Our Week – January 17

Thank you for supporting the children at 3E’s Inquiry Wonderland.  They had a “wonder-full” time sharing their work with you.  After the excitement of the museum, we’ve had an ordinary week of reading, writing and math.

Checking on Comprehension

This week I asked the children to think closely about what they are reading.  I’ve asked them to think about how their book choices are helping them grow as readers and thinkers. Many of the children are reading series together so they can talk about them – the Dogman and Amulet series are being read in this way.  Some of the children prefer nonfiction and are reading the Magic Tree House fact guides.

I’ve been conferencing and reading with the children to see if they are using any of the strategies we use during class read-alouds and in book clubs on their own to boost their understanding. Some of the children are, but most are not.  Some of the children can talk about what they are thinking about as they read – how they are connecting with the characters or what they are learning, but most are not yet making those deep connections.  This is something we’ll work to develop in the weeks to come.

Adding Dialogue to Writing

Writing dialogue is one technique that authors use to give their characters personality and to move a story along in time without explaining every moment.  Writing dialogue also follows some specific rules: a new line for each speaker, the first line indented, quotation marks around the talking, including frequent dialogue tags and careful use of commas and end-mark punctuation.

We’ve been practicing this with partners.  We’ve written about weekends and about our inquiry projects.   We’ve created puppets and created dialogues for them as well. With each practice the children are becoming more skilled.  Several of the children have been able to include accurately written and punctuated dialogues in their independent writing.  That’s a great thing to see.

Perimeter and Area

For the past several weeks one of the stations during our math block has been focused on developing an understanding of perimeter.  The students have created and measured polygons made from straws and pipe cleaners. They measured a variety of triangles, quadrilaterals and hexagons taped on the floor and added the sides to find each perimeter.  They have also measured things in classroom – most of these items have been rectangles. Several of the children realized they only needed to measure two of the sides and double to find the actual perimeter.

From the measuring activities to develop the concept of perimeter, the children have moved to building and drawing activities so they can understand area.  The children used multi-link cubes to create a variety of shapes to calculate both the perimeter and area.  Using actual square cubes is to help them understand that area is recorded as squared.  They are beginning to work with graph paper to create the letters of their names.  It will be interesting to find out which names have the largest and smallest perimeters and areas.

Bits and Pieces –

  • We finished The Mystery at Pine Lakeand discovered who had put the board in the dam that raised the water level and threatened the eggs in the loons’ nest.  It was not who we thought it would be at all.  That mystery is the start of a genre study.  We are beginning a new round of book clubs and a second mystery read-aloud, Winterhouse.  It will be an exciting study.
  • We completed the cursive set of Clock Climber: a, c, d, g and q.  We’ve begun our second set.  These are the Kite String letters.  Even though it can be challenging at times to form the letters correctly and to manage the size and shape without lifting the pencils, most of the class agrees that learning cursive is fun.
  • We are also continuing explore fractions.  We are comparing halves, thirds, fourths, sixths and eighths.
  • The children have learned the country they’ll be exploring in our next inquiry project.  This inquiry will have a social studies focus. We’ll continue to explore mapping, geography and landforms, while also learning more about culture, history and heritage.
  • The children continue to post on their blogs.  They would love comments!  Remember if you add your email – you’ll get weekly reminder and see what your child in the classroom.

Our Week – January 10

This week the children put the finishing touches on their inquiry research projects.  They’ve done a lot and they are feeling proud of their accomplishments.  We’ve been reading more about the world as we prepare for our next research project. We’re also learning about time and most exciting, has been learning cursive.

Cursive – Clock Climbers

We are beginning to learn cursive letter formation.  We are using a system called Loops and Groups.  The letters are grouped according to how they are formed.  Clock climbers start at the bottom, travel in an arch to 1 o’clock, retrace back down the line, curve up to complete the circle and then curve down to form the connector.  We’ve learned a, d, g, q and c.  It is challenging to keep the line going through all the letters and words. It is challenging to develop good letter formation habits – but mostly the class is having fun.

3 E’s Inquiry Wonderland

is Tuesday, January 14. 

The museum will be open from 2:15 – 2:45 and then in the evening from 5:30 to 6:15

This week the children chose the name for their inquiry magazine.  They decided to name it 1… 2… 3…Inquiry. They also designed the cover and created a picture representing their inquiry topic for it.

