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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.


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”--  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:













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

Stone Soup

Friday, December 2, 2016

December!  How did that happen?  Didn’t we just begin school a week ago?  I hope the extended break was peaceful and relaxing, even if it was rather soggy.  When the kids returned, we jumped right back into our science writing work.  The students finished writing up their reports, comparing results and writing conclusions.  They also revisited their work to make revisions.  Afterwards, we reviewed one report to talk about what had been done well, and what might need to be changed or expanded.  We discovered that good illustrations are important, as well as clear directions.  We spoke at length about how one student wrote the procedure” First, get a crate.  Next, a plank. Then get a car.  Last, a meter stick.”  We acted out this exact procedure, but somehow didn’t manage to record any data.  We managed to clarify, and as a group added more specific instructions.  On Friday, we gathered into new teams, and decided to change ONE variable--slope, object to roll, rolling surfaces….  Before jumping in, the kids again wrote and planned their experiments.

In math, we completed unit 2 of our work, and completed a couple of assessments on addition/subtraction and problem solving.  I had a chance to look at the problem solving work, and it’s interesting to see how students represent their thinking in successful ways.  I haven’t had a chance to look at the other assessment.  We began a unit on Geometry on Thursday, and discovered a whole lot of new vocabulary--congruent, parallel, vertex, vertices, edge, line segment, point.  Be forewarned, this shape is NOT a diamond--it is a rhombus!   As you can tell, I’m all about naming.  We had a chance to discuss shapes, and then began to explore three dimensional objects--prisms of all types. We’ll continue this work on Friday by finding the mystery prism by matching its faces to a card and drawing collections of blocks.

We spent a couple of afternoons talking about being feelings detectives. We watched a short video from 2nd Step and explored how we know how someone is feeling.  For a group of students with so much empathy, they spent a lot of time talking about a situation that might elicit certain feelings, but we really had to zoom in on how to read one another’s body language!  They actually did quite well.  We are also still discussing nutrition.  We played several games making meals out of individual food items, and then made menus of healthy foods

We completed Unit 2 of Superkids this week, along with the end of unit assessment.  We then began Unit 3, which has us studying “oi” and “oy” so far. We also did lots of work with homonyms earlier in the week,.

Finally, Science Tuesday was a howling success.  We earned it because we’d earned 100 cubes for our CAREing behaviors.  (Truthfully, a movie or pajama day would be way easier--but a lot less fun!)  We talked about chemical reactions, and created one ourselves by making ice cream.  We also explored making boats out of foil, and seeing how many beads they could hold, making items float and sink, creating cornstarch “oobleck” (corn starch and water) and studying how M&Ms change when you put them in water (did you know the M floats?)

Have a great weekend.

Posted by MattoneL  On Dec 05, 2016 at 7:45 AM

Stone Soup

Friday, November 18, 2016

We made it through our three day week last week.  I generally avoid confrontation and politics as a rule, but I understand that last week may have been especially difficult for some of our families here at Crocker Farm.  I would like to commend each and every one of you, as the students came in with a relatively positive outlook, and have been respectful of students with differing opinions.  I had, unfortunately, chosen the word “calamity” as the word of the day for last Wednesday, and one student used it in a sentence referring to the president elect….  ( Really, it was in one of our readings--”Calamity Chowder.”)Please know that your child and family are respected and honored members of our community, and we in room 36 will do everything in our power to help you all feel safe and respected.

We have done quite a bit these last two weeks, even with the disruptions of the election, a federal holiday, and my day out on Thursday for PD (final one! For math.  The sub left a lovely note about how wonderful and kind the class was).  We completed our small moment stories (finally!) and are in the very beginning stages of writing about science, and writing like scientists.  We did both an end of unit assessment for narrative writing, and then a pre-assessment for science writing.  I hope you will be hearing lots about hypotheses, trials, procedures and more. We’ll first explore whether a car travels farther on the rug or on a bare floor.  Before we begin, we’ll practice setting up the experiment, as well as writing about our hypotheses and predictions;  we’ll also record the steps to the procedure.  Once we do our trials, we’ll record our findings, and reflect on whether our predictions were accurate or not--and why.  You may notice--I LOVE this writing unit. I find the kids to be very engaged and enthusiastic as we explore motion and physics, and they feel quite successful in their writing.

