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!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Chewonki & the Bugmobile

Second graders were treated to an informative and exciting presentation on Arthropods. Our guest speaker, Matt, gave the students a hands-on look at various groups of these particular animals with exoskeletons. Students learned about arachnids, crustaceans, centipedes and insects. They even got to observe a live tarantula and touch a millipede, hissing cockroach and stick bug! Students learned a great deal of information about arthropods including their body parts, life cycles and defense tactics. Thank you to Chewonki for bringing science to life here at Skillin! Here is a link to their website if you would like to learn more about their programs: http://www.chewonki.org/Default.asp

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Opinion Writing

Our young authors have begun to learn about opinion writing. The learning target is: students can write their opinion, give a few reasons to support it and end with a concluding statement. Our topic was "Should we eat turkey for Thanksgiving?"

After reading Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano, the class brainstormed reasons for and against this traditional holiday food. You can see in the photo of our class chart that they came up with very thoughtful ideas for each side of the argument. This was a great opportunity to engage in the complete writing process (from brainstorming to drafting to sharing a final piece). Next week, they will exercise their creative muscles by designing a special turkey disguise to go along with this fun read aloud.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Exploring 2D and 3D shapes

In math, we have shifted our learning to geometry. Students are eagerly exploring two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes in many different ways. We created a large Venn diagram to compare and contrast these two types of shapes. Similarities include they both have length, height and straight edges. Important differences include 3D shapes have width and "faces" while 2D shapes are flat and do not have faces. We have spent lots of time putting shapes together to make new shapes, drawing 3D shapes (which gets easier with practice!) and using iPad apps to manipulate 2D shapes into different designs. Invite your child to further describe the attributes of 2D and 3D shapes and to find examples of both in your house!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

"The Honeybee Man"

We were thrilled to welcome Phil Gaven from The Honey Exchange to our school on Thursday. He visited the entire second grade to share his expertise on honeybees and the process of making honey. The students enjoyed seeing videos and photos of honeybee swarms and "waggle dances." They had opportunities to share their knowledge of insects and life cycles, too. At the end of the presentation, students visited three stations so they could observe an actual bee colony, taste test honey and explore/wear beekeeper's equipment. It was an informative and hands-on presentation. We would like to extend a special thank you to Mr. Gaven for sharing his time and talents with us today!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Science Wrap-Up

We have wrapped up our science unit on Insects & Ecosystems. The students showed me their understanding of insect life cycles by using an iPad app called Pic Collage. They chose between the butterfly and ladybug life cycles and located pictures of each of the 4 stages to download and label. 
Students also flexed their creative muscles by designing their own insects. They had to design an insect that would help solve a problem. We had everything from a "Butterfree" (a combination of a butterfly and honeybee) to a "Meater Eater" and lots in between! They were thoughtful about the problems these insects would solve. Some would eat other harmful insects such as mosquitos and aphids to help protect humans and plants. Other insects helped to pollinate flowers. We will revisit some of these important concepts over the next few weeks as we welcome a couple of guest speakers to our school to teach us more about insects. 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Insects & Ecosystems

Our young scientists have had a busy week! First, we observed the final stage of both the butterfly and ladybug lifecycles. Our butterfly emerged last Friday while the ladybugs arrived today. The children were so excited to watch them grow and change these past couple of weeks. We will work together to feed and care for the ladybugs before we release them outside next week.

Then, we went on a hunt for ecosystems around Skillin. We walked around the school looking for places that animals and plants live together, depending on one another for survival. We found woods, an underground/dirt area, grass and a garden! The children noticed many insects in the garden (and even a frog!)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Flexible Reading Groups

Second graders have officially begun Reading Groups this week. Each student has been placed in a small, "flexible" reading group with their own reading teacher based on his/her reading level and instructional needs. Students may move groups if it is determined that their individual reading needs have changed at any time this year. Groups will meet for 45 minutes per day to work on grade level learning targets at their own instructional reading level. Because reading starts promptly at 9:30 each day, it is especially important for students to arrive to school on time so they don't miss out on this critical part of the school day.

