Stone Soup
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Stone Soup

Friday, November 17, 2017


We have been having an amazing time during writing this week.  We have completed one round of experiments and written up the results, and then adapted our experiments, as good scientists do.  Each group worked together to alter one aspect of the original experiment--running a car down a ramp on the carpet and bare floor.  New experiments involved lengthening the ramp, coating the ramp with soap, adding weight to the car and covering the ramp with foil.  They once again ran trials and recorded the data. They will then write up conclusions and hopefully have a symposium to discuss their results.  There are many wonderful aspects to this writing unit--the collaboration is critical, and there were many lovely high points of students making sure all partners were included. Students also practiced their measuring skills, and found ways to record their thinking.  One puzzle was what to do when a car goes farther than the meter stick.  I told the students they couldn’t get more, leaving them to figure out how to use only one meter stick (they figured it out--put a pencil at the end, then move the stick).  We’ll move on to a new experiment next week, or the week after.  With only two days next week, I’m not sure how much we’ll be able to accomplish, or if the excitement of the impending holiday will make thoughtful work more challenging.  (Nah, that would never happen.)

In math, we’re reviewing addition and subtraction strategies.  One thing the class does really well--universally--is break numbers down into tens and ones,  While this is an important strategy, and one that definitely supports the development of place value sense, I want them to begin to work more efficiently.  When adding, they could leave one number whole (this is quite a surprising idea in here).  For example-- 68 + 25 could be broken into (60 + 8) + (20 + 5),  However, it’s more efficient (the word of the week) to start with 68.  Students can then either add 20, then 5, or 20 then  2 + 3  or 2 + 20 + 3 to get 93.  We use an open number line to demonstrate our thinking here:

The open number line is a flexible tool--kids can start anywhere they like, and make the jumps that feel comfortable to them.

We also explored using the open number line with subtraction strategies.  This seemed more natural, as only a few students thought about breaking the numbers up by place value (although we did have one student do this:

35 - 19

30 - 10 = 20

5 - 9 = -4

20 - 4 = 16

We also had a really interesting group conference about taking numbers apart by place value, as one student subtracted 5, then subtracted the 5 again.  We modeled the process of his work along with that of a peer who disagreed with his answer using cubes, and had other students comment on what they noticed.

I had several afternoon meetings early in the week, so we worked on our Healthy Eating posters from last week (still in process, some of them) as well as watching a Bill Nye video about healthy eating.  On Wednesday, we talked more about fuel and what a nutritious meal looks like. Each student had a chance to write about a day in the life of their favorite vegetable.  They were hilarious, I must say.  For the end of the week, we turned our focus to our 2nd Step curriculum, and began talking about noticing emotions, talking about uncomfortable and comfortable feelings, and how to notice how we are feeling. We discussed how both a situation and body language can give us clues to the feelings of others and ourselves.

In reading, we are reading fiction and responding in our journals.  We spent many, many days on bossy r, otherwise known as r-controlled vowels.  We played Bossy R Bingo, Who Has, I Have ( I have, charm, who has first…), wrote sentences and rolled dice to read word lists fluently.  We’re taking Friday to catch up on unfinished work in our workbook, reading and other classroom assignments.

Short week tomorrow--no school Wednesday, Thursday or Friday.  If you are travelling for the holiday, I wish you safe and traffic free passage.  I wish you peace and relaxation.  I am thankful for being able to work with your children--they are passionate and funny and love to learn.


Posted by MattoneL  On Nov 17, 2017 at 8:32 AM
  

Stone Soup

Thursday, November 9, 2017


An early update, since we celebrate Veteran’s Day tomorrow.  

We had a final visit from the students from the community nutrition class at UMASS.  The last time they came, we planted spinach seeds, which are growing nicely.  This time they brought a blender, fruit, yogurt, orange juice and fully grown spinach, and made smoothies with the kids.  You should have received a copy of the recipe--everyone tried the smoothies, and they were a big hit.

We also spent some time talking about fuel for our bodies--and the kind of fuel that helps us best.  Additionally, we created a list of physical activities that make use of that fuel to keep us healthy--drawing came up again, but I pushed for activities that get your heart pumping.

In reading, we are working on the decoding and spelling of words with “bossy r”--ar, er, ir, or, and ur.  We’ve had some spelling bees, and improved our success rate by quite a bit with ar and or.  The other three are trickier, as they all sound the same….  Kids practiced in a variety of ways--building words and recording them, word searches, and the aforementioned spelling bees.  Some of us are currently reading non-fiction, using a glossary of Gujarati words to find their English translations.  Others are working on decoding and fluency.  As always, comprehension is tucked in.

