October 31, 2016

Even if we're just dancin' in the dark

Today was *so* much fun! 
We danced, we made an amazing treat, ate that, had some great laughs, aaaannnddd...we squeezed in a little chat about facing our fears without freaking out. Halloween on a Monday is a little #whoababy, but it really was a sweet day!  

My favourite moment was near the end of the day where we all sat together and ate our Halloween bark. It felt like we were a little family. Just sittin' there together on the floor eating this tasty treat and talking about how Skittles and chocolate are not a bad combination at all. Thank you to Miss Julia for the super job she did as our class photographer! 

Thank you also to all the boys and girls for a great Halloween! 

October 29, 2016

Week 8 is great!

What a great way to end the week! 
We kicked off the afternoon by reading Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds.  This hilarious text includes some of the key writing conventions we've been talking about throughout the school year such as: italics, ellipses and text size to indicate emotion. This book is a treasure trove of literary fun! 

After this, it was craft time! Have a look at these creepy, yet adorable pumpkins the kids made this afternoon. We used orange Solo cups that I picked up at a Pittsburgh-area Target last year on clearance, black peel and stick felt and battery operated candles that I got at Michaels over the weekend with my 50% off coupon. This was a great craft for kids and at the same time, easy on the wallet! 

Special thanks to my classroom photographer Ryleigh! While I was busy helping other students, she roamed the room with my camera taking all kinds of great pictures.  Students are learning about the difference between what we call "working photos" and "smiling photos". We're learning about digital citizenship and every opportunity I can give my students to safely practice this is a real win! I'll post more about this in future blog post. 

I made this instructional video for my students. There's no sound so that I could explain it to them while they watched.  If you're a teacher and you'd like to make this craft with your students, feel free to use my video as well! 

October 26, 2016

Homework help needed

When completing homework assignments such as the Practice Page, parents can I ask for your support in a few areas? 

Successful homework completion is a skill that must be taught. I'm working to help my students see that the work they do at home must still reflect the overall expectations we have in the classroom. For example, I ask students in class to make sure their work is printed neatly and easy to read, and this expectation also extends to homework. As I say often in class, if I can't read it, I can't mark it.  My hope is that this will help them to develop the home-study habits they'll need for future grades.  

Can I trouble you to take a few moments on homework nights to review your child's completed work to make sure it reflects the following: 
  • the work is neat and easy to read
  • the work has been completed according to instructions (for example, if I have asked for students to provide reasons for an opinion, they have done so)
  • the answers make sense 
I'm not asking you to mark the work, just give it a once-over to make sure that it meets both the criteria above and the instructions stated on the worksheet itself. 
Your support is so greatly appreciated. I think this helps to lay the foundation for some really successful habits in the later grades.   

October 25, 2016

Extra Practice Problems: Unit 2 Test

The boys and girls have their first Math test on Thursday. Here is an extra practice problem that will assist with test preparation. Don't forget, there's also a Practice Test that can be downloaded here

Champ has 21 dog cookies. 

Scooter has 5 more cookies than Champ. 
How many cookies do both dogs have altogether?

Here's another one!

Champ has 32 tennis balls.

Scooter has 17 tennis balls. 
How many more tennis balls does Champ have than Scooter?
How can you check your work to make sure you're right? (hint: check your study guide for the answer!) 

October 24, 2016

Uh-Oh! Pumpkin Trouble!

Jan Thomas writes thee funniest books for early readers! And they're absolutely perfect for helping experienced readers further develop their fluency. 

Seriously, if you're looking for a way to boost oral reading confidence, having children read books that are really easy for them is a great strategy. Book selection is the key here.

Jan Thomas does everything right in her books. In just a few words on each page, she skillfully engages readers.  I've enjoyed using her books as mentor texts with my students to talk about what good readers and writers do. I often say writers tells us how they want their stories to be read by choosing words, conventions and text features carefully, and I encourage my students to do the same with their own work. 

When you read Jan Thomas' stories, you'll find it all:  
  • great word choice
  • bold text that tells the reader which words to emphasize
  • ellipses 
  • careful and creative punctuation
  • a requirement to infer 
  • engaging illustrations that help the reader make meaning 
  • hilarious and concise plots 
After reviewing the six habits of a fluent reader with my students and having already taught them all those creative ways that writers convey meaning,  I could not wait to share Pumpkin Trouble with them!  My hope is that my students will take all this information and apply it to their own writing AND reading. We have some great exercises coming up and with this new learning, their writing will be off the charts! 

Every reader, no matter their level, benefits from reading an easy text to develop their fluency and overall confidence. The key of course is text choice; you can't just give kids a board book and make this work. You'll need find engaging texts that appeal to the goofy kid in all of us! 

After we read the story a few times, we talked about the importance of eye contact in communicating sincerity and to keep thing "Fun Friday" related, we looked at how by shifting the eye placement in a character, you can, as an artist really make a statement. Then we talked about how if you place the eyes one way, the mouth must also follow suit. It was a little bit of art, a bit of reading and a bit of personal development all rolled into an hour! 

