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Friday, November 22, 2013

Classroom Summary for November 18 - 22

Here's what we did this week...

In Miss Varrell's Fundations group we finished Unit 5 which focused on consonant and vowel suffixes, base words and spelling the ending syllable /ik/. We also experimented using an app on the iPads called Whiteboard. Miss Varrell wanted to see if using the iPads would save us from having to use so many wipes on our traditional whiteboards. There were advantages and disadvantages but we all agreed we would try using them again for a similar practice activity. In the next few weeks we will focus on a new syllable type and some new spelling strategies for words with long vowel sounds.

In Miss Varrell's reading group we focused on visualizing as a new comprehension skill. We listened to the poem, "My Baby Brother," by Mary Ann Hoberman and learned to listen for specific details in Ms. Hoberman's description and drew an image of the baby brother without ever seeing the illustration. We did very well! We learned that many times people get information about stories (or authors' messages) from the text that is written. As we read longer and more complicated stories, it will be more and more necessary for us to gain understanding from the words an author writes and rely less on the pictures for our comprehension.

In writing we worked on 'Little Brother/Little Sister' stories. Miss Varrell read us Bill Grossman's book My Little Sister Ate One Hare. (You can hear it too in the video below.) We began our stories by brainstorming a little brother/sister sentence that would catch the attention of a reader. We then continued to write more sentences until we got to the phrase 'it all started to fall apart when...'. We had a lot of fun imagining some crazy circumstances for our older/younger siblings to be in!

In math we worked really hard to learn some new mental math strategies this week. We learned three strategies all together. To start the week we looked at adding double digit numbers together where one of the addends was an even 'ten' and breaking it into groups of ten to count on. For example:

                                                           34 + 40 = ?  

Solve by counting on 40 in your head like this: 34--44, 54, 64, 74.  74 is the correct sum.

By midweek we had learned two more strategies to add double digit numbers:
  • adding all the tens in both addends and then adding all the ones in both addends, and then adding those two sums together to get the final sum;
                                       45 + 23 = ?

Solve by breaking 45 into 4 tens and 5 ones and 2 tens and 3 ones. Add the 4 tens and the 2 tens together to get 6 tens (60) and then add the 5 ones and the 3 ones to get 8 ones (8) and then add 60 + 8 to get 68 (final sum).
  • keeping one of the addends 'whole' and breaking apart the other addend into tens and ones and adding the tens to the first addend and then adding on the ones.
                                      45 + 23 = ?

Solve by keeping 45 whole and breaking 23 into 2 tens (20) and 3 ones (3). Count on with the tens like so: 

45--55, 65 

and then count on with the ones like this: 65--66, 67, 68 (final sum).

In science Miss Varrell arranged for the class to speak with a sea turtle researcher via Skype. Although we won't be studying reptiles until the spring Dr. Nahill wasn't going to be available to speak with us in the spring and so Miss Varrell made arrangements to speak with him on Wednesday instead! Dr. Nahill works in Oregon with a conservation group called Below are some of the facts we learned during our brief excursion into the life of this cretaceous-period reptile.

Weekend Challenge Activity: Pretend you are a leatherback sea turtle. Write a letter to a human being explaining why you need his/her help to keep from being extinct. Be sure to include specific details and bring your letter in to share on Monday!


  • Wednesday, November 27 is a half day to begin the Thanksgiving holiday recess. Children will be dismissed at approximately 11:15am. There will be no lunch served. Children should, however, bring a snack to school.
  • Parent Teacher Conferences are scheduled for December 5. 

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