Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Math Monsters in Room 208!

     As an extension to several Everyday Math lessons that have focused on skip counting, doubles facts and touched on the relationship between multiplication and (repeated) addition, the kids have been hard at work creating Math Monsters.  To create their monsters, the kids flipped a card and recorded groups of four based on the number they flipped.  For example, if a child flipped the number 3, they recorded the fact, 3x4, and then recorded 3 groups of four.  They solved the fact by using repeated addition, 4+4+4=12.  Finally, the kids looked on the class Math Monster poster to determine what body part to add to their very own monster.  It was so exciting to see how completely engaged the kids were in this spooky activity!  Be sure to check out these wonderful creations displayed in our classroom, and on Seesaw!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Reading Workshop

     The kids are reading up a storm here in the classroom!  Each day, we begin Reader's Workshop with a minilesson that instructs around a skill the children can draw upon when working independently.  I am continuously impressed by the kids ability to immediately apply these newly learned skills to their own work.
     Our first reading unit is divided into three parts: Taking Charge of our Reading; Working Hard to Solve Tricky Words; and Paying Close Attention to Authors.  We recently wrapped up the first "bend" of this unit, "Taking Charge of our Reading".  In this bend, children learned that growing up doesn't just mean getting taller, it also means growing to be stronger readers.  As second grade readers, they get to make lots of decisions about their reading, such as how their reading will sound, how much they will read, and how to make sure their reading makes sense (that reading is thinking).
     Our minilessons have focused on taking charge of our reading by choosing what to read (book shopping) and by deciding how the books we choose want to be read.  The kids learned that when second graders preview a book, they think, "How does this book want to be read?"  Is this a funny book?  A sad, serious book?  The children learned that by studying the cover carefully, reading the back blurb, and by exploring the table of contents, they are able to predict what the characters might want, what might get in the way, and how the problem might be solved.  Learning to preview in encompassing ways now will help lay the groundwork for the larger thinking of synthesizing later in the year.
     Our beginning of the year literacy assessments are complete and I am using this valuable information to create a reading goal with each student.  I have begun meeting with children one-on-one for goals conferences.  During these conferences, I begin by talking with each child about how they are feeling about themselves as a reader.  I next share the things I notice that the child is doing well in their reading - strengths.  We end the conference by working collaboratively to establish their first reading goal of the school year, a skill that will help the child grow stronger in their reading.  I will use these goals to individualize instruction moving forward, as I plan for strategy groups.  I plan to complete these conferences by the end of the week.  Be sure to ask your child about their own personal reading goal!

Monday, September 24, 2018

A Special Science Guest!

The kids were treated to a special science lesson compliments of local scientist, Debbie Landry, this afternoon.  Mrs. Landry guided the children through a hands-on learning lab, where they learned about the parts of a flower and pollination.  Be sure to ask your child about this very fun science experience!













Saturday, September 22, 2018

A Visit to our Y.E.S. Garden

   During science, we are learning that an ecosystem is a community of both living and nonliving things that work together.  We discussed a variety of ecosystems that exist in the world, including forest, ocean, desert, and rainforest ecosystems.  I used this discussion as an opportunity to introduce the ecosystem that exists in our own backyard, the Y.E.S. Garden.  The kids discovered that our garden community consists of many living things, such as ants, butterflies, caterpillars, and plants, as well as many nonliving things, such as soil, water, a fence, and rocks.
     Our observations in the garden led to a wonderful discussion about symbiosis.  Symbiosis is the relationship between two different living things.  These AMAZING second grade scientists discovered that symbiosis exists in our Y.E.S. Garden...both the good and the bad!  They observed several small insects feasting on their favorite leaves.   The kids determined that this was an example of a bad symbiotic relationship (parasitism).  They also were able to observe an example of a positive symbiotic relationship (mutualism), as they watched a bee pollinating a sunflower.        
     I was truly impressed with the kids' focus and enthusiasm in our first garden observation, and am thrilled with the detailed sketches and scientific thinking they included in their Science Notebooks.







A few class pictures from the garden: 

Smiling Second Graders...




Silly Second Graders...








Surprised Second Graders...














