# Our Week – March 13

Our weeks continue to fly by.  That’s a good thing; it means we are busy learning new things.  We’re further examining how multiplication and division are related.  We’ve learned how to write all of the upper – and lower-case cursive letters. We’re exploring weather and learning to read clouds.  We have been trying to use all that we know to create interesting and effective pieces of writing.  We’re putting our travel journals together and getting ready to create our souvenir collections so each student can share the Wonders of their country.

Studying Weather

This week in science we explored the mystery, “How can you predict when it’s going to storm?” We learned about differences between fair weather clouds and storm clouds, and the role of wind direction in determining whether a rain cloud will pass overhead. You can continue to support your child’s curiosity by looking at clouds together and asking, “What kind of clouds do you think those are?  I wonder if it will rain.”  Ask your child to tell you about their Storm Spotter’s Guide, a small book they made to help them remember how to use the clouds to predict the weather.

SEL – Sorting and Solving Problems in Positive Ways

In Open Circle this week, we began a multi-lesson unit on problem solving. In the coming weeks, we will be learning to use a six-step process for solving people problems. We began by talking about what a problem is. A problem is any situation that causes someone to be upset or confused. We made a list of problems that students in 3rdgrade might have, in the cafeteria, at recess or with friends.  We tried to focus on school-based problems so we can deal with them more productively.

To help us learn and remember the problem-solving steps, we use the colors of a traffic signal: Red = Stop. Yellow = Think. Green = Go.

RED reminds us to STOP.

1. Calm down.
2. Identify the problem.

YELLOW reminds us to THINK:

1. Decide on a positive goal.
2. Think of several solutions.
3. Evaluate solutions.

GREEN tells us to GO:

1. Make a plan and try it.

Once we’ve practiced using these problem solving steps the children will bring home a sign to post in your home as a reminder that they have an effective strategy for dealing with problems as they arise.

Bits and Pieces –

• We’ve just begun the 4thpart of Winterhouse.  Will Gracella come?  How are the Heimses involved in the issue?  Why did Elizabeth find “the book?” What is “the feeling” that Elizabeth gets?  Why does she do thing so impulsively?  Talk to your child to see what he or she thinks about the mystery.
• Families that had to reschedule conference due to my father’s illness, please look for a conference sign-up in the front of your child’s folder this week.  I hope we will be able to fit them all in next week before repots cards go home on March 20.
• A note about report cards:  They will be sent to you on March 20.  Please be expecting that your child will have earned a combination of 2’s and 3’s in the second term. The children are learning and need support and guidance at this time. Also, Ms. Coronato and I decided that we would not be assessing student’s knowledge and understanding of the science standards involved in the Weather Unit we have just begun.  It did not seem wise to assess their mastery based on a few activities.  You will see NA in science this term.

# Our Week – March 6

This week has been about enjoying books, reading together, exploring weather and learning more about fractions and the connection between multiplication and division.

It was wonderful to see so many you at the Jaggies today.  The awards ceremony was a wonderful way to celebrate how reading can bring us together as a school.  What fun!

S.E.L. – Sorting Problems

We’ve continued to sort problems and talk about how we could or should deal with situations that feel annoying.  What should we do when people talk over each other?  What should we do when people call others names (we agreed this happens more often at home with siblings)?  What should we do when people fall on us in basketball?

We had some rich discussions.  Now we need to see how well we can remember in the moment.  Will we stop talking when we know we should be listening?  Will we take greater care at recess because we realize there are 20 people on the basketball court at recess rather than the usual 10?  Will we walk away from name-calling?  We’ll try.

We also watched the Personal Safety Puppet show this week from Haven.  You’ll see the worksheet in your child’s folder where they encouraged the children to make sure they had several adults they felt they could talk too.

Stormy Skies

This week we learned more about the water cycle and different cloud types.  We watched a Mystery Science video about how clouds are formed and then conducted an experiment where we captured water vapor so we could understand what a cloud feels like.  It is cool and wet.

