Monday, February 3, 2014

News for Room 13: February

Thanks to this winter we all have a new weather term: the polar vortex, which has been keeping us indoors at recess most days. We are looking forward to thawing out, but it looks like this week will bring us some more wintry weather! Oh well, that's winter in New England!
We have pleanty of work to keep us "warmed up." In math we are wrapping up our unit on division, and will look at multiplication of decimals next. Math classes will also be taking the iReady test this week. Remember, Thursday mornings I am available at 8:00 for anyone needing help in math.
My ELA class finished reading Hatchet and for a culminating experience we used iPads to record "Brian " interviews. I was very impressed with the students' thoughtful questions. They showed a real depth of understanding of the character and themes of this great book. We continue to explore ways to improve our informative writing, including identifying and using text structures to take notes. The most challenging part of this experience seems to taking notes in students' own words. One helpful strategy we've learned is to make an alphabox of key words. This is simply a chart of 26 boxes-one for each letter- into which students write the key words from a passage or article. They can then use the words and phrases from the chart to summarize. Since there are only individual words students must write the summary in their own voice instead of copying long phrases or sentences directly from the passage. Alphaboxes have other uses as well. It's a great study stategy for science and social studies tests!
Speaking of social studies, we continue to explore the early colonies and will look at how slavery impacted the colonial economy. It surprised many students to learn that slavery existed in all the colonies. Just yesterday in The Boston Globe there was an article mentioning five places here in Massachusetts where evidence that there was a slave trade exists. What with February being African American History Month I think our focus on this is quite timely as well as important. To help students better understand this unit they were asked to complete a map which is due early next week.
February also brings us Valentine's Day. Though we do not "celebrate" with a party as your child may have done in earlier grades, he or she is welcome to bring in Valentines for his or her classmates (please encourage your child not to exclude anyone). Valentines may not contain anything edible, so no candy or lollipops please.
Please continue to check the blog for updates, and feel free to contact me directly anytime! Thank you for your continued support!

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