Saturday, October 20, 2018

Speeches, Voting, Halloween and More!

Language Arts and Writing:
After reading Halloween stories, brainstorming and creating a class work bank, the kids worked on writing their own stories using “juicy words” from our list. We spent time looking at the difference between “tired” sentences and “bell ringers.” Bell ringers became the goal for all! They also developed a plan for their stories. The idea Haunted House Sale!. They picked creepy characters, and described the perfect house that any goblin, ghost or gremlin would love to buy!  We worked together on revising and editing their stories, they colored and added their characters to the inside of their haunted house, and their finished work is on display in our room. Many of you have probably already seen and heard your child’s story on Seesaw, but feel free to stop by if you’d like to see more!

Daily 5 seems to be every ones favorite time of day. I believe that’s because most of the class has figured out what a “just right” book looks and feels like for him or her. They are engaged with their books and are very enthusiastic about what they are reading. Many have a very hard time putting their books down when the session is over. I am still in the process of meeting with each child individually. When we meet, together we zero in on a reading goal specific to their needs. I also give them reading strategies to help them accomplish their goal. The goal and strategies are on a post-it on their reading folder as a reminder. We will meet again soon, either individually or in a small group to see where to go next. I am beginning to see kids reading more fluently and accurately and their comprehension is improving as well. Other choices that they have during Daily 5 are: Work on Writing, Listening to Reading on Raz-Kids (they also practice fluency during Listening to Reading by recording themselves rereading a story they just heard), practicing sight words with Word Study or meeting with me.

Our Reading Workshop lessons have been about the story elements: Character, Setting, Problem and Solutions. As they read independently they are working on identifying these elements in the stories they are reading.

We are working our way towards adding 2-digit plus 2-digit addition problems and using different strategies to solve them. The kids have now built a strong repertoire of strategies to help solve these problems ALL IN THEIR HEAD! In my last blog, I included a picture of our Adding Strategies poster. We are continuing to add strategies to that poster and when we meet for conferences, I will be giving you a sheet that shows how to show most of the strategies that have come straight from the kids. The strategy of “stacking” the numbers on top of each other has not come up yet. Many parents will want to show it to their kids on their homework. It’s how we learned it FOR SURE! But, please try not to. It is a difficult strategy to do in their heads especially if regrouping is involved. It also keeps them from understanding and developing basic number sense. The rule of thumb for kids this age is if you can’t use a particular strategy to solve an equation in your head (and need a piece of paper to write it down), then it isn’t the best strategy. Even using fingers is OKAY!!! It’s a strategy. We want to give them a VERY strong foundation for numbers first. In 3rd grade the “stacking way” algorithm will be introduced and you will see that it will make WAY more sense to them. Without this foundation in 2nd grade, they will blindly follow the steps with little understanding of WHY or HOW it works.

Coming up in the next few weeks we will be working on place value and comparing numbers using greater than > and less than < symbols. And, we are continuing to count by tens and hundreds, forwards and backwards.

The class has finally finished making their Me on The Map books. They should be able to tell you their address, town, state, country, continent, and planet. Hopefully you saw and heard your child tell you on Seesaw as well!

Social Studies:
One of our 2nd grade Social Studies Standards is teaching the kids about our government and how it works. With the election coming up, we thought this was the perfect time. Our focus will be on the power of VOTING. Yesterday, the kids shared all the things they think they know about our government. I only wish I had recorded them! It was pretty awesome! I used an app on my iPad called Padlet
to make a chart about what they think they know and questions they have. We will keep adding to this chart and researching the answers to their questions next week, and I will upload the final chart to Seesaw so that you can see it. BOY! We only just got started and they definitely have opinions and A LOT of questions! (Don’t worry I keep all MY opinions to myself.) Like I said, the focus will be on voting and why voting is SO important. We have already talked about how you must be 18, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have a say through their family members who are 18 or older by encouraging them to vote. Included in your child’s homework folder this week is a blue Voter Pledge. The idea is to make kids aware of elections and the process and get a conversation started with you and/or friends and relatives about voting. 

I’m sure many of your kids have told you that we often start our day by taking 5 minutes to clear and calm our minds. We are using an amazing app called Calm. 
It is fantastic. The kids are truly getting into it. My hope is that a little will transfer to home. I am teaching them that it is a tool that they can use to calm themselves even without the program. Another quicker tool we’ve been practicing is when we are feeling anger and frustration, take a minute to take few deep breaths. This is how it works Stop, turn your body away, find something on a wall or the ground to count, and take about 5-7 deep breaths while counting that thing. In the classroom it might be handles on the drawers, names on the wall, or clothespins on the art wire. Outside, it may be rocks or a pattern on the ground. Remind your kids that this is also a tool they can use at home!

