Wow, November has been super busy and is going by super-fast! We are trying hard to maintain routine despite the special events, days off, and delays. Despite those challenges, progress continues! Here is what we are working on:
Science – The study of owl habitats and adaptations has been very engaging and exiting! Our unit kicked off with a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Wilson and their program, “Eyes On Owls.” Mr. and Mrs. Wilson told us about the physical characteristics that would help us recognize an owl: big head on a big body, talons, facial disks, and feathers with comb-like edges. We also learned about how owls hunt and then eat the prey they catch. Mr. Wilson showed us some of his incredible photographs of owls. By this point in the presentation, everyone was itching to see what was in the large boxes sitting on the table….Finally, we got to see! Mrs. Wilson opened one box at a time and brought out a real, live owl for us to observe! She showed us a great horned owl, a barred owl, a saw-whet owl, and a great grey owl. WOW, they were awesome! Some of the owls performed by hooting for us. Others showed us ‘whitewash.’ One even left a pellet in its box! In the classroom, our studies continued with the reading of many books about owls. This week we are working on the two remaining pieces that will finish up this unit of study: dissecting an owl pellet and writing an owl report.
Math – We finished our unit focusing on addition facts (doubles and sums to ten). I’m holding on to them to share with you during conferences. After that, they will come home. Our third unit will again focus on facts, especially strategies that can be used to solve unknown math facts. There will be more of a focus on subtraction and fact families. Last week we created a list of known strategies that can be used to solve addition problems. Together, the class came up with twelve different strategies that could be used to find the answer, everything from touching and counting ‘to using a known fact as a ‘helper.’
Writing - As I mentioned above, each child will be writing a report about owls. This will be the first time this year that we use the entire writing process from brainstorming ideas all the way to a beautiful final copy. As a group we created a GIANT top-down web about owls. Each child now his/her own copy of that web to use as a resource when writing. (The kids were quite impressed with how BIG the web is compared to their usual weekly webs!) Before writing we talked about what a report is - writing facts about something. Today the kids began writing their drafts. We set a goal to be done with drafts by Friday. As the kids write, the adults in the room are checking in with them. The adults remind them of spelling resources that are available such as the top-down web or a 'Quickword.' While talking with the kids, the adults will also call attention to missing/incorrect capitalization and punctuation. I am pushing hard for consistent capitals at the beginning of sentences and punctuation at the end. Most of the kids are getting one or the other in any given sentence.
Reading - In reading groups we have been reading lots of books with animals. We have read non-fiction texts about whales, bats, and of course....owls! We have also read non-fiction books with animals as the main characters. One favorite was about three classroom Guinea pigs that help a sick iguana. Another was a story about an indoor turtle that got an outdoor pen. While reading we are working on skills such as sounding fluent, using a strong voice, and knowing where we are in the text at all times. The comprehension skill we are focusing on is identifying important events from the beginning, middle, and end of a story. Last week we began working on a readers' theater about the Native Americans and the Pilgrims. Reading from a script is a new experience for most kids. This reading activity will further our practice of sounding fluent, using a strong voice, and knowing where we are in the text at all times.
Phonics - We have finished practicing long vowels with a silent e. We will continue to review them as we move forward onto new skills. This week we have been introduced to consonant digraphs, some of which are known as 'the H brothers.' Next, we will compare digraphs to blends.
Social Studies - In second grade, the children learn about American holidays, symbols, and traditions. As part of this study, our class has been learning some patriotic songs. Each month we learn and sing a new song. So far we have learned "Grand Old Flag," "Yankee Doodle," and "My Country 'Tis Of Thee." Some of the children were a bit familiar with the songs, but not most. We have learned the songs so well that a second or third verse has been added! Our studies have also led us to discussions about voting and the history of Veterans' Day and Thanksgiving.
Handwriting - Did you know that there are only three different 'sizes' of alphabet letters? Uppercase (capital) letters, lowercase letters, and letters that go 'underground.' I am pushing hard for correct size and line placement of letters! We are also reviewing the formation of capital letters, a couple per week. As we approach mid-year I am expecting to see a decrease in letter/number reversals. I usually cue by saying "I see a reversal, find and fix it." Most of the time that is all I need to do, it is just a bad habit. Beginning with our last spelling test, I am taking points off for reversals, unexpected capitals in words, and unidentifiable letters.
But wait, there's more!