The goal for the assignment below was to create three characters with shifty eyes and one character who looked sincere, but once the kids got rolling, they had so much fun with their shifty-eyed pumpkins, I decided to let them call the shots. I also loved this activity because of the fine motor practice the kids got from cutting those eyes out! It's nuts how in this digital age, things like cutting and pasting still have their place.

October 21, 2016

Unit 2 Practice Test

The boys and girls will write their Unit 2 Math test on Thursday October 27. Below, please find a link to an older, but useful Practice Test.  The Practice Test is a very good friend of the real one and should assist students in preparing for Tuesday.   

Please also check your child's zippy on Friday for the study guide/checklist that will also assist in preparing for the test. 

It is important for students to be able to identify the operation required to solve the word problems. They need to look for "clue words" that tell them to add or subtract. We've talked a great deal about "clue words" lately.  

Problem #10 on the test deals with rounding numbers. This won't be on the test. Students will learn about rounding in a separate mini-unit. 

Please do not return the test to school for marking as this is for practice purposes only. 

Unit 2 Practice Test

October 20, 2016

A very productive week!

We've had quite the productive week! Don't you just love that feeling?  

Our Crankensteins are coming along very nicely and while the kids have enjoyed creating their characters, I've especially loved seeing the quality of their writing improve. It's nuts how in just a few short weeks and with a bit of modeling and practice, the growth just takes off!  I'm putting the Crankensteins up in our class, so you'll have to wait a bit before you get to see them in person, but let me tell you...this is top quality work.  

By using a checklist, implementing teaching feedback and instituting the "5 centimetre rule" (read about that below) students are learning how to write in a way that paints a picture in the reader's mind and that one or two lines ain't gonna cut it when you have 5 or 6 provided.  It's fun helping them see that they can really write quite a bit about a topic by posing just a few questions to them.  When they come to me and say, "I don't know what else to write." all it takes is a good question or two and their eyes get bigger, the smile grows and off they go! 

In Math, we're working on problem solving using addition or subtraction or...dun,dun,dun...both!  The kids wrote another quiz on Wednesday and I'll send that home on Friday for signatures. The first quiz (which won't count) was assigned Tuesday and I realized we weren't quite ready for it. We practiced a bit more on Wednesday and I think things went much better for the kids.  We're looking at having our Unit 2 test next week at some point.  I'll post a practice test and send home a study guide to assist as well. I'll also send home their little workbook that students can use to prepare for the test as well. 

Overall, I'd say we're on track and doing great!  It's been a great week and I'm looking forward to trouble tomorrow. Whaaa??? 
Tomorrow's Fun Friday will be quite troublesome.  

October 18, 2016

One "smart" bunch!

We're really focusing on adjectives and nouns this last week or so, and to help the boys and girls remember the difference and explore some creative words, we did a super-smart, super-fun activity on Monday!  

After I handed out the nouns: the paper and the Smarties, it was time for the kids to get to work on those adjectives (describing words). Students worked together with their elbow partner and game up with some really great adjectives!

While we'll be talking a lot this year about fiction and non-fiction texts, we had a kind of introductory lesson to them on Monday.  I used this photo of books from our Fall/Halloween collection to get the discussion rolling.  

This afternoon we continued our review of subtraction strategies and we had a quick quiz. The quiz (pictured below) was a problem that was similar to the ones we have been practicing. The boys and girls are learning about the key words that tell us to add or subtract, or in the case of the problem below, do one and then the other. 

Once they got started, I found the boys and girls needed further practice with this type of question, so we're going to try a different, but similar quiz on Wednesday.  We instead used the quiz as our sample problem and we talked about the types of strategies used to solve these types of problems. 


October 17, 2016

We are family...(come on, sing it with me!)

Today in Math we learned all about fact families or "related facts". We can use fact families in addition/subtraction and multiplication/division. 

We also talked about how fact families have three members, but generate four questions. 

Students created their own fact families and then had to solve a little nugget of a problem similar to this:  Here are two members of a fact family: 8 and 9.  Who could possibly be the third member? That's right! The missing numbers could be either 1 or 17.

Crankenstein Time!

Last Friday was a most cranky day!  We read the hilarious story "Crankenstein"by Samantha Berger and talked about things that make us cranky and annoyed.  I also taught the boys and girls a funny song about an annoying insect: mosquitoes.  They really liked that one!  

Unlike my sample, this year, students will write about what makes
THEM cranky.  
We started working on the craftivity pictured below.  The boys and girls were excited to learn how to draw cartoon hair and as you can see, they're doing a great job of assembling their own Crankenstein. On Monday, we'll talk about relating to a text and making text-to-self connections. Then, we'll do the writing piece that accompanies their character.  Students will be required to implement the writing feedback they've been receiving on their weekly Text of the Week tests and other assignments. 

These are going to look great in our classroom! I'll send them home shortly after Halloween for students to share with their families! 


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