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.

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.