In the last few months, we have been learning about measurement, comparing numbers, and problem solving. Students have learned how to measure using nonstandard units (cubes, paperclips, etc.) and have learned how to compare objects using weight, length, and height. They have also learned how to compare numbers and make statements such as, '5 is more than 3' and '3 is less than 5'. Below are some pictures and a video of a measurement activity students did in their table groups. Their goal was to place objects in order from least to greatest.
- one more/one less
- 10 and some more (i.e. 10+3=13, 10+5=15, 10+7=17)...this concept has been developed through the use of ten-frames
- counting by ones from 1 to 100
- counting by fives and tens to 100
- writing numbers 1 to 100
- the concept of addition (adding more) and subtraction (taking away)
- addition and subtraction symbols and what they mean (+/-)
- the meaning of the equal sign (= means 'the same as')
- fluently adding/subtracting facts within 5
One of the things we have focused on lately has been the concept of equality. My students have learned that equals means the same as. They have had some practice determining whether an equality sentence is equal or not. For example, I have shown my students some of the following sentences:
- 5 = 5 (True)
- 5 = 5 + 0 (True)
- 0 + 5 = 5 + 0 (True)
- 0 + 5 = 2 + 3 (True)
- 0 + 5 = 3 + 3 (False)
- 0 + 5 = 5 + 1 (False)
In addition to understanding number equality, we want students to be flexible with making numbers in different ways (i.e. 4+1=5 and 3+2=5). One of the ways students begin seeing that numbers can be made in different ways is through the use of Number Talks. I have included a video and a few photos (the video and photos were from two separate Number Talks) below so you understand how this works. Thanks, Cay'dence (one of my students), for recording our video. You did a fabulous job!!
Comprehension is the ultimate goal in reading. In the end, I want students to understand what they read. Some of the comprehension strategies we have worked on are: figuring out the author's purpose/message, inferring, making predictions, making connections (to our own lives and other books), identifying the problem and the solution, and retelling the story. In addition to the comprehension strategies, we have also been working on accuracy (reading words correctly). As books get more difficult, students will encounter trickier words. One way I encourage students to help them figure out unknown words is to think about what word would look right and make sense. This strategy is called cross checking. As your child is reading at home and he/she comes to an unknown word, encourage him/her to think of a word that looks right AND makes sense. This is a skill that will help them for many years to come.
In addition, we are focusing a lot on phonics with a heavy emphasis on short vowel sounds. To help with this concept at home, provide your child with simple CVC words (consonant, vowel, consonant) and have them read them. These can be real words (fat, can, sub, leg) or made up words (bov, tup, cad). If students are able to decode these simple words, they will be ready to move on to more difficult words.
Fluency has been a focus lately as well. Students have learned that making their reading sound like talking is so important. They have also learned that punctuation changes the way we read sentences. If the sentence ends in a period, exclamation point, or a question mark, it will change the way a person reads the sentence.
After Thanksgiving break, students had a difficult time getting back into the routines and procedures of things. To help them, we had a day of review. I didn't meet with groups, and we all practiced the same thing. It wasn't easy as this took a few different tries, but eventually, my students were able to successfully complete the Readers' Workshop procedures, and I was able to, once again, meet with small groups. Here are a couple of videos from Readers' Workshop after we corrected the procedures. I have a feeling, we may need to revisit these procedures in the weeks following Winter Break. :)
As you already know, we have been learning more about non-fiction books. After studying published informational books, we have been writing our own books about how to do something. They have learned that the purpose of writing this type of book is to teach other people how to do something. Students have studied a variety of published How-To books to learn common characteristics found within this type of writing. They have, in turn, attempted to incorporate these characteristics in their own books. Here are some of the characteristics: using the words you and your (not I and my), listing steps in order with numbers, using sequence words to help explain the steps, including detailed pictures and/or diagrams, using comparisons, giving tips and warnings, and incorporating a beginning, a middle, and an end. Students have enjoyed writing this type of book and are excited to share one with you at conferences.
Once we have finished our How-To Unit, we will once again write personal narratives. It will be important that students understand the difference between these two types of writing (one is to teach or to inform, and the other is to tell a true story). Whether writing personal narrative or how-to books, students are making a lot of progress in writing. I'm excited for you to see their writing at conferences.