Monday, December 14, 2015

New Beginnings...

     It has been the start of new beginnings here in Room 208, as we have begun to focus on nonfiction in both reading and writing, in addition to our unit study on Native Americans.  It has been so energizing to see the excitement in the children as we begin this new learning!  

     During Reader’s Workshop, the kids are learning 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.  In the coming weeks, instruction will focus on retelling a nonfiction book and how it can vary slightly from retelling a fiction story.  I will encourage the kids to pause quickly and often to think about what they just learned.  The kids will practice 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.  Eventually, we will use Post It notes in our nonfiction books to help track our thinking using the sentence frame, “I learned__________.  This makes me think ________”.  I am thrilled with the enthusiasm the kids are already showing as they immerse themselves in nonfiction! 

Our Writer’s Workshop has also begun to focus on nonfiction, as the kids are working on creating informational books.  They began today by choosing topics they consider themselves to be experts on.  I enjoyed seeing what each child chose for topics.  Their “expert topics” range from dogs, soccer, and karate, to school, skiing and Maine!  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 Woodland 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!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

A Special Guest

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!










Monday, December 7, 2015

Our Writing Celebration

     Thank you all very much for taking time out of your busy schedules to join us for our Writing Celebration on Friday.  The kids were all very excited to share their learning with an audience!
     We have begun to immerse ourselves in nonfiction, both in reading and writing, here in the classroom this week.  We have also begun our study of Native American tribes.  Please check back soon for more detailed information. 











Thursday, November 19, 2015

Math Games Galore!

     The kids had an opportunity to play several math games this week to help reinforce a variety of skills.  These skills included fact automaticity and addition/subtraction fact strategies we have been working on during daily instruction.
     On Tuesday, we traveled to the Computer Lab where Mrs. Wolinsky introduced the math game Big Brainz.  Big Brainz was an instant hit!  This game helps kids master their core math facts, while differentiating content to meet the needs of each individual student.  Many students asked about the possibility of playing this game at home.  I have included instructions for playing Big Brainz at home below.
     The kids are also enjoying the card game Name That Number.  I have included the directions for this game below as well.  The kids have discovered this game provides excellent opportunities to "push their math thinking"!  Name That Number is also available as an app.


Big Brainz:
file:///Users/melaniemoll/Desktop/BigBrainz%20Home%20Use%20Letter.pdf

Name that Number:
http://everydaymath.uchicago.edu/about/understanding-em/games/name-that-number.html

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Mark your Calendars - Our First Writing Celebration

    We are very excited to announce our first Second Grade Writing Celebration in Room 208!  We would like to invite you to our classroom on Friday, December 4th, 2015 at 1:00 to join us in this celebration.  We have spent the past several weeks learning the craft of narrative writing under the guidance of some of the best children’s book authors.  We look forward to sharing our work with you on the 4th!
                     

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Monarch Migration

Great News!  The monarchs have reached their destination!  Please follow the link below to read about their arrival at the winter sanctuary in Mexico.

http://www.learner.org/jnorth/monarch/fall2015/monarch-butterfly-migration110315.html

A Peek at Word Work and Spelling in Room #208

     We have certainly found our groove during spelling and word work time!  Each afternoon I am delighted to hear the kids cheer when I announce it is time for word work/spelling!  The kids are incredibly focused as they work both independently and in small groups to build their spelling and letter/sound knowledge.  Their hard work is certainly paying off, as I have already seen significant gains in their daily writing.  Bravo! 
     Throughout the week, the kids practice both high frequency words (Rebecca Sitton Spelling) and   letter/sound patterns (Words Their Way) based specifically on individual needs.  I meet with small groups to provide instruction on letter/sound patterns.  We call these groups "Word Work Groups".  These groups work on teacher guided activities over the course of a two week period.

     Please take a look at word work/spelling in our classroom...

