Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dance Party!

As I mentioned a couple posts ago, students went to a school-wide meeting last Tuesday and the second graders performed a dance to kick off our "Be Excited About Reading" (B.E.A.R.) theme. A student asked today, "Why couldn't we do that dance?" Since we do a lot of "motor breaks" during the day, I decided to give this one a try. It was FUN! Your students sure know how to let loose! We moved our bodies and got our brains ready for learning. It made my day! Here's the direct link to the video we watched on the Smartboard: Gotta Keep Reading!

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Exploring Measurement!

Yesterday we talked about why we might use tape measures instead of rulers or yardsticks to measure things. Students realized right away that tape measures are flexible, while rulers are not. They are also much longer! We used tape measures to measure body parts. Students worked with a partner and recorded results in their math journals. Fun!

Today, students measured candles using centimeters.
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Google Earth!

Have you ever explored the Google Earth application? It's a wonderful teaching and learning tool! I used it today to help give students perspective about where we are on the planet. We started by looking at Earth from space. We found the United States and then zoomed in. We started big (Earth) and then got smaller and smaller until we ended up looking at UMS from above. Our progression was Earth, USA, Northeast, Vermont, Colchester, UMS, Us. So cool! If you haven't tried Google Earth, it's free and it's worth a look. But, as one student pointed out, it is a memory hog on the computer. :-)

We are starting with geography in our theme unit study "Holidays around the World" to help students have a better idea of where the places are that we'll be studying.

Monday, November 29, 2010


Our school-wide theme this year is B.E.A.R: Be Excited About Reading! We are all excited about reading in our classroom. As I have said to many parents and students: Reading is First Grade and First Grade is Reading. It's a BIG goal in first grade to become (better) readers! The second graders kicked off our theme during our school-wide meeting last Thursday. They did a dance with their favorite books set to music--the video that inspired this dance can be viewed on our school's website: www.csdvt.org/ums. It's a catchy tune!

Students will be making bear t-shirts in art class soon to go along with our theme. We will also be having a B.E.A.R. day very soon, and students will be invited to bring a favorite bear to school! More details to come. We're excited about reading at UMS! 

We were a GREAT audience for our second grade friends!
Mr T. demonstrated that he is excited about reading by reading a great Thanksgiving book to the whole school!

Cozying up with books

Our loft continues to be a favorite place to read at school. I caught this sweet moment and just had to share. :-)

Pre-Thanksgiving Fun!

We made fringe-cut tukeys and a special turkey cookie treat the day before our Thanksgiving break. Did your child's paper turkey make it home? I hope so--they were very cute! I can't believe I forgot to take photos of the finished product. Oops! Here are some photos of our Thanksgiving fun...

Welcome, Ms. Best!

As you may have heard, Mrs. McCleary is out on leave until after our holiday break. We are fortunate to have a wonderful substitute guidance counselor--Ms. Elissa Best. Ms. Best has already been into our classroom to teach guidance lessons. Here are a couple of photos from last week's lesson about solving problems using strategies that Kelso (our beloved frog puppet) has taught us. Ask your child some of the ways we've learned to solve "Kid Sized" problems, which are problems that children can usually handle on their own without adult help (sharing materials, cutting in line, etc.).

Role playing solving problems has been very successful with this class!
Some students really get theatrical! :-)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thank you!

Thank you to EVERYONE for making it to parent-teacher conferences. I think this may be the first year I've had 100% participation. Hooray! Thank you for taking time to meet with me to discuss your child's successes and to set goals for the remainder of the school year. I am so happy to partner with you in your child's learning.

Also, remember Scholastic book orders are due on Tuesday, November 23rd. If you'd like to order online, go to http://www.scholastic.com/bookclubs. Our class ID is GZX9T.

