Wednesday, February 13, 2019

All School Meeting, Winter Wellness, etc.

Hello, families!

I hope this finds you all well. What a late start to the day today! It's a good thing that we were able to get out and enjoy it together!

We have an All-School Meeting tomorrow, I hope you can all make it. The kids will be presenting some of the things that are going on in our classroom. Also, Valentine's Day is tomorrow. Please, no snacks or treats. However, if kids want to being in cards, they may. The only rule is that they need to go out to everyone.

Speaking along the lines of kindness, we talked as a class about being sure to be sensitive about talking about birthdays, play dates and sleepovers at school. I know that this is a tricky topic to handle, but supporting the message that the tone of sharing plans is important. your support is appreciated. 

We are working on a persuasive writing piece to Ms. Toth regarding getting a climbing wall at our school. They will be starting their own writing pieces next week using a graphic organizer and then diving into the convincing. I can't wait to see how they try to convince you all with their various ideas.

Please be in touch with any questions, comments and celebrations!



Class list for Valentines:

Ayden, Stella, Anthony, Rowan, Kora, Landon, Wolfie, Eli, Eli (yes, there are two Eli's!), Anna, Wrenn Anneliese, Emma, Lorelei, Yael, Lucian, Gage, Harper, Sena, Connor.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Winter Wellness, Construction and Kindness

Hello Friends!

I hope this finds you all well. We are continuing to thaw out and survive the indoor recesses... That said, I hope you have all gotten to experience this magical winter weather.

We will be starting Winter Wellness next Friday. Your child should come home with the paperwork yesterday. My apologies for not getting it out on Friday, I was not able to do it as I was doing reading assessments with students throughout Friday afternoon. We will be starting Next Friday afternoon, the 25th and going every Friday until February break. Be get in touch with Ms. Toth if you have questions about joining us, should you want to.

We have opened our Construction Zone an the kids have been trained on using various handsaws while cutting cardboard. We have received our first work order from two classrooms for 25 1'x1' cardboard squares. We have a number of really helpful friends. I will be teaching the kids more about measuring in the coming weeks. This will be building to the work or wood construction at some point later on. I am so proud of how hard and seriously they are working.

We were bummed to not go to the Flynn last week due to the road conditions. That said, we made it a great day and I hope they felt the same. We are looking at possible programs at the Flynn that we could check out later in the Spring. We'll keep you updated as we go forward.

We have started our School Kindness unit again where we focus on being kind and recognizing kindness from others. The kids have been writing some really sweet letters to other kids, many of whom are not in their grade cluster.

In writing, we have finished our stories and will be moving into some non-fiction writing. Prepare to be persuaded! We have also been super productive in literacy. Kids are reading, writing and even starting a newspaper. We are beginning to do some audio books as well to add some new flavor to the mix.

All in all, a great start to the new year!


Friday, November 30, 2018

Fictional Writing, Artist in Residence and Parent Conferences

Hello, friends!

It was wonderful to touch base for conferences. It is always such a great pleasure to discuss your children and their progress in the many skills they are developing. If you still need to schedule a conference, let me know. I can schedule times after school and before school most days.

We have been starting our work on story writing. The kids are developing characters for their stories and they are really something. They are working on three main characters to build their story off of. The idea is that the details about their characters will lead them to the main idea of their stories. An example is a character that one student developed that is a dragon that has a hole in its wing. This detail alone is intriguing and one that may lend itself to developing the plot and backstory that led to it. Ask your child about the characters they are thinking of!

In literacy I have continued to work with kid on their reading in small groups and individually. We have talked a lot about thinking about the story as they are reading and asking themselves if they understand what is happening. If they don't, that is the cue to go back and read what happened again. I am also encouraging the kids to try different genres as well (fiction vs. non fiction, for example). They are all working so hard and making lots of great progress.

We are so lucky to have Marv Klassen-Landis as this years Artist and Residence at our school. He will be working on story-telling with our kiddos and the kids will be having him for 5 sessions during the two weeks before the holiday break. If there is a time when the kids will be presenting their work, I'll be sure to send it your way. 

Speaking of getting close to the holiday break, we will be doing our annual Solstice party on the afternoon of the 21st. We will be doing our celebration from 12:30-1:45. More details will be coming in the coming days. We will be centering our work for the solstice around kindness and giving.

Last, here a link to a great site for some online reading resources. They have a huge online library of books that kids really enjoy. They are having a great sale right now that might be a great gift for the holidays!

As always, be in touch with any questions, concerns or celebrations.



Monday, October 29, 2018

Conferences, etc.

Hey Friends,

We have had a great couple of weeks of school. We had our hike day, been enjoying the last of our school garden for the year, and working really hard in class.

First, conferences. I have set up dates and times for parent conferences. Please follow the link to sign up for a time that works for you. If you can't find one, please let me know. We can always find a time and place to make it work. I look forward to seeing you all!

