Sunday, November 20, 2011

A lot to be THANKFUL for

Coming close to the holiday season this year I can truly say I have a lot to be thankful for. One of the things I am most thankful for is such a rewarding job with such great students!

Over the past few weeks we have learned about North Americas first inhabitants the Native American Indians as well as European explorers, European Settlers and the Pilgrams, too. We have learned how Native Americans lived and some traditions and activities they still take part in today like making pottery and weaving. As a class we even wove our own Thanksgiving placemats. We also learned about how European Settlers traveled and how they lived once they reached this New World. Next week we will study the first Thanksgiving in depth and the reasons why we still celebrate today.

In reading we had our 2nd review week, and that means book reports! Our class' creativity really shined through as they created and presented their book reports to their classmates. Take a look at what a wonderful job they did.

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After the Thanksgiving Holiday we will start our 3rd of 6 reading Units. In this next Unit students will focus their reading skills on making predictions as well as comparing and contrasting characters and settings in first grade while second grade focuses on cause and effect as well as identifying main idea and supporting details.

In math we continue to practice and learn about addition and subtraction strategies. Currently 1st graders are working on basic problem solving skills using addition and subtraction number sentences. Second graders are working on adding and subtracting 2-digit b=numbers with and without regrouping. 1st graders are gaining exposure to this 2nd grade skill which they will learn and practice at the end of the year. I ask that both 1st and 2nd graders practice their math addition and subtraction facts at home daily so that multi-step problems like 2-digit addition can be completed with ease. After the Thanksgiving Holiday we will start mad minute, a one minute timed addition and subtraction skills test. This will test students ability to complete addition and subtraction problems automatically, while committing them to memory. Students will move through mad minute at their own pace and practice skills to help them better memorize their math facts.

In Science we have studied all about how items sink and float in water and the day and night time sky. Students collected some common classroom items and some extra seasonal items to experiment on their ability to float or sink. We have also been able to explore and observe the day time sky during the school day and watch movies and look at images to explore the night time sky, too! After this exploration and the discussions that followed we created 3-D models of the day and night time sky with commonly found household and craft items.

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I continue to look forward to learning and growing here in the Primary Enrichment class and Samsula and know the kids do too! Keep coming back to see more of what we learn and how we grow!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Fire safety, one big school bus, and a trip to see Junie B.

What a jam-packed two weeks we have had since our last post. We have had a guest speaker, a story book parade and a field trip! Not to mention all of our regular curriculum study.

Last Thursday we had a special guest speaker come into our classroom and teach us about fire safety. Lt. Luedeke, taught us about properly using the 911 emergency system, what to do if we ever catch on fire, and how to properly get out of a structure that might be on fire. If you haven't already practiced using the 911 number for emergencies you can unplug your phones from the wall (if you still have land lines) and let your children practice just in case an emergency ever comes along. Lt. Luedeke also informed us of the proper way to stop, drop and roll making sure we stop immediately, drop down to the grounds and roll, covering our faces. It is also important to remember that as a family it is vital to have an emergency preparedness plan and a safe meeting location, out side of the house, where everyone can meet at in the event of a real emergency. I would like to take this time to again thank Lt. Luedeke for stopping by to teach us about these necessary safety skills.

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Last Friday was our Annual Story Book Parade. Although the weather was not on our side our Junie B. Jones school bus proved to be more maneuverable than we had originally thought and it made its way around the cafeteria and the school just fine with a little man-power provided by the whole class. The bus and the students looked great out of their every day uniforms. If you were not able to make it check out some picture bellow. I would like to thank all of the moms who helped make this day possible through all of the hard work and preparation to create such a Simply Spectacular (S.S.) School Bus!

The Story Book Parade and our reading of "Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly School Bus" and "Junie B. Jones First Grader (at last!)" really prepared us for our first field trip of the year. The musical performance was up-beat and very entertaining! Amidst 1,000 other audience members our 1-2 enrichment class shined, showing wonderful behavior at a live show and this was not only recognized by myself and other schools but it was even recognized the next day on morning announcement by Mrs. Conrad. Way to go class!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Story Book Parade

Our biggest news item is Samsula's Story Book Parade, that will take place this upcoming Friday the 28th. Our classroom's school bus is almost complete and we are gearing up and getting ready to represent our Junie B. Jones book. Students will be allowed to wear regular street clothing to school on Friday for our parade costumes and do not need to bring their school uniform to change into. Please make sure that student's "regular" clothing is modest in length and appropriate for the days weather. All students must wear tennis or athletic style shoes on Friday.

