Learning Links

Heather Smith & Adriane Reinelt

November 13, 2015

Classroom Calendar

Please click on the link button to view our classroom calendar for important events.

Story of Learning Conferences

Thank you for joining us in a conversation of your child's learning. Your partnership in this journey is greatly valued and ensures your child's continued growth and success.

Home Learning v. Traditional Homework

Much of learning in today's classrooms look very different from even 10 years ago. The emphasis has shifted to conceptual methods of instruction that involve ongoing, project-based learning opportunities and less and less on the "skill and drill" worksheets of traditional homework.

That is not to say that Home Learning isn't valued. Students are expected to be reading 30 minutes each night and currently for math continue to practice basic addition and subtraction facts for 100% accuracy. There will also be times when an activity is brought home for students to engage in conversation with an adult and "Show What They Know" around academic concepts. We've been referring to this as Home Learning activities. Any Home Learning activities are highlighted in your child's academic planner.

You might have noticed that our newsletters have evolved to include a Home Learning Conversation suggestion for each content area. This is another Home Learning opportunity for our students and their families to engage in conversation with weekly learning in the classroom. Please take the opportunity throughout the week to highlight these thinking suggestions. Your support in growing these important conversations has positive influence in your child's continued success.

SPE Playground Fundraiser - On the Border

Help support the SPE PTA Playground Fund by participating in Give Back Night at On The Border Mexican Grill and Cantina!

What: The SPE PTA is raising funds for the Playground Enhancement Project. By participating in ‘Give Back Night’, On The Border will donate 20% of your purchase (includes carry-out and catering) back to SPE. You MUST present the On The Border flyer in order to recognize support for the SPE Playground Enhancement Project. Flyers will be distributed in the Friday folders. If you have misplaced your flier, click on the following link to download a new one...On the Border flier.

When: Wednesday, November 18, 2015 (All Day!)

Where: 3930 Baldwin Road, Auburn Hills, Michigan (In front of Great Lake Crossing Outlets)

Look forward to seeing you there and, as always, appreciate your support!

Thank you,


Leader of the Week - Stephanie

Our next Leader of the Week and class President is Stephanie. Thank you Jacqueline for your leadership this past week and continue to lead on this week as our class Vice-President!

Leader In Me

This week leaders watched a video about coloring the world with kindness. The video showed people doing small acts that make a big difference. We discussed that attitudes can spread quickly throughout a group whether they are positive or negative. Leaders have made a promise to color the world!

Leader in Me Home Learning Conversation:

  • Have your child express ways that they are showing kindness to others in the classroom or at school. If they are having a hard time coming up with examples, ask them what they can do in the future to color the world.


Unit 2 Understanding Characters

We have finished Unit 2! Students did a great job connecting with characters. As a wrap up, readers picked one of their favorite characters and did a compare and contrast poster between themselves and the character.

Fall reading assessments are finally all complete! I am very proud of all of our readers. Readers in Room 408 are so amazingly focused and have a love for reading and it shows in the assessment results! Keep up the good work reading at home and school :)

Reading Home Learning Conversation:

  • Have your reader share which character they picked for their character comparison poster. Ask your student how they were alike or different from this character and what fun facts they documented.


Unit 1 - Personal Narrative

We have officially wrapped up personal narratives! Final drafts have been printed and writers should be so proud of all the hard work they put into this first unit.

Writers started to celebrate Thanksgiving by brainstorming a list of 5-8 things they are the most thankful for and why. After they made a list, writers created "The many things I am thankful for" piece of writing that we are going to decorate and hang in the hall. Students are getting very creative with the things they are thankful for! Examples include: family, friends, "the weekends because they give you a break", tablets and pets.

Writing Home Learning Conversation:

  • If you are interested in what your writer is the most thankful for, ask them to share with you what they included in their thankful writing. Make sure to guide students to give the reason why they are thankful not just allowing them to list people, place or things.


Unit 1 - Adding and Subtracting Whole Numbers Using Place Value

It's hard to believe how different mathematics instruction looks today. It's truly a blessing that instructional practices have change over the years. When I learned how to add and subtract, my teachers only emphasized procedural understanding through the standard algorithm strategy. This is the strategy we all learned to add and subtract which in many cases was the only way our teachers delivered this concept. Standard algorithm begins with adding/subtracting the ones place value column and then if required regrouping/borrowing to the tens place value column and so on and so on. This method follows a simple pattern and requires understanding of basic addition and subtraction facts. I did this successfully as a 3rd grader but I can honestly say that I didn't truly understand the concept of adding and subtracting. I truly understood the pattern of the procedure of adding and subtracting.

Over the years, really smart mathematician researchers became alarmed by this trend of only focusing on mathematical procedural understanding and began to examine better instructional practices. Thankfully today our instructional practices focus on providing our math thinkers a solid conceptual understanding of mathematics. Our instructional delivery methods changed to focusing on strategies that require students to demonstrate and explain mathematical thinking flexibly through a variety of strategies: documenting adding/subtracting by creating open number lines, showing addition/subtraction moves with base 10 manipulatives, and decomposing numbers into partials through expanded form of each place value.

Brain research has demonstrated that when our students process math in these various ways they develop a strong number sense where they can communicate number relationships and see similarities between foundational concepts like fact families (addition/subtraction relationships and multiplication/division relationships) that they will continue to need in future math learning.

With all of this being said, I understand that it is confusing to know how to "help" your child with math when many of us only understand standard algorithm. This is one of the reasons why little evidence of math has been coming home. Teaching your child standard algorithm at this time of the year only confuses them in the process of developing a conceptual understanding. Our 3rd graders are not expected to master standard algorithm but only be introduced to this concept. However when I see that students are ready to move on to this strategy, I will work with them to link the conceptual strategies state above to the standard process. I love telling our mathematicians that they are so much smarter in adding and subtracting because most of the adults in their lives only learned one strategy so please don't be surprise if they share with detail with you :)

Math Home Learning Conversation:

  • If you are interested in learning more about these conceptual understanding strategies, please click on the following link Addition and Subtraction videos to view a series of short YouTube videos.
  • Home Learning Activity: Your mathematician has four 3-digit addition and subtraction problems to solve this weekend using two different strategies. Possible strategies are methods from the videos. This isn't new learning so your child should be secure with this activity.

Social Studies

Unit 1 - The Geography of Michigan

Our Geographers are continuing to examine Landforms and Bodies of Water in Michigan. We are conducting research through the examination of various maps and interpreting the "special story" that each map presents to the learner.

Geography Home Learning Conversation:

  • Take the opportunity to have a conversation with your geographer about his/her understanding of Michigan elevation maps that represent differences in elevation through different colors. Click on the following link Michigan Elevation to view a map.
  • Have your child point out Michigan's high elevations and low elevations.
  • Have your child communicate the location of different elevations through the use of cardinal (N, S, W, E) and intermediate (NW, NE, SW, SE) directions. This is a nice review to prior learning.


Earth Science - Earth Materials & Surface Changes

Last week, we explored slow forms of weathering and erosion. This week we examined rapid forms of weathering and erosion (earthquake, volcano, flood) through a computer simulation that presented our junior geologists with 3 historical geologic events.

Science Home Learning Conversation:

  • Take the opportunity this weekend to have a conversation with your scientist about his/her understanding of differences and similarities between slow and rapid forms of weathering and erosion.