Friday, March 24, 2017

A week in review: 3/21

News and Announcements:

Information about Ready Set Run went home today in folders. I encourage all of you to check it out! I coach a team, and we have so much fun! It is a fabulous way to spend time outside after school and exercise together.

We earned a Whole School Celebration this morning! The warm fuzzy tub was absolutely overflowing when we dropped all we had earned in. There is nothing quite like seeing the entire school cheering for their positive behavior! We got to watch an animated short as our celebration!

You also should have received information about Field Trip to the Audubon that is coming up soon! If you have any questions please let me know!

This week has been all about sound power! We are circling back to alphabet books to really zoom in on letters and sounds and to reinforce the connection of sound and symbol. We used alphabet books to play several games this week.
We started to week playing a game called, "Why This?" Partners looked at an ABC book and had to discuss why each picture was on the page. I heard students connecting the letter sound relationship. I even noticed some students realize their ABC books had a topic. For example, one student had a dinosaur ABC book and he exclaimed, "It is a brontosaurus because it starts with a b and my book has all dinosaurs in it!" when his partner asked him, "Why this?"
Another game we leaned was "Same and Different" This game had partners compare each page of their book and discuss if their pictures were the same or different. Students were so excited to find books that each had "elephant" for E or "zebra" for z.
"Add More Words" is a game we play in word work and in partner reading. In partner reading, students generate a list of words that could also work for each letter of the alphabet. In word work, students used letter stamps to stamp a letter and then draw and write words that start with the same letter.
Next week we will be moving into initial consonent blends and digraphs! This is learning I know our students are ready for. We will be noticing when words start with two consonats that make one, new sound.

This week each student wrote a book about the animal they were researching. Students really demonstrated a strong understanding that animals have needs they need to meet in order to survive. Kids made connections this week that led them to the understanding that the challenges of winter, such as little food and cold temperatures, causes animals to change their behavior. We really worked this week to define migrate, hibernate, and adapt through our research. Here are links to some of the videos we watched: (I think we watched the Fox video 5 times over the past few weeks, the class loves this video!)
Frozen Turtles  

One other unexpected conversation our class had today was realizing the cycles that exist in nature. We talked about how the season repeat, just like the life cycles we studied in the fall.

Wow! These math students continue to blow us away! This week was kicked off with a lesson about subtraction. Subtraction tends to be trickier for students, so we really focused on explicit instruction this week about subtraction as taking from.
On Monday, we were learning that in subtraction equations the smaller number always comes first. We used felt  watermelons and a 20 sided dice to model subtraction stories and write the equations that go along with the scenarios. The class quickly grasped the concept I was trying to teach and we talked about different strategies to solve subtraction stories quickly. One highlight was when you would roll two of the same number on each dice. We talked about how you could take each piece off one by one, or you could swipe the whole lot off. Modeling these concepts concretely gives students something to draw from when they solve these problems mentally. I really enjoy repeated modeling of equations so students understand why rather than just having memorized or known facts.
We learned a new game this week called Frog Hop. This game taught students how to use a number line to solve addition and subtraction stories. Students would roll a dice labeled with + and - along with a 10 sided dice. Then, they would moved their frog accordingly on the number line. Our class extended the activity by recording the equations that went along with their moves.

That is all for this week!



Friday, March 17, 2017

A week in Review March 13

News and Announcements:

Another three day week for us over here at PPS! The skier in me was very, very happy with our snow days...but the teacher in me is starting to wonder how short our summer will be! I haven't got an official word on the last student date but I will let you know when I do!

I loved reading all the links for our Chain of Kindness that came in this week! I was happy to see many of our students spent time helping shovel out :)

If you are planning to fill out the transition to first grade form that was handed out at conferences please do so by March 24th.