I would like to give a big Thank You! to the families who have participated and donated in our creation of our School Bus for the Parade. Take a glimpse at the hard work and effort paying off to make our Story Book Parade awesome!

Families and friends are welcome to come and view the Parade out back by the PE Pavillion. Festivities begin at 9:40am and then you are invited to stay and have lunch with the class. Don't forget to bring a chair or blanket to sit on! Parents are permitted to check children out for the remainder of the day after lunch.

On our regular classroom front there are many things to update you on. As a teacher I have been studying Thinking Maps for my own professional development. There are 8 Thinking Maps that correlate to the 8 different ways our brains think about and process information. As a class we have been learning and using these maps in all subject areas. I am excited to start using these maps to show what the students know and help them think critically about what they are learning. Below are some examples of thinking maps in use.

In Reading we have focused our skills on identifying the main idea of a selection and then providing the supporting details given in the text. Once the main idea is identified this allows students to better summarize what they have read and gain a deeper understanding. We also continue to retell what we have read paying particular attention to retelling the events in the correct order. We are practicing these reading skills through literary works, Thinking Maps and leveled practice cards. We continue to practice our reading in multiple ways, to self and others as well as working on phonics skills to support reading and spelling ability. In writing we are focusing on creating "how to" pieces where we identify and then describe the procedures or steps necessary to do, make or complete a task.

In math class we have spent some time learning about and reviewing our number sense and have moved into the concept of addition and have begun to practice our addition facts. I ask that each child in the class review addition flash cards for at least 5 minutes a day. This will allow for quicker recall of facts and make multi-step, and algebraic problems easier in the future. This upcoming week we will start to study subtraction and its relationship to addition and different ways we can find the answer or difference in a subtraction problem. Along with this study we are learning the touch math process for solving addition and subtraction. The touch math curriculum gives each number a pencil touch that will relate to the numerical value. This will allow students to add and subtract with a simple tap of their pencil. This same skill can be later applied to multiplication and division. There are multiple ways to solve a problem and I would like students to know a variety of ways and then choose the one that makes most sense and is easiest for them to use.

We continue to explore the World around us in Science. Recently we studied water and one way it changes its state of matter- evaporation. We conducted experiments in and outside of the classroom to see where and how evaporation happens. We also took a look at weather conditions and patterns as well as larger patterns such as seasons. Most recently we experimented and explored the force of gravity and magnets. This next week we are going to change gears and explore and study the relationships items have to water and how some items sink and other float. We will do many hands on experiments and draw conclusions from our predictions and observations to determine how this phenomena occurs.

Trick or Treating is right around the corner and in Social Studies we have been learning about needs and wants and how those needs and wants are met. As a school we are asking for our students to help kids in developing nations meet their needs by participating in Trick or Treat for Unicef. Student are provided with a donation box to carry while they are doing their regular Trick or Treating. The money they raise will go towards helping provide for the needs of other through food and clean drinking water. This is a great way to teach about the concept and get kids involved in helping others who struggle to have their needs met. We are also leaning about goods and services and where and how goods and services can be made, used or purchased.

As always I am enjoying every minute exploring, learning and growing with the students in the multi-ages enrichment class at Samsula Academy and hope you have enjoyed this little peek into our classroom. Check back again for more updates!
~Miss Ellis

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Week 7 was all about review

Our 7th week of school was a big review week for our reading class. We reviewed all of our reading skills and vocabulary covered perviously in Unit 1 of our reading series. With this review week we also presented our 1st of 6 Book Reports that student will complete over the school year. We also took our 1st Unit test in 2 parts on Thursday and Friday assessing all of the skills practiced. We then learned and practiced another part of our Daily 5 skills: Read to Someone. This skill allows students to become better readers and practice their fluency and prosody (or oral reading voices) while enjoying a book with their friends. Below are images of students practicing this new skill as well as a slideshow of students sharing their book reports.

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Math was all about comparing numbers this past week. We used our previous chapters skill of identifying place value to help compare numbers. Students traced and cut out their own greater than and less than symbols (> and <) to help them compare and they remembered that the "aligator mouth always faces the bigger number so he will get more to eat." Along with comparing numbers we learned our first of many dice games to build and compare numbers.

Next week we will review comparing numbers and move into basic addition and subtraction skills.

