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Taking Time

One of my students started our math class the other day with the statement, "I hate decimals, and I don't understand them at all." We hadn't done anything with decimals yet, and I was a little confused by her adamant reaction to this new topic, so I asked her if she could try to suspend her hate and talk with me for a bit. We started talking about place value (and laughed at putting the "th's" on the end of tenths, hundredths, and thousandths), did some modeling with tens-blocks, and drew on our knowledge of fractions (which we've been studying for the past few weeks). It was a relaxed give and take between the students and myself.

About 15 minutes later, I checked in, "So what do you think about decimals now?"

"They're really easy."

I'm always grateful when a lesson goes this way, and I love working at a school where checking student understanding is so easy. It's one of the gifts of having such tiny classes and of knowing that I can change the schedule as needed. We can truly take our time when we are tackling something new or when the kids are immersed in an activity and fully engaged.

Morgan's PK and K Class

*Learned about Hanukkah and read some books on the holiday.

*Learned some Hanukkah songs and poems, and how to play the dreidel game! The children worked really hard on using their fine motor skills to spin the dreidel. It took some a few tries while others were able to do it on the first spin. 

*Some children made their own dreidels out of clay and will paint them this week. 

*Made popsicle trees and decorated them as well. 

*Explored nature blocks, watercolors, sand, foam beads, stencils, the light box andtangrams, light bright, clay and playdough.

*Sang songs and did finger plays about Winter.

*Made paper menorahs. 

*Made paper trees that some children helped cut out for everyone. Then everyone used fine motor skills to count out the correct number of beads for each section and glued them into place. 

Tracy's 1st - 4th Class

In math, everyone continues to work on figuring out number stories. We have been talking about how we solve problems and noticing the different strategies students use. In second grade math, we have been using base ten blocks to better understand place value and double digit addition. We have also been working on measuring length. Our third grade math work has been with multiplication. We explored the commutative property (aka turn around facts) and used facts we knew to solve near facts. In fourth grade math, students have been comparing fractions and ordering them on number lines, as well as learning about decimals.

In writing, we created snowflakes - a connection with our math work - then wrote stories about our snowflake's adventures. We reviewed the water cycle and talked about some of the many paths a snowflake might follow. We also worked on descriptive writing. Using some of our geography books, each child found a picture they could describe. All the pictures were placed in the middle of the circle, and I read off the descriptions to see how quickly the students could identify the correct picture.

In reading, our youngest readers continue to build their knowledge of word families and sight words. They are reading with greater fluency, and we try to make our reading "sound like talking." Our other two reading groups are reading "A Boy Called Bat" and "The Aquanaut." We hope to have them all finished in the next two weeks.

Theme: Local Geography

We played this week in mapping a story with one of my favorite read-aloud's "Footprints in the Snow." We also developed a map of the school and the schoolyard. Once our drawing was done, we headed outside with it and sent a partner to different locations by pointing to a place on the map. It was a way to strengthen the connection between the actual physical world and the piece of paper. Next week, we're going to be using those maps some more on a treasure hunt.

Glenn also came in as our guest reader on Friday and helped share some information about the earth's interior and how it impacts the crust where we live. Ask your child how an apple can be a model for the earth!

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