Chabot Space and Science Center

Thank you to all the chaperones who drove and helped manage 26 very excited children today! It was a great trip. If you have photos, you can go ahead and send them to everyone. We have several more field trips planned. Keep an eye out for an upcoming email. Thank you to everyone for helping them go incredibly smoothly so far (returning permission slips quickly, sending lunches and booster seats on the days of the trip, following the signing-up-to-drive protocols, etc.)! Here are pictures from our Moon Mania class:

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Collecting moon rocks and checking for composition under a blacklight

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Making the phases of the moon

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Free play with space and spaceship toys

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Making rocketships and launching them to the planets

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Making the moon with craters


Science Alliance

Hot off the press! A new book published by Room 7 about our visit to Redwood Heights’ annual Science Alliance.  Photo Mar 18, 5 29 16 PM Photo Mar 18, 5 29 07 PMPhoto Mar 18, 5 29 24 PM Photo Mar 18, 5 29 32 PM

Art and Architecture

Today was our third week as architects. During art class we have been studying architecture and design by looking at beautiful slideshows Ms. Claudia has that showcase interesting houses and buildings from all over the world. These artistic structures are built out of various materials and are all sorts of shapes and sizes. After watching the slideshows the children talk about what they saw and what was interesting to them. We talk about building materials, and shapes that are architecturally strong. Today we read a wonderful book called Iggy Peck Architect, about a 2nd Grade boy who saves the day when he and classmates build a bridge over a river on a class field trip. The teacher, who had been annoyed by his building attempts, comes to appreciate them. 🙂 Then Ms. Claudia shows the supplies we’ll be using to build, and the children get to work! We’ve used various types of paper, cardboard, and toilet paper rolls over past couple weeks. Today the children constructed with straws, pipe cleaners, and twist ties as well. Here are some of their creations from today. (Their paper sculptures from last week are hanging in the lunch room.)

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Rain, Cold, Illness, Planning, Assessing, Singing, Ice Cream, Persimmons, Oh My!

It was a bit of a crazy week in Room 7! But at the end of the day (or week for that matter), the children were happy, continued to learn and grow, and we packed a lot in.

The rain always makes everyone a little bonkers–whether we’re cooped up inside all day or playing outside in the drizzle and the puddles. The temps dropped and we had to get the district to come light the school’s heater’s pilot light, so we were without heat for a couple days. I got sick on Tuesday, was out on Wednesday, and back in school Thursday and Friday, teaching in between sneezes, with mild congestion and a hoarse voice. Thursday morning Ms. Fisher and I had our six-week planning meeting. And all week I was pulling students one-by-one to get this trimester’s assessments completed (which I’ll talk about with you at your parent-teacher conference in December). On the upside, we had a special guest, Mr. Tony (Teagan’s dad) come serenade us with fantastic kids’ songs of his own creation. We had our persimmon party today, when we learned all about this wonderful fruit and got to eat such treats as chocolate persimmon muffins, persimmon salsa, dried persimmon, sliced fuyu persimmons from Sawyer’s tree, chopped ultra-sweet hachiya persimmons, dried persimmons of both varieties, persimmon bread, persimmon pudding cake, and more! Every child seriously chowed down. AND, earlier this week, I got my first “special time” date of the year–ice cream at Loard’s with Emily. We ended today with some touching appreciations. This is a really, really sweet group. Enjoy your Thanksgiving everyone, whether you’re in LA, Portland, or Oakland, I’m sure you’ll all be thankful for some quality family time and down time. I’ll be spending this weekend at a B&B in little Volcano, CA (in the foothills) for my boyfriend’s birthday, and then packing up our apartment and moving into our new house in Berkeley!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Student of the Week

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Every Monday one child gets the chance to become the student of the week! This child presents their “Read All About Me” poster (email me if you didn’t get one at Back to School Night and I will send one home with your child). They also get to take home our class mascot: Dustin the Desert Turtle (don’t worry, he’s not real!). Dustin comes with a binder in which your child can draw and write (dictation ok!) about   their time with Dustin. They will bring Dustin home on Monday, and can keep him until the following Monday. When they bring Dustin back that following Monday, they will share their work in the binder, with Dustin’s help 🙂 If you have the time to give Dustin a bath (just soak him in warm water with some gentle detergent and put him in the sun to dry), that would be fabulous. If not, no worries. The student of the week can also bring in one thing from home to share (pretty much the only time children get to do so). The student of the week can also bring in a favorite book from home for me to read to the class. Have fun!

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It’s Center Time!

On Fridays we spend a little bit of the morning and the entire afternoon doing centers. The centers are focused on Word Study and review the week’s learning. There are usually five centers and children choose the order in which they complete them. They are responsible for putting all their work in their word study folder. The get to take some center work home!

Here are the centers the students did last week: (Captions below)

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Sound sort: students had to cut out pictures and decide which column to glue them in based on their beginning sound.

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Fruit Loop Letters: Students got to make giant letters by gluing fruit loops

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Donald the Dog and Frazer the Frog puppets: Students got to make their own stick puppets to bring home. I use these puppets throughout the week with them to help teach them letter identification, letter formation, and letter sound.

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Letter formation and handwriting: Students practice forming a few good D’s and F’s (uppercase and lowercase). While their write each letter they say the name and the sound.

