Our Week – October 25

This week we’ve begun to think more about science and what scientists do.  We’ve continued to explore writing with more elaborate, descriptive sentences and we’ve begun a new math center routine.  We are struggling to keep a calm classroom that helps everyone do his or her best.  We’ll keep working on this until we are all able to do the right thing at the right time.

Thank you for taking time for meeting with your children and giving them the chance to present themselves as early third grade learners.  It has been wonderful to see how they were able to take charge of their own learning and share how they see themselves as learners, readers, writers and mathematicians at this point in the school year.

Models of Multiplication

This week, in order to reduce time at the rug, we have begun math centers.  The children are learning about the different models and properties of multiplication.  I think everyone recognizes that the first number in a multiplication sentence represents the number of groups and the second represents the amount repeated in each group.  But this week the children learned about the commutative property of multiplication so they know that they opposite equation has the same product.  3 x 5 =5 x 3.  It seems as though the class fully understands the concept of multiplication.

What is Science?

We’ve been reading about science and about the habits of scientists.  Here’s the way we completed “Science is…”:  cool, experimenting, a discovery, asking why, when, where and how, interesting, fun to do, math, an adventure, trying new things, exciting, biology, geology, astronomy, drawing, finding our about cool animals, always new, amazing, writing, and inspiring.  We’ve learned that scientists ask a lot of questions.  The children are each choosing a science topic they have lots of questions about.  They’ll spend some time researching their topic and then find a way to teach others what they’ve learned.

Bits and Pieces –

  • This week in Open Circle we talked about strategies for calming down when you’re excited and upset.  We’ve more to explore with this topic.
  • Fourteen children were able to complete their first blog post on Thursday.  If you’re reading this on the paper newsletter – go to 3enews.edublogs.org , find your child’s blog in the sidebar, click on it, read, enjoy and comment. If you’re reading the blog, make sure you check to see if your child has completed his or her first post and do the same.  Our goal is to create a new post each week, so keep checking. Share the class website with family and friends and encourage everyone to comment. The kids thrive on knowing they’re being read.  It is very motivating.
  • You may have heard. Humphrey is pretty popular in our classroom right now.  He is the main character and narrator of our last two chapter read-alouds.  On Thursday the children chose to be in part of a Humphrey book club.  They’re excited to start and excited to read together which is GREAT-GREAT-GREAT.  (A three-peat is a Humphrey trait.)
  • I have responded to some families already, but I have not responded to everyone yet.  I have printed photographs you’ve sent for the Spanish pet project.
  • Also, because the children are in the habit of making sure homework is completed for Friday, we postponed the Inquiry Journal project until next Wednesday.  Please send in pictures, mostly flat items, magazine cut out or any ephemera (ticket stubs, programs, brochures) that the children feel are important to them.  We’ll create a collage out of them for the cover of our new learning journal.

Our Week – October 18

This week, because we’ve been reflecting on who we are as learners we’ve been sharing a few books each day that feature characters who are able to reach their goals in a variety of ways.  We’ve explored several different models of multiplication this week and we’ve learned some elaboration strategies for adding detail to our writing. We hope this will make our writing even more interesting.

S.E.L.- Goal Setting – Preparing for Student-Led Conferences

This week the children completed their multiple intelligence graphs and described what they know about themselves are learners and doers.  They spent time thinking about how they might like to grow as readers. They selected books that seem “just right” at this point in the year and described them.  Then they set a goal for how they would like to grow as a reader and made a plan for what they might do to meet that goal.  Many of them would like to be able to read a whole series, others would like to be able to read and understand more complex chapter books, and still others would like to learn how to figure out how to read new words. They also spent some time exploring different trait of writing:  ideas, organization, sentence fluency, word choice, voice and conventions.  The children chose pieces of writing they feel best show their writing abilities.  They described why they chose these pieces and used them as a basis for setting a next step goal.  Some of them would like to be neater, others would like to spell better, and still others would like to make their audience laugh.  Third graders have a unique sense of humor.  Be prepared – a few of them can write with humor and still develop a story, most cannot. Finally the children looked at several of their math problems from the past month and described the strategies they are comfortable using now.  Looking forward at things we’ll learn more about this year, they set goals for what they hope to be able to do as a mathematician by the end of third grade.

The children have been thoughtful and self-reflective.  This is a real challenge for 8 and 9 year olds.  They are developmentally just becoming able to look beyond the concrete aspects of their work and consider the work habits they can apply to be even more successful.  You’ll see this when they share with you next week.

