Week Three!

Just a note:

On the calendar in the students' binders, it lists Iris and Walter as being the story we covered last week and Exploring Space with an Astronaut for this week and next. Because routines do take a little longer in the start of the year, we have decided to push Iris and Walter to this week and Exploring Space will be next week, for only 1 week. We will be back on schedule after that.

In this issue....

International Dot Day, Homework, Donor's Choose, Room Parents and volunteer opportunities.
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International Dot Day!

Didn't the t-shirts come out neat?! Thank you for sending them in, along with the t-shirt paper. The kids really enjoyed making them and combining art, literature, and science!

We started off by listening to, and then doing the motions to, Emily Arrow's "The Dot Song". If you haven't had a chance to check out Emily yet, she does amazing songs linked to kids literature. Play it with your kids and sing along!

Next we read the book, The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds and watched an interview with him on KidLit TV. If you scroll down the link, you will see another video we watched later when we read the second book in the series, Ish. Both of these books send great messages to kids about being brave when trying something, but also to not let others opinions discourage them from doing what they love, to be confident in their talents, and that the enjoyment they get from doing something they love is more important than perfection. We use two sayings from this, "Please don't squish my Ish." and "Think Ish-fully!"

Students then created dots on paper prior to doing our t-shirts. I showed the Sick! Science video and demonstrated how to get their t-shirts ready for tie-dye. Then we busted out the Sharpies!

As students finished their shirts, I gave them the Quiver template and they had to create another dot. This time we used the Quiver augmented reality app (formerly Colar) to make the dots 3 dimensional. The excitement was contagious! I did take a couple of photos that are in the September album on Shutterfly, but it's hard to capture in a photo. There are paid items on the site, but there are quite a few free templates to play around with as well. The kids love it!

We finished our day reading the last book in Peter's Creatrilogy, Sky Color. I hope the students enjoyed the day. We will continue to talk about how they can "make their mark" in the world to make it an even better place. If you've never read the books, be sure to check them out. I guarantee you will be inspired!

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Thank you to everyone who provided such thoughtful comments in regards to homework in the survey that I sent out. As I anticipated, responses varied. Many of you are aware that current research shows that the benefits from homework at the elementary level are limited, but that you appreciate the work habits gained from consistent homework and it can also be a source for understanding what your child is working on. Some common issues seemed to be time, fatigue, and value of the work. This is a hot topic in education right now, with valid arguments both for and against assigning homework.

The second grade team makes an effort to assign consistent homework so that the students in the grade have consistent expectations. This being said, we are also aware that students have different needs when it come to homework, just as they have different needs within the classroom. The basic assignment that all students are given consist of the 4 day math review page in which students answer 5 problems a day. Depending on time management, this may look different in each home. Some might do it in one night, while others may use all 4. This is fine! Make it work for your child and for you. There may be times when there is a problem that seems as though your child may not be able to solve because we have not yet covered the material that we as adults would typically use to solve it. Your children may not be using the regrouping algorithm, but they should be able to use another strategy that we have worked on in class to solve it. When in doubt, have them draw a picture using tens and ones, use a hundreds chart, or a number line. These are great strategies for novice mathematicians. I would also love for them to get into the routine of bringing it to me the day after they attempt it and ask for my help when needed. This gives me a good indication that they may not quite have a concept and I can make sure that I provide some more instruction regarding it.

The other part of the homework is the reading response. This is a way for students to have some accountability for their reading and share out about something they have read during the week. Reading for enjoyment is really the number one priority for homework. For some students this is not something additional to their daily routine, but for others it can be a challenge to sit down and take the time. (I have one like that at home!) Graphic novels, read alouds, shared reading (parent and child taking turns), and audiobooks have been lifesavers for us. While I always encourage students to keep reading aloud to build fluency, any of the other modes that I just mentioned count as reading, too! The skills will come, at different rates for different kids, but we also need children to love reading and when it is too challenging it can discourage rather than encourage. Let the reading at home be fun and the reading at school be the work (though I will do my best to make it fun, too!) Picture books and chapter books are both appropriate choices at this level. If your child is reluctant about reading, try an audiobook. There's a great free app called Overdrive that you can use to check audiobooks (and ebooks) out of the library. You just need the app and your library card. Mine syncs to the Bluetooth in my car, so whenever we get in to go somewhere, the story picks up right where it left off. I can't tell you how many times we'll arrive home and just sit in the driveway listening because we want to finish a chapter! The other nice thing about audio is that students can listen to stories they may not yet have the skills to read on their own, such as a Harry Potter book. Be aware of mature content, but for many students their interest level may be different from their skill level and audio can reduce this obstacle.

