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Friday, October 30, 2015


Happy Halloween! Thanks to Ms. Connie, Corbin's mom for organizing our breakfast and craft and to all of the other parents who sent in items for our breakfast. We had a great time! Ms. Michelle, Lorelai's mom took photos for us and those will be coming later. Thanks, Ms. Michelle.

Homework - Read a good book or two.

IA (Integrated Arts)
Our IA next week is Music.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Guest Readers

We have been lucky enough to have some wonderful guest readers. Many of them come in to read a book to us as their child's birthday treat. We always love that! (I think it is even more popular than having an extra recess with this year's crew.) Today we had a birthday treat read aloud and a Halloween read aloud so we were doubly lucky!

Kaisa's mom read to us on Kaisa's birthday earlier in the year.

Marley's mom read to us on Marley's birthday right before Fall Break.

Some fifth graders came in to do a Picture Book Slam with us.

They recommended books to us. This is Kim, Tori's sister.

They had great props.

This is Emily, Gracie's sister.

Ms. Diana came in today dressed as a king.

She read a Halloween story to us. We loved it.

Lily's mom read a story to us this afternoon for Lily's birthday. It was a great day for guest readers.

Homework ~ Read a good book or two.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

What's Happening in Reading and Writing?

During our reader's workshop the last few days, we have been learning about "just right" books and how to select them. One of the first things that we learned is that we have to find a book that we are interested in, then we can decide if we can read it on our own or if we need someone to read it to us or help us read it. We know that it is also fun to just look at the pictures of books that might be too challenging for us right now. We learned that reading lots of "just right" books is the best way to get better at reading. Then we will soon be able to read those books that are challenging for us now. Below are a couple of books we read together as a crew to help us think about learning to read and selecting "just right" books.

During our writer's workshop the last few days, we have been learning about how to know when to put a period in our writing. One of the easiest ways we learned about is to remember to put in a period every time we stop to think about what we will write next. That usually means that we are going to write about a new idea so that would be a good place to separate the ideas with a period.

Coming up in reading, we will begin to learn about how to retell the stories we read using characters names and telling the events in order. In writing we will look at various ways authors put their stories into some kind of sequence or order. These two topics are related to each other so we should be able to make comparisons to what we are learning in reading and writing.

Homework ~ Read a good book or two.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Indoor Recess

We had to have indoor recess one day last week because it was raining. We still had a great time. I loved looking around the room and seeing everyone playing together. Don't tell them but I noticed that they were still learning as they worked on their research, read books together, worked on Coding apps, built with a wide variety of blocks and imagined that they were train engineers. Enjoy the photos below.

Homework ~ Read a good book or two.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Mission Statement

Our school is working on a new mission statement. The staff decided that we should ask the students for their input and ideas. We also wanted them to know that we have a mission statement and to know what we are working towards and what we hope for them by the time they graduate from Renaissance.

Renaissance Mission Statement
To empower students to explore, discover and understand the world around them and the passions within them.

Who are...
  • creative, reflective, fulfilled individuals
  • active, compassionate citizens
  • courageous builders of a harmonious and sustainable world.

After several days of discussing this during our morning meeting, we finally broke down all of the language into our own version that is more easily understood by a first grader. It was a wonderful discussion that led to many great things in our classroom (more on that below).

Ms. Jill's Crew's Version of the Mission Statement

Explore and look at everything around you in the world and figure out what you love.
We will be creative, caring, loving and kind to everything and everyone.

We will think hard every day.

At first the crew tried hard to figure out what I might want them to say. They said things like "parts and wholes are in the world" and "our family, crew and world are all together" and so on. These things are coming from our learning in our current Expedition about families and from our essential understanding of parts and wholes. I did love that they could relate those things to the mission statement but I wanted them to go deeper and talk more about what those ideas (once we broke down the language) meant to them. They did not disappoint. They dived right in and we had some wonderful discussions. My favorite comment was when Halle said, "Oh my gosh, we are thinking about thinking! Isn't that funny?" We spent a whole morning discussing what "explore" meant. We started out thinking that it meant that you had to go on a big adventure to someplace far away like Africa. We finally agreed that we can explore in smaller ways in our own backyards, classrooms, on computers and in books.

The next morning to help them tie all of their thoughts together, I read them the book, Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnell. This book tells the story of Jane Goodall as a child and how she studied the chickens in her chicken coop, ants, trees and other living things in her own yard by watching them closely, reading books and keeping a notebook about them. The books ends by explaining how Jane ended up becoming a scientist who studied chimpanzees in Africa by observing them, living among them and keeping a notebook with her observations.

I was prepared to launch the crew on studies of their own the next day about taking notes in a notebook about things you are passionate about. Ms. Michelle, a 6th grade teacher at our school, just happened to drop by and mention a video clip she used with her 6th graders about keeping a notebook. It is from a Disney film about fairies. The story is about a little girl whose father is a scientist and he keeps trying to get her interested in keeping a science notebook like he does. She never becomes interested until she becomes fascinated by fairies. Then she finally starts her own notebook containing all the things she learns about fairies. Click here to watch the short clip.

