Our Week – September 27

It has been a busy, full week.  We are enjoying each other, the books we share and the opportunities we have for learning together.  We’re deepening our understanding of our class rules and the school expectations.  What does “acting responsibly” look like and sound like?  How do our choices impact others? Does that matter?  What is the right thing to do?

We’ve been exploring many of different math topics and projects.  We’ve been collecting different types of words and learning about sentence types – while also reading, writing and solving problems each day.

Number Corner

The focus of our calendar is 2-dimensional geometry.  This week we learned about the three different types of angles.  We made a set and labeled the angles we could find in a scavenger hunt around our classroom.  Right angles were easiest to find in our classroom, acute angles were the second most common and obtuse were third and challenging to find.  We learned that an angle has one end point and two rays.  Later, using The Grouchy Ladybug, we explored the angles made by the hands of the clock as time changes.  If you have an analogue clock at home, that might be a fun activity. I was surprised to realize that with hours and half hours there are only two right angles.  I hadn’t thought about it before and now I wonder if there are other times when the clock hands are at a right angle.

We’ve also begun learning about symmetry and congruence.  We know that a shape is symmetrical when it can be cut in half so that both halves are mirror images.  Through the wide variety of shapes on our calendar pattern we have learned that shapes with congruent sides and/or congruent angles are symmetrical.   Some shapes have only one line of symmetry while others have many.  We are also learning what congruence means.  We know that a congruent shape is exactly equal in size and shape.  When shapes are same in only one or the other (size or shape), they are similar but not congruent.

Math Problem Solving and Projects

Most days our math workshop consists of Quick Images (ask you child to explain – I hope they can), a mini-lesson about a new topic, a quick warm-up activity or practice worksheet and problem solving.  This week our mini-lesson and project work was centered on linear measurement.  We focused on standard measurement for length and distance this week – inches, feet, yards and miles.  We learned why a ruler is a foot long – and also why a foot is called a “ruler.”  Ask your child about the story, How Big Is A Foot and the graph we created.  It was a fun way to explore measuring in inches.  We used rulers, yardstick and measuring tapes to measure common objects around the classroom.  Some of the children made estimates and rounded to the closest inch, while others were careful to read to the closest quarter inch.  We also read Inch by Inch and created collages in the manner of the author-illustrator, Leo Lionni.  Each collage has the same elements, but each student chose which item would be how many inches long or tall.  Some have flowers that are 9 inches tall and other collages have 2-inch flowers.   It was interesting to see children’s varying degrees of comfort with measuring and cutting and checking and revising.  Some children were precise, others were okay with being close enough and still others got lost in creating and didn’t measure at all. “It was too hard to measure and do what I wanted.”  Next week we’ll do some measurement activities with the metric system and learn about perimeter.

Word Collections

Our shared reading’s focus has been words.  There are several really great books about collecting words and sharing them with the world.  Each day we read one and used some aspect from the story to guide our word collections. One Monday and Tuesday we collected words that popped out at us while we were reading.  We talked about syllables and looked for multisyllabic words on Wednesday. We learned about synonyms and listed a set for fabulous after reading The Boy Who Cried Fabulous.  We read Punnidles(two photographs that show a punny riddle), learned about compound words. Later created our own original drawn versions.  Bear + Feet = bare feet.  Finally we learned about homophones with Dear Deerand began making our collection of those. Homophones add a real spelling challenge so we’ll try to keep our challenges straight.

We spent some time reviewing the main parts of a sentence.  Hopefully your child will be able to tell the four things all sentences have.  We called the subject of the sentence both a noun and a “doer.”  We labeled the predicate of the sentence as both a verb or what the “doer” is doing.  We’ve practiced writing simple sentences and turning them into simple three to 5 sentence stories.  We’ve also practiced writing simple sentences with a compound subjects or compound predicates.  The more we can think about the parts of writing the more successfully we’ll be able to reflect on our writing choices as we are building our ideas and crafting our pieces of writing to publish and share.