During our first week, we created a list of expectations to make reading group time as successful as
possible. We also reviewed decoding strategies (What can you do when you are stuck on a word?) and we created a reading strategy bookmark. These will be used as a visual reminder of their "bank" of reading strategies.

All six groups will be working on the same essential learning target. We will start with Plot Development - students will learn how to sequence events from the beginning, middle and end of a story using transitional words such as first, next and last and ultimately will be able to summarize a story.

We are looking forward to a productive year of reading groups! Please let me know if you have any questions.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Investigating Life Cycles

Our young scientists began a unit of study on Insects and Ecosystems last week. The first part of the unit is exploring life cycles (including complete and incomplete metamorphosis). We have observed monarch caterpillars go through two stages of a life cycle. Students are recording their observations in a science journal, as well as reading and creating their own nonfiction books. Yesterday, they partner-read a nonfiction book titled Caterpillar to Butterfly and created science word cards. These are on display on our KLEWS board. It is so exciting to see the enthusiasm on the children's faces as they eagerly check the caterpillars each morning to see if any big changes happened overnight!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Mathematicians at Work

For our first math lesson, the children brainstormed different math topics they might learn about this year. Their answers were very appropriate, ranging from patterns and money to addition and subtraction. Their first "official" math project was a bus glyph (as you can see in this photo) in which they had to answer specific questions and their answers determined the color of their bus/wheels, number of windows, etc. Not only did this project help us get to know one another, it was a great opportunity to collect data. Once the glyphs were complete, students analyzed the similarities and differences among them. You can see these during Academic Open House!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Meet & Greet

Dear Families,
With the beginning of the school year right around the corner, I would like to remind you that our Meet & Greet is scheduled for Wednesday, August 31st from 5:00-6:00. This is such a good opportunity to transition back into "school mode" by visiting the classroom, seeing new teachers and old friends! Please feel free to drop in anytime during this hour.

Here are some items you may consider bringing with you:
  • School supplies (pencils, crayons, markers, etc.) Your child may find it comforting to get their desk "ready" before the first day of school.
  • A favorite book from home to keep in their desk during the first week of school (please be sure it is labeled with their name).
  • The "How Am I Getting Home?" dismissal form that was sent out a couple of weeks ago. I will have extra copies available if you need one.
Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns before the first day of school.  I look forward to seeing you all next week!

Mrs. Bradstreet

Friday, April 29, 2016

April 29th

Dear Families,
As we prepare for the "home stretch" of second grade, students will be busy at work demonstrating proficiency in their essential learning targets. We'll revisit these ELTs one final time to ensure students are well prepared for third grade.

We began a poetry unit this week which encompassed reading and writing workshop. Students are learning that poetry is a type of art in which the poet expresses an emotion or idea through words. Students realized that poets love to play with words by using rhyme, repetition and made up words. We spent lots of time reading and visualizing poems written by Shel Silverstein and Douglas Florian. I am sending home some of the poems we read in their homework folders today. I hope you can read them together, act them out, look at the word play or anything else you can think of to enjoy them! In addition, students wrote two poems and chose one to take through the writing process which included editing, rewriting, illustrating and sharing.

Children spent time counting coins to add up to $1.00 and spending money to subtract from $1.00. We played out scenarios of having a certain amount of change and figuring out if we could buy items from the class store or if we needed more money. Not only was this great practice with counting coins, it was also a great opportunity to add and subtract 2-digit numbers.
We revisited place value by looking at three digit numbers. Students practiced building numbers in the hundreds using base ten blocks, dice and white boards. We used expanded form to show our understanding of place value. This means children had to write a number to show the value of each digit on its own. For example, the expanded form for 137 looks like: 100 + 30 + 7 = 137.

We have continued to learn about the various roles and relationships plants and animals have in their particular ecosystems. Students have discovered why honeybees and sea otters are considered "keystone species." Next week, students will design a unique insect that is beneficial in some way to its ecosystem.

Mrs. Bradstreet

Friday, April 8, 2016

April 8th

Dear Families,
Even though we are quickly approaching April vacation, our learning isn't slowing down a bit! Here are the learning goals (ELTs) we are currently working on:

We are finishing up author's purpose (P.I.E.). Students can tell if an author is trying to persuade, inform or entertain the reader and give evidence to support their claims. We continued to practice retelling by recalling the important events and characters in a story. Using words such as in the beginning, then, next, and finally helps give order to the retelling.

