Classroom Updates 2012-2013

Weekly Update 1/20/2012 & Next Week Info

posted Jan 20, 2012, 5:11 PM by Sue Exley

Dearest Families, 

The class had a great week! Today we finished off the week by making math gnome hats. In our class, new math concepts are introduced through  a story. This year we travelled to the land of Mathematica where Queen Equalita,Peter Plus, Trixie Times, Mortimer Minus, and Daphne Divide all work together to solve math riddles. Each gnome has a different personality (and color), one that matches the math process. The class loves this!! After a concept has been introduced through a story, the learners are connected to the learning in a meaningful way, and we delve deeper into the skills and application of the particular concept. It makes for joyful learning! 

Next Friday 1/27 we will have a Math Gnome Dress Up Day. The learners may dress as their favorite gnome and wear their gnome hat to school. A gnomes outfit can be fairly simple, so HAVE FUN!

Peter Plus-Greens
Trixie Times- Yellow and Oranges
Mortimer Minus-Blues
Daphne Divide-Red

Today I introduced a new character....Fox Girl and her family-Mouse Boy, Grandmother Dove and Grandfather Crow. They will take us further into place value, money and measurement. 

Have a wonderful Weekend!

-Jami and Erin

Weekly Update - October 28th, 2011

posted Oct 28, 2011, 5:05 PM by Sue Exley

Dear Families, 

We had a wonderful week. We continued to learn more about Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot! We shared some of our knowledge at the 1/2 assembly on Wednesday. The children were excited to share our first imovie and song with the rest of the school. 

During Thursday Centers learners explored the fifth grade worm bin, learning many new and interesting things about worms/compost. In Cooking and Gardening we harvested and cooked kale chips. Many of us were surprised to find out how much we liked kale! Don't worry we write all of our recipes in our cooking and gardening journal so they can try out their new culinary skills at home :)

In language arts, the learners continued to use their reading strategies or tools together to decode unknown words and deepen their comprehension. The new tool we introduce this week is "chunking." When we come to an unknown word sometimes it is helpful to look for spelling patterns we know to break the word into smaller parts. For example, the word falling, many of the learners know ing and by chunking or breaking the word into two large parts; they are able to decode the word. We are continuing to use our reading tools together to ensure accuracy and create meaning. 

In phonics, the first graders looked at the first letter in their names. We noticed that all our names begin with a capital letter and that capitals are larger and taller than lowercase letters. The second graders looked at some consonant clusters. We looked at several consonant clusters including br, fr, tr, dr, cr and gr. The children generated words that began with these same consonant clusters. 

In mathematics, we started to work on a Problem of the Month, Through the Grapevine. In this Problem of the Month, the learners were able to create tables and graphs. First, they predict of how many raisins are in a box of raisin. Working in their table groups, learners then counted the number of raisins in each of their boxes and use this information to create tables and graphs.

With the coming holiday we have learned many new seasonal songs and poems, including The Crimson Witch and The Pumpkin Patch. Today we painted pumpkins! Please come by and see our very own pumpkin patch on the wall. 

Have a wonderful weekend. We're looking forward to next week and the Halloween fun!

-Jami and Erin

P.S. Many of the children looked a little under the weather today- sleepy, weepy, even a little glossy-eyed. There is a little bug going around so keep your eye open for it. Lot's of rest if you can. 

Weekly update - October 16th, 2011

posted Oct 16, 2011, 3:20 PM by Sue Exley

Dear Families, 

It has been another exciting week in room 26! This week, you, our parent volunteers started working in the classroom. :-) The children were so happy to have their parents working with them. It makes such a positive difference for the learners. Not only do they have more opportunities to work in directed small groups, but your expertise and knowledge enriches their learning experience.  Thank you for all your support inside and outside the classroom!

Also, this week, homework and spelling quizzes began. Reading daily has the greatest positive impact on your child's education. Daily reading includes you reading to your child, reading together or your child reading to you. Please let us know if you need book suggestions or books to take home to read. We want homework to be a positive experience for you and your child(ren.) Please let us know if you are having a hard time with the homework. We are happy to meet with you. 

This week, we started our no waste much challenge. We were happy to see how little waste the learners were creating. We talked about the many things you do at home to reduce waste, including using water bottles, lunch bags, bringing bags to the store or reusing bags. We continued to collect our trash after each lunch and next week the learners will make their own graphs of our data. 