Other Important Information:

I’m hoping you all opened your kids’ backpacks and noticed that they have already brought home next week’s homework. I sent it early because they will be giving their first speech next Friday and I wanted them to have some extra time to work on it. All the directions are included, but here is a quick picture of the Speech Assignment. It would be great if you could help your child pick a special photo to share with our class and tell about it. I do want to point out that in the directions it says to look for a “feedback sheet.” You will not find that in our folders. All the 2nd grades are doing this speech this week, but I will not be scoring our kids on this speech and won’t be using that feedback sheet until the next speech. I will video the kids and upload their speeches to Seesaw so that you can enjoy watching, point out all the great things they did and talk with your kids about some ways to improve for next time. I want their first speech to be as stress-free and fun as possible.

Thank you to all who donated and worked so hard on our 2nd grade basket for the Stampede!  I believe the baskets made quite a bit of money for the PTA for our students.

Halloween Parade

  • Parade begins at 8:50 led by Kinders and 5th graders and will go around our track. The parade is ONE lap. Parents, please keep the parade route clear by gathering inside the track area (on the turf, baseball field, or hill).
  • Photographs and cheers are most welcome!
  • Students come to school in costume, and change out of costume after the parade or our party (whichever they prefer).
  • Costumes may not include weapons or be blood-and-gutsy. Remember this is a TK-5 school event - please match your child’s costume to the context!
  • Kindergarteners will parade with 5th grade buddies. Classes will walk in K/5, 1,2,3,4 order.

Immediately following the parade, we will meet in front of the classroom to take some class photos. After that we will have some time back in our classrooms until recess at 10:00. While the kids are at recess, parents can set up for our 2nd Grade Halloween Party that will start at 10:15. Thank you to Sabrina Ames and Lara Merrigan for organizing and planning our contribution to our big 2nd Grade Bash!

The kids can choose to stay in their costumes all day or change either after the parade or the party.

Can’t wait to see all my little goblins angels in their Halloween costumes!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!


Saturday, October 6, 2018

October Fun!

Hello Sweet 16 Families! Here is what’s been happening!

Language Arts and Writing: October is always my favorite month for descriptive writing. Poetry is a big part of our writing curriculum and the 2nd graders will be writing poems all year. We use poetry to help the kids understand how to creatively use words to paint a picture. We also use it to identify parts of speech and how to effectively use parts of speech in their writing. As we ease into Autumn, the kids worked in pairs to read books about fall, find juicy words in their books and add them to a Fall Wordbank. We categorized the words they found into adjectives, nouns and verbs and then used them to write a Fall Poem.
We also created a Halloween word bank for writing Halloween poems and for writing creepy narratives and stories for Writer's Workshop.

Reading: Daily 5 and Reading Workshop are in full swing. As a whole class during Reading Workshop, the kids are learning about how to become a better reader with reading strategies. They are working on improving their comprehension by using post-its to quickly jot down and retell what they just read. As well as comprehension, the kids are also working on their accuracy and becoming more fluent readers. The most important strategy for fluency and accuracy is to read voraciously and to reread books. I am also demonstrating specific strategies for decoding and figuring out meaning of unknown words WITHOUT losing the understanding of the story. Everyone is practicing these strategies with books at their own “Just Right” level.

During The Daily 5 part of our reading program, the kids are now choosing to either Reading to Self, Working on Writing, or Word Study. Word Study is an opportunity for kids to practice specific words that they missed on an assessment of the 100 words 2nd graders should know or practice sound/spelling pattern words of the week. As kids are working independently, I am meeting with each of your children one-on-one to identify specific reading goals and instruct them on strategies to attain these goals.

Math: As we continue with number talks, the kids are trying more and more strategies for solving problems in their heads. They are looking for ways to get “friendly” numbers, splitting numbers to make 10, and counting by 10’s or multiples of 10 on open number line. Soon the Number Talks we will be moving to 2-digit + 2-digit equations. Here are some pictures of typical Number Talks. Below that is the list of addition strategies and how to show them that the class has come up with so far.

We are also using these same strategies to solve story problems specifically designed to help kids see math in real life situations. I also can’t stress enough how important it is at this stage of the year that the kids are working on learning their basic math facts from memory. The basic facts are all the facts from 1+1 to 12+12.