     As you are aware, the kids are introduced to new spelling words each week.  The kids typically participate in a couple of activities that focus specifically on these high frequency words, and then select an activity from the Spelling Menu.  The Spelling Menu currently includes the following choices:  1. Stamping your Words.   2. "Writing" your words with a Q-Tip onto the surface of a tightly sealed ZipLoc Bag filled with paint.   3.  Writing your words on a Spelling Grid.  4. Practicing your words with a triple tip Crayola Marker.  5. Writing your words with Crayola Gel Markers (that have a very cool effect when used on dark paper).  These menu choices change slightly every few weeks.


                                                         Menu Choice - Paint in a Bag                                         


                                                    
                                                           Menu Choice - Gel Markers



                                                       Menu Choice - Letter Stamps


                                                Menu Choice -Triple Tip Crayola Markers


Word Work Component (Words Their Way)

1.  The kids are introduced to a letter/sound pattern during small group instruction.  The children participate in a word sort that will help them practice their specific pattern. 


            A completed sort after small group instruction.                 Practicing the letter/sound pattern
                                                                                                        independently.





                                                          Working on a word sort.


2.  The kids participate in a Build and Blend activity based on the letter/sound pattern they are currently working on.  This instruction is provided in a small group setting.  We work together to combine onsets and rimes.  The "onset" is the initial phonological unit of any word (ex.: c in cat) and the term "rime" refers to the string of letters that follow, usually a vowel and final consonants (ex.: "at" in cat).  

                                              Build and Blend - working in a small group.

                              
                                               Working independently on Build and Blend.


                                                                    Build and Blend


3.  The kids glue their word sort to a sorting page and add it to their portfolio.

I plan to mix the Word Work activities up slightly throughout the year to keep the work fresh and the kids engaged.                          




















Thursday, October 15, 2015

Literacy

     We have been busy reading and writing up a storm in Room #208!  Each day, we begin both Reader's and Writer's Workshops 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 taught skills to their own work.
     During our Reader’s Workshop, the children have begun “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.  In a recent minilesson, we discussed the importance of getting to know the characters in our books.  One way we can get to know our characters is by closely watching the character's feelings.  We learned that characters in our books often show strong feelings, and when this happens we should stop and jot about what we notice.  The kids have worked diligently to not only jot about these feelings, but also provide evidence to support their thinking using the following sentence frame:  "I think _____________ is feeling ___________ because __________________".  For example:  "I think Poppleton is feeling frustrated because Cherry Sue keeps asking him to come over for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and he wants to just stay home.  Poppleton sprayed her with the hose."  I have been thrilled with the kids ability to "push their thinking" by including more than one piece of evidence to support their thinking.
     During Writer's Workshop, we continue to create Personal Narratives, also known as Small Moment Stories.  In today's minilesson, we focused on how to satisfy our readers with a great ending.  I began by sharing four examples of story endings written by second grade students.  Examples included:  1.  All the way back to the car, the pumpkins were bumping in the wagon and I was thinking of what I would carve on mine.  2. We kept going down the hill even when our socks got wet!  I wondered if my brother was having as much fun as I was on this snowy day.  3. I licked the marshmallow goo off my sticky fingers, as I felt the last flames of the campfire warming my cheeks.  4. I opened my eyes and smiled at John. We both giggled, thinking about all the fun we had had at our sleepover.  I challenged the kids to find a pattern among the four endings.  The kids discovered that each ending stated the last thing that happened in the small moment, and then shared what the author was feeling or thinking at that moment.    We coined this, "The secret recipe to a great ending"!  I was THRILLED with how quickly the children followed this secret recipe to create their very own satisfying conclusions! 
     





Friday, October 9, 2015

Our Thursday Morning Meeting

Dear Families,
    Yesterday morning we had special visitors during our Morning Meeting.  Maya’s mom and dad, Mr. and Mrs. Advani joined us to share information about our classmate Maya.   They read the story,  A Bad Case of the Stripes, an engaging book that explores the risks of trying to be like everyone else and learning to respect and accept differences in others.
    The book helped spark a discussion around this very topic.  Mrs. Advani shared that we all have things that make us different and unique, ranging from singing talents to being funny.  She shared that just like all children, Maya has things that make her unique, and that one of the great things about Maya is that she’s herself, not matter what.  Mr. and Mrs. Advani did a wonderful job of sharing ways that we can be a good friend to Maya in our classroom and school community. 
    Thank you to both Mr. and Mrs. Advani for sharing in our Morning Meeting.

