Tuesday, November 25, 2014

We have had a fantastic pajama day here in Room 205!  This morning, we headed out to the school garden to harvest the parsnips.  Once the harvest was complete, we brought them into the classroom to weigh and cook.  We discovered that we had harvested 3 1/2 pounds of parsnips!  We later cooked them in maple syrup...yummy!!  I have a feeling that some children may be requesting maple parsnips in the near future, which I hope is music to your ears!  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving break!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

This morning we visited Mrs. Page-Redmann's classroom for a presentation on Native Americans.  Be sure to ask your child about this wonderful experience!

                           November 20, 2014

Dear Families,
It has been a week of new beginnings here in Room 205 as we have begun to focus on nonfiction in both reading and writing, and begin our unit study on Native Americans.  It has been so energizing to see the excitment in the children as we begin this new learning!
     During Reader’s Workshop, the kids have learned that nonfiction books have features that fiction books typically do not, such as headings, an index, a glossary, bold faced words, labeled diagrams, maps, and captions.  Our minilessons have focused on how to use these features to help navigate a nonfiction text.  The kids have also learned that retelling a nonfiction book can be slightly different from retelling a fiction story.  They learned that nonfiction readers pause quickly and often to think about what they just learned.  The kids practiced stopping and asking themselves, “What have I learned so far?” or “What was that part mostly about?”.  As they read on, they hold this information in their minds.  We began using Post It notes in our nonfiction books to help track our thinking.  This week they were asked to “Stop and Jot” using the sentence frame, “I learned__________.  This makes me think ________”.  
Our Writer’s Workshop has also focused on nonfiction, as the kids are working on creating informational books.  They began by choosing a topic they consider themselves to be an expert on.  I have enjoyed seeing what each child has chosen as their topic.  Their “expert topics” range from dogs, butterflies, and owls, to Disney World, disc golf and baseball!  Be sure to ask your child what they chose as their own expertise.  I have been thrilled with how engaged the kids have been while working in this genre!  
We have begun our unit study on Native Americans during our theme time.  We begin this unit with a focus on the Eastern Woodlands Native Americans.  This includes the Abenaki, Iroquis, and Seminole tribes, to name just a few.  We learned that the Seminole tribe lived in homes called chickees.  A chickee had a thatched roof to keep the rain off, but had open sides to keep cool in the hot weather of Florida.   The Abenaki lived in homes called wigwams.  Wigwams used poles from trees that were bent and tied together to make a dome shaped home.  The outside was covered with bark.  The Iroquios lived in homes called longhouses.  Longhouses were similar to wigwams, but much, much longer.  We concluded that these tribes had very different weather to contend with, so Native Americans developed different types of dwellings to survive in these varied environments.  
Throughout this unit, the children will be working to construct their very own “Native American Museum” that will be filled with artifacts to support their learning.  We will begin adding artifacts to this museum in the coming weeks as we continue to study the Eastern Woodland tribes.  We look forward to sharing our "museums" with you!
                                                                                                Have a wonderful weekend!
                                                                                                Melanie Moll

Friday, November 14, 2014

I want to thank all who were able to join us this afternoon for our first Writing Celebration of the school year!  This group of second graders continues to amaze me!  Their determination to push themselves to build their "narrative writing muscles" is apparent during Writer's Workshop each day.  I was so happy to give them an opportunity to shine as they shared their pieces today.  Thank you for making this afternoon special! 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hello Families,
Can you believe that the end of October is almost upon us?  It sounds like you are all enjoying a wonderful fall, as I have heard many stories of apple picking, camping, celebrating birthdays, and playing lots of soccer!  I love to see the smiling faces coming down the hall each morning, eager to share their adventures with me!  Here is a look at what has been happening in our classroom.
Our Reader’s Workshop minilessons have centered around reading strategies.  Reading Strategies are skills kids can use independently to help figure out unknown words.  I liken reading strategies to tools a person might have in a toolbelt to use for a job.  We discussed how in second grade they have their own “toolbelts”, full of strategies to use independently when reading.   This week, we specifically discussed that skipping the word and reading to the end of the sentence can often help when they are stuck.  They discovered that by skipping the word and using the context clues, often the tricky word will “tumble out of their mouths”.  I also used this as an opportunity to discuss how to “cross check” when reading.  Cross checking is when a child asks themselves, “Does my guess look right?  Does my guess sound right?  Does my guess make sense?” when figuring out a word.  This is quite a complex skill, as it requires a child to use more than one tool to help them solve the word.  They continue to work on integrating strategies when they are stuck.  Be sure to ask your child about their very own “Reading Toolbelt”. 
     During our Reader’s Workshop, the children have also been “posting” during independent reading.  Posting is a way for children to record what they are thinking as they are reading.  When readers monitor their thinking as they read, comprehension deepens.  The children have been choosing from a variety of ways to post each day.  Their choices include the following:  jotting about a character’s feelings (“I think __________ is feeling ___________ because _______________”), jotting to check their understanding (including Who? and What? in the post, followed by “This makes me think...”), and a prediction post (“I think ___________ because ______________”).  They have been working very hard to “leave tracks of their thinking” as they read independently.  
The kids have been working really hard to improve their reading skills.  I am thrilled with their efforts!  I am having a wonderful time listening to them read to me and watching them apply the strategies independently that they are learning in minilessons!  Bravo!
As an extension to an Everyday Math lesson last week that focused on the relationship between multiplication and (repeated) addition, the kids have been hard at work creating Math Monsters.  To create their monster, the kids flipped a card and recorded groups of four based on the number that they flipped.  For example, if a child flipped the number 3, they recorded the fact, 4x3, 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 the spooky activity!  Be sure to check out these wonderful creations in the pictures below.

