Welcome back! Our second year together has had an amazing start and the students and I are excited to share our learning and experiences with you. Feel free to comment and share your thoughts with us as well. Enjoy exploring!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

We've Been Busy!

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

How Full is Your Bucket?

This week we introduced a new way to recognize our feelings and the feelings of others based on the wonderful book, "How Full is Your Bucket?" by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer. The book introduces the idea that we all have imaginary buckets over our heads that reflect how we are feeling at any given moment. The idea is that when you are happy your bucket is full and when you are sad, it is empty. The story also introduces different ideas for how you can fill someone's bucket by being kind, helpful, and supportive. It also made it clear that when your bucket is empty, you can sometimes want others to have an empty bucket too, but the act of doing something mean or hurtful to someone else does not help fill your bucket back up, but actually empties it more. With this visual reference, the kids had an easier time grasping the bigger concept of empathy and evaluating their own feelings at different times when things happen and it made it a lot of fun!
After coming up with a classroom list about "bucket filling behaviors" and "bucket emptying behaviors", we put our new knowledge and language to the test as we went outside with Mrs. Eaton's class to play on the playground. To reinforce and practice the idea throughout their time outside, each student had some stickers that they could give to a friend any time they filled their bucket. It was great to look around the field and see one student helping another balance, someone tying someone's shoe, and another asking if their peer was OK after they had tripped while running. There was a lot of bucket filling going on!
The next day the kiddos wrote on a raindrop one act that they could do for someone that would fill their bucket. There were a lot of great ideas; introducing yourself to someone new, comforting somebody when they are sad, and even helping someone with laundry. I was then further impressed by the time and effort they put into illustrating their raindrop, they really did a great job!
We will continue to talk about bucket filling and bucket emptying behaviors as well as using this language throughout the day. I encourage you to ask your kiddo to explain the concept to you and use this language at home as well if you would like. We are also lucky to have this book in the library, so your kiddo can check it out if they are interested in sharing it with you! The students loved brainstorming ideas and it really is a helpful way for them to speak to one another if a tricky situation takes place. Lastly, you can always ask yourself, "Have I filled someone's bucket today?"

Sunday, October 30, 2011

It's About Time!

We spend a few mornings each week working on telling time and this week the discussions were rich with questions and observations about the clock. I shared with the students my struggle of learning to tell time and that I still remember my "lightbulb moment" when it all of the sudden made sense. They found this to be very entertaining and encouraging, that minute hand can sometimes be very tricky! I have added a new link on the right of our blog with an online game that you can play with your student to continue these rich discussions and practice with an analog clock.

Also in math this week, we began a new unit about ants. Through the study of these insects the students will be reviewing and building upon their knowledge of addition and subtraction, as well as building the concept of multiplication and division. Questions such as, "There were 6 ants collecting food, how many legs in all?" will be helping fuel these concepts and strategies and then be woven into the creation of their own story problems. The students were excited to be discussing ants and quickly made the connection to the story problems we did about crabs and sea stars last year. After recognizing the connection a student shared with the class that he thinks the story problems will be better this year since they are in second grade now. This comment got the students excited to make their problems more challenging than last year. This upcoming week we will get to see what they come up with!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fifty Nifty United States!

We're learning about mapping and are focusing on the 50 states of our very own country! To conquer this we have divided the students into groups of 5, mixed with all Synergy classes, to study the 5 different areas of the United States; the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Southwest, and West. At the different workshops the students are learning which states are in each section and what are some fun facts from that part of the country.

I am in charge of the Midwest. When I was learning the 50 states, I always struggled with this part of the country because it has the "M's" (Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota)and the "I's" (Iowa, Illinois, Indiana)and I always used to get them confused. I have been so impressed at how the students have been able to recognize, locate and label the different states. They have really been loving the unit and doing a great job with it! The landmark that they are finding most fascinating about these states is Mount Rushmore. "How can they carve faces that big into the rock?" is the question I have been hearing a lot.

While looking at the location of the different states, the students have been learning about the Compass Rose and it's 8 directions. To help with the key four, North, East, South, and West, we have been using the saying, "Never Eat Soggy Waffles". The kids think that this is just the neatest trick and seem to really grasp the idea and can then understand the four other directions such as, Southeast. I encourage you to add these words to your discussions, "Which crayon is to the north of the blue crayon?" Be sure to keep it fun!