Writing Ideas

We have begun to explore different ways to develop ideas.  We know that all sentences have a doer (a noun) doing something (a verb) along with a capital letter at the start and punctuation at the end.  We’ve practiced writing simple sentences.  Now we are learning how to add details to our sentences by adding adjectives, and phrases that include information about when, where, how and why.    We’ve worked together to expand some simple sentences to understand how the information we add helps bring deeper meaning to our writing.  They children have had the chance to practice on their own as well. Some of them are beginning to use these strategies on their own.  It is fun to see how they are thoughtfully adding details as they write that helps develop their plots and they characters.

Bits and Pieces –

  • We’ve been learning how multiplication can be represented about repeated addition in a group model. We’ve also explored arrays and learning how to read them with the number of rows first and then the amount in each row next.
  • We completed School Days According to Humphrey.  3E seemed to enjoy Humphrey so we began a second book from the series, Mysteries According to Humphrey.  Since we began this read-aloud many of the children have discovered the Humphrey bin and the Humphrey books in the library.  It’s exciting to see their enthusiasm grow for a series, reading and a character.
  • Senora Murphy is starting a mini project with the 3rd graders – My Pet – Mi Mascota.  Senora Murphy is asking students and their families to send in a 4 x 6 photo of their child’s pet, or favorite animal or stuffed animal if they do not have a pet.  Please send the photographs in by October 25th.  If you are not able to print at home, please attach it to an email and I’ll print it out here at school.
  • This week during Open Circle we talked about “the school listening look”, feelings and how body language communicates with others.

Our Week – October 11

We’ve had another full week. We’ve got lots of initiatives going. We are preparing for student led conferences during the week of October 21 and that means a lot of data gathering on the children’s part to establish their starting points for the year. We’ve continued to explore MI theory and to discover how each of us is a unique combination of math, art, word, nature, music, body, people and self smart.  We look forward to sharing with you at the conference.  Of course we’re reading, writing, solving problems and learning how to make responsible choices so everyone can make the best use of our time learning together.

Models of Multiplication

This week we began to learn about how multiplication and addition are related.  We’ve learned that it is repeated addition and that we use multiplication to count and find totals faster.

We learned about arrays. These are rectangular amounts arranged in rows and columns.  We learned to read going down to find the number of rows and then to read across to find the number in each row.  3 by 4 is the same as 4 + 4 + 4 is the same as 3 x 4 and suddenly multiplication doesn’t seem that daunting after all.

We also learned about ratios and how they define an expected relationship between to things.  We discovered that’s another tool where multiplication helps.  If we expect that 1 bicycle means 2 wheels, then we can also expect that 4 bicycles means 8 wheels and 12 bicycles means 24 wheels.  Twos are easy to imagine because we can all count by two’s pretty easily. We created ratio charts for challenging amounts as well so we can use them to guide our future work with multiplication as we work to master the concept and learn the hundred facts.

Six Traits of Writing

This week we began exploring the six traits that all quality pieces of writing have:  ideas, organization, voice, sentence fluency, word choice and conventions.  After reading about each one of the traits the children selected one or two that they would like to focus on and set goal around.  And we began learning about them.  We’ve begun with ideas.  We are learning what it means to choose strong topics, to use interesting details and to stick to one topic so the writing is clear and understandable.  We have lots of questions.  Where do ideas come from?  How are they developed and planned?  Are ideas always in words, can they come from pictures too?  How can we collect ideas?

We began my describing one object.  We are able to pass it from person to person and collect 16 different descriptive words about that one small thing – it was a shell.  Next the children each chose an object to describe and finally we work to draw the object as a scientist would.  We watched a video call Austin’s Butterfly as a way to inspire each of us to work toward excellence by taking each project step-by-step and getting advice along the way. We hope to finish our drawing and descriptions next week

Bits and Pieces –

  • The children have begun to set up their individual blogs.  We plan to make our first individual post next week.
  • Our S.E.L. focus has been on showing others that we are listening and why that mattersAsk your child about the habits behind the school listening look.  It might be more correctly named the polite listening look because it is likely you would appreciate these habits anywhere and everywhere.
  • We completed our first book club discussions.  The children each shared their reading responses, discussed similarities and differences among the responses and evaluated how the Sketch-to-Stretch strategy helped them think more about the meaning of their reading.
  • We’re nearly finished with School According to Humphrey.  This has been a fun read aloud.  Ask your child about how Humphrey helps his class or which student they think would be a great-great-great (Humphrey often speaks in three)addition to our class.
  • This week the children had many opportunities to learn about and practice being safe.  We had a fire drill on Monday – your children were incredible models of quiet and calm.  We had a bus evacuation drill on Thursday.  Again, your children were thoughtful and realistic, serious and appreciative of their opportunity to understand how their bus is safe.  Finally, today learned about Fire Safety from the North Hampton Fire Department.  Ask your child to share what he or she learned from the presentation.

