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Pushing Through

This past week most of our students were working on finishing pieces for our upcoming publishing party. As teachers, it's always a bit of tight rope walk. We want our kids to edit and improve their writing, and this takes time working with the same piece. But we don't want them to really dislike the editing process or generalize it to a dislike of writing. Like so much of our teaching, we have different expectations for different ages and for different individuals. When they do get to that end product and are proud of what they have done, it makes the struggle feel worthwhile.

Morgan's PK and K Class

* Developed their understanding of the number 20 and the different ways to count to 20

* Searched for words starting with the letter Uu and met Umbie Umbrella

* Showed kindness by making bird feeders using Cheerios and pipe cleaners

* Read a book on feelings while using playdough and other materials to help show the emotions on the pages

* Enjoyed the dress-up bin!

* Made many cards to help us with our emotions (for missing family members and to just say hi).

* Worked on our letters/writing and small motor skills for peeling stickers

* Started talking about the life cycle of caterpillars

* Did an egg hunt math game!

* Watched the older kids make fires/helped by finding dry twigs

* Worked on and watched "May Day" ideas and songs come to life with the older kids

Tracy's 1st and 2nd Grade Class

In math, the blue books are starting to work with arrays as an introduction to multiplication and are continuing to develop strategies for adding multiple numbers (like looking for numbers that make ten, crossing out numbers as we go, or simply working left to right). All of Tracy's mathletes worked with straws and twist ties to make different polygons. We discussed triangles (including isosceles and equilateral), trapezoids, other quadrilaterals, pentagons, and hexagons. The older kids are starting to use language like sets of parallel lines while the younger kids are getting more comfortable with vertices. Hearing all of this math vocabulary regularly helps to reinforce their understanding. Everyone also came together for some "vending machine math," reviewing coins and their values as well as making change.

In literacy, we have been spending a bunch of time lately focusing on vowel sounds. The kids are noticing in both reading and writing what makes long vowel sounds. We have been brainstorming words and sorting them by different patterns. We also did a mini lesson on when and how to use apostrophe s ('s). It looks like it's starting to make sense given how they are using it in their writing.

Theresa's 3rd-5th Grade Class

The Country Classroom 3-5th grade is finally together! For the first time all year, we have had stretches of time when the whole class was present. We are, in many ways, still getting to learn how to work together. We have been talking a lot about how different kids have different learning needs. Some kids really learn best when they can move around. Other kids need it very quiet. We have all been learning to navigate these needs, while all coexisting in a small space. Figuring out how to make space for both the children who need to talk and the children who need quiet is a challenge that we are up for!

The writers are finishing up history assignments this week. They have been working on them a long time and are definitely ready to be done with them. That said, they have been doing the important and difficult work of making sense of American History. The study has been punctuated by many days spent curled up around history books, reading and chatting about what they are discovering. As kids began to put their ideas together, the older children have shown marked improvement at being able to construct a multi-part piece of writing. The younger students can find information, organize it, and put it into their own words. We did not get into as much analysis of primary sources as I would have liked to, but there will be time for that in the future.

In math, the 3rd graders have finished an entire year's curriculum! They were finishing up missed pages last week, and their new books should be in this week. I ordered different books for different students, depending on where their needs were. The older math students just finished a unit on fractions, and are beginning a unit on using data, with additional work on fractions.

In reading, we had all been reading non-fiction, and now we are all reading fiction. Groups of children are reading "The Twits," by Roald Dahl, "City of Ember" by Jeanne DuPrau, and "Walk Two Moons," by Sharon Creech. Every one of these books is a pleasure to read.

Theme: Water, Erosion, and Deposition

Water Is Water and Drop: An Adventure Through the Water Cycle both gave us a chance to think about water and the water cycle. We looked at some interesting percentages related to water in our world and used a hundred grid to represent those percentages. Most of the children have the ideas of evaporation, condensation, and precipitation down. We made a spinning water cycle to help illustrate the process. We have also talked about sublimation, transpiration, and percolation. I don't expect everyone to remember all of these words, but each time they hear these words, they become a little more familiar. We read Children of the Dust Days, imagined what it would have been like to be displaced by this difficult time in history, and then wrote about it. The children could choose to draft a letter to a friend or make a list of what they would pack if we could only bring a backpack when leaving home. Our younger students created water cycles in a jar, and we'll be observing those this coming week.


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