I have added some links on the right of the blog to some on-line games about the states' locations and fun facts, as well as the Compass Rose. There is also a link to the song that we are learning called the "Fifty Nifty United States". Have fun exploring these sites with your kiddos!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Frogs and Firefighters

Wow! We had a really busy and exciting week filled with learning about the life cycle of a frog, exploring with the iPads and then got to end the week with a visit from a couple of local firefighters. We were very lucky!

To extend our animals unit a little bit farther and learn about the stages of an animal's life cycle and since there are some pretty incredible frogs in Africa, we learned all about the different stages in a frog's life. As scientists we learned that the number of stages in a frog's life cycle depend on the resource you are looking at. Some books say that there are 4 main stages, while others say that there are 6 or 7. While we kept this fact in mind, we looked closely at 5 different stages of a frog's life. The kiddos are very versed with all 5 stages and what occurs in each, but to give a quick review, we discussed these following phases:
1. Egg
2. Tadpole (nicknamed Polliwog)
3. Tadpole with legs
4. Froglet
5. Adult
We played a variety of games and activities connected to this cycle and were able to learn what makes each stage unique. The major difference that the kids really understood was that of the changes between the tadpole with legs and the froglet. In the tadpole with legs phase, the animal is still breathing through gills, but developing lungs and the rear legs appear in this stage. A froglet breaths with lungs, grows front legs, and its tail begins to shrink. Each day the kids were excited to learn more about the life cycle as well as some interesting facts, such as an African Bullfrog can stay in the mud for up to 2 years! Ask one of our frog experts to share more unique and impressive frog facts with you.

Also this week we got to explore with the new iPads! The students did a great job sharing with everyone what it looks like to take care of such a special school material and really treated them carefully. The students had some time to free explore with the different applications. Many took pictures and video, doodled, and began making a couple quick cartoons with Toontastic. Then, as a class we investigated with a math application called MultiTouchMath. This application asks them to solve number sentences and use multiple fingers by pressing either a 1,2,5, or 10. For example, 19-0=? They need to use a combination of those numbers to make 19. They could put one finger on 10, one on 5 and then either 2 fingers on 2 or 4 fingers on one. This is a great way for them to break apart numbers using many different combinations. This will make a fun work place for them during math time!

Lastly, since last week was Fire Prevention Week, we were lucky to have two local firefighters come in and show us their gear and explain to us what to do just in case there is a fire in our home. One of the firefighters put on all of the gear and even turned on his air mask so that we could hear the different sounds it makes to know not to be scared if we ever hear that sound in our house. The kids were fascinated with the many different tools and their uses and asked many really great questions. They also talked about having fire escape plans with your family and to practice what to do, just as we have fire drills here at school. I shared with the kids that if their family did not have a fire escape plan and meeting place, part of their homework was to start that conversation and begin to make a plan. Unfortunately it began to rain and not all of the classes were able to see the fire truck in the parking lot, but the kids were really understanding and just said, "we'll get to next time".

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Wonderful Writers

Introducing the exciting, new Writers Workshop poster! Ta-Da! The kids are loving this tool to keep track of where they are in the writing process. Each student has a name on a square with a piece of velcro on the back and they move their name down the paper as they progress through their writing piece. We have been talking a lot about taking our time while writing to make sure that the story makes sense and is full of detail. When a story has these two things it will be interesting for the reader, whether that be a teacher, someone at home, or a peer here at school. They are always on the look out for these qualities as they are writing their stories.

The kiddos will be able to tell you about the different steps in the process, but to initiate conversation or jog their memories, here is a brief breakdown.

Writing: Working on their writing! They could be working on new piece or going back to an old piece that they feel needs some additional attention.

Conference #1: When they move their names to this section, this means that they have already looked over their own piece for things such as punctuation, capitals, and their best spelling. When they meet with an adult to conference, we look more closely at spelling, (especially the rules of spelling that we have learned or are learning in Fundations) the flow of their story, and where they could add more detail or "spice" up their words. Since I am meeting with one student at a time, while they are waiting to conference with me or another adult in the room, they are working on another piece they have in their writing folders.

Fix Writing: They go back to their writing spots to fix the things that they just went over with an adult.

Conference #2: They come back up to work with me or another adult to make sure they corrected all that they needed to. This is especially important when they are publishing a piece or it is going to be hung on the wall. As we get farther along in the year, this will be a time for them to conference with a peer.

