A Look Back on our School Year!

As we get closer to the end of the year, I have been reflecting on all that we have done this year. Here is a review of some of the great learning experiences  and special visitors your children had.

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We saw a great performance by Johnny the K. He was a musician sponsored by the PTO and despite being silly and wearing lots of crazy hats, he had a important life lessons to share with the students.

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Claire’s grandmother, who is a librarian from Vermont, was a special visitor who came and read to the class one day.

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Our study of traditions and cultures culminated in our special international tasting party on the half day before Thanksgiving. We enjoyed all the delicious foods that the families shared with us that day.

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In December at the holidays, some parents came to assist the students in making their ice castles.

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Mr. Berube, a Dracut native and former SeaBee, came to school to share his experiences living and working at McMurdo Station in Antarctica.

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On Groundhog Day, we went outside and did some science experiments with light and shadows.

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We had special guest readers on Read Across America Day in March. They were basketball players from the University of Massachusetts in Lowell.

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Representative Colleen Garry came to school to read to the class and talk about government and her job at the State House in Boston.

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We had a crazy week when the leprechauns came to visit our classroom near St. Patrick’s Day. This is just one example of some of the shenanigans those tricky leprechauns did while they were in C8!

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We had a special presentation about rockets and space exploration!

Lots of January News to Share!

We were so busy in January in C8! It started with a cookie decorating party we won from the PTO for bringing in the most boxtops!! (Thank you to the PTO!) The children got right to work after becoming experts with the ice castle decorating in December. Here are some photos of the yummy cookie decorating. IMG_3144

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Mischievous Mary Munching!

 

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Britney catches me taking her photo as she takes a bite!

 

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My guess is that Mia is enjoying her cookie!

 

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Nick just about to dig in to his candy covered cookie!

 

We are so fortunate to have volunteers working hard in our classroom this year. Here is a shot of just one of our hard working volunteers, Mrs. Sirois, testing students on sight words!

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Smiling Mrs. Sirois hands Chloe her list!

 

We celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and our diversity with a special poem and craft.

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Our class was very lucky to have a special smart projector and whiteboard installed in our classroom. We are still learning how to fully use it but it is an exciting technology addition to our instruction!

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It took a few days but our Smart projector and whiteboard are finally ready!

The smart projector arrived in time for us to be able to watch a live webcast from Antarctica. Through Time for Kids we were able to listen to a female penguin researcher talk about her work in Antarctica. We also found out that it was colder that day in Dracut than it was in Antarctica. (But of course it is summer down there now!) Here is a photo of the students watching the webcast.

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Pretty exciting to be able to see and listen to someone on the other side of Earth near the South Pole!

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The editors from TFK introduce the webcast and then we got to see and hear directly from the scientist herself!

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.

 

 

 

Two Special Visitors to Brookside!

This week has been an exciting week to be a second grader at Brookside! On Tuesday, October 7th, we had an in-school presentation by the Fossil Lady. She does an amazing presentation and she had the entire second grade spellbound!

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We’re wearing our pith helmets and we’re all ready to be junior paleontologists.

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She brought a giant book that taught the children about paleontology, dinosaurs, and fossils.

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She also brought “Oreo” a prehistoric mammal

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She chose Mary to hold a “dinosaur egg”.

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Then Mary got to put the egg in the nest in the book. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I don’t which the children enjoyed more….Oreo or…….

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touching the coprolite….and finding out that it was dinosaur POOP!

Then the children got to go explore and examine three tables worth of fossils that the fossil lady brought with her.

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We loved our visit with the Fossil Lady!

Then on Thursday, October 9th, the entire school was very lucky to participate in a whole school assembly with Danielle Niles. Danielle Niles is the morning meteorologist for Channel 4 in Boston. She showed the students a video, taught them all kinds of things about meteorology and her job on television, and answered their questions. In the end, she videotaped the entire school sending out a message that will be broadcast on Friday morning.

