Friday, November 30, 2007

Vocabulary is Alive in Reading and Math


Learning and using new vocabulary is emphasized in our classroom daily. Whenever I read a new book, I try to pull out a few words that may need some clarification before we start. I find that this is valuable in that the children hear me talk about the word before I read the book, and then they recognize the word when they hear it. We have a wonderful vocabulary unit that my fellow teachers and I worked on during the summer under dayle timmons' guidance. We use these books daily (fairy tales, folk tales, and various other fiction books) to read and teach vocabulary. The students love to hear the words learned from these books and repeat them often during conversations and are starting to use them in their writing - words such as clever, delighted, cozy, and adventurous.


We have stretched our vocabulary word wall to include a vocabulary math word wall. This is a portable chart that we use to review each new word learned in math. This has proved to be an excellent way to review math concepts learned from the first week of school. On this chart are the words: pattern, arrange, more, least, representation, compare, inventory, and equal. Before the math workshop begins, students are asked to tell what they know about 2 or 3 words from this word wall. This chart has kept all the previous lessons taught in math current and serves as an wonderful way to jump start a new lesson.

A word wall (any kind of word wall - vocabulary, word family, math, sight word, theme-based, science, etc.) is only good if you use it. The more you use it, the more the children will look to it as an indispensable tool. You will be delighted at the results!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Our Room Mom is Volunteer of the Year

Our very own Room Mom is our school's Volunteer of the Year. She has two sons at our school. One in fifth grade and one in kindergarten. Last week we celebrated with the fifth grade teachers and students. Our room mom checks with us every morning and afternoon to see if there is anything we need. She takes pictures of the kids, helps with class projects, works on computer projects, to make sure that her children's teachers have what they need to help students learn. She works behind the scenes to make sure things are running smoothly, especially in organizing parents during the school's weekly WOW days and manning the front desk in the lobby. We are very lucky to have her and we are very proud of our VOY.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Time for Pilgrims and Hand Turkeys















How can we have Thanksgiving without doing hand turkeys? We were busy yesterday and today making Pilgrim placemats (listing what we are thankful for), hand turkeys, turkey cookies, and turkey hats. With so much time and effort going into the Powwow, the Pilgrims are relegated to the two day short week before the holidays. The children did learn about the Mayflower, Plymouth Rock, and the big feast. Did you know the Mayflower was as long as a school bus and the children hated the food on the ship (old salted beef and fish and hard, dry biscuits)? They couldn't bring their toys, but two dogs and a cat made the trip! We have a lot to be thankful for: our family, our homes, and our friends. Our class wishes all of you a very festive Thanksgiving!!







Saturday, November 17, 2007

Friday, November 16, 2007

Our Powwow...a powerful learning experience


Today was the culminating event for our unit on Native Americans...it was our Powwow. We prepared for weeks learning about our Lenape tribe - their food, shelter, clothing, and culture - and today we celebrated what we learned and saluted our Native American brothers and sisters. Represented at our Powwow were the nations of the Sioux, Inuit, Hopi, Iriquois, Seminole, Nez Pierce, and Nootka. The ceremony started with the tribes being introduced individually and processing onto the field. Our principal, Mrs. Phillips, gave background about each tribe and decribed our clothing and culture. We performed "The Grass Dance" and several other traditional dances. Parents lined the boundaries catching a glimpse of their Lenape child. Afterwards, pictures were taken and we processed off the field. The children had a day of exciting activities ahead of them including: storytelling (in a teepee), natural-dye painting, food tasting, music, clay pottery, outside games, and animal artifacts. This day will be remembered for a long time with great fondness by parents, teachers, and especially the children ...we are grateful to the Original People and to all of our Native American tribes whom we celebrated with today.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Powwow Family Project Homework