Friday, September 21, 2018

A Growth Mindset - Flexibility

  We continue to work on building a classroom culture that fosters a growth mindset here in Room 208.  As you may recall from an earlier post, mindset is an idea credited to Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck after many years of researching achievement and success.  By definition, if you have a growth mindset, you believe that your skills, habits, and abilities are growing and changing and can improve with effort.  In contrast, a fixed mindset is defined as having the belief that your abilities are already set, or fixed.
     A few weeks back, I introduced our first trait that supports a growth mindset, optimism.  The kids are living this trait daily both in their work and play.  It warms my heart to hear them chatting with one another about their own moments of optimism when attempting a new math strategy, or trying something new on the playground.  Music to my ears!
     I recently introduced a second trait that supports a growth mindset, flexibility.  Using the book, The Most Magnificant Thing, by Ashley Spires, the children learned that flexibility is seeing and trying many possible actions within a task.  In this story, the main character decides that she is going to make the most magnificent thing. She knows exactly how it will look and work.  Unfortunately, making her magnificent thing isn't so easy, and the girl repeatedly tries and fails.  She eventually manages to get it just right.  After reading this book, I introduced a "second grade friendly" definition of flexibility: when one thing doesn't work, you try a different way
     I continue to be awed by the ways the kids are showing both optimism and flexibility here in our classroom community.




Friday, September 14, 2018

Sensational Scientists!

     We have officially immersed ourselves in the first theme unit of our year and the kids enthusiasm for all things science just might be contagious!  We will spend lots of time exploring the Y.E.S. Garden throughout this first unit, as we learn about biodiversity and species relationships, right in our own backyard!
     We began this unit with a discussion around the two questions, "What is Science?" and "What is a Scientist?".  After reading the book, What is Science?, by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, we concluded that science can be the study of plants, animals, the weather, and chemistry, among many others things, but most of all, science is about being curious and learning from our curiosities. 
     We then began to focus on all the different types of scientists there are in the world.  I shared a PowerPoint with the kids to highlight the numerous opportunities that exist within this field.  The kids chose the scientist that interested them most (zoologist, doctor, botanist, marine biologist, etc.) to illustrate and write about in their first Science Notebook entry.  Wow!  Do we have a classroom full of curious scientists!  I was especially thrilled to see the kids seeking out books to learn more about their favorite type of scientist. 
     The children have also spent time becoming budding botanists, as they observed sunflowers.  I used this as an opportunity to discuss what it means to be an "Artist-Scientist".  We discussed that "Artist-Scientists" slow down their eyes to be sure to include all the important details in their sketch.
Using our new microscopes and classroom hand lenses, the kids illustrated the different parts of the flower they observed.  I was thrilled to see the incredible details the kids included in their Science Notebooks, and especially excited to see them "push their thinking" by adding labels and sentences to describe what they observed.  The kids should be extremely proud of their wonderful work!
     We plan to head out to the YES garden next week.  Check back for information about this next science adventure!









Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Building Classroom Community with a Growth Mindset

     Throughout our school year, I plan to introduce the kids to a variety of habits, or traits, that support a growth mindset.  These traits will become a central theme as we navigate second grade together.  Mindset is an idea credited to Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck after many years of researching achievement and success.  By definition, if you have a growth mindset, you believe that your skills, habits, and abilities are growing and changing and can improve with effort.  In contrast, a fixed mindset is defined as having the belief that your abilities are already set, or fixed.
     Last week, I introduced optimism, the first of the five traits or habits that we will focus on throughout the year in cultivating a growth mindset.  I began by reading the book, Elephants Cannot Dance!, by Mo Willems.  In this book, Piggie invites Gerald to dance.  Gerald, who is convinced that he cannot, decides to give it a go nonetheless.  In the end, Gerald realizes that he actually can dance, he just needed to give it a try.  I used this as a springboard to share our (second grade) definition of optimism, "When you do something new, you think, 'I can try', and give it your best effort because that's how you grow."  I was thrilled to hear the children immediately connecting with this new word, sharing ways that just like Gerald, they have been optimistic too.  One classmate shared that he was optimistic when he tried Gaga Ball.  Another friend shared that she was optimistic when she was swimming in the "big pool" at the YMCA.  Needless to say, this was music to my ears!  I concluded this lesson by sharing with the kids that we are going to keep our eyes open this year for when we see or feel optimism both in our classroom and in the whole world.
    In the coming weeks I plan to introduce flexibility and empathy, two additional traits that help support a growth mindset.