Telling time on an analog clock can be a real challenge for second graders! This isn't a skill they use much because digital clocks are everywhere! However, it is still essential. Analog clocks show fractions of hours and minutes and students get a better idea about elapsed time by using an analog clock. One way we're practicing in the classroom is by doing "time checks" several times a day. At random points, when they are least expecting it, I call "time check" and the students must use our classroom clock to write down the time. Repetition is key to mastering this skill. Please practice with your child at home whenever you have an analog clock handy!
The students are working on designing and building a model playground. It's more than just learning the shapes. The students had to figure out a combination of 3D shapes that have a total of 45 edges. Once they figured that out, it's on to building. It's not easy, things fall apart, but that's ok! That happens in real life!
We are so thankful for our garden time! Thirty minutes in the garden provides the children with so much science and math. They are sure to remember these lessons long after they're over. The students love this time!
We never want to technology to be nothing more than an expensive box of crayons. At Armstrong we work to integrate technology into the curriculum in a way that best serves students and increases learning. One thing we know is that students produce better and more writing when they know they will have an audience. Keep in mind that these were sketchnotes from a short, three-minute video. This is a good bit of information for such a short time! And, thanks to technology, students were able to share their learning and learn from each other.
Many second graders love to write. Not many second graders love to plan. One of the biggest challenges as a teacher is to lead students to the habit of planning their writing. The quality of writing improves so much when the students take a few short minutes to plan their writing. Recently I was so happy to walk around the room and see all sorts of planning going on! Hooray, second graders! This good habit will serve you well if you continue.
What a treat it was to learn from the amazing author, David Adler! He has written hundreds of books. Mr. Adler gave the children advice on generating topics, focused on the craft of revising, and most importantly, encouraged students to get their thoughts down on paper. He told them that he "plays with words" all day! The first draft does not have to be perfect, but it does have to be done. In addition, Mr. Adler was such a funny, kind, and engaging speaker. The students really responded to him. Thank you very much to HPArts for funding this awesome experience.
We are so excited about our new unit on folktales! Fairytales are included, so we are focusing on those specifically. One of the trickiest parts of reading comprehension is to determine a character's traits, motivations, and feelings. In order to help, second graders are working on acting out a character. Both the actor and the listener have important roles to play. I love to see students walking up to make use of the anchor charts with the sentence stems! This tells me they are putting great thought into their work. This work during reading is translating into great work in writing as well. We've jumped right into writing fairytales this week as well. The children have grown so much since the beginning of the year. They are planning great stories and drafting with such intention. I sure am proud of them!
For as long as I have been using technology in the classroom, I've tried to remember one of the most important rules about technology. We should be using technology to accomplish what can't be done without technology. Before iPads, I could always have students complete worksheets and check for correct answers, but I could only watch a few students at a time with concrete manipulatives to make sure they understood the meaning of the numbers. Thanks to our iPads and the Number Pieces app, students can work with and manipulate the hundreds, tens, and ones on the screen. I can either ask them to take screenshots of the final sums (above) or I sometimes have them take screen shots of each step. Either way, I have evidence that the students worked through the problems with understanding, rather than just following an algorithm. In addition, the students love that I have time to work with smaller groups while the rest of the class is engaged in good, productive work!
The beautiful passage in the book above is from Houndsley and Catina and the Quiet Time, by James Howe. I'm bringing this to your attention today to talk about the value of children's literature at all reading levels. Many times we are in a rush to move children through the levels. While that does help us to see that the children are making progress, there are great benefits to reading books at the easier levels. Although this is a Level K, even an advanced reader can learn from this use of figurative language, vivid words, and sentence structure. During author's chair today, I heard one writer describe her character's "soft as a rose petal voice." That's influenced by this great literature! As you read with your child, great literature that may be a bit easy is still beneficial!
The students had a wonderful time with our Teacher for a Day! She let them have a movie lunch in the classroom, ten extra minutes of recess, all while keeping focused on learning!
Last week, I mentioned the awesome learning I received from Lizzie Hetzer from Teachers College at Columbia University. One of the great tips I heard from her was to collect all of the drafts of fiction stories in a common place. Then, the students can read each other's stories and leave them feedback. When students have an authentic audience (each other) they invariably produce more drafts! That's the key to improvement. As with any skill, you have to do it a lot to get better at it. I'm really proud of all the students have produced!