February 16

The Second Continental Congress met in Room A203 today!  Delegates from the 13 colonies were represented.  As loyalists and patriots we debated whether we should declare our independence from Great Britain and the fate of the colonies!  The debate was well argued and rebutted, and they adjourned to take time to determine the next course of action.  We had a great time with this reenactment, as it was a culmination of all of our historical reading and researching up to this point. Great job, delegates!  Here are pictures from the day they planned what to say as teams and from today’s meeting.

 

While researching the American Revolution we discussed how the point of view of the author makes a difference.  We looked at a book that tells the story or the American Revolution from both sides and how perspective matters!

In writing we caught up on our first three chapters of our American Revolution book.  We have a chapter that tells briefly all about the revolution, a chapter on one event that led up to the revolution, and a chapter that is told in first person from the point of view of someone who was at a particular event like the Boston Tea Party.  Next week we will write an essay explaining why that particular event was important to the American Revolution.

In math we are still working on fractions.  We are adding and subtracting simple fractions as well as mixed numbers.

In social studies we completed our final project for African American History month by creating a quilt square representing four concepts, people, or words that we thought were significant.  These quilt squares will be on display during conferences.

Important Dates

Wednesday and Thursday, February 28 – March 1 – Parent Teacher Conferences

Thursday and Friday, March 1 and 2 – 1/2 days

Friday – Sunday, March 30 – April 8 – Spring Break

02-02-18

Your child is becoming an expert in the American Revolution, especially in one of the events that led up to the war.  We looked at primary sources this week as well as reread the texts to find those interesting details to add to our writing.  We wrote a chapter called,”All About the American Revolution” and one called, “All About (whatever their focus topic was).”  These were drafts, and we are constantly trying to make them better with details and organization.

In math this week we took the test over the first unit of fractions. The test went home today. If your child only brings home a half sheet of paper with his or her scores on it, have them pull up their online test to show you.  They did not have to take the paper test if they received 85% or better on the online test. We started the next unit on fractions yesterday.  We added fractions with like denominators and decomposed fractions.  That means found fractions that added to a fraction, including improper fractions and mixed numbers.

We took a close look at the Civil Rights Movement today.  We learned about Jim Crow Laws, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and Ruby Bridges.

We are blogging with a school in England called Claire’s Court Junior School.  We paired up with a class of Year 5 boys to learn more about their lives, and for them to learn about us.  We read their blogs and commented on what they wrote.  We wrote about our school today and are waiting their replies!

Have a wonderful mid-winter break!

Important Dates

Monday and Tuesday, February 5 and 6 – Winter Break – No School

Friday, February 9 – Chaperone lottery results sent home and chocolate sales wrap up

Wednesday and Thursday, February 28 – March 1 – Parent Teacher Conferences

Thursday and Friday, March 1 and 2 – 1/2 days

Friday – Sunday, March 30 – April 8 – Spring Break

01-26-18

I hope to see you at Bingo tonight!  It is the one, big fund raiser for HPC for the year.  I will be there selling World’s Finest Chocolate!

This week in both reading and writing our focus topic is the American Revolution.  We are still trying to gain background knowledge about the causes of the war and the war itself for next week’s writing assignment. We are reading all about the entire war as well as about one topic to focus on for our research.  We each chose a cause of the American Revolution to study.

In math we are learning about fractions.  We found equivalent fractions through multiplying and dividing.  We are using bench mark fractions like 1/2 and 1 whole to compare fractions.  Then finally, we learned how to find a common denominator for fractions in order to compare them, and we learned a short cut.  Ask your child about the “butterfly method” to compare fractions.

In social studies, we are beginning our history unit by learning about slavery.  We have watched a few videos and read a few books on the topic.  We are taking organized notes to use for an end of the unit project.

Important Dates

 

Friday, January 26 – Chicago chaperone requests due and BINGO Night from 5:30-8:00 PM

Monday and Tuesday, February 5 and 6 – Winter Break – No School

Friday, February 9 – Chaperone lottery results sent home and chocolate sales wrap up

01-19-18

Have you cuddled with your pet lately? Do you savor each bite of food and appreciate what you have?  DO you wait patiently for your turn, treat new experiences with “I’ll try!”, and do you you relish in the sun and rain (or snow)?  Mrs. Smits talked to us about being mindful today.  She built upon our mindful lessons today by adding mindful tasting to the list.  We tried a new food and a sweet.  We used our senses first.  We all made goals for ourselves on how we would like to be more mindful this year.

