Monday, October 1, 2012

Weekly Update


Thanks for being patient as I get used to doing a weekly update!  The past two weekends have taken me to Fairfax, Roanoke, Richmond and Virginia Beach for soccer games (phew).  I promise to do better!

Here is what we've been working on in room 303:

Language Arts:  Each day, I have made sure to include 15 minutes (or more) of independent, silent reading time.  During this time I encourage students to pick books that will "stretch" or challenge them.  After reading, we have been working on generating both "thick" (or "fat") and "thin" (or "skinny") questions.

Thick questions take a lot of thought and explaining to answer.
For example:  "Why do you think Omri wants to go home straight after school instead of skateboarding with his friends?"

Thin questions are easy to answer with only a few words.
For example:  "What is the main character's name?"

We have also been continuing our study of different types of words.  Identifying syllables, explaining the meaning of words through art, identifying words that rhyme or don't rhyme, etc.  We even have a "word of the day" that we choose from challenging words that come up during read aloud or perhaps science/social studies.  After working with the same word study sort for two consecutive weeks, students took their first word study quiz last Friday, September 28th.  We will have word study quizzes on a bi-weekly basis (students are encouraged to study their words at home the night before).
Writing:  In writing class we have been working on a project related to the book Amos & Boris, by William Stieg.  After hearing the story, students got to work brainstorming characters who would end up as unlikely friends.  We followed a similar plot-structure to Amos & Boris, however students had the freedom to choose their own characters, setting and even the problems the characters would face.  Upon completing a rough draft and sharing the story with a writing partner, students have been working diligently to produce a final copy that we can all be proud of!

Science:  This past week we learned all about various aquatic ("water") environments!  After learning a little bit about each and sharing what we already knew, each student chose from a list of aquatic environments (oceans, coral reefs, wetlands, rivers, lakes, etc.) to research.  We used books from the classroom, public library and laptop computers to help create brochures that contain relevant info about the different environments (animals/plants that can be found, fun facts and an advertisement).  This week we will learn all about terrestrial ("land") environments!

Math:  In math we are learning more about place values for numbers and different ways to think about how numbers relate.  For example, students have enjoyed making "count by..." lists that challenge their brains in different ways.  We have counted forwards by 2, starting from the number 1 (1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11...).  Counting by 3s and 4s is a good way to prepare for our upcoming study of multiplication.  Other examples include:  counting by 10s starting from 231; counting by 100s starting from 3,486; counting backwards by 5s starting from 125; counting backwards by 1,000s starting from 31,020, etc.  We're focused mainly on being able to read/write/work with numbers up to the hundred thousands place, however, we did have a student write an extremely long number that ended up being one septuagintacentillion (1x10^513)!  We spent time making the largest/smallest possible number given ____ digits and we spent some time comparing numbers (>, <, =).  We will have a place value quiz on Friday, October 7th (study guide coming soon!).

That's about it!  It has continued to be a fun start to the year!  We spend time each morning getting to know each other (greeting, sharing, playing) and we're becoming fast friends.  Thanks for all that you do at home!


Mr. Balnave

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