As the end of the year approaches, we are busy trying to finish projects, assess learning, and enjoy the last moments together. Newsletters will be sent less often but please continue to see our twitter feed for daily updates and classroom happenings. The children are beginning to wonder about third grade and it is natural for them to experience some worry. You may notice some changes in behavior and your child may not be able to fully articulate his/her feelings. We definitely notice changes in the classroom - there is a different level of energy in the room, there seems to be more social disagreements and it can be harder for some children to stay attentive to the rules and expectations of the classroom. In the next few weeks, we will try to arrange for the children to meet Ms. Anglin, the Lower School Principal and Ms. Gruber, the Lower School counselor. We will visit some third grade classrooms. The children will have the opportunity to meet third grade teachers and have their questions answered by current third graders. We will also host several first grade classrooms when they come learn about second grade. These experiences are often fun and leave the children feeling excited about things to come! This time of year is definitely bittersweet.
FAMILY MESSAGE LETTERS
Family Message Folders were sent home on Friday. Please write a reply and return the letters and the folder before Friday. Thanks.
WORD WORK AND READER'S WORKSHOP
For the last couple of weeks, Ms. Siddique, Learning Specialist, has been helping with some whole group lessons about double vowel spelling patterns. These patterns include ai/ay, oe/oa, ee/ey. We use a rhyme to help us remember the sound that these vowel teams usually make: "When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking." These double vowels all have a long vowel sound and the children are learning to recognize that some double vowel patterns are found more often in the middle of words or sometimes at the end of a syllable or word. For example, ai is often found in the middle of a word such as rain, while ay is often found at the end of a word or syllable such as day or playful. In the English language, there are always exceptions to these rules/patterns. We encourage your child to be a word detective and look for these double vowels patterns in his/her environment.
During Reader's Workshop, we have been working with some stories that are a part of the Great Books Program. This program introduces children to critical thinking and Shared Inquiry as we read and discuss stories together. Shared Inquiry is a Socratic, collaborative, and question-driven discussion method. The teacher's role is to guide conversation through careful questioning, letting children reflect and share their thinking. The stories are short and all of the children are able to read them fairly easily. The first reading is done out loud as the children follow along. After reading the story, the teachers invite children to wonder about the text and offer one thought-provoking question that becomes our focus question. The goal of the discussion that follows is not to go home with the "right answer." Children are learning to support their ideas with evidence in the text, listen to other students' thinking and respond respectfully. They are learning that it's okay to disagree with someone and it's also okay to change their own thinking after hearing other ideas during the discussion. Although this method may sound quite sophisticated, it is amazing what your second graders can do! We have been so impressed with their ideas and the thoughtful, kind way they engage in the discussion with one another. The stories we have read so far include, The Rich Man and the Shoemaker, Nail Soup, and Lion and Mouse. Ask your second grader about them.
In math, we have been working on 2D and 3D shapes and measurement. The children are learning to identify the names of 3D shapes such cones, cylinders, pyramids, rectangular prisms, and spheres. We have introduced inches and centimeters as units of measure. The children have been practicing using a tape measure or rulers to measure the length and width of objects around the room. We have also discusses yards, feet, and meters.
For our final science unit this spring, we are learning all about insects and metamorphosis. In our classroom, we are observing harvester ants, painted lady caterpillars and a mystery insect (see photo above) that has emerged and since died. This insect has a very short life-span but 3 more are set to emerge any day now. The children have become entomologists and will observe, research and hypothesize about our insects. Each day, clues are revealed about the Mystery Insect and while the children have many guesses, we encourage them to find evidence and facts for why they have chosen that particular insect.
When we left school on Friday, all of our painted lady caterpillars were hanging from the lids of their containers in a "J" shape - a sure sign that they were beginning to transform into the pupal stage. We expect to find them in chrysalids when we return to school tomorrow.
The harvester ants have been busy digging tunnels in their bright blue gel habitat. This gel was created by NASA so they could observe ant behavior in space without the dirt tunnels collapsing due to the lack of gravity. The gel contains all the food and water the ants need to survive. Since our study began we have learned that all the worker and soldier ants are females. These include any ants you might find outside or in your home. The males' purpose in the colony is to mate with the queen and then they die shortly after. We also learned that ants communicate to one another by touching their antennae together. They also use scent and sound. Be sure to ask your second grader what other amazing insect facts he/she has learned!
We have had some technical difficulties posting new photos in the Gallery. They should be posted later this week. Keep checking back!
Enjoy the week ahead.