We celebrated the idea of being problem solvers, in our lives and in our reading. The focus this week was to check our reading and fix mistakes. I modeled reading accurately and inaccurate to communicate that you should always be checking your reading. I asked myself two questions" Does it make sense?" and "Does it sound right?" I also taught a gesture to go along with each question to reinforce these monitoring cues. Movement anchors students' memories of these cues but also supports their understanding of what to check for. I tap my temple and ask, "Does it make sense?" and I tap my ear and ask "Does it sound right?"
This week we really emphasized that reading should be meaningful! It was great to see students stop and look at a picture or look at a letter when something did not make sense. I am used to students looking to my face to see if I will praise them and say, "You read it!" or see if my nose is crinkled up indicating they made an error. This work is all about students gaining self correction skills. I was so proud to watch students look to their pages rather than me to make meaning of what they were reading.
Mrs. Belaski's class also stopped by this morning and we got to play "Guess What's Next." A favorite moment from their visit was when two girls, one from each classroom, excitedly told us they played "Guess What's Next" when they ride the bus home together! Not only are we building our reading lives, we also are building connections around our school!

Writing and Science:

Believe it or not, we only had writing on Thursday and Friday this week! Monday is our double special day, which eliminates the writing block. We used our precious time to formulate research questions about our animals. We started with a class discussion about the animals we chose to research. Students are researching hummingbirds, whales, frogs, turtles, foxes and hares.Then, kids naturally volunteered things they were curious about. Here is a list of some questions the students independently generated:

1. How do bunnies eat?
2. Do hummingbirds go to the south or the west (when they migrate)?
3.How do bunnies get ready for winter?
4. How do bunnies adapt to winter?
5. How do turtles get ready for winter?
6. Why do bunnies turn white?
7. What do whales eat?
8. How do whales get ready for winter?
9. Where do turtles go in the winter?
10. How do foxes hear mice under the snow?
11. How do hummingbirds survive winter?

Each student wrote a booklet containing pictures and sentences explaining what they wanted to research.

I am eager to start next week and begin our research and writing!!

We spent time with measurement and shapes this week. On Thursday, Mrs. Gamache and I posed an open response question. We told a story about when we went to the fair and there was a sign that said "You must be this tall to ride!" We then asked students to figure out if they were tall enough to go on the ride. First, students used sticky notes to measure the height of the sign we had drawn. Then, students used string to measure their height and compare the string length to the sign. We were really reinforcing accuracy. Students are still getting tricked by lining objects up end to end when they measure.
We also introduced 3-dimensional shapes today. We were talking about the difference between 2-D and 3-D objects. We spent a lot of time talking about how a 3-D movie has things that come out at you from the screen and 2-D movies are flat. We then listed the 2-D shapes we know and found 3-D shapes that were made up of 2-D shapes. For example, kindergarteners will want to call a cube a square. I then ask, "is the shape you are holding 1 square or many squares?" When they say, "many squares" I reply, "then it has a different name- a cube!" We modeled 3-D shapes with playdough and talked about how we could hold these shapes and that they were not flat on a paper like 2-D shapes.

Friday, March 10, 2017

A week in review 3/8

News and Announcements

Thank you all for coming to conferences! It was such a pleasure sharing all the amazing progress your students have made in the past trimester. I appreciate your continued support in their learning. Your interest and the work you do with your kiddos at home is apparent in their strong academic gains!

Our Chain of Kindness Project kicked off this week! We are celebrating acts of kindness large and small that happen in our classroom, around the school, and at home. It is always great to be reminded that kindness is contagious! When we see each other being thoughtful and considerate, it catches on. Look in your folders tonight for your own kindness links! If you notice each other acting kind at home, write about it and send it back to school! We will add it to the chain we are growing down the hallway!


We reviewed pattern power this week. I want to give students lots of practice recognizing and making patterns. As we move forward this trimester, we have to continue to reinforce skills learned earlier in the year. I will be supporting students in using pictures as a source of meaning, one-to-one word correspondence, and making a return sweep through lines of text.
We learned a new reading game involving predicting based on a pattern. It is a partner game called "Guess What's Next!" One partner is the reader and one is the guesser. After the reader introduces the books, they read the first page but keeps the second page secret. The guesser guesses what the next page might say. It makes readers pay really close attention to see if the guesser was correct. They continue stopping after every page to guess what is next. I saw many readers working with partners to figure out challenging parts of books and to notice when the pattern is changing.
Games like these support students as they move away from predicted pattern books. By being aware of repetition they are more cued in to notice when words and letters are changing. It also builds comprehension in that they can retell the book.

