What a great week last week was!
I am so thankful for such a wonderful class this year. You all made Teacher Appreciation Week really special with the most thoughtful treats! I've been enjoying reading the cards each student wrote, the flowers (though more of a dried bouquet now!) are still by my desk, and I'm drinking coffee courtesy of all of you! I'm resisting the urge to shop online at Exofficio for some great clothes for my Africa trip until AFTER my boards are over! Thank you so much :)
-My final due date for my year-long National Boards project is May 31. I need to be finished before then, however, to avoid possible uploading traffic and complications. Though I'm mostly done, I still have quite a bit to do. I had planned to be finished at the end of April, however,once a deadline worker always a deadline worker- I guess! I'll will be done soon :)
-Young Author's Day is Wednesday. Students have selected a piece of writing to feature this year and will practice reading today. I know they are in need of volunteers and I encourage you to help. It is a really cool day and amazing to watch kids of all ages sit together and share their written work.
-We are totally wrapped up in our packaging design right now for PBL! Our guest expert last week, Lauren McFerrin gave us a great checklist to follow and was able to "consult" with each toy designer :)
We will settle on a date for the Exhibition this week! Stay tuned!
Thank you for the beautiful garden bouquet! Our classroom smells absolutely delicious! The kids have had a great time showing me which flower they brought. What a great idea. I will enjoy them all week J
1. This week we are taking the Reading and Math MSP (Tuesday and Thursday respectively). We did some great practice, reviewed the released work of other students, and the kids are feeling confident! Thanks for supporting us by ensuring everyone gets plenty of sleep and a good breakfast.
2. Literacy Update: We completed our Poppy study and are now learning how to write persuasive letters to Disney in attempt to convince them that they should turn Poppy in to an animated movie! Persuasive writing is very structured. We are using a graphic organizer and walking through the process step by step. The kids are amazing me with their engagement and understanding. We talked about persuasive writing techniques and are tightly connecting our reading with our writing-so important to literacy development! We also completed a great read aloud of Walk Two Moons. This book is realistic fiction, but has many elements of mystery. Our next read aloud was suggested by several kiddos and Parisa brought in a copy of the book yesterday! We will enjoy The Penderwicks as a read aloud for these last few weeks. In reading workshop we will be doing a series of lessons focusing on tightening understanding and strengthening the reading strategies and skills we have explored this year. We will be doing whole group lessons as well as small group lessons focusing on both fluency and comprehension. Our next writing project will be to design and write invitations for our exhibition guests!
3. Math: We have completed our Common Core curriculum lessons and will spend the last weeks with whole group mini-lesson reviews and working on our new math menu! This menu reviews skills and gives challenges surrounding our math topics this year. I will also be using assessment data to work with kids in small groups to fill in gaps and make sure they are ready to move to 4th grade!
4. We are hard at work making our toys and designing packaging and exhibition displays! We will announce our exhibition date shortly which will be in early June. You are welcome to volunteer during our end of the day PBL time which starts at 2:45 each day (with some exceptions due to schedule changes J ).
Wednesday, May 8-Sounders tickets go home
Thursday, May 9- Math MSP
Friday, May 10- Jogathon!
Saturday, May 11- Sounders Game!! (Joe and I are excited to see you there!)
Wednesday, May 17- Young Author’s Day & Early Release
Here is an update to let you know about all the cool learning going on in third grade!
**Mavash Harvey, Parisa's mom, will be here teaching us about the Persian New Year this Wednesday!
**Parent Education Night: Thursday 7-8:30
Topic: "Becoming Culturally Competent in the 21st Century"
See the link below to Mr. Elliott's blog:
1. Reading- We just reached the halfway point in our whole-class book study of Poppy. We are totally sucked in to the story and practicing many reading strategies along the way! Our notebooks are filling up and after each quarter mark of the book we have a reflective writing assignment. The ¼ assignment was to use the “important events” list we co-created to write a five paragraph retell paper. We filled in rubrics, scoring ourselves and providing specific evidence for our scores. These papers and their rubrics will be posted to each student’s e-Folio shortly! I will alert you and ask you to comment, as usual, on your student’s work as well as the work of two others.
2. Poetry- We have jumped in to a reading and writing focused poetry unit! We began with a survey asking questions like: Do you know any famous poets? What is poetry? What different types of poems are there? We compiled our knowledge on to anchor charts which are now posted and being added to daily. We have spent time reading poetry compilations written by last year’s third graders and will be exploring many poetry books from our library. We even read Robert Frost today and used discussion and images to try and figure out just exactly what the poem “The Road Not Taken.” We will be creating our own poetry compilations and posting our work to e-Folios along the way!
