Monday, September 24, 2018

A Special Science Guest!

The kids were treated to a special science lesson compliments of local scientist, Debbie Landry, this afternoon.  Mrs. Landry guided the children through a hands-on learning lab, where they learned about the parts of a flower and pollination.  Be sure to ask your child about this very fun science experience!













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 21, 2018

A Growth Mindset - Flexibility

  We continue to work on building a classroom culture that fosters a growth mindset here in Room 208.  As you may recall from an earlier post, mindset is an idea credited to Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck after many years of researching achievement and success.  By definition, if you have a growth mindset, you believe that your skills, habits, and abilities are growing and changing and can improve with effort.  In contrast, a fixed mindset is defined as having the belief that your abilities are already set, or fixed.
     A few weeks back, I introduced our first trait that supports a growth mindset, optimism.  The kids are living this trait daily both in their work and play.  It warms my heart to hear them chatting with one another about their own moments of optimism when attempting a new math strategy, or trying something new on the playground.  Music to my ears!
     I recently introduced a second trait that supports a growth mindset, flexibility.  Using the book, The Most Magnificant Thing, by Ashley Spires, the children learned that flexibility is seeing and trying many possible actions within a task.  In this story, the main character decides that she is going to make the most magnificent thing. She knows exactly how it will look and work.  Unfortunately, making her magnificent thing isn't so easy, and the girl repeatedly tries and fails.  She eventually manages to get it just right.  After reading this book, I introduced a "second grade friendly" definition of flexibility: when one thing doesn't work, you try a different way
     I continue to be awed by the ways the kids are showing both optimism and flexibility here in our classroom community.




Friday, September 14, 2018

Sensational Scientists!

     We have officially immersed ourselves in the first theme unit of our year and the kids enthusiasm for all things science just might be contagious!  We will spend lots of time exploring the Y.E.S. Garden throughout this first unit, as we learn about biodiversity and species relationships, right in our own backyard!
     We began this unit with a discussion around the two questions, "What is Science?" and "What is a Scientist?".  After reading the book, What is Science?, by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, we concluded that science can be the study of plants, animals, the weather, and chemistry, among many others things, but most of all, science is about being curious and learning from our curiosities. 
     We then began to focus on all the different types of scientists there are in the world.  I shared a PowerPoint with the kids to highlight the numerous opportunities that exist within this field.  The kids chose the scientist that interested them most (zoologist, doctor, botanist, marine biologist, etc.) to illustrate and write about in their first Science Notebook entry.  Wow!  Do we have a classroom full of curious scientists!  I was especially thrilled to see the kids seeking out books to learn more about their favorite type of scientist. 
     The children have also spent time becoming budding botanists, as they observed sunflowers.  I used this as an opportunity to discuss what it means to be an "Artist-Scientist".  We discussed that "Artist-Scientists" slow down their eyes to be sure to include all the important details in their sketch.
Using our new microscopes and classroom hand lenses, the kids illustrated the different parts of the flower they observed.  I was thrilled to see the incredible details the kids included in their Science Notebooks, and especially excited to see them "push their thinking" by adding labels and sentences to describe what they observed.  The kids should be extremely proud of their wonderful work!
     We plan to head out to the YES garden next week.  Check back for information about this next science adventure!









Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Building Classroom Community with a Growth Mindset

     Throughout our school year, I plan to introduce the kids to a variety of habits, or traits, that support a growth mindset.  These traits will become a central theme as we navigate second grade together.  Mindset is an idea credited to Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck after many years of researching achievement and success.  By definition, if you have a growth mindset, you believe that your skills, habits, and abilities are growing and changing and can improve with effort.  In contrast, a fixed mindset is defined as having the belief that your abilities are already set, or fixed.
     Last week, I introduced optimism, the first of the five traits or habits that we will focus on throughout the year in cultivating a growth mindset.  I began by reading the book, Elephants Cannot Dance!, by Mo Willems.  In this book, Piggie invites Gerald to dance.  Gerald, who is convinced that he cannot, decides to give it a go nonetheless.  In the end, Gerald realizes that he actually can dance, he just needed to give it a try.  I used this as a springboard to share our (second grade) definition of optimism, "When you do something new, you think, 'I can try', and give it your best effort because that's how you grow."  I was thrilled to hear the children immediately connecting with this new word, sharing ways that just like Gerald, they have been optimistic too.  One classmate shared that he was optimistic when he tried Gaga Ball.  Another friend shared that she was optimistic when she was swimming in the "big pool" at the YMCA.  Needless to say, this was music to my ears!  I concluded this lesson by sharing with the kids that we are going to keep our eyes open this year for when we see or feel optimism both in our classroom and in the whole world.
    In the coming weeks I plan to introduce flexibility and empathy, two additional traits that help support a growth mindset.

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!