Lots of Activity in April

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Our Principal Ms. Smith joins Second Marking Period Honor students in C8.

Our principal, Ms. Smith was able to find time in her busy, busy schedule to give our students their honor roll certificates for second marking period. Like me, she was very proud of their hard work! Speaking of awards, Mia S. earned her Xtramath certificate for addition this month. Way to go Mia!

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Mia is an addition superstar!

We had some special visitors in our classroom this month. Two Dracut firefighters came to teach us all about fire safety. We learned about the importance of having a meeting place in case of a fire, when to change batteries in your smoke detectors,  how to safely get out if there is a fire among other things.

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The firefighters taught us to “Stay low and go!” by crawling under a gray blanket that represented smoke. Everyone got to practice this important skill.

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You can see that the students were very engaged in the discussion!

We also had a recycling presentation by “the recycling lady” who works with the company that does the recycling collection in Dracut. She taught the children about the importance of recycling and what can and cannot be recycled. She had a lot of information and was able to answer the students’ questions. The students also made objects out of recycled items in art this month with Ms. Mullins, the art teacher.

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C8 Students learn about recycling!

We have been working on a special author study model curriculum unit in balanced literacy featuring Tomie dePaola. The students have been learning about his life and his work. Here is an example of one of the activities we did so far in this unit. The students were learning about character traits and had to identify character traits for both Strega Nona and Big Anthony, two of Tomie’s more popular characters.

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Here are some of our character trait projects on display in the hallway.

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Here are the rest of the projects. Each student had to make one for each of the two characters, Big Anthony and Strega Nona.

We studied States of Matter in Science and the class really enjoyed the hands-on science activities we explored together.

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Here Dominic and Elizabeth are blowing up a balloon with the gas formed by mixing baking soda (a solid) and vinegar (a liquid).

The students were put into groups and had to observe and discuss the properties of a paper cup filled with frozen water (ice) colored with food coloring. Then they peeled away the paper and placed the ice into a ziplock bag and we taped it over the heater. When they returned from special, they observed that the water had changed from a solid state to a liquid state. They also observed that the liquid takes the shape of the container. They then decided that they wanted to put it in the freezer again to see what would happen so into the teacher’s room freezer they went. Science is more meaningful when we get both our hands and minds involved!

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Learning that adding or taking away heat changes the state of matter!

The students shared their timelines that they created at home as a combination social studies/balanced literacy project. After they shared the timelines, we proudly hung them in the hallway for everyone to enjoy! Thank you for helping your child with this special project. I hope it was a meaningful activity for your child.

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Colorful timelines on display!

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Some more interesting timelines by our students.

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Tommy’s creative timeline hung over our doorway.

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Four more timelines grace our stair railing.

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Last but not least, Brooklynn’s timeline. (We ran out of wall space so her timeline was on the round table in the hallway!)

 

Finally, we celebrated baseball’s “Opening Day at Fenway Park” by wearing our Red Sox attire and standing in front of a photo of Fenway Park!

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C8 says “GO RED SOX!”

We were all ready for our spring break this past week but we have lots more to learn before the month and school year is over!

February Finished With Lots of Learning Fun!

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We are 100 Days Smarter!

We celebrated the 100th Day of School on February 24th! The students did a 100th Day Estimating Jar hands-on math activity. They were asked to estimate the objects in the jar. Then we counted each of the jars. Finally the students figure the difference between their estimates and the actual amounts.

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Brian thinking hard about his estimate!

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Estimating is harder than it looks!

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We counted the unifix cubes and plastic animals by tens and ones.

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The sugar cubes were counted by hundreds, tens, and ones.

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The wooden color cubes were the easiest for most students to estimate.

Learning time was more fun when we used our bodies to make the clock. Kinesthetic learning is just another method to help the students make connections and understand. Twelve students were the numbers and two more were the hands.

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Brooklynn was the minute hand and Nick was the hour hand.

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The students are enjoying writing on the whiteboard with the smart projector pens.

We are getting more proficient at using the Epson smart projector that we are lucky enough to have in our classroom. I am learning along with the children. It has really enhanced our instruction and the students are very engaged in the lessons. We are using the technology in all subject areas from language arts, to math, to science and social studies.

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Here Mrs. Marvin is using the Ziggy document camera to flash our Fundations flashcards for our daily drill.

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The word web the students created in our grammar lesson on verbs.

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The students graphed their favorite Boston sports team in math. The data is more meaningful if it is personal to the children.

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I wish this photo was able to capture how impressive these students were.

Finally we had an assembly for Jump Rope for Heart! Students from Londonderry, NH did an amazing job demonstrating their unbelievable jump roping skills while they also taught the children about healthy food choices and exercise. 

Ice Castles and Many Thanks!

