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Thursday, October 31, 2013


We had our Halloween Parade and Breakfast today. Thanks to all of the parents who came, helped and donated items. We all had a very nice time. Enjoy the photos and the slideshow of photos below. If you get this post by email, you might need to go directly to the blog to see the slideshow.

No homework for the weekend. Enjoy some great books with your child.

Our IA next week is Art.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Math Explorations

During every math unit there is a special day called Math Explorations. During this time we set up three stations and have materials and activities for the crew to explore. Last Thursday we had an Explorations Day. Our activities included sorting dominoes into piles by even and odd numbers, using different pattern blocks to cover the same shape in different ways, and playing the card game Before and After. Below are some photos from that day.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Play a fun math game with your child. We did not have math today since we climbed.

We might have library tomorrow depending on when we finish with our Halloween activities. Please help your child remember to return his or her library books.

Our Day
For a short day, our day was very full. We began with an All School Meeting, then we had reading groups and Exploration Stations (I never give up my reading groups), then we had an extra recess and finally we climbed. We won the Box Top collection contest for our school this round so that is why we earned the extra recess (We could have won a popsicle party but I switched that into an extra recess - you know me.) We climbed today to make up for the climbing day that we will miss when we go our our fieldwork experience to Joyous Chinese Cultural School. All in all, an active, fun day!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sight Words/Word Work

Sight Words/Word Work

Our new sight words are: have, do, me, they, saw
Previous words include: and, like, for, day, her, are, going, my, look, of

We are working on learning to spell these words correctly. We can read them, now we must learn to write them. These are great words to point out to your child when they are reading or to have them practice spelling at home, too. 

We often refer to these words as Red Dot Words because I place a red dot by our new words on our word wall. David has been creating some ShowMe to teach others how to spell our Red Dot Words. Below are two of his ShowMes. They are also posted on David's blog if you would like to leave him a comment. (We will begin featuring more student created ShowMes and Tellagamis in future posts.)

Ask your child to explain how we practice these words at school using the Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check method.  

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 3.7 Telling Time to the Half Hour

Monday, October 28, 2013

Mathematical Thinking

Mathematical Thinking
We are learning to share our ways of looking at mathematical situations and ways of solving mathematical problems with each other. We are noticing that most of the time there is more than one way to solve a problem or look at a situation. When we listen to each other explain how we figured something out we learn new ways to think about things. This helps us to be mathematically flexible which helps us not "get stuck" when working on math problems. Below are some photos of one way that we look at a mathematical situation - seeing dots on dot cards - in different ways.

We do a short (5 minute) daily activity that involves looking at dot cards. I flash a dot card picture (as seen below) to the crew for a few seconds. After I cover the picture, I ask the crew what they saw. They then tell me how many dots they saw and how they saw it. We have several students share how they saw the dots. Here are a few examples:

One student saw this as the same configuration of dots on a domino. She knew that this was 8 because this is how 8 appears on a domino.

Another student saw this as a row of 3, a row of 2 and another row of 3. He said that 3 + 3 + 2 = 8.

Another student saw the 6 dots on the sides like they are arranged on a 6 domino. She then added the two dots in the middle to get 8.

The next student saw the 3 + 2 + 3 =8 pattern but she saw it in columns instead of rows.

Another student remembered that we had previously seen a 9 dot arrangement on a previous day and noticed that this was the 9 dot pattern with one dot missing in the middle so it had to be 8.

Why do we do this? I explained to the crew that it is similar to reading - we can "sound out" every word we read but that would not be efficient. We need to have a bank of words that we just know so reading can move along quickly. This is true in math, too. We need to have strategies to deal with numbers so we don't have to count every dot to know how many dots there are in a pattern. We become more efficient using numbers.

This activity also helps us be able to break numbers apart into chunks that are easier to work with in our head. This makes us more flexible when adding and subtracting numbers. We will eventually begin to move on from dot cards and to visualizing numbers and basic addition and subtraction facts. Having the dot patterns in our minds can help us make that transition.

