Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Halfway Through Another Fun Week!

Dear Families!

Thank you for making our Family night a success!

The animal project is beginning, slowly.  Research is hard!  A lot of the information is in books that are bigger with smaller print.  We aren't just looking for info that is in books at our reading level.  For this, we've been working in small groups with adult help.  And the element of practicing writing ideas in our own words is a beginning process.  We are practicing this skill together.  The group has been continuing their observational drawing skills to create the illustration for the cards or bookmarks that we'll create.  This has given a lot of insight in more info about the animals themselves.  For instance, Bridget has been making some realizations about horses and especially their legs and where they bend.  She moved from this illustration, to the second after careful observation about how these animals are put together.

This week's preparation for our songs for parent night led us to think about musicians again.  Nathaniel asked if the writer of Down on the Corner was still alive and we looked it up.  We saw that Fogerty is 66 and still alive, but that Creedence Cleerwater Revival is not together again.  This prompted us to think about why a band would not be together.  We talked about how musicians and artist are whole people and that they may have other skills and careers.  I  mentioned how my brother, Geoff, is in a band and he is also a cook at a restaurant.  The kids wanted to see more about my brother so we looked up his band, too.  Ben asked to hear their music, so I played their new video.  I may be partial, but it's a rather fun one!  Taylor asked me to post it on the blog!

I hope the kids are continuing to share their new bee facts that we've been researching.  We are getting to understand the differences between bees and wasps.  Here are a few examples of their work.  Also, an image of a bee that Henry found to show us, too.  Thank you for sharing all the fun stuff from your home discussions!

I will post more soon!  I just wanted to get these up for you to enjoy together.  Thank you for making our school the special place it is!  Love, Jennifer

Happy Family Night!

Hello Families!

I hope you will be able to make it to our Family night on Wednesday March 21st!  The book fair will be open and there will be lots of fun things happening on campus.  In our room, we will sing some of our favourite songs for you at 5pm.  Looking forward to seeing you there!

We have been looking at our inventive spelling lately and noticing words we often aren't sure of how to spell.  I have been keeping a list of words to watch so that the students can incorporate the correct spelling into their writing practice.  Here are some recent words:

they, some, when , wonder, many, saw, because

Part of learning is to be aware of what you are still working on and to give yourself goals. We have seen this will spelling, but also with personal behavior.  This week's personal goals had some similar themes.  Three were listening to others or instructions, chosing wisely when sitting at work time or meeting time and speaking up instead of joining silly or uncomfortable behavior.  These are tricky skills to have solid!  The kids are getting into the practice of sharing tips that help so that everyone can learn from each other's discoveries.

Here are a few of the first setting illustrations.  More to come!

Parker's Desert

Aiden's Forest

Rainli's Cave

Have a lovely day, Jennifer

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hello Families!

I hope your week is going well!  We are so busy with lots of great learning.  Next week is the Innovations Academy Book Fair!  I hope you can put it on your calendar to stop in before or after school with your child to find some new reading material!  We are lucky to have so many parents involved in making this special event.  In our class, some students have been getting the decorations ready!
How do pineapples go with a book fair?  
Find out next week when you come!!!

The setting phase of our Build-Your-Own-Story project has been interesting.  The students are listing descriptive words to help when anyone writes a story or scene taking place there.  This has been a process of identifying adjectives and also noticing when a word is not really a word.  Many of the students have been using the dictionary to check their spelling.  We need to use the bigger dictionaries now because the smaller ones just don't have the types of words friends are looking up.  This has been a fun exercise in thinking of synonyms, too!

Many of the students are making revelations about coins and are feeling more confident in calculating their value.This week we "bought" new items for our class again.  We spent some time focusing on each coin- looking up what the symbols on them are representing and also practicing counting with them.  Here are some webpages that we referenced:

Next I gave the students a hand full of these two coins.  The partners first calculated what they had and then decided if they could purchase anything.  The big excitement was that four groups decided to work together to buy the big item: a new dictionary.  This group counted and re-counted each time a partnership added their money to the lot.  The whole class cheered when they realized they had the three dollars they needed.  One student was impressed that they made $3.00 using only two kinds of coins.

We are always noticing new teams in words.  The students have added a new level of diligence to their lists.  They still list words they see or know that has that letter team, but they have also been asking friends if they have any to add and also using the dictionary.  In this go around, the students have had to do another step: checking their words to see if they do, in fact, use that team.  Many are still in process of weeding out the words they thought do, but do not use that special team.  English has so many rules broken, so this is a great challenge.  It is nice to watch the students as language researchers!

Our "How-things-work" diagrams are coming along, too.  Many students have studied other diagrams and used peer critique to help them make sure that they are conveying all the information.  The question always remains: How much information do you include?  What info will be extra that may confuse the reader?  Here are some works in progress:

Thank you for reading our blog together with your child each week. Please continue to bring in the excited learning you and your children do at home.  This stimulates so much excitement when friends bring work in to share!  Have a nice week, Jennifer

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Which Coins do you need?

Hello Families!

Another busy, fun week.  Our new song is a tricky one, but also catchy.  The kids are up for the challenge. The animal project is beginning and many students have listed lots of descriptive words for their settings.  We have also continued the research of bees and the mystery aquatic creatures.

If any of you parents are available during the morning time, I would love some extra volunteers to help with our animal project.  The students are doing lots of research and we could use some support in reading the text, in a book or website, figuring out if it answers the questions we have and then taking notes in our own words.  This is a big, exciting project and if you think you can help, please email me!

To give the students as authentic experience as possible, I used some items I had bought for the class to set up a "store".  First we brainstormed about what we know about the coins we use in America.  The question of what coins work together to make a dollar made us realize there are so many possibilities.  The students decided that they'd like to keep calculating and showing their knowledge with this.  This work would make excellent homework! What ways can you think to make a dollar using coins?

Next the students were paired and I gave them each a quantity of money.  Their first task was to identify how much money they had. Then the pair could decide what purchase to make.  Some items cost more money than the partners had, so they had to team up with another student pair.  The groups had to figure out what amount they'd need and which coins were their change.  A few even were able to make a further purchase using combining their change with others'.  We checked in after the experience and the students felt it was exciting because it felt real.  This makes me want to suggest to you families to see if there are real life experiences you can offer your child about money, it's use and making change.

We continue to explore other ways to convey information.  We used a Venn diagram to show the similarities and differences between the two types of paint we use.  The students are able to be specific and can explain small nuances in these two media.  As the students go about doing many varieties of research projects, they are realizing that it is very important to collect and organize information.  This is also important when deciding how to share the info and convey it to others.

More soon!  Thank you so much for reading the blog with your child each week!  Have a lovely weekend, Jennifer