Bits and Pieces –

• Our field trip to Camp Lincoln is this coming Monday.  We’ll be there for the larger part of the day.  Please make sure your child has lunch – if they’ve ordered lunch from the school, we’ll be sure to have those with us – and snack.  Extra clothes may be helpful, but are not essential.  You know your child best.  We are looking forward to this fun opportunity.
• We’re enjoying School Days According to Humphrey. Humphrey is a classroom hamster. He’s in his second year in Room 26 and he can’t yet understand why he’s back, but his classmates from last year are not.  At this point in the book he’s beginning to understand they are in other classrooms and that he has new students to help.  Hmm…he’s got a lot to think about. You may want to ask your child about the characters and what s/he thinks may happen as the story unfolds.
• We’ve continued our conversation about Multiple Intelligence Theory.  We read a biography about Paul Erdos called, The Boy Who Loved Maththis week.  It was interesting to read about someone who was so extraordinarily strong in one way.

Our Week – September 20

We’ve had a busy week.  It began with Dot Day to celebrate working through difficulties and being kind to your self.  We made our marks and now we are seeing where that takes us.  (A line from the book.) On Tuesday we had picture day and then on Wednesday the children wrote letters to introduce you to some of their accomplishments so far.  It was nice to meet so many of you again at curriculum night.  We revised our classroom rules this week and had an assembly where we learned about school rules and expectations.  Landon did a great job representing our class and presenting these new rules to the school.  Thank you Landon.

S.E.L. – Collecting Habits for Success

Over the last few weeks we’ve read a variety of biographies to see if we can discover the habits these famous people have that are leading them to success.  We’ve read about athlete, Michael Jordan, artist, Henri Rousseau and farmer, Snowflake Bentley and scientists, Jane Goodall and Alan Rabinowitz.  We discovered that no matter what their passions, they all had certain habits that helped them succeed.  Here’s our list.

• They were determined
• They believed in themselves
• They were kind to themselves and patient.
• They used imagination and creativity.
• They never gave up. They persevered.
• They tried hard.They practiced, practiced, practiced.
• They wondered.
• They kept experimenting.
• They did what they loved.

We may add more to our list as we learn about other famous people next week, but for now we have a pretty good beginning.  What will we learn from Margaret Hamilton, Wassily Kandinsky, Billie Jean King and Rachael Carson?  How will we use what we learn to set goals for ourselves in third grade? We’ll see and share with you at our first student-led goal setting conference in late fall.

We’ve begun learning about Howard Gardener’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences.  We discovered there are lots of ways to be “smart” – eight, in fact. We know that everyone is some of all eight of the intelligences, but interests and experiences help us strengthen some more than others. We use some of the intelligences more than others because we find them interesting or we feel good when involved with those kinds of activities.  We’re trying to discover our learning styles so we can use our strengths to our advantage.

This week began to explore place value through expanded notation and base 10 riddles.  The children are thinking about how groups of ones can become tens, groups of tens can become hundreds and groups of hundreds can become thousands. They have been learning about the power of ten.

They have also been learning to choose just right problems.  There are six to choose from and making selections can be tricky.  Some of the children are ready for more of a challenge – but they are worried that they may not be able to deal with larger amounts. Some of the children are working to remember what to do when subtracting.  It doesn’t work to swap the amounts around.   It’s all good – there is a lot of math learning going on.   I am proud of their effort and determination to work through things that feel difficult.

Bits and Pieces

• We finished reading Word After Word After Word. The children selected their favorite main character and described them as a way to learn about character traits and making inferences.
• We began School Days According to Humphrey. This is our third chapter read-aloud and is one from a series.
• We selected books to begin our first book club next week. We defined expectation for book clubs so that everyone is able to participate and support one another. You may want to talk to your child about how important it is to listen to and learn from each other.
• Our field trip to Camp Lincoln is on Monday, September 30. Children will need snacks and lunches.
• If you were unable to attend Curriculum Night.  The letter your child wrote is in their folder today.  If you want to stop in to see the things they shared after school one day, please feel welcome.  I’m sure your child would be glad to show you around.

Our Week – September 13

We’ve successfully completed our first “sort-of” five-day school week, and it was a good one.  We are settling into our routine.  Some days have been smooth, focused and really productive.  Some days have been a bit chatty and distracting, but we’ll work on that and improve.  It feels as if we are developing a supportive community right from the start and that is great!

S.E.L. – Identifying Habits That Lead to Success

Many of our early discussions throughout these past three weeks have been about how we can help each other do the best that we can and succeed in achieving our goals.    After much discussion, we decided that these would be our classroom rules.  We agreed that these should be the guidelines we are attempting to meet and follow.

