Cathy Richardson
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Welcome to Mrs. Richardson’s class!

March 31, 2017

Dear Families,

So many old sayings come to mind as I write this on March 31st with the forecast of a foot of snow…..If you don’t like the weather in New England, wait a minute…..March comes in like a lion and leaves like a lamb, Spring is just around the corner, etc., etc.  I guess the only positive thing I can say about this storm is that it didn’t cause a school cancellation!!!

We have had a busy few weeks in Room 208.  We brought our Biography unit to a rousing conclusion with the presentation of Biography posters.  It was amazing how much information the students took in from their reading.  Many were nervous to present without the benefit of reading their paragraph, but in the long run, they had so much more information to share than what was included in their paragraphs.

In Language Arts, we began talking about the third kind of writing this week:  Persuasive/Opinion writing.  We began by reading a book called Hey Little Ant, which asks the reader to decide whether or not a boy should squish an ant.  As a class, we wrote a persuasive paragraph where our opinion was that the boy SHOULD squish the ant, and the following day, individuals and pairs wrote a paragraph with the opinion that the boy should NOT squish the ant.  We are learning that a persuasive paragraph, 1. Introduces the topic, 2. states an opinion, 3. provides reasons, and 4. wraps it up with a concluding statement.  Second graders are not short on opinions, so Language Arts has been quite lively this week!

In Math, we began a unit on Geometry.  Second graders are expected to know the attributes of triangles, quadrilaterals, pentagons, hexagons, and cubes.  In a couple of weeks, we will also begin learning about arrays and how this relates to multiplication (repeated addition).  The highlight for Math this week, I am sure, was “Shape Up.”  Using slices of cheese, pretzels, and bread slices, students created (and then ate) various shapes.  As one student stated at the end of the activity, “Mrs. Richardson, you should teach Reading with food!”

Finally, a shout out and thanks to Dr. Miller for coming in this week and doing a lesson and experiment on bacteria with the second graders.  Each student had three jelly petri dishes, divided into fourths.  They then took samples from around the room to test for bacteria growth.  We won’t see results for a week or more, but I’m sure the gross out factor will rival the Shapes with Food activity!

Thinking warm and sunny thoughts as we head into April.  Have a nice weekend.


Room 208 Newsletter

March 3rd, 2017

Hello All,


It was nice to get back into our routines this week.  It feels like we have not had an uninterrupted, 5-day week since coming back from December vacation! 

This afternoon, I talked to the class about a change in how we are doing homework.   You will see that I sent home today a single sheet from the old yellow Reading/Math Log.  Although it still says, "Return on Monday," from now on, homework will be assigned on a Friday and due the following Friday.  The first one is due next Friday, March 10th. 


We still expect kids to read 5 times a week, 15-20 minutes with 10 of the minutes being out loud.  We also continue to expect math practice 3x a week.  We will include one-two worksheets for review/extra practice.  The other math practice can be the fact strategy practices from before or games from the sheet included this week.   The hope is that all second graders will be fluent with addition and subtraction facts to 20 by the end of second grade.


This week we continued our measurement unit in math.  Second graders learn both US Customary measurement and metric measurement.  As part of the measurement unit, they are expected to be able to use a number line to solve problems.  They are also expected to be able to gather measurement data and put it on a line plot.  You will see some line plot work from this week.  


For Language Arts we have continued our work on informational texts by reading biographies.  Each student has been reading two sources about the person they chose.  This week they learned how to use a "double bubble map" to determine what is most important to know about their person. Next week they will begin writing an informational paragraph about the person they chose.


I am looking forward to meeting with all of you in the next couple of weeks.  Now that you are familiar with the second grade report card, you can expect to get a hard copy of the report in your child's backpack the day before your scheduled conference.  Please be on the lookout for it.

Enjoy your weekend,


Dear Families,

This newsletter has a lot of important information, so please keep it in your inbox, or refer to my webpage if you need to refer back to it.

First, housekeeping:

* Friday your child brought home an explanation of a special project second graders do for the 100th day of school.  Please check their take home folders for more information.  Please note, that there is one date incorrect on the paper.  The last possible day for the children to bring in their hats is Monday, February 8, not February 9 as it was listed.

