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Friday, September 11, 2015

Welcome to the Room 211 Blog for 2015-2016!

Can you believe it? We're in second grade! We have started off our second grade year with a happy, enthusiastic and positive attitude! Over the past two weeks we have made new friends, spent time with old friends and begun to learn the many routines that make a second grade classroom run like a well-oiled machine. We are amazing!

Last week, after adjusting to our school day and learning a little bit about each other, we began to discover where materials and supplies are in the classroom and got used to our daily schedule. We are super excited to start learning! Knowing what's expected of us at different times of the day helps to alleviate our worries and anxieties and also helps us make smooth transitions between activities and subjects.

Over the next few weeks Miss Varrell will begin to introduce the various components of the second grade curriculum, from mathematics (enVisionMATH) to phonics (Fundations) to literacy (tiered, guided reading and Explorations in Nonfiction Writing) to science and social studies. While implementing the various common core academics, students will be expected to maintain classroom rules both individually and as a group. Bullying will not be tolerated while empathy, kindness and perseverance will be expected.

This week we began working in our enVisionMATH program. We learned that our math program is divided into 16 topics and each topic has many lessons. Each lesson is comprised of a whole class math activity, an introduction to a new math skill, some guided practice, some independent practice and some brain-stretching problem solving where the new math skill might need to be applied in a slightly different way. Once we understand the expectations of our math homework sheets and how they are organized (example reteaching problem, reteaching problems, example practice problem, practice problems), Miss Varrell will begin to assign math homework daily, or as frequently as a lesson is completed. Apart from working with the district math program, second graders will also be practicing math facts daily through written math problems, technology sites and apps, math games and partner activities. Please be sure that your child is also practicing math facts at home as part of their regular homework routine!

Next week Miss Varrell will begin teaching the Fundations phonics and spelling program. This program is not a traditional workbook system; it requires daily practice with reading and writing letter sounds, words and sentences. Many different materials are used, from white boards and markers to gel boards and magnetic pens. Similar to our math program, Fundations is divided into 17 units of study where specific decoding and encoding skills are introduced in a very controlled and cumulative way. There are weekly check-ins and bi-weekly tests comprised of letter sounds, review words, current words, 'trick words' (words that cannot be phonetically spelled) and dictated sentences.  Weekly homework based on previously taught Fundations skills will begin in two weeks. More information about our weekly literacy homework packets will be provided at Open House.

All in all, one of our favorite parts of the school day over the past two weeks has been our read-aloud time. We have read books by Marc Brown, Harry Allard, Jeanette Winter, Mo Willems, and Kevin Henkes and one thing we all agree on: WE LOVE BOOKS THAT MAKE US LAUGH! 
Today we read the story Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes and Miss Varrell was astounded to see that one of our students was wearing the very same boots as the character, Lilly! Thank you to Ashley T. for letting us take a picture of her fabulous boots for our blog!
Congratulations to everyone (parents included) on completing the first two weeks of school!

Parent Information
  • Please see this blog's sidebar for information regarding teacher contact information, BPS school calendar, reading corps refill slips, recommended student websites and other classroom blogs of interest. 
  • Thank you so much to all our Room 211 families for sending in their 'office paperwork' so promptly. The main office, health office and I greatly appreciate it!
  • Pine Glen's Open House is scheduled for Wednesday, September 16 at 6PM. The purpose of Back to School Night is for parents to become better acquainted with grade level curriculum and classroom requirements for the year. This is not a student-attended event. Please check Mr. Lyons' Principal Blog for more information and details.
  • If you are a parent who likes to take care of school 'administrative' items in one fell swoop, I gently recommend bringing your checkbook to Open House (e.g., field trips, PTO, PG Library programs) however, there is no requirement to do so. 

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