Support us at home by:
1. Ask your child to stretch themselves and explain what “The Road Not Taken” means !
2. Read poetry at home together!
3. All students have posted their first poem “Biopoem” to their e-Folios. They also wrote a short blurb about what it was like writing this poem. Please read your child’s as well as two other students from our classroom. Leave a positive comment or ask a question to let them know they have an interested audience!
3. Math- We have been busy studying measurement. So far, we have covered time (including elapsed time word problems—challenging!), perimeter, and area. Differentiating between perimeter and area is very challenging in the beginning. We have been working hard! Our next units will cover capacity, and graphing/interpreting data. We will also be reviewing year-long content and making sure to cover all necessary topics before we take the MSP test in May.
Support us at home by:
1. Discussing perimeter and area in real-life contexts as reinforcement.
2. Continuing to incorporate Dreambox or Khan Academy as part of your child’s homework routine.
3. Tomorrow: I will send home the assessment packet students completed last Thursday which covered four Common Core standards (topics of time, perimeter, and area). Today, I met with each student and we went over their work, correcting errors and discussing strategy for assessment. Please look over the assessment again with your child. Sign the front page when completed, and return by the end of the week to be stored in portfolios!
4. PBL- Toy Exhibition Unit
There is great excitement for this unit! We had a fabulous time at our Costco Headquarters kick-off event and are off to work. We began by brainstorming popular toys (old and new !) and thinking about why they have become so popular. We noticed trends and used these ideas to start thinking as toy inventors. Students spent all last week thinking about a toy invention they would like to work on that would be popular, high demand, marketable, etc. We figured out that taking an existing toy, and either tweaking it slightly or extending it would be the best option as we don’ t have a real factory manufacturing for us! Students were allowed to work with a partner or independently, but had to join a company to work with. The attached document outlines our four companies, members, and their toy prototype idea.
As a reminder, we are just in the dreaming phase! Students can draw sketches, write about ideas, do research and talk about their ideas to their heart’s desires! But-NO construction-yet! We have a lot of work to do before our toys become reality-just like a real toy inventor would experience.
Students will be developing a company, individual plan, packaging for their product, and finally a prototype-IN THAT ORDER! Some students may only have time to create a drawing of their prototype, others may actually create a three dimensional prototype. When we get closer to that stage, we will likely ask for your support from home.
Today, students chose a meeting place to gather each session with their company, and began work brainstorming “Norms” they will abide to as they work. We spent time talking about the importance of establishing Norms and looked at what other groups have established for ideas.
This week they will work on a company name and slogan. They will be learning about honoring each member’s ideas, how to run effective meetings, and how to ultimately come to a decision.
Our new music teacher (taking over for Ms. Meg while she welcomes her new baby!) will be helping us to create jingles that we will include in commercials that Mr. Jeffery will help us to film! Our goal is to have a commercial playing on an iPad during the toy exhibition.
This will be one cool learning experience. Executive functioning is vitally important to success in both personal and business life and students will be practicing many of these skills throughout this unit. Here are our standards and goals:
Driving Question: “What does it take to create a successful toy product?
1. Making a Presentation: Speaking clearly and audibly, give an oral report to the class, explaining a concept using visual aids.
2. Working in a Group: In a small group, work quietly, confer and come to agreement, and take on roles.
1. Social Studies EALR 5.4: (Skills) Creates a product that uses social studies content to support a thesis and presents the product in an appropriate manner to a meaningful audience.
End Product: Exhibition, Model/Prototype/Consumer Product, Oral Report, Proposal
**You will be invited to our exhibition (end of May or early June).
How you can support us at home:
1. Look at the attached document to see what company your child is apart of and what product they are planning on inventing. Start brainstorming how you can eventually create a prototype. (Last year’s kids had a variety of prototypes including : detailed visual drawing/representation, an old toy they modified, modeled clay prototype, etc.)
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1. Field Trip:
We will be kicking off our next PBL Unit with a field trip to Costco headquarters in Issaquah! We had a wonderful experience last year and are looking forward to our second trip. Toy buyers will teach us about their toy buying process, marketing, and even allow the kids to check out all of the holiday season 2013 toys and prototypes they are looking at! Students will also be assigned a special task that supports our learning objectives back at school. This trip will create excitement for our unit and teach us skills and information we will apply throughout our PBL unit!
