Stories we’ve shared this month, integrated into science and social studies:
On Tumble Books:
Have you ever seen a duck in a raincoat?
Round is a Mooncake.
Welcome to the Library
On Storyline Online:
White Socks Only
Language & Math
Borrow a Book Homework is going into week three – thanks for all your support! Please be sure to read through the whole program – as there seems to be some confusion :S
ALL books, whether read by the student or parent, count as reading! Please do make a short comment about each book – it shows me that you’re discussing it, making connections and thinking about your reading. Also, please make sure you’re completing the written component of the program – the conversations you have are just as important as the decoding – comprehension is key! This part SHOULD be written and composed by the students, it’s their thinking; they can use the Most Frequently Used words list but should ‘sound out’ most of the other words on their own – it’s OK to help with the really tricky ones ;)
Thanks also to all our volunteers who came in to celebrate Family Literacy Week – what a great way to celebrate the launch of Borrow a Book than to invite families in to share their favourite stories. We even had Mr. Sonyi stop in to share some silly stories J
Charlotte’s web is a beautiful story about love, loyalty, friendship and loss. Watch one of the last scenes on YouTube and have a talk with your son or daughter. Why would Wilbur take Charlotte’s egg sac home to the barn?
Students used Teacher Feedback in the form of Two Stars and a Wish to edit their Ryan’s Well writing (see last blog post for more info). The Two Stars are something to be proud of, something a student achieved (finger spaces, punctuation, supporting details) and the Wish is something that they missed, that they should include next time if they get the chance to redo their work … and they did! Ask your son or daughter about who Ryan is and what he’s done to help communities around the world:
After several ‘Two Stars and a Wish’ feedback sessions, students were encouraged to choose one wish as a goal, something that they felt needed more direct attention – and they signed up on our Writing Goals chart! This is a fluid chart; as students feel they’ve mastered their Wish (it’s become a ‘Star’) then they can change their goal and focus on another aspect of Writer’s Workshop. *Check in – what’s your son’s or daughter’s goal and WHY?!
Pen Pals – woohoo! We’ve started writing friendly letters to another grade 1/2 TDSB class from Garden public school. We received our letters, read them with a buddy and then planned our responses. It’s polite to answer their questions, ask a few ourselves and then offer up some neat information we think our Pen Pal might like to know. Our focus is construct ‘questioning’ and ‘statement’ type sentences, with legible printing and proper punctuation. We should be getting responses to our first letters any day now!
After watching Welcome to the Library, we discussed some of the services that are provided in our community. Lots of people have occupations right here in the Junction and they interact with the people of the community daily – but, What is it they do? How do they help us? Where do they get their resources from? Yes, a grocer helps us when we need to buy our food, but think about all the things that they do ‘behind the scenes’ to provide that service to us! EXTENSION ACTIVITY: Think of somewhere you go with your son or daughter and the people who work there, their occupations – The Purple Onion, Delights, The Sweet Potato, or The Creative Children’s Dance Centre with Laurie! Think of what she does on a daily basis to make sure that your child can take a dance class?! Talk about all the ‘behind the scenes’ action that makes the Junction a great place to live.
It’s all about shapes and their attributes this month! Straight sides, curved edges, corners/points/vertices, dents and bumps and even “It looks like a cashew nut!” – how can you describe a shape? If you had a mystery bag with 3 shapes in it, with a total of 8 sides in all, what shapes might they be? So many options! We played this game orally with a buddy (numerous times) and then we wrote down our thinking in our math journals. Be sure to explain your thinking with Words, Images and Numbers for a W.I.N.ing strategy!
We’ve been exploring symmetry as well as Flips, Slides and Turns with our pattern blocks and created shape pictures with only shapes that we could describe (e.g., circles, squares, rectangles, rhombus’, hexagon, heptagon, octagon etc). Check out this interactive Patch Tool: most shapes can ‘Slide’ into place, but for some you’ll have to use the ‘Flip’ and ‘Turn’ buttons. These tasks may seem basic and easy, but it’s the talking about it as you play that’s important – get used to the mathematical language!
To check in with Number Sense and Problem Solving, the students were given an image (Grade 1s had a teddy bear picnic and the grade 2s had a monkey and bear picnic) and then asked to write number stories about it. The grade 1s were asked to write statements while the grade 2s were asked to write questions and answers. For example, a grade 1 might say: “There are 3 adult cups and 2 kid’s cups. There are 5 cups in all” – then they’d draw an image to go along with the words, as well as a number sentence: 3+2=5. A grade 2 might say “How many monkeys are there in the tree?”, then answer “There were 9 monkeys in the tree but 2 fell out. Now there are 7 monkeys in the tree; 9-2=7”. Using Words, Images and Numbers is strongly encouraged when explaining mathematical thinking – we call it a W.I.N.ing strategy!
