Sunday, October 15, 2017

Oct. 15th News

For a short week it sure was a busy one!
Highlights from our week:
*Reading: We jumped right into our second unit of study this week: Becoming Experts! Students learned that to nonfiction allows us to grow our knowledge! We began by practicing paying careful attention to details and adding our new discoveries to our existing knowledge. Before unleashing our skills onto nonfiction books, we had a great time reading some unusual nonfiction materials. A big highlight of the week was shopping for nonfiction books for our book bins. We learned that "just-right" nonfiction books are a little  different from "just-right" fiction books, as we can obtain a lot of information from diagrams and photographs in nonfiction texts.
Starting with a penny, students used the language, "I'm noticing", "I'm learning", and "I'm wondering" to carefully read nonfiction!
*Columbus Day: On Tuesday, we learned a little bit about explorer Christopher Columbus and put our engineering skills to the test! Each child, set off to build the strongest boat possible out of just one sheet of aluminum foil. After the trial and error of building was complete, we had a "sail off" to test just how many pennies each boat could hold. While not all students wanted to test their boats in front of the whole class, it was very interesting to see the various designs and tally the results. Graham's boat held a whopping 76 pennies!! Ask your child what their boat design looked like and how many pennies they were able to hold.
*Global Read Aloud: Entering Week 2 of the Global Read Aloud, we enjoyed hearing Mem Fox's Possum Magic. Also taking place in Australia, this story again showed us the native animals, but this time introduced us to many of the local foods. This week we tweeted with the first and third graders of Westwood Elementary in Thompson, Manitoba, CANADA! After learning about the foods they liked, it was very exciting to be able to Skype with them on Thursday to ask them all about their school!
We learned that these Canadian kids all WALK to school! They don't even have school buses in their district! After Skyping, we used Google Earth to discover why this might be!
GRA is definitely opening our eyes to the many differences and similarities between ourselves and others. It's been great! Can't wait to see what Week 3 brings us!
*Picturing Writing: Switching gears from all the small moment stories we've been generating, the Owls began a Picturing Writing project. They will be working on a research-based animal poetry piece. They are all VERY excited and have already begun their research. Ask your child what animal they chose for their project.
While the research was certainly exciting, 2H had a BLAST beginning some of the beautiful paintings that will accompany their poems. Experimenting with crayon resist techniques, each Owl began creating illustrations to represent zoomed in views of their animals. They began with the closest image, capturing the animal's fur, feathers, skin, or scales. Zooming out a bit, after reading the book Eye Guess, they were challenged to create a picture illustrating their animal's eye. 
I hope the Owls are as excited as I am to begin the writing pieces that will accompany their beautiful artwork! We will work hard on these poetry books next week.
*Math: Over the past few weeks, SMS has been taking their first diagnostic assessment on a new web-based math program called i-Ready. As first graders piloted this program last year, our class quickly showed that they were seasoned pros! We've finished the assessment, and can now all independently log-in to our classroom Chromebooks and participate in personalized lessons! While this tool will not replace direct instruction, it will allow individualized practice of skills during our guided math block. Log-in information will be sent home with your child this week.
Enjoy this beautiful weather!
Questions to promote "School Talk":
-What animal are you researching for your picturing writing poetry book?
-What two parts of your animal's body did you paint this week?
-What interesting nonfiction things did you read this week (*hint, they weren't books!)?
-What did we learn about our Canadian friends? What kinds of foods do they like to eat?
-How many pennies could your tin foil boat hold?
-What iReady lesson did you work on this week?
Important Dates (always available at the top of the blog page for convenience) :
-Monday, Oct. 23rd: Fall Leaves Due
-Monday, Oct. 23rd: Scholastic Book Orders Due
-Monday, Oct. 30th: Small, Carving Pumpkin Due
-Tuesday, Oct. 31st; 2:30 pm: "Holey Pumpkin Day" Lantern Lighting
-Wednesday, Nov. 1st: Early Release (Parent Conferences)
-Wednesday, Nov. 8th: Early Release (Parent Conferences)

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Oct. 8th News

Happy Columbus Day Weekend!