* Our class's Colonial Day will be on Tuesday, June 6th.  This is an all day event, taking place on the school grounds at our Colonial Cabin in the woods.  This is the highlight of your child's second grade year, and an event that depends heavily on parent volunteers.  I am giving out the date now, so that those who have tight schedules can take this special day into account now.  Much, much more information will follow in the early spring.  For now, it's important that you know the date.

*Share Time-This is what I consider a "beefed up" Show and Tell.  We have been working on Informational Text and Informational writing for the past two weeks, and this is an opportunity for each child to :

A. Show what they have learned about informational writing
B. Practice public speaking skills
C. Demonstrate special knowledge about a topic of their choosing.

In class, the students have been thinking about topics they know a lot about-this has ranged from elephants, to baseball, to Italy, to sewing.  They  have written informational paragraphs that include:

-an interesting lead
-at least three facts
-a concluding statement

We have now drawn up a rotating schedule for Share Time.  Many kids are nervous about their first share, and I have emphasized the importance of practicing at home.  Here is the schedule:

Tuesday, January 24- Jake, Harper
Thursday, January 26- Pharoah, William
Friday, January 27-Greta, Alice
Tuesday, January 31- Ethan, Eva
Thursday, February 2-Jonah, Quinn
Friday, February 3-Catherine, Carter
Tuesday, February 7-Jonathan, Sam
Thursday, February 9-Unai, Sophia
Friday, February 10-Nora, Jameson

* Reading/Math Logs-yes, they still exist!  I know I have been inconsistent about getting those logs back to the kids with clear instructions, particularly for Math.  I am awaiting results of our midyear fluency assessment (we are 6 days short of truly being halfway through the year), before assigning new fact strategies.  In the meantime, please continue to have your child read 5 days a week.

* Last but not least, we welcomed a new student on January 11th.  Sam Dean comes to us from Florida, and he was very pleased to see a bit of snow this week!  Hopefully we can satisfy him with some more, as the playground has been very icy of late.

Language Arts-As you may already know we have been reading a lot of biographies lately and learning about informational writing.  We have four small books groups going right now reading about Susan B. Anthony, Helen Keller, Johnny Appleseed, and Cesar Chavez.  In Read Aloud, the students have listened to a biography of both Leonardo DaVinci and Jane Goodall.  This week for obvious reasons, we spent time with two biographies of Martin Luther King, Jr, and this week they will learn about a fascinating gentleman by the name of Peg Leg Bates.  We have been focusing on the 5 W's (Who, What, Where, Why, and When), and this week will transition to conversations about character traits and the meaningfulness of repeated words or phrases in a text.

Math-We have concluded our study of money for the time being with a celebration of in-class storefronts.  Eager customers visited the shops of busy cashiers to practice their money skills.  The students also completed a post assessment, and the improvement from pre to post assessment was so dramatic, I anonymously made a table of the scores for the kids to see the range of improvement.  After recording these scores, I will be sending both assessments home so you can see for yourself!

On Friday, the students took a pre-assessment in Measurement, and we will begin that unit this week.

Science/Social Studies-both of these subjects have been tied into our Biography study the past couple of weeks.  After completing the Jane Goodall biography, we watched a wonderful (old) documentary titled Among the Chimpanzees.  This film not only highlighted some interesting scientific ideas about the brain and tool making, but also helped the students to see the KIND of person Jane Goodall is, in her perseverance and determination to understand the chimpanzees and gain their trust.  This will dovetail nicely into our conversations about character traits this week.  We ended the week by trying to make our own termite catching tools from a straw, a piece of tape, and a rubber band.  Everyone experienced some level of success catching the termites (hole punch dots), though it was those that discovered that rubbing the straw on their head created marvelous sticky static electricity and licking the straw created a good sticky surface that were the most excited.  Suffice to say, by the time we were done, there were "termites" all over the floor and the classroom looked like a broken snowglobe!

