Merriman's Memo

A Glimpse into Merriman's Menagerie

Welcome Back!

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a wonderful winter break and came back refreshed and ready to go. Although it was a short week, we really packed in a lot of information along with some policies and procedures. As we start off 2016, we reviewed our classroom contract which we created at the beginning of the year. We went over the rules that we created for our classroom as a reminder of behavior we want to see in class and behavior we would prefer not to see. We started a new pencil sharpening procedure that should help with keeping them in the classroom rather than disappearing like they had been at the end of the quarter. So far, so good. We also started a new behavior management program, Classroom Dojo. This is a points system program that I am going to use instead of the ROAR charts. Points will be rewarded and deducted based on good and problematic behavior. Students will be expected to earn 130 points this quarter to get to the ROAR party. (If students get agendas signed daily, arrive at school on time, and have no marks in a day, they will earn 3 points daily. If they earned no other marks besides those, they would have 120 marks.) Students can earn points for things like "Terrific Thinking" (digging deeper in a classroom discussion), great hallway/lunchroom behavior, helping out others, participating in class, using time wisely, and many other awesome and expected behaviors. Students may lose points for behaviors like not turning in homework on time, being disrespectful, being off task. So far, the students are liking the program and have been earning points right and left. In Tuesday's Take Home Folder, students will be given information about both parent and student signing up for the app so that they can see how each student is doing in class. I think it is a pretty exciting program and the students do too.

As for academics, we have jumped right into using quotation marks in dialogue. We started this skill right before break and have continued to work on it. It is a tough skill; however, students are getting better at it every day. This week we reviewed the rules for quotation marks and punctuation in dialogue. We then worked in small groups to practice this skill. Each group was given an Elephant and Piggie book (written by Mo Willems, one of my favorite children's authors). The picture books themselves are written using speech bubbles. Each group then had to practice turning the speech bubbles/story into paragraph writing. They had to add the "explainer" in their writing. The "explainer" is the person/character who is speaking and an explanation of how s/he is speaking. For example, if the sentence was as follows: "I love Elephant and Piggie books!" shouted Mrs. Merriman to her students. The dialogue is "I love Elephant and Piggie books" and the explainer is "shouted Mrs. Merriman to her students," which explains who is speaking (Mrs. M) and how she is speaking (shouted). With this activity, students had to really work on developing "the explainer" without overusing any words. They were given a "Said is Dead" worksheet that gave them a list of words that would work. The kids enjoyed this activity and worked well together. Their biggest struggle was remembering to start a new paragraph when changing speakers. After practicing dialogue in small groups, students also had a handout the next day to practice that skill.

We have also begun working on narrative writing. Students drew a picture of their favorite winter break activity/event and from that turned it into a narrative piece. This was their lead-in to learning about what the state of TN wants them to have in their narratives. In third grade, the state of TN expects that they write a narrative that is either made up or real depending on the topic; has a clear beginning, middle and end; uses dialogue; and ends with all loose ends tied up. This week we learned about the expectations and that the word STORY is a great way to remember the elements of the story. Each letter in the word 'story' represents a specific element. We looked at the story of the three little pigs and also analyzed a personal narrative using the same winter break prompt that I wrote. With both, they were able to see how all the elements can be found in good writing. Next week, they are going to look at their initial narrative piece and revise it. We will also be looking at another narrative and working through the writing process with it.

Social Studies

This week we reviewed the 15 states that we had worked on before break (the West and Southwest regions). We also were introduced to the Midwest region. Students will be given a quiz over this on Wednesday. Along with that, we reviewed information about North America and worked on map skills on that continent. Next week we will start reading about South America.

Kara Merriman

· Reading folders will be passed out on Monday. Please make sure to sign your child’s Reading log and to write in the minutes read each Friday. Also please have your child read ALOUD for the 15 minutes (over that is not necessary); at this age, they need to work on inflection (how they read...pausing at punctuation and changing tone depending on the punctuation).

· Spelling choices will resume this week and are due on Friday.

· We are still quizzing on regions, so please make sure your child is studying their states nightly. Don’t forget is a GREAT site to do this.

· Third grade is hosting ROAR this Friday. It is a movie theater theme. More information will come out next week.

· Please check with your child regarding their supplies. There are several students who are missing scissors which we use several times a week. If your child is missing scissors or other supplies please send more so that they will have them for the remainder of the year.

· If you have not signed and returned your child’s report card please do so on Monday.