Saturday, January 12, 2019

Ellis Island Day is Coming!

Happy New Year to All!

Starting our day refreshed, relaxed and ready to learn is always my goal. I'm sure many of your children have told you that we take a little time out of our day everyday to practice some quiet breathing and mindfulness. Two or three days a week the kids will write in their Mindful Minute  Journal. The idea is that they think and write about what is currently going on in their minds and bodies in the moment. To help them get started, they can choose to write about:

What went well (this morning before coming to school)
Someone or something they are grateful for...
Something they are looking forward to... (within this day)
On a scale of 1-10, how are they feeling right now and why?

After a few minutes of quiet writing, many choose to either share what they wrote with the class, give me their journal if they'd like me read it privately, or put it away in their desk. I have promised the kids that these special journal entries are just for them and I will never read anything unless they ask me to. Maybe when they bring these journals home at the end of the year they will share them with you...

Social Studies:
Our study of Extraordinary Americans has led us to our study of Immigration to America. An important part of understanding our countries history is being aware of when everything happened. It can be very difficult for kids this age to conceptualize so we are using timelines to try to put things into perspective. The timelines show other events that we have studied, such as, the Pilgrims arrival at Plymouth Rock, George Washington’s birth, America’s independence, as well as the birth and life spans of the other Americans that we’ve studied.

The second grade students and teachers at Edna are excited about Ellis Island Day on January 31st.  This simulation of a particular historical event is embedded within a larger study of immigration into the United States. As part of this study, students will learn about the immigrant experience for those arriving into America via Ellis Island circa 1900 (1907, the year of our Ellis Island Day simulation, was chosen because it is the single year that saw the most immigrants into the United States). We will also look at the broader topic of immigration. We will compare Ellis Island to Angel Island.  In addition, students will learn about contemporary immigration through picture books, guest speakers, and class discussion. 
All this will lead us to learning  a story from each of our own family’s history. We will be looking closely at an immigration story of an ancestor or living family member.  As we learn about the story of our own family, we look at our family’s history, traditions, and culture. 

Details about specific projects and ways you can help at home will be sent home.  In the meantime, discussion and exploration with your child can really help deepen understanding.

At this point the 2nd graders' reading life, they are moving from learning to read to reading to learn! As their teacher, it is so exciting to watch! They are like sponges, growing their knowledge and understanding of so many things in our world independently using nonfiction books as their source. We began with reading biographies and now we will shift to a more broader look at the nonfiction genre. A big part of reading nonfiction is learning about the different text features that authors use to help the reader understand and retain what they are learning. For example, they are paying close attention to  glossary words, captions, diagrams, maps, charts, etc And, as they are doing that, they are also continuing to become stronger readers using strategies to improve fluency, accuracy, and expanding their vocabulary. I will be conferencing with them individually to identify and work on areas in which they each need to focus and improve.

Language Arts and Writing: 
This week we spent more time focusing on sentence writing, specifically how to use vivid verbs to create a picture in a readers mind and to write more creatively.

After searching for juicy adjectives, nouns, and verbs in both fiction and nonfiction books about winter, we created a class word bank on an app we have used before called Padlet. They then used the word bank to write a Sneaky Poem, a descriptive piece in which the subject of the poem is not revealed until the end.

We are now working on adding money over a dollar and making change.  This requires much higher-level number sense and we are practicing  through Number Talks, story problems and hands-on manipulatives. The kids are using most of the same mental math strategies they have already practiced with 2-digit addition to add and subtract 3-digit numbers. They are learning that just by taking away the decimal point in a money amount, they can just add and subtract as though they are just plain 2 and 3-digit numbers. Many still need to work on using efficient addition strategies and others need to be challenged with higher-level computation. Math is never a “one size fits all” subject, so meeting each child at their level is key! You can help by encouraging your child to continue practicing basic addition and subtraction facts. This is more important than ever for kids to be able to add and subtract bigger numbers more fluently.