At staff meeting, Mr. Shea showed us a brief video of students reflecting on the school’s work for the month.  I’m toying (toying) with the idea of creating a podcast of some sort that would allow students to share their thinking in a similar way.  I think this writing unit would be a great place to start.  Stay tuned.

In reading, we continue to practice fluency.  We are working on the “au” and “aw” sounds for the next few days.  We also had a race to add suffixes to words.  We made two lines then raced to the easel to add either “ed” or “ing” to a word ending.  But, we had to be careful, because some consonants double to keep the vowel short.  And, sometimes y changes to i, and sometimes it doesn’t.  Finally, we drew pictures to illustrate comparative endings--tall, taller, tallest.  The image for hot, hotter, hottest was someone getting progressively more sunburned.  We also discovered that a giraffe and a rocket ship are NOT taller than the Statue of Liberty (20 ft, 44 ft. and 305 ft. respectively).

In math, we are exploring place value and counting by groups of 2, 5 and 10.  The trickiest part of group counting was a problem that asked how many people were at a table if there were 34 ears.  Some students knew that doubling was part of the problem, so doubled the 34.  A number of students used 34 cubes, and made groups of two, but the idea that a pair of cubes represented one person (ears) was a bit tricky  We did figure it all out in the end. My favorite response was the student who subtracted 2 repeatedly, then counted the twos.  She knew they each represented a person.

We also took towers of cubes of varying numbers between (38, 30, 66, etc.) and broke them into groups of 2, 5 and 10.  We recorded the number of towers we made as well as leftovers, if any.  We made predictions about which numbers might have zero leftovers no matter how we split them (30. 40, 60 and 66 were predicted, although the child who predicted 66 had second thoughts pretty quickly).  The work we are doing here supports not only the base ten number system, but early division, as seen by the repeated subtraction strategy.

Our math talks at the beginning of math have been about money.  I’m showing quick images of coins, and the students are tallying up totals, and noticing addition/subtraction of fives and tens, as well as substitutions (a nickel appeared after 5 pennies in a dime, 6 pennies representation).

For science, we began a nutrition unit, based on Serving Up My Plate, a curriculum available on line.  We began by sorting pictures of various foods without any initial guidelines.  We then talked about what might be healthy foods.  We next watched a video about “My Plate” and the five food groups.  (Times have changed. There were only 4 when I was a kid). This is the image:

The kids noticed that the plate shows about how much of each type of food one should ideally eat.  We also brainstormed foods that belong in each group, and made a food card representing a food from each.  On Friday, we’ll play a version of “Musical Food”--kids pull a card;  when the music stops they need to go to the corner of the room with a label for that type of food  We’ll continue this work for the next couple of weeks.

Reminder--we are closed on Wednesday through Friday for Thanksgiving.  If your family celebrates, have a peaceful and relaxing holiday.  If not, have a peaceful and relaxing long weekend.

Posted by MattoneL  On Nov 18, 2016 at 10:07 AM

Stone Soup

Friday, October 28, 2017

Well, we’ve had our first snow, and no snow days or delays.  After busy week last week, we needed the break.  I am once again scheduled to be out on a Thursday for math professional development.  Hopefully this will go as well as it did last time.  The kids didn’t love the sub, but Ms. Nambu did!  Thing went well while I was gone.

In writing, we’re continuing to learn from other writers.  I read Old Henry  by Joan W. Blos, which ends with a letter from the main character--and also ends with a question of what happens next.  The story is also told in verse.  I also read June 29, 1999 by David Wiesner.  Wiesner is a master at using his illustrations to create jokes combined with the text.  He also uses alliteration and has his story end much the way it begins.  “The place was….”  Students are looking at books in new ways, thinking about how other authors can  inform their own writing.