Homework should not take more than 20 minutes a night. In the event that your child is really struggling or it is taking longer, please contact me and I will help problem solve and/or adjust the assignment.

Soon I will be introducing Google Classroom. If you have older children, you may see them using it for assignments. At the second grade level, I use it simply as a board to post assignments that I want students to do here in school or activities and games that they can do at home. Sometimes it is a high-interest video or article that I ask them to comment on. The home piece is by no means required, but is great for those kids who want more homework or just as a boredom buster! I will send out more info on Google Classroom once I have introduced it to the children.

The last item related to homework is monthly projects. As a team, the other second grade teachers and I decided that we would like to do the writing portion of the projects at school, rather than sending that part home as we have previously done. We may ask that some of the reading for the projects be done at home, as well as the creative portion of those projects that are crafty. For example, in October students will be doing a book review and creating a pumpkin character. They will be be able to choose a fiction book with a fun character, write the review with us at school, and then create the pumpkin character at home to be brought in by a due date. All the information about this will come home separately in the assignment, but since this is a change from past practice, I wanted to let you know.

I think that this homework should be manageable for most children and families. There will be opportunities for students to extend their learning through Google Classroom and other options about which I will keep you informed. Please note also, that if you have a child that enjoys projects, I always welcome them to share ones they come up with independently.

Phew! I know that was a lot, but hopefully it clarifies the why and what about second grade homework. If you do have any other questions, please feel welcome to email me!

*Just a note about the graphic below. I am a TRUE believer that there is so much more to teaching and learning than test scores. That being said, however, the data in this graphic greatly illustrates the importance of reading at home. It's not just about test scores, it's about stronger vocabulary, reading proficiency, and higher level thinking.

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Room Parents and Volunteers

Below you will find a form to submit in the event you are interested in becoming a room parent. Room parents typically organize classroom celebrations and coordinate other volunteers. I am hoping to have 2 room parents this year. If more people volunteer, I will chose via lottery.

If you are unable to volunteer as a room parent, there will be other opportunities. Mrs. Moise would like 2 volunteers to alternate weekly to help in the library. There will be a sign up sheet at Open House. Our library time is Wednesday 1-1:30.

We also have Mystery Readers in grade 2. More information will be forthcoming, but this is a great opportunity for those parents who might be unable to make it into school on a regular basis. Siblings, grandparents, etc. are also welcome to participate.

Other opportunities may arise throughout the year depending on parent availability and the needs of the class. Thank you!

Donor's Choose

I am not sure how many people are aware of the program Donor's Choose. It is a place for teacher's to submit projects and for people to donate to fund the projects (like little grants). I have been fortunate enough to fund many projects this way and build up a library of math games and resources, some for social studies, and balance balls that students will use in class soon. This summer I was able to complete two more projects thanks to generous people who know about the program. I am interested in exploring "flexible seating" within the classroom so the projects were focused on that. The first item funded was a large oval rug for our morning meetings, closing circles, and as a workspace for students, and the other is for another kind of seating called "wobble chairs". One received a match donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the other was flash funded by a program Target is running. It's a wonderful program for classrooms, so I figured I would spread the word! If you know other teachers be sure to tell them about it, as well! I am hoping our new items will arrive before Open House so everyone can check them out!
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The Magic of Mistakes

Get ready for another awesome Class Dojo video! In this episode students learned that it is A-OK to make mistakes! People learn when they make mistakes and persevere to figure out problems. It's just plain old brain science-mistakes can make you smarter!
Growth Mindset #2 - The Magic of Mistakes

In upcoming issues...

Guided Math, R.E.A.D. Rotations, Responsive Classroom routines, S.O.A.R. update