We had the opportunity on May 4th to partner with Mrs. Hartley's class and connect by Skype on the Smart Board with a ranger from Yellowstone Park!
Ranger Alicia was very informative, and she had lots of wildlife artifacts to share with us like elk antlers and bison horns, which she muscled up to the screen so that students could get a good look. Students wrote down a couple of questions to ask Alicia, if given the opportunity, and some did have a chance to ask a question. Students were particularly interested in the bear population at Yellowstone National Park because they had learned about Maine black bears in April. Ranger Alicia showed students pictures of black bears and grizzly bears, along with graphics showing differences in their body shapes, besides the obvious difference in size. Students learned that black bears live in Yellowstone National Park along with the grizzlies--but we don't have brown bears in Maine. Phew! We also don't have bison or elk in Maine. We do share some wildlife species, such as various birds, rodents, and members of the cat family like cougars, wildcats, and lynxes. We learned that Yellowstone Park is situated in a caldera that formed 640,000 years ago after the eruption of a super volcano, one that remains to this day. The reason for Old Faithful and other geysers located there is due to the molten rock from that super volcano that bubbles up through the Earth's crust. It heats some of the water that pools in fissures in the Earth's crust, so that the heated water and steam bursts up through holes and cracks in the rock.

We've been learning about the Atlantic puffin, a bird that breeds on Seal Island, Matinicus Rock, and Egg Rock in Maine. Additionally, students have studied the Maine state fish, the landlocked salmon. They have created paper, paint and foil collages of these animals and will include these pages in their Maine books. Students wrote original cinquains about salmon.

In separate pots, students planted radish and wax bean seeds, as well as, the herbs parsley, basil and dill. All the plant species seeds were distributed in two pots each. We decided to do an experiment by growing half  of the plants in a sunny location, and the other half (same plants) far from natural light.  Students have made many observations and written down those thoughts on lab sheets. They have also generated hypotheses about what they think the results of the experiments will be. They have noted similarities and differences in a Venn diagram, discussing their observations in small groups of 3-4 students.

Students are still practicing fluent reading, summarizing, and learning how to answer inferential questions (both orally and in print) connected to their reading. We LOVE books!!

Students will shortly participate in the final spelling assessment. It's expected that they will know all the words on the targeted list of high use words. Parents, please check in with your child to see if the list is mastered, and keep practicing if there is still work to do. Frequent short practice sessions (10 minutes or so, 4 times a week) is ideal for memorization of conventional spellings.

Unit 8 in Everyday Math focused on geometry--polygons and polyhedrons.  We have a "Shapes Museum". The study of arrays as a way to represent multiplication, more regrouping practice with 2- and 3-digit numbers rounded out the unit. Onto Unit 9 and the study of equal parts--i.e., fractions!

We look forward to working hard on our Maine book in the final weeks of school and can't wait to share it with our parents on June 17! 

April News


           Oh, we had fun on April Fool's Day! Mrs. J.-R. wrote Monday, April 4, 2016 on the
whiteboard and could not be convinced by students that the date was actually Friday, 
April 1,2016. Still, disbelieving students tried to fool their teacher all day long. Imagine that!

Rescheduled parent conferences finished up in early April. Many thanks to my parents who are so supportive of their childrens' education, and have been so helpful to me this past school year.

Now that it's early spring, Maine's 31,000 black bears are emerging from their winter dens. That's a lot of bears! Occasionally, they are spotted in Kittery, so bear-proof your garbage and trash. There's a reason for the expression "...hungry as a bear!" It's recommended to delay putting out your bird feeders until later in the spring, because they're a major bear attraction. The birds will be fine. As things "green up", the bears will look for food in the woods--not in your yard. Students have been doing black bear research on the Maine Secretary of State Kids' Page. They've been reading and practicing taking notes in preparation for doing a report on the Maine black bear. The information will go in their handmade books on the state of Maine.

Students are practicing fluency while reading and refining summarizing skills--learning to include key details from the beginning, middle, and end of a story. Parents, ask your second grader what being a fluent reader sounds like, and ask him/her to demonstrate by reading a "just right" book out loud to you.

This month we finished up Unit 7 in Everyday Math. Besides on-going practice moving towards automaticity with basic addition and subtraction facts (keep practicing at home, please), students have been polishing skills rounding numbers to the nearest decade number, solving 2- and 3-digit addition and subtraction problems with and without regrouping, and both filling in and interpreting data on line plots.

Finally, we've been reviewing various vowel digraphs in class such as "ai" "ei" "ea" and r-controlled vowels "ir", "er", and "ur".

Spring vacation this month--we're ready!!!

