Saturday, March 17, 2018

Glad that one's in the rearview mirror!

     It was even crazier than I thought it would be.  It's gonna take a little extra time this weekend to recover :)  Thank you for all your flexibility with the conferences.  Reports and conferences are a lot of work, but it's also a big payoff.  Thank you for partnering with me in the education of your wonderful children.  Feeling a little sappy about this group.
     We are going to do the Jr. Ranger Program on Monday, March 19th IF we don't have rain, snow, a tornado, a tsunami...  We will be outside all day, so your kids should come dressed in layers.
     Thanks to Vihaan's family our class won the jar of candy from Math night.  Their estimation was 250 and there were 252 pieces of candy.

     This is an example of making the math visual.  Can you easily see with your eyes that the amount is 252?  When we ask kids to make a model or representation of the math they are doing, this is one example.  We also did some graphing with the candy. 

     I'm looking forward to the rest of the conferences.  If you haven't signed up and you want to, you still can.
     Enjoy the weekend!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

A crazy week coming up

     Monday is a teacher work day.  There is no school for the students.  The teachers have class over at the Montshire that day.  We are getting training on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).  This is part of our goal work as a staff this year.  We are fortunate to have such great resources like the Montshire and Dartmouth College so close.
     Tuesday and Thursday are noon dismissals for the students, so that the teachers can do conferences.  Hopefully you have all this on your calendar and you've signed up for a conference.  You still can sign-up.  If none of the times I've listed work for you, just email me and we can make other arrangements.  I'm looking forward to meeting with all of you.

     This past Thursday we were supposed to go on our Jr. Ranger field trip, but because of the snow day, we missed that.  We're looking to reschedule for Monday, March 19th.  I will keep you posted about that.  We will be learning about tracking when we do go.  I introduced some track patterns on Friday.  If you can get out in the woods this weekend, see if your child remembers the patterns and who makes them (straight walker, hopper, waddler, and bounder).
     We're wrapping up the biography writing and posters and we're moving on to opinion writing.  We have started a Read Aloud book called, Child of the Silent Night.  It is about a girl named Laura Bridgman who grew up in Etna, NH.  She became blind, deaf, and mute after having scarlet fever.
     Enjoy the weekend!

Friday, March 2, 2018

Biography Posters

Hello All,

We started our biography posters this week.  We paint the background and the skin, then we add other details with various materials of the student's choice (fabric, buttons, yarn, you-name-it).  When we're done we hope people can figure out who our person is based on the picture and what we have put in the background.  It's a way of "determining importance" when the students decide what to put in the background.  Likely it will be facts they wrote about in their informational paragraphs.  I'll let you know when they are up in the hall.

Over the February break I finished an on-line math class that I was taking through Stanford University.  So much compelling research about how we have traditionally taught math and best practices for teaching math.  This week we tried working in groups of three to solve multi-step math problems.  It was great to hear all the math talk going on in the groups.  The on-line class included interviews with Sebastian Thrun.  He was heading up Google's self-driving car project.  He also taught at Stanford.  Here's his wikipedia life summary.

In the video he suggested that people should refuse to do math that they don't understand intuitively.  It was interesting to watch the students work together to make their math thinking clear for others to understand.  They were having to really understand the math in order to be able to make a model or representation of the problem.

Here is Seija, Mimi, and Faith's work on the problem.  They were trying to figure out who had more money.  It's very easy to follow their thinking.

We also had a conversation about a person named Chris from the on-line class.  He described his job as working on problems he has no idea how to solve.  I've brought in some math "puzzles" to try to help develop/encourage taking joy in problem solving.

We will be going to Billings Farm to participate in the Jr. Ranger Program next Thursday, March 8th.  We have all the permission forms (Thank you!).  Please have your kids dressed to be outside that day.

Conferences are March 13, 14, and 15.  If none of those dates or times work for you, just let me know and we can make other arrangements.  Hopefully this is the link:

Happy March!