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Tom being very precise building his ice castle.

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Nick really got into his work while Mia looked on.

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Some students got right to work while others needed some thinking and experimenting time.

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Brady enjoying making his ice castle.

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They were working so hard that they didn’t notice I was taking their photo.

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More hard workers!

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Gabriela discusses her ideas with Mrs. Volpe.

The second grade students in C8 really had a good time creating ice castles on the Monday before vacation. Thank you to all the parents who sent in sugar cubes, frosting and candy to make this fun activity so successful. Thanks also go out to Mrs. Joyce, Mrs. Volpe and Mrs. Ware for helping us out by preparing the supplies and wrapping the masterpieces when they were completed.

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Special thanks goes to Alyssa’s brother who gave up his first day of vacation from his school to help our second graders! The second grade boys especially liked having a big fifth grade boy helping them.  I will post photos of the ice castle masterpieces under the student work tab. I tried to get every child’s ice castle but I missed a few because they were absent, dismissed, or managed to slip past me to the wrapping station without getting their photo taken.

Thank you to the generous families who donated food for our holiday party on Tuesday. It was both healthy and yummy! Finally I would like to thank all the students and their families who gave me a gift or a card. It meant so much to me that you thought of me at such a busy time of the year and I truly appreciate all the gifts.

While I am sad that vacation is coming to a close,  I look forward to seeing all the children tomorrow along with a new student that will be joining our class. Happy 2015 to you all and tell the kids that I’ll see them bright and early tomorrow morning! (Don’t forget to bring back your reading bag and your completed reading log!)

Tasting Day and a Virtual Trip to Plimoth Plantation!

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The students didn’t need any coaxing to try new foods!

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Victoria sampling some of the donated treats.

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Nick and Elizabeth try to decide where to start.

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So many delicious choices! How do you decide what to eat? Try a little bit of everything!

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A close up of some Canadian French and Puerto Rican delicacies!

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Our second graders got to experience a wide variety of ethnic foods.

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I think I’ll have some more since it was so yummy!

On the half day before Thanksgiving, we had a “Tasting Day” celebration in the cafeteria as part of our Traditions and Customs Language Arts and Social Studies unit. Our C8 families donated a wonderful selection of food that reflected the heritage of our students. We had food from Canada, Ireland, England, Sweden, Kenya, Puerto Rico, India, and many more countries. The students loved the delicious food and many went back for seconds! A HUGE thank you to all the families that provide the food that made it a rich experience for all our students. I truly appreciate the time and effort involved, especially at a busy holiday time. Thanks also go out to Mrs. Ware and Mrs. Joyce for volunteering to help out at the tasting day. Thanks go out as well to Mrs. Mullins, our art teacher and Mrs. Morning, our Title I teacher who also pitched in to help set up. You all helped make the event special for the children and made my job so much easier! P.S. Special thanks to Mr. Kelleher who made a special trip to deliver the food that accidentally made the trip to his workplace instead. Way to go above and beyond, Dad!! What a special day and a special way to start the Thanksgiving break with our second grade friends!

Before and after our Tasting Day celebration, our children watched a Virtual Field Trip to the Mayflower and Plimoth Plantation on the Scholastic Website. They got to see inside the ship that the Pilgrims used to travel across the Atlantic Ocean and learn about their voyage. Then they saw Plimoth Plantation and saw inside several buildings there. They learned about how the Pilgrims lived on a daily basis. After that, they “visited” a Wampanoag settlement and saw how the Native Americans lived. Finally they listened to an “interview” of  Pilgrims and Native Americans at Plimoth Plantation who described what the first Thanksgiving feast was actually like. I hope watching this amazing resource helped to put the holiday into perspective for them. 

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The children were really engaged in this “virtual field trip!”

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The students are now excited to visit Plimoth Plantation for real. This is often a Brookside third grade field trip so they may get the chance to go next year.

 

 

 

What A Busy Week! A recap and some important info about next week!

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What a busy week it was in C8! We had a visit from the Principal to give out first marking period award certificates, Parent-Teacher conferences, and our Grandparent Visit!  I am very proud of my students and was able to share that pride with their parents, grandparents and Principal this week.

openhs2I want to take this opportunity to thank all the parents who took the time to attend Parent-Teacher Conferences. It was nice to have the chance to talk to you about your child’s (or children’s) progress so far.  If you were unable to attend the conferences, please know that you can set up an appointment any typical school day from 9:15 – 9:45 to come in to discuss any concerns you may have. I can also discuss your concerns with a phone conference at that time as well.  Let’s all keep the lines of communication open so we can work together to support your second graders.

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Congratulations to all our students who got a special academic award certificate from our Principal, Ms. Smith. Your success has made us all proud of you. Keep up the good work!

