As I've said before, the purpose of this blog is to truly make you feel a part of our classroom without really having to be there. I want this site to be a window into the learning that takes place at school. I will do my best to update you with the big and small moments that make up our day. Let's start with the study trip to The Rose Theater.
The Rose Theater Study Trip
The trip to The Rose Theater was one of my favorite study trips I have ever been on. Three beloved books by Eric Carle came to life on stage in the form of puppets. It's hard to describe how this all works, but I will do my best. There are people dressed in black moving the puppets on stage, but the audience can't see them at all. There is a black light that highlights the colorful puppets so that they are the only things the audience is able to see. The puppets honestly look as if they are moving on their own, which made it a very magical experience for my students.
The three books we saw come to life were: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Little Cloud, and The Mixed-Up Chameleon. If you haven't read these books, I would suggest buying them or checking them out at the library. Here are some pictures from our trip. Notice how fabulous we all looked in our crazy socks and our caterpillar necklaces made out of shapes!
My students absolutely LOVE to read. Some of the skills they have learned have been using the pictures to help them read the words, pointing to each word as they read, and saying the first sound of a word when coming to an unknown word. These skills have helped my students further develop their understanding of how to read.
It helps that they have received several books at their level from "The Book Fairy". I have found over the years that if students continually get new books to read, their interest in reading grows. My students have loved receiving new books that are "just right" for them.
During my students' independent reading time, I have been assessing each student, testing them on various reading skills. One of my main jobs as a teacher is to find exactly what each student already knows and what he/she needs to work on. This isn't just the case in reading, but rather, in each subject area. This is especially important in the area of reading because if students are reading books that are too easy for them, they aren't being challenged. And if students are reading books that are too challenging, they can become frustrated. It's my job to find a reading level that is "just right" for each child. I will be sharing these "just right" levels with you at conferences.
I will also begin Guided Reading next week, which is when I am able to meet with small groups of students on reading. These groups typically comprise of students who are reading at the same level. For the first few weeks, I will meet with students every other day. By the middle of October, I plan to meet with each student every day in the area of reading.
Writing has quickly become one of my students' favorite things to do at school. All of my students love to write and draw true stories from their lives, and they have enjoyed learning new writing skills to help them accomplish this task. Much of my teaching these past few weeks has dealt with adding details to their pictures and their words to help tell the story. The details we have focused on have included: who, what, and where. Every story must tell who the story is about, what happened in that story, and where the story took place. My students have also continued learning how to stretch out words like bubble gum to help hear all of the sounds. My students are getting better at this already. It's amazing to be able to read their writing without them having to "read" it (or decode it) to me.
A very exciting writing tool was introduced earlier this week: spacemen! These are simply small wooden clothespins that are painted to look like a spaceman. This tool is placed after each word to help students leave spaces between words. This tool has also made it easier to read my students' writing.
I've collected most of my students' writing pieces since the beginning of the year. My plan is to, at the end of each trimester, place each piece into a folder to send home with your child. That way, you can truly see the progression of their writing development. I look forward to sharing several of your child's writing pieces with you at conferences.
Students have been hard at work learning more about shapes and counting. Most days, students have had a chance to count objects using various tools such as ten frames and number lines. Similar to reading, I have figured out what students need to work on when it comes to counting. Some students are counting groups of objects less than 10, and some students are counting groups of objects near 100. This is all decided based on what students need to work on. Students are finding efficient and accurate ways to count by grouping objects in easier counting groups (fives or tens) and lining up objects while counting. They have also worked on recording their number and counting strategy.
Our unit on shapes has been a very fun experience. Students are learning what 2 and 3-d shapes are, as well as specific names of shapes. They have also learned what the attributes of each shape are. Yes, they have actually learned what the word "attributes" means. They understand that this is how shapes are described. Students have also learned that shapes are all around us and that they make up our world. Some new learning that took place this week was that shapes can make up other shapes. Students came up with a list of all the ways to make a hexagon. Who knew there were so many ways?
Sorting has been the big concept we have focused on in science. Students have learned that there are many ways to sort objects. They have also learned that our entire world can be sorted, and that sorting is a skill scientists use every day. Students have had the chance to sort several items independently this week. These items have included: shapes, picture cards, and buttons. Students have been able to come up with their own sorting rules, which originally consisted of color, size, and shape. This past week, however, I noticed that students' sorting rules have become much more sophisticated. One student came up with the sorting rule of 'things that hold items' and 'things that don't hold items' when sorting food picture cards. She explained, "A banana peel holds a banana, and a soup bowl holds soup." I was truly amazed at not only her smart thinking, but by many other students' thinking as well.
One connection my students made this week was that objects can be sorted by attributes, which is a term we learned about in math. I love when students make connections across the curricular areas!
How I wish you could be flies on the wall to see and hear all of the conversations that take place in our classroom. One hilarious moment that took place earlier this week was when I was talking about Eric Carle, the author. As students learn about authors, I often refer to them by their first name to make it more personable. The conversation went something like this:
Ms Benson: In most of his books, Eric drew all of the pictures and wrote all of the words. He's an author and an illustrator, which is really neat.
Rylee: Hey! I know who Eric is! He's a good friend of Ariel's in The Little Mermaid.
Ms. Benson: Well, sweetie, that was Prince Eric. This is Eric Carle, the author and illustrator of this book.
And this, folks, is why I love my job so much. Seriously! I can't make this stuff up. The conversations and moments are truly unpredictable!