One other reason to do this short, daily activity is that it stimulates our creativity. We begin to look at things in more than one way. This helps us be open to finding more than one solution to our problems.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 3.6 More Number Line Hops

Important Dates
10/30 Belay Training with Mr. Doug at 11:30 am for all interested belayers

10/31 Halloween Parade

11/1 No school for students - Professional Development Day for Teachers

11/6 Information Night for GT/Discovery Program 6:30 pm in library

11/6 and 11/7 Student-Led Conferences - be sure to sign up if you haven't already
Student-Led Conferences Sign Up

11/18 - 11/22 Climbing in PE for our crew - sign up to help belay - we really need some volunteers
Fall Climbing 2013

Gifted and Talented Info

The DCSD Elementary Discovery program will have a parent information night here at Renaissance on Wednesday, November 6th at 6:30pm in the Library.  If you are interested in having your student join the GT (Gifted and Talented) program for the 2014-2015 school year, please attend the meeting.

If you are not able to attend this meeting and would like more information on the program, several other meetings will be held around the District.  See the Discovery Program Flyer for dates, locations and general registration information.

Friday, October 25, 2013


Fluency is the ability to read in a smooth, flowing, connected way. This includes reading with expression and reading at a conversational pace. Knowing more high-frequency (sight) words increases fluency. Fluency is very important because reading fluently improves comprehension. We have begun working on reading fluently in our whole group reading lessons. At home you can show your child what fluent reading sounds like and help them practice reading with greater fluency. Rereading a story more than one time will help with fluency. Reading stories with lots of conversation helps, too - Elephant and Piggie stories are great to use to practice reading with expression since both Elephant and Piggie show so much emotion in each story.

If you are looking for great books to read with your child, you might want to check out my book boards on Pinterest. I have several boards with all kinds of books that range from Kindergarten to Third Grade. If you are looking for some new titles to read with your child, check these out. Many of them link directly to the Douglas County Public Library so it is easy to put them on hold and then go pick them up (that is what I do). Click on the picture or the linked words above to go to my Pinterest page.


No homework for the weekend. Enjoy some great books with your child.

Our IA next week will be PE. Please help your child remember to wear appropriate footwear.

Interesting Link
Read Every Day: A Healthy Prescription for Your Child

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Right before Fall Break, we started a new unit in Math on Patterns. It will include all kinds of patterns - shapes, counting, designs, etc. The first day of the unit we spent some time making some repeating patterns using popsicle sticks. A few pictures are below.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 3.4 More Odd and Even Numbers

Halloween is coming up. Students may wear their costumes to school next Thursday morning (if they would like). We will have a costume parade so we can see all the creative costume ideas. After the parade we will have a breakfast/snack and a craft. We will go to library at 10:25 if we finish in time but if things run long, then we will just wait until the next week for our library visit. We will just go with the flow and see how it all plays out. All families are invited to come and watch the parade and visit in the classroom. You should know that you will not be getting a glimpse of what a regular day looks like - Halloween is anything but regular!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Bonus Blog Post: Our Gifts Arrived in Australia!

Our gifts arrived in Australia on Monday! Mrs. Price said that her class was so excited to receive the box! She sent us some pictures of them opening the box and looking at the items inside. After they opened the box they did some writing about it, too. We really enjoyed looking at the pictures and noticing how similar their classroom is to ours. We were happy to begin tweeting with them again yesterday. They have a new class Twitter account - @jindijoeys. Thanks to all of the families who gathered items to include in the box. Enjoy the pictures below.

Waiting Expectantly

Maker Station

We have finished this round (actually 2 rounds) of our Maker Station. We will move on to other things in our Build and Create center for a while. We will come back to the Maker Station again later in the rotation of activities. We like to keep the interest fresh by constantly rotating our activities. Before we move on I wanted to share one of the things that some kids began making right before Fall Break. They made sharing stick cups. We use sharing sticks (popsicle sticks) with each student's name on them to determine who will have a turn to share during morning meeting. We select three sticks each day - except for Mondays when we drum. Students love to have their stick pulled. Anyway, one day I looked over at the Maker Station and students were writing names of their crew mates on popsicle sticks and creating their own sharing cups. I heard them calling on each other after school as they waited to be picked up. Pretend play at its finest.
My sharing stick cups - green for those waiting for a turn and red for those who have already had a turn.

Student created sharing stick cups.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 3.5 Number Lines and Counting Patterns

We have library tomorrow. If your child has not already turned in his or her book, please help them remember to do so.