With the addition of winter gear our coat rack area is quite congested. The kids have to be much more organized with all of their stuff. Boots go toes against the wall under the coat rack. Coats and backpacks must be hung up. Homework binders should be in backpacks. Random items left laying around after reminders have been given are confiscated and put into the 'buy back box.' This has made a HUGE difference in how organized the coat area is. :)
**PLEASE** label every item of your child's outdoor gear! We have many similar boots and gloves that are getting mixed up!
**A Reminder - With snow on the ground, your child should have both boots for recess and inside shoes to change into. We are talking in class about how it is the second grader's responsibility to bring inside shoes to school each day, not Mom or Dad's. However, please give them reminders while we get into the routine of it. The group knows that December is a 'practice month' and beginning in January it will cost money to wear outside boots in the classroom.
**THEME BASKET - Each year at the annual 'Lip Sync' show (in January) theme baskets are raffled off. The parents of each NBCS classroom donate items to fill a basket. This year our basket's theme is 'WRAP IT UP.' Our basket will be filled with everything to do with all occasion gift wrapping: gift wrap, tissue paper, cards, tape, bows, scissors, etc... As you shop this holiday season, please keep our basket in mind. You might find clearance racks with some good deals on off-season items. I'll put together a Sign-up Genius early in December to ensure we don't end up with lots of tissue paper and nothing else! Thanks in advance for your help!
We are having a very busy week!
On Monday we had a visit from Ms. Fisher, a registered nurse, who talked with our class about the importance of hand washing. She taught us the BEST way to wash our hands: While singing the ABC song...
Scrub your palms.
Scrub the backs of your hands.
Scrub in between all your fingers.
And finally, scrub under and around your fingernails.
Ms. Fisher gave us some special 'glow germs' lotion to rub on our hands. After a few minutes we went to the sink to do our best washing up. She then looked at our hands under a black light and we could see all the pretend germs that were still on our hands! YUCK! Our hands were still so dirty! Many of us wanted to go back and wash our hands again. Ms. Fisher also talked about how hand sanitizer should only be used when soap and water are not available. She mentioned that daily use dries out our skin, which then cracks and makes even more places for germs to get in! Yuck! A BIG thanks to Ms. Fisher for her wonderful presentation!
Also on Monday, Mrs. Kane came to visit our classroom. Mrs. Kane is our staff occupational therapist. Again this year, she is working in the second grade classrooms teaching the children about sensory awareness and regulation. This week she told us about how our bodies, senses, and minds are always in one of four 'zones.'
BLUE ZONE - We feel low and act slowly. We might be tired, sick, or bored.
GREEN ZONE - We are in a 'just right' place for learning. Our brains are actively engaging, we are alert and ready to do.
YELLOW ZONE - We are getting a bit excited, silly, or angry. Our body wants to move more. We might be louder than expected.
RED ZONE - We are feeling very big emotions and are not always in control of what we do and/or say. We might be very sad, angry, tired, or upset.
The kids really enjoyed brainstorming situations in which they have been in each zone. Mrs. Kane told us that sometimes it is expected for us to be in a certain zone, and other times it is unexpected. For example, we would expect a person with the flu to be in the blue zone. A child at recess is perfect in the yellow zone. Someone who just had a car accident might be in the red zone for awhile. Mrs. Kane will return in early November for another lesson. We can't wait!
Yesterday, we attended the New Boston Fire Department's fire prevention program, "Stop, Look, and Learn!" The firefighters began the lesson by reviewing last year's them of having two exit plans and practicing fire drills at home. We then leaned why it is important to know your personal information - when you call 911 in an emergency, the operator will ask you for it! Many of the kids did not know what to answer when asked, "What is your address?" We were told that when asked for your 'address,' you need to tell your house number, street name, and town. We will be sure to work on that! Around this time, the room began to get 'smoky.' We had to stay low and go! Oh not, the door of our first exit was hot. We can't get out that way! Everyone crawled across the floor to a window. There was a firefighter (in full turn-out gear) who helped us climb out the window to safety. Hooray! After the learning portion of the program, we were able to touch some of the equipment and go through the fire truck. It was a fantastic presentation and we are very appreciative of the NBFD volunteers who shared their time with us!
After all that we were happy to have a 'regular' day today!
You should know....
The thermometer determines our clothing needs for outside. At 60 degrees, the children are able to make their own choices about wearing a sweater/sweatshirt/jacket. Under 60, it it not a choice! Outside clothes should be taken off when in the classroom. If a sweatshirt is what your child puts on to go to recess, then it should come off upon entering the classroom after recess.
