Friday, December 21, 2012

Classroom Update and Happy Winter Break!

Happy Holidays!
We sang carols with the 1st and 3rd graders this week! We had a blast!

Holiday Pals
We had a successful Holiday Pal gift swap! It was so nice to see the students doing extra nice things for their friends and take the extra effort to make something by hand!

Reader's Workshop

Students are working on visualizing a story in their mind during reading to improve their comprehension. I read The Paperboy by Dav Pilkey to the class without showing them the pictures. Instead, I had students close their eyes and make a movie of the story in their mind. I modeled phrases, like I am picturing the little boy getting his jacket and tennis shoes on while his dog is eagerly waiting to start their paper route or I see the empty red bag flapping in the wind as the boy races home after he delivered all the newspapers. I asked them questions like, what do you think the little boy looks like? and what does the dog look like in your mind? After we read, students drew two mental pictures that they formed in their heads from the story.

Writer's Workshop
We are focusing on reindeer in fiction and non-fiction writing. We read the non-fiction book Watching Reindeer in Europe and noted that reindeer live in cold places. In computer lab last week, students researched reindeer facts. We checked out Santa's reindeer LIVE from the North Pole! You can watch them here: Reindeer in the North Pole Live Feed. If you watch at 11AM, 6PM, and 9PM you can see them being fed by an elf!

Students brainstormed their own reindeer story that is modeled after Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. Students had to change the name and nose color of the reindeer in their story and tell how their reindeer helps out at the North Pole.

Math Workshop
This week, students explored with shapes and symmetry. Students completed a Geome-TREE (geometric tree) puzzle out of triangles, squares and rectangles. They had to keep rotating the shapes until they formed a tree.

Student made a Symme-TREE (symmetric tree), making sure that the ornaments on both sides of the tree match.

Everything we have been doing this week is an introduction to geometry and shapes for Unit 5, which we will officially start after break.

We continued the air portion of the Weather, Air, and Wind unit this week. We experimented with air and water. Students learned how air can move water in an experiment using two syringes, two flexible tubes, a short straw, a long straw, a rubber stopper, a vial, and water. They figured out how pushing and pulling on the grey plunger in the syringe can force the air and water to move. Students even got a little wet when the air forced the water out of an open syringe!

 Breaking News: If you haven't heard already, we are getting a NEW STUDENT on the Monday after break! 25 students, wow!

Have a safe and merry winter break! Enjoy the extra time with your family! Can't wait to see those smiling faces and energetic minds after break! :) Miss Eckardt

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Holiday Party

Students enjoyed treats with their table buddies. They made a snowman out of a sock and beans. Then, they had a snowball (cotton ball) relay race! We had a great afternoon! Even Buddy the Elf (aka Mr. Jansen) stopped by!

A special thank you to Mrs. Potts, Mrs. Carlier, Mrs. Hermonat, Mrs. Sidduqui, Mrs. Ahn, and Mrs. Dattathreya for a great party! J

Friday, December 14, 2012

Classroom Update

A Pinch of Grinch!

Scholastic Books!

The Scholastic Book order is IN! If you placed a Scholastic order, your books are in a manila envelope in your childs cubby to go home today (Friday). I was able to order 10 new books for Mrs. Woods classroom library with her bonus points and reward coupons. Typing in her classroom code (JK3MD) during orders helps build Mrs. Woods classroom library so that students have more/new choices when shopping for books!

This week we started Unit 7 of Word Study. Students met the H Brothers: Sheldon, Charlie, Thad, and Whit. Students will sort th, ch, sh, and wh words until the Unit 7 spelling test on Wednesday, December 19th.


Reader's Workshop
Students are working on improving their comprehension by connecting to a story. We have been working on text to text connections, where students listen to or read a story and it reminds them of another story they have read before. I have been modeling phases like, When I read ____ it reminded me of the book____” or when I read that page it made me think of the book____” When students connect one story to another story that they know, it helps them to better understand what is happening in both stories. Students have been using sticky notes during independent reading time with books from their book boxes. They write their text-to-text connections down on the sticky note, if they have one, and stick it inside their book. We share the sticky notes to see what kind of connection students have between stories.

