Sunday, January 24, 2016

News from Room 208

      I hope you are all enjoying a wonderful weekend!  Here is a look at what has been happening in our classroom.

     The kids created Coin Riddles in the classroom this week during our math time.  This activity was an extension to the work the kids have been doing during Everyday Math lessons around calculating coin combinations.  On the front page of their "coin bag", the kids created a riddle, "I have ___ cents.  I have ____ coins.  What coins do I have?".  Then they provided the solution on the second page, including the coins used and a number sentence to show their math thinking.  Be sure to take a peek at these wonderful creations hanging outside our classroom!  It has been great to watch as kids in our wing stop by and try to solve our riddles!


     During Writer's Workshop, the kids continue to work on their Nonfiction Expert Books.  With the help of our computer teacher, Cathy Wolinsky, the kids have learned how to research their chosen topic.  The children used the graphic organizer, "boxes and bullets" to help collect their information.  After choosing a focus for each of their three chapters, the kids wrote each chapter focus inside a box on the graphic organizer.  Then they found information both in books and on their laptops to fit the chapter focus.  For example,  if a child chose "Dogs" as their topic, their focus for chapter one might be "Supplies you need for your Dog".  They wrote "Supplies you need for your Dog" inside the first box, and then filled in the "bullets" under the box with information that would fit that focus.
     After their research was complete, the kids began composing their chapters, using their graphic organizer to help guide them.  We agreed on Friday that although this is hard work, we are learning lots about how to be a nonfiction author.  I am so impressed with the kids perseverance and hard work with this project!

      We completed our unit on Nonfiction Books during Reader's Workshop this week.  I believe it is safe to say that we now have a classroom full of Nonfiction Text Feature experts!  I plan to use the next couple of weeks to focus on writing about reading (in both fiction and nonfiction) using Post It notes to "leave tracks of our thinking".  After this, I plan to begin our next reading unit, which will focus on the characters in our fiction books.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Happy 2016 from Room 208!

     I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful winter break.  The kids returned to the classroom rested and ready to learn.  Here is a look at what we've been up to in room 208...
     We eased back into our school routine on Monday and Tuesday with a snowman math project that allowed the kids to see the connection between repeated addition and multiplication.  The kids used playing cards and their great math thinking to create a snowman.  The kids flipped a card and recorded groups of three based on the number they flipped.  For example, if a child flipped the number 5, they recorded the fact, 5x3, and then recorded five groups of three.  They solved the fact by using repeated addition, 3+3+3+3+3=15.  Finally, the kids used the class snowman poster to determine what body part to add to their very own snowman.  The kids were extremely engaged in this activity as they worked to see how many turns it would take to complete their snowman.

     Once we completed our snowman project, we moved into Unit 5 of the Everyday Math curriculum.  The beginning of this unit focuses extensively on calculating coin combinations through a variety of activities.  The kids "shopped" for fruits and vegetables to practice using coins to buy and sell food items.  I encouraged the kids to think about coin equivalencies to help them use the fewest number of coins when making a purchase.  Next week the kids will learn a new math game called "Spinning for Money".  Spinning for Money will allow for additional practice calculating coin combinations as the kids race to be the first player to reach $1.00.
     We continue to navigate nonfiction during Reader's Workshop.  The kids have become experts in locating special text features included in the books they are reading independently.  Our minilessons this past week focused primarily on using the headings in a nonfiction text to help assure accurate comprehension.  We discussed how the headings can help guide the reader in identifying what the section is mostly about.  We used this as a topic sentence in our retell.  We then identified three details that supported the topic sentence.  I modeled this skill using a nonfiction book about sloths.  The kids were then given an opportunity for guided practice during the minilesson.  
     We have finished goals conferences during Reader's Workshop.  Based on both classroom observation and recent reading assessments, each student has a new reading goal.  I will focus my instruction on these goals as I meet with new reading and strategy groups.  Be sure to ask your child what they are working on to strengthen their very own reading muscles!

     In keeping with the nonfiction theme, we continued working on our "Expert Books" during Writer's Workshop.  We spent time this week creating the Table of Contents, and the Introduction.  Our minilessons focused on both of these text features.  I shared a variety of "introductions" from  published nonfiction books, and asked the kids to identify patterns they noticed.  I was thrilled as the children quickly shared that many of the texts used sound words to grab the reader's attention (CHOMP!  MEOW!), and most of them began with a question or "WOW Fact".  We used the kids fantastic thinking to create an anchor chart (see below).  Finally, I modeled how to use the anchor chart as a reference in writing our very own introduction.  It was wonderful to see how easily the kids were able to create engaging introductions to their own books.  

     As you can see below, the kids are having a blast on the playground at recess.  Please remember to send your child to school with boots, snowpants, hat, and mittens if they would like to play in the snow.  We are hopeful that we will have even more snow soon!