Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Winter Reading Festival

We had a wonderful day today, as we traveled to HMS to celebrate reading with the 6th graders!  The kids spent the morning engaged in a variety of activities centered around literacy with their very own 6th grade buddy.  Be sure to ask your child about this fun, engaging morning!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Snowman Math

     The kids were busy "building" snowmen during our math time this week.  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.

Sunday, January 1, 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 several pictures 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 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 the 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 after winter break, focusing on how to best use text features in nonfiction books to learn more about the topic.

                     Working together to collect details and grow our knowledge about Yarmouth.

Nonfiction Writing

     We are immersed in nonfiction during Writer's Workshop and the kids' enthusiasm is certainly contagious!  The children are bursting at the seams, eager to share their areas of expertise as they craft nonfiction books.  I was absolutely thrilled when several students recently asked if they could work on their nonfiction books upon arriving to school in the morning.  Music to my ears!
     I began this writing unit by directing the kids' attention to the nonfiction section of our classroom library.  I pointed out that none of "their" nonfiction books could be found on the shelves and that the only way to fix this problem was to begin writing nonfiction of their own.  I used this as a springboard to encourage the children to choose nonfiction topics on which they are already an expert, and with some scaffolding, the writing began!
     During the second minilesson, the kids each chose one nonfiction book from their book box to use as a tool to study another nonfiction author, noticing the interesting things they do to teach the reader.  The kids quickly noticed many interesting ways to teach a reader about a topic, including the use of diagrams, using a table of contents, including a glossary and bold faced words, and including fun fact bubbles.  I encouraged the students to use these ideas, to borrow these "craft moves" in their own nonfiction writing.  I was absolutely amazed at how quickly the kids were able to include these sophisticated text features in their own pieces!
     After several days of crafting nonfiction books, I introduced the Information Writing Checklist to the children.  This is a wonderful tool that teaches the kids to reflect on the nonfiction writing they have completed and to set a goal for themselves moving forward.  During this lesson, each student created a nonfiction writing goal and created a plan in reaching their goal.  Be sure to ask your child about their personal writing goal.
      The kids have already begun to fill our "Room 208 Nonfiction Authors" book bucket that now resides in our classroom library.  This is a bin that kids are able to "shop" from during Reader's Workshop, as a way to share their work with one another.  I am thrilled to see the excitement and enthusiasm around this new addition to our nonfiction classroom books!

                                           Sharing nonfiction work with a writing partner.

                                        Adding nonfiction ideas to our Tiny Topic Notebooks.

                                                        Information Writing Checklist