Students retold the stories Ruby the Copycat and Jamaica Tag-Along. Students noticed a connection between Ruby and Jamaica. They noticed that Ruby and Jamaica were a lot alike, because they both like to copy someone else. In both stories the person who is being copied gets annoyed and speaks up to both Ruby and Jamaica.

Writer's Workshop
For Grinch week, we read How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Students brainstormed ideas on how they could cheer up the Grinch. I gave them the writing prompt: To Make the Grinch Grin, I wouldStudents brainstormed what they would do and wrote a rough draft. We revised their writing and students turned it into their best work.

Math Workshop
We spent some more time on ballpark estimates to solve mutli-digit addition problems. Students remembered to round the numbers to the nearest tens before adding, and then they compared the estimate to the real answer to see how close they were. We reviewed Unit 4 on Wednesday and took the test on Thursday. We reviewed how to read story problems. Students circled or underlined the important information first before trying to solve. Student made a Grinch story problem book to practice their story problem reading skills. 

We continued the air portion of the Weather, Air, and Wind unit this week. Students experimented with parachutes to find out how air affects a parachute. They assembled parachutes with a napkin, a paper clip, four pieces of string, and four sticky dots. Students learned that air gets trapped underneath the parachute in order to slowly drop down to the ground.

Students experimented with syringes and flexible tubes. They tested their own ideas on how to make the plunger move inside the barrel. Students decided that air has to move from one barrel to another barrel through the flexible tube when two syringes are connected. They decided that air is everywhere and has to move, it doesn't just disappear. 


Holiday Secret Pals

Tis the season for giving and caring!  Today students picked the name of a classmate who will be their secret pal for the next week and a half.  To be a secret pal all you have to do is show you care by doing three nice things (more if you like!) for that person before next Friday, December 21st.

The three nice things must be “acts of kindness.”  The best gifts come from the heart, not Walmart!  Think of all the examples we talked about in class, inviting them to eat lunch with you or play at recess, taking down their chair, getting their boots or lunchbox, giving them a really great compliment.  You could also draw a picture, make a card or do a simple paper craft as one of your acts of kindness.

On December 21st, you will give your secret pal a card and a small gift that you make yourself.  When you give your person their card and gift they will know their pal was you!  You will make the card and small gift at home.  As we discussed, the homemade gift should be made out of items you already have at home.  Do not buy anything!!!  Ideas we talked about for gifts include ornaments, bookmarks, decorations, jewelry or even anything from craft kits you may already have at home and haven’t used.  I have lots of craft materials and paper here, so ask me if you need anything!  If I have it you can use it!

Now, you want your identity to stay “secret” to your pal, so the smartest thing you can do is to do anonymous nice things for a few different people to make sure no one figures out exactly who their pal is too easily.

Have fun being nice!  Always remember, treat others the way you would like to be treated!
Parents: If your child forgets who their secret pal is, I have a master list just in case!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Classroom Update

Reading Workshop
Students are working on improving their comprehension by connecting to a story. We have been working on text to self connections, where students listen to or read a story and have a personal connection to the story. I have been modeling phases like, When I read that it reminded me of…” or when I read that page it made me think of…” When students have a personal connection to a story, it helps them to better understand what is happening in the story. Students have been using sticky notes during independent reading time with books from their book boxes. They write their text-to-self connections down on the sticky note, if they have one, and stick it inside their book.

Writing Workshop
This week, students have been working on acrostic poems about snow. We brainstormed s words, n words, o words, and w words about snow and winter. Some great examples the students came up with are: sleigh bells, nighttime, open, and wonderland. Students wrote their snow words on snowflakes.

Math Workshop
We are continuing Unit 4 in our Everyday Math Unit. This week, we worked on temperature, shopping at the grocery store, making ballpark estimates and measurement. Students became more familiar with tape measures. They learned how to properly read them, making sure where to start at 0. Students learned to read inches and centimeters on a tape measure, noting that inches are bigger than centimeters. Students used tape measure to measure objects around the classroom.