In math, we’re exploring adding numbers without breaking all of them up into tens and ones.  One thing we excel at is breaking up numbers into tens and ones.  For example--58 + 12 = 50 + 8 + 10 + 2 = 60 + 10 = 70.  We have spent a goodly amount of time using number strings to encourage leaving one number whole and moving to the next friendly ten.  So our strings would look like this:

58 + 2 =

58 + 12 =

66 + 4 =

66 + 14 =


I’m also encouraging them to see the friendly ten in other combinations--

74 + 6 =

74 + 7 =

The idea is to build fluency (there’s that word again!) in computation across situations.  

In order to work on fluency, we also played a number of math games this week--Close to 20, Collect 5 (moving in jumps of tens both backwards and forwards for fluency and efficiency in addition and subtraction) and Clear the Board--practice in both probability and number combinations to 12.  

Finally, we are playing Beat the Calculator--students play in teams, looking at a single number string-- 7 + 6 + 7 + 6--one student uses a calculator, the other does the math mentally. We’ve discovered that we are either faster than, or as fast as, the calculator.  One student also told us how he’d read about the speed and accuracy of the brain over machines.

In writing, we began our new unit writing lab reports.  Our first experiment is figuring out whether a car will go farther on the bare floor or carpet when set on a ramp.  Our first few days have been spent learning the vocabulary--hypothesis, procedure, results--and creating sketches and writing out our ideas.  Students will work in groups, and also practice rewriting for accuracy.  They’re quite excited, and their beginning work is quite accurate.  We will continue with our work next week.

Have a lovely, cold day tomorrow.  


Posted by MattoneL  On Nov 09, 2017 at 8:29 AM
  

Stone Soup

Friday, October 27, 2017


We seemed to have survived coming to school for five full days this week, after last week’s crazy schedule.  Thanks to all of you for coming in for conferences--we had almost 100% participation.  It was wonderful to meet and talk about your child with you.  

We are winding up our small moments writing unit, and will celebrate our hard work next Wednesday.  We’ve continue to study other authors for things we can try in our writing--using sound words (onomatopoeia), stretching out a story bit by bit, making comparisons….  The kids helped me find good places to put some of these moves in my own writing, and then tried it out themselves.

Last week, we began a nutrition unit, which will coincide with our field trip next Thursday to UMASS for lunch.  The students had a discussion about what it means to eat healthy, and what it means to be healthy.  There was a spirited debate about whether doing art can help keep you healthy.  Many students thought it could, basing their opinions on the physical aspects, although some thought it helped your brain stay healthy as well.  Not everyone is convinced, but it was an interesting conversation.  We also learned about “My Plate,” the current USDA recommended food portions. (Anyone old enough to remember the four food groups?  The food pyramid?  This is the current incarnation.)    

Students had a chance to name foods to the categories, and also to make food cards which listed a favorite food, the category to which it belong, what they eat it with, and why.

As part of Unit Study (Social Studies), we also read Enemy Pie by Derek Munson.  The story is about a boy who has a new enemy on his list.  With the help of his dad and a secret recipe, he turns the enemy into a friend.  We will make Venn diagrams about some of our friends, as well as create our own recipe for Enemy Pie on Friday afternoon.

In math, we continue with Geometry.  We are now working on two dimensional shapes--specifically quadrilaterals and rectangles.  We sorted shapes into categories, as well as learned about right angles.  We are building rectangles and describing them by their rows and columns.  We are then writing riddles for one another to solve: I have 3 rows and 15 tiles.  Or, I have 6 columns and two rows.  The kids then build the rectangles based on the number of tiles. They will also be given a number--24, 16, 36, and asked to produce as many rectangles as they can. This will continue to support the concept of multiplication through arrays.

Have a great weekend!


Posted by MattoneL  On Oct 27, 2017 at 11:36 AM
  

Stone Soup

Friday, October 13, 2017


No school on Monday.  Open House. Field Day.  New student for our class….  As you can see, it’s been quite a week.  Next week promises to be even better.  I will be out on Tuesday for professional development, and Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are all early release days.  Students will be released at 1:20 Wednesday, and noon on Thursday and Friday.

Thanks to all who were able to attend the Open House on Thursday night.  Almost every family was represented--a testament to our warm and supportive community.  The kids were so excited to have you all here, and to (loudly, proudly and excitedly) share their morning meeting experience with all of you.  I choose to have the kids do a meeting for you because it encompasses the entire day in a brief time period.  I hope you learned a bit about how our day runs, and my expectations of the students.