You probably saw that a box of world’s Finest Chocolate came home today!  If your child sells the whole box, and you would like to sell another, just send in the $60 and a note saying it is OK to take another box home to sell.

In math this week we began our unit on fractions by finding equivalent fractions in three different ways.  We used pictures, a number line, and multiplications.  Ask your child about numerators and denominators being jealous brothers and sisters.

In reading and writing this week we are reading a lot and watching videos about the American Revolution.  We are trying to build our background knowledge on the subject for writing time and learning how to read history, both primary and secondary sources.

In science we reviewed and took the final test on properties of matter.  We are finished with our science units for the year and will be starting our social studies units.  We will spend the next few weeks studying slavery and the civil rights movement.

Important Dates

 

Friday, January 26 – Chicago chaperone requests due and BINGO Night from 5:30-8:00 PM

Monday and Tuesday, February 5 and 6 – Winter Break – No School

Friday, February 9 – Chaperone lottery results sent home and chocolate sales wrap up

01-12-18

Are you a good listener?  Do you notice tiny details in things around you?  We are learning how the brain gets information to the prefrontal cortex where it is analyzed.  We have begun to talk about sharpening our senses.  We practiced being a mindful listener and being able to tune out unwanted sounds around us.  We have also discussed mindful seeing and being able to better observe our surroundings and learn from them.

We began a new unit in reading last week – Reading History.  History texts present a unique type of nonfiction that students will be required to read in the upcoming years, and we are learning different skills by reading about the American Revolution.  Right now we are gaining some background knowledge on the topic by watching short PBS videos called “Liberty Kids” that give some basic information through historical fiction. We are reading a lot of different levels of text on the topic as well.  Next week we will choose a subtopic on which to focus our reading from the causes of the Revolutionary War.  Ask your child what he or she knows about the Boston Massacre or the Boston Tea Party.

In writing we just finished our essay “on demand.”  We had three days to write a persuasive essay on a topic of our choosing.  I am grading how well they follow the format, support their argument, and use the conventions of language.  Ask your child about their thesis and the intended audience.  It may be you! 🙂

In math we began a new unit as well.  We learned all about factors, multiples, prime numbers, and composite numbers.  The practice test was today, and the final test will be on Tuesday.

In science this week we are wrapping up our study of the properties and phases of matter.  Today we learned of a fourth phase – plasma.  We talked about the movement of molecules and how adding energy can change the state of the matter.

We finished our tri-annual computerized testing of math, reading, and language skills.  We use this data, along with the data I receive from the Fountas and Pinnell reading testing beginning next week, to help guide instruction for the rest of the year.

Important Dates

Friday, January 19 – World’s Finest Chocolate Sales begin

Friday, January 19 – 1/2 day – noon dismissal

Friday, January 26 – Chicago chaperone requests due and BINGO Night from 5:30-8:00 PM

Monday and Tuesday, February 5 and 6 – Winter Break – No School

Friday, February 9 – Chaperone lottery results sent home

12-20-17

Happy Holidays! Have a wonderful break from school!  I will see you in the new year!

We had a short but great week of finishing some academic work, learning some seasonal science, and creating a couple of festive projects!

I was impressed with everyone’s presentations on Tuesday. After doing research on a question that came up during our group research on natural disasters and severe weather, we presented one page of our findings.

We took a math test on a short unit on Monday.  The test was on multi-step word problems and the use of phrases like “times as many” and “more than.”  We will continue to work on this complicated reading comprehension/math skill.  Today we each made a video teaching someone the shortcut algorithm for 2 digit x 2 digit multiplication or long division.

As your child about Candy Cane Science.  In which liquid did the candy cane melt the fastest… or not at all!

We created our name in lights this week.  Did your child’s creation make it home safely?  We also found out what makes snow appear white and created snowflakes.

We decorated pictures of ourselves reading our favorite books that will decorate the window at The Bookman in Grand Haven this January!

