Welcome back! I hope everyone had a refreshing week break and time spent with family and friends. We drove up to Whidbey Island to be with my family for a few days. I forget how dark and quiet nights are outside of the city!
I started our morning reflecting on our conference times and thinking about goals that we set. We have three solid weeks until our Winter Break-what a great block of time to focus on our school lives! We aim to work hard, focus in on our goals, and celebrate accomplishments before taking off for our long break.
Mark Your Calendars:
*We will be setting a date sometime this week for our Fall Writer's Celebration! Stay tuned :)
*Make sure your calendars are marked for our CharacterWorks Performance next Thursday, December 12 from 2:15-3:15
- The second and last parent talk will be Wednesday, December 4 from 7:30-9 PM. We are working on having a family host this talk in their home for a cozy atmosphere complete with refreshments. I was able to sit in on the first half of the first parent talk. Beaven facilitated a great discussion where the group was able to have great discussion and collaborate with ideas. I really encourage you to attend! Please RSVP.
Reading Log Delay
I totally failed to print new reading logs today. I let the kids know that they can forego logging their reading for one more night, though, as always, they are expected to read tonight! I will distribute new logs tomorrow and we will cross out "Weekend Choice" and "Monday" boxes for this week.
Word study is a blast! We are asking a ton of questions, discussing word nuances, and exploring the building blocks of our language. Today we talked about syllabication as we move from two-syllable compound words to three-syllable compounds We checked out how the dictionary divides words, and realized that dividing words is quite the art! We also realized that syllabication can help us when sounding out lengthy, challenging words, and help out as we work to increase our spelling skill! During our work today we came up with two spur of the moment homework challenges. Students are encouraged (though not required) to complete these activities. Have fun and work together!
Monday Homework Challenges
1. Today we practiced dividing the word "Wednesday" into syllables. We wondered-why is this word spelled this way and pronounced so differently? Do some research at home and see what you can find out about this question :)
2. Today we studied the compound word "trailblazer." We looked up the definition and found that it means:
"...a person who makes, does, or discovers something new and makes it acceptable or popular." Make a list of a few people (or things!) that have been trailblazers in our world.
I blogged about the new Homework Club opportunity for third-fifth graders. I'm looking forward to having some of our third graders be "trailblazers" and starting to attend :) See the archived blog for the details and do let me know if you'd like your child to attend. I can help them get settled for the first day.
Please check heads thoroughly for lice tonight (and throughout the week!). Having Thanksgiving break was helpful in our lice eradication efforts :) Checking heads as we return will help even more.
Mindful Mornings Opportunity
Julietta Skoog, our school psychologist, is starting up a fantastic new program. See her blog below and encourage your child to attend!Beginning December 3rd, join me Tuesdays for Mindful Mornings with Mrs. Skoog! We will meet in the (portable) gym from 9:00-9:25, to start our day with yoga, meditation, breathing, and/or movement. This is open to students, teachers, and parents of QAE. It is NOT a club; it is free. Please arrive on time so that our practice can be uninterrupted.
Some of you know that I have a background in dance and taught yoga to our 1st and 3rd graders; it is my goal this year (and beyond!) to bring an intentional mindful practice to QAE. So while I am not a "real" teacher of mindfulness, I do know that gathering as a community, setting intentions, and taking time to focus on the present and our breath is powerful in and of itself. I hope to see you there- feel free to drop by to any of the weeks; it is not part of a series or skill building.
On another note, parents have asked me about Positive Discipline parenting classes- there is still room in both my January and March series which you can find information about here. I was also just featured in Emma Summer's Your Fonder Heart blog; she attended my workshop earlier this month.
I hope you all have a restful, nourishing holiday weekend, and that you find your own time to practice (and model for your children) mindfulness; whether it is in an unhurried meal, walk with a friend, or simply sitting in gratitude.
See you in December!
Chayna Davis uploaded a great slideshow from our class Halloween party on the Gallery page. Check it out! What a fun day and one for the books...the day third grade set off the fire alarm with their super cool fog machine :) (whoops....no we know!)
Thanks to Chayna for the photography and time spent uploading to our website!
If you have any pictures to share send them my way and we will upload them to the gallery!
Please check your child's head daily. Nurse Eileen says that it is easy to have cases of lice pop up after a class has been effected and that you can catch a louse very quickly! She recommends daily checks at home as the best prevention.
We have started a great new program on the third floor of the Treehouse. Third through fifth graders are welcome to come to "Homework Club" each day after school from 3:45-4:30. The club will rotate between third floor classrooms each day and a teacher will be present to provide light support and a quiet, focused room for work. I highly encourage students to consider trying out this club! It's a great feeling to get work done before you go home- the rest of the evening is then free!