Read to a Friend: Celebrate that you have completed a detailed, well illustrated, and interesting writing piece by reading it to someone in the class or even another class!

Today was the first day that we used this tool and again, it was a huge hit. The students were chatting as they were getting ready to go home about how much they loved writing and how excited they were to do it again tomorrow!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Being Assertive

This week we started to talk more about the social skills program C.A.R.E.S, Cooperation, Assertion, Responsibility, Empathy, and Self-Control. Last year we had really focused on what it means to cooperate with someone and spent a lot of time practicing and playing games about cooperation. This year we have started off with talking about being assertive and what that actually means. Ms. Kini read the book Goggles, by Ezra Jack Keats to introduce the idea and then had the students try and define what it means. I was very surprised when, before modeling what it is or talking about it, they shared these ideas for their definition;
-Getting what you want--(after some discussion this week we have changed this to: getting your needs met when they need to be)
-Standing up for yourself
-Being brave
-Doing something that you really have to do

After this description, Ms. Kini and I put on our acting hats and did a skit to show them a time when someone was not assertive and then the kids made suggestions as to what my character could have said instead. We discussed that saying something mean back to someone is not being assertive, but unkind, and does not fit with our classroom definition. Then they worked with a partner and got the opportunity to act out both characters, the child who said something unkind and the one who was appropriately assertive. It was clear that they loved acting for both roles and when they shared what they had said to be assertive, it was also clear that they understand what it means. Lastly, they drew pictures of examples when they have been assertive or when they could have been assertive so that we can hang them on the wall to remind us when we can use this new skill.
Over the next few weeks, I will be looking for instances of when they are assertive and after each student has used this strategy three times we will have a celebration! Feel free to have them act out a skit with you and share times that they are assertive outside of school as well!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Animals of Africa!

We have started our first science unit on the animals and habitats of Africa. We are lucky enough to have a teacher on our team that took a trip to Southern Africa this summer! The wonderful Ms. Kate lead the "Theme Kick-Off" by showing a beautiful slideshow of many different animals she saw first hand. The students thought it was so neat that she had seen them all and anxiously were asking her questions. There were many "oh's and ah's" heard around the room as pictures of giraffes, hippos, and a newborn elephant appeared on the screen.

To teach the four habitats that we have chosen, we have mixed the classes into four groups that will rotate through each classroom throughout the next month to learn about Africa from each Synergy teacher. We are all teaching a different habitat that we have chosen to focus on and the animals that live there, while we will be focusing more broadly on Africa within our own classrooms as well. I am teaching about the animals that live in the trees and sky, Ms. Kate, about the animals living in the bush, Mrs. Eaton, about the animals in the water, and Ms. Rogers, about termites and underground animals. At each station the kids are getting the opportunity to see videos and pictures of the animals as well as create their own drawings of the habitat. We have been talking quite a bit about predator and prey , as well as camouflage and if the different animals of a certain habitat use that as a defensive strategy or not. To open the discussion of camouflage we showed this video in the link below. It is not of an African animal, but it is such an amazing example, that it couldn't be passed up! The kids loved it and I am sure would love to show you and quiz you to see if you can find it. Wow, is nature spectacular! Camouflage Link

The students have been very intrigued by this unit so far and it has been a blast sharing with them the many animals of the trees and sky. While these are sometimes thought of as not some of the most exciting, because they are not the lions, cheetahs, and elephants that grace Africa's savannah, the kids are enjoying hearing about the Chimpanzees, Gorillas, monkeys and birds that do live in either the savannah or the jungle. It is fun to hear their reasoning about why certain animals can not live in the jungle, but instead in the savannah, and vice versa. My first group shared with me that gorillas would not do well living in the savannah, because it is too dry and they do not have anywhere to hide. I thought to myself, "this is a smart crew, we're going to get a lot done"! Another animal that has made quite a hit is the secretary bird. Ms. Kate got an awesome picture of this bird and shared with us that while she was in Africa the guide told them that the bird got this unique name from the feathers on its head resembling a quill. The students loved this little fact and quickly wanted to know more, always a wonderful thing!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Mini Week Number 2!

Wow! For only just finishing our seventh day of school on Friday, we have already done so much! It has been a very smooth transition back with the benefit of spending all last year together. From the first day, it was very apparent to me that the students had missed one another and were glad to be back together. Without my prompting, they went up to each other and began chatting about their time apart and the fun things they had done. It was great to see how comfortable they still were with each other, despite the separation of a couple of months. With no need for name games, we have jumped right into playing games and activities to help us practice cooperation, explore with the new and improved classroom space, and share about our summer adventures.