In the spirit of the holidays we read Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa books to Mrs. Clauss’ second graders today!

I didn’t get any pictures, but we had a great time at the movie and hot chocolate bar today

Important Dates

December 21- January 2 – Winter Break – Our last day before break will be Wednesday, December 20.  We will return to school on Wednesday, January 3.

Friday, January 19 – 1/2 day – noon dismissal

Monday and Tuesday, February 5 and 6 – Winter Break – No School

12-15-17

You may see a special gift for you soon courtesy of HPC!  Your child worked hard during Build-A-Gift to make something with love.  Thank you to the parents and Parents Club people for making all that happen!

In reading this week we continued to research a particular question we had regarding sever weather or a natural disaster. We began creating a one slide project of our findings that we will present next week. We talked about how to evaluate sources based on trustworthiness and date of publication.  We learned that authors have goals when they write nonfiction, such as hooking our attention, building a mood, or clarifying a point.  Our job is to try to figure our what they are doing.  We looked at some specific techniques nonfiction authors use like making comparisons, quoting authorities, giving a story, or incorporating humor.  We are just beginning to look at authors and their craft for making us think and feel a certain way.  This is thinking “about the text,” and is higher level thinking for our children.  This skill is what makes some texts more difficult to understand, even though we can read all the words.

In writing this week we talked about what makes a sentence a sentence and how to avoid run on sentences and sentence fragments.  Sentence formation is a need I have seen in the students’ writing, and we will continue to learn about this topic.  We have also reviewed verbs tenses.

In math this week we worked a lot on multi-step word problems.  We looked at words like “times as many” and “more than,” and practiced braking apart long problems into smaller steps.  This tough work takes paying attention to details!  We will take the final test on this math unit on Monday.

In science this week we talked about how to measure the volume of liquids and solids. We compared liquids and solids in terms of mass, shape, and volume.  We tried finding the volume of some odd shaped solids using graduated cylinders.

We learned about our RAS, or reticular activating system, and how it acts as our personal secretary in helping us focus.  We practiced sorting sounds today and tried to focus our attention on the important sounds in the room.  We talked about how making noises distracts others from being able to focus, or do mindful listening.

Important Dates

December 21- January 2 – Winter Break – Our last day before break will be Wednesday, December 20.  We will return to school on Wednesday, January 3.

Friday, January 19 – 1/2 day – noon dismissal

12-08-17

We are coders! We learned to code this week by participating in the world wide event, Hour of Code.  We learned how to write lines of code for a Minecraft game.  Your child can continue to learn and practice this skill on the website code.org from their iPad or any desktop or laptop computer.

We are deep into reading nonfiction and doing our research this week!  On Monday we presented our first group research that we did on a form of extreme weather or a natural disaster. We then switched topics so that we could compare what different ones had in common.  We looked for patterns and relationships.  We then let our research spark new ideas and came up with new research questions.  We talked about how we need to dig deeper, and it is hard to find what we need when the author does not have our agenda when writing.

In math we practiced the “old school” long division method before venturing into our 3 day testing cycle.  The results of these tests will come home Monday.  Today we began our next unit – multi-step word problems.  We are learning how to write an algebraic equation from a comparison word problem using phrases like “times as many.”

In writing this week we used the technique of parallel lists to support our reasons in our essays.  We then worked on our introductions and conclusions.  We are also learning some basic grammar lessons.  Before this week we have studied proper nouns, common nouns, pronouns, singular and plural nouns, regular and irregular nouns, collective nouns, and reviewed when to capitalize letters.  This week we began to tackle verbs – action verbs and verbs of being (am, is, are, were, etc.).

In science we began a new unit on phases of matter. We took a pretest, then jumped into talking about properties of matter.  We learned the difference between mass and weight and the tools used to measure each.

We are always practicing to be mindful.  This week we looked at the science behind our brains when the amygdala gives us the “flight, fight, or freeze” reflex.  We saw a diagram of the neurons and how they carry messages through signals.  We talked about how we can slow down our brains and “override” this reflex to plan a mindful response to our surroundings.

Important Dates

December 21- January 2 – Winter Break – Our last day before break will be Wednesday, December 20.  We will return to school on Wednesday, January 3.