Lately, we have had MANY clothing items left behind at the end of the day. The items are not labeled and are difficult to return to their owners. PLEASE LABEL EVERYTHING! Thank you.
To go along with that.... With the extra amount of clothing coming to school we have been having a hard time putting it away properly. Sweaters and sweatshirts are being tossed on shelves or left on the floor. Beginning November 1st there will be a rule change. Anything not put away correctly will be gathered up (with fair warning) and placed in a bin. It will cost five cents to retrieve the item. We already have this rule for the odd trinket or toy that becomes a distraction. Now we have upped the ante. We will be practicing all this week and next to get ready...
REMINDER: Our walking field trip is this coming Monday. Children will need to dress warm as we will be outside most of the morning. Good walking shoes are a must! Each child will need to bring his/her own snack and snack drink to school that day. We will not be purchasing snacks and snack milks from the cafeteria.
There certainly is a lot going on!
Cardboard Challenge - This Wednesday during library we will be participating in the Global Cardboard Challenge. We will be stretching our imaginations by crafting, creating, and building with cardboard, just like Caine did! Want to know more? Search 'Caine's Arcade.' We have been asked to bring any donations of cardboard and masking tape that we can. Thanks!
Cafeteria Challenge - Since school began we have been learning and practicing lunch room expectations. For the next two weeks the children are being challenged to show their best safe, respectful, and responsible behaviors at lunch. Each table 'team' that shows best 'Bobcat' behavior will earn a tally. At the end of two weeks, tables with the most tallies will earn a 'Golden Tray Award.'
Michaelmas Fair - This Friday the third grade will be having their annual Michaelmas Fair to raise money for their field trips and other special events. There will be crafts, baked goods, and raffles. Prices range from 25 cents to $3.00. Our class will be going in the morning. Your child is welcome to bring money to purchase items. Your child will need a coin purse/wallet/baggie to keep his/her money safe. Please make sure it is labeled!
Fire Safety - Permission slips were sent home last week. Members of the New Boston Fire Department will give us a mini-lesson about fire safety. We will also discuss planning escape routes, checking doors, and kitchen safety. The children usually have a chance to practice a window escape and get a tour of the fire equipment. As soon as I know which day we are scheduled for, I'll let you know.
Walking Field Trip - Permission slips were sent home last week for our field trip to the Whipple Free Library and the Historical Society. We are in need of chaperones! If you are able to join us, please be in touch!
Guest Speaker - On Monday, October 29, we will be visited by Ms. Fisher who will talk with us about the importance of hand washing. She will lead us in a demonstration about how easily germs spread between us.
Halloween - We have plans for a very fun day! A 'Sign Up Genius' was sent out requesting donations of items needed for our activities, a special snack, and volunteers. All children are invited to bring a school appropriate costume to school that day. After lunch, we will don our costumes and parade down to the town common and back to school! It is usually quite chilly so please consider a warm base-layer of clothes for your child to put his/her costume over. No one wants to wear a coat over a costume! Your child will also needs to wear good walking shoes that day.
But wait, there's more..
In the classroom we have started a new handwriting program called 'Size Matters.' We will focus on the three sizes of letters (tall, short, and underground), their placement on the writing lines, and the proper formation of each letter. Right now we have learned and practiced the different kinds of lines that can be combined to make letters. Our next few lessons will teach us about the three sizes of letters.
We have finished our first unit of 'Wonders,' our language arts program. Each unit is six weeks long. The sixth week is an assessment week. Because the second grade unit assessments are SO different from the ones the kids did in first grade, we are using the unit 1 assessment as a teaching tool. In other words, we are all doing it together in order to learn how to do it! There are three stories with both short answer and multiple choice questions, we will do two. There are also phonics, grammar, and written expression pieces as well. All parts are meant to be done independently....we'll get there, with practice!
In math we are well into a unit on addition facts. We are learning to think about adding as combining numbers, which leads to a larger number. For some of us, that is tricky to remember. We have talked about addition in doubles facts, number stories, and turn-around facts. These are skills we will continue to practice all year long. Automaticity with addition facts is important and a good skill to practice at home with your child.
Our phonics lessons continue to work on long vowels that have a silent e. We are practicing being able to switch between reading short vowel words and long vowel words. It gets us tripped up! Our grammar lessons are teaching us about the subjects of sentences and the action in the sentence (predicate). This was new for everyone and they are doing very well with it. Everyone is now responsible for beginning ALL sentences with capital letters and ending them with appropriate punctuation.