Friday, January 5, 2018

Nonfiction Writing

     We are immersed in nonfiction during Writer's Workshop and the kids' enthusiasm is certainly contagious!  The children are bursting at the seams, eager to share their areas of expertise as they craft nonfiction books.
     I began this writing unit by directing the kids' attention to the nonfiction section of our classroom library.  I pointed out that none of "their" nonfiction books could be found on the shelves and that the only way to fix this problem was to begin writing nonfiction of their own.  I used this as a springboard to encourage the children to choose nonfiction topics on which they are already an expert, and with some scaffolding, the writing began!
     During the second minilesson, the kids each chose one nonfiction book from their book box to use as a tool to study another nonfiction author, noticing the interesting things they do to teach the reader.  The kids quickly noticed many interesting ways to teach a reader about a topic, including the use of diagrams, using a table of contents, including a glossary and bold faced words, and including fun fact bubbles.  I encouraged the students to use these ideas, to borrow these "craft moves" in their own nonfiction writing.  I was absolutely amazed at how quickly the kids were able to include these sophisticated text features in their own pieces!
     After several days of crafting nonfiction books, I introduced the Information Writing Checklist to the children.  This is a wonderful tool that teaches the kids to reflect on the nonfiction writing they have completed and to set a goal for themselves moving forward.  During this lesson, each student created a nonfiction writing goal and created a plan in reaching their goal.  Be sure to ask your child about their personal writing goal.
      The kids have already begun to fill our "Room 208 Nonfiction Authors" book bucket that now resides in our classroom library.  This is a bin that kids are able to "shop" from during Reader's Workshop, as a way to share their work with one another.  I am thrilled to see the excitement and enthusiasm around this new addition to our nonfiction classroom books!

                                                        Information Writing Checklist


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Snowman Math

     The kids have been busy "building" snowmen during our math time.  This project allowed the children to see the connection between repeated addition and multiplication.  The kids used playing cards and their great math thinking to create a snowman.  They flipped a card and recorded groups of three based on the number they flipped.  For example, if a child flipped the number 5, they recorded the fact, 5x3, and then recorded five groups of three.  They solved the fact by using repeated addition, 3+3+3+3+3=15.  Finally, the kids used the class snowman poster to determine what body part to add to their very own snowman.  The children were extremely engaged in this activity as they worked to see how many turns it would take to complete their snowman.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Nonfiction Reading

     We recently launched our nonfiction unit during Reader's Workshop.  To begin this unit of study, I filled our meeting area with a variety of items, including a globe, a rocks/minerals collection, a human ear model, a microscope, and a photograph of "long ago" Yarmouth.  I shared that to begin this brand new reading unit, their job was to "read" our meeting area.   I encouraged the children to "read" whatever they saw in our meeting area that might tell them about our upcoming unit, to study the details and then put these details together to grow their knowledge of what the unit will be about.  The classroom was brimming with excitement as the kids became detectives, collecting information to solve the mystery of our next reading unit.
     Throughout the first several minilessons,  I have used charts, photographs, and diagrams to encourage the children to do the important work that nonfiction readers do: pay attention to details, and put parts of the text together in their minds.  I shared that readers of nonfiction books do an "extra-brainy, intense kind of thinking"; that nonfiction readers pay attention to details and think, 'How can I put together what I'm seeing to grow my knowledge of this topic?'.
     During these first few minilessons, the kids became fascinated with photos of "long ago" Yarmouth.  I used this as an opportunity to extend their learning with an activity that quickly became a big hit!  Each morning, I posted a historic photograph of Yarmouth on the whiteboard.  I encouraged the kids to pay close attention to the details in the photograph to grow their knowledge about the town of Yarmouth.  On the following day, I posted a present day photo of the same location, with the help of the Yarmouth Historical Society website.  The kids were extremely engaged in this activity, pushing one another to collect many details to grow their knowledge.  Be sure to ask your child what they learned about the Village Florist on Main Street...and what this building was once used for.
     We will continue with our nonfiction unit for the next several weeks, focusing on how to best use text features in nonfiction books to learn more about the topic.
     I am currently in the process of assessing and updating each student's reading goal set earlier in the school year.  Your child's new goal will reflect the work we are doing with nonfiction texts and will focus on strengthening his/her skill set in this genre.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Small Moment Stories