We’re also adding ‘Mental Math’ sheets to our Math Folders on a daily basis. The idea is that students answer the questions they know, quickly, and then skip the ones they don’t. Eventually they’ll go back and use their number line (moving away from using our fingers as a counting strategy) to count on (when adding) or to count back (when subtracting).
You can get your own mental math pages from Math-Aids:
Single Digit, Double Digit.
Laurie taught us so much about animal coverings and adaptations! Students got to rotate through five centres, scales, shells, quills, furs, feathers. Here is a snippet of what we learned:
Skin is a stretchy and protective covering. Skin is waterproof and can be used for camouflage. Frogs can actually absorb oxygen through their skin in water and on land. Some animals shed their old skin as it is replaced by new skin beneath.
Mammals have hair which grows from follicles in the skin. It serves to keep the animal’s body warm and skin dry. Wool is a type of hair. Some mammals have only one layer of hair (e.g. deer, horses). Other mammals (e.g. rabbits, bears) have fur which consists of two layers of hair with longer guard hairs on top and a downy undercoat below. The whole coat is called the pelage.
Quills are made up of many hairs stuck together. They provide protection because they have sharp pointy tips and barbs along the hair shaft. When threatened, the porcupine will turn around and charge backwards towards its offender.
Only birds have feathers. There are down, contour, tail and flight feathers. Each has a unique function and all are lightweight. Feathers grow from follicles in the bird’s skin. Plumage refers to all the feathers on a bird.
An animal that has a shell is actually carrying its skeleton on the outside of its body. The shell is called an exoskeleton. It supports and protects the animal.
Reptiles and fish have scales. They can be overlapping and shed individually (e.g. many fish). They can also be fused together (e.g. lizards). Butterfly wings are made up of scales. A turtle’s “shell” is actually scales fused together.
When we did whole group activities, this is what we talked about:
Hibernation: When animals hibernate, their body temperature, heart hate and oxygen consumption all decrease to conserve energy. They cannot be awakened until they sense the season cues of longer days and warmer temperatures. Recently, with the use of closed circuit cameras, scientists have discovered that bears may not be true hibernators after all. It appears that they do in fact wake and stir through the winter months and that bear mothers actually give birth during the winter.
Dormancy: When an animal is dormant, it conserves energy by sleeping for long periods. It can be woken up.
Migration: Many animals travel to other regions to escape the cold and find food. Examples: robins, monarch butterflies, caribou.
Camouflage: To increase the chance of survival in the winter, some animals grow a white winter coat that helps them blend in with their surroundings. Similarly, they much change their winter colours in the spring as their environment’s colours change.
Storing body fat: Seals, penguins, and bears are examples of animals that increase their body fat to help keep them warm. This extra fat is called blubber.
Growing thicker coats: Mammals throughout the northern hemisphere grow thicker coats to stay warm in the winter and must shed out their heavy coats for the summer months.
Storing food: Some animals spend the fall gathering and storing food to eat during the snowy winter months.
Fluffing up: Birds trap body heat by fluffing-up their downy feathers. This traps warm air beside their skin and helps them to survive on very cold days.
Open House was AWESOME! I don't think I have ever had such a turnout and such support. Thank you all for being there. Please thank your kids again for being there. This is what High Park's all about!
Roots of empathy has been going so well. Our last two lessons have been about “How to soothe baby” when he’s hungry, sad, wet, tired and “How to plan for baby” – when Melissa leaves the house, she has to bring SO MUCH stuff with her! Loving and caring for a little human being is a lot of work.
Again, welcome back room 102. It was a lovely week - catching up on all the fun winter holiday happenings, but also falling back into routines and getting back to work.
If you read my First Day Back post, you'll see all the amazing sharing, writing and reading we did - a rich language activity based on our winter holiday happenings. Later in the week we talked about setting goals - we picked 4 different areas in school where we think we could improve, two based on learning skills (helping others; listening; following instructions; working independently etc.) and two based on curriculum content areas (reading; writing; math; dance; music etc.). We then came up with a plan, details and steps about how we plan to improve. For example, I will get better at listening by moving away from my friends on the carpet (so we won't get distracted) and turning to face the speaker. Or, I will get better at Dance by following the instructions and trying to do the steps that are taught (e.g., I'll only 'freestyle' when it's appropriate!). Ask you son or daughter about their New Year's Goals AND their plans.
