Newsletter Post 4/26/18
It's here! It's here. Ok I admit it, I was here, in New Orleans while everyone in Maine was having the worst weather ever
but now it truly feels like spring and we can all rejoice! Enjoy my spring newsletter and stay tuned for more exciting learning as we head into the final stretch of the school year.
Maker Space Donor's Choose
I am thrilled to announce that I put a request out for some Maker Space materials on the educational fund raising site, Donor's Choose and...it was fully funded! Our class will be making thank you cards for our generous donors. We got some new shelving and some tools and some snap circuits. The kids put the shelving together and have been organizing our Maker Space. They are very excited! We are using our new tools whenever we can.
April is National Poetry Month so we have been having fun exploring poems and writing poetry. For our first lesson we "dissected" a poem called "Recess! Oh Recess! by Darren Sardelli. We noticed right away that it was a poem inspired by Jack Pretlusky's "Homework! Oh Homework!, which we all know and love. We made a list of all our "noticings" and then modeled our own poems after the original. We used the same number of words, lines and stanzas, and we borrowed some word patterns and phrasing. It was pretty challenging to stay within the framework, but the kids persevered and made some great poems. Now they are experimenting with poems of their choice - anything goes in poetry - that's what makes it so fun!
Tennis at the Y
We had four weeks of tennis lessons at the Y. Our coach was great and he felt very encouraged by the improvements of our players. It was the perfect opportunity to get out and move our bodies for 30 minutes, learning about the great game of tennis. We are so fortunate to have the Y right next door and to be able to provide some non-academic learning experiences for our students. If you haven't been over to check out the remodel, I highly recommend it - it looks beautiful!
Hard to believe this was March 23rd! But we were happy to take advantage of the lovely weather and the DRA's snowshoes. These kids were pros on the snow and it was lovely to spend some time out in our back woods enjoying the outdoors and each other. Thank you to Sarah Gladu for bringing the snowshoes over to GSB.
A Visit from Chewonki
Chewonki came to do their presentation about predators and prey. This fits beautifully into our study of adaptations. Our students are always excited to see the live animals that they bring and this visit was no exception. They brought a barred owl, a snake and a tarantula. Very exciting!
Newsletter Post 2/26/2018
A New Puppy!
I hope you all had a wonderful break. I spent the week doing house projects and tending to our newest addition to our household. I'm pretty excited about it. Her name is Matilda (from the Roald Dahl novel) and she is keeping me very busy! She was just going to be a foster pup...what was I thinking? Of course we fell in love and now she is ours. I've always gotten rescue dogs who were just past the puppy years so if anyone out there has some sage advice about puppy training, please contact me!
Science and STEAM
In Science we are digging deeply into our Marine Animal projects. The kids have chosen an animal from the Gulf of Maine to research and will be making online books about their animals. They are learning about informational text features and are applying these, along with design elements, to their books. For Maker Monday, they have been creating an accurate model of their animal's life cycle and using paint and pastels to turn it into a piece of science art. In Science Buddies the kids have been making and testing anemometers, which are instruments used to measure wind speed. They were given material constraints and the students determined that they would judge them based on how may complete rotations they make in one minute when impacted by a constant wind force. They have begun the test runs and are making modifications to their designs based on their tests. This is a wonderful collaboration between the third and sixth graders and it is exciting to watch them learn from each other.
We continue to work on our multiplication and division facts. We have been playing games, writing them in our notebooks, making flash cards (and cool little pouches to hold them) and testing each other. We have fact "clubs" that the kids are working towards. The breakdown looks like this -
We are also practicing our double and triple digit addition and subtraction. These skills are not solid coming into third grade and there is a lot of confusion about the process of borrowing and trading. We use many different strategies to enforce these concepts. Using the number line can be very helpful. It would be good to throw some triple digit subtraction problems at your children here and there. The more they practice, the better.
Through our Number Corner calendar activities, we have transitioned from the concept of arrays to finding area. They are starting to realize that they use the same process to find area as they were using to multiply with arrays. Now they will practice knowing the difference between perimeter and area and finding them both through real life applications. Just for fun, ask them to find the area and perimeter of your dining table or rug...as long as they are rectangles or squares please!
I have to say, this class came into third grade as fairly reluctant writers. I was a little worried about them, I must confess. But I am happy to report that I am seeing a turn around in their desire and enthusiasm for writing. They are starting to choose writing during their Daily 5 choice time and they seem to be enjoying our genre studies and asking for more. At the moment, we are dabbling in two different genres- persuasive/opinion and informational. Some of you may have been on the receiving end of some persuasive letters...I do apologize! I like to give them free reign with their topics because I find that when given the choice, their excitement level is higher and they write more! The students are also doing some extensive research for their Marine Animal project and some have begun the writing process as we explore informational writing features.