     As some of you may have already noticed on Friday afternoon, children have begun posting their "published" Small Moment story into their SeeSaw portfolio.  Over the course of the coming week, every child will have an opportunity to add their story to SeeSaw. 
     Each student selected one story written during our Personal Narrative writing unit to "fix and fancy" up, and eventually publish.  This involved working to edit their piece for both content and mechanics, adding and correcting when necessary.  During this time, they conferenced with both myself and a partner for feedback, working to create a piece that reflected their very best work.
     Once editing was complete, the children began to practice reading their piece fluently, showcasing their "talking reading voice."  The kids are now working on recording this writing piece and posting it into their SeeSaw portfolio. 
     The children should be very proud of their finished products, as they worked extremely hard to: create a beginning that hooked the reader; add details to help the reader make a picture in their mind; show not tell ("a smile spread across my face," instead of "I was happy"); provide a sense of closure in their ending; use appropriate capitals and punctuation; and apply what they have learned during word work time to their everyday writing.
     We are looking forward to beginning our next writing unit later this week, which will focus on nonfiction writing.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

STEM Challenge - Take Two!

     Our classroom was brimming with excitement once again this morning, as the kids tackled their second STEM challenge of the school year.  As with the first challenge, the children worked with a partner to design, build, test and evaluate their solution to a problem as they became "Engineer Scientists".
     We began the lesson by reading the book, Pilgrims of Plymouth, by Susan B. Goodman.  This led to a fabulous discussion about Thanksgiving, Pilgrims, Native Americans, and the Mayflower.  We learned that the Mayflower sailed to America in 1620, carrying 102 passengers, cargo, and crew.  Originally another ship, named the Speedwell, was intended to sail along with the Mayflower.  Sadly, the Speedwell was leaking, and therefore was deemed unseaworthy.  The passengers and cargo from the Speedwell were transferred to the Mayflower.  The Mayflower had to withstand fierce weather on the ocean, but also carry the weight of the additional passengers and cargo from the Speedwell.
    This was a wonderful lead into "the problem" the children would be charged with solving.  I told the kids they had been commissioned to built a boat to replace the Speedwell on the voyage to America.  They were going to become boat builders, working to build the Speedwell II.  They would need to work with a partner using the provided materials to build a strong, sturdy boat that could hold lots of cargo and passengers.  Once construction was complete, each partnership would test their boat's strength by floating it in a tub of water and loading cargo bit by bit (pennies).
     The kids were given the following materials and 30 minutes to construct their Speedwell II.
                   Materials:  10 Wikki Stix, 10 Popsicle Sticks, 5 Post It Notes, 5 Toothpicks, 5 Beads,
                                     1 Piece of Tin Foil
     We concluded this lesson by discussing why some boats held more pennies than others.  We "pushed our thinking" by looking carefully at the structure of the boats that were able to hold many pennies and discussed what was unique about these designs.  
    Each child posted both their drawn design and model to their SeeSaw portfolio.  Be sure to ask your child about the Speedwell II they created as they became a second grade engineer.  

                                                      Imagining, Planning and Designing...





Friday, November 17, 2017

Celebrating Reading...and Monarchs!

     What a great day we have had here in second grade!  This morning we wrapped up our first reading unit by celebrating ALL the wonderful things we are doing in our books.  As we reflected on the anchor charts we created over the past couple of months, we quickly realized that our "reading muscles" have grown immensely since the start of second grade!  During today's minilesson, the children used the following sentence frame to share how their own reading has grown since September: "I used to be the kind of reader who _____________________, but now I __________________________."  I was absolutely thrilled with the level of reflection the students showed as they thought about themselves as readers.  Please check out your child's recent post on Seesaw to see how they chose to complete this sentence. 

     After our minilesson, each child was paired with a reader from Miss Davis' class for some buddy reading.  All the children enjoyed this special time with their new reading friend!  After we finished buddy reading, Miss Davis shared a VERY funny book in a "double class" read aloud.  Be sure to ask your child all about this hysterical story!

     We ended the morning with a short dance honor of the monarchs, who have officially "reached their destination"!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

World Diabetes Day

Wearing blue to support our dear friend Ruby on World Diabetes Day...