Thursday, May 4, 2017

Children's Book Week (part 2)

Our school had a wonderful time celebrating Children's Book Week this week! In addition to dressing up each day, we enjoyed some very special activities.

Students are beginning to explore fiction writing. In writing workshop, partners were given a set of five words with which they had to write a creative story. It was so interesting to hear the different ways each pair told a unique story using the same group of words! We also used a coding app called Scratch, Jr. to code a creative story on the iPads. Mrs. Hartley taught the class how to make a story with characters, a setting and a problem and solution. Partners worked together to code dialogue and character actions. These will be shared with you when they are finished.

On Wednesday, we had an author visit with one of our ELL teachers, Mrs. Freeman. She has recently published a book titled One Good Thing About America and she taught the students about the lengthy process involved in publishing a book. Each of our 17 students role played an important part in this process and it was clear to see how much work goes into writing and publishing a book.

On Thursday, we took advantage of the beautiful weather and enjoyed a story walk outside. The class enjoyed this "active" read aloud of Catherine Falwell's Scoot very much!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Celebrating Children's Book Week (part 1)

To prepare for Children's Book Week (May 1st-5th), we decorated our classroom door with a Freckle Juice theme. The class enjoyed this classic Judy Blume read aloud earlier in the spring. Each child illustrated a self-portrait (with freckles, of course!) and we wrote our own secret recipe for Freckle Juice.

Next week, there will be lots of special events including an author visit, guest readers and a Learning Garden Book Walk. I will write a second post next week to tell you how it all went! Your child received a handout in their red totes which outlines all of the fun activities as well as something special to wear each day of the week. Please be sure to read over it so you can help your child participate!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

All About the Community

Students have been hard at work learning about community helpers and businesses that offer goods and services. With Mrs. Hartley's help, they learned how to use Google Earth to locate local businesses such as Willow's, Dairy Queen and the Maine Mall and then classified them as either providing a good or a service. They had a great time exploring this app and even got the chance to look up their own home addresses! This lesson supported an economics learning target: students understand that money is earned and used to buy goods and services
In addition, they learned about community helpers - people who work or volunteer to help others within a community. After brainstorming a lengthy list (which included crossing guards, paramedics, garbage collectors and farmers), they created All-Star trading cards for six community helpers and wrote their job descriptions on the back.  This lesson helped students understand the rights and responsibilities of various leadership roles in the school and community (a civics and government learning target). Both of these activities were great opportunities to follow up on last week's Junior Achievement lesson about government services and paying taxes.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Junior Achievement: Our Community

Our classroom welcomed Mrs. Hewins on Tuesday, a volunteer with the Junior Achievement program. Please visit this link to learn more about the program. She will visit us Tuesday afternoons for the next several weeks to teach the class about community, jobs, needs vs. wants, goods and services and spending/saving money. This is fantastic exposure to financial literacy for our second graders. The essential learning targets for this program include: Students understand that money is earned and used to buy goods and services. Students understand the concept of saving money for the future.
Mrs. Hewins works at a medical supply company called Solstice Corporation located in the Knightville neighborhood. She is also a proud resident of South Portland and lives within the Skillin neighborhood. During her first lesson, she defined the key terms they will be using in this program (community, jobs, volunteer, skills) and engaged the students in differentiating between goods and services provided by our local businesses (Willows, Idexx, the mall, etc.). They also played a Tic-Tac-Toe game which involved listening to a job description and identifying the job that went with it. It is always exciting when someone new visits and we are already looking forward to next week!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

All About Polar Animals

All second graders have begun learning about animals of the Arctic and Antarctica. In this unit, students are researching an animal of their choice and writing their own nonfiction text based on the animal. They will include many text features including headings, diagrams, labels and a table of contents. Students have been hard at work for more than a week now locating information in a variety of nonfiction sources.

Here is a sneak peek of some of their work so far:

In the upcoming weeks, students will finish these books and create a visual display of their animals. They will also create a life cycle collage using an iPad app! This has been a productive and highly engaging week of learning and we are looking forward to the rest of it!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Introducing... Nonfiction!

This section of a nonfiction book has been "text-mapped."
Captions are highlighted in yellow, headings
are in purple and keywords are in blue.
We have shifted our reading focus from fiction to nonfiction. It is always an exciting change because students just LOVE to read about science and social studies topics. Specifically, we are looking closely at text features ("extra" features of a book that go beyond the main text to give us more information). There is a long list of text features but we have focused on the following: table of contents, keywords, photographs with captions and/or labels, glossary and diagrams/charts. We have also explored "text-mapping" in which we took a copy of a book and created a scroll with it. Students color coded different text features and then made observations about what they noticed. You can visit this site to find out more about text-mapping.
My reading group also made text feature "collages" as a visual reminder of what each feature looks like. These will be hung up in the classroom for easy reference. Even though we have just begun, students are doing a wonderful job with these new learning goals!
Students worked together to find examples of text features in paper copies of books to create these posters.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Taking a Neighborhood Walk

Today, Mrs. Hartley (our fantastic technology teacher) and I took the class out for an adventure. We braved the snow and ice for a neighborhood walk. The purpose of this walk was to notice interesting things in our Skillin "neighborhood" and to take photos of them. This activity goes along with our Out of Eden learning program that we began in September. This program follows the journey of a man named Paul Salopek who walks across different parts of the world to notice and learn new things about the people, places, animals and food he encounters along the way. This was our version of his walk. We took the iPads with us and took photos as we walked. Mrs. Hartley taught the students how to upload their photos onto Google Drive. We will eventually post them on the Out of Eden website.

Here are some of the students' photos:

As you can see, the snow and bright blue sky made for some exceptionally interesting photographs. Children also noticed animal tracks and different types of plants - I think we have some future photographers in our classroom!