This would be a great time for our third graders to complete their 30 minutes of independent reading time and log their responses. It would also serve as time for students to work on school projects! If a student is feeling behind or simply would like to have extra, supported time to work I encourage them to attend!
Please let me know if you'd like your child to try out Homework Club. I can help them get settled in and suggest a project to work on.
Oh yeah-it's free :)
Using a blog for classroom communication, rather than paper newsletters or group emails, allows us a place to share our thinking and interact as a group! It also takes some practice and habit building.
-Please make sure you have subscribed to the blog so that you receive all updates directly in your email inbox.
-Please read the entire blog carefully, respond to surveys as needed, and check out the resources and links I often provide (related to our studies!) Refer back to archived blogs as needed!
-I encourage you to leave a comment! Let us all know what your thoughts are, ask questions about our content or how you can support us at home. Commenting helps to keep us connected and to have conversations about school.
*Our students continue to post evidence of their learning on their student websites-check them out! Leave comments to let them know their work is being viewed and valued. (See previous blog for commenting tips and ideas).
CharacterWorks Parent Talks
This Wednesday Evening from 7:30-9:00PM will be our first of two CharacterWorks Parent Talks. The topic will be "The Hidden Key to Encourage Creativity in our Kids."
In the last Blog post, I talked about the program and posted a Survey. So far, there are only 11 responses. The survey is still open, please click on the survey button to indicate your topic preference for the December talk!
I highly encourage all who can to attend. This will be a great night to learn some new strategies as well as to connect with our parent community.
Last year the 4th grade parents hosted the parent talks in their homes. Everyone brought a light snack or drink to share and they really enjoyed the more intimate setting. We will plan to hold the first talk, this Wednesday, in the classroom unless someone is up for hosting last minute! Please let me know if you would be interested in hosting the December talk in your home!
**Please RSVP for this Wednesday's talk by leaving a comment to this blog post. This will help us with our planning!
Details provided by Beaven Walters:
What is CharacterWorks? CharacterWorks is an educational program which encourages students in their social and emotional growth by utilizing the performing arts as a primary tool. The program was developed by certified teacher, parenting coach, and professional performing artist, Beaven Walters, and is currently in its third year at QAE. It is paid for by the QAE Parent Association and is part of the Social Emotional curriculum being offered at our school. This year is the first time the program is being offered in the 2nd and 3rd grade. For these grades, Beaven has created a custom program geared towards helping the students fully understand and make personal connections with the 5 Pillars of QAE. Additionally, the CharacterWorks program includes a component designed for the students’ parents with facilitated discussions about issues concerning their school-aged child and related to the topics covered in the student portion of the program. In short, CharacterWorks is part performing arts, part personal growth, and part parental support.
What is the purpose of the parent talks? These nights are for the parents to hear current information and research on a topic related to parenting and child development from CharacterWorks teacher, Beaven Walters, and participate in a facilitated discussion with the parents in their classroom community. They will come away feeling encouraged by their community and full of new ideas to use as they see fit in their families. There will be two parent talks on two different topics. A survey was sent out recently for parents to vote on which topics were of highest interest for the talks. All parents are encouraged to attend both parent talk nights if possible.
What is the topic of the parent talk nights? As with the CharacterWorks program the children are participating in, the topics for the parent talks are based around the 5 pillars of Queen Anne Elementary as they relate to parenting. Based on the results of the survey so far, the topic of highest interest is: Boredom- The Hidden Key to Encourage Creativity in our Kids. The topic of the second parent talk is TBD based on the results of the survey which is still active. There is still time to vote!
Let's start off with....
As the letter we sent home stated, continuing to check heads is very important. It is easy for lice to continue to circulate so we must be diligent with daily checks! If you are unsure of what to look for, do an internet search for "lice" and "lice nits."
*Please let us know if you find either. This helps us to keep up to date and to support from our end.
*Remember that treating lice requires continued efforts. Keep checking and keep combing! Administer follow up treatments as necessary.
At school, we are keeping our belongings neatly tucked in our wood lockers and are not sharing any clothing or playing with hair. We also continue to talk about respecting personal space. Nurse Eileen told us that adults are less likely to have lice simply because we aren't touching heads/hair together as kids often do!
Good news: Our outbreak appears to be subsiding.
You may now start scratching.
Scholastic Book Ordering
Students were sent home with a bundle of Scholastic catalogs last week! I put a plug in for holiday gift season recommending that students circle their top picks and use that as a wish list :) Think about giving your child some books this holiday season! Ordering books creates excitement around reading and also earns points for our classroom to grow our library. I sent home catalogs as the kids love them, but you may also access a huge online Scholastic catalog as well. Look under the resource tab for the link to Scholastic as well as our ordering code. I'll let you know when the deadline is for holiday ordering as soon as Scholastic announces.