Everyone has completed all the parts of their project.  Here are the steps behind what you will see.  First they read, researched and took notes.  Next they determined what was important and decided how to organize the information into categories and paragraphs.  Then they designed and created their museum displays.  Once the displays were done, they selected the information they wanted to share in a classroom magazine.  They designed and created pages for that.  (We hope this will be ready for the museum, though it may take a bit longer to be put together at the printer.) Next they create a picture to hang in the hallway outside the classroom.  This is to give museumgoers a preview of what they will find inside. Each of these pictures is captioned with a sentence showing how we adjectives add detail to writing.  And finally, the last piece of the project was to create a picture for the cover of the magazine.  Yesterday was the deadline – and they are all ready.  We can’t wait for you to come and see.

We hope when you come that you will tour each of the displays and talk to the researchers about their inquiry.  They are ready to talk to you about why they chose their topic and the information they found most interesting as they researched and wrote.  I know I have written this before, but please remember, we asked the children to get help with editing before printing.  Some of them did, so their spelling and punctuation was corrected and some of them did not.  We hope you can look beyond that, at this point.  Learning that editing and revision is an important step in finishing is part of the process.  Our next research project will begin next week.  The children will have an opportunity to immediately apply what they learn from this project in that one.

Bits and Pieces –

  • We’ve created maps of the world and maps of our yards.  See if your child can remember the five things all maps have.
  • We’re learning about fractions.  The children are coming to understand numerator and denominator.
  • We’ve continued to develop understanding of perimeter and have begun to add in the concept of area.
  • We are nearly finished with The Mystery at Pine Lake. We’ll soon find out who raised the dam and caused the loons to lose their first clutch of eggs.
  • In Open Circle we’ve been discussing the importance of speaking up and of cooperation.  We’ve talked about respectful listening – something many in our class are challenged by – and respectful participation in discussions.  We are learning about when to lead and when to take direction from others.

 

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!  I hope you had a restful, healthy and wonderful vacation.  It seems as though the children made wonderful memories – they were full of appreciation and had much to celebrate and share.

Our Inquiry Wonderland

3 E’s Inquiry Wonderland is Tuesday, January 14. The museum will be open from 2:15 – 2:45 and then again in the evening from 5:30 to 6:15.  We’ll invite the school so siblings are able to visit during that day.  Families are always welcome.  Please come when you can.  We are hoping that the whole class will be able to share their research, writing, display and artwork.  We realized today that the invitations sent home a few weeks ago had the 17thas the date.  I’m sorry for the confusion and hope you noted the correct date in the past two weekly newsletters/blog.

This museum is the final presentation step in our first research and informational writing project of the year. I know I’ve written this before, but this truly is a challenging process.   When you tour the museum you’ll see that the projects reflect how diverse our class is in their interests, their awareness of outside audiences (some children find it challenging to write what they think everyone knows) and their attention to conventions like spelling and punctuation.

I think each of the children feel a sense of accomplishment.  They have learned about one of their interests in science.  They have read both print and digital resources.  They have watched videos and taken notes.  They’ve worked to organize their facts into categories to develop paragraphs.  They’ve designed and created their museum displays and magazine pages, and they created a piece of original artwork to act as museum preview.

Global Geography

This week we completed gathering facts and information about the seven continents.  We viewed National Geographic Kids Destination World videos of each continent (The links on the blog if you’d like to view them together.  They’re really great.)  We’ve also read two short books about each continent and from these resources the children have begun to gather facts and develop interests about different countries with their various cultures, pastimes and landmarks.

This will be our second informational research and writing project.  At this point in our planning process we are hoping that each child will be able to create suitcase or satchel to collect his/her souvenirs. To do this, we’d like to collect boxes for this project– any box in the shoebox or large cereal box size range would be greatly appreciated. If you have any boxes in this size range, could you please send them in? Thank you for your help.

Our Week – December 20

3 E’s Inquiry Wonderland is Tuesday, January 14.  Dress rehearsal from 2:15 – 2:45 and then in the evening from 5:30 to 6:15

Our week has been full of reading, writing, researching and math.  Thank you for supporting our Secret Friend Project.  The pieces of writing were magical and the gifts were truly thoughtful creations.  It was so much fun to see the children, both give and receive their gifts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exploring Fractions

This month our calendar pattern is designed to help us discover more about fractions and equivalence.  Through the pattern so far we have learned about halves, thirds, fourths, sixths and eighths.  We’ve discovered how halves, fourths, and eights AND thirds and sixths help us understand equivalence.  We’ve been reminded of what was learned last year, so we can build on that understanding.

