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October 12, 2010

Curriculum Newsletter
October 12, 2010

    I have really enjoyed meeting with families for beginning of the year conferences over the past two weeks.  It has really helped me to get to know you and your child better.  Thank you for taking the time out of your busy family schedules.

    It’s been a busy first six weeks. 
    I hope that you have been hearing about the exciting butterfly events that have been happening in our classroom.  So far, six butterflies have “hatched” out of their chrysalis’.  We were lucky enough to watch one of them throughout the process.  Katherine noticed it just as it was coming out.  It was math time, so our first grade students were with Mrs. Chasse’, but we already had a plan and went to get them.  We watched as the butterfly hung from its chrysalis and slowly “pumped up” its wings.  The process took 15-30 min.  Then the butterfly hung on the chrysalis all day.  We let it go that afternoon. 
    Later in the week, we saw a caterpillar turn into a chrysalis.  This is really exciting. The caterpillars have been hanging in a J shape, and then all of a sudden the skin splits and the yellowish green pupa – chrysalis begins to appear.  What is really fun is to watch the chrysalis as it squirms around until it has finally settled into its chrysalis shape.  It always looks to me like it is dancing.  At this point, we have one very slow growing caterpillar left in the room, and a teeny-tiny chrysalis.  They will be the last two of the year.  It’s getting too cold for the caterpillars and the milkweed that they need to survive.

    We have also looked at the life cycle of plants, through looking at the sunflowers and other plants in our garden and reading books.  We’ll study more about plant life cycles throughout this year. 

    As are aware, we have been working on math since the second day of school.  The first grade students in our class go into Mrs. Chasse’s classroom for math.  The second grade students stay with me and are joined by the second grade students from Mrs. Smith’s class.  I’m in the process of updated our classroom website.  You can find out more information on 2nd Grade Math there.  Go to  then click on First-Second Grade Sally Brooks class link in the left hand side bar.

    As you probably heard for the children, we worked with Mr. Akerman to create short animated stories on the computer using PowerPoint.  We can share these with you during Open House later this month. 
    I’m excited about how engaged the kids are during our writing times.  We are finishing up with our “Launching the Writer’s Workshop” unit this week.  This unit is really about settling in to writing and setting up routines.  I am really seeing the benefit of the good teaching that the kids have had in Writer’s Workshop during their Kindergarten and first grade years!

    We are working into the routines of Reader’s Workshop.  We begin each Reader’s Workshop time with a quick mini-lesson.  Then, children work on reading independently or with a partner.  Later, we will work in other reading activities.  At the end of workshop time I usually read a book aloud.  I’m talking more about Reading Workshop and “just right” books with parents as we meet for our beginning of the year conferences this week and last.  It is really exciting to me to see how much the children are enjoying reading! 
    This Monday, the children began taking home books for nightly reading.  Children will bring home a book every day to read.  Younger children should read to you for about 10 min., depending upon the length of the books.  Then it would be great if you read other books to them!  Older children should read for 20 min. each day.  Depending upon the age and ability of the child, he or she will either read the book to you, or read the book independently.  If your child is reading independently, please talk to your child about the books he or she is reading.  This can be a very natural conversation; you can talk about what you are reading and your child can talk about his or her book.
    Please make sure that your child is bringing his or her clear plastic “Take Home” envelope back and forth to school every day.  We are now using these for the books the kids are taking home, and the nightly Reading Record.  If for some reason you were not able to read one night, please leave the book and reading record right in the envelope and return it to school.
    We have had four weeks of Water Safety and Swimming Lessons and have four more coming up.

Book Order – I plan to send another Book Order home this week. It will be due next Monday, October 18th.

Open House – The school Open House will be Thursday, October 21st. 
        There will be a Pie Social from 5:30-6:00. 
        Classrooms will be open from 6:00-7:00 so that students can share their work with you.