Social Studies: We are continuing with our geography unit. The kids are creating a step book as they learn about their own small place on this big planet. They started with their own home and address, we’ve learned about our town and state. We are also learning about the differences between urban, suburban, and rural communities. We will finish up next week by learning about our continent and planet.

Other Important Information:

Please notice that I added a link on our blog for Carline and Lunch Line sign ups. Our class isn’t scheduled for these duties until February, but it is a huge need at Edna and I wanted you all to be aware of it. We added Lunch Line volunteers this year because on most days, the kids who pick up hot lunch wait in line far too long and help is needed to get the kids through it faster. Often, especially on pizza days, kids barely have time to eat their lunch before the bell rings for them to play at recess. SO, please sign up if you have any extra time during the month of Feb.

There are still a few of you who have not signed up for SeeSaw. Next week we will be doing a geography project that will be uploaded to SeeSaw and you won’t want to miss it. Once the kids get more familiar with how to use the program they will be uploading more of their work and it’s SO fun to see! The link to sign up is on the “link” section of this blog.

Thank you to all who ordered books this month through Scholastic! All your orders translated into points that will allowed me to order new books for our classroom! With our first order, I was able to purchase about 30 new books for our classroom! I passed out the new books for kids to put in their book boxes and try out during Read to Self time.

Conferences are coming up! If you have not signed up for a conference, you can still do so on the link on this blog.

We are working on plans for Halloween Stay tuned for more information on that as well!

Have a wonderful LONG weekend!


Sunday, September 23, 2018

So much to tell you!

Happy Sunday! 

We’ve had a GREAT week!  We are all starting to settle in and feel a little bit like a family. We have class meetings each morning and talk about how things are going and how we can work toward having a Growth Mindset. Other topics have been about kindness and how it feels when someone is kinder than necessary to you AND how it feels when YOU are kinder than necessary to someone else. We continue to practice Mindfulness as a tool to help us calm down and let go (at least for a little while) the things that make us feel anxious. We are also learning how to use it to help us stay more focused.

Language Arts: We are working on how to properly use capital letters and ending punctuation. Our spelling pattern was short vowels and we had our first Spelling Dictation on Friday. They did VERY well and you will see them in their Wed. Folder next week. They are not only focusing on their spelling sound and pattern words, but practicing capitalization and punctuation rules as well.
Reading/ Daily 5: As I explained at Back to School Night, The Daily 5 is a reading and writing choice time. So far, I’ve introduced Three out of the 5, Read to Self, Word Study (practice with spelling pattern, sounds and sight words) and Work on Writing. As of now, we are just practicing with each of these separately so that when it does become a true choice time, their stamina will be built for each. Read to Self, during The Daily 5 is going exceptionally well. Most of our class is already very familiar with the rules of The Daily 5 and are already able to read silently for up to 20 minutes! We’ve moved on to building our stamina for Work on Writing and Word Study (which, from the looks of things, will not take long and more on this below).

The great thing about having this longer stamina is that it’s already giving me time to meet individually with kids. I’m assessing their reading levels and together, we are looking at the books they are choosing that they THINK are Just Right. So far, many are choosing books that are just a little too hard. I can’t stress enough how important comprehension, accuracy and fluency are when choosing and reading books. Many want to read books that seem really funny and cool, have a great plot and characters, but the content is just too above them, they are struggling with too many words or they are reading very slow or choppy. Some may seem be able to read every word of books like Hilo, Percy Jackson, even some of the Rainbow Fairy books, but when pressed to tell me details or go deeper into the meaning of the events that are happening in the story, they just aren’t there. Another example of what’s happening for some of our higher readers is that they seem to be easily reading more difficult words, but when I ask if they know what the word means, they often don’t! So during our one-on-one meetings, I’m scaling many of them at all levels down a bit. I promise them they will get there in no time if when reading independently the are reading books at their true level first. Once they get some help from me and really see what their Just Right level really looks like, they will be much better at choosing on their own. Those harder books can be great Instructional level books (books to ready together with an adult), but not at their Independent level. However, all that being said, one of the very best indicators of a Just Right Book is if they just don’t want to put it down.

Writing: The best way for kids to learn to write is to WRITE! Right? These last couple of weeks we have not only been working on our reading stamina, but we are also working on our writing stamina. The kids are loving having choices. One choice is writing letters using proper letter form. I am the mailwoman (and reader of all mail before delivered), and I make sure letters are delivered around school. So far, other choices are journal writing, writing comics, and Weekend News (more choices will be presented soon). I often use Weekend News to teach basic skills each week. The focus has been choosing one small moment (instead of listing everything they did) from their weekend to write about. Mini-lessons have been on how to add extra details by asking yourself questions like who was there? How did I feel? Why was it so much fun? Future lessons will be on how to hook your reader with a BOLD beginning and how to change out “tired” words like “ran” to juicy words like “zipped” or “sprinted.” All this will lead to bigger lessons on writing Personal Narratives, a second grade standard.