When we’re not busy with Field Day, we have been working on revisiting our small moment stories.  On Tuesday, we did a quick reread and check of our finished work, then shared our stories with one another.  On Thursday, we began the work of revising a “finished” story.  This is incredibly difficult, even for experienced writers; we are asking students to revisit a story they are sure they are done with, and find ways to write it again.  We discussed our “intentions” for our stories--are we trying to make people laugh?  Cry?  We quickly reviewed a couple of books we’ve read to determine the authors’ purposes.  Our work began with a demonstration by me, expanding a story I had finished with a new beginning.  Students then looked at their own work.  Several students amended their beginnings;  others added to the middle.  One student even discovered that revising means getting rid of large chunks of the story!  However, it’s not an easy process, and many other students were frustrated at the idea of reworking something they’d believed they’d completed.  We will continue with this work next week.

In language arts, we studied adjectives, as well as spelling words with “y” at the end.  Spanish has 6 vowel sounds--English has 14 - 16 (21 if you’re Australian), so this makes our spelling pretty tricky.  We continued to review parts of speech by making silly sentences.  Asked for a word scramble, I complied with our spelling words for the week.  Our reading groups meet daily.

We are deep into geometry, and have moved on to 2 dimensional figures--namely rectangles.  We sorted polygons by attribute, and had a long and focused discussion on whether a chevron is a 3 or 4 sided figure.  Because the outer angle of the chevron is obtuse, or reversed for this crowd, several students had a hard time believing it was really a four sided shape. This led to an interesting conversation about angles, and the discovery that angles are inside circles, but circles don’t have any visible angles.  On Friday, we’ll explore the area of rectangles.

Because our imaginary garden pictures required a great deal of time and attention (you can’t hurry art, you know), my goal of getting into the garden this week did not happen as early as I’d planned.  I’m hoping we will get our garlic planted by the end of today (Friday).  My goal is to have the students examine garlic cloves, then plant them in the garden.  Check with your local student to see if that actually came to pass.

Have a great weekend!


Posted by MattoneL  On Oct 13, 2017 at 11:51 AM
  

Stone Soup

Friday, March 31, 2017


We were fortunate this week to have a visit from not one group of college students, but two.  On Monday, UMASS community nutrition students came and we revisited eating the rainbow, and reviewing what foods have what vitamins.  Everyone was happy to sample ( or make a plate for someone else) the peppers, radishes, lettuce, purple carrots, guacamole and hummus.  (Did you know vitamins and minerals need fat for their vitamins to be absorbed properly?)  On Thursday, Corinne Bliss, a local children’s author and professor at Mount Holyoke, brought her children’s story writing class to read their stories to us and get feedback.  A real life experience using what we learn all year--giving evidence for our opinions!  Corinne was my writing instructor when I was at MHC long, long ago.  She and her daughter Artemis Roehrig were scheduled to read their new children’s book to us Friday afternoon, but we all know how that went….  The kids very much enjoyed listening to the stories in progress and offered very good advice to the nervous authors.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Kellee undertook all of the instruction, as a dry run for her two weeks of master teaching (beginning next Friday!).  She created a wonderful project for our one afternoon of Social Studies (visiting students, short days, unmentionable weather took up the rest).  Each child had a passport, and they “visited” countries on the continents by studying folders she’d prepared as well as using QR codes and IPads to learn about music, animals and culture.

We had a math a couple of days, and continue to work on  data, which we’ll wrap up next week.  The kids collected data about lost teeth from the other two second grades, then created representations of the data.  They learned about line plots, a simple method for recording numerical data.

Example:


On Thursday, they solved data mysteries, matching data to corresponding line plots.

We are now working on Unit 6 of Superkids.  This is another abbreviated unit, taking only two weeks, and jumping around quite a bit.  We are working on word solving strategies, particularly open syllables;; --o-pen, stu-dent, mu-sic.  We also are playing with words quite a lot.  On Wednesday, our in-house professional development was a review of dyslexia as a learning disability, and then a carousel of different activities to support decoding skills.  I immediately introduced three of the activities--Race to the Top, or Roll a Word--simply--a table of six columns with a die number at the bottom of each.  Roll a number, write the matching word in the column--first word to reach the top wins.  Or--choose your own words (this was greeted with cheers. We are a room of word nerds--this is a good thing).  In order to support categorizing words, we are playing a game with our memory words--I write them on post-its, show them all to the group, then take one away.  For example--I put up porter, portion, report, again, ahead, about, too, two and too.  The kids are meant to realize that there are three groups--”ways to write “to””, words that start with “a” and words with the root “port”.  These can help students with not just solving, but comprehension as well.  Also on the word nerd scene, we learned about a word matrix.