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Danielle Niles explaining the water cycle and precipitation.

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She demonstrated how to make a tornado in a bottle and taught them about weather safety.

Thank you to the Brookside PTO for helping to make both of these enriching presentations possible!

 

 

The Leprechauns Came! (and a couple of other “news items!”)

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Our rainbow was hanging from the ceiling. Chairs were all wrong.

Those tricky leprechauns came and played a lot of tricks on us this past week but they saved their best tricks for last! This is what the room looked like when we arrived after the weekend!

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They left us a message on the white board.

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I think they scared our stuffed dinosaur who was hanging or hiding from our flag.

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They left a message for Maggie inside her trap too!

The students thought we might have captured one or more of the leprechauns because Avery’s catcher was sealed shut. The children all breathlessly peaked inside to see what they had caught.

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Cautiously checking inside Avery’s catcher!

There were NO LEPRECHAUNS inside! But these two looked as if THEY were leprechauns!

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C8’s resident leprechauns….Katie and Gabe!

Although the students didn’t catch a leprechaun this time, they did get a special Lucky Charms breakfast treat from Mrs. Riordan. They also got to sample some wonderful homemade Irish soda bread made by Maggie’s grandmother and delivered by Maggie’s mom! It was so yummy again this year. And this year, many more children were brave and tried the Irish bread with raisins.  I couldn’t take a photo because it was gobbled up so fast!

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Lucky teacher, Lucky children, Green tongues!

We did a special writing project today where the children wrote about someone who was worth more than gold to them. It was interesting to read the wide variety of responses which ranged from parents and grandparents, siblings and cousins, to their dog and Tuukka Rask!

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St. Patrick’s Day Writing

We did some St. Patrick’s themed worksheets and read stories from Ireland by my favorite Irish writer, Eve Bunting. Then we practiced our reading comprehension by reading an article about St. Patrick and looking for key information in the article to answer the questions. At the end of the day, we were surprise to find that the leprechauns left a gift for us in the office.  A pot of gold….candy! Those tricky leprechauns also hid all the items they had stolen from our traps underneath the candy.

All in all, it was a pretty magical day in C-8!

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Yummy Gold!

If you would like to see all of the students’ awesome leprechaun catchers, you can see them on the student work page of this blog! Check them out!

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Lowell Sun Reporter John Collins visits second grade.

On another note, I forgot to post a couple photos from last week. We had a visit with the Lowell Sun Local News reporter, John Collins. The children went to Mrs. Porcello’s classroom and got to learn what it like to be a newspaper reporter. The children asked great questions and learned a lot.

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Second graders make a body clock!

One last photo of our students learning kinesthetically how to tell time….or in other words, with their bodies. Some children were the numbers on the clock and two students were the hands of the clock. They also used individual plastic clocks to record the time. They enjoyed this hands-on learning!

Illustrator Ralph Masiello Visits Brookside!

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Mr. Masiello explains how changing the writing on the book covers makes it more interesting.

Our morning started in an exciting way today! The students were invited to attend a special presentation in the cafeteria. Illustrator Ralph Masiello came to our school to teach our students how he grew up from a small boy who thought he couldn’t draw to becoming an illustrator. He talked about how his teachers saw and believed in his talent even before he did. He explained what the job of being an illustrator involves.

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He explains how his oil paintings are scanned into books.

The students learned how the publishers take his drawings and paintings and scans them into books that he or other authors have written.  They learned that it can take a long time to make all the illustrations for one book and that he sometimes is working on 2 or 3 books at once.

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Mr. Masiello showed the students skulls he used to help him illustrate The Skull Alphabet book.

He explained how he does his research for the illustrations. Sometimes he uses photographs and other times he uses actual objects such as the skulls of monkeys or panda bears.

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The second graders were so engaged by his presentation.

The students were very well behaved and interested in the presentation. Mr. Masiello was so entertaining that he had the students (and teachers) laughing as we learned! Then he demonstrated how he makes sketches for his books and showed the children how they can do it too.