Math: We are continuing with our number talks and sharing strategies. Using snap facts that we already know, such as 10s and doubles to help us with facts we don’t is one strategy. Others are scanning the problem for ways to make ten and adding or subtracting between addends to get to the closest “friendly number” were all more strategies that we spent time on these past few weeks. I’m also teaching them how to “show their strategy” in writing to help them with their homework.
Other math concepts we have been working on are using the hundreds chart and skip counting by 10s and 20s. The kids took their first Math Review this week to show their understanding of the concepts we have worked on so far. You will see their Math Review in the Wed. Folders this week. I use these reviews to guide my instruction for the next week Do they have it? Are we ready to move on? Or should we spend more time on a particular concept?

Social Studies: We have begun our first unit on geography and mapping. After spending time looking at wall maps, globes, road maps, atlases, and everyone’s favorite Google Earth, the kids were ready to make a connection with themselves and the space they take up on this big planet

Other Important Information:

A note about reading logs

I’m sure your kids have told you about their reading challenge, but if not, here’s what’s up:

Together as a class we calculated the minimum number of minutes our class should collectively be reading each week. If all 22 kids read 20 minutes each night Monday-Thursday, that adds up to 1,760 minutes per week. Well, of course, Edna P.R.O.U.D. kids continuously work on doing their personal best, AND they go above and beyond what is expected. Last week they read over 2200 minutes! So, for next week they decided to set their reading goal for this next week at 2300 minutes (we figured reading a little bit more that 20 mins. a night would be a challenge, but can be done!). If the class reaches their goal, they get 100 points on our class Party Points chart. When we earn 1,000 points, we will have a class party!
There are a few things I want to mention

1. Any reading, at any time, can count. Just because the reading log goes home on Monday and comes back on Friday doesn’t mean the kids can’t include minutes read over the weekend.  Just add that in anywhere on the log and include it in the total.

2. Parents, older siblings or anyone else reading to or with your child also counts, but I do want to strongly urge that your kids read independently at their “Just Right” level every night as well.

3. Because I like this whole thing to be a bit of a math lesson, I’m insisting (starting this coming week) that when the kids bring back their reading logs, and want to include their minutes in our total, they MUST have their own weekly total already calculated and written in on their reading log. (Please feel free to help them with that.) They have up until it is their turn to share their minutes to calculate it. If it isn’t calculated by that time, we can’t count it.

4. Reading logs must be turned in first thing Friday morning to count in our reading minutes total. This is part of the incentive to get homework turned in on time and turning in homework on time is part of learning responsibility. Kids will often say, “My mom (or Dad) forgot to put it in my backpack.” I will always respond, “Homework is NOT your parents’ responsibility. It is yours. I’m sure you’ll remember it next week.”

5. Lastly, PLEASE check your child’s log before he/she turns it in to make sure they are a true reflection of their effort in reading for the week. We had a long talk about honesty and integrity and that some days or even weeks are going to be better than others that’s just the way it goes. If your child reads more than 160 minutes for the week, please sign the reading log. In the past, I have had a few that posted over 300 minutes for the week. That’s A LOT!  I believe that reading, math strategy practice and practicing math facts are really the MOST beneficial homework I could possibly give them. So, it’s important to me that they don’t slack and stay dedicated to working hard in these areas. BUT, I also REALLY want them to play and have down time, too. That is why we have decided as a grade level to really stick to 25 mins per night as the district homework policy states. We do not want to load them up with too much pencil/paper work to be done at home.

If you have not yet signed up for Seesaw. I have included the link in the links section of this blog. The kids will soon be posting their work!

•Please sign up for on the link to the right to get last minute updates from me!

I have a LOT of thank yous to give out

Thank you for ALL the extra supplies that have been pouring in!

I also want to thank ALL those who have volunteered to help with Wednesday Folders and for our specials.

Enjoy the rest of the BEAUTIFUL Fall weekend!

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Welcome to Room 16!

Hello Room 16 Families!

