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Popcorn Words

Please read these weekly Popcorn Words with your K-Kid each night!

*I *it *run *help *away
*a *in *jump *down
*is *we *one
*am *big *two
*to *for *make
*the *this *get
*go *red *play
*me *like *find
*see *my *funny
*and *come *look
*can *up *blue
*you *not *yellow
Saturday, January 28, 2017

Just Keep Swimming!

It was a great second week learning about the ocean! We had so much fun exploring the Shedd Aquarium, and creating the creative and informative Chatterpix! The kids have really been enjoying researching and learning about various sea animals. We will be working on an ocean mural this week as our culminating project. You may want to dress your kiddos in old clothes on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday while we complete these murals dedicated to the ocean and it's vast plants and animals.

Language Arts: 
We have continued our literacy work stations this week, continuing to focus on more complex reading and writing skills/strategies. We continue to talk about magic e's at the end of words and discuss what happens when two vowels go walking. We have also practiced with our 'h brother digraphs,' looking at ch, th, ph, sh, and wh. We also completed a shark and whale venn diagram activity, comparing and contrasting facts about two of our favorite sea animals. Of course, we also spent time working on our Chatterpix projects, in which the students had to research and write down three facts about their chosen ocean animal, and then practice reading those facts fluently so that I could record them. They were very motivated! We screened everyone's "movies" in class, and the kids were so amused with each others' creations, and beaming with pride over their own work!

This week in math we have continued our discussion of even and odd numbers. We also continue to discuss addition and subtraction using our 'counting on' and 'counting back' strategies. You can help your kiddos practice this at home! Remind them to 'put the higher number in your brain!' and keep on counting either forwards or backwards. In our math work stations, the K-Kids continue practicing addition and subtraction skills, number sense work, and different representations of these items. By the time these kids enter first grade it is my goal that they will not only know how to solve a problem but will be able to explain WHY they chose to solve it in a certain way. 

Writer's Workshop:
This week we continued our Informational writing unit. The students have been making great strides in both their writing organization as well as the content. They love to come up with new topics that they consider themselves to be experts in!

This week in science we continued our discussion of a variety of ocean animals and how they interact with one another in the ocean.We discussed the sunlit zone, the twilight zone, and the midnight zone. In the sunlit (sometimes called sunlight) zone, you will find most of the ocean's plants and animals, even though it is the smallest zone. Some of the bigger animals we discussed, like whales and sharks, travel between the sunlit zone and the twilight zone, and once you travel the large midnight zone you will find very few plants and animals. Next week we are going to study the midnight zone in greater depth, which they are very excited about! We will learn all about bioluminescent animals that light up to attract prey and scare off predators.

Coming Up Next:
After we finish up our Ocean unit in the middle of this week, we will begin to prepare for the 100th Day of school, which will fall on Friday, Feb. 10!
Saturday, January 21, 2017

Whales Vs Sharks!

We have taken a headfirst dive right into our Ocean unit. This is such a fun unit to teach since there is so much we don't know about the ocean, which leads to many interesting questions from the K-Kids!

Language Arts:

This week we started a new round of literacy work stations, many of which focus on ocean animals and creatures. We continued to do Words Their Way to help with spelling and phonics skills and the K-Kids have shown a great deal of independent growth now that we have entered into the second half of the year. As a class, we are discussing specific vowel strategies. First, we discussed what the magic e does to other vowels in words like cake, note, and bike. We also talked about what happens "When two vowels go walking..." After looking at some words with this happening, we discovered that "when two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking." Interestingly enough, it also uses it's long vowel sound. However, not all of these strategies are apparent all the time, and we keep putting words in word jail when they don't follow the rules! Try to look for some magic e words and two-vowel words when you're reading at night!


In math we are continuing our exploration of how to compose and decompose various numbers. We are also starting to explore measurement, greater than/less than, and even/odd numbers with this ocean unit.  To begin, we talked about using our fingers to look at the numbers in only the ones column, and how even numbers will each have a partner while odd numbers will have an 'odd man out!' Ask your child to explain this to you at home!  We are doing a great deal of our math learning through games and manipulatives, which has helped the K-Kids solidify the skills and their ability to explain their thinking! The kids are absolutely loving the Estimation Jar, and after a few days of it there has been a noticeable difference in the kids' estimation skills, and their ability to guess numbers that make sense!

We continued to pay attention to various text features that authors can use with their informational writing. We focused on using comparisons in our writing, such as "A polar bear weighs as much as ten men." The students particularly enjoyed the comparison example in one of our mini lessons: "A pig weighs about as much as 6 first graders", which was accompanied by an illustration of a pig and six children balancing on a scale.

