So much of learning is kinesthetic. I really believe that in order for students to truly learn the concepts of geometry, they need to spend a lot of time with the shapes in the hands, fingers touching each vertex, edge, and face. While using Google Classroom is a great way for the students to document their learning, the majority of the time is spent with the 3-D shapes in their hands, counting each attribute, and comparing and contrasting the shapes. We know that students need lots of time with this concrete practice! One time with a rectangular prism won't do it! So, we find lots of ways to practice hands-on geometry!
We were glad to get into the garden before the rain today! The students worked on their weeding skills (dig deep and get all the roots, don't put the weeds in the compost pile) and they planted some great Spring crops. We can't wait to see what the harvest brings in a few months!
We had the most wonderful author visit today! Susan Stevens Crummel visited with K, 1, and 2 students in the Armstrong library. She told the students how to come up with ideas, showed them the astounding amount of editing she does, and even had them act out one of her books! We're so thankful to have such inspiring people come to teach us at Armstrong!
I can't resist another Cuisenaire Rods post! These tools are just the best for mathematical understanding. Simple wooden rods, ranging from 1 cm to 10 cm long are perfect for students working to understand fractions. As they worked to make their pictures, they were using the math language for fractions, "We need a rod that is half as long. Four of these will make a whole!" Research shows that when young children actually manipulate concrete objects, they get a much deeper understanding than when just viewing them on a flat piece of paper. Plus, they enjoyed the problem solving of figuring out which rods would be needed for each picture.
Fractions with Cuisenaire Rods
In second grade, it's very important for students to be able to use concrete tools when working with a concept like fractions. Today, we started just by exploring the concept of the whole, and breaking the whole up into parts. The challenge for today was to find three rods that equaled one of the larger rods. What students are doing as they compose and decompose these "wholes" is learning one of the most important concepts of number sense. There are lots of ways to make up the whole. That's true if the whole is a number or a Cuisenaire rod!
Fractions with Cuisenaire Rods
Our students are writers! Now that they can write a story with a beginning, middle, and end, what's next? What's next is improving the content, and making the stories interesting and exciting. Students need explicit instruction on how to do that. With simple strategies like take small steps, make the character move, make the character think and feel, students are given real ways to practice bringing their stories to life.
Sometimes there's nothing better than a sheet of construction paper and colored pencils. We use technology strategically in the classroom. The BrainPopJr. videos and PebbleGo website were great for researching and note taking. Then, the students loved getting to work sharing what they've learned about states of matter through writing and drawing!
As we study fairytales, students are working on character traits. Sometimes it's tricky for second graders to think beyond happy and sad. Today, students made this simple chart and placed their character traits along with their thoughts, feelings, and actions. The top of the arch is for the strongest feelings, positive or negative! The students really responded watching the characters change as we added new sticky notes to the chart. This is very simple and can be easily made on plain paper at home!
Fiction reading is something we hope all children will grow up enjoying. Reading is actually more enjoyable when you stop to think about all of the great things going on with the plot and character. In second grade, we are working to build those good habits. Here are a few teach points from our lessons. When reading with your children, ask them to practice a few of these with you.
We're almost finished with our first research project! The students have researched and are now working on a presentation This has been valuable for the students in many ways! One of the most important reading skills we can develop is that of discerning the most important pieces of information in a text. That's what we are doing when we research! In addition, learning how to communicate our learning is a skill that students use throughout their careers and beyond! Of course, just the knowledge they are gaining is worthwhile too! We are using combination of book and iPad research, as well as paper/pencil and Wixie (iPad) presentations. We'll be happy to show them to you soon!
One of the most important things we do in reading and writing is learning how to communicate about what we have read or written. We have been doing a lot of work on this skill. I know so many parents read at home with your children. Feel free to use these tips to help keep the conversations going and promote deeper thinking!