We worked with ballpark estimates to solve addition problems. Students learned to round the numbers to the nearest tens before adding, and then we compared the estimate to the real answer to see how close we were! The rule for ballpark estimates is: 4 and below = round down to the nearest ten, 5 and above = round up to the nearest ten

We started the air portion of the Weather, Air, and Wind unit this week. Students brainstormed what they already know about air. They asked questions, like how does air move? We will be doing air experiments to help students have a better understanding of what air is and how it moves. Students used a balloon, a straw, a feather, a Styrofoam ball, a paper, and a cotton ball to experiment with how air moves things.

Students used a vial, paper towel, and a Styrofoam ball in water to see if they could figure out how air could keep the paper towel dry inside the vial.
Social Studies
This week we reviewed maps and took the Unit 3 "How to read Maps" test. Students did very well on the test! The next unit of study for social studies is about Geography. Students will read physical maps and learn about different kinds of landforms.

Next week is going to be Grinch Week, so don't get grouchy over the weekend! : )

Friday, November 30, 2012

Classroom Update

Reader's Workshop

Students are working on improving their fluency by noticing punctuation in a story. Students have been working with their Turn & Talk Partners on both listening for a storyteller voice and using a storyteller voice. We have been reading some Frog and Toad stories to help students understand dialogue. Students are learning the differences between the narrator of the story and a character speaking in a story. Students circled "talking marks" and used two colors to underline what each character said. Students are working on making connections to a story. They learned that a Text-to-Self Connection is when something in a story reminds you of something that happened in their own life.

Writier's Workshop
We read a retold story of the Gingerbread Man and discussed ways that we could catch the gingerbread man if he tried to escape! Students made a list of the materials they would need and jumped right into their first copy of their story. Students used a revision checklist and/or a partner to help edit their writing for the final copy. There are so many creative ways that they came up with, here are a few:


Math Workshop
This week, we started with Unit 4 in our Everyday Math Unit. We worked on Part-Part-Total to help students organize an addition problem. Students practiced using Start-Change-End to help notice the change or difference between numbers. Start-Change-End will come in handy when we dig a little deeper in temperature reading. Students worked with thermometers and learned the difference between Fahrenheit and Celsius. Students will be practicing using thermometers and becoming more familiar with how to read them during this unit of math. We did a temperature review with an "I Spy" type activity where students had to walk around the room with a clipboard and record the temperature that all students made.

We jumped into our Weather, Air, and Wind unit this week. Students used the Think, Puzzle, Explore routine with what they know, what they wonder about and how they can find out more about air and weather. Students accessed thier prior knowledge with the I Think I know and Now I know routine with sunshine, wind, rain, and snow. Students started assembling their Air and Weather folders that will help them keep keep the experiments and weather tools organized.

Social Studies
We will be finishing Unit 3 very shortly. We will review maps and map reading on Monday and take the test on Tuesday.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Buffalo Wild Wings BUDDIE Club Fundraiser

Dear Parents,

On Wednesday, December 5, the Wass BUDDIE Club will be hosting a fundraiser to support the victims of Superstorm Sandy at Buffalo Wild Wings from 5-9 p.m. 15% of the sales from this evening will be directly donated to the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross is still on the ground in New York and New Jersey, helping people affected by Superstorm Sandy. The Wass students have a chance to help others PERSEVERE by attending this Restaurant Night. Please consider having dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings on Dec. 5 to help others in need – that’s The Wass Wolves’ Way!

Please bring the attached ticket to make sure the receipt from your order is applied to the school fundraiser.

Wass Elementary BUDDY Club - Buffalo Wild Wings

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Classroom Update and Have a Happy Turkey Day!