Happy book Browsing!
*If you want to order holiday gifts, let me know ahead of time and I won't send the books home with your child. You can pick them up from school secretly!
Multiplication and Division
Our classroom has jumped in head first! We are surrounding ourselves with multiplication and division. We are doing number talks, whole group lessons, activities, problem solving and learning many new strategies . Multiplication and Division is a major third grade topic and we will be studying it throughout the year. Here are the three big ideas we are currently working in:
1. Fact Fluency : Memorizing multiplication facts! (once we have these memorized, we can use fact family knowledge to quickly learn division facts).
2. Conceptual Understanding: Digging deep to understand the meaning behind multiplication and division. We are sharing our own thinking during number talks and then reaching to understand the way others think and process, as well. We are learning about models, equations, fact families, and strategies for multipying and dividing.
3. Problem Solving: We are learning about how to determine when multiplication and division can be used to solve a problem, and then employing strategies to solve problems. We even wrote our own problems and had friends solve them!
How you can help at home:
- Purchase multiplication and division games and play as a family! Check out Blue Highway Games in Queen Anne.
-Listen to multiplication and division songs on YouTube. They are quite annoying after some time, and also quite effective for memorizing facts!
-Stop and share how you use multiplication and division every day.
-Use the Library Resource page to find many high-quality games to teach and reinforce these skills.
Online System for Volunteering and Conferences
A huge thank you to Amy Janas for setting up this online system for us. I'm realizing I would have spent countless hours and made no progress. Thank you for your expertise and time, Amy!
Amy sent out an email with great instructions and links you can click on to access the sign-ups.
* Conferences: Please note that I will be holding conferences on Saturday the 23rd! I had mentioned at curriculum night that I may not be here, but I will be! Please fill up those time slots if that Saturday is easier on your schedule. I greatly appreciate efforts to back-to-back time slots, as well!
I'm really looking forward to conference times! They will be student-led (please bring your child!) with a set-aside time at the end if there is a need to talk as an adult team while the student plays some games in the hallway.
*Volunteering: We now have an online system for signing-up for volunteering! Let's give it a go and explore this great option. It is easy to sign-up and you will receive reminder emails!
We have a particular need for volunteers during our reading block. There are many kids who would benefit from reading with adult and we would love to have you!
Students are so excited and totally absorbed in writing their mystery fiction stories! Here are the highlights of this unit:
1. We read and studied many books by Chris Van Allsburg, keeping a list of the writing strategies that he uses.
2. We studied important story elements, drawing a picture of a mountain to illustrate the path our stories take. The exposition starts the western slope, the rising action carries up to the peak (climax), then the falling action takes us down the eastern slope to the resolution.
3. We planned our stories with graphic organizers to outline important events. Students developed characters and settings, as well. They studied "mystery words" and selected 3-5 they will incorporate in their writing.
4. Students conferenced with an adult sharing their story plans to make sure they had a solid plan.
5. We learned strategies for writing a "hook" and looked at Chris VanAllsburg's books for examples.
6. Students hurried off to computers, wrote their "hook" and are now developing their mysteries.
7. The final part of this writing project will require students to read their story aloud while recording themselves using the Photobooth application. We will learn storytelling and read-aloud strategies to make these oral storytelling performances really engaging.
8. Students will upload their typed stories, as well as their oral storytelling videos to their websites and publish for their audience! We will share these accomplishments at an upcoming Writer's Celebration :)
We are thrilled to announce our new social/emotional learning program-CharacterWorks!CharacterWorks will be every Monday and Thursday from 11:55-12:35 until December. You are welcome to come check out this program anytime! We have had our first two sessions and the kids are having a blast while they think deeply about our school's 5 pillars. This week's focus was the first pillar: "We are self-directed learners."Below is program information Mrs. Walters has provided for us. Please note the performance and parent talk dates. There is a button below that will take you to a parent survey. Your feedback will determine topic of Mrs. Walter's parent talk nights!
