Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Reading Groups!
Reading groups are beginning!  As we read, we will write some of our thoughts down on our sticky notes.  Our bookmark is divided into three sections: Important Information, Questions I Have, and What I Liked.  It’s important for kids to not only read, but to talk and write about what they are reading.  It helps them to understand a deeper meaning within the text and come away with insight gained from talking about their own thoughts and listening to other people talk about the same text.  If you are reading a book together at home, make sure you talk about it as you read!  Ask questions, and ask them to describe things that happened, or predict what may happen.  The sticky notes we create will be saved in our Reader’s Notebooks.  Kids can look back at things they wrote and compare and contrast books throughout the year.  I.  Love.  Reading.  Groups. 

Monday, September 28, 2015


First, you throw out the rules.  Well, not ALL of the rules, but most of them!  That’s how our poetry lesson started on Friday.  I shared some of my favorite poems, including the poem I memorized as a fourth grader (Sick by Shel Silverstein) and then we wrote a poem about something we LOVED.  The creativity was flowing and the kids had a great time working on their poems.  We will spend time learning about different kinds of poems throughout the year and we’ll visit 826michigan (on October 30th!) for inspiration.  YahOooo!  Poetry is awesome AND soOOoo much fun.  

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Natures Recyclers

Mystery Bags!  YahoOOOOooOO!  We dove into our science unit and started investigating things in nature in our mystery bags.  They had a wonderful time touching and smelling the items.  Talking to one another about what they were, and what they would look like in 6 months.  What do they all have in common?  What’s differences are there in the items?  So much to discover! 
Here’s an overview of this unit (from Science Companion)
Students discuss what the term “waste” means, examine a “mystery bag” filled with examples of natural waste, and speculate about why the world is not covered in organic remains.  They arrange illustrations showing progressive decomposition of several organisms, or parts of organisms.  They suggest reasons for why the organisms decompose. 

Students consider some examples of nature’s recyclers such as dung beetles, earthworms, and fungi.  They observe how composting worms turn dead plant matter into nutrient-rich castings.  Then they plant seeds in organic material and perlite to see if the organic material helps plants grow better.  With fungi they observe mycelium growth, make spore prints, and identify the parts of mushrooms.  They conduct experiments to study bread mold growth and graph their results. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

We keep track of the books we read on a chart on the door.  It's so cool to see how many books we read by June!

I love to read.  This is evident when you look at our classroom library, or the collection of books I use when teaching (they are located in a bookshelf near my desk).  I have always loved to read, but that love increased when I began reading books out loud to my kids.  Listening to an entire group of children gasp, laugh, snicker, or even cry when reading a book is magical.  I love seeing them embrace a character and adore how they connect with things that are happening in the story.  When we read The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, they were able to constantly describe how Edward was changing.  The character traits he once had, and how the changes affected not only him, but everyone around him.  We have just begun to read Wonder.  This book is amazing and has become one of my favorite books of all time.  I encourage you to ask your kids about the books we are reading out loud, in reading groups (these will start this week!), and those they are reading on their own.  Ask them to describe characters.  Have them predict what they think will happen next.  Talking about books is an amazing way to help kids not only become better readers, but to learn lifelong skills about how to read and how important it is to understand what we are reading.  I read a lot of picture books too.  You are never too old to read a picture book!  So many valuable lessons come from picture books and we will read a LOT of them this year!  If there is a book your child is dying to read, but it proves too difficult, consider reading the book out loud.  You can also find a HUGE assortment of books on CD at the library, offering kids a chance to listen to books they may not otherwise be able to read..  I will do EVERYTHING I can to help your child not only become better readers but to LOVE reading in the process. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

We all INFER when we read!
What does it mean to infer?  When you use clues from the text and what you already know, you are making inferences.  A good reader will infer to figure out what the author is saying.  They read between the lines to find out what is happening, or is going to happen.  They also look at pictures or words to help them figure out what the book is about.  
Ways to begin
The story said ________ which made me think
I think ________ will happen because
When I read ________it made me realize
I can tell _________is _________ because
How the character acts tells me
How the character feels tells me
What the character says tells me

Last week, we started our lesson about Making Inferences by talking about what I have in my backpack.  First, I had them think about ME.  What do you know about me?  Some things were:  I’m a teacher, I get grumpy when I’m hungry, I use a computer, etc..  Then they suggested things that might be packed into my backpack and I wrote them on our anchor chart.  After suggesting things, we unpacked my backpack to see how well they did.  They were great!  So many great ideas and it helped them get to know ME a bit better, and understand what it means to INFER too.  We will continue to talk about how to INFER throughout the entire school year.  Ask them about it!

To make an inference you need to combine the evidence from the text with what you are thinking as you read.  Cite evidence from the text!  We will talk about EVIDENCE all year too.  It’s important to be able to prove what you think! 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Spiral Multiplication
We learned a new way to practice our multiplication facts last week.  It’s a game that can be done easily at home and the kids love to play itespecially when they get to make up some of the rules!  J 

Spiral Multiplication
Game Rules
Deck of cards
Game pieces

Game variations:
Kids get to make up rules as the game progresses. 
Cards are added to make a larger spiral in order to keep playing

1.     Use the deck of cards to make a spiral game board starting from the center.
2.     Place your game pieces at the start.
3.    Player 1 rolls the die. 
4.    Player 1 multiplies the number on the die (or dice for a more advanced version) by the card the game piece is on.
5.    If they are correct, they move the number of spaces the die shows.  If they are incorrect, they do not get to move.
Take turns and repeat until someone reaches the end

Some RULE ideas created last year:
If you roll a 3, you lose a turn.
If you roll a 5, the next person loses a turn.
If you get two 1s in a row, you get to choose the player you want to lose a turn.
You can choose to go two times in a row, but then you’d miss a turn.  You can only do this 3 times.
If you get a 6, you go back one space.
If you get a 1, you get another turn.
If you roll the same number that is on the card of the next player, you can bump them back two spaces.
If you roll a number that is next to each other in sequence, you must stay there.  The 4th time, you choose someone to go back a space.
If you get SNAKE EYES, you get to choose a player to move back five spaces,
If you roll a one, you go back a space.
If you get one six, and the next turn you get another six, you can switch places with another player.

If your card and the die has the same number, you get to go again.