I know this is a lot of information, but with vacation, snow days, holidays, and new arrivals, I felt like I hadn't check in for awhile.

Have a great weekend,
November 18, 2016

The past two weeks, we have spent time thinking about gratitude and thankfulness.  Last week, we recognized those who have served in our armed forces and learned about Veterans' Day.  As you saw in Rays of Sunshine, the students created a field of poppies for Flanders' Field.  I think they were quite struck by the image of poppy seeds lying dormant under the ground, which then sprung into life when the soil was disturbed by the digging of so many graves.  We also shared a beautiful book titled America's White Table which describes a tradition among service members by way of remembering POW's and MIA's.  It is very humbling to see the children grapple with these big ideas and heavy, but important topics.

This week, we focused on thankfulness closer to home as we prepare to break for the Thanksgiving holiday.  We encouraged the students to think beyond their friends, family, and pets, which is demonstrated in some of their thankful leaves stating that they are thankful for peanut butter and stuffies!

In Science we concluded our study of seed dispersal and plant life.  Hopefully, the children come away with an understanding of ways seeds can be dispersed, and what plants need to survive.  After break, we will begin a study of the Three States of Matter.

In Language Arts this week, we have focused on two aspects of literature:  how characters change over the course of a book, and how authors want their books to be read.  Your child is getting daily reading practice both independently and with a partner.  They are also listening to fluent reading every day.  In Spelling this week, students are working on either the silent e syllable type or the ee and ea vowel team.  

Math this week focused on Place Value and a very tricky math exchange problem:  We know that Fred has a certain amount of erasers, and we know Liz has SOME erasers, and we know the total they have together.  But how many erasers does Liz have?  As I've mentioned to many of you in conferences, often when second graders see two numbers, they automatically assume they are meant to be added, but of course that is not always the case.

I enjoyed meeting with so many of you the past couple of weeks.  I love being able to share my thoughts about your child, but I especially like hearing your perspective.  Thank you for making the time to meet.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends.  I for one am thankful for your kids!  

Hello Families,

It was nice to have the class for a full week of learning!  The kids seem to really be settling in to routines now (it usually takes 6 weeks or so), and they are demonstrating more independence.

In Math we continued to practice the doubles and doubles +/- 1 strategy. We also began a beginning discussion about adding 9 to a number.  Most of the strategies shared had to do with using 10 to help with 9 facts.  For example, if the fact is 9+6, some students said they would take a 1 away from the 6, leaving 5 and give it the 9, thus making 10, and then 10+5=15.  Another strategy was "If I know 10+6=16, then 9+6 must equal 15, because 9 is one less than 10.  You get the picture.

Yesterday, you may have seen some of our first math exchange papers come home.  These are what you would call, "word problems."  At this early stage, most students will "show their math thinking" by drawing circles or tally marks.  It is so challenging to know how to show your thinking.  Even though in their brain, they probably decomposed the numbers in some way...."I know 4+4=8, so 14+4=18, because I just add in the 10." it is much easier to show that thought with marks on a the page.  This week two students shared their work with the class by way of demonstrating two different ways to show math thinking.  One I call "using words" and the other I call "using numbers."  

Let's say that the problem asked them to add 23+13.  The student using words might write:

"I know that 3+3=6.  And 20+10 is 30.  So I added the 6 to the 30 and got 36."

The student using numbers might simply write this:


Fact Fluency Practice.  In your child's reading/math log you will see an assigned fact strategy for your child to practice.  This is based on the assessments I conducted last week.  The visual part of developing fact strategies or working toward fluency with the strategies is the important part.  That means that you should be using visual representations (ten grid cards or the mini rek-n-rek) to practice the strategies.  This week I was overrun with requests for math materials for home.  I am planning to put rek n rek and dice in baggies to be checked out from the Library.  I need to order more ten frame playing cards.  Right now, there are only 3 decks available for check out.  I'm sorry to have encouraged you to let me know if you wanted to borrow materials, and then not had enough to go around.  I have kept a list of those who requested them, and I promise to get some materials home this week.