The focus of our research this week was bears. My goal this week was to have students answer three essential questions:
1. What do bears need to survive each season?
2. Why do bears hibernate?
3. How do they get ready to hibernate?

The students used SeeSaw to post their findings. My writing goal for students was to be able to answer the questions and provide support for their explanations. We have been studying books, videos, and our class discussions to answer these questions. We talked about how researchers need to provide evidence and their SeeSaw posts demonstrate where they found the information. Students took photos of pages in books, our brainstorm on the board, and stills from the videos we watched. As they start to write their own research pieces, students will need to include evidence in their written work.
This afternoon, every student will select the three animals they want to research further. We will make very fun hats that have our three animals on them. Check Twitter for pictures later!


The next few weeks we will be working on our unit about measurement, data, and geometry. We started the week with lessons about comparing the length of objects and then comparing our height. We focused on using precise vocabulary when we were recording our comparisons. We used the terms longer, shorter, taller, shorter, height and length. We talked about the difference between height and length. We also spent time practicing accurate measurement. When you compare lengths you need to line up the ends of objects exactly.
We used string to measure our body heights then compare our heights to each other, objects and then the challenge was to build a tower taller than our self. We had a lot of fun!
We also have the great pleasure of having a guest teacher this afternoon in math. T.J. Jemison is a math coach who will be instructing our class this afternoon. As part of our professional development, I get to observe his teaching and then meet with him to improve my math instruction. I am really looking forward to seeing what he does (and also having our students impress him with their fantastic math minds)!

That is all for this week!



Friday, February 24, 2017

A week in Review 2/20

News and Announcements:

We had our 4 Winds Science Program this week. We learned about snowflakes. We learned some interesting information about how the temperature and the moisture influence the formation of a snowflake. We also formed a hypothesis about how much water would remain when snow melted. After we tested our hypothesis we made our own snowflakes out of coffee filters. The class really enjoyed looking under the microscope to see the dirt and dust particles that are in snow.

The jump rope contest wrapped up this week, we finished in third with 1628 jumps!

Whole School Morning meeting was a thrill this morning! Our warm fuzzy bin overflowed. Mr. Shepherd,along with the help of Mr. Allbee on the ukulele, sang us BINGO to reveal our celebration! This afternoon, we will play a few rounds of BINGO. We are proud of our safe, respectful and ready to learn behavior!

Report Cards went home in folders today. I look forward to your questions and comments during our conferences!


We kicked off a new unit in reading this week. The theme of this week was tackling more challenging books. To make this challenge clear to readers, we looked at a few books, contrasting easier books with the harder books they will be reading. We brainstormed a list of qualities that make books more challenging. We decided that more challenging books have more words, new words, more lines, and trickier patterns.
The teaching Ms. Lawrence and I will be doing in the coming weeks will support students as they try to make sense of increasingly complex patterns in books. The work of determining and using patterns is essential for students. This allows students to monitor for meaning and structure in their books. They will be able to self-correct when something does not sound right or make sense.
We talked about how the author often changes the pattern in a book and gives us a surprise ending. When you get to the end of a book you can think about what the whole book is really saying. We read a book called Super Mouse and the pattern is that Super Mouse keeps jumping off many things and at the end he crashes. Thinking about this pattern, readers are able to realize Super Mouse is trying to fly and he cannot. Understanding a pattern increases comprehension of books.

Writing and Science:

We also kicked off our blended science and writing unit this week. The focus in writing for Trimester 3(can you believe it is the third trimester??) is informational writing. We instruct students how to research from many sources and then write about what they learned.
We are researching what animals do in winter. We read books, watched videos and discussed what we have observed in our world to determine why animals need to change their behavior to survive winter. This week, we built foundational vocabulary and understanding of three animal behaviors. We researched animals that hibernate, migrate and adapt. We also determined that animals have three basic needs to survive- the need for food and water, shelter and warmth, and to take care of their babies. In the winter, the ability to meet these three needs is challenging, therefore, animals have to make decisions about what to do to survive. Some animals choose to hibernate, some migrate to warmer weather, and some adapt to the conditions and stay active throughout the winter. We also discussed the difference between true hibernators, such as bears, and active hibernators, such as chipmunks. We made a craft of the animals we researched and wrote one fact we learned.
When we return from break, I will no longer be driving the research, and students will be provided with resources to research an animal of their choice. Each student will read, watch videos, and think about an animal that hibernates, an animal that adapts, and an animal that migrates. The will compile their research in a writing piece and then make SeeSaw illustrations about what they learned.


