Conferences, Stories, and Space
As I start to prepare for our November Parent-Teacher conferences, I have a chance to reflect on each individual in our class. I think about how a child's understanding of numbers and letters is developing, and I also consider how each child communicates with peers, organizes materials, participates in discussions, and contributes to our classroom community. I like the chance to really reflect on the progress that is being made and figure out some goals for the children. Those goals then shape my planning as we move into the next part of the year.
Every morning as I am writing our message the children help me to figure out what I am writing. They offer the letter (or letters) that I need to make a certain sound, remind me to use my finger spaces between words, and tell me what sort of punctuation I might need. They predict what I am going to write based on what I have written so far and their knowledge of the world and of me. When it is time for Relax and Read, I see them using these same skills when they are reading to me. They use the sounds letters make, their knowledge of what sort of word should be here (a noun, verb, etc.), and meaning as they figure out unknown words. These same skills serve them as they are working on their own writing. I see them using their finger spaces, sounding out unknown words, and going back to the beginning of their sentences to make sure that their writing has meaning. There has been a surge in book making lately. The children joyfully write and illustrate a wide range of books that are then placed in our class library for everyone to enjoy.
Stories to Tell
Nancy came on Friday this week and helped the children to craft an original story about a chipmunk and a squirrel. They started by finding the words to describe the main characters, came up with some ideas for a setting, created a problem, and then worked out how to resolve the problem. Nancy did a lovely job of incorporating their ideas while still keeping them on track. The children eagerly shared their version of "The Fox and the Mouse" written and illustrated by them. Nancy was a very appreciative audience, and I look forward to sending it home with each child over the next few weeks. When it comes home, encourage your children to tell the story of each page if they can not yet read it. They all know the story very well at this point.
Our beautiful scale model planets are all displayed in the classroom. We'll be enjoying them for one more week before saying good-bye to them. You may have heard your child humming under her breath, or perhaps singing at the top of his lungs, "There are eight planets in the solar system." We are all learning the words to this song, and I know it has serious ear worm potential. We went outside to do another activity representing the distances to the planets from the sun. Everyone helped count out steps as we marched our way across the playground and marked the location of each planet. "Neptune" had to jump up and down so everyone else could see it. We read Ron's Big Mission, a book based on the story of "Challenger" astronaut Ron McNair. While the story is about someone who would head to space, it focuses on his efforts to get a library card when he was a child. The children had lots to say about this book, segregation, and the ability of people to make changes in the world around them.
I'm looking forward to sitting down with everyone and talking about all that your child is doing in the classroom!