Saturday, September 22, 2018

A Visit to our Y.E.S. Garden

   During science, we are learning that an ecosystem is a community of both living and nonliving things that work together.  We discussed a variety of ecosystems that exist in the world, including forest, ocean, desert, and rainforest ecosystems.  I used this discussion as an opportunity to introduce the ecosystem that exists in our own backyard, the Y.E.S. Garden.  The kids discovered that our garden community consists of many living things, such as ants, butterflies, caterpillars, and plants, as well as many nonliving things, such as soil, water, a fence, and rocks.
     Our observations in the garden led to a wonderful discussion about symbiosis.  Symbiosis is the relationship between two different living things.  These AMAZING second grade scientists discovered that symbiosis exists in our Y.E.S. Garden...both the good and the bad!  They observed several small insects feasting on their favorite leaves.   The kids determined that this was an example of a bad symbiotic relationship (parasitism).  They also were able to observe an example of a positive symbiotic relationship (mutualism), as they watched a bee pollinating a sunflower.        
     I was truly impressed with the kids' focus and enthusiasm in our first garden observation, and am thrilled with the detailed sketches and scientific thinking they included in their Science Notebooks.

A few class pictures from the garden: 

Smiling Second Graders...

Silly Second Graders...

Surprised Second Graders...

Friday, September 7, 2018

A Fabulous First Week

    We've had a wonderful first week in second grade!  I am absolutely amazed with how quickly the children have fallen back into the routine of school.  I am having such a wonderful time learning about my new second grade friends!
     One of our favorite class activities this week was called,  “Getting to Know You”.  In this activity, the kids began by answering and recording a variety of questions about themselves, such as their favorite color, favorite food, how many letters in their first name, as well as many others.  Once we gathered our information, the game began.  The kids were challenged with finding classmates that matched their own choices.  For example, if Read's favorite sport was soccer, he needed to find a classmate who also chose soccer as their favorite sport.  This classmate would then write their initials next to this question on Read's paper.  A classmate could only initial a paper once.  This turned out to be an extremely engaging activity for the kids, as we learned many new things about one another.
     Our classroom has also been abuzz with book conversations this week, as kids have been highly engaged in sharing their "Shelfie" with peers.  I couldn't help but smile, as the kids excitedly made connections with one another around books...definitely a teacher's dream!  During each of our "Shelfie" days, the kids displayed their books on their desks, similar to a book fair, and students browsed through one another's choices.  On the first day, I encouraged the kids to make connections verbally with their peers, using language such as, "I noticed that ___________ likes _____________.  This makes me think_______", "I made a connection with _______________.  She/He likes __________________ and so do I!", and "I learned that ______________.  I wonder _______________.".  On our second day the kids were each given two Post It notes to leave on a classmate's "Shelfie", jotting what they noticed using the sentence frames/language from the previous day.  They circulated, Post It note in hand, with one stipulation.  There could only be two Post It notes for each "Shelfie".  This guaranteed that each child would receive two notes from classmates.  I want to thank you all for helping your child select books that were meaningful to them for our classroom "Shelfie" project.  This project would not have been a success without your help.  Thank you! Thank you!
   Please enjoy the pictures below from our first week.  Have a terrific weekend!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Half a Metric Me!

     As a culmination to our measurement unit, the kids spent some time creating their very own "Mini-Me".  They began this project by measuring a variety of body parts with a partner, recording their data, then working to find the half measurement of each actual measurement.  As a class, we discussed strategies they could use to calculate half measurements.  The kids decided they could use the doubles fact strategy.  For example, if the measurement was 6 centimeters, they could ask themselves, "What is the doubles fact for 6?". This would lead them to 3, which is the half measurement.  Another strategy the kids decided upon was to fold their tape measure in half once they determined the actual measurement.
     In keeping with Everyday Math instruction, the kids were given the option to round their measurements to the nearest centimeter.  This method was also applied when calculating the half measurements.  For example, if the actual measurement was 35 cm, the half measurement would be 17 1/2 cm.  The kids were given the option to use either 17 or 18 as the measurement.
     I was thrilled with how completely engaged the kids were in this project.  The Mini Me Second Graders look fabulous!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Arctic Animal Research Project