We agree to:

• be respectful by listening to each other, speaking quietly and doing the right thing at the right time.
• be kind by being helpful, staying positive and using nice words.
• keep our selves and others safe.
• do our best.

If we follow these rules we will reach our goal:  to have fun in our community.

As we further define the expectations for each part of our day, we are hopeful that we will become better able to follow our guidelines more of the time. You may want to ask your child what if there is one behavior change he or she could make that would help our class be more successful in following our rules more of the time. For some of the children there will be many, but for others there will be very little.  It’s just good to ask.   It helps them realize their choices in the classroom and halls, in UA classes, on the playground, washing hands before lunch and in the lunchroom matter.

Math Problem Solving

Math each day starts with a warm up to get us thinking about number and amount.  This week we’ve continued to review strategies for subtraction. The children are selecting three equations to solve from a grid of 12 and then they are asked to solve story problems.

There are six problems most days for the children to choose from.  Their goal is to find at least 2 problems that feel like a “just right” challenge to them. This means they should be able to visualize the actions in the story and understand which operation(s) they should choose to solve it. At this point in the year, this process has been challenging for the children.  The problems have at least two steps and usually two different operations. Several of the problems are using thousands, and the size of the amounts adds another thinking challenge.  Some of the children are trying to do all of the problems.  They like math and are up for a challenge.  After two problems, there are several different math activities where they can practice addition and subtraction facts and have the opportunity to develop fair play.

Just like last week, if you talk to your child about the that comes home each week, don’t be alarmed by mistakes.  My comments on the problems at this point may not even help your child know if he or she has been accurate or not.  I hope the comments make them think.  (The children are asked to look through their work folders every morning. They aren’t reading the feedback yet.) At this point in the year, I am learning about them and their problem-solving approaches.  I am coming to understand who has strong number concept and recognizes the relationships between amounts.  The end goal is solving multi-step problems with accuracy and efficiency.  That takes time to develop, but we’ll do it.

Bits and Pieces:

• We’re exploring the difference between narrative and information writing.  We’re getting ready to write an informational piece next week.  We’ll use this as a “anchor” of our understanding and ability so we can see how we grow throughout the year.
• Landon represented our class in the school-wide Rules Congress run by Ms. Snyder.  Landon reported to the class on the process and procedure taken to create a set of school-wide goals that all Pre-K to 8 students will follow.  It seemed like a great opportunity to strengthen our school community.
• We are celebrating Dot Day on Monday, September 16.  The Dot by Peter Reynolds was published on September 15th, so we’ll celebrate the book’s birthday on the school day closest to that date.  It is a fabulous picture book celebrating growth mindset.  It has become an international celebration to encourage children to tackle hard things and to do things even when they think they’re not as good as others.
• Picture Day is on September 17th.  Your child’s selection form was sent home Friday, September 13.
• Curriculum Night is September 18th.  We’ll begin our presentation in Mrs. Oliver’s Music Room – it’s near the library.  Ms. Coronato and I will share a thirty-minute curriculum overview and then invite you back to the classrooms.  You’ll have time to see how the classroom has changed and an opportunity to respond to the work you child would like you to see.
• We’ve been exploring Character Traits as we read Word After Word After Word.  There are five main characters and we are thinking about how we might describe them based on who they are, how we think they feel, what they have and what they do.
• We have planned our first field trip.  We will be going to Camp Lincoln on Monday, September 30th.  It will be a day of community building and exploring nature with a scientist’s eye.

Our Week – September 6

We’ve completed our second week and our first Friday.  I hope your children feel as though we are settling into a routine. The class developed its daily jobs list.  We started using it on Wednesday and it has been exciting to feed the animals and work together to get things done.

S.E.L and Social Studies

This week our focus was on what are our rights and responsibilities as members of a community. We spent time defining community – a group of people that come together to do something – and a right – something you need and should have – and responsibilities – actions we need to take to make sure members of our community can have their rights met. We’ve read several books like SwimmyMiss Nelson is Missing and The Great Fuzz Frenzy to help us understand how communities work together and what can happen when they fall apart. We read about rights in I Have the Right to Be a Child and we’ve begun to consider how many different communities we are a part of.

