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.

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