Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Snowman Math

     The kids have been busy "building" snowmen during our math time.  This project allowed the children to see the connection between repeated addition and multiplication.  The kids used playing cards and their great math thinking to create a snowman.  They 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 children were extremely engaged in this activity as they worked to see how many turns it would take to complete their snowman.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Nonfiction Reading

     We recently launched our nonfiction unit during Reader's Workshop.  To begin this unit of study, I filled our meeting area with a variety of items, including a globe, a rocks/minerals collection, a human ear model, a microscope, and a photograph of "long ago" Yarmouth.  I shared that to begin this brand new reading unit, their job was to "read" our meeting area.   I encouraged the children to "read" whatever they saw in our meeting area that might tell them about our upcoming unit, to study the details and then put these details together to grow their knowledge of what the unit will be about.  The classroom was brimming with excitement as the kids became detectives, collecting information to solve the mystery of our next reading unit.
     Throughout the first several minilessons,  I have used charts, photographs, and diagrams to encourage the children to do the important work that nonfiction readers do: pay attention to details, and put parts of the text together in their minds.  I shared that readers of nonfiction books do an "extra-brainy, intense kind of thinking"; that nonfiction readers pay attention to details and think, 'How can I put together what I'm seeing to grow my knowledge of this topic?'.
     During these first few minilessons, the kids became fascinated with photos of "long ago" Yarmouth.  I used this as an opportunity to extend their learning with an activity that quickly became a big hit!  Each morning, I posted a historic photograph of Yarmouth on the whiteboard.  I encouraged the kids to pay close attention to the details in the photograph to grow their knowledge about the town of Yarmouth.  On the following day, I posted a present day photo of the same location, with the help of the Yarmouth Historical Society website.  The kids were extremely engaged in this activity, pushing one another to collect many details to grow their knowledge.  Be sure to ask your child what they learned about the Village Florist on Main Street...and what this building was once used for.
     We will continue with our nonfiction unit for the next several weeks, focusing on how to best use text features in nonfiction books to learn more about the topic.
     I am currently in the process of assessing and updating each student's reading goal set earlier in the school year.  Your child's new goal will reflect the work we are doing with nonfiction texts and will focus on strengthening his/her skill set in this genre.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Small Moment Stories

     As some of you may have already noticed on Friday afternoon, children have begun posting their "published" Small Moment story into their SeeSaw portfolio.  Over the course of the coming week, every child will have an opportunity to add their story to SeeSaw. 
     Each student selected one story written during our Personal Narrative writing unit to "fix and fancy" up, and eventually publish.  This involved working to edit their piece for both content and mechanics, adding and correcting when necessary.  During this time, they conferenced with both myself and a partner for feedback, working to create a piece that reflected their very best work.
     Once editing was complete, the children began to practice reading their piece fluently, showcasing their "talking reading voice."  The kids are now working on recording this writing piece and posting it into their SeeSaw portfolio. 
     The children should be very proud of their finished products, as they worked extremely hard to: create a beginning that hooked the reader; add details to help the reader make a picture in their mind; show not tell ("a smile spread across my face," instead of "I was happy"); provide a sense of closure in their ending; use appropriate capitals and punctuation; and apply what they have learned during word work time to their everyday writing.
     We are looking forward to beginning our next writing unit later this week, which will focus on nonfiction writing.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

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 learned that the Mayflower sailed to America in 1620, carrying 102 passengers, cargo, and crew.  Originally another ship, named the Speedwell, was intended to sail along with the Mayflower.  Sadly, the Speedwell was leaking, and therefore was deemed unseaworthy.  The passengers and cargo from the Speedwell were transferred to the Mayflower.  The Mayflower had to withstand fierce weather on the ocean, but also carry the weight of the additional passengers and cargo from the Speedwell.
    This was a wonderful lead into "the problem" the children would be charged with solving.  I told the kids they had been commissioned to built a boat to replace the Speedwell on the voyage to America.  They were going to become boat builders, working to build the Speedwell II.  They would need to work with a partner using the provided materials to build a strong, sturdy boat that could hold lots of cargo and passengers.  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 Speedwell II.
                   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.  
    Each child posted both their drawn design and model to their SeeSaw portfolio.  Be sure to ask your child about the Speedwell II they created as they became a second grade engineer.  

                                                      Imagining, Planning and Designing...





Friday, November 17, 2017

Celebrating Reading...and Monarchs!

     What a great day we have had here in second grade!  This morning we wrapped up our first reading unit by celebrating ALL the wonderful things we are doing in our books.  As we reflected on the anchor charts we created over the past couple of months, we quickly realized that our "reading muscles" have grown immensely since the start of second grade!  During today's minilesson, the children used the following sentence frame to share how their own reading has grown since September: "I used to be the kind of reader who _____________________, but now I __________________________."  I was absolutely thrilled with the level of reflection the students showed as they thought about themselves as readers.  Please check out your child's recent post on Seesaw to see how they chose to complete this sentence. 

     After our minilesson, each child was paired with a reader from Miss Davis' class for some buddy reading.  All the children enjoyed this special time with their new reading friend!  After we finished buddy reading, Miss Davis shared a VERY funny book in a "double class" read aloud.  Be sure to ask your child all about this hysterical story!

