Ms. Huffer's Monthly Newsletter

December 2015

Hello Parents!

It is almost that time of year again: winter break! While we only have a few weeks of school before winter break, our students are still hard at work! We are reviewing things we have been working with all year, as well as covering some new materials. So far this year we have been working hard on our Language Arts, and will continue to do so after break. I hope you all have a wonderful break and I look forward to seeing you all in January! Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns!

Writing

We have been working on our writing all year, and the students are doing great so far! Our students will be writing for the rest of their lives, so it is important for them to understand that when we write, we are writing for a purpose and we are writing to an audience. We are also learning that writing is a process- good writers never write just one draft. We are learning that we write our draft, edit it (to make sure we have all our capitals in the correct spots and all our punctuation too!) and then write our final draft. So far this year we have done a lot interactive writing (one on one- "writer's workshop style) and independent writing. When we return from break we will continue to work on our independent writing with the students having to write an informational piece to tell me about an animal of their choice.

Speaking

Speaking is probably our most used language art in the classroom, and outside of the classroom! Speaking is just as important as the rest of our language arts because it helps our students make sense of what they are learning. Speaking allows students to express their feelings and thoughts as well as learn their peers thoughts and perceptions of what we are reading. Speaking about what we are reading helps students make sense of what they read, it can increase their vocabulary, it will allow them to learn how to express their thoughts and feelings, and it will also help them learn how to problem solve. In our classroom we have been working on a couple different types of speaking: Informal (this is our turn and talk time and our classroom discussions) and Intimate (this includes our turn and talk time and talking to our friends). After break we will work on our intonation (stress-when to emphasize words or sounds and pitch-tone of voice). We will work on our intonation by acting our popular stories such as Goldilocks and the Three Little Bears in small groups and having to use the correct pitch and stress the correct sounds and words.

Visually Viewing and Representing

Visual viewing is what our students see (pictures in a book, posters on the walls etc.). Visual Representation is what our students create based on what they read. Visually viewing and representing is an important part of our classroom because it is a natural way that our students learn. Visual aids help our students understand and make sense of what they are reading and can help to increase comprehension. We have been working on visually representing this year by creating illustrations for books that we have read as a class to help us predict what we think will happen next and by concept muraling (this is where I draw pictures of what we read on the smart board and discuss them with the students). After break we will continue to visually represent our reading with more illustrations, but we will also be creating a venn diagram to compare and contrast characters in our books. We will also be making mobiles to explain the different story elements in a book we will read as a class.

Listening

There are four types of listening. We have been working on all of them so far, and will continue to do so when we return in January. Our students practice marginal listening on a daily basis, and most of the time they aren't even aware they are doing it. Marginal listening is when you distinguish distinct sounds from the background noises (when the students still listen to me even though they hear other students out in the hallway). Appreciative listening is when you listen for your own enjoyment. Our students practice this while we are doing read aloud and they like the book. In order for students to listen for enjoyment and become better listeners the correct stress, pitch and juncture (the intonation they are working on) must be present. After read alouds students usually have to answer questions about the book, this is making them be attentive listeners. Attentive listening is when students are listening for concentration and interaction, and focusing on information that needs to be retained for recall. Critical listening requires the listener to judge and evaluate information to make decisions and form opinions. Good critical listeners will also be able to tell the difference between a fact and an opinion. After winter break we will continue becoming better listeners through our read alouds and directed listening activities, as well as learn how to take notes while listening to a story.

Reading

Reading is another language art that our students will be using for the rest of their lives (from reading for school, to reading for fun, to reading documents at work one day), so we have been hard at work all year reading! In the classroom our students always have access to books from our cozy corner, as well as the school library. Everyone is reading in class everyday! We have reading groups where small groups of students come see me for guided reading, as well as individual reading. During guided reading we change the book we read every time we meet to make sure the students get to read a variety of books! During independent reading, each student gets to pick out his or her own book that interests them! After break we will continue to keep the students interested in books and read every day!

Five Components of Reading

Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear and differentiate between different sounds. Phonemic awareness requires our students to use their ears and mouths in order to learn. We have been working on our phonemic awareness by using word play and tongue twisters. We also have been using mirrors to watch ourselves say different sounds to see what shape our mouths take when we say a letter.

Phonics

Phonics is when our students learn to connect a sound to the correct letter or group of letters. Phonics requires us to use our ears, mouths, and eyes to learn. Phonics and phonemic awareness are important for our reading because without them we would not be able to differentiate between the sounds different letters and words make. This year our students are building their phonics by doing activities with words that sound the same but are spelled differently (suit and chew). We are also working on recognizing the difference between the long vowel sounds and the short vowel sounds in words.

Vocabulary

Vocabulary requires students to understand the meaning of the words he or she is reading. Vocabulary can be taught in the classroom, but our students also learn it through conversations with their peers and family members. Vocabulary is very important in our reading. If we do not understand what the words we are reading mean, we will not understand the story. We have been, and will continue to, work on our vocabulary every day. We enhance our vocabulary through our word wall, by illustrating the definition of words, and by playing our vocabulary memory game (this is where the students have to match the word to its definition).

Fluency

Fluency is a student's ability to read quickly, accurately and with expression. In order for a student to be a fluent reader he or she must read with correct intonation, tone, rate, and phrasing. Without proper fluency a student might read dialogue in the wrong tone and misunderstand what is happening, or might stress the wrong words or letters and get confused. It is important that our students have good fluency while reading, and that is why we do things such as choral readings, the Fry Phrase Chutes and Ladders game, and the "roll and read" game (this is where students roll the dice and whatever number they land on that is the sentence they have to read with the correct emotion).

Comprehension

Comprehension is our purpose for reading, it is the ability to read, process, and understand what the meaning. In order to make sure our students are comprehending what they read we are constantly doing different activities. In order to test comprehension we do things such as make predictions, we create KWL (know, what i want to know, what i learned) charts, we answer questions off the question cubes, and we play games such as Bounce and Retell (where students play a form of hop scotch on jumping balls and have to retell what they land on-title, setting, main characters).