Friday, February 9, 2018


     Have you heard your child singing this song?  Thursday was the 100th day of school.  We had fun with our hat fashion show.  The kids did some great writing about their hats.  I'm sending all their drafts home.  Using the standards from the Common Core (CCSS), I focus on what my students can "own" in their writing.  Your child should be able to tell you the parts of an informational paragraph (the second grade CCSS).  An interesting lead, (3) facts, a stretch of a fact, and a concluding statement.  You'll notice the kids hand write their first draft.  A teacher types it just the way the student wrote it (as much as we can).  Then the student gets it back for proofreading and revisions.  Depending on how soon your child gets their first draft in, they will have had 2-4 times to rework their paragraphs.  You can get an idea of what your child is doing automatically (starting capitals, ending punctuation, and spelling) and the kinds of mistakes they can catch by looking at the different drafts they have.  For the final draft I correct all the spelling, starting capitals, and ending punctuation but the writing is all theirs.
     In math we did a mid-year check-in that was done over three days.  The class as a whole scored well.  I will share the results at the March conferences*.  We also continue to work on problem solving and showing models or representations of our work, with more of a emphasis on subtraction.  The exchange we did this week is in the folders.  If your child used an open number line ask them to explain it to you.
     This Wednesday is Valentines.  Your child doesn't have to pass out Valentines, but if they do there should be a Valentine for each student in the class.  There is a class list in the folder.
     Also in the folder is a two-sided game board for practicing math facts.  (If your child is already fluent with addition math facts I didn't put it in their folder--don't hold me to 100% accuracy with who is and who is not fluent, I'm not done assessing that.)  I think the games are well explained in the directions, but you should know I did not introduce it in class.
     Our Colonial Day will be on Friday, June 1st.  If you are not familiar with Colonial Day, you should know that you will want to be there for at least part of the day.  We do three "reenactments" that all take place in the morning.  I'll need about 14 volunteers to help with the morning and about 7 in the afternoon.  Much, much more on that later, but I wanted to get the date out.
     *We have March 13 and 15 as noon dismissals so that we can do conferences.  I will get a sign-up genius set up for conferences either this weekend or next.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Happy MLK Day!

     If you read Ms. Sjostom's "Rays of Sunshine," you saw that our class was featured regarding our study of Martin Luther King, Jr.  Inspired by my time at Teachers College last summer, I used parts of MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech for reading warm-ups.  We have been using MLK to kick-off our biography unit for a while, but this was the first time I used this speech.  It was great to see the kids' understanding of the history and the person grow.  I am regularly struck by the gift of diversity that we have at Ray.  An illustrator from one of the books we read talked about how he sees stained glass as a metaphor for MLK, because of the diversity of color.  That was the inspiration for our "hands" picture.

     Over the next several weeks we will continue reading biographies, doing book clubs on biographies, and then a final project where your child will pick a person to study.  Their studies will include reading two different books about their person.  They will write an informational paragraph and then make a poster of their person.  In the classroom, the kids have been eating up the biographies that are on hand.

     A week ago I had the opportunity to observe our math coach, Ingrid Stallsmith, teach a lesson about math representation in Mrs. Vashel's 2nd grade class.  I took a few days this past week to specifically focus on that.  I was struck (again) by how complicated it is.  That actually motivated me to revise the second grade problem solving checklist and make it more second grade friendly.  I'm eager to try it out this week.  I will post the revised checklist on this blog--under math and also on the Seesaw account.  In addition, (pun intended) I have a link to a PDF put out by North Carolina schools about the Math Common Core Standards.  It gives a lot of examples of what the standards mean.  Keep in mind these examples are for North Carolina, but it is similar enough to what we do that I thought it might be helpful to you.

    We have begun discussions about all things Colonial.  I will let you know when our dates are confirmed.
P.S.  I had a parent ask if I really send these blogs out in the middle of the night.  I absolutely do not--thanks for asking!