CharacterWorks Grade 3: Exploring the Five Pillars of Queen Anne Elementary with Aesop’s FablesFables tied to performancewill be used to teach each pillar
-We are self-directed learners: The Ant and the Grasshopper-Tableaus
-We encourage each other to think critically and learn more: The Crow and the Pitcher- Musical Theatre
-We are concerned, confident and compassionate citizens of the world: The Lion and the Mouse- Musical Theatre
-We learn everywhere, we learn together- Bundle of Sticks- Dramatic Play
-We are creative: An original, class written fable- Original Dramatic PlayClassroom Performance Dates:-Thurs. Dec 12-
Ms. Klope's Class performs for families and celebrates 2:15-3:15-Fri. Dec 13-
Mr. Liner's Class performs for families and celebrates 2:15-3:15 Parent Talks:
#1: Wed. Nov. 20 from 7:30-9 PM Location TBD
#2: Wed. Dec. 4 from 7:30-9 PM Location TBD
Parent Talk Topics:
- "Motivation and your Children" (We are self-directed learners)
- "Encouraging your Child's Critical Thinking Skills at Home" (We encourage each other to think critically and learn more)
- "Empathy and your Growing Child" (We are concerned, confident and compassionate citizens of the world)
- "Successful Family Meetings" (We learn everywhere, we learn together)
- "Boredom-The Hidden Key to Encourage Creativity in our Kids" (We are creative)
**Please click the survey button below to indicate your topic preferences!
We are about three quarters of the way through our class book study of The One and Only Ivan. Students have been keeping a notebook where we detail our characters, respond with writing to deep thinking questions, visualize the setting, and more! Our goals for this unit are to look deeply at our characters and watch as they change over time. This last week, our main character Ivan made a huge change. We celebrated with him and named this the "turning point" in our story. In children's literature (and often adult's!) the author's message or story's theme is revealed through this "turning point." It usually occurs right at the 3/4 mark of the book, as well! Now that we have named our turning point, we will be collecting evidence in our notebooks to support our theory that Ivan has changed. Ask your student about this turning point! Studying our characters and the theme of the story are building our skill as readers and gearing us up for more advanced inferential thinking.
Reading Strategy Highlight:
We have been studying and using a new reading strategy called "Say Blank and Replace It!"
*Goal= When we encounter a word we don't know, instead of racing over it, we use this strategy to infer the meaning.
This strategy helps us to use the story context as well as our own schema to figure out approximate meanings of unknown words. This skill is also a building block to deep inferential thinking.
Try this strategy at home!
*Our next reading unit will be-NONFICTION!
-Writer's Celebration: We will hold a formal writer's celebration upon the completion of our current Harris Burdick Writing unit! Invitations to follow :)
-Parent Talk Nights: Beaven Walters, our CharacterWorks instructor, will be holding parent talks. Please take the survey (linked above) to indicate preferences!
#1: Wed. Nov. 20 from 7:30-9 PM
#2: Wed. Dec. 4 from 7:30-9 PM
Thurs. Dec 12- Ms. Klope's Class performs for families and celebrates 2:15-3:15
*Our first big PBL unit will commence this month! Look forward to lots of information and opportunities to join us :)
Have you explored the link buttons from my last academic blog post?
Curl up in a blanket with your kids this Sunday evening and.....
- Check out the Harris Burdick website and read stories written by other kids!
- Listen to the NPR "All Things Considered" podcast about Ivan the gorilla!
Every child now has their own Weebly website. I strongly encourage parents to help their students with their websites at home. You can add photos, post poems, add artwork -whatever your child wants to do! It’s their page let them be creative! I'm encouraging kids to keep a personal blog, as well. They can blog about school, sports, home activities, special projects, and more! If you choose to do a personal blog, please be sure to read your student's writing. This will help ensure safety, appropriateness, and will help you to stay connected! Students are learning about internet safety and know that we never put last names, addresses, or specific personal information on our sites-even though they are password protected!
We will update pages as often as we can at school. Students are learning the tricky process of scanning in work, saving in specific file locations, then uploading to websites. However, with 26 kids this can be tricky! Therefore, if you want your page to truly represent your child’s growth, please help! To log in and edit go to students.weebly.com Username: firstname+first initial of last name+qae3 example: megankqae3Password: klopeqae Commenting
"A Child needs encouragement like a plant needs water" Kelly Bartlett (Positive Discipline)
Please help us by commenting on our websites! I encourage students and parents to view the websites of kids in our classroom and leave encouraging comments!
When commenting on a piece of writing or art it may be helpful to start with one of the following stems:
- I wonder ....
- I really like this because ....
- This makes me remember .... This reminds me....
- I can tell you worked hard because ....
- I noticed ...Try to avoid - "Good Job", "Way to Go!" , "Nice Work" - while these comments are meant well, the goal is to provide feedback that invites us think about something, consider a change, or move in another direction. Positive comments that encourage, help children feel capable and connect us closer to each other. Leaving comments on our classroom blog as well as the blogs of every student is important. Receiving feedback about the work you have published for our larger to community to view is encouraging and makes our work feel valued. It is fun to read the comments of others, which often inspires or prompts you to leave a comment in the thread! Make it a weekly activity. Sit down with your child and explore our class sites. Start filling our blogs with comments and questions!
Take a look around our website and check out these great updates!
-Reading Log Resources
-Dwankhozi Hope Partnership Page
-Wish List (to be updated soon!)
