Sunday, October 30, 2016

Visualizing with I Need My Monster

     Throughout our narrative writing unit, we have been learning about the importance of including details in our writing to keep the reader engaged in our piece.  We have been doing similar work in our reading, working to create a picture in our head of what is happening, based on the author’s details, to help us better understand the story.
    In this extension activity we used the book, I Need My Monster, by Amanda Noll to practice visualization.  As I read the story, the kids pictured Gabe, the main character’s pet monster, in their minds.  They created illustration without initially seeing Gabe and then wrote about what they heard, saw and smelled as they walked in the main character’s shoes.


Monday, October 24, 2016

"Traveling" to Mexico

     This morning we traveled to the computer lab where Mrs. Wolinsky introduced the kids to the Google Earth website.  This integrated technology lesson connected nicely to our study of monarchs.  Mrs.Wolinsky began by discussing the migration of these fascinating butterflies.  The kids shared the locations of monarch sightings they had observed on the Journey North migration map throughout the fall.  These locations included Massachusetts, North Carolina, Texas, and finally Mexico (although to date they have not yet arrived at the winter sanctuary).  Mrs. Wolinsky then showed the kids how to use Google Earth to "travel" to these locations.  It was exciting to see the level of engagement as they "traveled" to Mexico!

     The kids were absolutely fascinated with this website!  Be sure to ask your child about this highly engaging technology lesson.  Thank you Mrs. Wolinsky!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Journey North

     In keeping with our Garden Ecosystem and Butterfly theme, students have worked together to design and create a Class Symbolic Butterfly that will travel to Mexico as 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.  We brainstormed the types of things we could include on our class 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.  Tomorrow I plan to mail our package off to school children in Mexico who live directly beside the monarch winter sanctuaries.  We look forward to receiving a symbolic butterfly from Mexican students in the spring, around the time real monarchs return to the northeast.

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...

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Reader's Workshop

     The kids are reading up a storm here in the classroom!  Each day, we begin Reader's Workshop 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 learned skills to their own work.
     Our first reading unit is divided into three parts: Taking Charge of our Reading; Working Hard to Solve Tricky Words; and Paying Close Attention to Authors.  We are currently in the first "bend" of this unit, "Taking Charge of our Reading".  In this bend, children learn that growing up doesn't just mean getting taller, it also means growing to be stronger readers.  As second grade readers, they get to make lots of decisions about their reading, such as how their reading will sound, how much they will read, and how to make sure their reading makes sense (that reading is thinking). 
     Our minilessons this week have focused on taking charge of our reading by choosing what to read (book shopping) and by deciding how the books we choose want to be read.  The kids learned that when second graders preview a book, they think, "How does this book want to be read?"  Is this a funny book?  A sad, serious book?  The children learned that by studying the cover carefully, reading the back blurb, and by exploring the table of contents, they are able to predict what the characters might want, what might get in the way, and how the problem might be solved.  Learning to preview in encompassing ways now will help lay the groundwork for the larger thinking of synthesizing later in the year.
     Our beginning of the year literacy assessments are complete and I have used this valuable information to create reading goals for each student.  This week I began meeting with children one-on-one for goals conferences.  During these conferences, I begin by talking with each child about how they are feeling about themselves as a reader.  I next share the things I notice that the child is doing well in their reading - strengths.  I end the conference by sharing their first reading goal of the school year, a skill that will help the child grow stronger in their reading.  I plan to complete these conferences by next Tuesday.  Be sure to ask your child about their own personal reading goal!
     I am looking forward to beginning guided reading groups and strategy groups next week.

A Growth Mindset - Flexibility

     We continue to work on building a classroom culture that fosters a growth mindset here in Room 208.  As you may recall from an earlier post, mindset is an idea credited to Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck after many years of researching achievement and success.  By definition, if you have a growth mindset, you believe that your skills, habits, and abilities are growing and changing and can improve with effort.  In contrast, a fixed mindset is defined as having the belief that your abilities are already set, or fixed.
     A few weeks back, I introduced our first trait that supports a growth mindset, optimism.  The kids are living this trait daily both in their work and play.  It warms my heart to hear them chatting with one another about their own moments of optimism when attempting a new math strategy, or playing a new game on the playground.  Music to my ears!
     I recently introduced a second trait that supports a growth mindset, flexibility.  Using the book, The Most Magnificant Thing, by Ashley Spires, the children learned that flexibility is seeing and trying many possible actions within a task.  In this story, the main character decides that she is going to make the most magnificent thing. She knows exactly how it will look and work.  Unfortunately, making her magnificent thing isn't so easy, and the girl repeatedly tries and fails.  She eventually manages to get it just right.  After reading this book, I introduced a "second grade friendly" definition of flexibility: when one thing doesn't work, you try a different way.  The kids have absolutely embraced this new trait and actually used it today to describe me to our art teacher, Ms.Higgison.  They shared that Mrs. Moll is very optimistic when she tries to sketch pictures in the classroom and often needs to be flexible when her drawings don't turn out as planned (these kiddos know me well)!
     I continue to be awed by the ways the kids are showing both optimism and flexibility here in our classroom community.