The class has been learning a lot of about fractions in music with Mrs. Oliver too.  They’ve been creating rhythms by combining whole, half, quarter and eighth notes.  It’s not easy to do and takes a lot of concentration.

Global Geography

This week we’ve begun to learn about Earth’s diversity by exploring the continents.  We’ve watched National Geographic’s Destination World videos of the continents and read a couple short books about each one.  We’ve explored five of the continents so far. Part of this challenge has been listening and viewing carefully to remember the facts that are shared.  Some of the children have developed interesting strategies for remembering.  Others find this task to be a real challenge.  It is a skill we are working to develop.  Please encourage them if they need that boost.

Bits and Pieces –

We’ve completed most of the Humphrey book clubs.  It fun to have those characters such a part of our class.  Just before our Secret Friend exchange we read Humphrey’s gift giving tips from Winter According to Humphrey.  He is indeed a wise hamster.

We’re about two thirds of the way through Mystery at Pine Lake. We are trying to figure out who put the board in the dam at Pine Lake.  Cooper and Packrat have successfully created a nesting platform for the loons after the rising water flooded their fist nest.  But will it be left alone?  Who is responsible?  We’ll find out after the break and begin a new round of mystery book clubs.

We’ve been exploring perimeters in math.  It seems as though the children have a sound understanding of that concept.  Soon we’ll be adding area.

We’ve also continued to work with rounding to the nearest 10 and nearest 100.  It seems as though more of the children are clarifying their understanding.  Sometimes rounding to the nearest 100 is still confusing.

Our Week – December 13

It has been exciting to have a full week of school.  It’s been a busy one.  We chose a name and date for our classroom museum.  We’re creating our museum displays.  We’ve begun a study of global geography.  We used this theme, combined with the “Choose Kind” initiative at NHS, to decorate our door – “3E is spreading kindness every step of the way.”

Our Inquiry Wonderland

This week we brainstormed a list of possible names for our museum.  After a few days of voting for top fives, threes and then our final choice, we decided upon the name:  Our Inquiry Wonderland.  We also decided to add the by-line:  Please, please come to our wonder-full museum to learn information you didn’t know before. It was an interesting process of compromise and negotiation.

We also chose the date and times for this event.  There was no perfect time for everyone, but we hope that with advance notice, families might be able to rearrange scheduled events so that everyone is able to attend. The class decided they could all be ready to present the information on Tuesday, January 14.  We’ll have our museum open that afternoon for a dress rehearsal and then again between 5:30 and 6:15.  We hope all the children will be able to attend and that families will tour the Inquiry Wonderland, asking each of the children to share what they have learned. The children will share their research and talk about what inspired them to select their topic.

The goal of this project was to help children learn more about using a variety of information sources, to learn note-taking strategies and to be able to organize their information around subtopics to begin learning about paragraphing.  In addition, they are learning to draft and revise their writing and to choose images that illustrate the main ideas.

When you come to the museum, you’ll see a wide variety of presentations.  We’ve allowed and encouraged the children to work independently. We talked about final presentation and the need to attention to accuracy, details and conventions.  Some children have been engaged throughout the whole process.  They selected a topic they wanted to understand and learn more about.  Others chose a topic they felt they already knew and did little new research.  Some of the children have asked for teacher support for every step, while others have chosen to work with peer support. It is interesting to see how each child works through this learning process in his or her own unique way.  There is a lot to attend to in a project like this and we will be able to see how they children learn from their choices when we move on to the next research project.

Global Geography and Mapping

This week we explored maps.  We read about them.  We learned that most maps have six basic elements: keys (or legends), a compass rose, a scale, a title, labels and symbols.  We tried including all of the elements (excluding scale) to create maps of our yards.  Next week we’ll be using our maps to lead us into some personal narratives telling about the places we play and the stories that grow from our games and imagination.

In addition to mapping we’ve been exploring the ways people divide up and label the places that we live.  It is abstract and seems to feel random to the children.  We live in neighborhoods, towns, counties, states, countries and continents.  We are exploring continents, countries and climates.  You may want to talk to your child about the poems and books we’ve been sharing.  It is interesting to learn about our place in the world and it is interesting to understand how others live as well – the same, but different.  Next month the children will be selecting a country to research and share with others.