It's ambitious and we'll see how it goes, but I would really like to try to get your child to run their conference. The goal will be for them to be presenting their work and talking about their year thus far. This is a first try and I'm sure we'll adjust and modify as needed for our Spring conferences. I am trying to help support and encourage their investment in their work.

The kids did a great job presenting at All School Meeting. The kids split into 4 groups and presented about our favorite board game, literacy choices, read-aloud books and a super brave reader read her own "small moment" writing piece. It was all a great showcase of the amazing work these kids are doing in our room.

The Rumney garden is closing up so keep your ears open for any dates that we may need to help shut the garden down for the season (mulch spreading, garlic planting, final weeding, etc.). Thanks to all of you who make it possible for kids to access this amazing school resource.

We are continuing our Small Moment writing and are now in the phase of adding detail and descriptive language. Some kids are also playing with using dialogue as well. I have really loved getting to know these second graders as developing writers!

In Read-Aloud we have started a book about Jackie Robinson and the value of courage. It is really something to hear from kids about times when they have needed to have courage. Courage can mean a lot of different things to a 7 or 8 year old!

In literacy I have continued to meet with reading groups, conference with kids about their independent writing and to work with kids on their sight word reading and spelling. They are all working so hard on their independent work habits and making plans for themselves.

That's it for now. Let me know if you have any questions, concerns or celebrations.



Thursday, October 4, 2018

Literacy, Open House, the Rumney Garden, Infinite Campus and 4-Winds!

Hello Friends,

I hope you all have been finding creative ways to enjoy our wet weather! I have a feeling that we are in for some amazing colors this weekend. I hope you all get a chance to get out and enjoy them!

We have been working really hard on developing and working on our reading workshop menus. The kids went through their first week using them and to help guide their decision making. The choices they make include responding to text, reading on their own, reading with a reading group partner, free writing, and sight word practice, to name a few. Now that we are done our battery of reading assessments, I can place the kids in reading groups, which we are starting next week. As a group we have been talking a lot about non-fiction texts and the features of the text (glossary, labels, etc.) as well as making the connection from what they are reading to the skills we are working on in group.

In writing we have talked a lot about complete sentences and capital letters. The kids have done a couple "show what you know" exercises around this skill. We have talked about how periods mark the end of a complete thought and the capital letters are used at the beginnings of sentences as well as when writing the names of specific places or people (I know there's more, but they're only in second grade!). We started to talk about our first formal writing piece, which will be a "Small Moment" writing piece. The kids are going to work from an event that they have experienced and making a connection to the lesson they learned. We talked about lessons such as: never giving up, be a good friend, don't listen to people who may be asking you to make a bad choice, etc.

Open House is next Wednesday, October 10th from 5-6. I can't wait to have you all come in a see all of the wonderful work the kids are doing and the big plans we have for our year! It is such a wonderful time and I look forward to touching base with all of you!

The Rumney Garden has been closing up for the year. As always, this is such an amazing part of our school. That said, it is a REALLY big job! We need to spread out mulch, turn over the soil and put away materials and we will be looking for volunteers in the coming weeks. It would be great for folks to put some time into this great resource. We will also be looking for help in the spring and through the summer to make sure our plants are well cared for. The kids benefit greatly from seeing the food they raise. One child, last week, when eating beets said, "What were the red things? They were delicious!" I replied, "Beets!" They yelled, "But I'm not supposed to like beets!" It's experiences like this that make it all worth it and if you have any time, please consider pitching in to help when help is needed.

I had a chat today with the kids about Infinite Campus (IC) and why I am scoring some of their work. I talked about how the numbers are a way for me to communicate to them and families about how they are progressing on their many skills. That said, if you choose at your child's IC account and see scores entered, just know that these scores reflect a snapshot of time. The kids will be getting many opportunities to "show what they know" in many different areas and ways. It is important for you to know that the numbers reflect their progress toward end of year expectations. Therefore, it is typical for kids to be earning a score of 2, as a 2 reflects progress toward meeting the end of year expectation. Again, and I can't stress this enough, if you talk to your children about their work, you really only need to ask 1 question: Was it your best work? If yes, that's great! They are on their way. In class we are encouraging hard work and effort being before results. You may hear athletes talking about this all of the time. They put in the practice and preparation and when competition happens, the results are what they are. What is most important is that they prepared as best as possible. I'll try to have more information handy at Open House to help with other questions you may have.

We had a great week of 4-Winds, talking about plant-eaters. The kids saw a puppet show and looked at different leaves to see what critters may have been munching on them. We also got to think about some food webs so that kids could see what consumes what. Our next 4-Winds class is in a couple of weeks and we can't wait! Thanks so much to our awesome volunteers!

Phew! That was a lot! If you have questions, celebrations or concerns, as always, please be in touch.

Enjoy those leaves this weekend!



