Sunday, December 11, 2016

Writing Celebration

Thank you all for joining us last Friday for our first learning celebration of the school year.  The kids were extremely excited to share their reading and writing with an audience.  Thank you for making this such an authentic experience for them!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

     We had a WONDERFUL time harvesting parsnips in the Y.E.S. garden yesterday.  We learned that parsnips are a root vegetable, closely related to the carrot.  Parsnips are best harvested later in the season, as the vegetable becomes sweeter in flavor after the first few frosts. 
     Today, we roasted some of the parsnips in maple syrup...yummy!!  I have a feeling that many children will be requesting maple parsnips in the near future, which I hope is music to your ears!  Please follow this link to the recipe we used today:  We delivered the remaining parsnips to the school kitchen, where they will be used in our lunch program in the near future.
     The kids also created "Gratitude Trees" today, under the guidance of Lucas' mom.  The kids wrote things they were thankful for on each of their leaves, and then added their leaves to the tree.  A special thank you to Mrs. D'Alessandro for all her help in making this project possible!
     Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving break!

Monday, November 21, 2016

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 discussed the types of provisions the Pilgrims may have brought along on the Mayflower.  The kids suggested items such as tools for cooking (iron pot, pans, utensils), tools for gardening and building (saw, axe, hammer, shovel), clothing and food and water.
    This was a wonderful lead into "the problem" the children would be charged with solving.  I told the kids they were going to become boat builders, working to build The Mayflower III (they learned that the Mayflower II already exists at Plimoth Plantation in MA).  They would need to work with a partner using the provided materials to build a strong, sturdy boat that could hold lots of cargo (provisions).  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 Mayflower III.
                   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.  
     Be sure to ask your child about the Mayflower they created as they became a second grade engineer.

                                           Step One: Imagining, Discussing, and Planning

                                                     Step Two: Sketching the Design

                                                   Step 3: Building, Building, Building!


                                                         Step 4: Testing the Design

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

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! 
         We will begin our study of Native American tribes in the United States after Thanksgiving break.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Pajama Day!

     The kids recently earned their second "special day" and chose to celebrate with pajamas and board games.  They spent time this morning playing games with their classmates, all while lounging in their coziest PJs!  It was wonderful to watch as the kids played respectfully and cooperatively with one another, making this time an absolute success!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Reader's Workshop in Room 208

     We are currently wrapping up our first reading unit in second grade, and boy, our reading muscles are getting stronger!!  I am absolutely thrilled to see SO MANY kids "lost in their book" during Reader's Workshop.  Absolutely heartwarming!  My primary focus throughout this first unit was to empower the children to "take charge" of their reading.
     In the first half of the unit, the children learned that strong readers make lots of decisions as they read; they decide how their reading will sound, how much they will read, and how to make sure their reading makes sense.  The kids have become especially savvy in giving a book a "sneak peek", as they study the cover, read the back blurb, look at the table of contents, and read a bit of the first page.  This kind of careful previewing has enabled the kids to predict what the character might want, what might get in the way, and how the problem might be solved...all before beginning to read the book!  I have especially enjoyed watching the kid's engagement as they work to determine how a book might want to be read.  They have learned that some books (or parts of books) want to be read in a sweet, calm voice, such as, "Once upon a time in a small village there lived a kind little mouse", while other books (or pages) are meant to be read in a loud, scary voice, such as, "I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house down!"  We have had so much fun practicing this skill, that the kids recently suggested that we read our Morning Message in a newscaster voice, since the message brings us news about our day!
     In the second half of this unit, the kids learned that when second grade readers come to a tricky word, they don't say, "HELP!"  They roll up their sleeves and get to work!  It has been amazing to watch them become independent word solvers, absolutely determined to figure out words all by themselves!  The kids should be so very proud of themselves!
     I also embedded the importance of "checking your understanding" throughout this first unit, modeling frequently for the kids how to stop every few pages and do a quick retell across fingers. We also have begun to use these stops as a place to "push ourselves to have a thought" about what is happening in the book.  The kids used Post It notes to jot a few words to help them remember their idea to discuss later with a buddy.
     Below, you will find two anchor chart from our classroom bulletin board.  These highlight the teaching points throughout our first reading unit.  The children use these charts as a resource and I will refer to these skills frequently throughout the year.
    The kids will spend the next couple of weeks participating in shared reading activities and interactive read alouds during our Reader's Workshop minilessons.  Shared reading is a time for kids to work on stretching themselves in word solving skills, comprehension, and fluency.  Interactive read alouds give children opportunities to participate in discussions about a text.  Books chosen for such read alouds typically contain rich language, which allows for exposure to new vocabulary.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

One Great Pajama Day!

     Please enjoy these pics from our pajama day today.  We decided to take our independent reading out to the garden this afternoon.  Pajamas, stuffed animals, a good book and doesn't get much better than that!

Have a wonderful long weekend!

A little extra recess at the end of the day...