Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wonka Day!

Not an ordinary Tuesday... certainly not when it's Willy Wonka Day in second grade! Students came dressed at their favorite character from the story, and we had many Viotets, Mike TVs, Charlies, Verucas, and Oompa Loompas too! No Willy Wonkas, Agustus Gloops, or Grandpa Joes this year. Please notice how students quickly got into character for their photo-op. And yes... that Veruca is just down right nasty...or as Aryana said (and rather well)... "completely spoiled and very bossy to her father"! You got that right, Aryana! Every year is different and every year Willy Wonka Day is memorable. We started our day writing about what we would do at the factory, as every student found a GOLDEN TICKET! Later we found a chocolate river flowing through the math meeting and students graphed several types of "data" (yea, it was chocolate). We had lots of fun and unexpected surprises throughout the day. The only thing that could have made it better was if Roald Dahl could have joined us himself. I think he would have been impressed... well done second graders! Fun day!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Friday! Amanda, 5th Grade Readers, and Alex's V.I.P!

Awesome Friday Friends! Amanda did a great job running math meetings all week! Calendar math, counting money, reading the hundreds board, and graphing the weather... great job Amanda! Likewise, all our morning meeting helpers helped give each day a cheerful positive beginning with great song choices, greetings, and games! Well done! Alex ended our week with a wonderful V.I.P. presentation, sharing many special memories, celebrations, family and friends, and even invited some extra guests: Mom and Grandma! Lovely Alex... we sure learned a lot about you, and look forward to seeing some of you sweet gymnastics moves when you're ready to show us! Double digit subtraction with borrowing continues with more practice next week. We will also complete a few more magnet investigations, and finish our unit with our "Magnet Fact Book".
We also enjoyed some Readers Theater performances by our 5th grade Buddies. They shared 2 wonderful stories, both with an important lesson... don't judge friends by how fancy their clothes might be! What's on the outside isn't as important as what's on the inside! Second graders made great connections (both text to text, and text to self/world)! You all were a great, respectful audience. Impressive second graders!
The big news, next week, will, no doubt, be WILLY WONKA DAY...TUESDAY!! Come to school dressed as your favorite Wonka character. Get ready for our class to be taken over by a chocolate river, and maybe even a golden ticket or two (or more)!! YEAH!!!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thursday Thinkers!

Great week friends! We tackled double digit subtraction...and won!! Now we just need to keep practicing, remembering the steps... and work on those math facts!! Problem solving is sooooooo much easier when you know that 12-7=5 in one second (not 10 seconds, or with fingers and number lines!!). While we practice twice a day (each time for about 5 minutes), students should keep practicing at home with flashcards. Like anything else... the more students practice, the faster they will know their facts. If they practice a little... they may become a little faster... without practice, they will not become any faster (and problem solving will be slower and harder for those who do not learn their facts). "Nuff said".
Good news and bad news...we only have one chapter left of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (bad)! Though, this, of course means we're ready for Willy Wonka Day in second grade (WOOHOO!!). This coming Tuesday will be Willy Wonka Day. This means over the weekend, think of your favorite character, and get ready to come to school dressed as this character!! This doesn't mean go out and "buy" anything... remember... most of the characters are kids, just like you! Imagine a way you could dress up as one of the characters using ordinary stuff from around your house. Sometimes it's fun to keep your character a secret, and we'll try and guess who you are when you get to school...FUN!!
To end our day, Otto blew us away with his amazing thinking! That's right! He tackled a math problem (knowing a lot about solids, faces, edges, curved faces of solids...) and wasn't quite sure he knew the answer right away. So, you know what Otto did??? He read the problem again... and again... and he thought, and thought... and HE GOT AN IDEA!!! Could he solve the problem by creating a "model"... essentially create a replica of the problem he was being presented with, and use his thinking to create EVEN MORE THINKING???? OH MY!!! Not only did Otto solve the problem, he truly showed us what good students, nay... what great thinkers do to answer questions and solve problems... he didn't give up! When he didn't know the answer right away... he KEPT ON THINKING!!! Boy Otto, you sure made my day.... and all those buttons in the jar (yep... all for thinking) were appreciated and respected by your peers! Well done Otto, well done!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Where is the magnetic field the strongest??

Magnet investigations continued in second grade today! Students used a bar magnet and paperclips to measure where the strongest parts of the magnetic field are on the magnet. We placed paperclips on all parts of the magnet, and quickly realized that the north and south poles held the most paperclips (for some, up to 4 or 5 paperclips). Some magnets were stronger than others (which we noticed when we aligned the poles in the paper clips... investigation #2) but most of our observations support our prediction: The poles of the magnets (north and south) have the strongest magnetic power... indeed, that is where the magnetic field is the strongest.
We also enjoyed revisiting John, Steven Gurney's visit yesterday, and made some text-to-text connections with our Don and Audrey Wood collection of books! Nice!
Owen started our day with a great morning meeting, and Amanda lead a great math meeting as well.
After an introduction of double digit subtraction (with regrouping/borrowing), we practiced with unifix cubes. Tomorrow, we'll learn the steps in problem solving without the cubes... and boy, oh, boy... are we ready!!
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was as great as ever... and we can't wait until we celebrate Willy Wonka Day in second grade next week. Looks like Tuesday will be the big day! Come to school dressed as your favorite "Wonka" character, and let the fun begin!!