The next morning, however, Lily got to share during our sharing time and she told us about how she and Ali had a play date and how they researched cool facts about animals and wrote them down. They had some great facts to share about crabs and other animals. So I used them to launch our research idea and the crew was very excited about researching any topic that they choose. We watched the video clip to get ideas of things that might go in a science notebook and then we jumped right in. Kids are researching dance, eggs, Minecraft, birds, snakes, turtles, wolves, bluebirds, lions, princesses, fairies, chickens and much, much more. They couldn't wait to get into our classroom library and go to the school library to get started. Later in the day we looked at ways to research using our iPads and computers. You will probably be hearing many interesting facts in the weeks to come and they research and learn. They can change topics at any time. The goal is to learn about what they love and are really interested in, we don't have an assignment to complete. However they are reading, writing and learning to find information so many skills are being practiced along the way. I love when many ideas converge to launch a great project!

Below are some photos and one video of us doing our research. If you get this post by email, you will need to go directly to the blog to watch the video.

As you can see, the crew was very engaged and facts were flying around the room. "Did you know that a roadrunner can run 60 miles an hour?" "I think this lion has 13 teeth on the bottom of his mouth."

Homework ~ Read a good book or two.

Important Dates
10/30 Halloween Costume Parade and Breakfast - parade starts at 9 am
11/3 No School - Professional Development Day for Teachers
11/16-11/20 Book Fair Week

Friday, October 23, 2015

Then and Now

Below is our presentation of our what we learned when we interviewed our grandparents. If you get this post by email, you will need to click through and go directly to the crew blog to view the video. It is worth your time. Enjoy!

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

Our IA next week is Art.

Thursday, October 22, 2015


Today, I want to recommend a website to you that you might find fun to explore with your child. It is Wonderopolis - a site that asks and answers an interesting question each day. It is fun to browse through the wide variety of questions. There are often short videos that accompany each answer. Click on the picture to visit the website.


Read a good book or two.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Bedtime Math

A great website/app for you to use at home with your child is Bedtime Math. This site tells a short story each day and then follows it up with three levels of math problems for wee ones, little kids and big kids. The idea is to read the story as a bedtime story and then complete the math problems that go along with the story - a great way to do a little reading and a little math each day. Click on the picture to visit the site.


I read an article about Bedtime Math on NPR over break and thought I would share it with you. It explains some research that shows how doing the Bedtime Math stories really helps kids. The link is below:

Where The Wild Fractions Are: The Power of a Bedtime (Math) Story

Read a good book or two.
Do a Bedtime Math story.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Grandparent Interviews

Families in the Past

We are about halfway through our Social Studies Expedition called, We Are Family. During our first case study have studied and compared our own families. Right before break we talked about families in the past and how our family has changed over time. As you know, we interviewed our grandparents to find out what life was like for them as they were growing up. Below are some of the things we learned. (Click on the pictures for a larger view.) We will start a new case study next week - details coming soon!

Read a good book or two.

Important Dates
10/21 Group Pictures and Individual Re-Takes - Please let me know if your child needs picture re-takes.
10/21-10/22 Student-led conferences for our crew
10/30 Halloween activity
11/3 No School - Professional Development Day for Teachers
11/16-11/20 Book Fair Week

Friday, October 16, 2015

Are You Ready to Come Back to School?

I know I am! I can't wait to see you all on Tuesday. I have missed you so much! We have so many great things to look forward to once we get back to school.

For example:
  • Ms. Wendy and I added some things to our map making station.
  • We will have a coding app station to learn more about coding.
  • Halloween will be here soon and we will have a costume parade.
  • We will start a new case study in our Expedition. Shh! If you know what it is, don't tell. It is a surprise! It will have a couple of fieldwork experiences to go along with it!
  • We will begin to write blog posts during Writer's Workshop. Then our blogs will have other kinds of posts rather than just ShowMes.
  • We will finally get to Skype with our friends from Australia (after the time change).
  • We will have student-led conferences and you can show your parents all that you have learned so far.
  • We are going to make an online presentation as a whole crew with all of the facts we learned when we interviewed our grandparents. (Check this blog at the end of the week to check it out.)
  • I gathered some new book collections from the public library for us to read. They are very funny. Check them out in the pictures below.
  • There is so much more but we will just have to get back to school and get started to find out what awaits us.
 Here are a couple of pictures of the books I have gathered for us. There are more but I couldn't fit them all into the pictures. You will have to check them out on Tuesday morning!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Boot Camp

Today was Boot Camp! We all had a great time! It is such a fun way to raise money for our school. Thanks to all who organized the event, volunteered at the event and made donations to the event. We appreciate you. Click the link below to view our Boot Camp photo album:

Our IA after Fall Break is PE.

Have a wonderful Fall Break! 
See you on October 20th.

Thursday, October 1, 2015


We started a new unit in Math on patterns today. It will include all kinds of patterns - shapes, counting, designs, etc. For this first day of the unit we spent some time making some repeating patterns using popsicle sticks. A few pictures are below.

Read a good book or two.
Pack a lunch for Boot Camp tomorrow.

Boot Camp ~ We are going out for Boot Camp rain or shine tomorrow. An email from the front office came home about this yesterday. Please send rain gear and warm layers for your child. Thanks.