-Student Websites (We will start building and creating on Wednesday! Look forward to their first big post-Published Personal Narratives)
*I'll be working on image quality. Bear with me and squint :)
Monitoring Comprehenshion: 1. Why meaning can break down... 2. What to do to fix it up...
Reading Toolkit Strategy Focus:
We are focusing in on "Monitor My Comprehension," the first strategy in our reading toolkits (see anchor chart from previous post). Part of becoming an great reader is to notice when you are confused and use fix-up strategies to clear it up! In class we may say "My mental movie has grown blurry," or simply "HUH?!" We then use strategies to fix it up:
1. REREAD with deep attention
2. Say "blank" and replace it with a word that makes sense (word specific)
3. Use context clues and think
4. Read on and look for clarity
Support us by using these strategies at home! Common terminology helps readers know that these strategies apply to "real life" and not just while reading at school.
We sure do love stickies. We learned this strategy as a whole group using "stop and think." A panel of 6 students worked with me as a small group. We read a story full of opportunity to stop and think and jotted down our thinking. The next day, our panel members modeled this strategy to the whole class as we restarted the group and read together. We know that good readers stop and think, jotting down their thinking as a record of their comprehension. The photo to the left shows examples of different types of thinking to jot down while reading.
Support us at home by using stickies to track your reading together! Find a great book, read slowly, and stop often to jot down your thinking. Refer to the photo as a reminder of different thinking you can write down. Send a picture of you working together and I'll post it to our website!
New Book Study:
The One and Only Ivan
Do any of you remember the gorilla, Ivan, who spent 27 years in a Tacoma mini-mall before being freed to a zoo? This heart-wrenching and triumphant story has flooded our room. Author Katherine Applegate has written a work of fiction, where Ivan narrates, based on this real life story. We did some research in class, watched a King 5 news story about Ivan's rescue, and are continuing to talk the dedicated animal-rights activists who made his rescue happen. Right now, the story can be sad. We talk about using that burning feeling, turning it in to passion and action, and what we can do to support animal rights. Check out the link buttons above this column.
We are reading the first quarter of this story slowly. We are collecting information about all characters, the setting, the problem and main events. The poster to the right is our guide. Use this strategy at home, as well. We will share each quarter strategy as we explore them in class.
We are studying this book together, keeping a detailed study notebook as evidence of our learning. We collect character traits, respond to discussion questions through writing, illustrate our own visualization of the story setting, and more. Duncan Ghallager's notebook is featured in the slideshow to the right. Fabulous work, Duncan!
Seattle News Times editor, Cheryl Phillips (aka Charlie and John's mom!) visited us to share insider secrets and tips for the real-life editing world. Our students are using editing marks like pro's now! Thank you, guest expert Cheryl! (I'm editing very carefully as I write this blog today)
This first writing unit was all about writing small moment, true personal narratives. Students began by writing many small moment stories, all the while using storytelling strategies learned during workshop minilessons.
We transformed our writing. We use to be reporters who told stories step by step. We are now storytellers who "show" rather than "tell." It has been amazing to watch students transform their writing.
We all worked on writing complete sentences and using correct capitalization, and I cowrote a specific writing goal with each student. Students then looked through their story collections and selected their best story to take all the way to publishing! We learned the difference between editing and revising and even had guest expert, Cheryl Phillips, visit to share her strategies and expertise. Our favorite strategy is the "cut open your writing" or "surgery" strategy. I'll let Charlie and Calum explain that revising method to you in the videos above :)
Students completed an editing checklist and then had a peer partner edit their writing a second time. Once done, students had the privilege of checking out a special "publishing pen" (super fancy sharpies) and selecting professional paper to handwrite their revised and edited copies. Lastly, stories were taken to the computer to practice typing, word processing, and saving to personal accounts. We learned that each step of the publishing process allows opportunity for fine tuning! We are also glad that not all writing we do needs to go through the publishing process :(
It feels great to have our first published writing of the year completed. Mr. Jeffery will be visiting tomorrow for a Weebly refresher course and then students will be uploading all three of their drafts to their websites with accompanying commentary. We look forward to sharing our first writing blogs with you and are anxious for your feedback! I'll share more about effective feedback and commenting this week.
Next Unit: Harris Burdick Mystery Fiction!
Third graders love moving away from personal stories to fiction writing :) We will be writing eerie and fantastical stories based on illustrations from the book The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg. We will add to our storytelling toolkits by working on writing engaging hooks, strong storylines, and writing with incredible detail. We want our readers to have mental movies so strong they can actually feel like they are in the story! The culminating project will be for students to record themselves doing a performance reading of their mystery. This will be a chance to showcase writing and to work on reading fluency, as well!