Reader's Workshop
Students are working on being fluent readers. We have been focusing on using a storyteller voice while reading. I have been modeling to students how punctuation marks give us clues as to how a story should sound, such as slowing down for a comma, pausing for a period, sounding excited for an exclamation mark, or using a different voice for quotation marks. Good readers use a fluent voice to sound like a storyteller.

Math Workshop
We wrapped up Unit 3 and we will start Unit 4 on Monday, November 26th. Over the long holiday weekend, practice making change and using money with your child.

Social Studies
We have been working with and studying the importance of maps. We read two stories, Me on the Map and Map on My Lap, to help students get a better understanding of maps and how we can use them.

Students were very excited to make their very own Me on the Maps with their planet, continent, country, state, city and house. These are in the process of being displayed in the classroom by the back door.

We will start a new two week unit of spelling words after break. Unit 6 Spelling Words will be passed out on Monday, November 26th and the next spelling test will be on Friday, December 7th.

Enjoy a lovely long weekend with your families! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! : ) Miss Eckardt

Friday, November 16, 2012

Classroom Update

Reader's Workshop
This week, we continued to focus on retelling stories. We worked on improving our story retelling so that it includes enough important details. We practiced using Time Words, like "first," "next,"        "last," and "finally." We read fiction and non-fiction stories, and then practiced retelling the stories to our Turn and Talk Partners using Time Words. You should start to see retelling work in your child's guided reading bag.

Writers Workshop
We continued to work on our persuasive turkey writing pieces. Students had to visualize and imagine what life would be like as a turkey if Thanksgiving was approaching. We discussed and wrote reasons with supporting details why people should eat other food this year instead of turkey. As turkeys, students finished their convincing letter to turkey eaters. All writing pieces had to include an introduction, three reason paragraphs and a closing in order to convince their reader.
Come take a look, they are hanging in the hallway by the Media Center.

Math Workshop
We finished Unit 3 lessons this week and on Friday we reviewed Unit 3 on iPads. I sent home a hard copy review to look over at home over the weekend. Students will be taking the test on Monday (the 19th). Unit 3 focuses on money, clocks and graphs. With money, students have really been focusing on paying more than an item costs and then using coins to make change.

Social Studies
We worked more with maps this week. Students had to follow written and listening directions in order to create a park map and a campground map. We reviewed the importance of directions. Noting that it makes a difference on a map if you are facing North, South, East, or West. We practiced using Direction Words on the maps, like "to the left of" or "below." Students learned how to use a grid on a map. They had to make their very own City Park, noticing the Key and Index to put objects from the park on the grid.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

International Feast!

With our turkey hats on and our bellies rumbling from the smell of tasty food, we feasted! We enjoyed a wonderful meal today thanks to all of the fantastic families that sent in food, drinks and supplies! Also, thank you to the many parents that were kind enough to volunteer their time in order to help make the feast run smoothly! The whole 2nd grade truly enjoyed it! There were SO many delicious treats and this was a special opportunity for students to sample dishes that they might not normally get the chance to eat! Ask them about their favorite dish from today!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Classroom Update

Reader's Workshop
We focused on retelling stories. We read several fiction stories together and then practiced retelling the stories to our Turn and Talk Partners. I taught students what important things to include in a story retelling. In a story retelling, good readers include the main characters, setting, problem, solution, and important events in order.

Writers Workshop
This week students transformed themselves into turkeys. We read Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey and brainstormed other foods we could eat at Thanksgiving besides turkey. I introduced a story planning sheet to them which they filled out with their own ideas. As turkeys, students started their persuasive writing pieces to convince turkey eaters to eat another food this Thanksgiving. They started their introduction paragraphs with exciting leads (like Wait! or What will you eat  to get the readers attention.
Math Workshop
We are wrapping up Unit 3 shortly and will be taking the test next Monday (the 19th). This week, we worked with money, clocks and graphs. Students used different variations of coins to buy things, practiced telling time, and collected then interpreted data.