Front row from left to right: Brooklynn, Kamran, Shiwaum, Emily and Gaige 

Back row from left to right: Britney, Brian, Mia, Ms. Smith, Mary , Hannah and Elizabeth                  

Missing from photo but also earning a certificate: Nicholas

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The students welcomed their grandparents and other special guests for their visit with a song called “Family Tree” by Tom Chapin. It is a song that reminds us that while we may have different cultures and traditions, we are all part of the same human family.  They did a nice job performing the song complete with sign language motions for the chorus.  After that, they made an “I am thankful” craft with their grandparents and invited them to share a snack time with them. Finally, the second graders showed off their classroom to the grandparents and posed for photos with them. I hope the grandparents and special guests enjoyed their visit as much as the students and I did!

Next week, we are having a shortened week due to the Thanksgiving holiday.  Our Fundations packet is due on Tuesday and the unit assessment will be given on that day.

Also, I sent home a blank page a while ago for the students to share a recipe as part of their Traditions and Customs Unit in Balanced Literacy and Social Studies.  I realized that I forgot to put the due date on the directions. Please have the printed recipe to school on Tuesday, November 25th. If you need a new copy, please let me know on Monday!

On the half day of school on Wednesday, November 26th, we are having a “Tasting Day” where families can send in samples of the recipe for the students to share with their classmates. We will be doing Tasting Day in the morning in the cafeteria with the other two second grade classes. The students are only allowed to taste food that comes from their own class due to peanut allergies in another classroom. While no one is mandated to send in food, the more food our class has to taste, the richer the experience for them. I hope as many families as possible will choose to participate.

Let me take this opportunity now wish you and your families a Happy Thanksgiving! ~ Mrs. Riordan

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Lots of Learning to Share ~ Part 2

We have been finishing up our Habitats Science & Language Arts Unit by sharing our Arctic and Antarctica Animal Projects. We are learning a lot by sharing these wonderful projects with our classmates. Some children made posters. Others made dioramas. We even had two crossword puzzles and one written report. All of the children really worked hard and the projects look amazing! We hope to have them all shared and sent home by Friday. Here is a photo of all the projects but I will be posting all the individual projects on our new student work page. Please check them out!IMG_1591

The start of the Winter Olympics coincides with the start of our Geography Unit in social studies/language arts. The students are learning about the 7 continents and the 5 oceans. I showed the children a neat website where they could see a globe turn into a map and back again. You can also tilt the globe to look at it at different angles. The children asked me to give you the link so they can share it with you at home. The link is:

http://www.digital-week.info/education/mapping_our_world/mapping_our_world/05-GlobeUnwrapped/GlobeUnwrapped.htm

Today we had a shared geography hands-on activity with Mrs. Saucier’s class. The children were paired up with a child from the other class and they were assigned a country that is involved in the Winter Olympics. They received a blank country worksheet and a outline of that country’s flag. The children had to work together to use beginner atlases to research important information about that country and record that information. Then they had to color the flag in the authentic colors of that country’s flag. As you can see by the photos, the students were very engaged in this activity and it was a nice change to work with students from another classroom. We will be adding this work to an Olympic display that is being constructed on the hallway wall with the World Map. I’ll post a photo when they are all hung up.

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Sal and his partner get comfortable on the rug.

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Hailey and Jordan discuss what they are learning.

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Garrett and Gavin researching with their atlas.

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All the students worked very hard the entire time!

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Gabe and his new friend writing down the facts.

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Fatima and her partner worked well together.

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Jayden and his partner working very hard too!

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Amelia and Maggie locate their country on a map in the atlas.

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Jacob, Thomas and Kendra work on a team of three.

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Katie and her partner point to details they notice in their atlas.

Finally, we have some exciting news to share. Our classmate Kendra was recently recognized with a special honor. She was one of eight Brookside students who were chosen to participate in our PAWS recognition breakfast. To get this honor, students need to be recognized for going “above and beyond”.  She was nominated because of how well she has adapted and adjusted to her new school experience at Brookside. Kendra received her certificate from our principal, Ms. Smith. She was congratulated by the Superintendent of Schools, Mr. Stone and school committee members, Dr. McNamara and  Mrs. Murphy. We are all very proud of our friend, Kendra!

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Kendra’s mother escorts Kendra to receive her award while our special guests look on!

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Miss Jen and I are so proud of Kendra!

 

Latkes and Applesauce

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I forgot to take a photo but this image looks like what they ate. I cheated a bit and fried crispy crowns to save time but they got the idea.