Our Week – October 4

It has been a week of firsts:  first field trip, first attempts to summarize reading, first reading response and first book club.

Camp Lincoln

Our week began with our trip to Camp Lincoln.  After a few whole grade games – The Wild Wind Blows… and Alaskan Baseball, we joined Goat for a walk to the point.  Along the way we gathered ingredients for Trail Spice Tea.  First we collected wintergreen leaves, next we found Indian Cucumber roots and finally we learned to identify white pine needles and added those to the mix.  Once at the point we sat quietly and created a map of the sounds we could hear.  After a few minutes we retuned to the circle to try our tea.  It was minty and mild – not bad at all.

The second part of our day was a personal challenge.  Each of the children had the opportunity to try climbing the high wall.  Newt helped us with this element.  He encouraged the children to each set a personal goal – putting on the harness and approaching the wall, going halfway, reaching the wedge. He encouraged and supported each of the children to do what felt best to him or her.  It was hard and high, difficult and scary.  It took strength, courage and determination.  We wished we had a bit more time so that everyone had the amount of time he or she needed/wanted to achieve the goal they had set. Regardless, it was a day of learning and fun.  We discovered a lot about each other.

S.E.L – Open Circle

We’re trying to develop a system for keeping track of when we are behaving responsibly.  There are several people in our class who would rather talk than accept the responsibility for settling in and doing the work expected of them throughout the day.  We talked about this.  At first the kids suggested a 3 strikes, you’re out kind of deal with a note home for bad behavior.   That didn’t feel too great, so we kept thinking.  Finally through discussion, we decided that we’d look for role models throughout the day, and note them on the board.  Those children who are consistently setting an example for the class will get notes sent home thanking them for their role in helping us create a calm, learning environment.  We’ve been trying this for a few days … we’ll see how it goes.  Ask your child how s/he feels about it and if it is reminding him/her to do the right thing at the right time more often.

Our Open Circle lessons this week have centered on being calm and listening.  We’ve been reading the I Am…books by Susan Verde.  She is a yogi and her books are written to help us think about mindfulness, empathy and compassion.  They are helping us to create a more peaceful, calm, and focused classroom.  We are certainly more available for learning when we are calm.

Reading Is Thinking

For the past few weeks, each time we’ve read a book together we’ve thought about what the author’s purpose was.  What was the message he or she hoped we’d take from the story? We discovered sometime books help us feel better about our selves and our struggles because we can read that we are not the only one.  We’ve discovered that some books are just entertaining – Dumb Bunnies was meant to make us laugh.  Some books help us understand how others feel and still others can teach us information or history.

We’ve also practiced summarizing.  We’ve been trying to summarize our reading in three to five sentences.  That means we a trying to collect the essential ideas in the story without getting bogged down in the detail.  We’ve worked together as a class, in small groups and individually to practice this week.  We are using this as part of a reading response routine:  Sketch-to-Stretch.  This week everyone in the class is reading one of four different picture books with a theme of writing and creating stories.  We’ll be meeting in book clubs next Tuesday to share our responses. Each will show images of the main actions, have a 3 to 5 sentence summary and a caption sharing the author’s purpose or message.  While still in process, it is interesting to notice how each of the students is choosing to share his or her thinking. You may want to ask your child about his/her book club book.

Bits and Pieces:

  • We are continuing to explore the Theory of Multiple Intelligence (MI).  We took as second survey and will use that information to create a pie chart showing all eight of our intelligences and how we know that about ourselves.
  • We continued measuring. This time we are using the Metric System.  The kids agree that using centimeters seems more accurate.  It’s good to know both.
  • October means a new calendar pattern and new number corner activities.  This month we’ll be exploring different models for multiplication. Many of the children are looking forward to exploring this math operation more fully.
  • Be on the look out next week for two different conference sign-ups.  The first will be for a student-led goal setting conference in the third week of October.  This will be an anchor for the year.  The children will share what they’ve discovered about themselves through the MI theory and how they see themselves as learners, readers, writers and mathematicians.  They will have set goals from themselves that they will share as well.   Following that conference, in the first week of November, we will schedule a parent teacher conference to discuss your child’s work habits and progress toward meeting term expectations.
  • Homework begins next week. Thank you for sending the folders in everyday!  It is much appreciated.  That habit will be very helpful in keeping your child organized and aware of what their responsibilities are at home.