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Friday, September 30, 2011

Classroom Summary for September 26-30

Here's what we did this week...

At Morning Meeting/Number Corner time we continued to work with coins, rectangles and number sentences. Beginning next week, we will change some math centers for Number Corner in October. Besides the calendar pattern and coin display we will add a place value center and a number sentence/magnetic tile display for practicing equation writing.

In Fundations this week we added a spelling skill to our reading/writing toolbox: the bonus letter. We know that when we spell words that end with f, s or l after a short vowel sound usually need an additional letter. When we see them in our writing we will mark them with a star. We also reviewed our first syllable type of the year: the closed syllable. We learned about closed syllables in first grade. A closed syllable is a word or part of a word that has its vowel "closed off" by a consonant at the end (e.g., the word "cat" or the syllable "cat" in the word "catnip"). Knowing about syllables will help us to read longer words in "chunks," making them easier to read more accurately and fluently. Currently, the four phonemic skills we have reviewed since the beginning of school are: closed syllables, blends, digraphs and bonus letters.

In reading, second grade began its first week of tiering. Miss Varrell's reading group began their skillwork by learning the routines and expectations of Room 211. Every child received a red reading folder, a reading response journal and a Making Meaning workbook for working on comprehension skills. We learned about IDR, Independent Daily Reading, and how to choose books from the browsing baskets. We completed a reading response assignment and we also played some reading games so that we were familiar with some of the centers in the classroom. Next week we will begin working on our comprehension skills using cooperative learning and responding to literature.

We began writing stories this week! At the beginning of the week we learned that authors often write stories from pictures that they draw first. Sometimes a picture as simple as a house with a broken window can inspire a wonderfully juicy story! We also learned that some authors use pictures that are memories from their past. We listened to the book Bigmama's by Donald Crews and saw how Mr. Crews used his childhood memories of visiting his grandmother's house to write a story.

In math we began working with number operations and coin identification. At the beginning of the week, Miss Varrell introduced the class to a game called "Enough for the Class." We had to do some mathematical thinking on many levels. First, we had to determine how many children we had in class. Then we had to count how many cubes were in our mystery bag and verify it. Next, we had to figure out if the number of cubes we had would be enough for the children in our class. If we had too many, we had to explain how many extras we had and how we figured it out. If we didn't have enough, we had to explain how many more we needed and how we figured THAT out! What we thought was going to be a simple game suddenly became very "second grade" when we had to explain our thinking! Over the course of the year, we will have more practice explaining our thinking, both orally and in writing. At the end of the week, everyone became a Coin Detective! We used magnifying glasses and real coins and we worked in groups to look at and record details of the different coins. We noted our observations on charts so that we can identify coins more easily in the future.

In science we continued learning about trees. We know that there are three major groups of trees: tropical, coniferous and deciduous. We focused our attention on coniferous and deciduous trees because those are the trees we see most often where we live. We learned that coniferous trees are also known as evergreens. They are green all year long and have needle-like leaves. Their seeds are often cones. Ask us how we remember that coniferous trees have cones! Here's a hint: look for a closed syllable in the word coniferous! We also learned that deciduous trees are the trees whose leaves change color and eventually fall off. They are the ones that cause us raking problems later in the autumn! Last week, we learned that the substance that keeps deciduous tree leaves green in the spring and summer is chlorophyll. In the fall, trees stop producing their chlorophyll and the leaves turn back to their natural colors. Trees are amazing! Next week, we will finish our tree books and we will learn about the inside of trees. Here's a book about trees we read this week. It's a true story about a woman in Africa who won the Nobel Peace Prize for planting trees in her village! Thank you to Ms. D'Elia for lending us this lovely book from the library.

Parent F.Y.I.
  • Thank you to all the parents who came to Open House last week. It was a pleasure meeting everyone. :)
  • Next week a long term homework assignment will be sent home. Some of the supplies you will need are wax paper, an iron, a book and/or a plastic Ziploc bag. Be on the look out for the assignment next week!
  • This week we had to have several class meetings about behavioral expectations in school. Although we have made great progress since school started, I would greatly appreciate your support by speaking with your child about learning time vs. social time. Transitions are always difficult at the beginning of the year, but with your encouragement at home and consistent expectations at school, I know the children will continue to make the progress needed to make the most of their learning time at school. Today we drafted a class book entitled "A Better Day!" (title courtesy of Emily L.). We look forward to taking turns bringing the book home and sharing our thoughts about personal responsibility in school. :)
  • School will be closed on Monday, October 10 for Columbus Day.

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