                                                                                                                            Sincerely,
                                                                                                                            Mrs. Moll

Friday, October 2, 2015

Journey North

     What an exciting day we had in Room 208!  During our science/social studies lesson this morning, we learned what it means to be an ambassador.  The kids discovered that an ambassador is a goodwill representative or messenger.  The role of an ambassador is to cultivate friendship and build cooperation.  In keeping with our Garden Ecosystem and Butterfly theme, students worked together to design and create a Class Symbolic Butterfly that will travel to Mexico as an ambassador.  We brainstormed the types of things we could include on our butterfly to teach children in Mexico about life in Maine.  The kids ideas included pine trees, lobsters, lighthouses, snow, skiing, the American flag, and also monarchs and milkweed.  Please see our final product below.  Next week, we plan to mail this package off to school children in Mexico who live directly beside the monarch winter sanctuaries.
     We also used the Journey North website today to report a monarch sighting here in Yarmouth.  A family in our class sent pictures of three monarch butterflies enjoying the flower garden in their backyard yesterday morning.  We used this as an opportunity to "report a sighting" that would be added to the nationwide map used to track migration.  Together, we drafted the report and were extremely excited when the sighting "went live" after lunch.  I have included the link to this map here:  http://www.learner.org/jnorth/maps/monarch_all_fall2015.html.  I am truly enjoying the enthusiasm the kids have for learning!  I am so lucky to be their teacher! 

In other news, we completed our "Goal Setting Conferences" during Reader's Workshop today.  Be sure to ask your child about their first reading goal as a second grader.  I plan to begin working with reading groups next week.  Please check back for more details.

Have a wonderful weekend!



Dear Families,
    
     In a unique partnership, this fall our class is joining students and scientists across North America to track the monarch butterfly's migration to Mexico. As the migration progresses from September to November, students will learn about migration mysteries. They'll discover that a fragile butterfly can travel hundreds of miles to find its winter home deep in central Mexico. Students will witness how monarchs connect people across North America as they migrate across international borders.
Our Class Will Travel With The Monarchs

Our class is tracking the migration online and we invite you to join us. JOURNEY NORTH/SOUTH is an educational website that engages students in a global study of wildlife migration and seasonal changes.
Our Class Will Send an Ambassador Monarch to Mexico
Today, our class made symbolic monarch butterflies to send to the children in Mexico who live beside the monarch's winter sanctuaries. The symbolic butterflies build bridges of communication between children across North America, and serve as ambassadors that represent our shared interests and common conservation goals.
Join the Journey!
Here’s how you can join our journey and support your child’s learning:
    • Tour Journey North online at www.learner.org/jnorth/monarch/index.html
    • Watch for migrating monarchs: Be citizen scientists by observing and reporting your
       sightings of monarch butterflies.
    • Learn More: Read booklets or view slideshows about monarch butterflies with your child on the
       Journey North website.
Thank you for your continued support. If you have any questions, please feel free to call or email.

Yours respectfully,
Melanie Moll

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Reminder
Our Second Grade Open House is scheduled for Monday, September 21st from 6:00-7:00.
I hope you all can join us!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

One Great Group of Scientists!

     This week we began our first 2nd Grade Science Unit.  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!
     This afternoon, the children had an opportunity to become budding botanists, as they observed sunflowers from our garden.  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.  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!






Friday, September 11, 2015

What books are in your "Shelfie"?