Ice Skating at the MRC
Once again, our third graders are making huge gains on the ice this year. It is always so wonderful to see the progress that these kids make over such a short period of time. While ice skating is not part of our curriculum, I find this to be one of the most powerful learning experiences of the third grade year. The kids learn about perseverance, practice and growth mindset in a very practical way and every single one of them is rewarded with the success from these outcomes. These are lessons they can bring with them into their classroom and throughout their lives.
Look at those faces!
This is what STEM education is all about! When students are given the opportunities to design solutions to problems and test their creations, it instills the curiosity and wonder that is essential for innovation in our world. Pictured here is one of the winning teams testing their catapults for distance.
Science Buddies with Mr. Feltis' 6th Graders
We continue to enjoy our STEM explorations with our science buddies. Recently, we have built catapults, made giant bubbles and practiced measuring their diameters in millimeters and centimeters. Now we are making anemometers to measure wind speed. This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to work with mentor students, work in a team and get experience with innovation and design - all real world essential skills.
The week before the holiday break was a lot of fun. Our class participated and shared first prize with the other third grade classrooms for the longest scrabble word. It was a word that one of our students found and the rest of the class jumped into action! We had a lot of fun decorating our holiday door as well. It was voted upon and they set to work creating our Ewok-themed door. We even had the an audio feature of the Ewok Yub Nub Celebration song. It was awesome. This class is full of Star Wars fans, clearly.
In our study of Maine Native Americans, we read several legends. We also spent some time studying fables. We learned that most of these stories provide a lesson of some sort or provide an explanation to some phenomena in nature. For Writing Workshop, the students drew from these examples to create their own legends. They are now creating picture books of their legends and will be sharing them with other classrooms. They are very excited about these published books!
A Visit from WMTW Channel 8
Wow! There are some seriously nice parents out there! We had quite a crew to greet Ted Mcinerney, meteorologist from Channel 8 News. He was at GSB from 4:30 a.m. on and kids started arriving before 6 a.m. There were a bunch of students on TV and our whole third grade received an informative and fun presentation. One of our third grade science standards is all about weather, so this serves as a great way to kick off our study. Oh yeah...we were filmed in the classroom too. Check out this link for footage.
The Wigwam Design project was a huge success! It was wonderful to watch the students as they went through the design process and deepen their knowledge of the geography of Maine and its natural resources. They drew and revised their designs and added to their wigwams until they were "just right". So much hard work and dedication went into these. It was quite impressive!
Upcoming Field Trips
On Thursday, Oct. 26 we will be spending the day at the DRA learning about Wabanaki culture. We will be outside all day so please make sure your child is dressed for the weather. On Tuesday, Oct.31 the kids will go the Hidden Valley Nature Center with Mrs. Davis, Ms. Schaff, Mrs. Peaslee, and Mrs. Herrick for an outdoor ed. day. The third grade teachers will stay at school to work on curriculum and planning. If you would like to help out with either, please let me know.
Researching Oyster Aquaculture at the Darling Marine Center
Clink on link for more photos -
Outdoor Classroom Day
Our class will be celebrating our second Outdoor Classroom Day with the rest of third grade by having some adventures at Lakehurst in Damariscotta on Thursday. We will take a bus there after lunch and we will find several outdoor missions to accomplish together. If you would like to join us, please let us know. Our class will also be going to the Shell Middens in the morning for a fact finding walk. We have just begun our Maine Native American study and there is lots to learn about them over at the Middens,
Last week we had the experience we had all been waiting for! Our class had been working with their 6th grade science buddies on a design challenge to protect an egg from breaking when dropped from the bell tower on the playground. Out of 26 teams, only two teams were successful in protecting their eggs. It was a lot harder than we thought it was going to be.
More photos here -
One team hard at work
Hurricane Relief Fund
Our class has been raising money for those effected by the devastating hurricanes. We are not participating in the Penny Wars, but we are doing lots of money and graphing math as a result. So far we have $65.47 and we have made two types of graphs to represent our data. Thank you for letting your child donate to this cause!
Our last Maker challenge involved meeting Social Studies and Design standards. The students needed to create a model of the continents and oceans, using paper. They could not use scissors! This was challenging but the results are wonderful! You can see them hanging on the bulletin board outside our classroom. This process helped them to learn the approximate shape and placements of the continents and oceans. They are now being given an assessment to determine their knowledge.
The Third Grade investigates balanced and unbalanced forces by playing Tug of War
On Mondays we have a design challenge and problem solving activity. This week we explored using gravity and inclined planes to make a marble move. The challenge was to make a ramp and move a marble the farthest distance by using gravity. The farthest marble measurement was over 600cm.!
Tuesday, May 1 - Maine State Museum
Thursday, May 10 - Pinkham's Plantation
Monday, June 4 - Darling Marine Center
Wednesday, June 13 - Portfolio Night
*more to come...