Monday, March 22, 2010

A real live illustrator comes to Sunderland Elementary!!

Wow! You know it's going to be a great week when it begins with a visit with John Steven Gurney... illustrator of The Bailey School Kids, and The A-Z Mystery Series!! He shared his time and talent with us, explaining how he illustrates, the variety of tools he uses, what he thinks about, and what it's like to work with publishers and editors. Students were able to "visit" his studio via slide show, and were treated to many of his colorful and realistic illustrations. His inspiration for many of his characters are developed from his very own son (and his friends) along with pictures he's collected (remind anyone of Don and Audrey Wood... I thought so!). Seeing the process he goes through... from idea, to conception, to drafts, to, well... to even starting over was so valuable for young second grade writers and illustrators! And, if that wasn't enough, he walked us through a tutorial of drawing with clever (Ed Emberly like) steps to our very own "Grumpy Grandpa".
I was very impressed with each second grader who not only appreciated and enjoyed our guest illustrator, but were quiet, respectful, and attentive! Well done second graders. Many thanks to Mrs. Cranshaw, our librarian, for arranging such a memorable Monday for our school! Awesome start to our work week.... and I'm NOT JOE KING! HA, ha, ha! Couldn't resist... that was a good one!!
Other honorable mentions for today include Amanda's very first math meeting! Great job Amanda! We will begin learning double digit subtraction with regrouping (borrowing) tomorrow, and practice this week during math. We also have another magnet investigation tomorrow, and will write our observations like "scientists" during writing workshop.
For those wondering... tomorrow is an MCAS day for students (NOT second graders) so we will work hard to make our school a quiet work place for thinkers.
CONFERENCES... Many have already signed up for a conference and I look forward to sharing your students progress with you! If you have not signed up yet, please return the sign up sheet, or simply a note about what will work best for you!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Otto's V.I.P...Another busy week!

What a busy week it's been! Many morning meeting helpers have been running wonderful meetings to get our day off to a great start. What a great visit from Teresa this week... thanks for all the help and listening to readers during our literacy block... and thanks for reducing us to a puddle of tears with your heartfelt note to students! WOW!!
We've also been conducting many more magnet investigation in science (check out our slide show) and continued our work with geometry in math (and... yes... another slide show... take a peek).
Right in the middle of the week...and on St. Patrick's Day, no less... we had another treat as students performed in our very own Cafe Sun! We were "blown away" by Aryana's violin talent, Kalesiah's piano, and Maddison on the recorder (self taught... wow!!). To top off Cafe Sun, a second grade circus of performers took center stage and performed a hilarious show packed with mimes, dancing clowns, hula-hoopers, and jump-ropers. Again, check the slide show for all the details... you won't want to miss this!!
We ended our week with Otto's V.I.P! Many photos of important events, family and friends...and even one with Otto driving a pay-loader (HUH???? Wha'??? Wowwwwww!!). I especially loved the sound effects you added when calling on friends with comments/questions (charisma and style!!). Thanks for sharing so many special memories with us Otto! Well done!
Start your Saturday morning at the PANCAKE BREAKFAST at Sunderland Elementary School! Yummy!!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

R-Controlled Vowels and One Great Math Meeting Helper!!

Great job as Math Meeting Helper CJ!! We also continued our study of magnets with more investigations. Using what we learned about the North and South poles of magnets, we created a magnet out of an ordinary paperclip. We learned many things and some students (Michael... Annika...) actually created a magnet strong enough to pick up 5 or more other paperclips! WOW!! More magnet investigations next week as we take a close look at how magnet are used as tools... and do more "fact" writing about magnets!
We also learned and played a fun game to help reinforce our spelling... R-Controlled vowels were the rule, and we used our skills to try and "roll, find, read, and write" 7 words in a row! Great practice, teamwork, cooperative learning, and spelling... all rolled up into a 15 minute interactive game! As always, busy, full, eventful week in second grade!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Geometry Work Stations... and Ben's V.I.P!!

Fun Friday! Students took what they learned in geometry this week (vocabulary, attributes of solids... 2-D and 3-D shapes) and had fun in a variety of hands-on math stations. Students took turns at a symmetry station (mirrors and pattern blocks), matching attribute cards and solids (with the geo-blocks), Investigations symmetry programs on the computer (building shapes around lines of symmetry), as well as flash card practice and Fast Math (also on the computer... developing "automaticity" with math facts!!). Students got at least one turn at about two stations, and the results were so positive, that we will indeed have another day of practice in our math stations this Friday! Cooperative learning, lots of vocabulary and communication exchanges with peers and teachers, and hands-on fun in small groups. It was a wonderful learning opportunity for those who consider themselves "geometry experts" (yup, we've got a few of those!!), as well as those of us who just love hands-on practice with pattern blocks!
We also enjoyed a full history of the illustrious life and times of our own Mr. Ben Morse!! Pets, hockey, awards, Fenway and family stories. This kid knows how to have fun too... so fair warning!! Nice job sharing so many important memories, Ben! And, as always, during V.I.P., our second grade audience was "pin-drop" respectful and quiet during his special moment! Followed by many questions, "noticings", and lots of laughs! Well done Ben!