For example:

The root word is in bold, with its definition. The challenge is to build as many words using the matrix--prefixes on the left, suffixes on the right.  So I can make the word “joyousness” or “enjoying” or many more. This supports all of our readers, as they begin to tackle longer and more complex words in increasingly challenging texts.

In writing, we are completing book awards. Students chose one fictional picture book, and are deciding what award it might win--Best Starry Night Book?  Best Book about Vegetables?  They are practicing using comparisons, relating these books to other works by the same author, or works from a similar style or with a related plot.

Stay warm, dry, sane and relaxed as we say a not very sad farewell to March.  I will be out next Friday, presenting at a conference for Educational Support Paraprofessionals, with our very own Jean Fay (paraprofessional extraordinaire).  Ms. Davis will take over the teaching.  Ms. Nambu will be attending the conference, as well, but the rest of the usual gang will be around.

We will have a new face in the classroom beginning some time next week.  Johanna Bradbury, who has been a reading teacher, will be coming in to the class to support some of our students.  We will welcome her and her ideas and enthusiasm,


Posted by MattoneL  On Mar 31, 2017 at 10:52 AM
  

Stone Soup

March 24, 2017


Since we’re collecting data for math, I found a great way to combine data collection with the recovery of missing writing implements.  I offered a reward of 1 Hershey’s kiss for every pencil or pen located and returned to the writing box.  The kids kept tallies of their discoveries.  I didn’t have enough kisses for every pencil recovered, so we then solved a division problem of figuring out how many of the 73 kisses we had we could give to 15 students.  One student suggested repeated addition, and we discovered each child could have 5, with the leftovers going to the kitchen staff.  Cindy, our head cook, was out sick, and Modesta was responsible for making both lunch and breakfast for the school.  This was also a student suggestion.  Math is everywhere….

We practiced reading data about other classes.  Students compared data collected on first and fifth graders’ preferred meal times (we prefer breakfast by a large margin).  We also studied a graph on how students get to school each day, this one comparing students from two different school.  Both activities entailed being able to read double bar graphs, as well as making inferences from the data presented.  As always, this is the real work of our data unit, and the kids are steadily improving.

Ms. Davis will be leading a section on collecting, recording and studying numerical data.  The kids will embark on collecting information about the number of teeth lost in 2nd grade, and across the school.  They began by planning out how they would interview the other 2nd grade classes, and how they would collect and manage their data.

Our letters convincing others to read a favorite book is progressing.  We’ve spent time organizing our thinking so that we can collect evidence from the books themselves.  For example, each student generated an opinion (Miles is my favorite character) then came up with examples to support their claims (he has a nose ring; her cousin peed on her--I am not making these up!)

Ms. Davis is teaching social studies, and the kids have begun to learn about the continents.  They are beginning with Australia and Africa.  One student introduced us to a wonderful video about the countries--”Tour the World”--https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZFF8EuaGjM  It’s a tour of the continents and the many countries on each one.  On Wednesday, I got to take some time and do some work for an online class I’m taking about students as makers.  It’s called something  like “The Maker-Centered” classroom.  We talked about why people create things, and discussed first how chairs can be for different purposes.  Then I set them loose to draw something from the room, and write about its purpose.

There are definitely germs being passed around.  Ms. Nambu has been out so far four days this week.  Every day we’ve had at least two students out sick.  So, we’re making cards.  Lots of cards.

Finally, enormous thanks to the Waldman family.  They built benches for our meeting area, which are quite popular.  I’ll paint them over vacation, but they’re safe and comfortable.  Ever grateful!

Have a great weekend.


Posted by MattoneL  On Mar 24, 2017 at 9:48 AM
  

Stone Soup

Friday, March 17, 2017


New England tradition has it that peas should be planted on St. Patrick’s day.  I’m sorry to say, we did not plant our peas today.  I’m pretty sure we won’t be planting them next week, either.  However, we do have a planting day scheduled for April with Leila Tunnell, our Brookfield Farm garden coordinator.  We currently have a trip to the farm scheduled to plant more seeds on April 7th, but both Patti Nambu and I are scheduled to be out (she is going to an Educational Support Professional conference, and I am presenting at the conference).  We may still go that day, unless Mrs. Mills performs her magic and finds us a bus for the following week.  We are also scheduled to go to the Herb Fest at UMASS on April 25th, and the Jones Library on April 24th.  A busy month ahead.