     Our classroom has been abuzz with book conversations this past week, as kids have been highly engaged in sharing their "Shelfie" with peers.  I couldn't help but smile, as the kids excitedly made connections with one another around books...a teacher's dream! 
     During each of our "Shelfie" days, the kids displayed their books on their desks, similar to a book fair, and students browsed through one another's choices.  On the first day, I encouraged the kids to make connections verbally with their peers, using language such as, "I noticed that ___________ likes _____________.  This makes me think_______", "I made a connection with _______________.  She/He likes __________________ and so do I!", and "I learned that ______________.  I wonder _______________.".  
     On our second day, the kids were each given a Post It note to leave on a classmate's "Shelfie", jotting what they noticed using the sentence frames/language from the previous day.  They circulated, Post It note in hand, with one stipulation.  There could only be one Post It note for each "Shelfie".  This guaranteed that each child would receive a note from a classmate.
      I want to thank you all for helping your child select books that were meaningful to them for our classroom "Shelfie" project.  This project would not have been a success without your help.  Thank you!








Hopes and Dreams for Second Grade

     What a wonderful first week!  It has been a pleasure getting to know your children.  Their passion for learning and kindness towards one another is heartwarming.  I thank each of you for sharing your child with me.
     This afternoon we completed our "Hopes and Dreams for Second Grade" project.  Yesterday we began a discussion around the question, "Why do we come to school?".  The kids came up with a variety of ideas, including: "to meet and make new friends", "to build our math muscles", "to learn how to be a good friend", "to read lots of books", and "to learn about science", among many others.  This conversation then evolved into a discussion about our goals, Our Hopes and Dreams, as second graders.  The children recorded their Hopes and Dreams on a speech bubble, using the sentence frame, "I hope to...".  Today, the kids created a paper face using paint, yarn, and markers to display with their speech bubble.  Be sure to ask your child about their own personal hopes and dreams for second grade.  Please feel free to stop by our classroom and take a peek at this great artwork on display.






Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Important Information

Dear Families,
I wanted to make you all aware that we have a student in our classroom this year with Type 1 Diabetes.  Her name is Lucia Littlefield.  This morning Lucia’s mom, Kristin Littlefield, visited our classroom.  She shared the children’s book, I Have Diabetes, to help the children better understand this disease.  Kristin also discussed the “cool gadgets” that Lucia wears to help monitor her diabetes.  She explained and demonstrated for the children how these “gadgets” will  sometimes make noise.  We discussed with the children that one way we can be a good friend to Lucia is by telling an adult immediately if they hear these noises.  This will help keep our friend Lucia safe and healthy. 
    Curiosity and wonder is a natural part of a child’s development, as I am sure some of you may find yourself answering questions about Type 1 Diabetes in the coming weeks.  Please feel free to contact myself or our school nurse if we can help in any way, as it is important to be sensitive of Lucia’s feelings as questions arise.

                                                                                                                              Sincerely,
                                                                                                                              Melanie Moll
Our "Getting to Know You" activity...






Lunchtime...



Our First Day

Dear Families,
    We had a wonderful first day in second grade!  I am truly amazed at how quickly the children have fallen back into the routine of school.  We participated in a variety of “getting to know one another” activities today, as we will continue to do throughout this first week.
    A class favorite today was an activity called,  “Getting to Know You”.  In this activity, the kids began by answering and recording a variety of questions about themselves, such as their favorite color, favorite food, how many letters in their first name, as well as many others.  Once we gathered our information, the game began.  The kids were challenged with finding classmates that matched their own choices.  For example, if Reed’s favorite color was blue, he needed to find a classmate who also chose blue as their favorite color.  This classmate would then write their initials next to this question on Reed’s paper.  A classmate could only initial a paper once.  This turned out to be an extremely engaging activity for the kids, as we learned many new things about one another.
     The children should be very proud of themselves, as they worked hard throughout the day and consistently made great choices.  Bravo!  I look forward to seeing you all tomorrow!

                                                                                                                   Sincerely,
                                                                                                                   Melanie Moll


















                            

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Welcome to Second Grade!

Welcome to Second Grade!

I hope you are all enjoying these last few moments of summer vacation.  I am looking forward to hearing all about your summer adventures when school begins on September 8th!  

Our Open House is scheduled for this Thursday, September 3rd, from 9:30-10:30.  Our classroom is Room #208. I will have a scavenger hunt for you to complete with your family to help get acquainted with our classroom.  I am excited to meet you all!  

Below I have included our class supply list.  Please feel free to bring your supplies to our Open House on Thursday, or on our first day of school.