     We ended the morning with a short dance honor of the monarchs, who have officially "reached their destination"!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

World Diabetes Day

Wearing blue to support our dear friend Ruby on World Diabetes Day...

Monday, November 13, 2017

Writing Workshop

    We are nearing the end of our personal narrative writing unit here in the classroom.  The kids have each chosen a small moment story in their writing folder to "fix and fancy up", using an editing checklist as their guide.  I am currently introducing each component of the edit checklist to the kids, modeling how to use this tool bit by bit to both reflect on our writing and to revise our work.  They have been working hard to include the skills on the edit checklist into their writing each day.  
    We are looking forward to showcasing our small moment stories with you soon via SeeSaw.  Please stay tuned for coming details.

Edit Checklist

A Growth Mindset - Empathy

     Creating a classroom culture that fosters a growth mindset continues to be a focus here in Room 208.  Earlier this fall, I introduced the traits optimism and flexibility to the children.  It warms my heart to see them living these traits daily in their work and play.
     I recently introduced a third trait that supports a growth mindset, empathy.  Using the book, Leonardo, the Terrible Monster, by Mo Willems, the children learned that empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.  In this story, Leonardo is terrible at being a monster.  He has great difficulty scaring people.  After much research and practice, he finds the perfect candidate to frighten, a little boy named Sam, and scares the "tuna salad out of him".  Leonardo realizes that scaring people isn't quite as enjoyable as he anticipated.  Leonardo makes a critical decision.  He decides that instead of pursuing his own dream of becoming a terrible monster, he could instead become a great friend (to Sam).
     After reading this book, I introduced a "second grade friendly" definition of empathy: when you feel someone's feelings in your own heart.  The children immediately connected with this new word, sharing ways that just like Leonardo, they have been empathetic too.  One child shared that they recently saw another second grader playing alone on the playground, and thought about how it would feel to walk in that child's shoes.  These thoughts/feelings led this child to invite the other to join she and her friends in play.
     We will continue to keep our eyes open for when we see or feel empathy, both in our classroom and in the whole world.

Friday, November 3, 2017

STEM Challenge

     Our classroom was brimming with excitement today as the kids tackled their first STEM challenge of the school year.  Working with a partner, the children designed, created, tested and evaluated their solution to a problem as they became "Engineer Scientists".
     We began by reading the book, Too Many Pumpkins, by Linda White.  In this story, a giant pumpkin falls off the back of an overloaded truck into Rebecca Estelle's yard, scattering seeds everywhere.  To her surprise, the following autumn Rebecca's yard is filled with beautiful big orange pumpkins.  Initially she is overwhelmed with this bumper crop, unsure of what to do with this surplus of pumpkins.  She eventually decides to bake...and bake...and bake, making pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cookies and pumpkin pies, in addition to carving many jack-o-lanterns to share with her entire community in a special party at her house on the edge of the village.
     After we finished reading the story, the kids were introduced to "the problem".  I explained to the children that Rebecca Estelle's celebration was such a success that the people of the village had requested that it become an annual event.  The problem was the bridge that connected Rebecca Estelle's house to the village needed to be replaced in order to support all the pumpkins needed for the celebration.

      Working with a partner, the kids were given 25 popsicle sticks and 3 feet of tape.  Using only these materials, they needed to design a bridge that would span across two desks that were pulled 1 foot apart.  We discussed how engineer scientists begin solving a problem by discussing their ideas with others (a partner), then plan their design (sketching the plan on paper).  Next, the kids were given time to create/built their design.  The kids quickly learned that being flexible in their thinking was key in tackling this challenge.  I was thrilled to see the kids working together, completely engaged in the task at hand.  
     Once construction was complete, we tested our designs by loading each bridge with mini pumpkins.  We concluded this lesson by discussing why some bridges held more pumpkins than others.  We "pushed our thinking" by looking carefully at the structure of the bridges that were able to hold many pumpkins and discussed what was unique about these designs.  
     Be sure to ask your child about the bridge they created as they became a second grade engineer.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

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 an 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 23, 2017

Exploring with Google Earth

      This afternoon Mrs. Wolinsky introduced the kids to the website, Google Earth.  This integrated technology lesson connected nicely to our study of monarchs.  Mrs.Wolinsky began by sharing a wonderful YouTube video on the migration of monarchs that connected directly to the work we have been doing in the classroom with Journey North.  The video shared the locations of multiple monarch sightings observed on the Journey North migration map throughout the fall.  These locations included New York, 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 and a variety of others.  It was exciting to see the level of engagement as the kids "traveled" to Mexico, Paris, Mt. Everest, the White House, and the Great Wall of China, just to name a few!
     The kids were absolutely fascinated with this website!  Be sure to ask your child about this highly engaging technology lesson.  Thank you Mrs. Wolinsky!

Friday, October 20, 2017

One Fantastic Friday!

Please enjoy these pics from our fantastic day together.  We had a wonderful time playing board games with friends, and snuggling with a favorite stuffie while becoming "lost in a book" during Reader's Workshop this morning.  We spent the afternoon learning about fire safety from our guest firefighter, Mr. Gautreau (Mrs. Gautreau's husband), and then ended the day by saying goodbye to our painted lady butterflies, as they fluttered away into the YES garden.

I feel so fortunate to have the privilege to spend my days teaching and learning with this amazing group of second graders! 

Have a fabulous weekend!