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 party...in 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.