In Social Studies we finished up our map skills and started to discuss early explorers like Marco Polo and his important exploration. This next week we will continue to learn about and study explorers such as Christopher Columbus and the early settlers of the United States of America.

I would like to give 3 cheers to all those who have helped and participated in sending soil to our classroom for our soil map. We continue to put soil up and explore the different properties of soils from all around the United States.

Our soil map will stay on display in our classroom through the end of October and then it will be transfered outside of the main office to showcase it to the entire school. In science we have also studied evaporation, weather and seasons.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Maps, Maps and More Maps

In Social Studies this past week we started to learn about the Earth's surface and hope you have found someone who is willing to share some of their Earth with us here in Samsula. We will put up our map at the end of this week to showcase the soil from around our country. Along with the Earth's surface we will begin our study of continents, oceans, our country: its states and neighbors. We look forward to the hands on activities using our map and globe skills to explore these regions.

In science we move our focus of the Earth's surface from rocks and soils to how it changes over time. Some changes take place over long periods of time like in weathering and others happen very quickly as a result of extreme weather or natural events like Earthquakes. Below you can see some of our hands on rock experiences as we sorted and classified rocks from our area.

Students will continue their study of place value in math class from last week through this new week. We will continue to practice with manipulatives to represent numbers through the 100s and maybe even 1,000s place value. It is important to remember that when we say a number our loud it may help us to know how many ones, tens and hundreds it has.

This week we will be practicing a new and very important writing skill associated with friendly letters. We will be learning how to write and address an envelope. In your child's homework this week I ask that you practice writing your home address with the students so that as we write some letters they can be addressed and mailed home.

As always I look forward to a new week of learning and growing and hope you do, too!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Patterns all around!

Our 4th week of school was a very successful one! We learned and practiced may skills.

In math class we practiced identifying pattern units and even made some patterns of our own. We also found mistakes in patterns and corrected them and extended them. Here are some examples of patterns made by students in our class this year.

Over the next two weeks we will explore numerals, place values, and different ways we can represet numbers. We will use base ten block and unifix cubes to practice these concepts.

In social studies we have finished up our unit on communities and different areas such as urban, rural and suburban. We explored common features of these types of communities and used our imaginations to pretend what it would be like to live in the communities we do not currently live in.

Science class brought us a lot of inquiry. We focused this week on the most important science question: "How do you know?" We created a list of questions about the items we could observe in our classroom and then narrowed those down to a list of 3 that we explored. We hypothesized, observed and drew conclusions to these questions through measurement and recording of data in our science journal.
Take a look at some of our inquiries below:

Next week we will start our combined study of the Earth's surface in both Science and Social Studies. As a fun and very scientific way to study the Earth's surface I ask that each family send a zip top bag to a friend or family member that does not live in the Volusia County area and have them mail the bag with a few scoops of the soil they have in their yard. We will use these samples to explore texture and content.

Comprehension is key in reading class and we continue to practice our reading daily. This next week we will practice our reading skills of plot development, characters and setting, as well as summarizing and identifying main ideas and details. These skills help students better understand what they are reading and allow for greater comprehension. We will also practice phonics skills centered around words with short /o/ and long /o/ following the o-e pattern found in words like mop and mope respectively in 2nd grade while 1st graders will focus on short /a/ and /i/ words such as cat and hit respectively.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Special, Special, Special!

Our community, school and classroom are full of special people and I am so pleased with the turn out we had this past Friday to celebrate all the special people in our lives.

This past week we finished our second week of reading skill study and move to our 3rd week. First graders will continue to practice their reading skill of retelling events in the right order. Their phonics practice will center around words with the short /i/ sound heard in the word "kid." Second graders will learn and practice the reading skill of summarizing what they have read and identifying main ideas and details. Second grade phonics practice will center on words with the long /a`/ sound and a_e spelling patterns found in words like "made."

In math class we will assess our knowledge of spatial sense and begin our study of patterns. We will look at the basic structures of patterns, and how to extend a pattern.

This past week in science we had the opportunity to use our process skills to investigate the world around us. We took time to go on a nature walk and practice our observation skills. This upcoming week we will continue to practice our scientific skills and begin to use inquiry skills. We will come up with our own questions about the world around us and create experiments to find out more about the world around us and possible answers to our questions.

In social studies we started our unit on the USA, its common symbols and recognizable monuments. This week we will continue to review these symbols and move into the study of of communities such as cities, rural areas and larger communities such as states and countries.

Below are some images from our Special Persona Day. Enjoy!