Welcome to my blog! Each time I add a post I’ll let you know via email (I usually try to get these out every other week and I usually write them on the weekend when I have a little more time). The great thing about a blog is that every post will be saved and you can always look back for any information you might need. Please be sure to check out the “Important Dates” section on the right. That is where I’ll list not just important school events, but due dates for special projects, forms, speeches, etc I am also including links to the Edna Maguire Websites, our library, and the district website. Also on the right, is where I will put sign ups for volunteering, conferences, etc... Toward the end of every blog there is an “Other Important Information” section. This is probably the most important part of my blog, as it is where I’ll have directions, announcements, requests, etc This week I have included more information about homework, which starts Monday! If you ever have questions, comments, or concerns about anything that I put in my blog, please feel free to shoot me an email.

We are about three and a half weeks into our new school year, and I couldn’t be happier about this class! Sweet, eager, and so CUTE are the three words I’d use to describe them. They are quickly getting used to our routines, our classroom, and my silly sense of humor.  So far, we are having a great time. I am also looking forward to getting to know all of you and working closely with you to ensure your kids’ success in 2nd grade!

Our Week:

Math: A lot of our math instruction has been learning routines such as our calendar, number of the day, and number talks. We are also working on learning patterns on the 100's chart and math facts that make 10. Much of our math practice is done through articulating strategies and playing strategically targeted math games.

Reading: Everything has been about reading STAMINA! This class is awesome. They have already built their stamina to 20-25 mins. (thank you, first grade teachers! Oh and parents, too, for encouraging reading over the summer). As they are reading independently, I’ve begun working with them individually to identify their “just right” levels and helping them to pick books for their book boxes. There has been a lot of talk about not trying to keep up with anyone else. We are all “unique”(a word that came directly from the kids), have different abilities, purposes and interests. It is very hard to become a good life-long reader if you struggle with, don’t love or do not comprehend what you are reading.

Writing: It seems as though writing STAMINA will not be a problem with this class either!!! We've begun Work on Writing. It is one of the choices during Daily 5 and they are loving it. I've demonstrated journal writing, letter writing and how to write a comic! Yesterday I had to cut them off after 20 mins. because we just ran out of time.

Science: We started our year with hands on investigations that allowed the kids to observe, predict, ask questions, make diagrams, test ideas, etc all things that “real” scientists do. First, we observed what happened when we put  a very small (about 2 cm) and hard bead called a Jelly Marble in water over night. They were fascinated by its transformation. It enlarged to about an inch wide and became “squishy.”  We tried to figure out why that happened by adding food coloring to the water and trying different kinds of liquids to new beads to see if that made a difference.

This year we are going to be working on understanding the difference between a Fixed Mindset and a Growth Mindset. In class we are going to practice having a GROWTH mindset i.e. trying not to say “I can’t” but saying “I’ll try.” Instead of  “I don’t know how to do that,” say “I don’t know how to do that, YET.” As they were working this week, I already heard and saw plenty of evidence that I have a classroom full of kids ready to embrace a “growth mindset!”

Other Important Information:

As I explained at Back to School Night, homework will usually come home on Monday and will be due back to school on Friday. The only assignments that MUST be completed and returned on Fridays are the Reading Log and the Daily Math Strategy page on the back. The Math Challenge is always OPTIONAL. They can be hard, but fun to do together. I usually give a little reward to any students who at least TRY! The Spelling List and any spelling options they choose to complete do not have to come back unless they really want to show it to me.
In the blue homework folder, you will see a plastic sleeve. Everything in the sleeve needs to stay in the sleeve all year. They are directions and ideas only. Spelling options/ideas are on the back.

•More about the Spelling List and dictation test: Each week's spelling list will focus on a spelling pattern or two. Soon, (but not for a couple of weeks) you will notice that every week there will be high-frequency words to be practiced as well. That list will grow each week. On Fridays, we will do a spelling/dictation assessment. Words from all the previous lists and spelling patterns, as well as punctuation will be assessed.

I want to thank you all so much for coming to Back to School Night and for volunteering for the jobs that help our year together to run smoothly. Thank you to Sabrina Ames and Lara Merrigan for signing up to be our Room Parents. I’m sure you will be hearing a lot from them this year. 

•Several of you have asked for the class email/contact list. I can't give out that information unless I know that EVERYONE is okay with their information being shared. SO, please shoot me an email by Wednesday if you DO NOT want your contact information to be shared and I will remove you from the list. I will get the list out to you all after Wednesday. 
There is still time to order books from Scholastic. If you no longer have the order form, you can see it online at our class code is L3FR8. I will be submitting the order on Friday.

I know this is a lot! I promise my blogs are not usually this long! Thank you for taking the time to read it! 

Check out your kids in action during FUN DAY FRIDAY math games. 

Enjoy the weekend!