Family projects are always a great way to get home and school working together and staying involved. Last week a cardboard "person" cutout went home and the family project was to dress it according to our Native American tribe, the Lenape. Attached to the cutout was researched pages from the internet as to the dress of the tribe during the 1600's to present day. The results were amazing. We learned so much from the children sharing their projects. We learned that this tribe only used one feather in their headbands. Also, if the feather was pointing downward they were not in a war, but if it faced upward, then they were at war with another tribe. The women wore shell necklaces because a lot of the Lenape were from the New Jersey shore line and they spoke a language called Urami. Moreover, we were able to tie-in Writer's Workshop (How-to writing) because the students explained step-by-step how they made their Lenape Native American project. Our family night is tonight. Parents and students are invited to have dinner in the cafeteria and at 7:00 p.m. come into the classroom and make a wigwam. More about that tomorrow...wanishi (Urami for thank you) for visiting our blog spot!!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Week to go until Powwow


No matter what age, the students still remember how much fun it was when they had their Powwow. It's hard to believe that our Powwow is only a week from today. Parents have been busy cutting, hemming, fitting, and adding bead work to the costumes that the girls and boys will be wearing for our Powwow. Students have been called out in the hall by parents to decorate their headbands, necklaces, bracelets, and berry pouches. Our tribe is the Lenape which means "The Original People." They came from New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. During the day, through read alouds and in Reader's Workshop, the students are learning about our tribe. They learned that the Lenape were farmers in the summer and hunters in the winter. They lived in wigwams, some with only one family and some with up to ten families living in them - then it was called a "long house." The wigwams had a hole in the middle of the roof to let the smoke out. When they slept, they had their feet pointing to the fire to keep warm. All of these facts about our tribe make learning about the Lenape fun and interesting. Our classroom entrance is decorated as a wigwam. When we enter it, we have to duck to get in the door. Inside the entrance there are chairs, benches and a mock fireplace to represent the inside of a real wigwam. During Reader's Workshop, students are allowed to go in there for partner reading. It is such a treat for the children and they love reading their books in the wigwam. For the next few days, we will be practicing our songs and dances. On Tuesday, we will have a family night, whereby parents are invited into the classroom to make a wigwam. A week to go...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Safety Patrols are our Rockin' Readers
















Each morning our class is greeted by two wonderful patrols. The girls make sure that when the students enter our hallway that they find a book from book basket, sit quietly against the wall, and read it until 8:45. At that time, the patrols have the students enter the classroom, put their backpacks at their tables, and sit on the floor quietly until they read the book. The patrols will read any book that I place on the rocking chair the night before (hence, my rockin' readers)! The books are usually a "Star Book" and/or a seasonal book. For instance, today the girls read "A Chair for Peter" and "The First Thanksgiving." Because "Star Books" should be read several times a month, having the patrols read them is a great way for the children to hear the books from a reader other than myself. Star books include such great classics as, "The Three Bears", "Caps for Sale", "The Gingerbread Boy", and "The Three Little Pigs". These are just great stories that the children love to hear over and over again. Hearing these books multiple times helps them in their retelling of the stories when it comes time to test them on their Sulzby reading level for pre-emergent readers (timmonstimes.blogspot.com) .

After reading two books, the patrols have the students put their backpacks in their cubbies, place their folders in the basket, and return to the floor for the pledge. I love having my rockin' readers in my class everyday and so do my students!!




Friday, November 2, 2007

Ask Us "How To" Make Chocolate Milk!


In our Writer's Workshop for the past two weeks, we have been talking and writing about what we are experts at. The children came up with all kinds of things they are experts at: making waffles, walking the dog, brushing their teeth, and carving a pumpkin. To write a "How To" book, children think through a procedure, step by step, starting from the beginning to the end. Then they draw the sequenced events on special "How To" paper which had three small boxes on the side to draw the picture and lines on the other side to write the directions. I thought it would be fun to have a shared class exper-ience for a "How To" - and that was making chocolate milk. I sat in front of the class and had all my "ingredients" lined up - the milk and the chocolate. Then I had the cups and spoon ready for stirring. I poured the milk, squeezed in the Hershey's syrup, and stirred vigoriously...voila chocolate milk! (Some critics suggested more chocolate and some wanted more stirring.) After doing this a few times, students went back to their seats and wrote the steps of "How to make chocolate milk." At the closing time of Writer's Worshop, some students shared their "How to" and all of us had some really tasty chocolate milk!!