Friday, February 13, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day!

We had a fantastic time today celebrating Valentine's Day with Minute to Win-it activities.  Thank you to all the families that donated supplies.  Enjoy your Valentine's Day!

February Update

The week before February break (next week) at WCS is “Theme Week.”  This year’s theme is connecting wellness with cultures around the world.  Students will attend fun and diverse workshops on Monday - Thursday and then a parade, cook-off, and dance on Friday!  We were each able to pick two one-hour sessions, a Monday-Tuesday workshop and a Wednesday-Thursday workshop. We will be trading flags with other third and fourth grade classrooms.  Our class country is Vietnam! File:Flag of Vietnam.jpg

In Literacy this week, students focused on visualizing as a comprehension strategy this week.  Groups are reading a variety of fiction and nonfiction selections, and discussing text features, themes, vocabulary and making connections.  Students also continue to practice persuasive techniques, including counter-arguments, in writing about noteworthy people and places.  Students began working on pieces for The Williston Observer Kid’s Edition!

In math this week, third graders are in the thick of unit 4 - studying various units and tools for measurement.  Students completed a measurement checkpoint on Friday, assessing their understanding of unit concepts thus far.  Our February calendar focuses on concepts of area and perimeter.  We continue to practice finding equivalent fractions and connecting fractions to decimals using money.  Fourth graders have an exciting new calendar for February and are learning about isosceles and scalene triangles.  Math lessons have included strategies (including the popular mental-math strategy “give and take”) for adding multi-digit numbers (in the thousands and ten-thousands!) and rounding large numbers as well.  We reviewed how to do the traditional algorithm and played two NEW math games!

We continue this week with our Properties of Matter science rotations.  Thanks to many wonderful parent volunteers, we are able to have exciting inquiry happening in multiple classrooms.  In Ms. Ward’s workshop, students are exploring the many fascinating properties of gas.  The core science idea is that gas is matter because it takes up space and has mass.  Investigations include comparing the circumference and mass of deflated and inflated balloons, explaining water displacement using an empty glass, and keeping track of data in a chart.   

In other news, our Big Basket has arrived!  Our class’ theme this year is “Gift Cards”.  Please consider sending in a donation for this important (and fun) fundraiser!  Thanks!

LOVE seeing this teamwork :)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Reader's Workshop

The reading strategy we are focusing on right now is Connections.  While your child is reading he/she should be making connections to deepen their comprehension.  Schema theory explains how our previous experiences, knowledge, emotions, and understandings affect what and how we learn (Harvey & Goudvis, 2000). Schema is the background knowledge and experience readers bring to the text. Good readers draw on prior knowledge and experience to help them understand what they are reading and they’re able to use that knowledge to make connections. Struggling readers will move directly through a text without stopping to consider whether the text makes sense based on their own background knowledge, or whether their knowledge can be used to help them understand confusing or challenging materials. By teaching students how to connect to text they are able to better understand what they are reading (Harvey & Goudvis, 2000).
Keene and Zimmerman (1997) concluded that students comprehend better when they make different kinds of connections:
  • Text-to-self
  • Text-to-text
  • Text-to-world
Text-to-self connections are personal connections that a reader makes between a piece of reading material and the reader’s own experiences or life.
Text-to-text connections are when readers are reminded of other things that they have read, other books by the same author, stories from a similar genre, or perhaps on the same topic. Readers gain insight during reading by thinking about how the information they are reading connects to other familiar text.
Text-to-world connections are the larger connections that a reader brings to a reading situation. We all have ideas about how the world works that goes far beyond our own personal experiences. We learn about things through television, movies, magazines, and newspapers.
Cris Tovani (2000) offers reasons why connecting to text helps readers:
  • It helps readers understand how characters feel and the motivation behind their actions.
  • It helps readers have a clearer picture in their head as they read thus making the reader more engaged.
  • It keeps the reader from becoming bored while reading.
  • It sets a purpose for reading and keeps the reader focused.
  • Readers can see how other readers connected to the reading.
  • It forces readers to become actively involved.
  • It helps readers remember what they have read and ask questions about the text.

Below are some examples of connecting statements for students to use as a reference for their Reading Letters.
This part reminds me of….
I felt like…(character) when I….
If that happened to me I would….
This book reminds me of…(another text) because….
I can relate to…(part of text) because one time….
Something similar happened to me when….
Below are some examples of questions that can be used to help your child make connections:
What does this remind me of in my life?
What is this similar to in my life?
How is this different from my life?
Has something like this ever happened to me?
How does this relate to my life?
What were my feelings when I read this?
What does this remind me of in another book I’ve read?
How is this text similar to other things I’ve read?
How is this different from other books I’ve read?
Have I read about something like this before?
What does this remind me of in the real world?
How is this text similar to things that happen in the real world?
How is this different from things that happen in the real world?
How did that part relate to the world around me?

What did you do on our Snow Day?