Do some research together using the button below. It's a mysterious and awesome site. Start dreaming and scheming up ideas for a great mystery!
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We are neck deep in our addition and subtraction unit. We have spent time reviewing these two operations, mental math strategies to make computation easier (making quick tens, substitution to form landmark numbers) multiple strategies for solving problems (expanded notation, standard algorithm, pictures) and problem solving.
As I discussed at Curriculum Night, we will use different models for math learning depending on the unit concepts and what our students need at that time. We have been using a stations model for the last few weeks. Students have been rotation through 15-20 minute stations .
Station 1: Independent and Partner Station (Game/ Challenge/Activity)
Station 2: Dreambox (adaptive learning software)
Station 3: Teacher-Led Instruction and guided practice
*Check out the slideshow to the left for snapshots of our three stations
This week, we used data to form strategic groups for math. We are having a blast mixing with our partner classroom and learning addition and subtraction from a new teacher! Groups will be fluid and flexible depending on the unit and what our data and observation shows is needed.
Our next unit will be multiplication and division! This is a big mathematical leap for third grade. We will spend a lot of time diving deep in to these operations, problem solving, and developing computational fluency.
Support us at Home!
-Computational Fluency: Data indicates that every third grader can benefit from increased addition and subtraction fact fluency. Using different methods to build this skill is best practice. Try online games, board and card games, catchy (never annoying......) math songs, and more!
-Incorporate Dreambox learning in to your at home work routine!
-Model authentic addition and subtraction opportunities in your life!
Rocks and Minerals
My dad, Matthew Klope (wildlife biologist) dramatically tells my class each year that "REAL SCIENCE STINKS!!!" Then attempts to cement the phrase "Science Stinks!" in their brains. He teases that his job, which frequently consists of gray whale necropsies (hence the "stink"), is "real" science :) We are planning on calling him tomorrow to let him know that Rock and Mineral science, or geology in general, passes the real science test! We used our sense of smell as one of our methods for finding properties of our samples, and discovered that our yellow sulfer chunks really reek! But, really, we have turned in to rock and mineral hounds in room 304. After studying rocks and minerals and learning to produce high-quality scientific drawings, property descriptions, and accurate identifications, we have moved on to the rock cycle. Tomorrow we will play a game that takes us on a rock cycle adventure, and ultimately ends up as a comic strip to illustrate evidence of our learning. Check out the slideshow below :)
While I work on another academic update, here are some quick announcements:
1. Scholastic Book Orders
We will submit orders online on the first working day of each month. As this is our first order, let's plan on submitting October orders by Friday the 11th. This gives you the rest of the week to book browse and place more orders!
*Click on the resources tab to find more information about Scholastic orders.
2. Reading Logs
Students are currently working on their third reading log of the year. Thank you for your support from home as we develop a strong home-reading routine. Students know that "better late than never" is our goal. If they forget to turn their reading log in on Friday, please help remind them to turn it in ASAP the next week. I will often write a quick bit of feedback on their log's, sticker them, and pass back out the same day they are turned in. Last Friday I sent home all reviewed logs in orange folders so that you can review them as a family. I keep a record of reading logs and the rubric scores earned on each and use this as a goal setting tool with kids. A copy of the reading log will be uploaded to the website tomorrow for any at-home printing emergencies-look to the resources tab :)
3. Scheduling Tool
Our classroom coordinator, Holley Ring, has brought a great new online tool to my attention! I will be working with it at home tonight in hopes of having our Fall Conference and Parent Volunteer Schedules digitized! More info to come :)
We are transitioning to our second reading and writing unit of the year-I'm excited to share all the details with you this week. Student Weebly Websites are in the works and will soon house their most recent published narratives! Get ready for viewing and commenting-our class has been working hard and will have much to share!
The "awesomest" thing we've done is...
"I've learned that....."