You’ll notice that several papers in the back of your child’s folder where s/he was thinking about what habits and behaviors would help us become a more successful learning community.  Most of the children are hoping for a calm, focused, helpful learning community.  And it is certainly true; the children are able to do their best work in that environment.  It can be hard to maintain.  We are beginning to see the importance of reflecting and thinking carefully about what we are doing.  We are trying to consider how our choices impact one another.  We are using theses ideas and discussions to develop our classroom rules and guidelines that will remind us to make better choices.

This week in math we’ve reviewed different strategies for knowing and thinking about addition facts. There are 100 altogether, but when we break them down to think about the different strategies we can use to find the sum quickly it’s not so bad.  We’ve learned a couple of games that help practice these facts – Roll Two Dice (a probability game) and Card Combinations for adding and Subtracting.

We also took the time to finish the baseline assessment.  That is our second early-year math assessment.  The data from this work will help me create some challenging problems for the children to work on throughout the rest of the year. You’ll also notice that we completed an addition fact check.  They did a great job on that!

We’ve also begun exploring polygons.  We read Tangled: A Story About Shapes, Friendshapes and The Greedy Triangle to remind us of how many different shapes there actually are.  We’re learning about different categories of 2-dimensional shapes and how they are sorted. We’re learning about congruence, lines of symmetry and angles.  We’re having fun with this as we build our calendar each day and learn more.

Bits and Pieces –

• The children are still learning about our classroom library.  There are so many books to discover and explore.  The children are finding the right combination so they can successfully read all of independent reading time with books that in interesting and understandable.
• We completed our first chapter read aloud, 8 Classroom Pets + 1 Squirrel ÷ 1 Dog = Chaos.  We determined that the genre was fantasy because the animals were telling the story.  We’ll be exploring different genre throughout the year, helping the children discover what they enjoy.  You might want to ask your child which classroom pet they thought was more interesting as Twitch (the squirrel) ran through the school.
• We’ve been exploring the characteristics of award winning narratives.  The children have begun to write their own.  Some are writing personal narratives and others are writing fictional narratives.  Some of the children are working together to create character themed story collections.

We are off to a great start.  Thank you for your support and interest in what we are doing in our classroom each week.

Our Week – August 29

I think we’ve had a great start to our school year.  I hope your children are feeling the same way.  We’ve had fun getting to know each other.  We’ve created two different glyphs and several different graphs. We’ve done a couple of different writing projects and we’ve shared some great books together.

S.E.L  – Learning About Each Other to Strengthen our Community

We’ve played The Name Game a few times to learn each other’s names. Knowing names is an important start to making friends.  We read Andy, That’s My Name and My Name is Alice to start our exploration into the importance of feeling known and included.

We also read some books about starting school and being new, either to the school or to the grade. After reading The Day You BeginUnicorn Thinks He’s So Great and Unicorn Is Maybe Not So Great After All we began to realize we each have to share our stories so we can truly get to know each other.  Guesses and assumptions don’t work that well. We’re realizing, the more we share the more we find what we have in common.

We’ve also been sharing some of our hopes about what will happen this year and what we’ll be able to do at the end of 3rdgrade.  We’ve been thinking about things we like and things we find challenging connected to learning.  We’ll use these discussions to learn more about rights and responsibilities in the weeks to come as we establish classroom routines and rules that will allow us to each show our best selves.

Roaming the Known

This week in math we’ve been roaming the known.  We’ve been reviewing two-digit addition and subtraction.  We’ve created several graphs and taken an assessment to see what parts of 2ndgrade math stuck.  As I have reviewed the daily work, it seems to me that the children have a lot of understanding that doesn’t show.  The ways the problems are worded are unfamiliar and the directions may have been confusing.  As you look at your children’s work – please let mistakes go at this point in the year. We are just getting to know each other. We’ll learn how to communicate clearly in the next few weeks and then your children’s real abilities will show.

Navigating the Classroom Blog

At the end of each week I will send home a letter sharing some of the things we have done throughout the week.  Please look for it in the front of your communication folder.  My goal is to give you some talking points so you can extend your child’s learning at home. On that same day you’ll find a similar parent letter on our blog – 3enews.edublogs.org  As you can see, this one is illustrated with photographs from our classroom.  Scroll down a bit, and you’ll be able to see some of the books we’ve shared in the classroom this week. That’s another thing to talk about with your child.  And this time, if you scroll a bit further down, you’ll see a place where you can subscribe to get notification about postings.  Please do that so you don’t miss out on any of the posts.

