Sunday, January 30, 2011


Mouse Mess Cover
I introduced visualizing as a comprehension strategy in reading last week. We spent some time with the book Mouse Mess, creating mental images to help us understand the story better. When students create sensory/mental images while reading, they are more likely to remember what they read later. We will add this strategy under the C for Comprehension on our CAFE board. 

On Fun Friday, students made mental images of other kinds of messes the mouse might make, aside from those messes he made in the story. Students created "Mouse Mess" collages, as collage was the technique used in the story's illustrations. Students had the choice of working alone, in partnerships, or in small groups. They could also choose who to work with, if they did not want to work alone. I was absolutely AMAZED at everyone's hard work and creativity. I saw excellent team work as students shared ideas and complimented others' work. Students will have more time this week to finish their collages. I will display their finished work both on the blog and in the hallway or classroom soon!

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Our study of magnets has begun!

Wow! Students were SO excited to begin our science unit about Magnets last week. This is one of the required science units in our district's curriculum, and it's always a popular one! The students' excitement is contagious! We began our study by making a chart with the heading, "What we THINK we know about magnets." I talked to students about how we will check and confirm or revise the ideas/thoughts that are on our chart. Some students do have misconceptions about magnets and magnetism, but I explained to everyone that we'll be like scientists and explore together through experiments, books, websites, and more. Like scientists, we'll see sometimes that our predictions/ideas were incorrect and we'll simply learn from it and get smarter as we go! We began on Thursday/Friday with three stations: a pre-assessment with me (so I can find out what students already know about things that are magnetic/non-magnetic), a magnet explore station (we have to play with the materials before we can be scientific with them!), and a short video about magnets on 
The magnet explore station.
Watching a BrainPop Jr. video.
Pre-assessment=more focused teaching--I don't need to teach something everyone already knows! :-) This helps me see if I can go beyond the basics into higher level content.
Making a discovery about compasses and magnets!
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A beautiful day!

Thursday was a gorgeous day to get some fresh air in between math time and Reading Workshop. I took pictures of everyone for a bulletin board, but here are a few for you to enjoy now!

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Free Choice

Each morning after math and snack, we either go outside or have free choice time in the classroom. Recently, we've had more choice times than extra outdoor recess times. Here's a peak at what some children are doing...

Many children are very motivated to get to the number 1000 and beyond  on their number scrolls. They haven't become scrolls yet, but they will soon!

Many children love the blocks station!
These Crystal Connectors never seem to get old!
They are much better at creating things with the Crystal Connectors than I am!
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The Loft

Our "Upstairs Library," which is the loft in our room, continues to be a popular place to go during free choice times and for Read to Self choice during our Daily 5 station time. I love sneaking up there to capture great reading moments whenever I can!

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Bully Beans

Mrs. McCleary read a great book to students last Tuesday-- Bully B.E.A.N.S by Julia Cook. Students learned ways to be helpful bystanders when they see bullying happen instead of just watching it and doing nothing. Students took a "No Bullying Pledge" and drew pictures of examples of how to help stop bullying. When Mrs. McCleary saw students thinking hard about ways to banish bullying, she gave them four "Bully Beans" to help give them courage to stand up against bullying if/when they see it happening at school or elsewhere.  
Bully B.E.A.N.S.

Bully Beans represent the courage you must have to stand up against bullies! It does take courage to stand up for what is right.
Bully Beans are delicious and powerful! :-)
Bully Beans are so powerful Mrs. McCleary wore gloves when she handed them out! :-)
Everyone had great ideas of what to do to stop bullying.
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Corks needed!

I am very excited to begin a science unit about magnets tomorrow! During this unit, we will make compasses using corks. So, if you have any corks around, could you please send them to school? We need at least 20 corks to make this project happen. Thank you!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Daily Five

I wrote about the Daily Five a little while ago, and we adjusted our routine a bit last week. The Daily Five are five things all students should do every day to become better readers and writers: Read to Self, Read to Someone, Listen to Reading, Work on Writing, and Word Work. We have been doing all of these things every day, but now we have a period of time daily when students can choose which "Daily 5" activity they'd like to do. Our morning literacy block consists of Read to Self and Read to Someone (partner reading) time, and it ends with the Daily 5 choice. The afternoon portion of our literacy block includes SWR (Word Work) and Writing Workshop (which is Work on Writing time).

So far, the most popular Daily 5 choice is Listening to Reading. Currently, students can listen to stories read aloud on the computer or on the cassette player at our listening station. Coming soon--MP3 player listening stations. I have the equipment, but I need to find the time to get the technology set up and ready to go! Students also have really enjoyed having more unstructured writing time, where they can write about whatever they'd like. There's lots of freedom of topics in Writing Workshop, but Work on Writing time lets children write anything--letters, lists, stories, cards, menus, polls, comics--you name it, they can write it!
So excited to work more on her Writing Workshop pieces!
Students love the website!
This is how Wednesday's Daily 5 looked--lots of students chose "Listen to Reading"!
Such a dedicated reader!!!
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Math on Thursday

Math was a mix of work and play on Thursday...

All students started the Unit 5 math assessment on Thursday. Some finished it and some are still working on it. The file folders are our "offices" to ensure everyone has privacy and can focus on his/her own work.
I let students have some project time during math stations. They are working on making snow people based on Lois Ehlert's book, Snowballs. They are using "good stuff" to decorate their snow people. We will hang them up in the hall next week.
Playing Addition Top-It to practice math facts. Students have to add the total of two cards. The person with the higher sum keeps all the cards in that round.
More work on the snowballs art project. Such great planning and excellent results so far!
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Another great Four Winds!

We are very fortunate to have WONDERFUL Four Winds volunteers--Priscilla Rasher and Karen Bates (Scott's mom and Ian's mom). :-) They visited on Thursday morning to teach everyone about bird migration and survival. You probably noticed some of the take-home items--a bird feeder made from a pinecone, "binoculars" for bird watching, and some handouts related to what students learned. As always, students had fun learning about nature! 

Pinecones, peanut butter, and birdseed make a delicious winter treat for the birds!
Sticky hands!
Binoculars in progress. They got to use stickers to make them fancy!
Studying maps and learning about which birds migrate and where they go. 
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Friday, January 21, 2011

The 100th Day of School is coming!

Students have noticed that our "Counting the Days of School" chart is getting very close to 100! Today was the 89th day of school, so the 100th day is coming right up! Unless we have a snow day, Monday, February 7th will be the 100th day of school! We will do lots of fun activities related to the number 100 throughout the day.

We need some items for our festivities, so if you'd like to contribute, click on the link below (I'm trying an online sign-up form for the first time!). Thank you!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mark your calendars!

I want to give everyone as much notice as possible that Monday, February 14th will be our second annual, "We Love to Read and Write" literacy celebration. This year, this is a great connection to our school-wide theme, "B.E.A.R: Be Enthusiastic About Reading"! Students will pass out Valentines earlier in the day, and we will devote our party to celebrating children's reading and writing. We will share a Valentine's Day treat after children have shared their reading and writing. The celebration will be from 1:15-2:00 p.m. on February 14th. I hope you can join us!