But, it’s still March, in all it’s snow-covered glory.  We took advantage of the lack of snow on Monday to take a walk in the neighborhood next to Crocker Farm, and the woods behind the school.  We went hunting for rocks in the landscape--either naturally occurring or being put to good use by people.  We located rock walls, a fire pit, steps, streets, curbs,  retaining walls….  And in the woods, we found a lot of cobbles (smaller than boulders, larger than pebbles).  It seems like rocks are pretty important to humans.  On Wednesday, we wrapped up the unit with a day of indoor exploration.  The kids added water to a sand/silt mixture and recorded what happened.  They also added water to a mystery powder--most thought it was cocoa powder, but it turned out to be the smallest soil particle of all--clay.  The goal of these two experiences was to encourage them to their inquiry skills to predict, compare and draw conclusions.  I can also say that their teamwork was more than impressive.  The room was a mess when we had finished (this means we were successful).  Ten minutes later, you would never have known it had been a science lab.  The tables and desks were spotless, materials were washed and organized, hands were clean….  It was a true feat of teamwork.

As we begin Unit 5 in Superkids, you should know that the 2nd semester units are generally review of skills introduced and practiced during the first part of the year.  Because of this, the 2nd grade team has worked in the past with Jennifer Smith, our fearless English/Language Arts leader, to eliminate unecessary lessons.  The units are all generally shorter than the standard 4 - 5 weeks (and sometimes more) that the first units were.  There will be fewer spelling tests and end of unit assessments.  All that said, we reviewed the rule of ending short vowel words with double consonants (-zz, -ff, -ss) as well as nouns and verbs this week.  We will continue to focus on decoding multi-syllabic words and incorporating these skills into reading fluently.  

In math, we began a unit on data.  We took a brief end of unit assessment on adding, subtracting and place value.  I was impressed by the number of students who were able to break numbers apart flexibly, and to solve problems with a variety of strategies.  Then we jumped in on Wednesday, first collecting data on where we like to eat (the park, Wendy’s, the deck) and looking at it.  Next we sorted data from an imaginary class.  The collecting and sorting of data is the easy part.  We’re working harder at looking at the data and generating questions.  Some students are asking questions like “Are these restaurants real?” or “why do you like going to a restaurant.”  The intention is to have then think about the data they either collected or sorted, and ask questions that they can answer, such as “Do more people like to eat inside or outside?  How many people like to eat at home?  Do people prefer pizza restaurants or Mexican food?” The data we are looking at right now is categorical, as in, looking at opinions.  Later we’ll explore numerical data.

Speaking of opinions, have you read any good books lately?  We have begun our opinion writing unit, after a brief review of letter writing.  The curriculum is structured in such a way as to have students write letters to someone (LeBron James, the entire class) and to recommend a book.  As we write our letters, we’re learning about how to convince people to try something unfamiliar and new.  We reviewed what we can share, such as details about a favorite character, the illustrations, or retelling an important part of the book.  We’ll also focus on audience--how to write a letter to someone famous vs. the principal vs. a preschooler.  

Ms. Davis has been taking over more and more responsibilities in the classroom as she moves closer to her full practicum in mid-April. (This after 20 days of maternity leave and her second full week back.)  She has returned to teaching geography, and has begun a unit on the continents.  The class first did an activity where they located themselves in comparison to their town, state, country and continent.  These are big ideas, and sometimes hard to grasp.  Not every 2nd grader is confident of the difference between a town and a state, a state and a country, and a continent is, literally and figuratively, a huge idea.



Finally, thanks to Krista Denno, Jenn Restucci and Clio Stearns for collecting gifts, preparing and buying food and arranging a lovely little celebration for Kellee and her family.  Your support and generosity were very much appreciated, and the kids are really happy to have Kellee back.  They are working on adjusting to having her take over responsibility for all of the classroom routines.  As we worked on small kindnesses last week, we’re also working on respecting all adults who are leaders in the classroom.