Friday, January 19 – 1/2 day – noon dismissal

12-01-17

Our brains our like a muscle, and they have been working overtime these past weeks!  It began last Monday when Mrs. Smits set a challenge before us to protect her “precious,” except we didn’t know what it was, and from what danger?  We had materials to use to build.  Once we saw what she was going to do to a very delicate Pringle, we had to reassess and rebuild.  We learned a lot about ourselves and how we handle stress, a challenge, and group situations.  We had to handle those things indifferent ways this week throughout our learning of new math and group presentation projects too.  We watched a cute short movie today about a piper learning to find food, and talked about how we sometimes want to give up when learning gets hard, but we have to battle through it and overcome initial fears.  We also discussed how our amygdala classifies incoming things as pleasurable or threatening, and sometimes gives us false alarms.  We talked about how we need to think before we react to give our brains time to get information to the prefontal cortex.

In math this week there was a lot of frustration, but that frustration is beginning to turn into learning.  We began by dividing with remainders, then moving toward using pictures to divide, then the area model, and finally the “old school” long division method we know.  The reason for this progression is to allow children to have an understanding of what it is they are doing before memorizing random steps in an algorithm. As a parent I know it is hard to help with the homework when you do not understand it.  There are videos available to your child in the homework.  We just learned the “shortcut,” as we call it, today.  we will be reviewing it on Monday.

In reading we were researching a topic as a group of either severe weather or a natural disaster.  We had subtopics under those topics that we had to focus on, and then we got together as a group and made a poster to present that information.  While we were researching we learned how to synthesize information coming form different sources, how to grow our ideas about a topic, and how to tackle the hard parts by slowing down rereading, drawing a sketch, etc.  We will present these posters to each other on Monday then research a new topic.

In writing we wrote the body to our essays.  We have three reason paragraphs that consist of a reason sentence and a story to support or reasons.  We each have a different thesis we are writing about.  Next week we will work on the introductions and conclusions to our essays.

We took a science test this week!  Hopefully you saw the vocabulary come home and used it to study.  Those will be graded and sent home next week.  Our next topic is “States of Matter.”

Important Dates

December 21- January 2 – Winter Break – Our last day before break will be Wednesday, December 20.  We will return to school on Wednesday, January 3.

11-17-17

Do you know where your amygdala, hippocampus, and prefontal cortex are?  Do you know what they do?  Ask your child about these parts of your brain.  Today we talked about these parts of the brain and how we are going to work on calming our amygdala in order to get new information to our PFC and store the important things in our hyppocampus.

This week in reading we learned to tackle the hard parts in nonfiction such as misleading headings, too many facts packed in a paragraph, texts that go off track, hybrid texts, and unknown words. We also reviewed how to create a good summary by focusing on the main idea and supporting details.  We were surprised, as many people thought giving a good summary meant trying to remember as much as possible, when it is really about being able to find the main idea of a section.  We also began our mini research groups.  We are working in groups of 4 to study a form of severe weather or a natural disaster.  We will be taking notes and making a presentation the week we return from Thanksgiving break.  Here are pictures of our weather research teams at work.

We are practicing grammar and conventions each week.  This week we reviewed some things we all know, but do not always use – when to capitalize a letter and when not to.  We learned terms like proper noun, common noun, abstract noun, and concrete noun.  We also talked about when to use “a” and when to use “an.”

In writing this week we are working on our essays.  We chose a thesis we could be interested in and have a lot of stories about to support our thoughts.  We then wrote reason sentences and began our first part of the body of the essay – the first reason to support our thesis and the supporting details or story.  We are following a recipe to make an organized and thorough essay.

In math this week we took the final test on multiplication, a cumulative test on what we have learned so far, and we began looking at estimating larger division problems.  After break we will look closely at long division and learn the “whys” and ‘hows” before tackling the long division algorithm.

In science this week we talked about predators and prey and the role eye placement takes with each of those types of animals.  We looked at beneficial and harmful relationships between animals in a habitat, and we talked about some invasive species and how they can upset the balance of an ecosystem.  After break we will review and have the unit test.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Important Dates

Monday and Tuesday, November 20 and 21 – 1/2 days

Wednesday – Friday, November 22-24 – Thanksgiving Break – no school

December 21- January 2 – Winter Break