This year we will not be formally scheduling spring conferences. However, I would be happy to meet with you if you would like to wrap up the year and talk about your child. We will be having a Portfolio Night in June which will be a student-led conference showcasing the work done this year by your child. Please let me know if you would still like to schedule a private conference with me.
Music Project with Miss Anne-Marie
In third grade Miss Anne-Marie does a collaborative project with the classroom teachers during the Native American unit. Using one of the myths they study, Miss Anne-Marie exposes the students to radio programs from the past, and how those were the main source of entertainment for families, pre television and technology. She teaches how stories can "come to life" through the use of sound effects and acting. This is also a great opportunity for our students to begin to learn about the recording studio at GSB, which includes Protools, a professional level recording app. Each child in 3rd grade reads a part of the story and is coached a bit on acting skills. This year's story was "The Legend of Muskrat". Then, Miss AM shows the students how to place sound effects to the recording to bring it to life! We hope you enjoy the show!!!
Click on the link below
Our class had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Special Olympics swim meet at Bowdoin College to cheer on our classmate, Emmett. The whole class was inspired by the success and goodwill of the event and the athletes. It was wonderful to see such support for our competing students as 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders from GSB rallied behind them.
We just wrapped up unit 4 in our math program. This covered measurement and fractions. They were practicing telling time, measuring using liters, milliliters,grams, kilograms, centimeters and meters. They also did some work with comparing fractions, finding equivalent fractions and putting fractions on a number line. Now we are back to multiplication and division. Below is a lesson we did using pigs to make our four facts.
Maker Monday Multiplication Game Challenge
For this challenge, the students had to design and build a game to help our class learn their multiplication facts. They worked as a team to create their game and then took turns playing each other's games. Students then filled out a checklist about each game to be sure that it met all the criteria. Speaking of multiplication...as the end of the year approaches I will be holding the kids responsible for learning all their multiplication and division facts to ten. It is a third grade standard to have those down by the end of the year, so any encouragement for memorization at home will really help your child succeed.
Maker Monday Habitat Challenge
Learning about animal habitats is one of our science standards for third grade. For this project, they were given a design challenge to construct a model of a habitat for a zoo that needed to house a new lizard. The students had to choose a lizard species and do some quick research about their survival needs. Then they needed to design and build a model of the habitat based on their needs. They then presented their habitats to the class. The students were also working on adaptation projects to cover our Adaptation standards for third grade. You may have seen some of these...they were fantastic! They used a website called, SwitchZoo to create their own animals. They used body parts from a variety of animals to create a whole new species! They then had to place them in the appropriate habitat, name them and write about their special adaptations that help them survive in that habitat. This project addressed our science standards and our informational writing standards at the same time. It was challenging, but our students rose to the occasion, followed two different rubrics (one for the science content and one for the writing) and knocked it out of the park! I was very proud of their work and they were too.
Our Community Readers
How wonderful it has been to have members of our school community sharing special stories with us! We have thoroughly enjoyed the books and the company of parents, teachers and staff. This engagement is helping us to form a community of book lovers and has spurred an excitement and sharing of books in our classroom. We would love to have some more Community Readers so please consider coming in to share your favorite book.
Tuesday, February 27 - Our last skating day at MRC - don't forget your helmets!
Wednesday, February 28 - Intro to Coding with Jesse Butler (Liam's dad). We are pretty excited about this - thank you so much Jesse!
Thursday, March 1 - A visit from Chewonki about predators and prey
Friday, March 2 - Community Reader Mary Voskian
Thursdays in March starting March 8th - Tennis lessons at the Y
A Visit to the FARMS Kitchen
Our visit to the FARMS kitchen was wonderful! Karen Kleinkopf asked us if we would be interested in helping to prepare a meal to bring to the statehouse tomorrow with folks who are hoping to discuss the passage of LD 1534, “An Act to Reduce Food Waste in Maine.” Of course we agreed and proceeded to make chili, yeast sweet potato rolls and sweet potato muffins. All from "ugly" or old vegetables that were still quite edible. Luckily, there was enough for us all to taste and we agreed that it was delicious...well most of us agreed that some of it was delicious. Let's put it this way - there was something for everyone! A special thanks goes to Kiki Allan for gifting us this FARMS visit. What a terrific way to support the health and learning of our students.
Our class continues to amaze me with the amount of books they are reading at school. What is also impressive are the conversations we are having about their books. They are starting to recommend books to each other and are clearly learning about what types of books they like and dislike. Some are asking to take home books from our classroom library, which I am happy to oblige...please, please make sure they come back to me though. My library is a precious resource! Our practice with persuasive and opinion writing is getting the kids ready to write their first book reviews...stay tuned!