     We have spent the past several weeks learning about the Arctic and the animals that inhabit this part of our world.  The kids recently completed a culminating project, showcasing their learning during this unit.
     Our initial lessons were spent learning about the geography and climate of the Arctic, as well as the people and animals who live there.  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.  I was absolutely amazed at how focused and engaged the kids were, as they used iPads, books, and articles to gather information about their chosen animal.  The kids learned how to use "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.  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 an "Arctic Explorer" art piece to accompany their research.  The kids recorded their Arctic Reports on SeeSaw and then attached a QR Code to their "Arctic Explorer" for all to enjoy!  Please be on the lookout for an Arctic Explorer post in your child's SeeSaw portfolio!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Maine Maple Sugaring

     Our classroom was brimming with excitement Friday afternoon as we were treated to a fabulous hands-on learning experience, courtesy of Odin and Alexander, 4th graders here at Yarmouth Elementary.  Odin and Alexander spent time teaching us all about maple sugar season.  They began by reading a picture book, teaching the details of maple sugaring - the process of sap collection and making maple syrup.  Once they finished the story, the boys shared the numerous tools they brought along used in maple sugaring and demonstrated how to tap a tree for sap.  Finally, we traveled outside to a maple tree Odin and Alexander had chosen to tap with our class.  With the help of Mr. Gleason, we tapped the tree and were absolutely thrilled when the sap began flowing from the tap immediately!  VERY EXCITING!!
     We plan to check our bucket, with the guidance of our 4th grade friends, early next week.  A very special thank you to Odin and Alexander for taking the time to share their expertise with our class!
     Many of the kids were excited to learn more about Maine Maple Sunday, scheduled for Sunday, March 25th.  Below, please find a link, outlining the many festivities planned across the state to celebrate this New England tradition.

About Maine Maple Sunday

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

A Fabulous Afternoon with Miss Kat!

The kids had a wonderful Friday afternoon sculpting arctic animals with local artist Kat Gillies.  Be sure to ask your child all about this engaging, hands-on experience!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Reading Workshop

     The kids were busy filling their book boxes with fiction texts this week, as we launched a new unit in reading.  In this unit, titled "Bigger Books Mean Amping Up Reading Power," instruction focuses on three important foundational skills: fluency, literary language, and tracking longer stories.
     This week the focus was on fluency.  Now that children are reading substantially longer books, practicing fluency is especially valuable, as it is key to comprehension.  The kids learned that rereading, especially out loud, is the best way to change the reading voice inside their heads.  "Reading with a clear, smooth voice inside one's head is a key to reading better, stronger, longer, and with more understanding." (Lucy Calkins)
     The kids were reminded to use all the clues the author provides to read with their best reading voice.  The kids practiced scooping words in phrases, noticing punctuation, using dialogue tags, and paying close attention to the characters and matching their voice with the appropriate tone.  I am pretty sure that our minilesson on dialogue tags was the favorite of the week!  Be sure to ask your child about this fun activity.
     Next week, my instruction will shift to providing kids with the tools they need to tackle the figurative language they are beginning to encounter in their books.
     I continue to be absolutely thrilled with the enthusiasm the children have for books and reading.  I am especially impressed with the growth in their reading stamina since September - something to be proud of for sure!  Bravo!

Friday, February 16, 2018

STEM Challenge - Take Three!

     Our classroom was brimming with excitement once again this morning, as the kids tackled their third STEM challenge of the school year.  As with the first two activities, the children worked with a partner to design, build, test and evaluate their solution to a challenge, as they became "Engineer Scientists".
     We began the lesson by reading the book, The Biggest Snowman Ever, by Steven Kroll.  This is the story of two friends, Desmond and Clayton, who work together to build the tallest snowman in the town Mouseville.
    This was a wonderful lead into "the challenge" the children would be charged with solving.   Working together with a given set of materials, the kids designed and built the tallest snowman possible.  They were given the following materials and 35 minutes to construct their snowman.
                   Materials:  4 pieces of thick paper,  5 pipe cleaners,  4 drinking straws,
                                     4 large smoothie straws, 2 feet of masking tape, and scissors                            
     We concluded this lesson by discussing why some snowmen were able to stand longer and stronger than others.  We "pushed our thinking" by looking carefully at the structure of the snowmen and discussed what was unique about the designs.  We concluded that a strong, wide base was a key to success!
    Each child posted their drawn design and model to their SeeSaw portfolio.  Be sure to ask your child about the snowman they created as they became a second grade engineer.