We began a unit on opinion writing this week. Students wrote their opinions and gave persuasive reasons to support them. We used the books I Wanna Iguana and Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus to inspire some of our own "Here's why I should" and "Here's why I shouldn't" pieces. We had topics ranging from "Here's why I should have a zebra for pet" to "Here's why I shouldn't have to do chores" and so much more. It has been quite fun so far and we will continue this writing next week.

Lynn Plourde Author Study
We spent lots of time reading Lynn Plourde books. She is visiting Skillin next week and we want to be experts on her! We read School Picture Day, Field Trip Day and Pigs in the Mud in the Middle of the Rud. Students decided that her main purpose is to entertain readers because her books are fictitious and quite amusing and silly. They completed projects including a story cube, postcard and book award. These projects required them to identify story elements and summarize the major events. We are looking forward to her visit next week!

Students continued to work on adding and subtracting two-digit numbers by playing several related games called Get to 100, Roll a Square and Unroll a Square. Each game involved adding dice and either counting up or back on a special 100 grid. We took these skills to another level with counting coins, adding coins up to $1.00 and spending $1.00. It is essential that children understand one dollar equals 100 cents. Coin counting is an important life skill so please encourage your child to practice at home.

Upcoming Dates:
Thursday, April 14: early release (students are dismissed at 12:30)

Friday, April 15- Friday, April 22: no school (April vacation week)

A Note About Homework
There is no spelling homework this week. The next set of spelling words will be sent home after vacation. Please have your child keep up with their reading homework, though. Remember, we are all working toward the 1, 000, 000 page goal and we need everyone's help!

Mrs. Bradstreet

Thursday, March 17, 2016

March 18th

Dear Families,
Your children have been working so hard during this exciting time of year! We celebrated the end of our polar animals unit with "Polar Night" last week. Thank you to all who attended... I know the second graders were thrilled to show off their hard work!

Our new learning goal in reading is to identify the author's purpose. Specifically, students are determining whether an author is trying to Persuade, Inform or Entertain the reader. We use the acronym P.I.E. to help us remember the three purposes. Students are expected to provide evidence that supports their determination.

We learned the "how-to" of writing friendly letters. Students learned about the parts of a friendly letter which include the date, greeting, body and closing. Students wrote friendly letters to the teacher and to one another. Next week, we will open the classroom "post office" so students can mail their letters. Here is a fun link you can access from home - your children can create and print their own friendly letters online.

We began a new math unit this week titled "How Many Tens? How Many Ones?" Students are working on adding and subtracting two-digit numbers. They must have a solid understanding of place value to be able to demonstrate proficiency with this target. If you show your child a two-digit number such as 57, he or she should be able to tell you that there are 5 tens and 7 ones. Furthermore, they should understand that the 5 represents 50 in this number. The students completed several story problems in which they had to write an equation, add or subtract two-digit numbers and explain their strategies in writing or pictures.

We began a new science unit this week on Insects & Ecosystems. We will explore the relationships between plants and animals within various ecosystems by looking at symbiosis and food chains. They will enjoy reading many nonfiction books and learning some fascinating new science words!

Have a wonderful weekend,

Mrs. Bradstreet

Thursday, March 3, 2016

March 3rd

Dear Families,
We have many exciting events happening during the month of March. Here's a list of what's coming:

Million Page Challenge
Beginning March 1st and continuing through the end of May, Skillin students and staff have been challenged to read a total of one million pages! This is a hefty goal but one that is attainable if each person reads about 200 pages per week. We are keeping track of all our pages read in class and we need you to help your child keep track of their pages read at home. If we reach our 1,000,000 page goal, we will celebrate with a PARADE in June! Can you imagine how fun that will be?!

Read Across America
We celebrated Dr. Seuss' birthday on March 2nd by reading his beloved books and participating in Seuss-related activities. The students always love revisiting these classic books. We welcomed a guest reader in the afternoon from the Maine Wild Youth Hockey League. Matt read us a funny story titled Dragons Love Tacos. The students loved the book and they enjoyed asking Matt questions after the reading.