SCIENCE! (Henry Barnes)
Place value cities (Cole)
Independent reading (Hudson)
Reading the book "Rules" (Scarlett)
Rounding in math (Franny)
Writer's workshop! Writing our real life stories (Charlie Jane)
Story cube writing (Nat)
Sharing our writing (Kohana)
Playing wall ball in P.E. (Gray)
Classroom Meetings (Duncan)
When we learned to change from being a reporter to a storyteller on Thursday! (Ari)
Sharing money and effort with our sister school (Isa)
Friday afternoon Dance Parties! (Helen)
Classroom jobs (Lily)
Making our little post cards line drawings in art (Gray)
I've learned that math can be fun! (Franny)
There are lots of cool things that you can do it art. (Calum)
Writing is the funnest thing in third grade. (Marcus)
You can have fun in math. (Emilia)
You can have fun in third grade. (Hudson)
Numbers were made depending on how many angles there were. (Nicholas)
Third grade is awesome. (Seren)
Rocks and minerals can be fun. (Eric)
That third grade is fun. (Ian)
What idioms are. (Ari)
That you don't write the date in the box at the top of the margin. (Henry B)
Donating money or your time to Dwankhozi Hope is really fun. (Duncan)
Rocks are made of minerals. (Henry BK)
Rocks can be formed by water dripping in an underground cave. (Scarlett)
Diamonds are made from coal. (Cole)
Diamonds are a type of mineral. (Lily)
How to do Roman Numerals. (Nat)
People, like in Africa mostly, don't get paid much to find diamonds; blood diamonds are not a good thing. (Gray)
The people in Africa (in Dwankhozi) give birth to their babies at their house. (Charlie Jane)
I learned how to round and it's fun! (Charlie P)
Diamonds are used to cut rock. (Kohana)
We watched this together on the first day. Enjoy :) I plan to post some quotes around the room to encourage perseverance and awesomeness!
I had a moment of panic Monday as I realized that I haven't written the first blog post of the year! I love writing about all that is happening in our classroom. I can assure you this tardiness is because I've been fully immersed in your kids :) I love the first weeks of school as I get to meet 26 new learners and begin to paint their portraits. The process of collecting good data is time consuming, so incredibly important, and a time for me to nerd-out. I love student data. I've spent most nights assessing, compiling data, looking at trends, and beginning to design a year of learning around these kids! To do this I use the Common Core Standards and our school pillars as a foundation, then build up using many forms of data: numbers, anecdotes, observations, work samples. Our students need to meet and exceed standards and be met where they currently are in their learning to do so. I will teach and design lessons around the needs of these unique learners. I will use many approaches to keep learning engaging and differentiated! After initial data collection, Mr. Liner and I are looking forward to shared teaching and having students work in groups designed to meet their needs. Alongside academics, we are building our relationships and having three times weekly classroom meetings. During these meetings we are establishing routines, classroom jobs, behavior expectations, self-monitoring techniques, cooperation, learning to give compliments, and much more! We have posters in our room that illustrate being "heart smart" and "head smart." We speak to this idea frequently during class to build a culture of learning around being both academically and socially/emotionally intelligent. I'm having such a great time getting to know your kids and am looking forward to experiencing 3rd grade with them!
Listening and Speaking Chart
Part of becoming a self-directed student and ultimately an effective 21st Century learner and contributor is to have strong listening and speaking skill. The chart shown above hangs above our meeting area. I refer to this chart before each lesson and we check ourselves to make sure we are ready for learning. "Is your body still, upright, and calm? Is our voice off? Is your brain engaged and ready to learn?" We check our bodies, voices, and brains before we take on the role of listener or speaker. Use this terminology at home when you are having a family meeting of some sort. Using consistent terminology at home and school with strengthen our student's ability to be self-directed and internalize these skills!
We have begun building our writing workshop routines and building writing stamina. We are also realizing that 3rd graders have a TON to write about! We are using strategies that help us to avoid the common "I don't have anything to write about" problem :)
Our first unit is working on writing personal narratives. Today we realized that many of us have been writing like reporters! We had fun sharing our "report writing" and game planning strategies for becoming a storyteller. This is a big shift in writing style. Storytellers SHOW rather than TELL their story. We have been reading writing from some of our favorite storytellers to hear what that sounds like.
At Home: You can help by practicing oral storytelling with your student. Refer to the Storytelling chart in the slideshow and use the strategies! Also, brainstorm some real life small moments that have happened in your family life that could make great writing topics.
I have completed initial assessment for word study. There will be four components this year:
1. Developmental Word Study- word family study that targets specific spelling pattern needs as identified by assessment.
2. High Frequency Words- Students have a list of 700 of the most frequently used English words. With guidance they will be self selecting words to master.
3. Greek and Latin Study- My students had the opportunity to do Greek and Latin root studies the last 2 years. Mr. Liner and I are currently working on purchasing a program geared more towards 3rd grade to incorporate in to our studies. Kids LOVE this work. They also start spotting roots all around them and in their reading! This helps with decoding of words and also with comprehension as they are able to make great approximations of word meanings using root knowledge.
4. Vocabulary Study- drawn from content across subject areas.
This is our reading toolkit. As we read our first read-aloud book of the year, Rules by Cynthia Lord, I am introducing and modeling the use of some of these reading toolkit strategies. (Monitor Comprehension, Connect to Text, Visualize) Students are practicing these strategies during their independent time and sharing out with the group how they used the strategy to understand their book more deeply.