* 1 pair of inexpensive earbuds/headphone
* 1 large plastic pencil box
* 2 dozen #2 Ticonderoga pencils
* 6 glue sticks
* 1 black dry erase marker
* 1 package (24) colored pencils
* 1 package (24) crayons
* 1 package washable markers
* 1 highlighter
* 1 plastic pocket folder (sturdy)
* 1 white (2-inch) binder w/plastic insert covering
* 1 package 5-tab writable dividers (for 3 ring binder)
* 1 package 4" x 4" lined Post-It notes
* Time for Kids envelope ($5.00 enclosed)

Enjoy this last week of vacation!  We will see each other soon.

Sincerely,
Mrs. Moll

 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Learning Celebration Reminder
 
Hello Families,
We are REALLY looking forward to sharing our second grade learning with you!  Our Learning Celebration is scheduled for tomorrow, June 9th from 9:00-10:00.  Please join us in our classroom for a Portfolio Share, Reader's Theater performance, and an end of the year slideshow. 
Please do not hesitate to call or email if you have any questions.
See you soon!
Melanie Moll

Friday, May 29, 2015

Dear Families,
    As the end of our school year draws closer, I have a few more updates.  Please see below for details.

 On Wednesday, June 10th, we are planning to have a Read-a-thon in the morning, and watch a movie in the afternoon.  The kids have worked hard to earn these special activities!  I invite children to bring in a pillow, sleeping bag or blanket, a favorite stuffed animal, and any books they would like to enjoy on this day.

 On Tuesday, June 16th, we are planning to have a “student talent show”.  We will join Mrs. Page-Redmann’s and Mrs. Tate’s classes for this fun event.  The kids will have an opportunity to showcase a personal talent, while spending time with friends in other classrooms.  While all children will be part of the audience, performing is optional.  If your child needs a special prop to perform their talent (ex.: hula hoop, instrument), feel free to drop them off in the classroom before school on the 16th.

 Next week, the week of June 1st, will be our last week for volunteers in our classroom.  A very special thank you to all who volunteered  this year!

Our Learning Celebration is scheduled for Tuesday, June 9th, from 9:00-10:00.  We look forward to sharing our learning with you!

 As part of our Learning Celebration, the children will participate in a Reader’s Theater performance.  Several children have asked if they could bring in a prop to enhance their character performance.  For example, a wand for the Fairy Godmother.  I welcome any prop a child would like to bring into the classroom for their play.

Have a wonderful weekend!
Melanie Moll

Friday, April 17, 2015

Happy April!

Dear Families,
     What a wonderful April we are having in Room 205!  It's been so exciting to see the kids' enthusiasm for learning!  I have included pictures below of the some of the highlights of our past several weeks together. 
     The return from April vacation will be filled with new beginnings in all subject areas.
     We will begin Unit 11 in math.  This unit will focus primarily on whole number operations and will revisit multiplication and will introduce division.
     We will also begin a new reading unit, titled "Reading and Role Playing - Fiction, Fairy Tales, and Folktales".  This unit will encourage the children to truly "walk in their character's shoes" to understand the story and characters deeply.  I look forward to giving the kids opportunities to participate in Reader's Theater during this unit.
     I plan to revisit Narrative Writing during Writer's Workshop when we return from break.  After a few weeks of writing Small Moment stories, we will begin our final writing unit, Poetry.
     I hope you are all enjoying a wonderful vacation!
                                                                                                                   Sincerely,
                                                                                                                   Melanie Moll

Beach Day! On April 1st, our cafeteria was transformed into a beach!  The kids were encouraged to dress in their best beach attire, and have a picnic lunch in the cafeteria.  This special day came complete with a summer menu served out of a canoe, while the kids ate and danced to beach themed music.  Fun was had by all!



                                                                                                    
End of Writing Unit Celebration - Our Book Fair!  A special thank you to all families for making this writing celebration so very special for the kids.  We hope we persuaded you to add our titles to your list of "must reads"!









Making Lava Lamps!  This was such a fascinating activity for the kids.  This culmination to our Science Unit on Matter was a hit!