Saturday, December 29, 2012

We LOVE reading - a LOT!

Balanced Literacy
It is essential that everyone is reading EVERY SINGLE NIGHT at home.  I understand that schedules are busy, but without practicing, we won’t get any better.  Read to self, read to someone, or listen to a book!!  We will continue to meet in our reading groups and everyone is expected to finish their assignments.  Here is a reminder of our reading group expectations.
Thank you for helping them to remember to do their assignments! 
These are our reading group expectations:
  1. Bring your reading group folder, current book, Dear Mrs. McGee, and a pencil to reading group every time we meet.
  2. Students will keep track of their assignments on the assignment pages provided in their reading group folders (gold folders).
  3. Students who do not bring their books back to school or complete the assignment will lose their entire recess. 
Some kids are having a hard time keeping track of their reading books and assignments.  I am hoping that this will help everyone!  Thank you for your continued help at home.
Here are some of the things we are discussing in our reading groups:
Personal connections, text to text connections, vocabulary words, character traits, setting, conflict and so much more!  Non-fiction elements: headings, bold letters, glossary, table of contents, index, photographs, graphs, charts, maps, etc..  Some groups have begun Literature Circles and are having a great time.  Reading groups are so FUN!  We are reading BIOGRAPHIES and learning about some very interesting people.  In the next few weeks, we will work on creating reports to share what we’ve learned about these amazing and interesting people.
We use a wide variety of strategies every day in third and fourth grade.  We are learning many ways to solve addition and subtraction problems in math, and there is a wide variety of strategies to use while reading as well.  These are some of the ways we learn to read unknown or difficult words while in our reading groups.  Here are some reading strategies you can use at home:
Word-Attack Strategies:
Help students decode, pronounce, and understand unfamiliar words.  They help students attack words piece by piece or from a different angle.
Use Picture Clues:
Look at the picture.  Are there people, objects, or actions in the picture that might make sense in the sentence?
Sound Out the Word:
Start with the first letter, and say each letter-sound out loud.  Blend the sounds together and try to say the word.  Does the word make sense in the sentence?
Look for Chunks in the Word:
Look for familiar letter chunks.  They may be sound/symbols, prefixes, suffices, endings, whole words or base words.  Read each chunk by itself.  Then blend the chunks together and sound out the word.  Does that word make sense in the sentence? 
Connect to a Word You Know:
Think of a word that looks like the unfamiliar word.  Compare the familiar word to the unfamiliar word.  Decide if the familiar word is a chunk or form of the unfamiliar word.  Use the known word in the sentence to see if it makes sense.  If so, the meanings of the two words are close enough for understanding.
Reread the Sentence:
Read the sentence more than once.  Think about what word might make sense in the sentence.  Try the word and see if the sentence makes sense. 
Keep Reading:
Read past the unfamiliar word or look for clues.  If the word is repeated, compare the second sentence to the first.  What word might make sense in both?
Use Prior Knowledge:
Think about what you know about the subject of the book, paragraph, or sentence.  Do you know anything that might make sense in the sentence?  Read the sentence with the new word to see if it makes sense.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It's going to be a busy 8 days!
We have a lot going on in room 306.  The pace is getting faster, and they are becoming responsible for more and more each day.  A few things to look for:
•  On Mondays, we will do WORD STUDY.  They will choose words and write them into their planners.  They will also start a Making Connections sheet and will work throughout the week to finish this.  
•  Home links should be coming home regularly and turned in after completion. 
•  Dear Mom and Dad letters will be coming your way soon!  Letters written to YOU will come home on Friday, December 21st and should return back to school (with your response!) on January 7th.  These letters are an amazing part of their Dear Mrs. McGee notebooks.  Thank you for taking the time to write to your kids!
•  Mark Thursday, December 20th on your calendars!  We will WALK to Vet's Park at about 10:45am and skate until approximately 1pm.  We will walk back to school and have a delicious pizza party (with sides, of course!).  We will NOT have a "party" on Friday. Our Thursday shindig will act as our winter celebration.  
•  Join us on Friday, December 21st for our Haisley Community Sing!  Singing starts at 8:15 and will continue until about 9:15.  EVERYONE will get a chance to gather and sing in our multipurpose room.  There will be bagels and beverages to purchase (proceeds go to 5th grade camp!) as well.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Addition, subtraction and multiplication...OH MY!  
Knowing these facts is an ESSENTIAL part of both third and fourth grade!  If they don't know their facts, they need to practice EVERY SINGLE DAY!  
Here are some ways they can practice at home:
•  Flash Cards
• - or other websites!
•  Everyday Math Games
•  Someone quizzing you
•  Fact Triangles
•  Arrays
•  Number Grids