Posted by MattoneL  On Mar 17, 2017 at 3:24 PM
  

Stone Soup

Friday, March 10, 2017


It’s been an interesting week in room 36.  Not everyone can say their 2nd grade teacher is also Thing 2.  Ms. McQuaid performed her usual Read Across America Day magic, writing a wonderful skit, creating a funny and original video with multiple students (and an alien!) all about reading.  We were all active and enthusiastic participants in the festivities Tuesday morning.  Wednesday was less successful.  We had a number of students who were feeling as if it was okay to exclude friends, hurt friends feelings, or be extra sensitive about issues that could more easily be resolved by reaching out to a teacher or ignoring events all together.  There have also been some incidents of physical responses to perceived slights and insults.  It was a teary, day.  We ended on a high note, after having a restorative justice circle.  (Have I mentioned I’m not that fond of the name “restorative justice”?  It feels so seventies earthy-crunchy).  However, we gathered together and I spoke at length about how we treat one another.  We each took a turn thinking about how we can make one another feel welcome and comfortable.  I also set a goal for the rest of the week--find ways to show kindness in unexpected ways.  One of my happiest life discoveries has been how a simple kindness--asking someone how they are, holding a door, allowing someone to take a turn before me, offering a chair, etc.--goes so incredibly far in making others feel good.  I shared this with the students, making sure they understood that it is just as easy to be kind to friends as it is to those we are not as close to.  Thursday seemed better, with students offering assistance to one another, and choosing partners with whom they don’t normally work.

Besides the Read Across America assembly, the most engaged lessons of the week have probably been science.  We are continuing to examine rocks, this time using lessons I have adapted from a kit  “Pebbles, Sand and Silt.”  The goals are focused on students using the scientific processes of discovery, observation and recording skills while rocks are the medium to support these skills.  I’m not sure why, but looking at rocks never fails to engage and electrify second graders.  

On Tuesday, we created a list of ways we might explore the properties of rocks.  Students suggested putting them in different liquids (vinegar, water, using fire (great idea, not happening here), dropping them, rubbing them against or with other rocks or objects.  We then set to work, banging, chipping, wetting, dropping and sanding rocks.  Did you know we can break rocks?  They also bounce, but not in predictable ways.  On Wednesday and Thursday, we explored a rock mixture, and used screens to sift them out by size.  We learned the names of the various sizes of rocks--boulder, cobble, pebble (large/small), gravel (large/small) and sand (our smallest visible particle).  Next week we’ll discover, test and create with even smaller particles.

We completed the first half of the Superkids curriculum on Friday, ending the week with the mid-year assessment.  Yes, I know it’s March. We’ve adapted the curriculum to extend lessons early in the year, and spent time last year condensing the second half.  Much of what the students do will be review of skills introduced and rehearsed during the first half of the unit.  Spelling tests will still occur at reasonable intervals, but end of unit assessments will be less frequent.  Unit 4 ended with the study of breaking words into syllables.  Ms. Davis created an extensive lesson on the six syllable types.  We’ve played memory games matching open and closed syllables to create words (pu-pil, sus-pect) and completed worksheets using these skills in isolation.  During our reading lessons, we’ve been putting these skills into practice.  Some students are using them independently;  others need more or fewer frequent reminders.  Additionally, we are continuing our work on comprehension and responding to literature in writing and art.

In math, we’re continuing our work on adding up to hundreds.  The children are solving word problems involving getting up to or back from 100, using friendly combinations.  They also learned a game called Make $1.00. This involves cards showing coins, and they must find another card with an amount that makes $1.00.  For example, a card may show 2 quarters, a dime and a 1 penny.  They need to find a card with 3 dimes, 1 nickel and 4 pennies, for example.  They are reviewing strategies for adding and subtracting.  We’re quite good at using place value, breaking things up by tens and ones.  I’d like to encourage students to explore other strategies, such as keeping 1 number whole, and breaking up the other, counting up or back, and so forth.

Stay warm--again--this weekend, and let’s hope the storm working its way up the coast goes well out to sea.  Well out to sea….






Posted by MattoneL  On Mar 10, 2017 at 8:08 AM
  

Baby Bah has arrived.  Ms. Davis, husband Mamadou Bah and son Ben welcomed Abdoulaye Charles Bah on Wednesday morning.  The kids were so excited. I understand a number of families have made generous donations for the family, and it is much appreciated.  I hope to schedule a small celebration before the February break.  Perhaps we can combine it with Valentine’s Day and limit the amount of exuberance to one afternoon.  Because Ms. Davis had a Cesarean section, I’m not sure when she will be back.  The college has given her 20 days, so I hope we see her at the end of February.  I will keep you posted.  

We will have a small celebration for Valentine’s Day.  I will include a list of student names, and important adults.  Children are welcome to bring in cards for all of their friends.  If you would like to send in a treat of some kind, you are most welcome to do so.  