We learned a new game this week called Growing and Disappearing Train. We built on several addition and subtraction concepts with this game. On Monday we learned how to play, then in the following lessons we learned how to record number sentences that went along with the game play.
Growing and Disappearing Train starts with 10 cubes on a "track", which is a number line. Then, with a dice marked + and -  and another dice marked 1,2,3 students rolled to determine if they would add to their train or take cubes away from their train. The first player to get 20 cubes on their track wins.
On Day 2, we recorded the game in our math journals. While we were playing this game in my group, Ms. Lawrence was reinforcing precision and accuracy in number writing and solving mixed problem sets. Accuracy and precision is something we strive for as mathematicians!

I hope you all have some time to spend with your kiddos next week! Enjoy!

All the best,


Friday, February 17, 2017

A week in Review 2/14

News and Announcements:

What a short week it has been! Between the snow day, Valentine's Day and our Field Trip I feel like we have barely been in the classroom at all!

Our Valentine's Day Celebration was lovely. We read a story called Valentine Express by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace. The story is about two bunnies who realize, after their party at school, that some people may not get Valentines. The bunnies make Valentines for their neighbors and pull a wagon down the streets and call themselves "The Valentine Express" We then spent a little time making our own Valentines to share with people outside of our classroom. I hope some made it safely to your houses!

After, we looked through our mailboxes and had some hot cocoa. My favorite part was watching the kids thank each other for the cards and sweet treats! It was a great morning.

The Field Trip to the Flynn Theater was another exciting part of our week. The show was a musical interpretation of Frog and Toad. It was so wonderful to get out of the classroom and soak in the charm of the Flynn Theater. For many, it was their first time watching a live show. I enjoyed watching our students as much as I did the show!

The class Jump Count is at 422 jumps! We have two more P.E. classes to try and get the record! Keep on jumping!


Assessments...assessments...assessments! This was my last week to finish up assessing students on phonological awareness, letter and sound identification, snap words, and the Fountas and Pinell Reading Inventory. I truly enjoy assessing, as I mentioned a bit in my update last week. It gives me great perspective of how much our students are achieving and definitely gets me invigorated for the work of the third trimester!

We had a chance to partner read with Mrs. Belaski's class today. Each partnership was reading a Frog and Toad  book. Mrs. B and I were circulating the room listening to lively retellings of our favorite parts.


Our project this week was to make a finger puppet show of our favorite chapter of Frog and Toad. We made our finger puppets out of green and brown construction paper. We also used graphic organizers to tell the beginning, middle and end of the chapter. Then, we paired up and decided what props we needed to make for the play. Our final step was deciding who would say what parts. We are in the midst of filming our finger puppet plays this morning! Hopefully, we can get them posted to Seesaw this afternoon!


Guilty! Math has been overtaken this week by our projects pertaining to Frog and Toad.
On Tuesday, we got to play some very fun Valentine's Day themed addition and subtraction games. We spun numbers using a heart shaped spinner, then represented the two numbers we spun in either an addition or subtraction sentence. Then, we wrote these number stories down on our worksheet.
We also played a graphing game. Students made a dice with different colored hearts on each face. Then, they rolled the dice 10 times to see which heart they rolled the most. We made a graph of our results. It was interesting to see how the results changed with each trial!

That is all for this week!


Friday, February 10, 2017

A week in review

News and Announcements:
Good morning and happy Friday!

The 100th Day was a successful and celebratory day! I am in disbelief that we have come this far into the school year! The pace of our learning is really accelerating, you should be very proud of your students!

Jump Rope for Heart kicked off in P.E. this week. To raise awareness about heart health, Mr. Pecor hosts a school-wide jump rope competition. For the next three P.E. classes each child has a chance to jump. Mr. Pecor and Ms. Lawrence turn the rope as classmates cheer each other on and keep count. There is a winning class at each grade level with the grand prize being a Popsicle party! It really is a ton of fun! The key to victory is remembering your sneakers on Tuesdays and Thursdays!