March News



    March News

   In honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday, we read favorite Dr. Seuss books, attending to the patterns of rhyme and delights of imaginative characters and situations that are the hallmarks of classical Dr. Seuss stories. On March 2, all the students and all the adults at Mitchell School settled comfortably at the same time in the hallway with a favorite book and had a “Readathon” for 15-20 minutes. It was an inspirational and magical moment for literacy and love of reading!
   March madness did not end with zany Dr. Suess characters! We expected mischief from leprechauns, as they typically visit the classrooms and make a mess! Sure enough, they showed up, threw glitter all around, got into student desks, and generally rummaged through people’s belongings making a mess! Suspecting leprechaun shenanigans, students made leprehaun traps, brought them to school and set them up in the classroom, hoping to catch a few of these rascals and maybe get them to confess where some of their gold was hidden.
  Students had a few lessons regarding persuasive writing and got to work writing letters to leprechauns trying to convince them to enter their traps—traps that didn’t look like traps, but rather, hotels, swimming pools, grand rooms for parties, and other spaces meant to tempt the most suspicious of leprechauns.  As persuasive as the letters were, and as cleverly constructed as the traps were, they managed to escape all the traps…oh well, maybe next year.
  We made “oobleck” out of corn starch, water, and green food coloring, and recorded our observations of non Newtonian fluids. The oobleck name came from a made-up Dr. Seuss word, and it was fitting that in honor of the arrival of spring, the color should be green!
   The York Center for Wildlife came for a visit and brought several species of live owls found in Maine! It was an amazing and informative presentation. Did you know owls can turn their heads 270 degrees and that their large eyes are shaped like cylinders? We learned these facts and many others during the course of this fascinating program.
  The Ezra Jack Keats new illustrator honors recipient for 2016 Ryan Higgins came to visit our classroom during Arts Fair Week.  He showed us how he draws the characters for his books on a computer, and as a class we gave him ideas about a made-up creature that he drew for us and projected on the smart board.  He also read his book Mother Bruce to us—the book he wrote and illustrated that received the pre-mentioned award. Our class received an autographed copy of the book. Wow--we are lucky to have this book in our classroom library!
   Students are being taught how to add two- and three-digit numbers using a method called “partial sums”.  It requires a thorough understanding of place value. Automaticity and accuracy of math facts remains a focus in second grade. We’re practicing strategies for subtracting tw0-digit numbers using an open number line.

  For the first time this school year, we filled up our whole class good behavior chart, earning more than 100 points! We voted on a reward for being good class citizens, choosing to bring a stuffed animal to school for the day, and eat popcorn, while watching a movie.   

February News

   February Notes

   This is Black History Month. Students continue to learn about leaders in civil rights and important figures such as Harriet Tubman who fought, i.e., against the injustice of slavery and other Americans who continued through the ensuing centuries and continue to pursue basic human rights and justice for all Americans.
  Ms. J.-R. is reading the biography of Harriet Tubman to the class. During afternoon reading blocks students are reading biographies themselves and are writing reports on the subjects of their respective books. Children have learned about the kind of information that is typically included in biographies, and the way a biography is organized, and what special features (i.e., timelines, photographs, bibliography) are found in most biographies.
  This month, we did a classroom art project that involved mixing shaving cream and Elmer’s glue and applying it to 12”X18” blue construction paper to create the shape of a snowman. After the mixture dried, students added bits of felt, ribbon, paper, and other materials to create a partially three-dimensional figure. As a writing follow-up, students wrote cinquains about their snow figures. The snowmen were displayed in the hallway along with fanciful writings about
“What I would do on my best winter day…” attached to a decorated paper mug appearing to hold hot chocolate with real marshmallows glued on top…
   Students are memorizing “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost.
   Students from UNE came to the class and presented a power point on how to take care of your teeth in recognition of Dental Health Month.
   Students are learning strategies to add double-digit numbers without being taught the re-grouping algorithm just yet. For example, they are learning to add all the tens by using an open number line, and lastly adding up the ones on the number line. Real, picture, and simple symbolic bar graphs are under discussion and use. Students are employing start/change/end and part/part/total organizers to solve computation problems.
   On February 11, students exchanged valentines in the morning and in the afternoon parents and other family members came to the long-awaited book share for the World Culture and Traditions handmade book. It was lovely to finally show parents the beautiful books and for students to have the opportunity to finally share with them all they had learned about selected countries over the past several months! 


January News

        January News

   It’s the start of the new year, and with that comes student resolutions for 2016. We had a discussion about the term “resolution” and then each student came up with a realistic resolution, wrote it on a piece of paper, and then shared it with the class.
  We began our social studies unit on leaders in civil rights. This month marks the birthday (January 15) of Martin Luther King, Jr., so Ms. J.-R. read a biography of his life to students, and introduced students to a class collection of biographies of other civil rights leaders like Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, and Ruby Bridges, all available for students to read.
  Work continues on the World Cultures and Traditions book—writing, reports, and art projects.
  Students are learning about the characteristics of non fiction prose, from information books to magazines. Thus, begins our exploration of non fiction books, which will continue for a couple of months.
   On January 7 Mr. Negley brought his wonderful portable planetarium, and set it up in the Mitchell School gym. Most students had never visited a planetarium, so this was a surprising and thrilling experience for most as Mr. Negley led them on a tour of the re-created night sky with its constellations, meteors, the rising moon, and the “star” of the show: Polaris, or, as it is more commonly known, the “north star”. He told them the story of the Underground Railroad and Harriet Tubman. He emphasized the significance of the seasons (along with a visual enactment of why we have seasons by showing the arc of the sun across the sky, and how the axis of Earth relates to that angle in creating seasons) and the fixed-in-the-sky North Star, and how and why slaves escaped north in winter and were guided by the north star. We sang the song “Follow the Drinking Gourd”.
It was a very exciting experience for everyone!
   Students are showing their level of mastery of basic addition and subtraction facts by doing speed tests of 30 problems in 2 minutes or less.  We will continue this speed with accuracy test periodically for the remainder of the year. Regular practice with the fact triangles at home is key to succeeding in school with the speed tests.
We are beginning Unit V in EDM focusing on money—-counting and making change, adding and subtracting 10 and 100, and solving number stories.
   The new year is off to a great start!