We are finally beginning our fairy tale writing unit.  We began on Monday with a quick writing assessment. Students were asked to write a fairy tale, and we will repeat this at the end of the unit to measure growth in using fiction structure.  After that, we spent a few days in small groups reading traditional versions of a number of fairy tales, and recording types of information about them--how do they begin?  End?  Are the characters complex, or simple ( The Good Fairy, the evil step-mother or wolf)?  When and where do these stories take place?  We then compared our results, and discovered how important the number three is in fairy and folk tales, that the characters are either heroes, helpless or villains, and they take place a long time ago.  They all seem to end happily ever after.  We then read a couple of fractured versions of The Three Little Pigs.  We compared the elements to traditional tales.  Finally, by Friday, we were ready to begin creating our own fractured fairy tales.  We’ll be creating new (and surely improved) fractured versions of The Three Little Pigs.  Because fairy tales have a specific structure and rules, we’ll be planning them out carefully--and then--we write!

In math, we’ve finished our patterns work, and returned to addition and subtraction.  When we began, we seemed pretty confident with addition.  The kids are reviewing the groups of hundreds, tens and ones, and decomposing and recombining numbers well.  Subtraction--not so much.  We’ll be working on our subtraction strategies as we continue.  We are noticing that using ten can be a friendly strategy when adding.  For some reason, the ones always stay the same when we add tens.  

We are on the last unit of the first part of Superkids.  We moved on from silent letters at the beginning of words (you can thank the Vikings) and are now working on silent letters in words (sigh.  Who can we thank for this?).  We are reading Super Magazine, and have learned about Rollerman (he wears a skate suit with wheels all over it--check out the videos he posts), crabs crossing the road en masse on Christmas island, and monster trucks with 10 foot high wheels.  We also read about students who sent teddy bears into space and children who dance in wheelchairs.  We continue to work on fluency, both in reading groups and out.

Leila Tunnell, a Brookfield Farm employee who also helps coordinate garden activities, came on Friday to help us make potting soil.  We have a trip planned in April to plant seeds at Brookfield. They will tend our starts until they are ready to go into our garden.  I am a wonderful outdoor gardener.  I can’t keep indoor plants alive.  We also spent a number of afternoons working on our 2nd Step skills.  We have talked about what to do if someone does something we find annoying--ask if it was on purposes or by accident, as well as how beginning to practice calming down skills.  We also reviewed the rules of snow (what’s a good thing to do with snow?) and working on our transitions. Sometimes we get a little unfocused.  However, we are also earning a load of cubes for amazing working  behavior during reading and math.

Have a great weekend.



Posted by MattoneL  On Feb 03, 2017 at 4:02 PM
  

Stone Soup

Friday, January 6, 2017


Happy New Year!  We had a great transition back after our long break.  The kids seem happy to be in the classroom, and got right to work.  We jumped back in to our Lab Reports and Expert writing unit by starting our own expert books.  We generated a list of topics about which we know a whole lot, then created three Tables of Contents to explore our ideas furthers. Students then chose one topic, and began their writing.  We studied mentor texts to find ways to make our writing more interesting--using “kinds of” pages, adding pictures, headings, labels and diagrams.  We also studied comparisons, and worked to include those in our writing as well.  Students are writing about angora rabbits, basketball, soccer (also known as futbol), trucks, big cats, fishing….  We really are experts on many, many topics!

In reading, we are working on the long and short “oo” sounds--as in brook (long) and good (short), as well sa other ways to make the short “oo” sound (ue, o, oe….  You have to love the English language).  We are practicing these sounds as well as fluency by reading original poems by the one and only Mattone (don’t expect to see them in print any time soon--or later).  The kids practice reading the poem to one another.  Poems seem to be a wonderful way to encourage fluency, as they have short phrases on single lines (at least mine do--we’re not talking Beowulf or Walt Whitman).  We also practiced using commas and quotation marks with dialogue.  I am doing reading assessments, looking for growth since the fall, and am finding it.  

Speaking of assessments, it’s that time of year.  We will be doing the mid-year Aimsweb assessments in oral reading and math, as well as a mid-year math assessment.  Additionally, I’m working with Mary Lambert, our math coach, to assess as many students as we can using the AVMR test (this is the assessment I learned to use during the math training I did in the fall--you remember all of those scheduled absences which were rescheduled, and rescheduled, and rescheduled, yes?).  The assessments will give me information on where students are in number recognition, computation skills and structuring number, which simply means learning about numbers and how they work together.  For example, using fives or tens to help solve problems (I know that 29 + 37 = 30 + 36--I made a friendly ten by moving the one from the 37).   