Presently, last year’s students’ blogs are still up and will be for a couple of weeks.   Soon, your children will be setting up their own blogs. We’ll have time each week for the children to create posts.  That doesn’t mean they’ll finish one each week, but I know they’ll try.  Blogging is a different type of writing and most children really like the idea of creating digital texts to share with a wider audience.  Once the student blogs are up and running you can share your child’s URL with family far away and they can become more involved with this year’s activities.

Bits and Pieces –

• We’re reading 8 Class Pets + 1 Squirrel ÷ 1 Dog = Chaos as our first chapter read-aloud.  Ask your child what is happening in the story.
• We had our first fire drill and your children were quiet and respectful.  They really were amazing role-models.
• We’ll be celebrating International Dot Day in two weeks.   We are looking forward to “making our mark” to see where it takes us.

Our Week – June 14

Thank you for a wonderful year.  As you could see from their portfolios, your children did many different things this year. They grew in so many ways.  They deserve to be proud of their effort and their accomplishments.

We combined parts of everyone’s “The Important Thing about 3rdGrade” into this final piece of writing. On Thursday the class created posters to illustrate them.

The important thing about third grade is that it is fun to be together.

You’ll discover every new friend has something a little like you and something else that is not quite like you at all.

You’ll read and write.  You’ll create stories, books and research displays.

You’ll have museums, celebrations and parades. You’ll learn about multiplication, division and fractions.

You’ll accomplish hard things and feel proud. But the important thing about third grade is that it is fun to be together!

I hope you’ll try some summer blogging.  A  note about it went home Thursday.  On Monday there will be book reviews, on Wednesday there will be math problems and puzzles and on Friday there will be quick write suggestions.  I hope you’ll check often – that way we can stay connected even when we’re not together every day.

I hope you all have amazing, relaxing and joyful vacation.  Good Luck Gabriel!  We’ll be thinking of you!

Happy Vacation!

Our Week – June 7

This week we’ve learned more about graphs and graphing, we tried to convince others to visit our state by describing the wonders we found there and we’ve had time to read, write, solve problems and reflect on our accomplishments.  Thank you for selecting times for your children to share their portfolios with you.   It has been interesting for them to realize all they have been doing this year.

U.S. Geography and Information Writing

As the children wrote about their State Wonders, many of them remarked on how they feel they have grown as researchers and writers. This piece had a little different twist. They were trying to make a claim and persuade others to agree with them.  Some of the children were able to be strongly persuasive, while others began, but seemed to forget that voice.  Regardless, the children have learned how to read information and select important facts to share.  They have become better able to organize their facts in a unique way and to share their understanding and ideas.

Most of the children have been able to complete blog posts about the State Parade project and another sharing the Wonders of their state.  Some of the children won’t find time to complete these posts this week, but will by Monday or Tuesday.  Please keep checking their blogs.  They hope you’ll find a moment or two to read and respond to them with a comment.

Taking Stock

In 1949 Margaret Wise Brown wrote The Important Book.  It follows a simple pattern in noticing how everyday things – rain, grass, apple, shoes, etc., – add greatly to our lives.  Each poem begins and ends with a most important thing. For example, “The important thing about a spoon is that you eat with it.  It’s like a little shovel, you hold it in your hand, you can put it in you mouth, It isn’t flat, it’s hollow and it spoon things up.  But the most important thing about a spoon is that you eat with it.”

The children are using this format to write about what they’ve accomplished this year and what feels important about their 3rdgrade learning. It is interesting to think about all that we’ve done this year.  Looking at our classroom timeline has reminded us of the many opportunities we have had to learn and to share with other this year.

SEL – Social Problem Solving Through Communication

We’ve continued talking about social problem solving in Open Circle and Morning Meeting.  This week we’ve focused on what we can each do to make the situation better. We’ve talked about actions we can take to deescalate a situation.  Again, we realized this is easier said than done.  We’re trying to help each of the children feel as if they have many different options for themselves once they’ve calmed down and made a choice. We can use “I statements” and say something, but that doesn’t always change another’s actions.  We can stay calm and walk away – as long as we are being polite.  We’re really trying to consider what needs to be made a big deal of, and what can be ignored. There’s still a long way to go.  Developmentally, this is the age when children begin to see through different eyes and like seeing themselves as part of the solution.

