October 31, 2016

Even if we're just dancin' in the dark

Today was *so* much fun! 
We danced, we made an amazing treat, ate that, had some great laughs, aaaannnddd...we squeezed in a little chat about facing our fears without freaking out. Halloween on a Monday is a little #whoababy, but it really was a sweet day!  

My favourite moment was near the end of the day where we all sat together and ate our Halloween bark. It felt like we were a little family. Just sittin' there together on the floor eating this tasty treat and talking about how Skittles and chocolate are not a bad combination at all. Thank you to Miss Julia for the super job she did as our class photographer! 

Thank you also to all the boys and girls for a great Halloween! 

October 26, 2016

Homework help needed

When completing homework assignments such as the Practice Page, parents can I ask for your support in a few areas? 

Successful homework completion is a skill that must be taught. I'm working to help my students see that the work they do at home must still reflect the overall expectations we have in the classroom. For example, I ask students in class to make sure their work is printed neatly and easy to read, and this expectation also extends to homework. As I say often in class, if I can't read it, I can't mark it.  My hope is that this will help them to develop the home-study habits they'll need for future grades.  

Can I trouble you to take a few moments on homework nights to review your child's completed work to make sure it reflects the following: 
  • the work is neat and easy to read
  • the work has been completed according to instructions (for example, if I have asked for students to provide reasons for an opinion, they have done so)
  • the answers make sense 
I'm not asking you to mark the work, just give it a once-over to make sure that it meets both the criteria above and the instructions stated on the worksheet itself. 
Your support is so greatly appreciated. I think this helps to lay the foundation for some really successful habits in the later grades.   

October 25, 2016

Extra Practice Problems: Unit 2 Test

The boys and girls have their first Math test on Thursday. Here is an extra practice problem that will assist with test preparation. Don't forget, there's also a Practice Test that can be downloaded here

Champ has 21 dog cookies. 

Scooter has 5 more cookies than Champ. 
How many cookies do both dogs have altogether?

Here's another one!

Champ has 32 tennis balls.

Scooter has 17 tennis balls. 
How many more tennis balls does Champ have than Scooter?
How can you check your work to make sure you're right? (hint: check your study guide for the answer!) 

October 24, 2016

Uh-Oh! Pumpkin Trouble!

Jan Thomas writes thee funniest books for early readers! And they're absolutely perfect for helping experienced readers further develop their fluency. 

Seriously, if you're looking for a way to boost oral reading confidence, having children read books that are really easy for them is a great strategy. Book selection is the key here.

Jan Thomas does everything right in her books. In just a few words on each page, she skillfully engages readers.  I've enjoyed using her books as mentor texts with my students to talk about what good readers and writers do. I often say writers tells us how they want their stories to be read by choosing words, conventions and text features carefully, and I encourage my students to do the same with their own work. 

When you read Jan Thomas' stories, you'll find it all:  
  • great word choice
  • bold text that tells the reader which words to emphasize
  • ellipses 
  • careful and creative punctuation
  • a requirement to infer 
  • engaging illustrations that help the reader make meaning 
  • hilarious and concise plots 
After reviewing the six habits of a fluent reader with my students and having already taught them all those creative ways that writers convey meaning,  I could not wait to share Pumpkin Trouble with them!  My hope is that my students will take all this information and apply it to their own writing AND reading. We have some great exercises coming up and with this new learning, their writing will be off the charts! 

Every reader, no matter their level, benefits from reading an easy text to develop their fluency and overall confidence. The key of course is text choice; you can't just give kids a board book and make this work. You'll need find engaging texts that appeal to the goofy kid in all of us! 

After we read the story a few times, we talked about the importance of eye contact in communicating sincerity and to keep thing "Fun Friday" related, we looked at how by shifting the eye placement in a character, you can, as an artist really make a statement. Then we talked about how if you place the eyes one way, the mouth must also follow suit. It was a little bit of art, a bit of reading and a bit of personal development all rolled into an hour! 

The goal for the assignment below was to create three characters with shifty eyes and one character who looked sincere, but once the kids got rolling, they had so much fun with their shifty-eyed pumpkins, I decided to let them call the shots. I also loved this activity because of the fine motor practice the kids got from cutting those eyes out! It's nuts how in this digital age, things like cutting and pasting still have their place.

October 20, 2016

A very productive week!

We've had quite the productive week! Don't you just love that feeling?  

Our Crankensteins are coming along very nicely and while the kids have enjoyed creating their characters, I've especially loved seeing the quality of their writing improve. It's nuts how in just a few short weeks and with a bit of modeling and practice, the growth just takes off!  I'm putting the Crankensteins up in our class, so you'll have to wait a bit before you get to see them in person, but let me tell you...this is top quality work.  

By using a checklist, implementing teaching feedback and instituting the "5 centimetre rule" (read about that below) students are learning how to write in a way that paints a picture in the reader's mind and that one or two lines ain't gonna cut it when you have 5 or 6 provided.  It's fun helping them see that they can really write quite a bit about a topic by posing just a few questions to them.  When they come to me and say, "I don't know what else to write." all it takes is a good question or two and their eyes get bigger, the smile grows and off they go! 

In Math, we're working on problem solving using addition or subtraction or...dun,dun,dun...both!  The kids wrote another quiz on Wednesday and I'll send that home on Friday for signatures. The first quiz (which won't count) was assigned Tuesday and I realized we weren't quite ready for it. We practiced a bit more on Wednesday and I think things went much better for the kids.  We're looking at having our Unit 2 test next week at some point.  I'll post a practice test and send home a study guide to assist as well. I'll also send home their little workbook that students can use to prepare for the test as well. 

Overall, I'd say we're on track and doing great!  It's been a great week and I'm looking forward to trouble tomorrow. Whaaa??? 
Tomorrow's Fun Friday will be quite troublesome.  

October 18, 2016

One "smart" bunch!

We're really focusing on adjectives and nouns this last week or so, and to help the boys and girls remember the difference and explore some creative words, we did a super-smart, super-fun activity on Monday!  

After I handed out the nouns: the paper and the Smarties, it was time for the kids to get to work on those adjectives (describing words). Students worked together with their elbow partner and game up with some really great adjectives!

While we'll be talking a lot this year about fiction and non-fiction texts, we had a kind of introductory lesson to them on Monday.  I used this photo of books from our Fall/Halloween collection to get the discussion rolling.  

This afternoon we continued our review of subtraction strategies and we had a quick quiz. The quiz (pictured below) was a problem that was similar to the ones we have been practicing. The boys and girls are learning about the key words that tell us to add or subtract, or in the case of the problem below, do one and then the other. 

Once they got started, I found the boys and girls needed further practice with this type of question, so we're going to try a different, but similar quiz on Wednesday.  We instead used the quiz as our sample problem and we talked about the types of strategies used to solve these types of problems. 


October 15, 2016

Happy Saturday Room 208!

I saw this story on the CBS Evening News last night and thought it would be very appropriate to share with my students and their families. Parents, would you please read and review this piece with your child?  It is totally appropriate for children, but some kids may have questions that an adult can answer.  

The grade three "Focus on Faith" theme is community and the common good.  In our class, we talk a lot about taking care of each other and this story speaks to that.  

We'll discuss it on Monday, but I'd love it if the kids arrived at school having discussed it already with their folks.  I know I have a few students who will be away on Monday, but if you would go ahead and review it as well, that would be great.  

Please check in on Sunday for our "Fun Friday" blog post.  

Woman loses her way home, but finds much more.


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