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
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