This week we participated in another challenge with Mr. Guidi.  Last week we worked in teams to solve puzzles – the added twist was that talking was not allowed.  We learned that, while the teams worked better when everyone participated, they could succeed is someone was distracted.  This week, that was different.  Everyone had to be focused and willing to communicate to be successful. Every member of the team had to work together to accomplish the goal.  The photographs show some of their efforts – on Crazy Hair Day.

Bits and Pieces –

• We had fun learning about different types of graphs while planning our perfect sundaes.Each of the children had to create a 12-scoop sundae, name the fraction of each type of ice cream and graph the information four different ways.
• We’re nearly finished with The Green Ember. We are eager to discover what will happen to Heather, Picket, Uncle Wilfred and Smalls. Will they find their family?  Will the Mended Wood become a reality or is Helmer right?  Are they all going to lose to Morbin and Red-eye Garlekson?
• We’ve completed the Loop Group and are now on to the last group of cursive letters – Hills and Valleys.

Our Week – May 31

The count down is certainly on!  Ten days to go until the end of 3rdgrade.  It has been a wonderful and fast year.  It is such a bittersweet feeling, but your children are certainly deserving of a break.  We have several continuing writing projects.

We’re creating our persuasive piece about our states, and we’re completing our learning reflections. We’ll share those with you at our student-led conferences during the last week of school.   This week we’ve also spent time working on our last social emotional learning unit in Open Circle and morning meeting.

S.E.L – How Can You Deal with a Problem?

One of the first thing s we have learned is to figure out if it is a big problem or a small problem. Next, we’ve been trying to decide if our reaction matches the size of the problem.  A small problem should have a small reaction.  A big problem should have a thoughtful reaction, and we’re learning that is a skill that develops with practice.

We began the week by answering three questions:  What makes recess fun?, What makes recess disappointing? and, How do you describe sportsmanship or fair play?  The answers that we collected for the first two questions were all pretty similar. Playing and including everyone who wants to play, following the rules and being outside were common answers. There were many different answers about sportsmanship.  That is something we need to continue to explore, along with the concept of fairness.

We spent some time talking about perspective.  We read They All Saw A Cat and The Seven Blind Mice to guide our conversation. It isn’t always easy to see that there are different ways of understanding an event or situation.  We tried some perspective taking scenarios so we might learn how to react with understanding rather than anger. Everyone participated in our conversations and seemed to really make an effort to consider how they could each contribute to positive changes.

Fractions

It seems as though many of the children are feeling more comfortable with fractions and the illogical notion that larger numbers in the denominator means a smaller part.  The children’s understanding of how to label fractions on a number line is growing, as is their ability to label parts of partitioned shapes.  Several weeks ago, children understood what half and a fourth was, that understand has grown.  Our next task will be to learn how to add and subtract fractions with like denominators. We’ll do that with recipes featuring something special from each state.

State Wonder Writing

The children have all completed paragraphs for at least three of their state’s Wonders.  Many have completed five and a few have completed writing about all of them.  Most of the children have moved beyond the copying phase, they are reading and taking notes to then create their own original sentences and ideas.  This has been a fun process to see as they’ve participated in four major research projects this year: weather, national holiday, global geography and national geography.  They have grown quite a bit as readers, researchers, and writers this year.

Bits and Pieces –

• Everyone completed each section of the State Testing!  Woo-hoo!!!!
• We’ve continued learning how to form our cursive letters.  Most of the class thinks it’s fun.  We’ve completed the “kite string” letters and are now beginning the “loop group.”
• We held our belated April writing contest.  There were ten submissions.  It was exciting to not that all of the stories were complete with an obvious, beginning, middle and end.  Each of the stories showed that the author had intentionally used elaboration strategies and given some attention to using correct conventions.  The class voted for a single gold, and a single silver medal winner in the contest.  There was a four-way tie for the bronze medal.  We have creative storywriters in our class.
• We’re close to finishing our eleventh chapter read-aloud as a class.  It’s an exciting fantasy, adventure.  The Green Ember is the first in a series of five books – the fifth is still being written.  If you’re looking for an exciting family read-aloud over the summer, I highly recommend this series by S.D. Smith.