The learners are continuing to work in guided reading groups. We are learning about the various tools readers uses to decode unknown words. The first reading tool we introduced is picture clues. Before we read, we preview the book to gather information about the book. We call this a "picture walk." We look to see if we think it will be a fiction or a non-fiction book. We look to see what kinds of things might be in the story, including the characters or where the story may take place. This helps us front load what kinds of words might be in the story. We are also developing our knowledge of sight words. As readers, we use lots of information from the book, including picture clues to help us decode the text. We will continue to learn other reading strategies or tools. 

Some learners began their literature circle or book groups this week. The children were able to choose books that they would be interested in reading and are working with a parent volunteer to read and discuss their books. This week the learners are working on making active reading notes while they read. These may include making predictions or making connections to the text.  They are also beginning to write a short summaries of the text read. 

On Tuesday, we had Margie Trainer visit our classroom. She is a wonderful educator and a math coach. She lead the learners in a dot talk. During dot talks, the children are able to look at a picture of dots and use their knowledge of patterns to see how many dots are on the paper. We want the children to move away from counting them one by one, but to see more efficient strategies to group numbers.  Also we want the learners to be able to express their thinking using mathematical language. We will continue to have number talks through out the school year. 

This week we continue working on building our classroom community and talking about excluding.  We began our morning reading a wonderful story, Horace and Morris but mostly Dolores by James Howe. In this story, three friends had great adventures together, until a boys only club was made that excludes Dolores. Dolores then joins a girls only club. They have fun, but not as much fun as they had together. At the end of the story, the three friends come together with two new friends and create a clubhouse that . The learners worked in groups to make their own skips about being inclusive. 

We continued the conversation about including in our Council Meeting on Friday. We talked about including others and ways to join a game/play. We ended the meeting with appreciations; "I appreciate my whole class for being so great", "I appreciate my friend for always saying yes when I want to play". In Council I present a topic, we pass around a bean bag (when you have the bean bag it is your turn to talk), if you chose not to talk you can say "pass". The only rules of council are; no interrupting or responding to others, and no using names.  Council is a really great opportunity for learners to share and listen to their peers. I am noticing a sense of responsibility and camaraderie beginning to emerge in our class that we hope will continue to strengthen. 

We also introduced a new art medium to the class, beeswax modeling. Beeswax, one of the many gifts little bees give us is a really fun way to begin modeling. In our first lesson we warmed and modeled the beeswax into balls and from those balls we molded birds. The collection of colorful birds was quite a sight! 

Looking forward to seeing you next week at our conferences!

-Jami and Erin

update - Tuesday October 4

posted Oct 7, 2011, 5:10 PM by Sue Exley

Dear Families,

It has been wonderful to spend time with your children. We are eager to learn more about them as readers, writers, mathematics, scientist and people!

On Monday, we began with our morning circle and learners shared some of the wonderful things they have enjoyed from their summer and first weeks here at school. Next, we read one of my favorite stories, The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Pinkwater. It is a lovely story about a man, Mr. Plumbean who after a seagull drops a can of orange paint on his house (no one knows why) paints his house to look like his dreams. The other people on his street want him to paint his house like theirs, so all their houses can be the same and they can have a neat street. As each neighbor talks to Mr. Plumbean, they decided to paint their own house like their dreams. We discussed how it is OK, to be different. We also wrote about our dream classroom. It was great to reading all their wonderful and innovative ideas!

This week, we launched our Unit Study: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot! We began by exploring the difference between what we need and what we want to lead a happy life. First, the children drew many things that they felt were important for happiness. They sorted the cards into two catagories, “needs” and “wants.”  Some of their examples of needs included: family and friends. Some examples of wants were: ice cream, playing baseball everyday and gardening.

We watched a short video about three children who won a shopping spree at a toy store. Two of the children loaded up their carts without even looking at what they were grabbing. One child carefully selected one special toy that she had always hoped for. At the end, that child was the happiest with what she got. The learners really seemed to understand that having more stuff did not necessarily lead to greater happiness.

Next, we created a Venn Diagram comparing things that make us happy and things that cost money. We realized that most of the things that make us happiest aren’t even material things that have a cost. It was powerful to see the children sorting their ideas and discussing the results.

Over the last four weeks the class has been working on a big math problem, How many teeth have we lost all together? The class explored many strategies for solving this problem, including drawing pictures and using materials.

During Council Meeting (SEL) we talked about honesty and taking responsibility for your actions.

We had a lovely week!

-Jami and Erin

Untitled Post

posted Sep 29, 2011, 4:05 PM by Sue Exley   [ updated Sep 30, 2011, 12:54 PM ]

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