The ocean unit lends itself very well to science. We started our discussion with an overview of ocean zones, but this week we focused mainly on sharks and whales. First, we created schema charts for each animal. The students shared whatever information that was "already in their brains", and we added it to our chart. Then, as we learned about sharks and whales throughout the week, we added all new information to a separate section on the chart. We also discovered some of our schema was actually a misconception! Then we discussed the differences between sharks and whales. Did you know that sharks are fish while whales are actually mammals? We also explored an actual sharks mouth! Did you also know that sharks don't have a skeleton made of bones? Instead, they are made of cartilage, which allows them to swim through the water with ease. Also, a shark has up to 20 rows of teeth and as they fall out, a new tooth from the next row just pops right in to fill the space! Ask your kiddos to tell you even more shark and whale facts! We ended the week with two fun and adorable projects. The students made orca whales and then wrote 3 facts that they had learned about whales. They also made sharks, and wrote a shark Can/Have/Are sheet. Be on the lookout for these projects hanging up outside our classroom next week!
Sunday, January 15, 2017

Leaders Are Everywhere!

This week, we had a fantastic time finishing up our Martin Luther King Jr. unit. We continue to emphasize being a leader (even when it's not the easiest choice) and I overheard many of the K-Kids reminding each other to "act like Martin Luther King Jr." Transitions became easier and the kids were very focused on "following directions quickly."

Language Arts:
We worked to finish up our language arts centers this week, and the kiddos worked quite hard to ensure that their Martin Luther King activities were finished. We also wrote our own MLK biographies this week. We discussed what a biography is and how to write a story about someone else's life. The biographies were then written to focus on 'early life,' 'family,' 'education,' and 'life's work.' The kids absolutely blew us away! Their interpretation of all of our discussions was so apparent and I was so proud to see this K-level research project take shape. I'm certain that they will be very eager to share with you all of the knowledge they have gained about Martin Luther King Jr's inspirational life.

This week we also finished up our math stations, focusing greatly on addition and subtraction. With all of the K-Kids, we are working on automaticity and number sense. I have been very impressed to see the progress thus far, and addition and subtraction skills have become quite fluent. We also began sending home the Estimation Jar this week. The kids absolutely love looking at the jar and trying to estimate the number of items inside. It is a real challenge for the student who brought the jar in to write down his or her friends' guesses on the board without telling them whether their number is close or not, but they have all done an admirable job at keeping a straight face! Be on the lookout for the Estimation Jar to come home with your child soon, if it hasn't yet!

Social Studies: 

As I stated before, we have thoroughly discussed leadership throughout this Martin Luther King Jr. unit. We did a great deal of role playing this week to figure out how a leader would handle each situation. I knew that the lessons were making an impact as I heard many of The Leader in Me concepts come forth this week during free choice and transition times! 

This week we discussed various text features, and how to incorporate them into our All About writing. We learned the purposes of labeling, captioning, table of contents, close-ups and cut-away illustrations, and maps. The students were challenged to use one or several of these features in their writing, and they did a terrific job! We will continue to utilize these in our future writing. 
Sunday, January 8, 2017

Our Tribute to Martin Luther King Jr

Welcome back to school! This week, we began our Martin Luther King Jr. leadership unit in honor of his birthday, which comes up on January 15. The kids have really taken to this concept of being a leader, and I am definitely using the idea of acting like Martin Luther King Jr. on a daily basis! We started our discussion focusing on what it means to be 'fair' and how it makes you feel if someone treats you 'unfairly.' I am always amazed at the class discussions that come out of this unit, and how injustice in our world can make a 5 or 6-year-old think critically. We will use much of the new information we have learned about MLK to create our first biographies next week! 

Language Arts:
This week we started a new round of literacy workstations. Some of these workstations focused on MLK and his legacy, while others helped us interact with various phonemic and phonological awareness skills. We continue to complete a book study every week, and I have seen a great amount of deep comprehension from the K-Kids lately. It's amazing how a few short months can completely change our discussions about books! 

This week in math we continued our discussion of addition and subtraction, focusing on the differences in the symbols. We also have started working on math equations where part of the equation is missing but we have the answer. For example 8 + ___ = 12. This has been an interesting challenge for the K Kids since it requires such a deep understanding of how numbers work together. We also have been working on coin identification and continue our work with place value. The K-Kids enjoy the extra challenge of playing our 'mystery number' game where one student picks a mystery number and the rest of the K-Kids have to figure out what that number is. 

Writer's Workshop:
We began our information/all about writing unit, by discussing how to think about writing topics that we feel we know a lot about. We discussed that in order for something to be a 'super topic' we need to know 5 things about it. We also brainstormed potential writing topics with writing partners.  I have LOVED watching this group grow as writers. They each have a unique style and Writer's Workshop has definitely become a favorite part of the day. 

Social Studies:
Our Martin Luther King Jr. unit gave us a perfect opportunity to explore many social studies concepts this week. We started with a Brain Pop Jr. video to show much about the life of Martin Luther King and as an added benefit, includes Rosa Parks! We discussed how he became a great leader and how he used nonviolent tactics to fight in a very troubling time. We also discussed how he organized large groups of peoples and talked a great deal about his I Have A Dream Speech. We even watched part of the real speech and the K-Kids were so interested in how there were people of all races in the audience. The kiddos have used Martin Luther King as a fantastic example of leadership this week, something we will continue throughout the year.