Estimation and Rounding

We’ve been exploring the notion of rounding.  We’ve been using a number line in the classroom to make sure we’re thinking about the even 100’s or 10’s our number is in between, before deciding to round down or up.  Some children are confused about this, especially when rounding down.  They are rounding to the 10 or 100 beyond.  For example:  523 is being rounded down to 400, rather then 500.  We’ll keep practicing.  I’ve been asking the children to write the amounts their number is between before rounding.  It takes time, and some of them are resistant, but it helps with understanding.

We’re using this skill with a Gram Challenge.  In one of our math centers the children have been weighing common objects in the classroom. The children had an opportunity to weigh many different objects and to find combinations of objects that would weigh as close to 100 grams as possible.  Now we have 7 days to find a combination of objects that weigh 1 kilogram. We began with a crayon.  One crayon weighed 5 grams so Brady decided to place fifty crayons on the scale for an estimate of 250 grams.  We’re excited to see what the next days bring.

Bits and Pieces –

  • In Open Circle we’ve been discussing Positive Self Talk and how we can encourage ourselves to keep working through times of challenge and difficulty.  We discussed the importance of staying positive and giving ourselves the opportunity to find a way through challenges.
  • We’re thinking a lot about what is happening to the loons as we read The Mystery on Pine Lake.  We’ve got a couple ideas about who is trying to get the loons to leave.
  • Next week, we’ll complete all of the Humphrey book clubs.  It has been a real commitment.  The class deserves to feel proud of their work and their attention to details and summarizing.  My guess is the Humphrey will stay a favorite character for quite some time.
  • Next week is our Secret Friend Celebration.  Please make sure the writing and artwork are wrapped according to the assignment directions and brought to school no later then Wednesday, December 18.

Our Week – December 6

This will be a short note this week.  As I write, we’ve only had two days in the classroom.  We are continuing to learn about estimation, rounding. We’ve begun to learn about weighing with grams and fractions.  We are continuing to research and are using our notes to create informational displays for a museum we hope to hold in early January.  We are beginning to explore mapping and our world in a global geography unit.

Learning More About Place Value with Rounding

We’ve continued to explore of estimation.  We hope to answer these questions: What is an estimate? Why do people estimate? When could we use estimation?  Can we find examples where estimation is used outside of school?

As we make estimates, we will be learning more about place value and rounding up and down to the nearest ten and the nearest hundred. We’ve learned that to round you look at the digit to the right of the amount you are rounding and then use the rule – 5 and above round up, 4 and below round down.   We’ll be developing this understanding over the next few weeks.

Exploring Fractions

This month our calendar pattern is designed to help us discover more about fractions and equivalence.  Through the pattern so far we have learned about halves, thirds, and fourths. The class has been learning a lot of about fractions in music with Mrs. Oliver too.  They’ve been creating rhythms by combining whole, half, quarter and eighth notes. It’s not easy to do and takes a lot of concentration.

SEL  – Strengthening Relationships

 In Open Circle we have been learning ways to strengthen relationships.  We’ve been practicing giving and receiving compliments.  We’ve been learning how to speak up for things we believe in or feel strongly about.  We’ve been finding ways to share our opinions and to accept differences of opinion. Through role-playing activities we’ve learned the difference between advocating and telling – safety is a big part of our decision making process.  We’ve practiced ways of being a supportive friend by encouraging and looking for the good in each person and each situation.  We’ve spent time talking about what a cooperative classroom looks like, sounds like and feels like.

Bits and Pieces –

  • We’ve learning about rubrics and we know what is expected for our inquiry project.
  • We’ve finally discovered what the problem is in The Mystery of Pine Lake. We’ll be learning more about the elements of a mystery.
  • We’re finishing our Humphrey book clubs. Three have finished and the last two will finish next week. Both the reading and the responsibility to a group have been challenging.  The children deserve to feel proud of themselves for their dedication and effort.
  • We were also able to finish a few blog posts this week.  Thanks for checking them out and leaving comments.

Our Week – November 22

What a funny week!  The children are really trying to do a lot.  Wednesday’s interruption was felt in the classroom on Thursday.  Lots of chatting and sneaky behavior that was trying to be funny, but was actually unkind kept us from doing what we wanted to.  I hope we can get back on track.  Every step we take in a positive direction is a good one.