Polar Night
Please reserve the evening of Thursday, March 10th from 5:30-6:30. All second grade families are invited to Skillin for Polar Night. Each child will showcase their Polar Animal projects which include a nonfiction book, life cycle technology project and a visual display! They are very eager to show off their hard work. We hope you can all join us for this special event.

Math/Literacy Night
All families are invited to join us on Thursday, March 17th from 5:30-6:30 for Math and Literacy Night. Your children will lead you through fun math and reading activities. There will be some freebies to bring home, too.  It is guaranteed to be a fun night! The second grade team will be set up in Mrs. Coombs' and Mrs. King's classroom. We hope to see you there!

Mrs. Bradstreet

Friday, February 12, 2016

Feb. 12th

Dear Families,

Your children are completely immersed in their polar animal research projects. After choosing an animal from the Arctic or Antarctica, they located important information about the animal's diet, habitat, appearance, enemies and more. They are using a variety of sources for their research including nonfiction texts, articles and online sources. They have begun writing their very own nonfiction texts (complete with text features) to showcase their learning. We have also begun a life cycle project on the iPads. As you can see, this is a very in-depth project that encompasses science, reading, writing and technology. We will continue this project into March and then we will celebrate with Polar Night on the evening of March 10th - please mark your calendars!

In math, the class has been busy with data. They are becoming very skilled in collecting, organizing and representing data using bar graphs and line plots. Furthermore, we can analyze those graphs to learn information. They have had lots of fun conducting their own surveys and creating their graphs!

I hope everyone has a healthy and relaxing vacation!

Mrs. Bradstreet

Friday, January 15, 2016

Jan. 15th

Reading Groups
All second grade readers began nonfiction this week. Our new essential learning target is: use text features to locate facts and information. Readers are exploring different text features including table of contents, photographs and captions, charts and graphs, maps, glossaries and more! Students practiced finding these features and telling what they learned. They are also learning how to gather and record information from these books which are important skills for conducting research. This will help them tremendously as we begin a research project on Polar Animals next week.

To complement our work in reading, students are beginning to write informative pieces. After listening to read alouds of nonfiction texts titled Koko's Kitten and Polar Lands, students recalled important and interesting facts and used these to write nonfiction pieces. This was a great introduction to nonfiction writing that will serve us well as we begin the Polar Animals unit. Students will be writing their own nonfiction books (complete with text features) on an animal of their choosing.

Our focus in math was practicing place value by grouping by tens and ones. Students showed how many tens and ones were in various two digit numbers by using connecting cubes and recording their strategies in their math books. As the year goes on, they will be expected to identify numbers in the hundreds, tens and ones place and show the values that each digit represents.

We explored Plus-10 combinations and they could see that adding ten to a number just increased the tens place digit by one while the ones digit stayed the same. This is a key pattern in building fluency with math facts. They cut out flash cards to keep in their desks for repeated practice.

At the end of the week, we began a new unit on collecting, organizing and showing data. The learning goal for this unit is for students to understand how to represent and interpret data in a line plot, picture graph or bar graph. We sorted the students into two groups based on a "rule" - for example, all students who were wearing a hood were in one group, while those not wearing a hood were in another group. Students generated ideas for showing this data using pictures and tally marks.

Social Studies
We spent much of the week reading biographies about Civil Rights leaders Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks and Ruby Bridges. Students conducted some of their own research on the website Pebble Go by reading informational passages and looking at photographs. We also viewed a shortened clip of Dr. King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech.

Garbage to Garden Assembly
We are excited to have begun a new composting initiative at Skillin. Students attended an assembly and a "how-to" on composting their food scraps at lunch. They are excited to be a part of this new program. We have already seen a significant decrease in the amount of trash generated at lunch!

Important Dates:

  • There is no school on Monday (1/18) as we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. day.
  • Parent-teacher conferences are coming in the beginning of February... sign-up sheets will be sent home soon!

Thank you for reading,
Mrs. Bradstreet