On top of their comfort level with one another, it is also apparent to me in other ways that this is our second year together and that this is a class of second graders, the new leaders of our school. During Readers' Choice time, the students have been asking deeper and more meaningful questions while I read a book aloud to them as well as when they are reading independently. When I look around the room during this time, I see students deeply engaged in their books, laughing to themselves and eager to share that story with a friend during partner reading. I have also been hearing many phrases such as, "May I use that marker when you are done with it?" followed by the response, "Sure!". It's very exciting to see these things happening regularly as we have just started out!

Another new and exciting aspect of this year is we have a fun twist to our three main school rules, 1. Be Safe 2. Be Kind and 3. Be Responsible, that were introduced last year. Now every time a student gets caught exhibiting one of these school expectations, they receive a "Warm Buzzy" or even a "Golden Buzzy" if the behavior was seen on the playground. They then add their buzzies into our classroom Honey Jar and when ours is full we have a classroom celebration and add our collection to the big Bee Hive in the front office. When that Bee Hive is full, we have a school wide celebration! The students have been very busy earning both Warm Buzzies and Golden Buzzies and we have already emptied our Honey Jar quite a few times into the Bee Hive in the office. Each time we walk by the students look in to see how many more we need until it is full--we are getting VERY close!

With the new routines of the classroom continuing to be introduced, this upcoming week we will be busy diving back into Bridges, Fundations and beginning our first theme on African Animals!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Welcome Back!

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer Fun

Hi Girls and Boys! I hope that you are all having a wonderful vacation. I can't wait to hear about all that you have been up to! If you want to share with me before we see each other again, feel free to send me an email, I would love to hear about it!
I have been spending a lot of time with friends and family having BBQ's, eating creamees, swimming and riding on my new bike. The picture above is of a camp on a lake that I visit each summer. Whenever I think of a perfect summer day in Vermont, I imagine a sunny day at this camp with my friends and family. We canoed, kayaked, and jumped off a boat in the middle of the lake. Have any of you canoed or kayaked before? It's one of my favorite summer activities. I also took a relaxing break in the hammock with a good book. Have you read a new favorite book this summer? To end the wonderful day we had a campfire and made s'mores. I have also been getting excited for next year and second grade. I stopped in at the school to see how our new classroom space is looking. The project has not started yet, but everything was moved around and it looked quite different. I will take pictures next time to show you!
I found a couple of new fun websites and added them to the blog. One has some fun math games, even a skateboarding game, and the other is a site where you get to create your own Mad Lib by picking nouns, verbs, and adjectives to make a silly story. Check them out on a rainy day and let me know what you think!
I think about you guys all the time and hope that you are just having a great time!

Fun in the Sun!

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Poetry Practice!

I couldn't help but post a couple of little quick clips of the kids practicing their group songs and poems. They have been working so hard for a couple of weeks now and they are all getting excited for the upcoming performance. We hope to see you there to celebrate all of the students' hard work!

Sorting Rocks as Scientists!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Friendly Farmers!

We have begun our final math unit, so hard to believe, on farms! Throughout this integrated unit the students will be using their skills of spatial problem solving, mapping, and computation with money to build a farm with their teammates. The students have really taken to this project and are doing a fabulous job! The class is broken up into four groups with five "farmers" creating a farm together. To kick off the unit we had a discussion about what it means to work on a team and what strategies we may need to use throughout the project. The three C's that have been decided upon as the focus for a successful farm are Cooperation, Communication and Compromise. The first part of this unit that blew me away was how the students immediately used these strategies to come up with the names for their farms; we have The Friend Farm, The Maple Tree Farm, The Greenhouse Farm, and The Animal Farm. When I heard the rich discussion, compromising and problem solving for the names alone, I knew that this was going to be a great unit!
Since that first successful day, the students have begun to purchase land, buildings and animals for their farms. Even though they are working together to design their plot of land, they each have individual wallets to make their purchases with. I have been amazed by the students understanding of money and how to count it. There has been very little hold up as they jump around from counting out 10's, 5's and 1's to make their payments. There has also been an incredible amount of strategizing and team work that has gone into deciding how much land to buy, the number of animals they would like, and where they should be. When purchasing the goats on Friday, I overheard one group discussing that they wanted the goats to have friends so they should buy more than one, but not too many so that they can save money and have space for other animals. There was also quite a bit of discussion about how far away the barn should be from the house, there was quite a concern about how stinky it would be. It is fun to see and hear all that they come up with.
Everyday I hear from at least a few students about how much they are enjoying their time in math and it's easy to see as they all work together!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

It's All About Cooperation!

