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!

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!