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!

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