Please help your child learn their facts!  They don't need to spend a lot of time practicing, but it should be something they work on regularly.  Thank you!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Writer's Notebooks
We are spending a lot of time writing in our notebooks.  These notebooks have a wide variety of writing samples and are used every single day in our classroom.  Recently, I found a new kind of journal called SMASH JOURNALS...they allow you to cram as much information and keepsakes into a single journal as humanly possible.  I love the idea and hope we can start to cram things into our writer's notebooks.  Tickets, postcards, scraps of paper, notes, stamps, stickers, photos, cards, labels, business cards, pamphlets, brochures, maps, coasters, sticky notes,and ANYTHING ELSE they find cool, interesting or relevant to their lives.  I'd like to start sending them much to include!  Look for them!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Foldables are a wonderful way to show what we've learned and allow us to go back into our journals to revisit things.  Both social studies and science lend themselves to opportunities to share our knowledge using a foldable.   

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Duct Tape Wallet Workshop!
It's true.  We are diving into a new medium...duct tape!  James will hold his workshop during lunch recess on Friday, December 14th.  If you'd like to help...PLEASE SEND DUCT TAPE!  We are looking for all kinds of cool designs and colors!  Please send it to school BEFORE the 14th so I can make sure we have enough tape!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

We are writing maniacs in room 306!  They are creating amazing stories, memoirs, poems, lists, cards, and more.  They are creative writers and they all have a lot to say!  

What do you write about?  Try writing something WITH your child! Sticky notes are a great way to have fun with writing at home.  Write a fun note and stick it some place they will find it.  Make sure they have the supplies to write you back!  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Literacy Thoughts!

This is posted on a door in the classroom and used to write our thoughts about what we are reading.  I write a prompt on the board and they use a sticky note to write their response.  It's a great place to practice writing and a place we can put our thoughts about our reading down on paper.
Don't forget to ask questions after you read something at home.  Check the last page of their report cards for a list of questions you can ask.  It's important to not only read, but talk about what they are reading.  They write about their reading when they write Dear Mrs. McGee letters and it's fun hearing about the books they are reading.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I wonder how many times I will add to this blog today...hummmm.  Well, I talked with my chitlins about things I should put on our new blog and they had a lot of great ideas.  As it turns out, we are crazy busy in room 306!  We are constantly on the move - learning new things as much as we can.  

We have recently begun The Daily Five - a new approach to an old idea.  In The Daily Five, we concentrate on 5 things during our afternoon reading block.  
1.  Read to self
2.  Read to someone
3.  Listen to a book
4.  Write about your reading
5.  Word Study

While they are busy doing one of those five things - I am working with small groups in reading groups.  We are learning a lot about non-fiction books and will continue to do so throughout the year.  Ask your kids to list some of the elements of a non-fiction book.  Here are some things you might hear:  Table of contents, headings, labels, photographs, facts, maps, glossary, information about something real.  

Group B created portraits, but added a SHADOW.  Aren't they great?  We discussed shadows a lot when we first started our Solar System unit.  They are fab!

Self-portraits...with a TWIST!  We created new self-portraits, but added a new element.  Our OTHER SELF!  :)  Kids had a great time creating two sides of themselves...they created spectacular portraits!  Here are a few:

Welcome to my new blog!  This is an exciting moment!  WahOooooO!!
I will post things about my amazing too!  Welcome!