Request: Because of ridiculously expensive bus costs, we will need to plan a caravan. If you have a car that can hold a bunch of kids and are willing to drive and chaperon this trip-please email me and let me know that you are willing, and how many KIDS you can hold! I'd love to give parents who haven't been able to attend a field trip yet this year first dibs, but, car capacity will also be a factor as we can't take an army of cars to park at Costco ;)
2. Reading Update: We are on Day 10 of our Poppy literature study and the kids are loving it! We are using the "CIA" approach, and are currently in the "C" work which stands for "collect." We are busy collecting information in our notebooks about story elements such as character, setting, and problems. We are using knowledge of our book's genre "Fantasy-talking animals" to help us understand what elements are the most important to focus on. We have learned that in this genre, character is the most important. Students are responsible to write everything I record on our anchor charts in to their notebooks. We are really working on writing stamina, neatness, and organization! Today we talked about writing that is persuasive and convincing. Students wrote about who they believe should have to confront Mr. Ocax and had to be persuasive-ask them about it! When we reach the end of the first quarter of the book, students will have a larger writing assignment to complete.
3. Math Update: We have assessed on fractions and I'm working on printing progress reports to send home. Our new unit is the study of measurement: time, perimiter/area, liquid volume/mass, and data. All of our operational, computational, and problem solving skills are coming in to play as we navigate these topics! Students have made important connections and have pointed out that we have used our knowledge of geometry and fractions as we learn about measuring time!
To support us at home, ask you student to tell you the current time to the nearest half hour and quarter hour. We will be diving in to "elapsed time" this week and you can extend our practice by discussing elapsed time at home, as well!
Examples: "How much time has passed since______?"
"How long before________?"
"How many minutes are left in the hour?"
Here is a co-created anchor chart from our math lesson today. We brainstormed with partners first, then collectively as a group. Look at what the kids came up with! We have some research to do as kids are excited to find more cool ways of measuring time with different units. Our next steps are to talk about converting time between these different units.
4. Dwankhozi Hope Event:
Students are bringing home a half-sheet flyer today to announce an even I hope you can attend. Here is the text in case it is lost en route :) As I mentioned in a previous blog, I am traveling to Zambia with this incredible organization in June to do some exciting work. I hope you will attend and learn how you can support this mission! It will be brief and inspiring:
Did you know that QAE started a partnership with a school in rural Zambia last year called Dwankhozi Basic School? Many of our students have been introduced to the school by viewing a video about Martin, an inspirational young man attending school in Zambia. This year, we have exchanged video introductions and letters with the students at Dwankhozi and met Moses, a school leader that visited QAE in the fall. This summer, several QAE staff will travel to Zambia to further our relationship with Dwankhozi Basic School. We could not be more excited to meet the community itself and team with World Reader to discuss ways to strengthen literacy in schools throughout the region. We hope to strengthen this partnership and discover ways we can help teach and learn from each other for years to come.
This Friday we are holding an event in our lunchroom right after school to formally introduce our partnership with Dwankhozi Basic School to our parent community, show the video that has inspired many of us to become involved in furthering this relationship and share information with you about how you can support this work. Please join us on February 22nd right after school in the lunchroom.
Friday, February 22nd
We are revamping our End-of-Day routine, and reading log routine. Please help support your learner by reminding them to bring their orange folders to school each day, their reading book back and forth if they are working on reading "whole chapter books," and to turn in and grab a new reading log each Friday.
Supporting learning at home with Brainpop, Dreambox, Raz-Kids, or Khan Academy is encouraged! Try replacing some screen time each day with one of these high-quality programs.
Thank you for all that you do!
(Please excuse any typos-I did a brief edit as I'm off to a meeting!)
Dwankhozi Hope: QAE building a relationship and my plans to visit Zambia this June!
Last year, QAE started to connect with the Dwankhozi Hope Foundation, created and run by Beth and Matt MacLean (parents of kindergartener, Joshua). Most students have seen a video about the day in the life of Martin, an 11 year old boy who attends the school, as well as videos about older students whose high school education was made possible because of Dwankhozi sponsors. We all were significantly moved by this experience and since have been wanting to become more involved in the work Matt and Beth are leading.