Assessments going well. Each child has made tremendous progress! We are assessing letter/sound identification, snap words, phonological awareness and an Fountas and Pinell reading assessment. Fountas and Pinell is a benchmark assessment we use district-wide in Colchester. It allows me to determine a child's independent reading level. This trimester, the assessment is not reported out on the report card because, developmentally, it is a bit too early for our children to perform independently. Kindergarten teachers are given the option to give the assessment. I value this assessment more-so because it informs my instruction. I really watch closely to see reading behaviors and make decisions about next steps. I really look forward to sharing the results with each of you at conferences. There is really great stuff happening!

New Snap word lists will go home next week based upon the assessments we are wrapping up this week. This is the first year that kindergartners are assessed on 40 words. In the past we only required recognition of 20 words. I am impressed with how students are attacking this list. I know a lot of that has to do with your practice at home. Thank you!

Mrs. B's class is on their way down this morning to partner read with us. Our focus this week is honing our ability to retell a story. We are really excited to continue this routine every Friday. It is a great way to meet new readers and bond over a love of books!


If you have gathered, the theme of this week has been assessments! We administered the on-demand writing prompt Tuesday-Thursday this week in writing class.
Our focus this trimester was opinion writing. As students move through grade levels their opinion writing will morph into persuasive writing. We read a short passage called "The Best Pet" and then re-read to find information in the writer's argument that supported our own opinion. The prompt students were answering was "Which pet is best- a cat or a dog? What is your opinion?" I was looking for students to name their opinion, give reasons for that opinion, and finally to write an ending.
Each trimester we give a writing assessment in order to see a student's ability to communicate effectively and to see what students have internalized about my writing instruction. I really enjoy reading student work to rework my instruction based on their performance. Additionally, it helps us as teacher collaborate across classrooms. After the assessment window closes, the kindergarten team always meets to have a conversation about our instruction and reflect on what worked well and advise each other on how to improve student performance.
Again, I look forward to the opportunity to showcase these pieces to you at conferences. I am very confident you will be pleased and proud with what you read!
Next trimester we will move into a new genre of writing- informational writing. Students will research and write about their research. It is incredible what these kids are capable of!


The number 100 was the star of our week! We had lots of fun with our 100th day projects! I hope all of their hats and necklaces made it home safely!
"Precision" was the theme Ms. Millham noticed in our 100th day work, and I couldn't agree more. To keep ourselves organized as we were stringing 100 beads or making 10 ways to add to 10 on the 10 frame, we had to be conscious of our strategies.
To make our necklaces we decided to string our beads in groups of 10 and put a star spacer. Then, we also decided to make a visual reminder of 10 being made up of two fives, by using two different color beads. This way each child could monitor how many beads they have already put on their necklace and how many they had to go. The focus on this project was unbelievable! Over two days, each child was busy at work counting and checking themselves to ensure their necklaces were complete. After my initial instruction I was really able to sit back and watch the students create on their own.
Ms. Lawrence was working with students to write a 100 day book. Those books will be in their folders tonight. You will notice the precision in their drawings. They really used their math brains to break down the number 100 into pieces they could count, then step back and admire the whole group. This flexible thinking is something we encourage in kindergarten as it leads to multiplication and division.

Social Studies:
With Valentine's Day coming up next week the theme of friendship has been the topic of our class discussions. I always enjoy the way the 100th day and Valentine's day coincide on our school calendar. I have been impressed with the reflective observations I have heard in our conversations. Students are saying things like, "When I first got here I was scared, and now I can do...."
We have also started each morning this week setting a goal for our day. Students have been setting daily goals like "Help a friend" or "Spread kind wishes" or "Focus in word work". Students have been sharing these goals at our morning meeting. The feeling of being part of a community and your own place in that community is something I recognize in this class.
The idea of being together is also a prevalent theme in the Frog and Toad books we have been reading in preparation for our field trip next week. This morning, students posted to Seesaw about one way they are a friend like Frog and Toad. Check out their Seesaw!

That's all for this week!