Talk to your child about the water cycle and see if s/he can explain the process.  We are learning about evaporation, transpiration, condensation and precipitation.  They are fun words to know and use.

Global Geography

Most of the children have completed the research portion of this project are now on to the writing portion. They are creating a travel journal sharing the sites in their country that they think are interesting.  The children are getting better at note-taking, though some of them are still tempted to copy what they read and call it their own.  You’ll know if that is what your child is doing when you read their pages.

Next week we’ll begin creating the travel bag and souvenirs.

Bits and Pieces

• We’ve continued to learn more of the Upper Case cursive letters.  We’ve learned about half of the letters and will complete the alphabet next week.  Next will be to spend some time writing sentences.
• We’ve gotten to the excited part in Winterhouse.  Will Elizabeth ever earn Freddy’s friendship back? What will happen to Elizabeth is she goes to the Heims’ room?  What was the red light?  Why can Elizabeth see letters in “the book” that no one else can?
• We are continuing to learn more about fractions and to explore the connection between multiplication and division.
• Thank you, again, for you kind words and your patience.  I was hopeful that on Monday we’d be making a plan for my dad’s transition from the hospital.  I thought I would know dates and could plan conference time with you.  I’m sorry to say that did not happen, and I did not follow up on that to reschedule conferences.  The second term ends on March 13 and report cards will be sent home on March 20.

# Our Week – February 14

Happy Valentines’ Day! I am grateful for your patience and support during these last few weeks.  My father remains in the hospital, and is recovering slowly but surely. My mother has been glad to have me with her as she waits from him to return home.  I hope this part of my life will settle down next week and I’ll be more certain of time I can offer to reschedule our parent-teacher conferences. I will reach out to you in the middle of next week.  My goal is have all of our conferences completed by February vacation.  Thank you for your kind understanding.

S.E.L. – Learning How To Deal With Problems

Our Open Circle discussions have been focused on discussing how to positively deal with “annoying” behavior.  We’ve been learning how to respond in ways that can be both firm, and kind.  We are trying not to just say, “Stop it.”  We are trying to say, “I am _______ when you _____.  Could you please ____” It is challenging to remember all of this steps when annoyed. It can also be challenging to accept the statement with grace.

We’ve continued our study of comparative and superlative spelling rules.  This has been a great review of long and short vowel sounds and syllabification rules. We need to know vowel sounds so we know when to double the final consonant before adding the suffix.  And we need to be able to count syllables so we know when to use more and less and most and least.  We’ve had fun collecting adjectives as we read and changing them when adding –er and –est.

Elaboration Strategies – Developing Craft Moves in Writing

Adjectives are an important part of using elaboration strategies.  We’ve begun to notice them more in the books we’ve been reading and we’ve come to realize how important they are.  Adjectives really help paint pictures in our readers’ minds.  They are the words that help our readers understand our meaning and intention.  During our comparative/superlative work, we’ve been collecting them from books we’ve been reading.  There are a lot of adjectives there – some on each page.  We have realized we don’t use many adjectives in our own writing and we’re trying to be more mindful of that.

We are also thinking about adding action, dialogue and inner thought to our independent writing of narrative stories.  We are learning more about the craft moves that will allow us to elaborate more when writing informational text as well.

Global Geography – Writing With Non-Fiction Features

We hope that the children will have completed the research portion of the global geography project by the time we leave for February vacation.  Many of the children are in a great place for that.  A few of the children, though, have used their time scanning images and listening to short videos rather than actually choosing places to learn more about in detail.  If you have a chance, talk to your child about the landmarks they have discovered. If they don’t know any, or can only tell you the name of the historic event or national holiday, it would be greatly appreciated if you would encourage your child to spend more time focused on discovering the facts and details.  Digging deep and trying to understand is challenging. There are so many new words and difficult ideas to understand it can be a struggle to read for understanding.  Please encourage your child to use books, if they have them.  These are much more focused than the Internet resources. While less glamorous, they can be easier to understand.

