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Friday, September 14, 2012

Classroom Summary September 10-14

Here's what we did this week in Room 211...

In Fundations, our phonics and spelling program, we worked on reviewing our consonant digraphs and blends from last year. We discussed where in a word you can find digraphs and how some digraphs can be part of a blend. At the end of the week we played a spelling game called Pop-Ups where Miss Varrell gave a group of children a word to spell and they had to "pop up" with the sounds in the word and then say how the word was spelled.  After a few tries we got the hang of it, but like any new skill, it takes time!

In math this week, we began the first unit in our Investigations math books. This first unit is a review of  several different mathematical concepts from last year to help us refresh our memories and get used to using the math materials we will be learning with this year. The first activity we worked on was called "Cover and Count." We used pattern blocks to fill a shape outline and then we charted how many of each pattern block we used. Also in math we learned how to complete our Daily Morning Math sheets. Each day when we come in to school, we do a "row" of math facts from our Daily Math sheets as a math fact warm-up. We then take turns having some computer time to work on our math facts on a website called On Thursday the children took home a parent flyer that included a PIN for the student to work at home.  This free, simple, no-nonsense website is designed to help children learn their math facts in daily, brief practice sessions of only 5-7 minutes. Students are not required to work on to practice their facts but ARE expected to be practicing their math facts daily in some capacity. Mastery of math facts is key to enabling children to solve higher level math problems without getting bogged down in the "little math" details. A child has mastered her math facts when she can respond with the correct answer within 3 seconds of being asked.

In literacy this week we began by having a brief reading assessment in the computer lab with Mr. Callahan, our Pine Glen technology specialist. In September, all Burlington elementary students (except kindergarteners) are assessed in reading with the universal online assessment called iReady. The reading assessment is administered with the purpose of providing teachers information about the areas in reading that need to be strengthened as well as the areas where children are proficient. Back in our classroom, we continued learning about expectations for silent reading, buddy reading and responding to literature. We focused on three books by Kevin Henkes to practice our listening and written response skills. We read Chrysanthemum, Lilly and the Purple Plastic Purse and Owen.  We especially enjoyed the part in Lilly and the Purple Plastic Purse when Lilly becomes furious while thinking at the Lightbulb Lab. Ask us what Lilly did that was so naughty! Also during our literacy time we learned that we will be making class books this year with an opportunity to take turns "checking out" those books. We each made a class library card that will allow us to take class books home and keep track of who has which book. Next week we will focus on learning the expectations of reading in a reading group, choosing the right book to read and sustaining silent reading.

In science we continued to learn about trees and their parts. We compared parts of trees to parts of our bodies:  roots=feet, trunk=legs, branches=arms, crown=head, bark=skin. Next week we will learn about the three major types of trees and which ones we can find in our own backyards.

Not to be forgotten, we also met three new visitors to our classroom this week. We had our first library class with Mrs. D'Elia on Thursday. We got reintroduced to the library and Mrs. D'Elia's beautifully painted, brand new shelf markers! We will have library every Thursday where we will listen to fabulous children's literature and get to check out books every week! We also met Ms. May, Pine Glen's guidance counselor. She will be coming to our classroom every Wednesday morning to teach a multi-week social skills program called Second Step. And last but not least, we met Ms. Garneau, the school psychologist, who is organizing Pine Glen's "Fill A Bucket" campaign. Both Ms. May and Ms. Garneau have offices across the hall from us so we often say hi when we're in the hallway. :)

Fun Weekend Idea:  Apple picking is a fun September activity for the whole family. If you're out apple-picking in the next few weeks, take a look at the tree you pick apples from. Can you find all the parts? What are they called? Which of the major tree types does the apple tree belong to? How do you think an apple tree gets started? Who made apple trees famous across Massachusetts?

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