Students used Math Magician in computer lab this week to practice their fast fact skills. They are getting faster and faster!
Social Studies
This week, students learned the importance of a map. I hid a treasure in the classroom and students were put on a mission to find it. They were unsuccessful in their first attempt without a map. Students decided they needed clues or a map to help them with their search. We all made our own map of the classroom using a ruler to help narrow down the search. Once our map of the room was complete, I placed a red X on the map. Students quickly pointed to the location of the treasure and enjoyed their Play-doh reward. We discussed the importance of a map key.

:) Miss Eckardt

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wood Family's New Addition

Late last night our third little girl finally decided to join us!  Check out our family blog if you'd like to meet Alaina!

Your child is in very good hands with Miss Eckardt!  Enjoy the upcoming holidays with your family.  I'll see you in February!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day!

We voted today!
Each student got their very own Voter I.D. card to vote for their favorites.

Students voted for their favorite special at school, their favorite character and their favorite Word Work Center. As you can see, we had clear winners! They were very excited to be able to participate in the election process.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Classroom Updates

Writer's Workshop
Yesterday we had our first Author's Celebration.  Each student shared his/her published personal narrative.  Then we enjoyed cider and donuts from Yates Cider Mill.  Next week your child's published piece will come home with his/her first draft stapled behind it.  For the first published piece, I met with each student to help with revisions.  I have taught several lessons on revising, but this can be difficult for second graders.  We will continue to work on making revisions throughout the school year.  In the spring, we will invite family members to be a part of our poetry and nonfiction Author Celebrations.

Math Workshop
We started the first lesson of Unit 3 this week.  Please click on the "Math" tab above to read the Unit 3 Family Letter.  We also completed several first quarter math assessments.  Some students have made great progress from the first basic math tests taken the second week of school.  Keep practicing quick recall of basic facts at home!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Weekly Word

Reader's Workshop
This week we focused on the nonfiction genre--Informational.  Students read several bat books with a partner and gathered facts in their own bat booklet.  Students learned how to take notes from the books they read.  They recorded their notes on sticky notes.  Then I taught students how to turn their notes into an informational paragraph.  Students had a choice to write a paragraph about what bats eat, where bats live, what bats look like, or interesting bat facts.  We talked about how to start a paragraph with a topic sentence, include at least three supporting detail sentences, and finish with a closing sentence.  I was very impressed how well students gathered facts from the nonfiction books this week!  Our classroom is full of bat experts!

Writer's Workshop
Students committed to one personal narrative from their Writer's Workshop folder this week.  Then we focused on working hard to make the piece even better.  Students learned how to make revisions to their piece with their partner.  We also focused on trying our best to spell words correctly.  Students learned to use their resources--spelling dictionary, word wall, spelling patterns, and partner.

Math Workshop
We wrapped up Unit 2 this week and took our unit test.  We continued to practice addition and subtraction basic facts.  Students have learned several different strategies to use if they don't yet have their facts memorized--doubles, doubles plus one, +0, +1, +8, +9 shortcuts, and Touch Math.  Keep practicing the facts at home.  We will take another basic fact assessment next week for a report card grade.  I also gave a brief introduction to estimation and nonstandard versus standard units of measurement for a bat activity.  We will revisit these math skills later in the year.

Science & Social Studies
Although we are still waiting on our waxworms to turn into adult moths, we finished up our insect science unit.  Students did an excellent job on the insect test!

Because of the upcoming election, we are jumping ahead in our social studies text.  This week we learned about voting for community leaders.  We learned to vote for leaders who want what we want.  We also learned about what community leaders do, such as make laws, pay for services, and decide what to build within a community.

Batty about Bats!

To start off bat week, Miss Michelle brought a few bats from the Bat Zone at the Cranbrook Institute of Science. Second graders learned some fun facts about bats, such as bats are the only mammals that can fly. Students were challenged to differentiate between bat facts versus myths. One myth is that bats are blind, but they are actually not blind! We learned ways to help bats, like building bat houses in our backyards or planting gardens to attract bugs. Students accessed their prior knowledge about bats from the Think, Puzzle, Explore routine they created on Friday. We sat very quietly and were even able to hear a bat using echolocation (or radar) to figure out where things were located in the room.

