Monday, March 31, 2008

Welcome Back!

Greetings Blogger Readers! Room 108 is back in session at Horace Mann School and the children came back with a ton of energy and great things to say about their spring break experiences. I enjoyed the break immensely and was fortunate to be able to embrace the baseball season with my family at a couple spring training "Cactus League" baseball games in Arizona. The weather here in Illinois is not exactly baseball friendly but it will soon look up and the sun will be shining again!

A big thanks and "stamp of approval" goes out to the students that took the initiative (or parent initiative) to work in their Creative Writing packet over the break. All of your children have creativity inside and it is a pleasure to read anything your child is willing to share. I want to also thank the families who have helped their child complete and return the Reading Logs. I am glad to know the log has become such a motivational tool!

I must draw your attention to a new feature of the Room 108 blog. On the left hand column you will see a slideshow linked from a "Flickr" account created for our classroom. This slideshow will display photos taken from parents and myself and updated as often as pictures are available. (Big THANK YOU goes out to the creator and main picture suppliers) If you have any Room 108 pictures you would like to share on the blog please e-mail them directly to me.

Thanks to all you blog readers out there and please keep up the e-mail comments, posts, and questions!! See you on the blacktop!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Season is Changing...

As we wrap up the final week before spring break, Room 108 is preparing for an opportunity to reflect and project. Since the turn of the new year students have been working hard on a daily basis to gain and apply new skills in a number of content areas. The big challenge for everyone is connecting the skills and knowledge across the many academic domains. Things we learn in phonics can help us in reading, just as things we learn in math can help up in science. In Room 108 I try very hard to encourage thought and application from one subject to the next, and from inside the classroom to the rest of life. Students may not realize their clock partners and group work are helping them develop life skills necessary for future development, but it is happening and I can see flashes of it every day. As we all slow down our "academic" motors and prepare for some much deserved relaxation time, I ask you to look ahead to the rest of the academic year and identify some things you and your child can improve or expand on. I believe it is important to have interests in all areas of life, so I encourage you to explore some new horizons with your child in an attempt to broaden your spectrum of understanding. There is a seemingly endless number of fun, exciting, and educational opportunities are out there for us to experience!

Wednesday will be a "Game Day" for students as we wrap up Unit 7 in Open-Court Reading and Everyday Math. Monday and Tuesday have been massive review days as I want to refresh students memory with as many of the skills and stories we have experienced throughout Unit 7. As with all games days, please make sure your child has a good night's rest and well-balanced breakfast. Thursday will be a "Spring Cleaning" of sorts as we prepare our classroom for ten days of inactivity. Keep your eyes open for an assortment of materials collected in students' desks during the past couple months.

Report Cards
Thursday your child's report card will come home in their Mail folder. These grades are for the second trimester and reflect your child's academic and individual development from the end of the first trimester to now. It has been an absolute pleasure to watch the growth of your children socially, academically, and physically. Personalities have really begun to set in and the ever changing classroom constellation is being reshaped as development and growth occur. Thank you all for everything you have provided Room 108 and the support you have given me. These first two trimesters have been a truly incredible experience and I look forward to finishing the year in the same way!

School Reminders
** If you have not already done so, please have your child bring in a shoe box and egg carton. The shoe box will be used to create a solar system project and the egg carton will be used for a project during the life cycle study in science.
** Spring Sing Postponed - You should have seen a flier come home the Spring Sing being rescheduled for the week of May 19-23. Please make a note of this.
** Room 108 created some outstanding art work during an art appreciation devoted to Keith Haring and his unique style. Student work is currently on display in the Gym and was up during the Fun Fair.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Update in Room 108

Greetings to all! A lot has happened since the last post and the district web server is experiencing difficulties so my recent Readers have been unavailable. Here we go...

The recent game day proved again to be a strong evaluation for all students in the areas of math, reading, and phonics. Many of the skills covered in both assessments will be reviewed and assessed again before the year is over. Report cards will be sent home on March 20, 2008, the final day of school before spring break.

Unit 7 of Open Court Reading has graduated students from predecodables and personal readers into student anthologies. An anthology is a pretty traditional collection of literature focusing not on phonemic skills rather student comprehension and understanding. Important skills now become summarizing, making predictions, drawing inferences, and sequencing events. Many of these reading skills are assessed informally with teacher/student question and answers but there will be occasional worksheets dedicated to written answers. Unit assessments will also require students to do some reading and answering comprehension questions individually. The theme for this unit is "Keep Trying" emphasizing the importance of working hard and not giving up. Recent reading selections include the Itsy Bitsy Spider and selected Frog and Toad.

Everyday Math is also in Unit 7 which, as the Home Links have shown, focuses on Geometry. Students brought in many geometric shapes for the "Shape Museum" that has been constructed in the rear of the classroom. We are currently focusing on identifying names of polygons and three dimensional (3D) shapes. Attention is being paid to the shapes attributes such as the number of sides, corners, straight edges, side length, color, and patterns.
Please continue to work with your child on their addition facts because subtraction is right around the corner. Ongoing skills include: clock times, domino addition, coin counting/money exchange, base 10 blocks, place value, writing names for numbers, fact triangles (families.)

Social Studies has cracked into Unit 3 which introduces students to the "World of Work." The unit brings the reality of work as a means to gain money necessary for the purchase of goods. The first couple lessons focus on human wants and needs, differentiating between the two. It also identifies the needs as food, shelter, and clothing. As a class we have talked about how lucky we are to live in Oak Park, Illinois and not have to worry much about when and what they will eat, where to school, or sleep at night.

Science is slowly traveling throughout the solar system and universe as students become more familiar with the planets of our solar system in the Milky Way galaxy. The recent trip to Cernan Space Center was a tremendous venue to let students see space in a new and different way while also being allowed an opportunity to ask a professional astronomer questions about the universe we live in.

Upcoming Dates and Things to Remember:
Mann School Spirit Days - March 12-14 * Friday is Hot Chocolate Friday *
Wed, Crazy Hair Day; Thurs, Pajama Day; Fri, Mustang Day (Mann Wear)
March 21-30, 2008 - Spring Break

Thanks to all who sent in hand sanitizer and soap! Our students are extremely grateful! (So am I!) See you on the blacktop!