Also a very important message from Honi Bean Barrett:

For the month of October we are hosting a Food Drive. Please help us FILL the donation boxes for the Middlesex Food Shelf! Our goal is to bring in 1000 items.

We have a list of most helpful items from the food shelf. This is just a general guideline. 

Please note that every and all donations are appreciated!

PreK/K – Breakfast cereal, both hot and cold. Snack items such as granola bars.
1st/2nd grades – Pasta, sauces, beans, canned veggies & fruits.
3rd/4th grades – Tuna, canned meats (such as beef stew, sausage, ravioli), canned soup, convenience food (mac and cheese, other boxed foods).
5th/6th grades – Nut butters, jams, jellies. Baking ingredients.
Rumney staff – Toiletries, soaps, toothpaste, paper products such as toilet paper.

Items can be brought in from NOW until the Harvest Dinner on October 26th.
Thank you in advance for your generosity! 

Questions? Want to help with the food drive or the Harvest Dinner? 

Contact Honi Bean Barrett

Friday, September 14, 2018

Monarchs and More!

Hello Friends!

We have had an amazing couple of weeks in our class. It felt really good to have a shortened week last week, they seemed to really appreciate the extra break and shortened workload.

We have been practicing our work at literacy time, doing some free writing as well as practicing read-to-self time and learning how to pick out "good fit" books to read. We have been building a class puzzle, talking about who they are using the words "I am". We are going to put the puzzle together and put together all of our parts to create the "We Are". I am so excited to see how it turns out! We are also starting to fill out our "Big 4" poster to think about what our school-wide expectations mean to our class and how we interpret them.

Also, in regards to our class culture, we have talked a lot about our personal responsibilities to ourselves as well as to others around us. For instance, it is my number one job to keep the children in my class safe. It is also all of our jobs to keep each other safe.

A quick related story: My wife has started a new job as the afterschool pre-k CC person at Doty school in Worcester and the other night we were talking about our day and she asked, "What is this thing about line-up?" It's funny, because I had never thought about it. After thinking about it for a bit, I thought about what line-up means. To mean it includes the skills of body space, safety and awareness, patience, negotiation, compromise, following expectations about volume, and so much more. In a sense, it encompasses many of the skills we are trying to help our kids learn throughout the day. I am trying to impress upon the kids that by demonstrating these skills and showing that we can help our friends follow them as well, many fun and exciting doors will open in our classroom.

Thanks to our friends in and out of school, we have the privilege to raise 3 monarch butterflies. All three are in chrysalises and should be hatching in the coming weeks. I can't wait to see their faces when the metamorphosis is complete! We will release them outside after they hatch. I'll try to take pictures to capture the event!

Watching the Metamorphosis!

It was great to see all of you at Curriculum Night. I hope you all got the details and answer to questions you may have been looking for. If not, feel free to get in touch and I'll help clear up your questions as best I can.

We have started a classroom library sign-out. The kids are allowed to sign out two books from our class library. They developed a great system. The reason for it is because there were some kiddos who were having a tough time picking out "good fit" books to read at literacy and were instead choosing books that were not. We talked about how it is important for them to read good-fit books while at school and that home may be a better place for the books that they may not be ready for yet. They, of course, are allowed to sign out good fit books to bring home as well. I'll be in touch to send a reminder if the books stay out for too long (1 week or so).

Phew. That's it for now.

See you at the fair!


Friday, August 31, 2018

The First Week!

It has been so wonderful getting to know all of your children this week. They all came in ready to work and ready to embark on a great journey together. I am so looking forward to seeing all of them grow in their own special ways.

This week we are getting to know our new friends, our learning space and the daily routines. They are quick bunch, I'll give them that! We set up the room together, did some cleaning, opened up all of our ordered materials and put them away, organized our class library and made table groups for work times.

We read two great books together, Wolf Watch and The Giant Jam Sandwich.

Image result for the great jam sandwich Image result for wolf watch book

While the stories are totally different, we talked a lot about how not only is it the jobs of the adults in the building to keep kids safe, it is their job to keep one another safe as well. In the book Wolf Watch, we talked about how the wolves in a wolf pack helps each other in this kind of way. We also talked about how when there is a problem, it is the job of the group to help solve it. The solution can be straightforward or creative, as we found out when looking at how the characters in The Giant Jam Sandwich solved their problem.

We did a little practicing of read-to-self time at literacy and will continue our work expanding into writing next week with some guided prompts. We will be doing more work on our literacy schedule and options in the days and weeks ahead.

ALLERGIES: In order to be sensitive to the dietary needs of the kids in our class, I am asking for families to not send in baked goods for birthdays and other "treat days". Fruits are best but please avoid mango, apple and pineapple. If you have questions, please be in touch.

I think that's it for now. It has really been a pleasure to be back at school, surrounded by the creativity, kindness and earnestness of young children. I look forward to getting to know your children more and more and I look forward to seeing you all soon!