Highlights from our week:
*Global Read Aloud (GRA): Joining over 2 MILLION students worldwide, our Owl Class was super excited to begin the 2017 Global Read Aloud! This year's GRA Author is Mem Fox. Our connection this week was with the second grade students of Ellendale Elementary School in Alexander County, North Carolina! We had SO much fun "meeting" them this week over Skype! On the first day, we participated in a shared read aloud of our first Mem Fox story, Koala Lou (the Owls were particularly mesmerized by hearing their teacher's southern accent!) Later in the week,  after sending them our slideshow, we asked and answered questions about each of our schools. What a great experience! It's safe to say that the Global Read Aloud is off to a fantastic start!

*Breakout Box: Our Global Read Aloud work took us on a VERY exciting adventure this week! Breakout Boxes are designed to teach critical thinking, teamwork, and problem solving. The puzzle we were challenged to solve involved our GRA Author: Mem Fox! Students had to work together to solve a series of puzzles in order to unlock a series of locks to uncover what was hidden in the mysterious box The catch? They only had 45 minutes! Would they be successful? We truly didn't know!! I was extremely impressed with the perseverance and determination displayed by the Owl Class! It was truly magical watching them problem solve and celebrate as they reached success!! We look forward to trying additional Breakout Boxes in the future!
*Word Study: We've completed our first unit in Words Their Way! Units run in two-week cycles. On the first day of the cycle, the sort is introduced. Students explore and analyze the words to discover patterns and consistencies and to establish rules. The first week of the unit is done completely in class to build independence. The second week of our cycle is when you see the word sort coming home. Practice will now happen in both the classroom and at home. A huge thank you for all of your help with this practice---the students felt confident during their first "spelling review"! On these reviews, students will be given five words chosen randomly from their sort list, as well as three "challenge" words. These "challenge" words, are not from their sort, but do follow the same pattern. The purpose for Friday's review is to determine if students have mastered the spelling pattern and are ready for a new pattern, or if they need some more practice with the current pattern. I will share their spelling review booklets with you at parent conferences
In addition to the activities associated with our word sorts, our word study time is also spent on grammar concepts. While introducing the parts of speech, students had a great time creating jack-o-lanterns representing different adjectives!! Take a look at their clever creations!
*Fall Leaf Project: Information about a fall leaf project will be coming home next week. Students will be asked to gather 20-30 dried leaves to bring into school. While the leaves are not due for a couple of weeks, it's a good idea to start keeping an eye out for interesting, unique, bright, or bold leaves as they start to fall.
*Writing: In addition to drafting our Crazy Creature stories for the Young Authors' Contest, each Owl has been hard at work working on additional pieces. As writer's workshop pros, they know that during each writing time, they can either add to their words, add to their pictures, or start a new piece. As the starting can often be a struggle for students, we've been working on ways to collect ideas for new pieces. Each writer was given a special tool this week (courtesy of the Fitzgerald family!) to store all their marvelous ideas: a tiny topic notebook! These writers have been busily filling these notebooks, taking them to recess, home, or anywhere an idea might strike them!
*Science: We began our latest science unit this week: Processes that Shape the Earth! To launch this earth science unit, we began by creating mountain models. Using Mystery Science as our guide, students set out to discover, "If you floated down a river, where would you end up?" We studied maps to see where all major rivers start and end, looking for patterns, and our brainy scientists uncovered that all rivers start up in the mountains, and eventually, end in oceans. While building the mountains was fun, the real excitement came when we simulated rainfall and got to watch our rivers flow down the mountain!

Enjoy the long weekend!

Questions to promote "School Talk":
-What was inside the Breakout Box?
-What is Skype?
-What is your crazy creature story about?
-How do you write the number 682 in expanded form?
-What adjective did you use to describe your pumpkin?
-What reading skill did you share at our reading celebration?
Important Dates (always available at the top of the blog page for convenience) :
- Monday, Oct. 9th: No School (Columbus Day)
-Tuesday, Oct. 31st: "Holey Pumpkin Day" (more details to come!)
-Wednesday, Nov. 1st: Early Release (Parent Conferences)
-Wednesday, Nov. 8th: Early Release (Parent Conferences)