This week I also did running records with (almost!) all the students during our morning literacy block, Daily Five. I use the Reading A to Z library that we have in class, allowing the students to choose between 2 or 3 books at their level and then assess as they read. So much progress! Keep practising at home and look for to a new homework program starting term 2.
*Thanks again to our parent volunteers - first week back and we had a parent in each morning to run our Word Work Games Centre - such a treat! We've added three new games: Out of this World Sight Word Bingo (Scholastic), Sight Word Dominoes (Scholastic) and a puzzle game, where students use the pictures and letters to spell simple, small words.
Integrating our HPAS theme of water, we used an EQAO Reading question called 'Ryan's Well' to spark some conversation. Together, we read the text on the SmartBoard and discussed it as we went. You can find this reading selection, along with some sample answers on the EQAO website under theparent resources. The students were told right away that this was a grade 3 level text, so not to fell nervous if they found it tricky ... but they were really excited to tackle it! How is a well helpful to communities? How is Ryan making a difference in the world?
@We365 is something that I heard about on Twitter - and I think it's great. We took on the #WordsFromTheWindowSeat challenge with our book buddies and displayed tons of #goodvibes and positive new year's messages on our class window. Check them out at pick up and drop off.
Check out your snowflakes in the main hallway! They are BEAUTIFUL and they are the talk of the school :) Congratulations on all your hard work - you are all developing into great writers.
To launch our 2D Shapes Math unit this week, students had a blast playing with and using our Tangrams. Check out this PBS Kids site for some fun interactive games. Why play with Tangrams?
We also had a visit from Ilse, Roots of Empathy, and discussed 'Why do babies cry?' - then, 'How can we soothe them?'. We'll use what we learned when baby Sasha comes next week!
I'm going ahead and saying it ... I love being back at work
This is such an amazing bunch - they blow me away every day, especially today, our first day back after the winter holidays. They're off in Gym right now and I couldn't help but take a moment just to let you in on it, on all the amazingness that has happened so far today.
We sat on the carpet and went through our daily schedule in the blue pocket chart - lots of kids were already confused as to why we weren't doing Daily 5 today? Well, I told them ... how many of you have lots of exciting news that you want to share, that you're really excited about sharing and you just can't wait to tell everybody all about?! There were lots of cheers :) We took over a half an hour, just chatting on the carpet, switching up the partners every five minutes or so, talking all about our winter vacations - who we saw, where we went, what we did, the gifts we got! Then we listened to the read aloud When Winter Comes, because winter is finally here! We shared some similarities with the book - many of us played outside, many of us had family traditions ...
After recess, the kids went to work for Writer's Workshop. They used a brainstormed list of Willy Words to describe their holidays:
I was excited to go to a playdate with ...
I built a gorgeous snowman ...
I went to an awesome place called ...
I love my nana's house because it is stupendous.
They kept writing, and writing, and asking for more Willy Words. I was blown away when I heard one of them say (without my prompting) "Hey, can you read this and see what I should add?" They were peer-editing their work! They were looking at old anchor charts in the room to check spelling! They were sounding out unknown words with the help from their *new* table mates. They were doing Writer's Workshop : ) On the First Day Back. After a two week vacation! Needless to say lots of class gems were earned and a lot of personal droplets were handed out.
We took some time at the end for the students to read their work aloud in the Author's Chair; about half of them did - which is a big improvement from the start of the year!
After lunch, we played our Gotta Keep Reading Drop Everything And Read, DEAR Time song and got right back into quiet, independent reading. The pillows and stuffies came out, we settled down and got cozy, because coming back to school after a vacation can be tough - so we needed some down time.
And now after they get back in from recess, we're going to play a few new Daily Five Word Games (so they can teach the parents this week) and start our new Chapter Book Read Aloud, Charlotte's Web, another fantastic and imaginative story about animals (keeping with the theme; Wind in the Willows, James and the Giant Peach)
I'm not sure if I can really convey the vibe that's taking place ... but it's a really good one. Thought you all should know.
Happy New Year Room 102! Here's to another exquisite six months!
In our Room 108 Classroom Community, we foster an engaging, respectful and caring environment. I aim to balance a consistent program with flexible responsiveness to students' individual needs.