We began working on computation again this week, this time using stories to work out addition and subtraction.  Addition stories are no problem.  Subtraction stories are no problem. Unless they are what are called “missing addend” problems.  Then they are...a problem.  For example, when asked “Ms. Mattone had 17 dog biscuits.  Ms. Nambu gave her some more.  Now she has 23 dog biscuits.”  The class can identify what I have at the start and finish, but can’t quite wrap their heads around the missing part.  This can be seen as subtraction--or addition, if you count up, which is more natural.  We’ll continue to focus on this, maybe using the number line or cubes to support the idea.  We also learned a game called Cover Up which is a context for missing addends.  The idea is that you take a certain amount of tokens and cover some up.  You know what you have, you know what’s left, but what’s missing?

Kids who finished early had a chance to explore number patterns.  Numbers are represented by circles--and the idea is to see patterns. Some kids found this interetsing.  Others found it downright frustrating. What do you notice?

The UMASS students visited us and did a lesson of feeding the soil. We also fed the soil in our garden bed.  Then we’ll put the garlic to sleep for the season.  For social studies, we continue to do 2nd Step.  This week we worked on “Being Assertive.”  We use sign language BA, and practice noticing when people are being assertive, aggressive or passive.  

Have a great weekend.  

Reminder--no school for kids November 8th, Election Day and Friday November 11 for Veterans Day.  And so the crazy season begins….

Posted by MattoneL  On Oct 31, 2016 at 11:54 AM

Stone Soup

Friday, October 21, 2016

Well, it’s been an interesting week.  Except for Monday, every day has been special or unusual in its very own way.  I was out Thursday (finally) for my math development, and of course know we had early dismissal and a half day.  And then there was the field trip.

Many thanks to the dining commons staff and Lindy Sibeko.  Lindy is a nutrition professor at UMASS, and is coordinating the field placements of her students with us.  She is the one who arranged the lunch visit on Tuesday, with great success.  We spent a couple of days talking about what we might see and do at the dining commons.  We had a chance to study a map of the venue, as well as the menu. The menus are posted online, with symbols that represent the different designations for the food: vegan, vegetarian, Halal, whole grain, local, sustainable and even healthy certified.  After arriving, we took a tour of “The Egg”, or oval serving stations, and then chose our meals.  I offered no advice, other than to say we hadn’t come all the way to UMASS to eat pizza.  So...there was a lot of pasta on plates.  But there were a lot of good choices as well.  Everyone had a chance to try a smoothie.  One student was adventurous and took a polenta cake, not knowing what it was, and then loving it.  I then had the kids draw a picture of what they ate, and label the items.  I plan to use this as a jumping off point for a discussion about nutrition.  In addition to working with the UMASS nutrition students, I have been contacted by a Mount Holyoke student.  She and a peer are working on educational agriculture, and hope to work with us.  I am excited to hear more about their plan, and will keep you informed.

We only had math twice this week because of our schedule.  We’re working on fluency with adding, looking for friendly tens or doubles.  We also learned about “near doubles.”  These are combinations such as 5 + 6, which can be turned into 5 + 5 + 1, or 9 + 7, which can become 8 + 8 ( 9 - 1 + 7 + 1).  Finally, we played a game called “Close to 20.”  The object is to choose three cards whose sum is as close to 20 as possible.  A score of 20 = 0;  If i get three cards that add up to 17, then my score is 20 - 17, or 3;  the same is true for 23, as 23 - 20 = 3.  The person with the lowest score wins.  This game involves not only adding, but being able to compare a number with another, and figure out the difference.  Comparison subtraction is more difficult than we realize, and this is a nice way to get into it without realizing it.

We planted garlic on Tuesday after our field trip.  We worked as a team to peel the heads of garlic, then discussed how we would plant them.  We created a timeline, showing when we planted them, and when we thought they would begin to grow, and be ready to harvest.  We’ll feed them before winter, and tuck them in until spring very soon.  We also went back to our seed sorting, and matched the seeds we examined last week with the plants from which they grew.  It was surprising to connect the tiny carrot seed with the finished carrot.  And mentioning carrots--everyone but one student tried the carrot soup we made on Friday..  Everyone got to help, and it was declared, but one student “the bomb.”  Another thought it could be better. was well received.  Now..what to do with all of our potatoes.

Remember, one more half day on Monday, and there is no school for students on November 8th, Election Day.

Have a great weekend.

Posted by MattoneL  On Oct 31, 2016 at 11:53 AM
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