Fun with Four Winds

 Thank you, Mrs. Rasher (Scott's mom) and Ms. Bates (Ian's mom) for coming in to teach us about nature! Last week's lesson was called "Traveling Seeds." Students learned a lot... and this lesson was delicious too. Here's the description of the lesson from the Four Winds website (http://www.fwni.org/):
Whenever you come home from a walk with burs on your socks or pop a jewelweed pod, you are playing a part in the dispersal of seeds. After a plant flowers and produces fertile seeds, those seeds must still find a spot to grow. We'll see what the inside of a seed looks like, how it holds all that is necessary for a new plant to grow, and explore outside to see the many different ways seeds move from place to place.
The puppet show is a popular way to start each Four Winds lesson. Students learn from  it and it's quite entertaining!
Students made a snack mix (GORP) made entirely of fruits and nuts. We examined the seeds that we could see. Students  each tried eating something new!
What types of seeds can your child tell you about?
Examining the parts of a lima bean.
Studying the seeds that are found in fruits, and eating it too!

Learning about Thanksgiving

Miss Heney's unit on Thanksgiving has been wonderful! I hope your child has told you about what he/she has learned. Here are a couple of photos from last week's learning...

Last Tuesday, students took a "virtual field trip" to Plimoth Plantation. Plimoth was the original spelling...it is now Plymouth, of course. If you are interested in viewing the webcast from Scholastic, go to: 

This link will take you to a great interactive diagram of the Mayflower: http://www.scholastic.com/scholastic_thanksgiving/voyage/tour.htm

Students made their own Thanksgiving timelines on Thursday, which included the first Thanksgiving, Lincoln's "Thanksgiving Proclamation," your child's first Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving 2010. 


Recently, we have had fun measuring in different ways during math time. Unit 4 began with measuring in nonstandard units using our bodies--digits, arm spans, hand spans, foot steps, and more! We moved from nonstandard units of measure to measuring with inches using 12-inch rulers. We will continue to explore measurement this week, and the important concept of "Fact Power" will be introduced. Stay tuned! 

Students measured our meeting area using their feet. They had to measure carefully, heel to toe. We discussed why some students had different measurements than others (our feet are different sizes). 
Students loved measuring my teacher books with their hands. 
Mr. Antonicci joined the fun with our "Foot-Long Foot" lesson. Each child cut out a foot-long foot and compared it to his/her own foot. We measured with our shoes and the foot-long foot and discussed why the measurements are different. We then talked about why we have a standard unit of measurement called a foot. It is always the same--12 inches. It would be confusing if everyone used his/her own feet for measuring. Mr. Antonicci was the only person in our classroom whose foot comes close to being a "foot-long foot." :-)
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Monday, November 15, 2010

Choice is good!

Students love having opportunities to choose how they learn, and I try to incorporate choice in learning as much as possible throughout the day. One of those times is our literacy station time, which happens at the end of Reading Workshop. I've written about these stations before, but the activities change weekly. Here are a few of the literacy station activities happening this week...

These students practiced long vowel sounds with a board game.
Students can choose Thanksgiving-related songs and poems for their Poetry & Song notebooks. These poems usually connect to the word study (SWR) skills we are working on in the classroom and often require some artwork too!
With Thanksgiving so close, students can make a "Shape Turkey" at the Art Station this week! They have to read the posted directions to learn how to make it.
Each student has the option of using the computers for literacy activities on his/her sharing day. Since it's a popular station, I had to figure out a way to make sure everyone gets a fair chance to visit. 
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SWR Stations!

I am excited about the new SWR (word study) routine, and the students seem to like it too. Each Monday, I introduce our new skills. Today students practiced our newest red word, "said," and the latest word families-- "-ig" and "-id." We also practiced the letters/sounds that have been tricky--/g/ versus /j/ and /w/ vs. /y/. After the skill introduction, student break into four groups: 1. Teacher 2. Red Words 3. Word Families 4. Computer. At each station (aside from the teacher station), students can choose from a variety of activities to practice their SWR skills. Like I said in the post above, choice is GOOD! :-) Students will visit one SWR station each day (Monday-Thursday) and we take our "check up" on Friday (with GUM!!!!). This new routine allows me to differentiate learning tasks according to what each child needs, and it allows students to practice words in a way that works best for them.

Students are doing Word Ladders at my station...watch for this page to come home sometime this week. It's a fun way to practice phonics and vocabulary skills!
One of the options at the Word Family Station is using dice with letters on them to roll and try to build words. This was a choice last week too, since it was so popular!
Students can do "crayon resist" (crayon with watercolor paint over it) to add a little pizazz to red word practice. :-)
Using Unifix Cubes to build red words was a popular choice at the "Red Word" station today. :-)
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