Today we made “latkes” and ate latkes and applesauce to help us learn about some Hanukkah traditions as part of our Traditions and Customs unit. The children all loved them and our classroom smelled wonderful for the rest of the day! Then the children wrote a paragraph about latkes as part of their writer’s workshop.  Later, the class brainstormed on a venn diagram things they knew (or thought they knew) about Hanukkah and Christmas. At first they thought the two holidays didn’t share much in common. But after we did a read-aloud of “Light the Lights : A Story About Celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas”, they revised their venn diagram and realized that there are many things common to the two holidays.

Our Scholastic book order came in today and I distributed the books to the students who ordered books. A new order form went home with the children today and is due Wednesday, December 11th. Keep in mind that the books from this order will probably not be in before Christmas break. Our parent volunteer today thought it might be helpful to remind everyone that purchasing books through the classroom is not only a great deal for you, it has the added benefit of providing the classroom with bonus points which can be used to get “good stuff” for our classroom. I also want to point out something new this year with Scholastic. Each month they choose one book and if 5 students order that book, the classroom receives a free copy of that book. This month’s chosen book is about Polar Bears.

 

Report Cards, Certificates and Reminders!

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Celebrating two of our Xtramath Superstars!

Today we celebrated two of our second graders who earned their Xtramath certificates for addition for demonstrating mastery of the addition table by answering all basic math addition facts in under 3 seconds per fact.  Tierra accomplished this on October 25th and Danielle completed hers this week on November 12th. They are now working on mastery of subtraction facts. It is important to note that we have another Xtramath superstar, Salvatore who completed both addition and subtraction while still in first grade and is currently working on mastering his multiplication facts!

Our second graders received their first report cards of the year today. Please review the grades with your child and return the signed card as soon as you can. The oral reading grade is graded on a S+, S, S- or U and is based on their Fountas and Pinnell testing and the reading level (1, 2 or 3) indicates if your child’s reading above, on or below grade level. The reading skills grade is based on the written reading assessments/tests. Science and Social Studies is also graded with S or U. I will be happy to discuss any questions or concerns you may have on these or any grades at the Parent-Teacher conferences on Monday, November 18th.

We are currently working on a combined ELA and Social Studies unit on Traditions and Customs. We will be talking about the students’ heritage/family history and the first project is the suitcase assignment which is due tomorrow. The students have to put themselves in the place of immigrants and pack a suitcase or backpack with the objects they would bring if they were immigrating to a new country. I have not assigned math homework tonight to enable the children to have extra time to finish this suitcase assignment. The children will be sharing what they packed tomorrow in class.

A second optional assignment on the Statue of Liberty was sent home today. It involves using the internet and since not all families have access to the Internet, this is not mandatory. The students who choose to do this will get extra credit (and a treat!) Speaking of treats, I sent home “homework passes” today with the eight children who had parents who commented on our class blog/website so far this year. Anyone who comments for the first time is still eligible to receive a homework pass for their child.

Another reminder that the Scholastic Book Club orders are due tomorrow (November 15th) if you plan to order any books by sending paper order forms and paying with cash or checks. If you want to order online, I can keep the online ordering open through Saturday as I probably won’t get around to placing the order until Sunday. Thank you to Hailey, Fatima, Tierra and Katie for their orders!

 

 

Lockdown Drill and New (to us) Computers!

We had our first lockdown drill today and the children did great! The second grade actually got singled out for praise from Ms. Smith!  We also got an upgraded computer setup for our classroom. We have one newer computer that is compatible with the  Xtramath website. We have three workstations off that one computer so that three students will be able to work at the same time. It made for a very exciting day in C-8!

I would like to clear up some confusion about the reading bags books. We are beginning a unit on fossils and dinosaurs. The books in the reading bags help the students in the class build a shared background knowledge. This is important because we may refer to information from the books we all read at home in the reading bags and if the child has not been exposed to that reading, it could impact his or her understanding of the concepts being shared in class. I understand that at times certain books may be more challenging for some students and if that is ever the case, please feel free to read the book to your child. By doing this, you will help your child access important content. Children can often understand information at a higher level than they can read independently. Additionally, if the child is not struggling to read the words, stronger comprehension will be built through listening. I hope this explains why it is important for the children to read the book being shared in the bag.

Our First Seven Days of Second Grade Together!

What a difference starting the year with second graders! They really are more independent than first graders and I am truly enjoying teaching second grade.  We spent the first seven days setting up routines, getting to know one another better, and lots and lots of assessment! I am trying to get to know each child as a learner so I can better meet their needs this year!

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Giving lots of assessments will help me determine what each learner needs! Now to get correcting!

This is not only a new grade level for all of us but a new method of teaching and learning. We are going to be doing even more with balanced literacy and less with our basal textbook. We will differentiate our spelling and phonics work even more than last year. We will be doing more centers this year. We even survived sweltering heat and our first fire drill (while the students were at art in the art room). I’m really excited about this year and I am looking forward to seeing all the parents at our Orientation Night next Tuesday!!