This week in Language Arts, we shored up our learning stations and had two rounds of practicing moving among those stations.  The stations include, time to work on spelling, read to self, read to someone, games that focus on syllable types and sight words, and storytelling (or writer's workshop).  It was amazing to see the students so focused during these various activities.  Already I have seen gains in reading this year!

In Science this week we continued exploring seed dispersal.  You will undoubtedly have heard about Mrs. Richardson's and Mrs. Whaley's World Famous Puppet Show on seed dispersal on Thursday.  See below our high tech puppets.  

Yesterday, we quartered a gigantic sunflower and groups dissected them.  The kids have totally integrated their learning about seed dispersal as I heard conversation at every table discussing what method of dispersal makes the most sense for sunflowers. We even had one group grab a bowl of water to see if the seeds floated, and then have a very intellectual conversation with another table about whether or not the seed inside would get soaked from the water and not be able to grow.  The fact that I took a picture of the whole sunflower and then not another one, despite my intention, gives you an indication of the level of excitement going on in the room!

Enjoy the soggy weekend.....did I hear snow in the North Country????


Hello Families,
October 15, 2016

I'm hoping you enjoyed this amazing Fall weekend!  Summer is by far and away my favorite season, but there is no denying the splendor of color in the fall. In school this past week, we squeezed a lot into a short week.

In Language Arts, we are gearing up for stations, and this week we worked on Shared Reading of two texts:  Mercy Watson to the Rescue, and There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.  We are looking to "scoop up words" as we read a loud so that the students' voices match my own as we focus on fluency and expression.  We also spent time isolating words and asking ourselves three questions:  Does it look right?  Does it sound right? Does it make sense?  These are questions you can remind your child of as they encounter tricky words in a text.

In Math, we began looking at the doubles fact strategy and learned several games to practice this strategy.  I also did an assessment of each child's automaticity of math facts and this week will be writing into their Math Log which strategy I would like them to work on.  Again, I encourage you to read the first pages of the Reading and Math Log for information, and also to check out Caren Whaley's Blog, category Math on the Ray School website.  I have had one parent ask for math materials to have at home, and again I want to reach out to anyone who also would like materials for home. Your child is able to check ten frame cards out of the Library and I can also provide other materials such as dice, hundreds charts and drop it sticks.

Last week in Science, we learned about seed dispersal and will continue to discovery this week.  Ask you child about the Mystery of the Koa Tree.  It was a fun exploration.  This week we will continue to talk about seed dispersal and move into plants and soil.  To that end, I am actually looking for empty CD cases for a seed experiment.  Ideally, I would like one CD case per child, so if you have any extras around, I would welcome all that you can spare.

A reminder (although I think I forgot to send out the flier) that we will be celebrating Halloween at school on Friday, October 28, rather than Monday, October 31.  The parade begins at 9:15.  We will have a special snack that day, but there will no other activities that involve the parents.

Have a great week!


September 30, 2016

It’s hard to believe that the month of September has already come and gone!  We are looking forward to sharing our learning with you on Thursday, October 6 from 5:00-6:00.  As a reminder, the first half of the hour will be an opportunity for you to be in your child’s room and hear about a typical day and highlights of the second grade curriculum.  During this time, your second grader will be in the Multi watching cartoons under the supervision of Youth in Action volunteers and one of our administrators.  Please remember that this supervision if only being provided for your second grader, not older or younger siblings.  At 5:30, your child will join you in the classroom and perform as tour guides, showing you what is most important to him/her.  At 6:00, we will bid farewell, and wish everyone a wonderful long weekend!

Highlights of the week:

*Adding new activities and games into Math Stations, particularly in the area of fact fluency.

*Coming up with a classroom contract with three overreaching rules:

Take Care of Materials

Take Care of Yourself

Take Care of Others

*Being brave and strong (in the heart) when choosing Good Fit books.  It 

can be very hard to be honest with oneself about the kinds of books

that are a good fit.  We are surrounded by so many amazing (and big)

books that we want to be able to read them all….NOW!  Today was a bit 

of a breakthrough in that many students are now making good choices 

about their reading material.  Six good fit books in their book baskets will

make all the difference in the world when it comes to becoming

strong and independent readers.


