December 14 - 18

This week we reviewed looking for chunks (groups of letters we knew the sound of, like "sh" and "ing" or small words, like "an" and "it") in our guided reading books. We also reviewed making a text-to-self connection (finding something in a book that reminds you of something in your own life). We are defining "text" as any kinds of words you read, not just in a book but on a sign, in a letter, on a computer, etc. We then learned how to make text-to-text connections (finding something in a book that reminds you of a part in another book). Students caught on to both of these concepts very quickly and enjoyed sharing their examples with the class. Here are some videos of students' text-to-text connections:

In writing we practiced adding details to both our words and our pictures. Some students are still struggling to keep their pencil moving on their paper for the entire 15-20 minutes of independent writing time. Many students are finding great resources to look up words they need to spell like their guided reading books, their word rings, and signs around the room. We wrote about what we like to do in different seasons (especially in the snow!), we wrote about pets after the tragic loss of two of our fish, and we wrote lists about a variety of topics from games we like to play, to candy we like to eat, to how to walk in line in the hall, to gymnastics moves we know. Some students were confused about the difference between a story that needs complete sentences and a list that can have individual ideas or phrases, so we will review those formats more next month. We will also look at how to write directions or instructions, which requires writers to think about their audience and to be very clear and specific in their vocabulary and illustrations.

In math we are reviewing numbers that add up to ten and doubles (2+2, 3+3...) to help us solve other addition problems. If you know 5+5=10 then it will be easier to solve 5+4 and 5+6. We are also reviewing story problems, including important words that tell you if you need to add or subtract like "all together" and "leftover." We are using many different problem solving strategies and practicing explaining our thinking so other people can understand what we did in our brain. Some examples of strategies students are using include drawing a picture, counting up or back, using tally marks, and using fingers. Look for pictures of story problems we have solved together on the Smartboard in this slideshow from the past two weeks:

NO SCHOOL DECEMBER 20-23! Have a safe and relaxing winter break!

December 7 - 11

This week we looked for word chunks and words within words when we read. The students were very adept at finding chunks like "sh," "ing," and "ch." We also found many of our sight words (an, day, to, he, me, my...) inside larger words. We have talked a lot about how practicing something hard makes you better at it. We are now re-reading our guided reading books independently for 10 straight minutes every day. Please remind your students to take 10-20 minutes each night to practice reading, and remind them of the importance of re-reading books again and again!

In writing we wrote about what we like to do in the snow and then in the other seasons of the year. We discussed what makes each season different than the others and what acitivites we like to do depending on the weather, and what we like to do no matter what the weather is like. Students are using many resources to remember how to spell unknown words: making their best guess based on what sounds they hear, looking at their word rings, finding words around the room, and remembering words they have read in their guided reading books.

This week in math we measured the length of many things around the room using nonstandard units (dominos, dice, our hands...). We also continued to study the penny and nickel, make the largest two digit number possible (reviewing place value), use tally marks, make up equations based on story problems, and find pairs of numbers that add up to ten. We also looked for patterns in addition and practiced adding doubles (5+5) to help us solve harder problems (if you know 5+5 it will be easier to figure out 5+6 or 5+4).

I have begun filling out second quarter progress reports which will go home at the end of the month. Please let me know if you would like to meet in January to discuss your child's academic and social achievement.

Dates to remember:
  • 12/23/09 Dismissal at 1:20
  • 12/24/09 - 1/1/10 No School
  • 1/4/09 - 1/8/09 Optional Intersession (contact office for enrollment inquiries)

November 30 - December 4

This week we got to go to the Strategies Lab and learn two new games: Safari Rush Hour (which is slightly harder than Rush Hour Jr as more parts move in more directions) and Hoppers Jr (in which you start with various frog arrangements and after hopping over them, you try to leave only 1 frog remaining on the board). Both games require thinking ahead a few steps and considering the consequences of your actions - universal skills! The students came up with the following new universal problem solving strategies that help them play these games and do other hard things: concentrate, stay calm, be in control, and relax.

We started learning about coins this week with our new math specialist. He taught us about what is pictured on each side of both the penny and the nickel, and we noticed many other interesting details on the coins. He also taught the students several new games: number line squeeze (using terms like "greater than" and "less than"), penny and nickel trading (learning that 5 pennies = 1 nickel and then practicing counting by 5s and 1s to see how much money you have at the end), and two digit top-it (making the largest two digit number with number cards and keeping track of your score with tally marks). We are also reviewing number pairs that add up to make ten through a variety of games.

In reading we reviewed getting our mouth ready to say the first letter(s) of an unkown word to help us make a good guess about what would make sense. Students are learning to notice consonant blends (sw, sp, sm...) and digraphs (th, ch, sh...) to help them figure out unknown words instead of just using the first letter alone. We are also starting to look for work chunks and little words we recognize inside big words (see photo where we found "an" in many words and names).

Students are learning the foundations of typing when we go to the computer lab twice a week. They also have opportunities to make Voicethread comments and play the games linked on this site when they go to the computer with a partner during reading and math centers.

Thank you so much to the families who contributed books from the book fair to our classroom! I really appreciate your generosity and the students loved reading the new stories. We have enjoyed Stick Man, I Don't Like To Read and next week we will read The Coin Counting Book.