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Happy April and True Spring!

Yay, the sun is out, bright and warm ( I began this during the gorgeous weekend we had)! Phew, let's hope it is here to stay!

I just wanted to update you on a few things that are new in our classroom. The students have been hard at work with our new math unit about Geometry. We have been talking about the many different 2 and 3-Dimensional shapes and their attributes. The kids are becoming familiar and comfortable using a lot of new vocabulary that comes along with talking about shapes. When they have been counting the different characteristics of a shape, they have been looking at the vertex, edges, and faces. We are noticing that shapes can be congruent, but do not have to be. The students have also been working on making designs out of squares to make quilts and today they glued their patches together and a conversation came up that some patches would look the same no matter which way you rotated them, while others would change. When I presented the question on why this was so, the discussion became about the fact that some designs were symmetrical, while others were not and that those are called asymmetrical. I encourage you to ask your kiddos about these new words and have them share with you what they mean!

The students have also been hard at work on our social studies unit on Community. Our definition of community at the moment is centered around the idea that people work together in a variety of roles and there are different kinds of communities, urban, suburban, and rural. They have been having a great time talking and learning about the many different community helpers that work together to make a successful community. The students got to make their own community helpers and I must say, they were very creative! They came up with many such as Police Officers, Fire Fighters, and EMT's, but also a few that are less typically talked about, such as a librarian, a farmer, a vet and even a plumber! Once they finished making their helpers they got to come up with a name for them and write a bit about them. This was great practice of the revision process and I think the kids even surprised themselves with how much they can write and how great it can look. They then got to design a background for their creations and share them with their peers. Today we picked up from where we left off last week and discussed that now they all have these wonderful community helpers and we know how they help the community, but how do they work together? After a discussion about how Fire Fighters and Police Officers team together and Doctors and Nurses, the students each got a square piece of paper to draw two community helpers working together. Once we are finished painting them we are going to connect them altogether with the first graders working in Ms. St. John's room to make a big Community Quilt. Stay tuned for pictures of this soon-to-be beautiful piece of artwork!

Lastly, today was the kick-off of another new unit on Poetry, connected to our end of the year project, which is a Poetry Jam. Coincidentally enough, April is Poetry Month, which could not tie in more perfectly! We began today by making a chart about all the things we know about poetry and all the things we want to know as we begin this new study. It was interesting to hear that according to the students poems must rhyme and they must be long. They were quite stunned when even just today by reading a few poems we discovered that that is actually not the case. I explained that one of the most unique and fun things about poetry is that it really does not follow any of the writing rules that we have been learning about. Punctuation and capitalization is not a requirement (this was a biggie) and that you can actually make up words! For the next month, we will be reading, reciting, and writing all kinds of different poems. Stay posted as we dive deeper into the wonderfully wacky world of poetry!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Four Big Announcements!

Well we had one busy week as our first full week in what seems like a very long time! The four biggies for this past week were that we finished a math unit, completed our first classroom chapter book, went on a field trip to WCS, and had a sneaky visitor stop by.

The kids have been very hard at work for the last month and a half or so diving into the world of Antarctica and learning math through the study of penguins. Their heights, weights, and fun facts have challenged and surprised us for quite some time and the kids just did a great job finishing up the unit! The students have been making connections throughout the day to the 6 different kinds of penguins we have studying and their unique features. The Rockhopper penguin was many students' favorite with the yellow feathers that stick out from the side of their eyes, followed closely by the Little Blue who is only 16 inches and nicknamed the "Fairy Penguin". The Chinstrap and Gentoo penguins were also enjoyed because of the strap underneath the chin of one (try and guess which) and the white feathers that wrap around the others head. Lastly though, the Emperor and King penguin were talked about probably the most due to their size and interesting behaviors when raising their young. This past week the kids got a chance choose one of the six to design and paint for their own life-size penguins and I must say, they came out fabulously! The students had to measure their heights and draw the penguins in proportion to the rest of their bodies. This is an interesting challenge, as we spend most of our time creating drawings on much smaller paper. I was quite impressed at the accuracy and detail that the students put into their penguins using all of their newly acquired knowledge. They really came out wonderfully and are now on display in Synergy's hallway! After we celebrate the end of the unit with watching a bit of "March of the Penguins", we will be moving onto the wonderful world of two and three-dimensional shapes with a unit on geometry.