Note Taking Strategy for Gathering Information

Each of the children has chosen an individual inquiry topic to research.  They began by asking questions to guide their research.  They’ve been exploring books and online resources as well.  Some of these sources can be accessed through the school library and others can be accessed through the “Research Resources” category side bar on our blog.   We are working to make sure we write our own original thoughts so we’ll be able to share our own understanding as we write and create.  The children are reading a page or a section, putting the book aside, and writing a note about what they think the author was trying to teach them.  It slows the research process down and helps the children think closely about what they know and understand.  Several of them have finished their research and are beginning to create their writing and planning their displays.

Book Clubs – Keeping Track Thinking While Reading

We are continuing to develop comprehension strategies in our book clubs. Our first book club choices were centered on the idea that everyone can write what they know and feel in their hearts.  All of the books in the first book club picture books.  The clubs were designed so that everyone could meet the expectations of 1) completing the book, 2) writing a summary, 3) selecting a favorite part to speak to and 4) to make an inference about the author’s message.  All of the children met these expectations and had we some great discussions about their books and reading.

Our second book clubs selections have been all about Humphrey.  We have enjoyed getting to know this character, along with more about the students in Room 26.  The children have been using the Essence or the Line-A-Page strategy to keep track of the thinking as they read.  We are close to the end of the books with 1, 2 or 3 chapters remaining.  Some of the readers are expressing fatigue – it takes too long to write it all out – and yet they are learning that the strategies do help them then and understand.  We hope to be done in early December.

Learning More About Place Value with Rounding

This week we began a study of estimation.  We hope to answer these questions: What is an estimate?  Why do people estimate? When could we use estimation?  Can we find examples where estimation is used outside of school?

As we make estimates, we will be learning more about place value and rounding up and down to the nearest ten and the nearest hundred.  We’ve learned that to round you look at the digit to the right of the amount you are rounding and then use the rule – 5 and above round up, 4 and below round down.   We’ll be developing this understanding over the next few weeks.

Bits and Pieces –

  • We are continuing to explore year-end writing expectations so we’ll be sure we’ll be able to meet them.  It takes time and attention to meet them.  This week we wrote a short piece on Thanksgiving.  We’ll use this as a baseline and see how the quality and quantity of our writing improves and increase every two weeks from here on.   We’ll be looking at Spelling-In-Use too.
  • We are trying to added detail and description into our writing.  One of the ways to do that is by adding adjectives.  We know adjectives describe nouns and so we had fun creating short Adjective Poems to post on our blogs.  Hopefully we’ll keep the adjectives flowing so they are added into our writing throughout the year.
  • We’re reading Mystery at Pine Lake for chapter read-aloud.  This book was written by Tamra Wight, a local author and is set at a campground in Maine.  We’re learning about loons as we read.
  • Our Who Am I ? projects are due Monday, November, 25.  We can’t wait to share and celebrate science!

Our Week – November 15

We’ve been thinking about gratitude and learning some of the history behind Thanksgiving.  We finished our second Humphrey read-aloud and the Humphrey book clubs are starting to wrap up as well.  We had fun creating Humphrey models and Humphrey art this week.  We had a couple indoor recesses and so many in the class had the chance to build with marble works and explore magnetism – a great introduction to our next science inquiry, force and motion.

Independent Inquiry

We’ve spent some time learning about note taking, research and informational writing.  The children have each chosen a topic to research ranging from dingoes and red pandas to Apollo 11 and galaxies.  They’ve been researching in the library and online.  You may want to talk to your child about the topic he or she has chosen to find out what they have discovered so far.   Often talking helps uncover new questions, or will connect them to new resources and information.  This independent inquiry, combined with the Who Am I? project and other classroom experiences with observation, description and guided experiments has been designed to help the children understand the nature and variety of scientific exploration. (And it’s fun.)

Thanksgiving – a National Holiday Since 1863

This week we’ve spent some time reading about Thanksgiving.  We’ve learned some about the Pilgrims and some about New Hampshire’s role in helping Thanksgiving become a national holiday. See if you child can tell you about it. We’ve spent time considering how gratitude can help us notice how fortunate we are.  Your children created a top 10 list and worked to create an acrostic poem for their blog.

Report Cards

As I prepare the first term report cards, I’d like to thank so many of you for coming to your child’s goal setting conference to hear how he or she describes his/her learning process at this point in the year.  It is challenging for eight and nine year olds to reflect on learning.  They each spent time to thoughtfully identify strengths and to look for areas of growth. Each of the children did a wonderful job with this process and in choosing the work to serve as evidence for their claims.  Thank you, also for meeting with me to share assessment data and work samples that will help you (hopefully) better understand the report cards when you receive them.