Hawk Henries is a Native American flute-maker from the Nipmuc tribe in Massachusetts, now living in Maine. He collects, makes and plays flutes and other instruments from all over the world. He shared his process of making flutes from start to finish and the students were awed by his presentation. Hawk is an inspirational presenter, whose love of life and learning is contagious. We are so lucky to have this man as a resource for our children.
Tuesday, January 30th - A visit with Hawk Henries. Hawk is an incredibly engaging Native American flutemaker. He teaches the children about flutes and plays for them too. They are always blown away by the incredible sound that comes from these gorgeous instruments.
Tuesday in February - Ice skating at the MRC. This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to learn to skate or improve on their skills. The kids always enjoy it and are amazed by their progress in three short weeks. We need volunteers!
Friday, February 2 - Heartwood production of "Wiley and the Hairy Man". We will leave school at 8:30 and be back by 10:00.
Thursday, February 15 - Outdoor Ed Day
Our class has exploded with excitement in reading! I have been asking them to spend 20 minutes reading from a fiction chapter book each day. They are then given extra time in the day to read from any books of their choosing. This has led to an amazing discovery for many students - they can read chapter books from beginning to end and they can even enjoy them! Kids have been bringing books from home to share with each other and we are keeping track of chapter books read on a huge classroom chart. They are recommending books to each other and even creating lists of good books. This seems to be creating passionate readers which many leading scholars say is so important for a literate life. This recent book has been the latest inspiration in my reading instruction.
Multiplication and Division Facts
Third graders are expected to know their division and multiplication facts through ten by the end of third grade. We spend time learning strategies in class but practice and drill really helps with their automaticity and fluency. I am giving the students timed tests at school to track their their progress. I’m sending home the test sheets and they are given six minutes each to complete them. Please encourage your child to practice these at home. Any other practice you can do with your child will surely be helpful to them.
Our frigid temperatures have put a damper on our time outside, but we try to get outside as much as possible during our day. Research supports the idea that kids are more ready to learn inside if they get some outside breaks during the day. It is also an important time for learning about social skills and behaviors, interacting with peers, sharing creative ideas and problem-solving. Our class is great about bringing in the proper gear to get outside even when it's cold. I also have some extra warm gear to share when it's forgotten. Check out the kickball field - covered in ice!
Beautiful Birch Trees
Our study of Maine Native Americans revealed the amazing properties and utility of birch bark. The Wabanaki used it for everything from baskets to canoes to siding for their wigwams. The students used it to create their wigwam models and learned how to carve pictures into the bark. As the winter snows blanketed us with beauty, we were inspired to create some art with these gorgeous trees. Every one of these creations are beautiful and unique - just like the trees.
We have been spending the last several weeks providing evidence of our learning to generate the scores for our report cards. The students have been working really hard to finish up their projects, use their rubrics to make improvements and articulate their knowledge. I hope that the report cards made sense to you and your child. My goal is for the students to fully understand how their work translates into learning and for parents to understand how the scores are given and what they mean. Please let me know if you have any questions about them. I would love to discuss them with you as it has been such a pleasure to work closely with your children as they grow and learn. They really are working hard in school and you should be proud of their efforts.
Seabird Sue Comes to Third Grade
Sue Schubel from Audubon's Puffin Project came to present an engaging investigation of habitats and puffin adaptations. The students learned all about puffin adaptations and participated in a simulated beak experiment using different tools to represent beak size and shape and beads to represent food. They came away with a good understanding of how "the right tool for the job" is true for animals and their adaptations.
Thank you for bearing with me on the due day for the Reading Logs. It turns out that some of our students have a commitment on Fridays and therefore can't participate in our Reader's Lunch reward. We have decided to move it to Mondays. That way we can record our weekend reading too. Please send them in signed on Mondays and we will have our Reader's Lunch then.
click on link for more photos -
Lakehurst Outdoor Classroom Day
Click on the link for more photos -
The students have been working hard learning new routines and setting up our classroom culture. We have a reward system in our room that involves filling up a jar with marbles, as we build up successful behaviors. They filled the jar and voted for a pajama stuffie day. We spent the day writing stories about our stuffies and doing lots of math about our stuffies. We graphed them in different categories. We created equations- addition, subtraction, multiplication and even some division! The students also created number stories to go with their stuffies. Click on the link for more
photos - photos.google.com/album/AF1QipPBkQ67F63PUMtIb6yOTJ3EzzVm_Q5bIHHU_kTr
Letting our two butterflies go-this one wanted to stick around for awhile
Homework Poem and Contract
Thank you for reading and signing my Homework Contract. I'm providing a link to a good overview of research on the use of homework. Please contact me if you have any questions. www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar07/vol64/num06/The-Case-For-and-Against-Homework.aspx
It was wonderful to meet with everyone at the Open House this week. Please know that I would love to meet with you any time, so don't hesitate to contact me with any questions you may be having about this school year.