Saturday, December 17, 2011

Happy Winter!

Here's a slideshow from our Winter Party!   Enjoy your winter break!

The last few months the students have been able to own the songs and poems we practice and internalize them so well that we have been working on the art of reciting.  This takes many skills and a lot of bravery.

 I took videos of this month's offerings.  These kids amaze me!  I hope this brings a smile to your heart and inspires you to learn the words of a song or poem this winter break.

Thank you for sharing your amazing children with me!  Love, Jennifer

Enjoy Your Winter Break!

Hello Families, Happy Holidays!

I hope this holiday vacation is a lovely one, full of special memories made and moments filled with love and togetherness.  Sometimes time together is the thing we need most to connect and see each other as people.  I wish you lots of this time in these coming weeks!

I also wanted to thank you for all the love and special presents you shared with me before the break.  I really appreciate your thoughtfulness!

If you are looking for topics to discuss or activities to do over the break, here are some.  As always, this is for fostering interest and sharing a love of learning as a family, so have fun!

1) Do a scientific experiment together using the scientific method steps including:
Asking a question, making observations or doing research, writing your hypothesis, design an experiment to test and do it, analyze your outcomes and share your findings in some form (then make a new hypothesis if necessary...)  Document this to share at school!

2) Investigate an animal using key questions, write your own questions beforehand, or use some of these:
Where do they live?  What do they eat? What are their sleeping habits? How many years until they are full grown?

3) Memorize the coin names and quantities.  Use coins and practicing how to compute a desired quantity using the least amount of coins.  It is beneficial to take time each day to remember the names of the coins and their quantity amount.  Then it can be fun to give your child a challenge of asking how they would make a number, for example, 78 cents, 44 cents, 86 cents.  There are different ways to get to these numbers, can you find more than one way? What is the most efficient way to give this change?

4) Write a story using your character from school.  What will the setting be?  What other characters will be involved?  What is the problem that the characters have to solve?  Here are a few linka to graphic organizers that can help to collect your ideas before writing!

5) Make a word web of all the things you know about a topic.  Make a list of questions of all the things you WANT to know about that topic!

6) Do research about a state or city that you are interested in- maybe this would be about a place you are going over the break or wish you could go to someday.  Write a paragraph telling about that place, it's history and things to do or see there or other places it is near.

7) Write a new haiku.  The pattern is 5, 7, 5 of syllables per line.  Can you keep the pattern and make the poem make sense?

8) Take photos and write your own captions to go with these to document your family's celebrations or vacation.  These are always fun to share in class after the break!

9) Write and memorize a spelling word a day and bring your list into school!  Share your new skills and see if there are sentences that you can write using more than one spelling word!

10) Research how icebergs stay afloat.  How might you test the phenomenon at home in your kitchen?

As with always, please email me photos or bring your work in to share with the class!  We love to connect our home and school experiences!  Have a lovely and safe vacation!

Love, Jennifer

PS I may post some videos and photos over the break, so keep checking in!!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

3,6,9,12, Finding Patterns in our Lives

Hello families!

Thank you to all the families who made it to our park date this weekend.  It was a lovely day for it.  I love seeing families having time to connect!  We'll look forward to more of these in the coming year.

Let's see, what's happening in our class this week?  Here are a few things the kids asked me to add to the blog...

Last week we were lucky enough to have Silas's dad come in to share his expertise about reptiles.  The snake skin that Jason found out in nature inspired the students to write lots of questions they have about snakes and shedding.  Doug was able to give us SO much info and the students asked GREAT questions.  This was a fun session.  It is always important to know that research doesn't always happen on the internet and the students did a fabulous job preparing and following through.  Ask your child about what they thought about the things we learned.  Also, ask them about the shape that was on Doug's shoe...

Periodically when we have a few moments in between work or waiting for something we play hangman.  I ask the students to share their thinking in why they are requesting a letter.  This has supported the kids to make educated guesses instead of choosing random ones.  The students are getting so capable with this that the kid were feeling very proud of the fact that they haven't been getting any wrong letters and so the man always goes free.  They joked that they need to change the name of the game.  So, the new name for hangman in our class is freeman!

Here are some new or unworked math challenges for your home working pleasure.  I am excited that friends are writing thier own word problems.  Another element to this work is to become confident reading these symbols, just as we are with letters.  We are practicing reading the equations out loud so that it may become second nature for each friend to read them and to differentiate between all of these symbols: + - x = 

Since today was a rainy day and we didn't get out much, I suggested we take some time to dance and get out our inside wiggles.  The students requested some songs that we have been enjoying.  We've used these in the past to investigate the patterns in music.  We have been talking about how some music is in a 4 or 8 count while others are the 3 count of a waltz.  Today we made a different type of pattern while dancing that was inspired by Joey and Parker's moves.  The class danced in pairs to join our snowflake pattern and build it from the inside to the out.  It was fun to let off some steam and to find the beat of the music while noticing patterns in both a snowflake and music. This connects with the students growing abilities to skip count in twos, threes, fours, etc.  The children are noticing new ways to group and calculate things.