Please remember that third grade is a transitional year.  Your third grader is asked to do quite a bit more independently than in years past. They are learning to make choices that help them grow, rather than relying on tasks easily done.  During this first term, the children will likely earn a combination of 2’s and 3’s.  They’ve not had the time to develop and master these skills independently.   Children receiving individualized support may receive 1’s and 2’s.

Because of our conferences, this term’s report card will not have an extensive narrative comment – those will come with terms two and three.  If you find you have questions and concerns, please don’t hesitate to ask.  If you’ve not been able to schedule a conference, please let me know if you would like to meet.

Bits and Pieces –

  • We are beginning an exploration of mysteries. This is a fun genre study. Our new read-aloud is Mystery on Pine Lake.
  • We are continuing to learn more about multiplication. It seems as though most of the children understand all the models of multiplication.
  • This week in Open Circle we learned more about ways to stay calm in times of difficulty – when we’re confused in the classroom, angry on the playground or annoyed in line. We are creating a “Calming Cube” to remind us of strategies to use instead of acting out.

Finally, it would be greatly appreciated if you could find time to talk with your child about what it means at your house to put forth one’s best effort. Each child understands our classroom discussions differently.  For some children, it seems, working fast is best.  That means they skim across the activities doing what they already know rather than extending themselves to learn “new”.  As a result, expectations are only partially met.  For other children it seems as though assignments are secondary, being social comes first. Conversation consumes their time. They approach tasks as if they can get them done eventually.  As a result of these choices, expectations are seldom met.  The children simply run out of time.  Some children lack confidence.  They are not sure they’ll succeed, and so not trying feels like a safer option.  We’ve been talking about positive self-talk and growth mindset.  All of the children need support with organizing, prioritizing and managing time.  They will benefit from finding ways to listen to their positive inner voice as they explore ideas and find opportunities for learning in all they do whether simple or complex. Thank you for your help in exploring these ideas with your child. It will be exciting to see how learning grows in 3E.

Our Week – November 8

I’ve enjoyed following the student-led goal setting conferences with the parent-teacher conferences this week.  Thank you for your time and your interest in how we can work together to create a third grade that feels engaging for each unique member of our learning community.

Throughout the week we’ve explore kindness, curiosity, note taking, learning about and using comprehension strategies for reading nonfiction and fiction.

S.E.L. – Kindness

This week we’ve read books and held discussions centered on kindness each day.  We’ve explored what it looks like, what it feels like and what it sounds like.  We’ve talked about coping with disappointment and dealing with frustration.  We’ve talked about how fairness and honesty play a part in kindness.  We learned the difference between being a bystander and an up-stander who advocates for others when there is an imbalance of power.  We are all trying to live up to our own expectations – it is easy to talk and write about kindness.  It is not always easy to act with kindness in the classroom or on the playground but we’ll keep trying and doing all we can to grow.

Reading Responses – Deepening Understanding

We’ve learned three different strategies for tracking our understanding: Sketch to Stretch, Essence – identifying the main idea, and A Line A Page.  One of the things the kids have noticed is that taking time to write slows them down.  At first this was a bother, but now most of the children recognize how stopping to think and write truly does help them understand and remember more of what they are reading.  We’re having fun with the Humphrey book clubs.  Humphrey and Og are inspiring classroom pets.  We are looking forward to celebrating the completion of our clubs by making models of Humphrey, writing reviews and creating illustrations of our favorite parts of the books we have been reading.

Inquiry Workshop

We’ve been exploring curiosity.  What is curiosity?  When is it a good thing and how can we grow it?  When is it a strength? How can it power learning and discovery?  We’ve launched an independent inquiry.  The children have each chosen their own topic and are in the process of questioning, reading, researching and wondering more.  Their first step was to a choose topic they each had a lot of questions about.  Then they began to explore our resources – both print and online – to see if they could find information that helped us answer their questions and that sparked more. Some of the children realized they needed to change their topic and others have realized they needed to narrow and refine their topic so it became more manageable.

Our goal is to turn our classroom into a museum and to share our discoveries with you in December.