In October, Moses, the project manager who has helped Beth and Matt do much of their work, visited our school. Kindergarteners sent meaningful art projects to be delivered to young Dwankhozi learners. Our third graders wrote pen pal letters this year and last. Check out the “blog” tab on the Dwankhozi website and you can see the kids holding letters from QAE kids! This year as part of our Community Project-Based learning unit, we put on a big bake sale (thanks to the help of many of you!) and were able to give over $600 to Dwankhozi to purchase Kindles for their readers. This is the beginning of what we hope to be a deep and meaningful partnership between the two schools. Part of our vision for QAE is for students to gain perspective about how others live and how we can be part of supporting and learning from our community both locally and globally. This June I will have the opportunity to travel to Zambia with Beth, David Elliott and other QAE community members, our “maiden voyage” to walk with them and see how we can build our partnership to support the important work happening in Zambia. I am beyond thrilled to be part of this opportunity and can’t wait to share more about our mission for this trip, and grow the relationship between our schools. Can you imagine what we can learn from and share with each other? It’s excitingJ
David published a blog this morning about an event on February 22nd that you are invited to attend -an opportunity to view the Dwankhozi videos here at school and hear a bit more about our trip. Of course, you don’t have to wait until then. You can go to the foundation website and watch the videos now! http://dwankhozi-hope.org/
Stay tuned for more information about how you can get support this partnership.
Looking forward to sharing more!
1. Thank you to all who were able to attend our Writer's Workshop Celebration last Thursday! For all who weren't able to make it, I hope that your child's project made it home and you were able to enjoy their guest book together :) The kids did an incredible job meeting our project goals:
- Paraphrasing their author's words and reporting the information to the rest of us using their own voice
-Creating a handwritten rough draft, then typing, publishing, and laying out with graphic design
-Using 3 different text features to help aid comprehension
-Selecting a topic, and three subtopics
-Peer Editing2. We are nearing the end of our fraction unit in math! I am amazed at how well the kids are demonstrating understanding. Fractions, as we all know, are conceptually very tough! We will continue to work on fractions throughout the year, and are currently working on them as we measure our Wisconsin Fast Plants to the nearest quarter inch! Checkpoints are being used as assessment and reports will go home in the near future.
3. We have just begun a new reading unit! We are reading Poppy, by Avi, and each student has their very own copy to track as I read aloud. We are following the CIA Reader's Workshop approach for this unit. I will blog more extensively as we dive in, but here are the basics:
- A vocabulary routine begins the lesson focusing on one word, or 2 words to compare. We talk about prefixes, suffixes, roots, write definitions in our own words, and draw sketches to truly internalize the word. We then encounter that vocabulary word in that day's reading and talk about the context.
-We read aloud section of text each day as a group and stop and turn and talk with partners frequently. We keep charts, notes, and diagrams in our Writer's Notebooks together as we read.
-Students are exposed to a ton of the Common Core reading goals throughout this unit, and we highlight and discuss how we use all the reading strategies we have been learning about this year as we go. This is a fabulous, and authentic preparation for the upcoming MSP state test in May.
-We divide the book in to quarters and talk about how we approach reading each section of the text. For example, the first quarter we read slowly, reread often, and collect information about our characters, setting, and plot. I will be posting pictures of our anchor charts as we move through this unit.
-At the end of each quadrant, students have a writing assignment. They will summarize, write about theme, work on persuasive writing, and even formal friendly letter writing. I especially appreciate how closely this unit intertwines reading and writing.
-The genre of this book is epic fantasy. Epic fantasy takes the fiction genre to a bit more challenging level as characters, plots, and themes become a more complex. It is a great unit to help students understand how to approach more complex text and read with high interest and deep understanding.
-Students will still be reading for 25 minutes a day at their independent level and with books of their choice.
-As you kid about how Poppy is going! I anticipate a very high interest unit :)
4. Writing , as mentioned above, is closely intertwined with writing in this unit. We will be focusing on handwriting, conventions, sharing our work, and raising the quality of our writing in general. We will also be working hard in words study improving our spelling and vocabulary knowledge.
5. We are in the midst of an awesome plant growth and development unit! Our seeds have germinated and are now in the seedling stage. We are graphing measurements daily and writing about the changes we observe. Next week, we will teach 2nd graders how we take accurate measurements and observational data. We are looking forward to learning about pollination, bees, and photosynthesis!
6. Our second big project-based learning unit will begin in March. We and planning on taking 1-2 field trips to learn from companies about their toy design, buying, and marketing processes. We will learn about how companies work together (and continue to hone in on our own group work skills). Kids will then become inventors and will have to use what they have learned to invent a toy and design packaging and a marketing plan. All of our efforts will be on display at our end of the year "Toy Expo." You will be invited to come meet with our toy inventors and learn about their product and marketing plans! This unit will encompass reading, writing, social studies, group work, art, and many more skills! The best aspect of this project is the extreme engagement students have in their work. They learn and grow right before our eyes!
7. Please check out Kristin Teske's email for important housekeeping information and events to calendar! Thank you again, Kristin, for helping with this part of our classroom news!!