Exploring Weather

We’ve begun to learn about weather.  We’ve been reading about how air, water and heat interact to create weather.  This week we’ve begun learning about clouds. We’ve discovered the three main types: cirrus, cumulus and stratus.  And we are learning how to identify them and the huge variety of combinations as they give us a hint about how to predict changes in the up-coming weather.

Bits and Pieces –

• We’ll be finishing our last set of lower-case cursive letters next week.  We’ve enjoyed learning how to write the lower case letters and how to read words written in cursive.  It’s fun to see the children practicing in their daily work.
• We’ve been comparing fractions.  This concept is a tricky one.  Larger denominators, mean smaller pieces.  Using fractions is one of the first times your children have had to think this way.
• Talk to your child about Winterhouse.  We think we have gotten to the problem part of the story, but even this is building.  It is exciting!

# Our Week – January 31

As I am preparing for conferences next week, I have again been stuck by what a huge growth year 3rdgrade is.  Our curriculum is divided into grade spans.  Third grade is the first year in the 3 to 5 span and what they are expected to accomplish is a lot.  They are working hard to do that.  I appreciate their attention and efforts.

S.E.L. – Sorting and Dealing With Problems

This week we’ve begun a new set of discussions about problems and behaviors.   We’ve learned that dangerous and destructive problems are ones where you really need to get help.  When you’re afraid you or someone else will get hurt you need to get help from an adult.  When you see that things are being ripped and ruined you need to get help.  We’ve also talked about “annoying” behavior as different from dangerous and destructive behavior.  Our class definition of annoying behavior is that it is something that distracts attention from the appropriate task, is repetitive (not just once), and might be intentionally teasing.

Dealing with annoying behavior is tricky and we’ll see if we can find ways to cooperate and compromise in our classroom so everyone feels comfortable, supported and heard.  We hope we can all be respectful, and find ways to behave so everyone can happily do his or her best in the classroom.

Story Mountains

We’ve been exploring plot and the plot line of narratives.  We’ve been climbing story mountains together and individually. We’ve been noticing how stories begin with a lead that establishes who the main characters are and initiates the main action.   This is followed by a series of small events and descriptive details that build to the main problem.  This problem is something that the characters have to deal with and find a way to get through it.  The main character learns something or is changed when the problem is resolved. And finally, the story ends in a way that connects back to the beginning.  The story has come full circle.

You’ll see a couple examples this work in your child’s folder this week.  Some of the children easily follow the characters through the story. They connect with them and recognize how they are interacting with the action of the story.  Others find it more challenging to follow the character’s growth throughout the story.  When you are reading together, talk to you child about the story mountain found in the books you are sharing.  It will strengthen his/her understanding of the story and build inferential comprehension skills too.

Furthering Our Use of Elaboration Strategies

Earlier in the year we learned how to develop more descriptive sentences by adding adjectives, and details telling when, where, why and how.  A simple sentence can become quite interesting.  We also learned about the “power of 3” to help guide our choices because generally three is enough.  Three adjectives, three actions, or three repetitions are enough to make the idea stick without becoming monotonous.

This week we’ve begun learning strategies to use to make our stories and informational writing more elaborate.  So far we have practiced adding descriptive details to help readers develop a clearer picture in their mind of the setting.  We’ve also learned how to add actions to animate the story.  In our example a storm is coming and so we added sentences about the wind and people rushing to get out of the weather.  We have two more strategies to learn: adding dialogue and introducing the characters’ inner thought to add emotion to our writing.

Bits and Pieces –

• We are continuing to learn cursive.  We are on our third set of letters – the Loop Group.  Those letters are b, f, h, k, l and e.  Most of the class is having fun learning cursive, though it is challenging.
• We are enjoying Winterhouse.  We are still in the build up portion of the story.  There are lots of characters and lots of details to keep track of.
• The children are researching their countries.  They are learning about the geography and landforms, unique plants and animals, cultural celebrations and traditions, historic sites and landmarks and important museums, monuments or memorials.  This week the children wrote letters asking question on their blogs. We hope to get some responses from around the world.  If you have connections, please share.
• Our next science unit is weather and so we have been building our background knowledge and understanding by reading poems and books about their topic during our shared reading lessons.
• We have been learning about elapse time, equivalent fractions, and strategies for solving multistep problems.  We play games to practice basic facts in all four operations and we’re learning about perimeter and area.