On the same day that we finished the study of penguins, we also came to the conclusion of our first classroom chapter book of Ramona! The kids absolutely loved this book and were fabulous listeners, I think if I had dropped a pin, even with the carpeted floors you would be able to hear it. I think that the emotions were mixed as we finished the book, because as they were excited that we wrapped up our first chapter book, they were sad that the Ramona adventures were over. I told them not to worry as we will be starting another chapter book shortly. Stay tuned for which one it is!

Our third big announcement was that we went to go see fifth and sixth graders perform Pinocchio. First of all, wow, the performers did an amazing job! The play was interactive as they sometimes ran throughout the audience and needed our help yelling for the cricket. We also were lucky enough to sit in the front row and Tom actually got to participate by bringing a prop up to the stage, a very exciting moment! One very unique part of the play was that the lead roles rotated with other students, so their were actually four performers for Pinocchio and other parts. It was interesting to hear if the students were aware of this change and why they felt they did it. Many imagined that it must be difficult being on stage for so long so they made need a break. All in all, a very exciting morning and the students were a very respectful audience!

Thursday was quite a fun day that began right off the bat with green everywhere and an Irish accent coming from the fabulous Ms. Kate next door. The morning went along very well and then the most crazy thing happened after lunch. We went into Ms. Kate's room to hear a story and when we came back the students noticed that the Leprechaun must have stopped by because book bins were turned in the wrong direction, their cubbies were all in the wrong spots and he even left a note! We decided that he was just too quick and we were going to try and catch him. The students worked in pairs and had a chance to put their creativity to work as they made either a house or trap to try and catch the Leprechaun. Many students got paper out to start drafting their ideas, while others just got right to work. The teamwork and cooperation that took place was fabulous and they came up with some very interesting inventions. We left them out overnight thinking for sure that he would be coaxed into these cozy creations, but typical to his behavior, he somehow managed to leave just gold chocolate in the traps. How sneaky and clever he is....

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy March!

Well, here we are welcoming a new month after winter break and we get quite the snow storm and TWO snow days! Wow! I hope that everyone is enjoying the glittery snow and spending some extra time with your fabulous first graders!

The first week back was a busy one, with the continuation of the penguin unit in math, forming new reading groups, and celebrating one of our favorite author/illustrator's birthday. In math, the students have been working diligently learning about different penguins, comparing their heights and weights, discussing charts and organizing data, phew! The week began with creating twin mini penguins to later make into a graph. The penguins came out marvelously-the Little Blue was the big hit this time! We then worked to create the graph that has the two twin penguins on an ice floe and each row adds another pair of penguins. The students made excellent observations about the graph and were even able to come up with a generalization!This was the word that we added to our math vocabulary this week. We discussed that it means making a math rule, in this case it was that the number of penguins in a row was always a double of the row number. We also discussed that making generalizations is the highest level of math thinking. This was quite an exciting moment and is one of the next things that we will be focusing after we master justifying our thinking!

We have some new and exciting things taking place during Readers Workshop as well. New reading groups have been made and students are getting a chance to meet and read with different peers. We will continue to go "book shopping" on Mondays for just right books and do classroom book return on Thursdays. In more book news, we began our first classroom chapter book! One of my favorites from elementary school, Ramona the Pest, by Beverly Cleary. The students are loving it and are doing a great job using their imagination to make the pictures for the story in their heads. It's pretty interesting when we do come to a picture how they imagined the characters either similarly or very differently, especially the character Susan with the curls that go "boing" or the teacher Ms. Binney! I encourage you to ask your students about their favorite part in the book or what is happening in the story. I will keep you posted as to when we begin our next book!

Last week was also our first Synergy Spirit Day as well as Dr. Seuss' birthday. We were so excited when we learned that PJ day and the birthday celebration were on the same day that we made green eggs and ham! It was quite a sight to see the students be rather apprehensive to begin with and then mostly dive right in and try it. To their surprise they liked them--just like in the story! I have added Dr. Seuss' website to the list of links on the right hand side of the blog. It's quite a fun site, with both online games and printable ones, have fun!

