Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Helicopter Visit - HSL-60 Mayport Naval Station

We started today with a special surprise. We had the opportunity to watch a helicopter land at our baseball field at our school. But it wasn't any old helicopter. It was Helicopter Squadron HSL-60 from Mayport Naval Station with Chief Dillard aboard (Mrs. Dillard's husband) which made the visit even more special for our Kindergarten class. The squadron came for fifth grade's career day. Air crewman on HSL-60 included Lt. Commander J. Cross, Lt. Commander D. Kapo, and of course Chief Dillard. It was a wonderful experience for the children to see the helicopter up close and have the air crewman explain the different features of the helicopter to the students. Thank you so much for coming and sharing your time with our students.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Bulletin Boards: A Snapshot of our Classroom 2009-2010

Looking over the past year's bulletin boards, we can take pride in the learning that our students have achieved. In Kindergarten, we celebrated their first drawings in "Ropin' in Kindergarten Writers", as part of the writing process, telling stories through pictures, stapling their first booklets, and just maybe find a few beginning sounds on the pages. As if dusted with magic glitter, stories began to unfold with great beginnings, lots of details, and wonderful closings. Students learned to create and follow their writing rubrics and explain why or why not their piece met or did not meet the standard. Students complimented each other saying what they liked about their peer's work. This practice was also carried over into Reader's and Math workshops and has become part of our learning day. As we look over the process of creating a bulletin board: planning, designing, selecting pieces, and writing up comments, we are reminded that the boards are a representative snapshot into our classroom. The last bulletin board for this year is a "Work Over Time" and one of our favorite boards of the year. In "A Noteworthy Kindergarten Finale'", two students' work is the focus: a beginning piece of writing from August, a middle piece from January, and a final piece from April. It is amazing to see the growth that has taken place. Looking at the accomplishments of all of our students' in writing, reading and math and what they have achieved this year has made both their teachers and parents very proud...and we look forward to looping this class to first grade next year. Can't wait to see how far they will go!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Poetry with Voice - Fotobabble

We have been working on our poetry unit in Reader's and Writer's Workshop for the past two weeks. The children have enjoyed throwing all the traditional writing rules out the window and experimenting with the free-thinking, free-feeling of poetry. Today our Technology Coach Melanie Holtsman had a few children read their poetry using a new program called Fotobabble. Fotobabble is a program that adds voice to a picture. Grace's poem is called "The Night" and Andrew's poem is called "Snakes". Enjoy listening to their poetic creations. We can't wait to use Fotobabble again!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day Celebration - Mall-ard Style

One of our favorite holidays to celebrate with the students is Mother's Day. There are many reasons why this is special. Of course, we want to invite the moms in to see their children perform but we also want to thank them for being such wonderful parents. It is our way of thanking them for the great year and the great kids that they have entrusted to our care. It is our hope that by making Mother's Day a big deal in the class, that this will be a special time for them, for years to come. We had the table covered with white tablecloths and flowers. Each child went into the hall and escorted his/her mom to her seat. After all the mom's were in place, the festivities commenced. We started off with "Slippery Fish" (a class favorite), then, "Here Comes the Sun" done in sign language; and finally "Alphabet Soup" the video can be seen after the slide show. A poem called, "Before I Was Your Mom" was read by a few students and then a slide show was shown with the child's baby picture and what he/she looks like now, together with our year in pictures. There were very few dry eyes in the house. Then it was time for the breakfast. The parents ate first, and then their child joined them. It was a magical morning full of laughs and tears...but one that will be remembered. Happy Mother's Day!!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Jazz - ABZ at the Cummer Museum

This week the Mall-ards enjoyed a field trip to the Cummer Museum in Jacksonville. The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, built on the site of the home of Arthur and Ninah Cummer, opened on November 10, 1961. From Ninah Cummer's relatively small collection of sixty pieces that launched the museum, The Cummer's permanent collection has grown to over six thousand works of art encompassing eight thousand years of art history. The students listened to and tapped out different jazz beats and saw original works of art designed to pay tribute to jazz artists. They toured the beautiful gardens and then enjoyed an interactive part of the museum where they could draw, paint, and build things. A trip to the park for lunch was also included and that is where we got to see some real live Mallards!!Thanks to our wonderful parent chaperones and to Melanie H. for the great pictures.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Writing with a Purpose - Persuasive Writing

Researchers who study "real" writing affirm that students given "real" purposes for reading and writing beyond classroom assignments, and for "real" audiences beyond a teacher, made significant progress in both reading and writing.(Meier,2010). We have had many experiences writing real letters during this Persuasive Writing Unit. Students wrote letters to their parents requesting a movie, toy, or sleepover. (Some wrote to their grandparents if they thought the request wouldn't be granted by their parents.) They wrote to their friends in the classroom and the principal. After reading the true story of, "The Librarian of Basra" by Jeanette Winter, students saw how sometimes even with good persuasive reasons, requests are not granted. The librarian asked the mayor of Basra, Iraq, if the books in the library could be stored in a safe place. She feared they would be burned in the war. But he said no, so the librarian hid the books herself. The children enjoyed that read aloud.
As chance might have it, this week we received a letter from a teacher in Ohio on behalf of one of her kindergarten students. Emma, the student, has been tasked with writing a report about Florida. She asked if our class could help them out. So, we did. Each child wrote a letter to Emma telling her what fun things there are to do in Florida and everything they know about our state. When students were given this real world request of writing a letter to a new friend, they could not wait to answer her letter. The letters were mailed to Ohio and we can't wait to hear back from our new friend.

Dear Emma,
How are you doing? My name is Dominic. It never snows. It is really hot in the summer. Sometimes it rains. It is warm a lot. The bees are huge, the wasps are huge. Sometimes it is cold. I am six years old. I go to Chets Creek Elementary. The Jacksonville Zoo has lots of animals and Florida has lots of animals.
Your friend

Joanne Meier, Ph.D. provides research guidance for Reading Rockets. Dr. Meier has more than 20 years of experience in the fields of early childhood and reading education.