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He explained how he could do this Egyptian drawing.

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The Sphinx needs a pyramid in the background.

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The signed completed drawing we have hanging in our classroom.

He generously made one drawing for each classroom at Brookside.

He was also very attentive to our classmate Kendra.

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Another drawing demonstration! This time he showed them how to draw a dragon.

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The completed dragon drawing!

I was VERY EXCITED that he autographed my book.

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He autographed Mrs. Riordan’s copy of The Icky Bug Alphabet Book!

When the presentation was over, the second grade teachers had the idea of having our students practice being authors and illustrators themselves by working together to make a special alphabet thank you book for Mr. Masiello. Mrs. Saucier, Mrs. Porcello, Mrs. Robson, and Mrs. Riordan divided the students into groups of 2, 3 or 4. Each group was assigned a letter of the alphabet. They worked together to plan their thank you sentence based on that letter and sketched their illustration to go with it. Then they collaborated to make their final copy on larger construction paper.

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Gabe and some other second graders work on the G page of the Alphabet Thank You book.

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Oorjaa and some new friends plan their page.

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I agree with these students. Mr. Masiello was hilarious!

The finished alphabet thank you book was presented to Mr. Masiello who was so pleased with it that he asked permission to mention it on HIS website.  His website is : ralphmasiello.com and you can learn more about him on his website.  Thank you Mr. Masiello for visiting today!

It’s Antarctica Calling! – A VideoChat with Neil Foley

Tuesday was a very exciting day to be a second grader in the Dracut Public Schools!  We were able to participate in a live video chat with Neil Foley, a graduate student and scientist in Antarctica. Ryan R. is one our second grade students in C-8 and Neil is his cousin. When Ryan’s mom, Andrea, heard that Mr. Berube had visited our classroom to teach the students about his time in Antarctica in the 60s, she suggested the video chat.

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Everyone waiting for the video chat to begin!

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Second graders ready to talk with a live Antarctic scientist!

After a lot of planning, the event finally happened Tuesday and included all of the second grade students at Brookside, Campbell, and Greenmont. The children had the opportunity to interact with Neil by asking questions.

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Ryan R. greets his cousin Neil!

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Neil was pleased to see a familiar face!

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Then Ryan got down to business and asked Neil a question about frostbite!

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More students got to ask Neil questions too.

Neil not only chatted with the Dracut second graders in real time, he provided the children with a wonderful powerpoint he created with photos he has taken in Antarctica.

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While Neil talked to the students on the screen on the right, we displayed his powerpoint on the screen on the left.

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The children learned so much by listening to Neil explain the photos he included in his powerpoint.

The children saw the beauty of the land of Antarctica and its wildlife. Neil also showed photos that explained his scientific work there and how the scientists like Neil lived both at McMurdo station and in the “deep field.”

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Mrs. Riordan introduces Mr. Berube to Neil. Mr. Berube was a naval Seabee in the 60s who helped to build McMurdo Station where Neil is living.

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Two Antarctic explorers enjoy the opportunity to chat for a minute or two.

This unique learning experience was very exciting for everyone involved…the students, the teachers, and other interested adults such as Mr. Berube. Thank you to everyone who made this event possible including Mr. Stone, Ms. Smith and the rest of the Dracut Public Schools administration who were so open and supportive of this wonderful opportunity. Special thanks to Mr. Ken Moge who provided invaluable technical support throughout planning stages and coordinated the participation of all three elementary schools on the actual day of the event. Thank you to Mrs. Porcello and the rest of the second grade teaching team for their help and flexibility. Thank you to Andrea R. for the initial idea and connecting us with her cousin, Neil and to Mr. Berube for his yearly visits which inspired this event. We’re glad you were both able to attend. Lastly, thank you to Neil Foley! This event would not have been possible without you! You took the time to share a fantastic learning experience for our second grade children which they won’t soon forget! Hope we get to meet you in person some day!