# Our Week – January 24

This week we began our global geography inquiry.  In Open Circle we’ve been talking about speaking up and setting goals.  We’ve been reading books around the theme of kindness while we learn about plot lines and we’ve been practicing our kite string letters in cursive.

Speaking Up

This week we’ve talked about speaking up.  Sometimes speaking up can be stating a fact and that would be something we all agree upon. Sometimes speaking up can mean stating an opinion and that would be something not everyone agrees with.  We talked about speaking fairly – and behaving according to our words.  It’s one thing to sit in circle and talk about behaviors and choices.  It’s another thing to make the right choices at recess or in the hall.

We’ve read several books this week that help us consider what it means to be kind.  It seems that it is the little things that matter most. We’re trying to see how we can make choices throughout our day that show others we are choosing kindness by following the rules and meeting classroom and school expectations so everyone has the opportunity to learn.

Country Inquiry

The children have begun to explore books and websites about the country they chose to research. Children in our class are learning about:  China, France, Iceland, Peru, New Zealand, Russia, Chile, Italy, Australia, Brazil, Panama, Japan, Egypt, Mexico and Thailand.  If you’ve been to any of those places and have things to share the children would be very grateful.

The children started learning about the flag and are now exploring geography and landforms, unique plant and animals, historic sites, cities and the countryside, museums, parts and monuments and cultural festivals and celebrations.  The final project will be to create a travel journal demonstrating what you know about nonfiction features in writing and creating several souvenirs collected along the way.  The children will“pack” the journal and the souvenirs into a suitcase they will have created and present their journey.

We need boxes for this project.  I know some families already read this, thank you – we have seven or so boxes already.  We need at least eighteen boxes in the shoebox or large cereal box size range would be greatly appreciated. If you have any boxes that we could use for our souvenirs, could you please send them in? Thank you.

Math Centers

Throughout January we’ve been learning about fractions and how they compare.  Fractions are featured on our calendar this month.  We’ve played fraction bingo and are creating our own fraction bar sets so we can learn more about equivalent fractions.

We are also learning how to track time – what can a person do in a minute, five minutes, or ten.  We do we consider to be important use of our time and finally how do we calculate elapsed time.  This means we need to be able to read analogue clocks and keep track of how minutes transition into hours.  Many of our daily problems are written to help us develop and practice these skills.

We’ve also continued to learn about perimeter and area.  The children have worked through several different activities and are now beginning a robot challenge.  They are designing and creating a robot blueprint for “NASA’s Mars Mission.”  It will be fun to see all the different creations.

Bits and Pieces –

• We’ve completed our second set of cursive letters – the kite strings.  These letters include: i, u, w, t, p, r, s and o.  We’ve learned half of the lower case cursive alphabet.   We’re having fun with that.
• We’ve begun Winterhouse.  We’re keeping track of what we think is most important in each chapter.  This is a complex book.  There are lots of characters and several different sub-plots developing as the story continues.  Ask your child about the story and how s/he thinks the story will unfold.
• Many of the children were able to finish and post blogs they’ve been working on for several weeks. We’d be grateful if you’d check out their blogs and leave a comment.  They do feel very excited when they know you’ve read their posts.
• Ask your child about writing dialogue.  Perhaps you can write a short one together and he or she can show you how it is written. (End punctuation is still hard.)
• I’ll send home a notice and sign-up for parent conferences on Monday. Ms. Snyder has asked us to offer a mid-year meeting prior to report cards so you’ll know what to expect when they are sent to you in March.

# 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.

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.