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Students get to practice making letters by tracing them in shaving cream! Here Lucia makes uppercase and lowercase B, and Teagan makes the “da” slide (as in “dad”).

Children also have a planning sheet on which they keep track of the centers they’ve completed. The color in the appropriate square when that activity is done. When they finish all the centers, they can get an iPad and do ST Math, Reading Horizons, or Writing Wizard.

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One goal for centers is work independently. I have been keeping track of the children’s questions and appeals for help so that I can figure out what I need to teach them in order to not need my help. We have only done centers twice, but within a month or so I will be able to work with small groups and individuals at the back table while the class completes their centers. The children are, however, only five years old and will need some adult help and guidance. If you can come volunteer for centers on Friday from 12:45-1:30 or 1:50-2:50 it would be very helpful!!

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Reading Workshop: Growing Independent Readers

Reading Workshop in Room 7 has begun! Reading Workshop takes place 2-4 times per week. It starts with a mini-lesson–I teach the students something about reading. These lessons will not be about letters or sounds (though I will teach about “sounding out” as one of many strategies to figure out tricky words). We do phonics lessons and activities, a key component of Balanced Literacy instruction indeed, at other times during the week. Instead, these reading lessons are about reading behaviors, strategies, and thinking and comprehension skills. For example, one of the recent lessons was about the three ways to read a book: Read the Words, Read the Pictures, or Retell the Story. I taught them to “read” the pictures to figure out what was going on in the story. They were shocked and empowered to learn that looking at (and thinking about!) the pictures counted as reading.

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Then the students read on their own at their desks. They each have a book box filled with books they pick out once a week. On the first day of Reading Workshop they read for nearly 11 minutes completely independently! I told them I was going to alert the news because I had never had a Kindergarten class read for that long. It helped A LOT that half the class was out of the room at Garden, but they don’t need to know that 🙂 (then the students switched and the Garden kids came and did Reading Workshop and the Reading Workshop kids went to Garden).

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I taught them about building stamina, equating it to the first time I decided to train for a half marathon. Our goal is 20 minutes of independent reading. When we reach our goal, we’re going to have a reading party!

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After the students read independently, then they read with their desk partner. While the students are reading, our amazing academic mentor (teaching assistant), Ms. Deirdre, monitors the students and talks with them about their books. I put on my “off-limits” crown and work with individuals or small groups at the back table.

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Happy Reading!

Spotlight on Math: Counting Collections

We have started our first math unit of the year: “Understanding Numbers 1-10.” Don’t worry, this will not be a repeat from preschool! We delve deeply into number sense, problem solving, and make sure to build strong conceptual understanding.

Common Core Standards we will be covering during this unit:

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This unit will last approximately one month and will consist of an Entry Task, Formative Task, Expert Task, and Summative Task (developed by OUSD in collaboration with math lead teachers), interspersed with lessons and activities from OUSD’s newly adopted math curriculum “Math Expressions.” Last week we completed our Entry Task over the course of a few days. Children counted collections of objects (legos, linker cubes, plastic flowers, sea shells, rings, beans, etc) and talked and shared about how they counted and how they made sure to count accurately. Here are the charts we made in class (the ideas on the second two charts come 100% from the students, with some adult help in articulation):

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I cannot underestimate the importance of just counting things! It may seem simple or beyond your child’s ability, but as opposed to simply counting out loud, counting sets of actual objects builds so much critical mathematical understanding. It helps with number sense, one-to-one correspondence, being able to count higher, organization, and early development of the concept of counting by twos, fives, or tens as children start to see how they can make the process of counting a large group of objects more efficient. Give your child counting tasks at home (How many forks do we have? How many pennies in my wallet? How many books do you have? Etc).

Happy counting!

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Moon Festival

Photo Sep 11, 10 57 56 AMToday we had a special guest! Carys’ dad, Chris, came in and we were treated to a father-daughter presentation of the Chinese Moon Festival, which took place on Monday. This festival celebrates the full moon that appears biggest and closest to earth of any day in the year. It is also a time to, traditionally, celebrate the wheat and rice harvests. It is a time to be with family, eat moon cakes, make and light lanterns, and make wishes to the moon for health, safety, and happiness for the upcoming year.

Carys and her family made each child in the class a paper lantern and distributed them to the students today. She also taught us how to make one, and each child did. They are hanging in the classroom and will come home tomorrow! I also read a children’s book about the holiday that Carys brought in, and we drew pictures of our secret wishes on round sheets of paper that represented the moon.

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The children loved the lanterns and were very concerned with how to light them up. They came up with lots of great ideas for contraptions to rig candlelight or electric light into the lantern. (I, of course, reminded them to only do that with an adult, as the lanterns are small and made of PAPER 🙂 Enjoy!

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Class Rules

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Today we talked about our class rules. We talked in particular about the importance of Rule #2 in order to have peace and happiness in the classroom, school, and world. Then I charted the rules in front of the students, and I talked about how listening to my voice and watching as I write each word will help them learn to read and write. They read the rules out loud chorally, carefully matching the word they said aloud with the word to which I was pointing. (Developing the voice/print correspondence–that each word on the page matches a word said aloud (and even what a word is!)–is key for emerging readers.) Each child “signed” their name, which they learned means they will do their very best to follow these rules. Every so often, ask your child to remind you about the classroom rules, and give an example of how they follow one of them.