 Patterns are everywhere!  Can you keep this snowflake pattern going out further outward from the center?

The Winter Party planning has lead us into many interesting class discussions and discoveries.  The arctic group has been thinking about icebergs and how they can be so massive and still float in water.  The tree committee is researching what animals would be out on a snowy tree and the book making group has realized how a production line works best to get things done efficiently.  The experiment group has organized a lot for the experiment we will be doing this Thursday and the sign up committee has lent a hand for many groups to help out when writing is needed.  There is still a lot to be done still, but it is great to see how the students are learning new concepts along the way and are collaborating.  

Thank you to all the families who have offered to come and help or who have offered to bring in supplies to actualize all their plans.  I think it's going to be a great way to finish up 2011 together!  

Have a nice night, Jennifer

Thursday, December 8, 2011

More thoughts- One night, one Santa? Keep Your Spirit of Wonder Alive!!!

Hello Powerful Problem Solver Families!

Here are some of the journal entries after our Santa discussion. They are really getting good at identifying questions they have.  The students enjoyed reading them to each other and are becoming so confident speaking in front of the group. Enjoy your night!  Love, Jennifer

P.S. Scroll down two posts to find our discussion!

It sure feels like Winter!

Hello Families,

Are you staying warm?  It is cold!  Today we started the day by discussing the weather and the frost that many students saw.  They were excited to see this phenomenon and were talking about the difference between this and hail and snow.  Well, good thing the students are planning a winter party!  It is very exciting and we only have about 5 days to get it done!  These kids are up for the challenge.

The winter party will take place 
Thursday December 15th from 10-11:45!

The class has joined committees to get the many areas ready for the big day.  (Today we looked up that word together to notice that it does have two m's, t's and e's- crazy, eh?)  The committees are the sign-up group, the arctic wall group, the snowy tree group, the experiment group and the book making committee.  A lot of groups because they have a lot of cool things planned for them to do that day, next Thursday.  Here are the fun activities they have planned:

Cutting snowflakes to make our room a winter wonderland
Drawing and creating animals to go on both our snowy tree and our arctic wall
Reading winter stories
Writing our own winter stories in home made books
Frosting and decorating snowflake cookies (and eating them!)
Managing a snow experiment to see how fast it will melt, both outside and in four different types of ice chests
Eating the yummy surprise snacks that you parents are planning- thanks, we're excited!

We had a great discussion about the experiments we want to do with snow in a meeting with the third grade class.  Often discussion and other perspectives are just what you need.  The third graders brought up some points to help us think about the planning of the experiment and also gave us some new ideas of what other elements we could test at the same time.

Please stay tuned for the sign-ups that the students are writing right now.  I will post these and email you about all of this soon.   If you are free, we would love you to join us for the fun and to help the students in each station.  I really appreciate all of your help both in bringing in supplies and in coming to join in!

Lately we have been realizing how well our brains work to remember unique spelling words.  We have talked about choosing a word a day to study and make your own.  The kids have had fun sharing their word in class each day and spelling it for us.  We have been looking at the unique spelling of these and also the similarities in words where we notice teams that do the same job, such as wh, -ent, -tion, ck and oi.  What words have you talked about this week?

Another interesting topic students have been curious about is water vapor and steam and how the water gets up into clouds to become rain.  The student agree that water evaporates and becomes a part of our environment, but they also know that sometimes they can't explain exactly all of the details in this process.  The class becoming capable of having deep discussions and of asking great questions.  It is so amazing to hear how they explain their ideas and the vocabulary that they are making their own because of the expectation to describe what they mean fully.  This is the cloud that inspired the discussion.  What does it make you think about air flow and water vapor?

Here are some new equations that students have written as challenges for each other.  (I will add more- I thought I photographed the others!)  Great for homework.  Make sure your student draws how someone can understand how they got their answer.  A great way to do this is to think of a real world situation that the math equation relates to.  For instance with multiplication problems, what would make you have six groups of six?  What situation would make six people have six of an item each?  The last two show how two friends represented their findings.   Please keep bringing in your great work done at home!

Well, I want to get this published instead of keeping it in the editing mode.  More soon!  I hope you are well!  Love, Jennifer