Other Important Information

Thank you so much to all who volunteered to help on Ellis Island Day, on Jan 31th, or for the set up on the afternoon before. We still need more volunteers so if you'd like to participate, just let me know and I’ll add you to the list. You should be hearing more from Mari Allen, our volunteer coordinator soon. It’s the parents that truly make this day special for the kids.

Just to give you some time to think about Ellis Island Day costumes for your kids, I thought I'd send some pictures and information now. 

On Tuesday, January 22, your child will bring home a homework assignment that involves putting together a costume for Immigration Day. I'm letting you know about this now, just in case you want to get a head start on the costume.

On Immigration Day, January 31st, your child will come to school dressed as their immigrant persona that s/he will create in class this coming week. Costumes should be reflective of the time period -- we will be simulating the immigrant experience of traveling from Liverpool, England to Ellis Island in 1907. Costumes need not be elaborate nor do you need to purchase anything. I encourage you to use what you have or borrow from other Edna families who have participated in Ellis Island Day in past years. You can also do an online search for images of immigrant clothing in 1907. To give you a general idea about costumes, here are some pictures of past year's second graders all dressed up with their bundles and ready to set sail.

•Thank you to all who have already sent in their field trip forms, driving forms and donation money for all the trips. It would be great to get them all in as soon as possible (cash in white envelope or Venmo to Lara Merrigan @Lara-Merrigan). Our Chinatown field trip is just around the corning on Feb 6th. I do need to send our payment in full fairly soon. If you’d like to drive or chaperone for Chinatown, and you have not already sent in $26 for your tour and lunch, please do so by Wed. Jan. 16th. After that date, I cannot take anymore volunteers.

After I get everything finalized, I’ll figure out who I need to have drive, who is meeting us there and who will just ride with someone and let you know.

I am reposting the Kiddo Sponsored Interactive Art Show flyer.
Starting Monday, February 11, the multi-purpose room will be transformed into a vibrant art gallery, where you can peruse magnificent original works from EVERY Edna student.  Throughout the week, students will participate in special Kiddo! art classes held in the MPR. The classes are open to family members, so plan to join your junior Picasso or Rodin for what's sure to be a fun and exciting art project! Please join your child’s class during their regular art time on Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 12:40 to 1:30. 

Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Goodbye 2018! Happy 2019!

Reading/Writing/Social Studies:

We ended 2018 by learning about people who inspire us. As we read biographies about people from all over the world, artists, inventors, humanitarians, politicians, scientists, sports figures, etc... We not only read and learned about their lives, but we paid close attention to what was in their character that enabled them to be so extraordinary. We had many conversations about how these people are "change makers" and in many ways enabled us to live as we do today. We decided as a class to be mindful of these character traits in ourselves when we are presented with challenges in our everyday lives.

Yesterday, I uploaded to SeeSaw biographies that the kids wrote with a partner. They used an app called Book Creator! I hope you all got a chance to check it out. They had to read and research someone they thought was extraordinary, take notes, write the copy for their text and find pictures from the internet to match their text. Then, the fun part... they read their books for your listening enjoyment. I have also printed a hard copy of their books that I will be saving for you. 


The focus in math continues to be money. The kids have learned how to efficiently count coins, trade coins, and make change. To put our skill to the test, we created a Reindeer Art Store. I gave the kids $1.25 (in play money, of course), they had to buy the supplies they needed for their reindeer. They needed to use each of the skills I listed above in order to buy everything. The finished reindeer will be coming home today with the receipt attached!

We also continued to practice subtraction strategies. I can't stress enough how important it is that the kids keep practicing their math facts! Every bit of what we are doing in Number Talks will be MUCH easier if they know them from memory.


Half the class has done their Family Tradition speeches and they were fabulous. Today I am sending home a green folder (no Wednesday Folder this week) with a Speech Feedback sheet as well as some holiday art work. This time I did not video tape them. It's very hard to do written feedback and video at the same time. Once I get the kids efficient enough on the iPad, I can have kids video their friends for up-coming speeches.

