Curriculum Corner

Tips from our K-4 Supervisors

Language Arts

Reading - Stamina, Volume and Engagement Are Key!

Thank you so much for your support in ensuring that your child continues to read on a daily basis, whether this is on RAZ Kids, Epic, our school media center site, or (the best option!) a book. Our goal as a school community is to maintain students’ reading volume (amount), reading stamina (length of time they are able to sustain independent reading) and reading engagement, which supports a love of reading! It is important that children have choice in what they read, and that they are able to learn about their interests through reading.


Beginning the week we returned from Spring Break, teachers in Grades 1 and 2 moved forward with grade level reading curriculum. Please be aware that students are not expected to master the content of the daily lesson on the day that it is taught. Rather, our goal is to expose children to these concepts, knowing that we will revisit skills and strategies as necessary when we return to school as needed.


If your child is struggling to decode the words, please reach out to your child’s teacher, as they can provide support with decoding strategies, as well as sight word practice for your child.



Writing Support

Writing can often be challenging for primary grade students, and this is to be expected! While reading involves information intake, writing involves output, and that can be difficult, especially without the in-person support of your child’s teacher. If writing has been challenging for your child, please read through the tips below:


  • Our focus is always on writing PROCESS, not PRODUCT! That is, if your child can brainstorm ideas, plan out her story, and orally rehearse their writing, this is just as important as what she is able to actually compose. Be sure to celebrate writing process, not just a finished product!

  • Oral rehearsal and planning is the key to writing success! Have your child say his story aloud - not just what he plans to write about, but the actual words he will write. Rehearse more than once. You might even record this rehearsal, so that your child can replay the story as he writes, pausing the recording to write each sentence.

  • Planning tips - have your child plan across pages by sketching at the top of each page or writing a “key word” to remember the plan. Then, if your child returns to the piece the next day, he will remember what he had planned to write on each page. You can also replay the oral rehearsal recording!

  • Spelling is a huge challenge for primary grade students. We invite and encourage invented (phonetic) spelling, so that students’ content does not consist only of words they can spell perfectly. Consider providing your child with a word wall of sight words that she should spell correctly. Also, if there are words your child asks how to spell repeatedly, you can add them to a blank word wall, which can include words just for your child!

  • Please do not have your child write for longer than 20 minutes each day. We encourage students to return to their writing the next day to continue the writing process. Again, a focus on PROCESS over PRODUCT is key. Have your child store unfinished pieces in a folder to return to the next day. If writing is causing stress for you or your child, it’s time to stop and move on to the next activity.



Tips to Support Writing Independence

We know that one of the most challenging aspects of distance learning is the need for your child to be able to work independently for part of the day, so that you are able to complete work as well. It can be a challenge for students to write independently at this age. Below are some tips:


  • If your child asks you, “How do you spell…?”

    • Encourage your child to “stretch out the word to hear each of the sounds and write a letter for each sound.” Focus on matching letters to sounds, not conventional spelling.

    • You can also add the word to his personal word wall so that he can reference it later.

  • If your child says, “I can’t think of an idea!”

    • Planning is key! Have children brainstorm ideas before writing and then plan out the story across pages, before any actual writing occurs.

    • Sketching is just as important to story-telling as writing the words. Don’t skip this step. Students can then use the details they drew in their pictures to add more details to their writing.

  • If your child is frustrated or fatigued:

    • Be sure not to extend writing time beyond 20 minutes to decrease frustration and fatigue.

    • Celebrate approximations - our goal is not for writing to be “correct,” but rather for students to see themselves as writers and have the confidence to put their thoughts onto paper.

    • Feel free to substitute out the writing assignment for the day with a journal prompt or free writing. Similarly to reading, the goal is writing stamina and engagement. If students are more engaged writing another genre, feel free to encourage this.


If you are in need of additional support, please reach out to your child’s teacher. I am also happy to provide additional resources to support your child’s work during this time.


Amy Monaco

K-4 Supervisor of Language Arts and Social Studies

amonaco@mtsd.us

Mathematics

SplashLearn

Thank you all for your patience and efforts in making SplashLearn part of our weekly math routines. As a reminder, please make sure to log in with your school account and join as a CLASS with your class code. These activities are meant to take 10-20 minutes to complete. Most of the time we will select an activity that directly connects to the math skills of the week, other times the assignment will be a review of main concepts from the year. Either way, it is meant to be an engaging reinforcement of core math concepts for their grade level. If you or your child experience any problems logging in or completing your work, please contact your child’s teacher.


Fingers, Problems, and the Brain - Math Development

You may notice your child using their fingers while working through math problems. Did you know this is not only developmentally appropriate but it helps their brain grow? There is a scientifically proven connection between finger counting and brain development in math. Here’s an article from The Atlantic by Jo Boaler to provide more neuroscientific details. So if you see finger counting, don’t worry, help find the patterns in their counting. There are 5 fingers on each hand, how can we use this to help us count? Anytime you can make a connection with numbers to 5 and 10, don’t forget your fingers. They are a math tool that we carry with us at all times.


Want a way to extend your child’s mathematical abilities? Start with the problem, Problem Solving! Even though learning your multiplication tables before 3rd grade is quite an accomplishment, the area that most of our students struggle with is solving real-life problems or problem-based scenarios even with basic addition and subtraction. How can you help? Turn everyday situations into a word problem. Here are a few examples:


  • Building a tower out of Legos? How many more Legos do you need to build a tower that is 50 Legos tall?

  • Can you sort your LOLs dolls (or Matchbox cars) by color? Now sort it by size? Which pile has the most/least? How many cars (or LOLs) will it take to measure our kitchen table?

  • Tired of being asked when they are going to eat dinner or have tablet time? Turn it into a math problem! It’s 11:25 now, we will have lunch in 20 minutes, what time will that be? If they ask again, they have to solve it again! You figured out before that it was going to happen at 11:45, how many more minutes will that be?

  • Need more tasks? Try a few of these


Make sure to talk about how you can solve these problems as a family. Try not to steal your child’s struggle. Silence could mean that they are thinking! Try having them ask a question if they are stuck. Ask your child questions that can help them retrieve the answer; what patterns did you notice? Can you tell if you need more or less? Is the answer going to be bigger or smaller than 10?


Don’t forget to celebrate mistakes! Did you know, our brain works harder when we make a mistake? Try asking; How did you know the answer was wrong? What can you do to check that your answer makes sense?


When in doubt, just ask… Why do you think that (even when the answer is correct!)?


The world is full of questions and problems, have fun solving them together.


Jessica Glover

K-4 Supervisor of Mathematics and Science

jglover@mtsd.us