Rules asks the question: "What is normal?" Our main character Catherine explores the idea of rules, disabilities, and how each of us is unique in our own way as she discusses her relationship with her brother David who has autism, and a new friend Jason who has a severe physical disability. We are having fabulous discussions as a group and talking about how this applies to our own lives. Quote of the week- " 'Normal' really shouldn't even exist!" -Lily
As we begin building our reading lives and working on our independent reading stamina, I am independently assessing each student. These assessments take time and are critical to finding a students' just right reading level to begin the year. Don't be too worried if your student dipped a bit over the summer-but do get on top of rebuilding a home reading habit! I discussed the "summer slide" with students and we know that once we jump back in to a deep reading life that we will bounce back up. Once students have an established level, I encourage them to choose independent reading books that are on level, one level above, or one level below. Dessert books (or books not at their just right level) are important and kids should be dessert reading to explore their interests. There are two times that I expect students to be reading always at their "just right" level: at school during their independent reading time & at home during their reading homework time.
Reading Homework: Reading homework will be discussed in class this week and will officially start on Friday. Students are expected to read for 30 minutes each night at home. Some students will read more. Some will struggle with stamina and interest. You can help facilitate this important time by helping your student find books they love. I am working on this in school, as well! If your student's stamina has not reached 30 minutes, break up the time in to two chunks, or, read aloud to your child. Reading higher level books to your student is a great way allow them to read higher books they are interested in and still be successful in their comprehension.
Reading Logs: Reading logs will be sent home Friday and are due the next Friday. I will be teaching kids how to complete logs this week and will blog more information about them when they are sent home this Friday. Many students will need your help to complete high-quality reading logs, and to remember to turn them in each Friday. This will be their only routine homework, a philosophy I will discuss more at Curriculum Night. Please help us build a good reading-log habit from the start!
At Home: Refer to the 3 reading toolkit strategies we are focusing on as you read at home. Ask your child to describe their characters. Ask them about their "mental movie" they are creating as they read. Ask them if they made a text-to-text, text-to-self, or text-to-world connection. Talk about reading. I'll be sending home more resources for encouraging deep reading at home once student assessment is complete :)
Our math program, and our national/district math news in general, will be detailed during curriculum night. Our first weeks are about doing quick assessments of 2nd grade skills to find any skill gaps that need to be reviewed or retaught.
Our first unit is all about place value and number sense. We have been thinking deeply about what place value means in our base 10 number system, as well as checking out the origin of numbers and even taking a look at other number systems! We have practiced writing numbers in various forms: standard, written, expanded, and place value model form. Next, we will move in to rounding, and complete the unit with deep thinking and review of addition and subtraction.
We have many different math needs in our classrooms. There are times when whole group learning is necessary and valuable to all, and times when grouping is the best model. Mr. Liner and I plan carefully using data and best practices to design math time. On some days you will see us all working together. Other days, each group will be working on their own game or activity matched to their needs. I look forward to a deeper math discussion at curriculum night!
Homework: We will not be sending home math homework. However, once our digital math programs are set and running, I will recommend learning time at home using these programs.
At Home: Reason with numbers at home. Model real life applications of comparing, contrasting, adding and subraction, and rouding in support of the work we are doing at school. Math becomes deeply meaningful to students when they see the real-world application-especially by their parents!
Social & Emotional Learning
We have been holding classroom meetings three times weekly. We begin meetings by gathering in a circle and allowing each student opportunity to give a compliment to someone in the room. We are talking about raising the quality of compliments. This could mean complimenting someone other than your best friend, giving more specific compliments, and responding to a compliment by making eye contact and saying "Thank you, _____." Our students are giving fabulous compliments to one another. It is building a positive culture in our classroom and starting our days with a great tone. We have talked about "flipping your lid" and "the brain in the palm of your hand." We have begun designing a cool down area and have practiced calming techniques. Ask your student about all of this! Next steps will be to continue social/emotional lessons during this time and begin introducing the classroom agenda book. Eventually, once we are skilled and ready, students will record problems they are experiencing in school to be solved as a team during meetings. Positive Discipline (PD) is a huge component of our successful classroom. I look forward to sharing more about the lessons we experience as well as resources that I use which can be used for parenting at home, as well! If you have the chance or desire to attend the PD parenting class series-I highly recommend it! Our staff all agree that PD has changed our teaching, changed our personal lives, and positively impacted our school in a grand way.
Rosh Hashanah Experience!
Suzy and Talia Levine came in to share a taste of the Rosh Hashanah, or Jewish New Year experience with us! Check out the video below. We started by watching the sounding of the Shofar. Impressive lung capacity, Suzy! Beautiful singing, Talia! After the music we enjoyed apples dipped in honey to evoke a "sweet new year." We love to learn about how families celebrate. Let us know if you have something to share with us this year!