Sunday, March 26, 2017

Reading and Writing Workshop

     We recently launched new units of study during both Reader's and Writer's Workshop.  In Reader's Workshop, the kids are currently engaged in "Series Book Clubs," learning to form opinions about the books they read, and thinking deeply about characters within and across a series.  They are learning to craft persuasive letters about favorite books and characters during Writer's Workshop.
     The kids began our new reading unit by learning how to collect information about the main character in their series books.  We focused significantly on the question, "What kinds of trouble does the main character encounter and how do they respond to that trouble?".  The kids then pushed themselves to "have a thought" about what this information told them about the character.
     We first practiced this skill together using the book, Days with Frog and Toad.  In the first chapter of the book, Frog arrives at Toad's house, only to find that the house is a disaster and Toad is in his nice, warm bed.  Frog suggests that Toad get up and clean his house.  Toad responds by saying, "I'll do it tomorrow," and promptly pulls the covers back over his head.  The kids shared that the problem is that Toad's house is a mess.  He responded to the problem by saying he'd clean it up later and then went back to sleep.  The kids then pushed themselves to "have a thought" about Toad, concluding that Toad seems a bit lazy, and even a bit irresponsible! 
     The kids have worked to apply this new skill to their own series books and have begun "book club discussions," talking to peers about the opinions they are forming about characters.  I have been absolutely amazed with the level of comprehension from these second graders!!  The kids are discovering that when they slow down their reading (read closely), they discover lots of new information about their character that they did not notice initially.  
     Our current writing unit aligns quite nicely with the reading unit.  The children are working on drafting letters to their peers about the characters they have met in their books.  They are learning to formulate opinions and use details and examples from the text to support their claims.  They have also learned how to write about their favorite parts, providing reasons explaining why it is their favorite.  Once the kids complete a letter, they tuck it inside an envelope, and place the envelope inside the book where the "character lives."  The book is then placed back into our classroom library, ready for classmates to enjoy when they book shop during Reader's Workshop.  I have been thrilled to see the level of engagement in this activity!  It absolutely warms my heart to see the kids quickly trying to take a peek in our classroom library at newly added letters throughout our day.

                                                     Our Reading Anchor Chart - Series Books

Sharing our opinions and thoughts about the characters in our books and providing evidence to support our thinking. 

Letters in our classroom library just waiting to be read!


Monday, March 20, 2017

Arctic Animal Research

We have put the finishing touches on our Arctic animal research project!  Last week, the kids used their "dot jot" research to compose a report that taught their audience about an Arctic animal.  I was absolutely amazed at how easily the kids used their notes (dot jots) to compose complete sentences in their reports!  This is quite a sophisticated skill for a second grader.  Bravo!

After the writing was complete, the kids created two different art pieces to accompany their research, an Arctic explorer and a clay sculpture of their animal (compliments of Miss Kat). 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Arctic Research

     We have spent the past couple of weeks learning about the Arctic and the animals that inhabit this part of our world.  Using their newly acquired background knowledge, the kids then had an opportunity to choose an Arctic animal they were most interested in researching for a special project.  Today the research began!  I was absolutely amazed at how focused and engaged the kids were, as they used laptops, books, and articles to gather information about their chosen animal.  The kids used "dot jots" to help them record their learning as they gathered facts about the animal's physical characteristics, its' predators, its' prey, and a variety of other interesting information.  We will continue this research tomorrow and then move on to composing our rough copy reports next week.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Updates from Room 208

     It's hard to believe that March is already upon us! We are certainly enjoying the sunshine that is finding it's way into our classroom earlier and earlier each morning!  I want to thank each of you for taking the time to join me for our parent teacher conference.  It is always a pleasure to connect with each of you and discuss your child's growth in second grade.
     Here is a look at what's been happening in our classroom...

     We recently completed our nonfiction unit during Writer's Workshop.  As a culmination to this unit, we joined Miss Davis' class for a "Learning Expo".  During the first half of our "Learning Expo", Miss Davis' students visited our classroom, where we shared our nonfiction writing (expert books) by teaching our audience about our topic.  We then visited Miss Davis' classroom, where we learned about puppies, bears, snakes and a variety of other topics as her students shared their nonfiction books.  It was wonderful to observe the kids' self-confidence, energy, and overall excitement as writers during this end of unit share.
     We will spend the next few weeks focusing on a social studies unit on the Arctic, then will begin our persuasive writing unit.

     During Reader's Workshop, the children have filled their book boxes with fiction books as we begin our next reading journey, which focuses on the characters we meet in our books.  In this reading unit titled, "Characters Face Bigger Challenges and So Do Readers", the children will learn how to be a “character detective”.  The kids have learned that they can get to know the characters in their book well by looking at the title and the blurb on the back of the book and asking themselves, "What can I learn about the character before I even begin reading?".  The kids jotted their thinking on posts and are using these posts to help guide their observations as they read. 
     I am absolutely thrilled with the enthusiasm the children have for books and reading!