Monday, November 30, 2015

Team work

Our Morning Meeting task last week was a team building activity where students were required to communicate in a kind manner, work together and problem solve.  Our goal was to pick up a yard stick and raise it over our heads for 10 seconds using only one finger and everyone must have a finger on the yard stick the entire time.  This task was anything but easy.  Before the task we talked about how to handle frustration with ourselves, others and how to work with people when you do not agree.  Complex ideas for 5, right?  

They rocked this out.  We tried this task for about 5 minutes, reflected, changed groups and tried again.  The students thought maybe being in groups with people of similar height would make this task easier.  We tried just that.  Our findings... that was not the case.  We will be revisiting this task many times to solve the problem and learn more about how to accomplish such a task.  

Comments from the students:
"This is a million times harder than I thought."
"Is it cheating if one person slides their finger underneath and uses their shoe to get the yard stick on their finger?"
"We can pick it up but keeping it up with everyone still touching is way hard."
"I love this but what is the answer to the problem?"
"I'm going to ask my mom, she knows everything."
"I need a different group, they don't listen to me and everyone keeps yelling."
"Why is it moving across the floor and not up in the air?"

Here is a peak into some big problem solving....

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Our thankful pumpkin

Counters in a cup

Here is another game we explored this week practicing composing and decomposing numbers.  It is called counters in a cup.  Partners decide how many counters to use for the game. Partner 1 hides some counters under a cup, partner 2 records how many are outside the cup and then solves how many are still inside the cup.  Partner 2 checks their thinking by lifting the cup and counting the counters under the cup.  Partner 2 then records that on paper to help practice their number formation and then partners switch roles.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Composing and Decomposing numbers

We launched our week thinking about composing and decomposing numbers.  We have explored a new game with chips, flipping a card building a number less than that number and asking our partner to then add chips to get to the number on the card.  If I flip 5, I might place 3 chips on the rug.  My partner then has to figure out how many more chips to place on the rug to get to 5.  We then say the number sentence that matches our work, three and 2 make 5.  How many different ways can we make 5?  We are working on creating flexible thinkers in math that can see numbers in a variety of ways.  Here are a few comments that students made as we played this game:  I know 4 and 1 make 5, just like on a dice, 4 on the outside, 1 in the middle.  2 and 2 make 4 so, I know 2 and 3 make 5 because 3 is 1 more than 2.  There was lots of discussion around these student generated statements.  I am constantly in awe of these fabulous learners and their growing understanding each day!

Music Assembly

Today West Middle School visited our school with their choir, jazz band and orchestra.  Students were introduced to a variety of opportunities available to them when they reach middle school.  The students loved seeing the instruments, learning about the different types and finding out what parts make up a choir.  Ask them to share their favorite part of the assembly.  Here is a video of a favorite from our classroom.  

Friday, November 20, 2015

Our brood of turkeys

Writers read their writing and make tough choices

Writers made some tough choices this week about what writing they want to keep and expand on and which writing they are ready to take home and share with their families.  They loved reading their writing, especially since the past two weeks we have been working towards making our writing easy to read.  If they can't read it, no one else can either.  

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Making predictions and checking our hypothesis

Students made a hypothesis in math about objects that weigh more and objects that weigh less.  We ordered the objects based on our predictions and checked those prediction by using a new tool in the classroom: a bucket balance. Students talked with their rug partners about our hypothesis, were we correct, how do you know?  We are working on communicating using complete sentences.   

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Learning stackable chunks

Chunks Stacker was donated to our classroom (thank you for your generous donation).  Here the students explored putting the sounds together to make words and use their peers to help check it if it is a real word or a Dr. Seuss work.  It was awesome to see those amazing phonics skills at work.  

Our class turkey

Our classroom turkey is shaping up!  Can you spot your family feather?

Smaller, shorter, bigger, taller

Students explored the room with paper clip chains of different lengths.  They practiced making statements and complete thoughts that were true based on their findings.  i.e. This book is shorter than my paper clip chain.  This paper clip chain is longer than this book.  We explored what comparing sizes look like and how to line things up.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


Today we borrowed and explored a fun game called chunks where students use tiles with word parts on them to make real words and Dr. Seuss words.  This game is a fun way to practice those phonics skills and reinforce learning in the classroom in a non threatening way.  

Readers make changes and use their super powers

Readers are making a shift in their reading as they recognize their super powers and begin to use them as the read.  Today, we cleaned out our book boxes, thinking about keeping books where we can read some words, practice pointing one to one under the words, read like a teacher and we even kept a favorite or two.  We are setting the stages to shift into word reading for those students that are ready, keeping in mind ALL 3 ways to read are equally important in reading development.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Taller, shorter, bigger, smaller

Our Mathematicians explored items around the room that are shorter, taller, bigger and smaller than the towers we built.  Today, we pushed our thinking by finding two true statements we could make using opposite words in our statements: The stapler is taller than my tower.  My tower is shorter than the stapler.  Talk to your child about the size of objects around the house, encourage them to make a statement they think is true about the objects and then test out those thoughts by comparing the items.   

Traverse Area District Library visit

Today we visited the Public Library downtown and all of the students on our class listened to a story and were able to check out 2 books.  They loved touring the library and learning about the many options of materials they could borrow when they return with their families.  Enjoy reading those new library books.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Readers have Super Powers

We launched a new reading unit today called Readers have Super Powers.  Readers use all that they have to solve unknown words in reading.  We will be exploring a variety of strategies to use when reading books.  Watch as your child starts to integrate these in their everyday reading.  Prepare to be amazed, they are loving using their super powers!

Morning meeting

Friday, I spend the day learning more about the Responsive Classroom model.  Today we expanded our morning meeting to implement three of the components of this model: morning message, share, and greeting.  Our morning meets will transform over the next few weeks as we learn the last part of morning meeting and practice a group activity (what it looks like, what the expectations are and why we are doing them, stay tuned!).