Bits and Pieces –

  • We had the opportunity to plant garlic this week.  Garlic is an interesting crop because you plant it in the fall and harvest it in the spring.  We had a digital gram scale so the children know the weight of the clove they planted. In May we will compare it to see how it has grown.  We are hoping for a successful harvest in May.
  • Thank you everyone for commenting on the student blogs and sharing them widely.  Knowing they have an audience for their writing motivates the children – they love the comments from extended family and friends.  This week we’ve learned how to add illustrations either by scanning a drawing, taking a photograph or by searching images. They’re becoming my adept each day.
  • The class has been excited about the Who Am I? Scientist Project.  We appreciate your support with that.  The identification cards and hat blueprints are due on Tuesday, November 12. That is the day the hats and blank bags will be sent home so the children will have a full week to get that portion of the project completed.

 

 

 

Our Week – November 1

It’s been a busy weeks. The math stations seem to be working well, blogging continues to be exciting – thank you for all the comments and for sharing the blogging address so widely, and we’ve begun our second set of book clubs which is great, great, great.

Humphrey Book Clubs

Humphrey always says things in three’s when he’s excited.  We’re having fun reading books from this series together.  We’re reading five different books in the series and learning how to record our understanding each time we read.  We’re learning to use the Essence Strategy.  That is recording the main idea or what we feel is essential in each chapter.  When we share what we’ve recorded with each other we also try to share how and why we made those inferences.

S.E.L. – Open Circle – Considering the Impact of Our Words

This week our S.E.L. discussions have focused on the definition of bullying and how we can take care with our words.  We’ve practiced being encouraging, complimentary and caring.  We’ve talked about reading reactions and apologizing. We’ve read several different books, Say Something, Just Kidding, Red, and Poetreeto help us imagine different situations and to remind us of things that happen around us each day that we might make better.  We’ve discussed advocating for our selves and others.  We’ve begun to explore what it means to be an up-stander.

Learning the Commutative and Distributive Property of Multiplication

Our goal in daily problem solving is to offer the children opportunities to practice logical thinking and to find ways to use new knowledge to become more efficient over time. The children choose a strategy they can use to document their thinking and follow through to an accurate solution. This can be challenging.  When you and I read the problems, we see that most of them can be solved with multiplication, but because it is still new to your children, it is not always their choice.

Please expect this. There are many things happening all at once in this thinking process.  The children have to read the problem and visualize the operations that are happening in the story.  The problems generally have two-steps, sometimes more, and often more than one operation.  They have to keep them separate which is not always easy.  The problems also use amounts that are manageable, but still challenging.

At this point you’ll notice any range of strategies.  Sometime the children are drawing out the problems.  This can become cumbersome and mistakes are often made when counting. Sometimes children are skip counting or using a doubling strategy.   Sometimes children are able to mentally manipulate amounts in their minds but are off by a bit when the value of a digit is confused.  Each child is using what s/he knows to solve the problem, and with time will become more efficient. With time you’ll see changes and progress. The children selected sample problems in the classroom to anchor their understanding and process at this time. You may want to save some at home too, so you can talk about the growth that you see when you look at problems from across the year.  They’ll be surprised that you notice how they are using more sophisticated strategies and understanding all four operations with whole numbers and fractions.

We’ve spent some time understanding the ARRAY model of multiplication.  The class has learned about the commutative property.  We are sure that 6×7=7×6 even if we are not instantly sure of the answer. On top of that we can create an array of that amount and find a way to solve it (We know how to 7 fives and then we just need to add one more on.  Or we could double 6 three times and add one more.)  It is interesting to discover there are many correct ways to reach a solution.

We’ve also been learning how to use what we know about place value to help us multiply larger amounts. We’ve just begun to explore the distributive property.  At this point taking these steps more often help us with accuracy.  They remind us to multiply everything – not just the hundreds and tens, but also the ones.

The problems have been written to help the children practice using this skill to become more efficient. More and more of the children are feeling sure of themselves with this strategy.

Bits and Pieces –

  • We are still trying to find out why Mrs. Brisbane is away from here class in Room 26.  Humphrey’s been collecting clues and we have too. We’re having fun reading Mysteries According to Humphrey.
  • We’ve been reading about different types of scientists and science.  The children have been thinking about science topics they might like to explore.  They’ve considered things from nature they might like to observe, things about space or space exploration they might want to know more about, or insects or rocks… They’ve been thinking about what they have lots of questions about so we can begin an independent inquiry project.
  • A reminder – Parent-Teacher conferences are coming up next week on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.