Coming up this week, we will be making life size penguins in math, so if you are available to come in I could certainly keep you busy! We also will be starting a new social studies unit at the end of the month with Ms. St. John's class on Community. There are fun activities that will be going along with that and extra help would be wonderful if you would like to come in. I will add those times to the volunteer sign up sheet.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The 100th Day!

Boy were we busy on Friday celebrating the 100th day of school! We began the special day by wearing fun glasses and coloring in a flag to show that we are now 100 days smarter. The students also brought in projects having to do with the number of the day and got a chance to show their work to Ms. Kate's students and also take a trip to her classroom to see the many wonderful projects in there as well. After viewing the projects we met in our classroom and made a 100th day gorp with the collection of snacks that the students brought in. As we mixed all the goodies we counted by 100's until all the goldfish, M&Ms, marshmellows and other treats were in the bowl. If I am remembering correctly, I believe we made it up to 2,900 pieces of gorp...wow! After snack, our class and Ms. Kate's class mixed to complete special 100th day activities, such as making a design with 100 pattern blocks, making different groups of numbers that equal 100, measuring 100 unifix cubes, and the tasty station...creating a fruit loop necklace. There was also a challenge to write down as many words as you know and see if you could reach 100 and it was really neat to see the students dive right into it. Above is a video of our exciting morning, stay tuned for some more videos very soon, enjoy!

Monday, January 17, 2011

2011 Begins!

It's a bit belated, but Happy New Year! I hope that everyone had a wonderful break and a fun time ringing in 2011.

We have been busy and back at it here in first grade. Upon returning from vacation we began a new morning responsibility called Daily Language Review (DLR), which was the colorful language packet you saw in last week's Friday Folders. This is something the students work on each morning when they come in, check it with me, and then make their ease-in choice. They have been doing a great job adding this new step into their routine and really enjoy it as well! It is just another thing that reminds me that this group of students love to learn!

There are many new and exciting things that have begun already this year and this week we will be adding a couple more. First of all, I hope that your children have been talking about our new Social Studies Unit called World Wide Research. We are all very excited about it on Synergy because it is a team research project on different countries around the world. The students in our class are partnered up with a second grader from Ms. Rogers' class and will be working together to learn about the culture, history, and lifestyles of different places. The students will be getting most of their information from a great electronic resource through our library called Culturegrams. Unfortunately, it is a licensed program, so the kids can only access the site while at school, but some even chose to look at it during their ease-in time! It was interesting to see which countries were of interest, Japan and China were big, and the final list of countries that our class is studying is quite diverse. They are really diving in and learning many new things, so don't be afraid to ask them about their country of choice!

Another new and exciting unit that will begin tomorrow is in math. We just wrapped up this past unit with a whale chart, similar to the crab and sea star charts we had made, that is helping us count by 2's for the two flukes on each whale. The students had the option of tracing or creating their own whale and I was quite impressed with their colorful sea creatures and all that they had already known about them. For this next unit, we are embarking on a journey to Antartica (tying in nicely with our study of the world) and will be learning about the many different penguins that live there. Through the study of these amazing creatures, we will be investigating with measurement, weight, and size. The students will be receiving an Antartica passport with their height and weight that will help them understand the height and weight of different penguins. As we dive into the many lessons and fun activities encorporated with this month-long study, your child will not only be becoming a stronger mathematician, but a penguin expert as well! Stay tuned for pictures as we begin our trip to the coldest continent and learn about one of the most resilient animals.

Also this week, we will be participating in a "Kindness and Justice Challenge" to practice and live by the words that Martin Luther King Jr. worked so hard for. The students will be learning more about what these words mean and what it looks and sounds like to act them out. It will not only be my responsibility, but the students' as well, to recognize a peer when they see or hear them being kind or acting justly. We will be keeping a basket of tickets to collect these acts and count them up at the end of the week. I encourage you to "catch" these acts at home as well!

After the K&J Challenge, we will resume our work on C.A.R.E.S. This is another new goal of ours that came with the new year. Along with our Opportunity and Success sticks, the students are working together to earn all the letters in the word cares that stand for Cooperation, Assertive, Respect, Empathy, and Self-Control. Currently, every time I witness a student(s) cooperating they earn a check and after each student has earned 3, that means we are a classroom that uses cooperation and we will have a special celenbration. The goal is to spell the word and hang it in our classroom by the end of the year. The students have been doing a great job showing cooperation, so I am feeling that a celebration is not too far away before we move onto our next letter!

Have a great week!