Our Week – May 24

This has been a week of special events.  There was something different every single  day . The most special event of all, however, was The Parade of the States. Thank you so much for your support with this project.  We so appreciate your time and effort to bring everything together this joyous celebration. We couldn’t do this without your family support and we are grateful. The children were excited about the day and so proud to have the opportunity to share with everyone – it was certainly the highpoint of the week, if not the whole school year.

Here is a bit about the other special events in our week and some information about the “regular” learning too.   On Monday our day started off with a puppet show about Personal Safety presented by the people from Haven.  The children thoroughly enjoyed the show and had the opportunity to make sure they thought of the trusted adults they’d tell if ever they needed help or felt they needed to support a friend.  A flyer came home in the communication folder about Haven and a worksheet summarizing the main points of the discussion is with the student work sent home on Friday.

On Tuesday we took the state math assessment.  Again this week, your children worked thoughtfully and carefully throughout the test session.  It is a challenging assessment and most agreed that there were some problems they had to guess at. The children didn’t know what the question was asking. It is frustrating to know that sometimes children answer incorrectly, because they just don’t understand the wording.  If we were allowed to reword the question, the students would be more likely to answer correctly.  We are near the end of the testing sessions.  A few of the students will need time next week to complete their writing and math tests. I am proud of their effort.  They certainly put forth their best effort throughout each test session.

We also were able to attend the 4th and 5thgrade’s Junk to Funk concert Tuesday afternoon.  It was obvious those students had learned a lot about rhythms and beat, about cooperation and teamwork, and about having fun.  It is something to look forward to for next year.

On Wednesday we started our day by practicing for the recorder concert.  It was the first time that the two classrooms had the opportunity to play together, and they were great together.  You could tell they were working to stay together and keep the correct tempo.  They sounded beautiful together because they were playing calmly and slowly.  Not all of the students play all of the songs, and that’s fine.  The children were encouraged to do what they could.  As Mrs. Oliver indicated, children had the opportunity to give up recess for extra support and to learn two of the more complicated songs.  Not all of the children wanted to do that and that is fine as well.

The Grade 3 Community Meeting is Friday, June 7.  We’ll be performing the concert again for the entire school, share a movie of each student’s float in the Parade of the States and finish it by asking the school to join us in singing America the Beautiful.  It will be another opportunity for the children to showcase their hard work.

The special event on Thursday was the dress rehearsal for the Parade of the States.  Before that the classroom was full of floats.  We were excited to see how each person represented the Wonders of their state.  Each float was a totally unique creation. At the rehearsal the first and second grades came so they’d be able see what it might mean when they come to 3rdgrade and have to select a state to research.

The children began writing persuasively about the Wonders of their state.  They are continuing to research so their final piece persuades readers to vacation in their state – the most interesting state in the country. They will finish these pieces in early June.  We will be using a writing app called Book Creator so this writing piece will be posted on their blogs as well.

To learn more about persuasive writing we created essays trying to convince everyone on what the best season is.   We’ve learned how to make a claim and then support that claim with actual facts and evidence.  We’re continuing to experiment with effective leads and conclusions too. Our goal was to have these done and posted on our blogs… As you can tell classroom time was short this week, so next week will be our goal.

Finally on Friday we went to the Memorial Day Assembly, thoughtfully planned and organized by the 7thand 8thgraders in Student Government.  It is important to be reminded that this is not just another day to be out of school.  Make sure to ask your children what they heard and saw.

In and around all those things we were able to spend time reading.  I have been impressed recently with the book choices and reading stamina. Many children have been selecting and completing much more complex texts.  It is also fun to see how books get passed from one reader to another because the first readers is so excited and offers a review that can’t be resisted.

It’s been a busy week full of some different learning opportunities and challenges. Hopefully we’ll be back on track next week and will have more time in the classroom to focus on our daily work.  Learning together is fun.

Our Week – May 17

It has been a wild week! Nearly everyday, we’ve had something unusual happen.  We began learning cursive – finally!  One day we had a special assembly and percussion workshop.  There were the two days of testing and a testing session on a third day for children in need of more time, or for those who were absent. We’ve had to deal with new playground rules and teacher meetings and appointments that disrupted the typical flow or our day.  We didn’t get lots of the usual daily work done – but I realize as I’m writing this, we had some important opportunities for problem solving together.