For more information visit the Bat Zone

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Addition & Subtraction Facts

Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule last week to meet with me for Parent-Teacher conferences!  I had 100% participation!  I really appreciate the opportunity to chat with you about your child and his/her current progress in school.

As I mentioned to some of you during conferences, we are working on quick recall of our basic math facts in second grade.  There are many different ways to practice addition and subtraction facts.  I taught students how to use Touch Math, which I wrote about in a post previously.  The top 3 apps currently listed under "iPad Apps We Love" are great apps for practicing addition and subtraction facts!

Visible Thinking

Throughout this school year we will be engaged in various Visible Thinking routines in our classroom. These thinking routines will provide opportunities for students to generate deeper thinking and understanding through their learning.  The first routine we tried in Room 8 was Think, Puzzle, Explore.  This routine asks students to access prior knowledge (schema), wonder about the topic, and make plans to explore wonderings.  Below is a picture of our Think, Puzzle, Explore routine we completed together about the topic of bats.  I was really impressed about their thinking and wondering!  They also came up with some good ideas for exploring the topic of bats further.  Students are excited to learn more about bats.  We get started tomorrow with a visit from the Cranbrook Institute of Science.  Thank you for supporting bagel sales and thanks to a donation from our PTO for this wonderful opportunity!!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Science Test Review

Today your child brought home his/her insect file folder, the Insect book from our science kit, and a science review. Just in case he/she loses the review before the test on Wednesday, October 24, I've uploaded the review below. Also, the Insect book needs to be returned by next Wednesday. Happy studying!

Science Insect Review

Friday, October 12, 2012

Weekly Word

Reader's Workshop
We added more reading strategies to our CAFE board.  There are several decoding strategies on our board now.  We talked about how readers have a toolbox full of strategies which they can use while reading when they come to a tricky word.  These strategies will help them read more accurately.
We also talked about a couple of comprehension strategies good readers use.  We learned that readers get their minds ready to read before reading by looking at the cover (title and picture) and by taking a picture walk through the book.  We also learned that readers need to check for understanding.  If a reader is not understanding the text he/she is reading, then the reader should reread the text.
Writer's Workshop
This week students have learned to use a revision checklist.  The checklist consists of various items which writers can try to revise in his/her writing piece.  Some revision decisions include:

  • Reread and ask yourself, "Does it make sense?"
  • Reread, revise or try different leads.
  • Reread, revise or try different endings.
  • Reread and add to the picture plan.
  • Reread and ask yourself, "Did I try my best to spell words correctly?"
  • Reread and ask yourself, "Did I write complete sentences?"
Writers also learned to include the "heart of the story" in their personal narratives.  Writers include the heart of the story to share a strong feeling, important message, or special event.

Math Workshop
This week we focused on subtraction number stories and fact families.  Students learned two different types of subtraction number stories--change number stories and comparison number stories.  Students wrote several fact families and practiced addition and subtraction facts using fact triangles.  Yesterday students were exposed to multiplication through an exploration.  Students rolled a die to determine the number of pumpkins they needed to lay out and again to determine the number of candy corn pieces to lay on each pumpkin.  A student may have ended up with 5 pumpkins laying in front of him/her and 3 candies on each pumpkin (5x3=15).

Science & Social Studies
Two new types of insects arrived in our classroom!  We now have milkweed bugs and waxworms.  The milkweed bugs are sharing a habitat.  They have hatched from their tiny eggs and are crawling around the habitat.  We have given them food (sunflower seeds) and water.  Each table has a cup of waxworms.  Students need to be more careful handling the waxworms than the mealworms.  The waxworms are softer and squishier.  Students also learned the waxworms produce silk.  We are waiting for the waxworms to pupate and then turn into moths.

We wrapped up chapter two in social studies this week and took our first social studies test.  For the first test, I walked your child through answering an essay question.  I would like for students to learn to use part of the question to begin their answer and write a complete sentence.  Your child will bring his/her test home Monday.