8. Wednesday is a 2 hour release day-students go home at 1:35!
I am loving all of your kids. Thank you for trusting me with them! The growth I am seeing is amazing. We have scholars and socially and emotionally aware students
We are wrapping up our comprehension monitoring unit and read aloud of the book Hoot. The kids are absolutely loving the story and employing comprehension monitoring strategies from our toolkit beautifully. Written response journals are available to look at any time in the classroom :)
We will dive in to a non-fiction unit and begin to talk about the upcoming May MSP test, and how to access the nonfiction selections that will be presented! The focus will be on how and why we approach reading nonfiction, using text features to help our comprehension, and how this type of writing is similar to and different from fiction text.
We have wrapped up our fiction writing unit. Students recorded themselves reading their stories using a rubric co-created in class. Check them out on their e-Folios! (Note: a few have yet to record/upload).
We will parallel our reading unit as well as incorporate our science unit and begin nonfiction writing!
Yearlong goals of fact mastery, problem solving, and review of past concepts will be ongoing.
We began a introductory fraction unit today-yahoo! I have some great strategies to make fractions accessible. The focus will be building a foundation as may upper grade students struggle with fractions to do a lack of deep foundational understanding.
We have begun our Plan Growth and Development Unit! We will be growing our own plants, pollinating using freeze dried bees, and studying many aspects of the plant kingdom! We will connect to our nonfiction writing and write about our learning from this unit. Science Notebooks are used heavily in this unit. Each entry will be given a rubric score evaluating aspects such as organization, content, completeness, etc.
As our plants grow and we work on nonfiction, we will be really diving in to word study! Students will work with words to advance their spelling and vocabulary development.
I want to thank you all for such a wonderful Christmas gift!!
James and Louie continue to LOVE their new toys. Joe and I had several mornings of coffee and breakfast sandwiches at Starbucks.
We had the most amazing dinner at Sutra and invited my parents along on our hot date! The four of us had a great time. Joe the carnivore announced " Every bit was perfect-I didn't even miss meat!" It was such a fun place and we had the best time!! The food was incredible and atmosphere so friendly and inviting.
Thank you so much for the amazing, and thoughtful gift!
Of course, I have pictures to share of my "kids" but not of us dining :)
As you all know, I'm in the process of working on obtaining National Board Certification. My cert area is Early-Middle Childhood Language Arts. The process begins in September and ends in April (with a three year window to retake portions if I don't pass on the first try). I work to submit a 4-entry portfolio in March, and then study and take a three hour exam in April.
Why am I doing this?
1. The state mandates that I continue my education to renew my teaching certificate. The choices are a portfolio project called "Pro-Teach,", or the national board certification. They are similar, however, national boards is significantly more intense.
2. National Board certification earns you a small yearly stipend and renews your teaching certificate for the next ten years.
3. It is considered one of the highest levels of professional development. It is similar to writing a doctoral dissertation, where I use my current students as my practice and prove tirelessly that I am an "accomplished" teacher based on their set of published standards.
They claim the average candidate spends between 300 and 400 hours on this process.
As you can imagine, this tremendous amount of time means that lots of things in my life have to give!
My main reason for writing about this is to let you know that what will NOT give is my dedication to providing the best and highest quality education to your kids! It will NOT mean that I sacrifice any time dedicated to my instruction. In fact, I am spending more time on intentional, quality instruction and practices.
It DOES mean that my time planning for and communicating for volunteer need has gone down on the priority list a bit. It DOES mean that updating the website and blogging won' t happen every Monday as it did early in the year.
National Board Certification will significantly strengthen my practice as a teacher. I am learning to look at my teaching in new and exciting ways! The state of Washington (and many other states now, too!) will honor my teaching certificate for the next decade.
IT WILL BE ALL OVER IN APRIL :) SEVEN MONTHS IS DO-ABLE! I HAVE TWO MORE YEARS TO REDO PORTIONS OF MY PORTFOLIO SHOULD I NOT PASS ON MY FIRST TRY!
Zane, Jackson Bo., and Nyah madly counted the jar's contents Friday evening. I heard Jackson announce "one more algorithm!" and the grand total was $559!
How amazing. Dwankhozi Hope founder Matt MacLean nearly fell over when he heard the total! We were so happy to hand him the jar.
Beth MacLean will visit our classroom Friday to take our Pen Pal letters and thank our kids.
Thank you to all who contributed to this great event! It was a great experience for us all. It was so cool to see the kids collecting donations and genuinely thanking and giving big smiles to their customers ;)
Look forward to reflection blogs on the kids' E-Folios this week!