell you where in the world their country is located – which hemisphere, which continent and a bit about the general climate.

The deadline is fast approaching.  If your son or daughter is expressing concern, get in touch with me, and we can schedule a time to come before school to work in it.  They are welcome to bring it home, and some of the children have been doing that.  I know they will do all they can and I think they’ll meet the deadline just fine.  But I know how worry creeps in at bedtime, so let me know.

Bits and Pieces –

  • The children will be filming their weather reports next week on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Many of them want to wear fancy clothes for the filming. Yes, they can bring them to change into before they do the filming.
  • We’ve begun Green Ember. It’s an animal fantasy full of intrigue, battles and adventure. The class is buzzing with what-ifs and maybes.  It’s an exciting book to share together.
  • Our plants are growing well in the classroom and the greenhouse.
  • We’ve been exploring the idea of gratitude and taking time to notice and appreciate even the smallest of things.

Here Are This Week’s Blog Prompts

There are a lot of things going on in 3E.  We’ve got some growing experiments and some paragraph writing.  We’re learning about mapping and what it means to be part of a caring community.  We have much to be grateful for as we learn about our place in the world.

Here are the prompts we chose from today.  Please enjoy finding out what we chose to blog about.  After reading our posts, please leave a comment or two.  We love hearing from you!  Thanks.

  • Post your seed paragraph and add a photograph of your seeds at the start of the project and you seeds as they are growing now.
  • Create and post your TOP 10 Gratitude List. Make the most of your lead!
  • Post a photograph of the map you created of your yard and write about the five things all maps include.

Once you’ve shared at least one of these prompts,  finish a post you began a while ago, or choose your own new topic.

Our Week – April 5

This week in Open Circle we continued talking about ways to organize ourselves to be more successful and complete each step of our assignments.  The class is making an effort to follow through with time management so everything is done – even the things that are not as much as others.

Science, Reading and Writing

Over the past two weeks we’ve been sharing books about seeds and growing.  We’ve looked at how informational books are organized and we’ve explored how authors of fiction weave facts into their stories.   We collected a list of facts as a class, and from these (along with what we know about the seed growing in our classroom and the greenhouse) each student wrote a topic sentence, or lead, and their organized their thinking so they were prepared to write about three subtopics with supporting details.  This was a challenge.  Why plan? Why not just write?

I think most of the children have come to see the benefit of planning.  It keeps facts from being scattered here and there.  It helps the writer share information in a way that will make sense to the reader.

We are in the middle of using this same three-step process – list, plan, write – a second time.  The children each selected a favorite something they feel they know lots about.  Some selected a sport while others selected a favorite animal.  Some chose to share a favorite game or toy, and still others chose their pets.  We’re interested in seeing how the writing process for these topics compares to our seed paragraphing.  The class deserves to be complimented for the willingness to stick with something that pushed them to write more than they would have, to revise and do it again. Thanks especially to Gabriel, who graciously shared his essay with us and helped us learn how minor revisions can make something great, even better.

Global Geography

We’ve continued our search for Wonders.  We think that we’ll be ready to share our research and displays just before April vacation.  This project will share our third through tenth time attempting to write organized paragraphs.  Our goal is to share more elaborate writing.  The class is starting to get excited about what they are learning about the world.  They are surprised the by animals and beautiful natural places.  In technology they were introduced to Google Earth. Many of them were able to find and explore the natural wonders in their countries.  They had fun seeing the landscape as it is today.

This week we read Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. If you’ve read the story before, you can imagine there were many question and lots of conversation about radiation, leukemia, the atom bomb and Peace Park in Hiroshima.  We have looked at some pictures, read some other information about World War II and tried to understand how knowing this sad story can help us make more empathetic choices in the future.  I’m sure the children would be glad to tell you about the story and how Sadako is a national symbol for hope and peace in Japan.  It would also help them to talk through their confusions and concerns.

Working Toward Efficiency

It seems as through more of the class understands how to use the standard algorithm with addition. This was a challenging step.  I know it doesn’t seem that way, but the children have organized their thinking through expanded notation for a while.  Though it takes many more steps they feel sure of it.  The algorithm is new and seems backwards to them at first. When you look through this week’s work, you may notice a range of strategies.  If you’re not seeing the standard algorithm, please know it is coming. We’ve been practicing as a class, so little by little understanding and certainty will come.

We’ve also begun to use the standard algorithm with subtraction.  This is an even more challenging step, but through the next few weeks, I hope you’ll see evidence of this strategy more often in your child’s daily work as well.

Bits and Pieces –

  • We are exploring fractions and equivalence through our new calendar pattern.
  • Our book clubs continue. The children continue to read and use different response strategies to think about the meaning of what they’ve read. Two of the books are mysteries, so we’ve had fun breaking codes and collecting clues.  One of the books is realistic fiction set in a classroom like ours – except in this classroom there are some boys and girls who are arguing and teasing each other in the classroom journal.  (The book we’re reading.) We’re looking forward to finding how the teacher handles this conflict.  Another book is based on the true story of Hachiko from Japan.  The final book is also realistic fiction, but told from the point of view of a fox.  As we finish the clubs next week, we’ll be learning more about summaries and reviews. Perhaps we’ll be able to convince others to read the books based on our recommendations.
  • We’ll be filming our weather reports next week.  The weather teams have worked through a long process to gather data, think about what they temperature would actually feel like and what they’d like to be doing the city they explored in different parts of the world.  It will be exciting to see the final projects and share them with you on the blogs.