Emma will fly to and from the North Pole to report if my students are doing their best work and if they are being respectful, responsible, and safe. It will be fun to see where the elf is and what the elf will be doing each morning when we come to school. Check out our pictures of our elf and other Christmas decorations.
Comprehension has been a HUGE focus this year. Students have learned so many different things good readers do or think about as they read: infer, make predictions, think about the author's purpose (why the author wrote this book), think about the author's message (what message does the author want you to understand), make connections to their own lives and other books they've read, identify the problem and the solution in a fiction story, and retell the important things that have happened in the story.
We have also started talking about the importance of fluency. Students have learned that good readers make their reading sound like talking. Students understand that reading should be fluent, expressive, and at a good pace. As books come home, have your child practice reading with fluency, expression, and appropriate pace. Fluency is best practiced with books students know really well or with books that are just right or even a bit too easy. Students have also learned that punctuation changes the way our voice sounds as we read.
I have just started meeting with three guided reading groups per day. My students have loved meeting with me more often. I have noticed a huge improvement in my students' reading in the past few weeks, and I do feel it helps to work in a small group on a more regular basis. I meet with two of my reading groups every day, and I meet with two of my reading groups every other day. It works out well for everyone!
Each reading group involves the following components: a brief warm-up, a rereading of a book from the day before (I listen to an individual student read during this time), word work (working with letters, words, and/or sounds) typically tied to a strategic reading behavior, a new read, and a comprehension conversation. Here is a video of one of my Guided Reading groups.
We just wrapped up our first writing unit on personal narratives. Though we will come back to personal narratives again later this trimester, we will take a break for the next eight weeks to write How-To books. This particular type of informational text will be fun for students to write. They love writing about things that have happened to them as well as things they know a lot about.
In order to be successful with this type of writing, students must first be exposed to many published examples of How-To books. After reading these books, we have developed a list of text features commonly found in this type of informational book. We have since begun to write our own How-To books. These books are centered around something your child knows how to do really well. Begin talking to your child about some possible ideas of things he/she could write about, as he/she will write multiple How-To books during this unit. Here are some examples of things students have done in the past:
- How to make a snowman.
- How to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
- How to play football.
- How to be a good friend.
- How to be a good brother/sister.
- How to clean your room.
- How to take care of your dog/cat.
- How to catch a fish.
These are just a few ideas. Your child is free to pick any topic as long as it's something he/she knows how to do really well. To assist with your child's writing, simply talk to them about some ideas and talk through the important steps they should include in their book. Keep in mind that they will write multiple How-To books over the course of the next eight weeks.
As we write these How-To Informational books, students continue to work on various writing skills. Stretching words, editing their writing (checking for spaces, capital letters, and punctuation), rereading their writing to see if it makes sense and to see if any changes need to be made, and adding more details to their writing to make it more clear to the reader. We have just begun to work on segmenting sounds to help us hear each sound by itself. If I were to write the word 'cat', I would segment, or separate, each sound like this: c-a-t. Then I would write each sound on my paper. Students have had success with this, as their writing is getting so much easier to read!
Here are examples of some of my students' writing. I am so impressed with their progress!!
We have been learning more about teen numbers and how teen numbers are ten and some more. We have done a lot of problem solving using ten-frames, which has really helped us recognize what a group of 10 looks like. Students have learned that when a 10-frame is filled, they don't need to count every single item in the frame. Instead, they can say 10 and count on from that number. Students are learning that this is a much faster and more efficient way to count.
Students are also learning about the concept of one more and one less. We have referred to these numbers as neighboring numbers. Some skills you can continue to work on at home are:
*counting to 100 by ones
*counting to 100 by tens
*counting to 100 by fives
*writing numbers to 20
We are also learning about shapes (2-dimensional or flat shapes, and 3-dimensional shapes or solid shapes), and we will soon add measurement to the repertoire. Here are the shapes we are focusing on: squares, rectangles, circles, triangles, hexagons (2-dimensional or flat shapes), cones, spheres, cubes, and cylinders (3-dimensional shapes or solid shapes). Students have learned that size doesn't matter with shapes. A small circle and a large circle are both circles. They have learned that 2-dimensional shapes are flat and that 3-dimensional shapes stand tall and are also called solid shapes. Students will continue to have a lot of fun discovering that our whole world is made up of shapes, and they will also learn the importance of measuring.
In addition, we will continue to work on problem solving. At least two days a week, we will complete an addition or subtraction story problem with various number choices. They have learned that there are many different ways to solve problems. Some of the strategies they have learned to solve problems have been drawing pictures, acting out the problem, using a 10-frame, using a number line, and counting on from the biggest number. When selecting a strategy, it's important for students to consider which way would be the most efficient. This is something we have just begun to discuss.
Here is a video from one of our shape activities. Students used geo-boards to create 2-dimensional shapes. Students had fun creating some of their own shapes.