Friday, February 3, 2017

A week in Review

News and Announcements:

Can you believe it? Our 100th Day of school is next Wednesday, that is if there are no snow days between now and then! Next week our focus in math will be celebrating the number 100! The class has really been a buzz every morning when we count the days of school. We are so close! 

Valentine's Day notes went home in folders yesterday. Check there for information about how our class will be celebrating. Of course, contact me if you have any questions. 

Another "can you believe it"- report card season and conference sign-ups  are happening this month. Next week, I will begin assessments in literacy and math to gather final information for report cards. Conference sign-ups will be done like they were last trimester through the Porters Point Website. The sign-up portal opens on February 13th. 


This week we worked hard to bolster our ability to read with a partner. For young readers, they not only need to work on building their ability to sound out words, but also build meaning in texts. The "down and dirty" phonics work, so to speak, is done more individually in guided reading groups. As a class, we balance out our foundational skills with oral language skills. This week, we learned that readers not only read books, but they talk about them too! Super Readers were introduced to "Book Talk Power" this week. 
Book Talk Power is centered around three steps. When you read with a partner, you need to introduce your book, read, and then retell the book. We spent time this week rehearsing and understanding each of those steps.
To introduce a book you must say the title of your book and explain what the book is mostly about. It was great to listen in to partnerships this week as they introduced books to partners. It gave me an understanding of how much students remember as they read. We talked about how a good introduction does not give away the ending of a book, but still gets someone interested in listening to your story. I heard a lot of students finish their introductions by saying something like, "and then something really funny happens at the end!" to hook their listener. 
The second step of "read" is done in a specific way here in Room 14. When you read with a partner you do something called "Echo, Echo, Read Read." This means that after you read a page, your partner echos you. This supports partner engagement and active listening. A lot of partners this week were able to remind their partners to use reading strategies or catch each other if they were skipping words, reading incorrectly, or forgetting to read with fluency. 
The final step, retell the book, was also a skill we learned this week. In guided group, we practice retelling often. However, it is different to do it without a teacher! We practiced telling what happened on every page and then summarizing the ending.
This morning, we had the opportunity to partner read with another kindergarten class! Mrs. Belaski's students came down to our room and we were each partnered with a student from her class. Each of our classrooms learned Book Talk power this week and it was great to watch the two rooms come together and exchange ideas and their learning. Mrs. B and I were smiling ear to ear watching our classes not only be excited about reading, but make new friends! 


This week we continued our work with opinion writing. We learned how to read informational text and find evidence that supports our opinions. We read a short passage about the seasons. Then, we read through and highlighted information we learned about each season. After each student decided which season was their favorite, they then wrote their own piece explaining their reasoning. 
Some students made interesting connection with reading and writing this week! I was pleased to see writers making decisions about punctuation. Kids were adding exclamation marks, question marks, and periods! 
Writers also carried over much of their learning about making detailed illustrations. Students included labels and speech bubbles to really convince readers that their season was the best! 


Our focus in math this week was to practice reading and solving number stories. I want students to understand what the equations mean when presented with a written number story. We used manipulatives such as eggs in a nest and airplanes at the airport to act out equations. The standard we are working on is "understand addition as putting together and adding to, and understand subtraction as taking apart and taking from" (Common Core). We practiced using problem sets that had mixed equations, addition and subtraction on the same sheet. This demonstrated if a student could accurately solve by discerning between the symbol in the middle. We talked a lot about "not getting tricked" by the symbol. As the week progressed there was a gradual release from using maipulatives to using mental strategies. 
One thing most students need more practice on is equations that involve 0. In a subtraction problem like 4-4 many students would say "8". The other tricky problem were when 0 was the addend or the minuend. (0+9 or 8-0 for example)


We are continuing our study of the seasons with an emphasis on winter! We read books this week about Groundhog's Day to begin our conversation around animal behaviors in the winter. On Thursday morning we watched a news clip of Punxsutawney Phil. He saw his shadow! That means six more weeks of winter! 
Today, we experimented with ice. I froze water inside balloons and had cups of hot water, salt, and baking soda. We made predictions about what we thought would melt the ice the fastest. We also used food coloring to see some details in the ice. We were listening closely to hear the ice crack when we poured hot water on it. Check out your child's Seesaw for their observations! 

That's all for this week!