September 23, 2016


            We’ve made good progress with classroom routines this week.  As a grade level we are noticing a larger than usual range of abilities.  We ask for patience as we work to find good fit work and ways to support each student.  I can’t stress enough how important it is to practice reading and counting and skip counting at home.  The more automatic these skills become, the more brain energy your child will have for other more complex areas of learning.


We have introduced a variety of math stations.  We talked about how to be independent during math and what it looks like to do math the whole time.  We have a game called “Drop It” that students can bring home for counting and skip counting.  Your child should know how to play, but I’ll post the rules on the web-site some time this weekend.


            In Language Arts we started a “Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall” list poem.  We’ve worked hard this week on long and short vowel sounds.  This is much easier for some that it is for others.  We continue to work on stamina for Read to Self.  Today we learned about making good use of Read to Someone time.  This is an opportunity for students to share a book together and take turns reading out loud.  Emphasis is on fluency and checking for understanding.


            Today, Friday, We had STEM class (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).  We began by reading a wonderful story called “The Most Magnificent Thing, by Ashley Spires.  In this story, a girl attempts to build the most magnificent thing, but encounters failure after failure.  We talked about the author’s message, and came to the conclusion that the author was teaching us about trying over and over even when we fail. A good lesson for us all. We followed up by giving the students a STEM challenge with 20 coffee stirrers,  a yard of tape, a yard of string, and a marshmallow.  Mrs. Whaley’s class also did this last week and spent this week refining their designs and improving their teamwork skills.  Ask your child about it.


A few dates for your calendar:

Monday, September 26th  First Reading/Math Log due date

Monday, September 26th  Dot Day  Wear dots!

Monday, October 3rd  Me Collage due (can come in earlier)

Thursday, October 6th 5-6 pm.  Parent Information Night/Open House  This will be a night for you and your second grader. Please make other arrangements for siblings.

Friday, October 7th is an in-service day for teachers so there is no school.

Monday, October 10th is Columbus Day and is also a no school day.


Have a great weekend,

Mrs. Whaley & Mrs. Richardson



September 16, 2016


Our first whole week completed!  We have a couple things coming home in the folder this week.  First, we are ready to start the Reading & Math Log.  All the directions are in the log.  There is a lot of information to take in, so it may take one or two readings on your part.  Basically we ask that second graders read 5 times a week and practice math 3 times a week.  It is VERY important that your child read “good fit” books.  We have been working on this at school, and some of the students are not consistently choosing good fit books.  A good fit book is one that your child can read with 99% accuracy.  With real estate the three most important aspects are Location, Location, Location.  With education the three most important aspects are Reading, Reading, Reading.  Five extra minutes of reading a day really adds up.  Some kids might need the reading time broken up into two different times of the day.  We are also working on stamina for reading.  Good fit books are key in helping kids stay engaged in reading.


I’m not assigning any “fact strategies” to be practiced yet.  Almost everyone should be practicing counting and skip counting (actual objects and in their heads).  By the end of the year second graders are expected to be able to count and skip count forwards and backwards by 1s, 2s, 5s, 10s (from any number), and 100s (from any number).


The first Reading & Math Log should not come back to school until Monday September 26th.  We will be talking about this more with the students next week, but if you have any questions after reading the informational pages in the Log, feel free to zip me an email.  Most, if not all of the answers are likely in those front pages.


The second item coming home in the folders is the Judy Moody Me Collage Homework information.  The Me Collage is due Monday, October 3rd.  Feel free to send it in earlier if it is finished.


A few dates for your calendar:

Tuesday, September 20th  Picture Day

Monday, September 26th  First Reading/Math Log due date

Monday, October 3rd  Me Collage due

Thursday, October 6th 5-6 pm.  Parent Information Night/Open House  This will be a night for you and your second grader, please make other arrangements for other children you may have.

Friday, October 7th is an in-service day for teachers so there is no school.

Monday, October 10th is Columbus Day and is also a no school day.


Have a great weekend,


Cathy Richardson