**  We will be visiting the book fair on Thursday morning, October 23rd.  Your child will have an opportunity to shop for books during this time.

** We will be celebrating all the wonderful choices we have been making in second grade with a pajama day on Friday, October 24th.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Hip!  Hip! Hooray!  We have Painted Lady Butterflies!
     We had the WONDERFUL opportunity to observe two of our Painted Lady Butterflies emerge from their chrysalis' right before our very eyes!  Last Thursday, as we were preparing to begin our day, we noticed the shell of one of the chrysalis' begin to split near the bottom (head end).  We watched as the butterfly reached out with its legs and grasped the outside of the chrysalis. The head appeared, and then the abdomen and wings were pulled free of the chrysalis shell.  We observed as the fresh new butterfly clung to the chrysalis shell with its soft, crumpled wings hanging down.
     Eventually, the butterfly pumped fluid into the veins of the wings, expanding them to their fully extended shape. During this time the butterfly ejected a splat of red liquid.  We learned that this liquid is a waste fluid that the butterfly unloads as it prepares for its new life.
     The children were fascinated as they observed this amazing transformation, as reflected in their fantastic Science Notebook entries that day!
Hello Families,
     Tomorrow, October 7th, our class is heading to Wolfe's Neck State Park for our field trip.  A park ranger will guide us during our visit.  We plan to leave Y.E.S. at 8:45 and return to school by 11:30.
     We recommend that each child bring a large snack and a drink, which they will eat at the park.  They should wear warm clothing, as it is often quite chilly by the water.
     We are looking forward to a great trip!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wow!  We definitely have a class full of budding entomologists!  Monday during our Science block, we took some time to investigate our mealworms.  Our focus question was, "How does the mealworm larvae change as it grows?".  Children were very excited to observe that the mealworms had begun to molt!  We will continue to carefully observe the stages of our mealworm larvae as they eventually develop into darkling beetles.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

We have discovered two more books to add to our "Class Favorites List"...

Yesterday we read the books Spoon and Chopsticks, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.  These books lend themselves nicely to conversation about the "Author's Message", why the author wrote the book.  I was delighted to listen to the kids share their ideas about why Amy Krouse Rosenthal wrote these books.  Through conversation, they were able to determine that Rosenthal probably wrote these books to teach readers that it is our differences that makes each of us special.  I continue to be thrilled with the kids willingness to push themselves to think deeply about the texts we read.  Bravo second graders!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Hello Families,

We are wrapping up another great week here in Room 205! 

We began our first official writing unit during our Writer's Workshop.  This first unit will focus on improving narrative craft (small moment stories) by studying the work of master writers.  This week we looked closely at the books, Owl Moon, The Leaving Morning, and a class favorite, The Night of the Veggie Monster.  Each of these books is a wonderful example of how writers can use details to stretch out an important moment.  After reading these books, our conversation led us to ponder the question, "How did these authors come up with their ideas?".  We learned that many authors get their ideas from everywhere - from things they hear and things they see, from books and songs and newspapers and paintings and conversations–and even from dreams.  The children also learned that many authors carry notepads to jot story ideas as they present themselves.  We decided that we could do the same thing with our Tiny Topic Notepads that came home today.  I was absolutely thrilled to see how quickly the kids began jotting ideas for stories in their notepads.  I am excited to see the kids stretch these ideas into small moment stories!

Tomorrow, Friday, September 19th, is picture day.  Please remember to send in your child's picture envelope.  If you have misplaced it, you can order online at www.mylifetouch.com.

Have a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Hello Families,

I want to thank you all for attending our Open House on Monday.  It was great to have a chance to connect and chat about our school year together.  I am looking forward to a wonderful year!

We have had a terrific first full week here in second grade!  During Reader's Workshop today, the kids worked on creating personal reading goals for themselves.  After reflecting on themselves as readers, they used the following sentence frames to share their thinking:  "I am the kind of reader who is really good at...", and "I think I could improve at...".  It is always so wonderful as a teacher to watch and listen as children reflect upon themselves as learners.  Be sure to ask your child what they chose as their personal reading goal.

The insects have arrived in Room 205!  We certainly have a room full of budding entomologists!  Our focus during these first few lessons will be on the insects' habitat and what they need to survive in their habitat.  We will also be learning how to create a detailed science observation in our Science Notebooks.  The kids will be introduced to a Science Notebook Rubric to help guide their work.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Open House

Hello Second Grade Friends,
     I am really looking forward to our Open House this Thursday, August 28 from 9:30-10:30.  I can't wait to meet you all!  Please feel free to bring your school supplies with you to the classroom.  I will have you put some of your things in your desk and a few things will be shared with the class.
                                                                                                                       Your Friend,
                                                                                                                       Mrs. Moll