-Executive Functioning: “Self-Direction”
-Social and Emotional Regulation
Mr. Elliott spoke about the fresh start of a New Year and how we can look at it as almost a second start to the school year. We continued this conversation in class and set a tone of rigor for 2014.
Here is a look at our core subject areas:
Reading: We continue our work with Non-Fiction and Informational texts this month. In December, we focused on effective strategies for navigating nonfiction as well as exploring text features. This month, we are using our tools to tackle texts of higher complexity. The new Common Core standards call for students to use skills and strategies to take on more complex texts. We have been exploring articles together and learning a lot along the way! Our first article was from National Geographic and talked about the special adaptations of Polar Bears. We are currently half way through a history article that focuses on the famous ride of Paul Revere and the onset of the Revolutionary War. We opened this article by watching a dramatic recitation of Longfellow’s poem paired with art and have been having some great discussions as we read! We are using “note coding” and writing all over our article’s margins to note interesting new facts, information we already had in our background knowledge, and to ask questions that arise. I’m very proud of our class for taking on these complex texts with interest and excitement! Between our nonfiction lessons students continue to read their independent books voraciously!
*If your child is struggling at home to finish whole books that they are interested in, please let me know! I can help them to put together a pack of great books to take home.
*We will start formal reassessment of reading this winter to ensure that every student is progressing well in both fluency and comprehension. I will communicate our assessment results and send home a great resource to use with home reading.
Writing: This week we worked on unique nonfiction writing. Students viewed a picture (I used the National Geographic Photo of the Day bank). I hid the title and caption and asked them to make inferences about what they saw. They followed this formula for inferential thinking:
Clues from the picture + Background Knowledge/Schema = Inference
We worried less about discovering what the picture truly was, and more about coming up with interesting inferences using clues and our background knowledge. After making inferences, students wrote a caption for the photo. We worked on including “who, what, when, where, and why” to inform the viewer appropriately.
*This work with inferential thinking ties well to our work with this major developmental reading leap in 3rd grade.
-Students will expand their nonfiction writing throughout the year. Our next assignment will be to answer a driving question such as “What is perseverance?” Students will create a non-fiction article drawing examples for the texts we have explored together as well as from their own lives. We will also be doing a lot of nonfiction writing tied to our 2 upcoming PBL (project based learning) projects.
Math: We started 2014 with rigorous math! We are focusing on deepening and connecting our knowledge of multiplication and division by studying patterns, learning more complex modeling and algorithms, and putting good time in to MEMORIZing facts!! This week we explored tangrams and the idea of area versus perimeter. We did math writing to explain if we though the area of a tangram square “increased, decreased, or stayed the same” when the square was cut apart and rearranged artistically. Ask you student about what they initially predicted, and what they now know! We then connected the concept of “area” back to multiplication. We used rectangular array models to solve advanced multiplication problems. Ask your student to show you how to solve 78 x 32 using a rectangular array model. If they want a challenge, ask them to show you how to solve 136 x 59 using the model! We also learned how to use the standard multiplication algorithm to solve 2 by 1 through 4 by 1 problems (i.e. 23 x 7 = ___ and 2,538 x 5).
*As we move in to this more advanced multiplication and division work, students are beginning to feel “dragged” by not having facts solidly memorized. We decided to take on memorization in full force! We are putting in time and working to learn both multiplication and division simultaneously. We are doing this by using the following format:
6 __ 5
30 __ 6
5 6 __
In this format, students must think of fact family groups rather than simply memorizing facts. This allows them to memorize triads of fact family numbers so that they can quickly solve multiplication and division problems. It also helps remedy the problem of memorizing facts in order, such as, knowing that 5 x 6 = 30, but hesitating when presented with 6 x 5= 30. The work pages I’m using introduce several fact families at a time and grow cumulatively.
*Upcoming units will focus on problem solving with all four operations, fractions, geometry, and measurement and data representation/interpretation
PBL: After a lot of back and fourth scheduling work- we have finally booked our kickoff field trip for our first PBL unit! Solterra Systems will be taking us to view some of their incredible vertical gardens this next Friday! We decided to reveal the project to kids as we had initially hoped this field trip would have been before the break. They were thrilled- and we are so ready to get started! Students will be creating design ideas using our knowledge of area, perimeter, and other essential math skills. They will then break in to teams and do work in construction, budgeting, publicity, botany, and more! Ultimately, we will be creating mobile vertical gardens for QAE. We hope to incorporate these walls in to the outdoor classroom project that is currently in the works at school. Look forward to a lot more information to come! We do not have final times yet, however, we do know that Solterra will be ready Friday afternoon. If you would like to be a parent driver for this, please shoot me an email. We will need enough seats to cart 26 kids! Also, if your child needs to bring a booster seat, please email me so I can make note. Permission slips will go home Monday. Wahooty!
How to Support at Home:
*Portfolios: Remember= You are always welcome to check out your child’s portfolio. This could be to check out all of their amazing work and to work on organization!
* E-folio Websites: We will continue to add artifacts to our websites. Students know that this is always an option to work on when core work has been completed. Ms. Meg has photographs of all artwork on the server at school. Kids can quickly upload these photos at school, save to drafts, and then work on adding titles and detailed descriptions at home!
The more you ask, discuss, and leave comments on their websites, the more students will be encouraged to post and discuss their learning on e-Folios!
*Reading Logs: Continue to monitor and support your child’s at home reading and completion of reading logs.
*MEMORIZE THOSE MULTIPLICATION AND DIVISION FACTS! And, continue to build fluency in addition and subtraction as well. XtraMath is a great tool for this. Most kids have still not passed addition! Please encourage this work at home. Logging into the website DAILY is the best way to build fluency. It is quick and normally takes less than 7 minutes per practice! If they are really excited and in to it, they can re-log in as many times as the like the same day. A certificate is awarded upon completion of each operation!
I'd like to ask for volunteers in the following areas:
-Reading with students from 11:30-12:00
-PBL support from 2:40-3:30
We will need volunteers to help student groups manage and function with guidance. We will also need any parents or friends who can help with woodwork, construction, or gardening! We could use some resident experts as we take on this brand new PBL project ;)
I wanted to end our first blog of 2014 with a huge thank you to you all. Your generosity with gifts, great snacks, and words of encouragement for the holiday felt so supportive and I am so grateful to be part of this cohort! I love teaching your kids and value our time together each and every day.