Other Important Information:

When we get back from break, we will hit the ground running with our immigration unit and we will start getting ready for Ellis Island Day which will be on January 31st at 9:00am. You will be getting more information from the 2nd grade team and our Ellis Island Day parent volunteer coordinator about this special day. We will be needed A LOT of parent volunteers for this to be successful, so please mark your calendars.

•Also, when we get back, you will be getting a packet with information, permission slips and donation envelopes for our upcoming field trips.


Words cannot express how grateful I am for all the homemade cards and treats, ornaments, gift cards, cash, candy and wine. Your thoughtfulness means so much to me.
         I also want to thank Sabrina Ames and Lara Merrigan for planning all our  Sweet 16 celebrations so far this year. I’d also like to thank the parents who helped to make Our Polar Express Party so cozy and delicious with the hot cocoa, fruit and donuts.
         I TRULY feel blessed to be a part of your children’s lives… and I wish you all a very happy holiday and best wishes for the New Year!
Thank you so much.
Your very grateful teacher,

Mrs. Curtis

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Extraordinary People, Money, and More!

Reading/Social Studies: 
We began one of my favorite units Extraordinary People. I’m combining it with reading because not only are we going to be learning about heroic people in our countries history, it is also the beginning of our exposure to the genre of nonfiction, and specifically biographies. As we spend time on four very important Americans, we will be paying close attention to the nonfiction text features that help readers comprehend the content. The kids are picking  “just right” biographies to read during Reading Workshop. We began the unit with none other than George Washington! As we read about him, we paid close attention to the details given about his childhood, the challenges he faced, his accomplishments and the character traits that enabled him to be so extraordinary. We are also keeping a timeline that will show the lifespan of all the Americans that we will be studying in relation to each other, the history of America, and to ourselves right now. The overlying theme as we study Washington, Harriett Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, and Martin Luther King, Jr. will be the impact that these determined Americans had on the people of their time and how their impact is still felt now in 2017.

Language Arts/Writing: 
I always love to use this time of year to focus on grammar and word choice. The kids have been browsing holiday books of all kinds. As they enjoy these stories, they jot down juicy adjectives, nouns, and verbs that they find. We have been creating a list of holiday words to be used in our writing this month. We began with a holiday acrostic poem.

The focus during Number Talks has been subtraction. We began a new list of Subtraction Strategies and ALL the children are able to subtract a two-digit number from a one-digit number.
i.e. 32  8 = __  Some are using an open number line, some are breaking apart the 2nd number and subtracting in chunks, some are just counting on their fingers! Soon they will be able to do all these strategies in their head!

We also began a new unit on money. The kids observed and sketched the four main U.S. coins. They can identify all of them and are learning how to write their values using a cent sign and a dollar sign with a decimal point. Much more with money to come!

Other Important Information:

Our room parents are busy planning our Polar Express party on Thursday, Dec. 20th. We'll all come to school that day armed with our stuffies and dressed in our warm, comfy jammies to board the Polar Express. The train will be leaving the station first thing in the morning.  

A new SPEECH will be assigned for homework the final week before our break. It will be their only homework that week. I plan on sending it home on Friday, the 14th so that they can have a little more time to practice. The topic is a Family Tradition (it does NOT need to be a holiday tradition). All instructions will be included in their homework folder on Friday. This time, the kids will have a choice between presenting their speech on Thursday the 20th or Friday the 21st. It's better for the kids to spread out the speeches over two days (it's difficult for some to sit through 22 speeches in one day), and if they are ready, they should go for it!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

A Hanukkah Celebration!

I wanted to send out a quick blog about a special day we had in Room 16 today. Thanks to Sabrina Ames and Anna Abramson and with the help of Sabrina’s mother, Susan, we had a WONDERFUL Hanukkah Celebration in our classroom. Sabrina read an adorable story about Hanukkah, explained the menorah and lit the candles. While the kids listening to the story, they were treated, by Anna, to latkes and applesauce. Then they all got to decorate cookies (homemade by Sabrina), make a paper menorah, and play the dreidel game.
It was SUCH a fun day and SO great for the kids to learn about another holiday tradition.
Sabrina and Anna!!! We can’t thank you enough!!!
Happy Hanukkah!