State Testing– at time practice consideration, patience and stamina

You would have been very proud of the effort your children put forth by in the state testing session. As you know from your experiences with standardized tests, whether you were the test taker or your older children have had the experience, they are challenging.  Vocabulary and directions are tricky to understand and the children are mostly on their own.  The practice sessions did familiarize the children with the tools they had available to them – and they did use them, but there is little test proctors can do.  Teachers can read from the published script and we can encourage children to reread or answer simple procedural questions, but that’s all.  It’s nothing like that classroom.  Your children persevered and stayed still and quiet, focused and hardworking for nearly two hours both days with only a short snack break in the middle.  Yes, some children quickly answered questions near the end because they just needed to be done.  Most, however, took their time.  They felt proud of how they had worked and of what they felt they had accomplished.

New Rules– a time of communication, problem solving, empathy and advocacy

Ms. Vas made a rule about picking teams for soccer that caused a lot of commotion.  She had some important reasons.  Still, I’m guessing you heard about this at home.  It was upsetting to children in 3E who felt their efforts had been silenced.  The children are concerned about fairness, hearing all voices and recognizing the good that happens rather than the bad. They are concerned about sportsmanship and gender inequity.  This is not done.  Please know that we will revisit this in as many classroom discussions as are needed.

Two weeks ago I finished reading a fabulous book, Troublemakers – Lessons in Freedom from Young Children at Schoolby Carla Shalaby.  It really made me think and pushed me in ways that I hope will help me become a more effective teacher.  Here’s a paragraph from the end to the book that seems to fit with this issue.  I hope to use it to guide our process so we can all think about how our actions create a free, and safe environment where all of us can learn.

“I am convinced that if we continue to prepare children for the world we have now, we will necessarily reflect and reinforce the everyday harms and assaults of punishment, confinement, and exclusion.  Instead, we have to begin to prepare children for the world we want.  In schools where teachers feel stuck in how to break the harmful patterns of their classroom management, I often wonder if we might become unstuck by first imagining a world in which police are not necessary, in which prisons are abolished.  What are the skills required for thatworld – skills demanded by the need to keep one another safe and free – and how might we teach and learn those skills in school as our approach to classroom management?”

I know with your help and support at home, we will work through each piece of the upset and frustration that children may be feeling at this point.

From my vantage point- the observer of many of the recess soccer games this year – it is unusual for so many 3rdgrade children – boys and girls together – to play one game at recess, and (IMHO) that is COOL.  This year they have worked through showboating and uneven teams.  They’ve worked through the “skilled few” playing against everyone else.  They’ve worked to be more aware of including everyone – goals are great, but everyone playing is good too.  They have recognized that it is recess – not coached, refereed games.  They have tried not to be overly competitive – and yet that does creep in.  There has been so much learning on the soccer field at recess – they’ve done most of it on their own and when they needed help we spent time with their concerns.  I am proud of their effort and social learning. I’m excited to see how it develops as we continue to work through this issue piece by piece.

Fun with Cursive– something new and exciting to learn

When Ryan H. joined our class two weeks ago, we immediately noticed that he has incredible cursive penmanship.  This is something we typically learn in third grade and so we are finally on it. We have enough time to learn the whole alphabet if we practiced some every day.  This way the children will be able to read cursive when they encounter it, and they’ll be able to develop a signature. This week we’ve had fun learning our first set of letters, the clock climbers.  It is challenging, but also relaxing.

Persuasive Writing– learning how can we use words to achieve our goals

We’ve been learning more about the features of persuasive writing.  We’re practicing those skills when crafting book reviews and when describing our state Wonders.   In the learning process, the children have been discovering what it means to make a claim and how to support that claim with facts, as well as, opinion.  We’re developing rubric-like checklists to guide these writing projects. They seem to be feeling excited about what they are learning about their states and are trying to clearly share why those places and things are destinations to see.  It will be fun to share the work at our end-of-the-year conferences!

Bits and Pieces –

• This week the class learned about the instruments Jeff Irwin makes out of “trash” and had the opportunity to participate in a percussion workshop with him Tuesday
• We are learning more and more about the rabbits history in Green Ember, but we still have so many questions.
• We continue to learn more about fractions and to explore what they are and how they compare.

Floats can be brought in to the classroom after school on Wednesday, May 22 or before school on Thursday, May 23.  We can’t wait to see you at the Parade of the States!