We completed the geometry unit this week by exploring rectangles a bit more.  Using arrays, we built a number of rectangles with different amounts--12, 24, 16, 18, 36.  Kids created as many rectangles as they could, and we recorded them using grid paper.  Kids made the rectangles with tiles on paper, then cut them out.  This is, again, the basis of multiplication--students have to find 1 x 36, 2 x 18, 4 x 9 and 6 x 6.  There were some really great questions along the way.  One student wondered, as we all examined rectangles using 12 square tiles if there were more even or odd numbers when looking at multiples of 3. This led ot an exploration on number lines and hundreds charts of looking at the multiples of three, and counting them.  

I began a unit on maps on Monday, which Ms. Davis is completing.  We began by talking about what we know about maps, how we use them and where we find them.  Students were paired up and given maps to study.  This is one of my favorite activities, as students explore and examine the maps.  Next, Ms. Davis had them go back to their maps and look for specific features--a key, a compass rose, a grid.  Next, they got to create their own map symbols, practiced finding features using a key/legend, and created a classroom map.

Finally, many thanks for the wonderful collection of sleds we received as gifts.  Your generosity is so appreciated--now all we need is enough snow to sled!  We have been playing outside every day.  We took a walk around the neighborhood on Tuesday since it was so unpleasant on the playground Tuesday, but otherwise, the playground has been our place.

Have a great weekend!


Stone Soup

Friday, January 13, 2017


I’m pretty certain we had at least two different seasons this week--maybe three.  We had a nice indoor recess on Monday, but went outside the rest of the week.  We even got some sledding in before the warmth descended--taking all of the snow with it.  We’ve been enjoying playing football, basketball and soccer, as well as honing our rope jumping skills.  The kids are making connections in their writing too--looking up rope jumping songs for their expert texts and checking out soccer and basketball moves.  We focused this week on adding fun facts to our work, reviewing what makes a good introduction and conclusion, and also referencing books and websites we are using to research our topics.  The 2nd grades share 6 ipads, so we spent some time Friday exploring how to conduct a (safe) search about our topics using an iPad.  As we were using them earlier, I noticed the kids are blissfully inexperienced at searching for things on the web using an iPad.  We will likely finish up our expert books some time next week.

Speaking of next week, Crocker Farm will have its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day assembly on Friday afternoon, time still to be determined, but I’d count on around 1:30 or 2:00.  We will be performing one of our favorite songs, “Under One Sky” with the other 2nd grades.  

In math, we’ve begun exploring multiplication and algebra (all at the same time!)  We first used the idea of creating buildings with a certain number of rooms and floors, as from a bird’s eye view.  Example:  this building has 5 rooms on each floor.


We then used a table to fill how many rooms a building would

have if it had x number of floors:

Floors

Rooms

1

5

2

10

3

15

4

20

5

25


Each table then omitted 6 - 9 and asked students to predict what number of rooms a ten story building would have.  This requires students to double, or skip count.  We explored counting by 3’s, 4’s, 5’s, 6’s and 10’s.  We also tried to find how many ways 5 cubes can be put together to make one floor of a building (there are 12, no flips, rotations or turns).

Once student came running up to me to announce that this was just multiplication.  Shhhh--don’t tell anyone 2nd graders are multiplying!

Finally, we used tables that were partially filled in to explore how secure we are in our skip-counting and multiplication.

I’m still assessing kids in reading.  We’ll also have a spelling and mid-year math assessment over the next week.  However, we’re still doing our Superkids, and are working on soft c/g sounds, playing bingo, sorting words, writing and recording common words.  

Although we had a band and orchestra concert on Thursday, we spent our social studies time earlier in the week working on map attributes with Ms. Davis.  The students learned about compasses and grids and practiced playing Battleship on paper, filling in their ships then trying to hit their opponents by calling out coordinates. The kids seemed to find using constellations for navigation and information about the poles particularly interesting. They created classroom and school maps and learned that maps can show all kinds of information--weather, traffic, resources, even elevation! We’ll be talking about Martin Luther King and communities before moving on to continents next week.


While I’ve never had a baby, it kind of looks to me as if Ms. Davis’s baby is moving into position!  We’ll keep you posted on his eventual arrival.

Have a great weekend.


Posted by MattoneL  On Jan 13, 2017 at 3:45 PM
  
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