Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What's going on in Room 25? Read all about it!

We have been very busy this month diving into our new units of study across reading, writing, and math. I have established most routines, which is giving me some time to meet with individual groups and small groups to meet the individual needs of your little ones. In our mini lessons, we have been been working hard to establish foundations across all subjects. Check out what we're working on!

Writer's Workshop: We are working through our unit of Journaling. This unit allows students to keep a journal of memories, feelings, or things that have happened to them. We have been talking about what a journal entry must include (the "who" and "what happened"). My mini lessons have been focused on writing complete sentences, adding important details to each entry, and adding feelings. I am so impressed with all the writing that's happening! We are working to build our stamina too so we can write for even longer each day.

Reader's Workshop: We have been learning many strategies to tackle tricky words. I am teaching your growing readers to use many strategies when a word pops up that they don't know. Often, students try to rely on the strategy of sounding the word out. However, there are many many times this strategy does not work! I am training everyone to rely on other strategies, like thinking about what would make sense, what looks right, what sounds right, or what clues the text or pictures gives. Please encourage the use of all of these strategies as your read with your child at home. You may want to use the strategy card I passed out at Open House to guide them.

Word Study: We are continuing our word sort routines with short "u" words this week. We have been sorting words that end with "up", "un" and "ut". Students will be coming home with a practice sheet for this on Thursday.

Math: We are working through our subtraction unit. This week, we are focusing specifically on bar models and using subtraction to figure out the missing "part". This can be a tricky concept, especially this early in the year! Please work with your child on their homework and support them as they work through this.

A Few Reminders...

- All book orders need to be in by Friday. I will be submitting the ones I have received this week. Remember that you can order online too!

- Today your child brought home the coupon books. If you do not want to purchase it, it must be returned to school! If you would like to keep it, please send money in. I am responsible for turning in either a book or money for every child.

Thanks so much! Have a great night!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Important Reminder

Hi Parents!

I just wanted to remind everyone that my email address has a "c" stuck in there. It's  acwaterman@billerica.k12.ma.us. Another poor teacher, Amanda Waterman, has been getting many emails that were supposed to come my way. I just would hate for something important to go unseen, so please make sure you are using the correct email address. Thanks! :)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Literacy Night- 6:30

Hi Families!

There is a typo on the homework schedule for the week. Literacy Night starts at 6:30 tonight, not 6:00. I just caught the mistake- I'm so sorry!

Sunday, October 5, 2014


In science, we have spent the last two weeks becoming experts on apples! We have read many nonfiction books, examined how apples change with heat, labeled diagrams, completed taste tests, studied Johnny Appleseed and recorded in many ways all the new things we learned! Check out what we've been up to. :)

Class can/have/are chart we wrote together:

Diagram of an Apple:

Chart we made together on the Promethean board:

Apple Tasting and Graphing:

Making Applesauce and a Graph:

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Word Study

Every day, we have a half hour of word study time. This is a time when students work with words to build their spelling and word recognition skills.

This week, I introduced the students to word sorts. Word sorts are a great way for students to work with words that have similar spelling patterns. Here are some things we have been doing:

Picture and Word Sort:
On the first day with a new sort, I introduce the students to the spelling patterns we will working with and we complete the sort together, discussing patterns we notice about families of words. Then, each student cuts out their own set of cards to work with for the week. They get familiar with the words by sorting individually at their seats.

Buddy Sort:
The next day, students engage in a buddy sort. They work together to sort their cards and discuss patterns they notice. Buddies can also engage in a blind sort, which involves one buddy reading the word secretly and the other buddy telling where the sort card belongs without peeking.

Written Sort:
Each student has a word sort notebook to complete word sort activities in. A written sort is just like it sounds! Students use their word sort cards to write their words into their word study notebook. They organized them by spelling patterns and write them according to which family each words belongs in. 

Draw and Label:
This is another activity done in the word sort notebooks. Students draw their picture cards and then write the word underneath it. 

Glue Sort:
On the last day of a sort, I have the students glue their word cards into their notebooks. Now their bags are empty and ready for a new sort the following week. For now, we will work as a class on one word sort together to establish the routines of sorting. Eventually, students will be given individual sorts that focus specifically on their own needs as a speller. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Buddy Reading

In Reader's Workshop, we have been doing a lot of work with buddy reading. Our mini lessons have been centered around the expectations of buddy reading as well as how to be a good "reading coach". We talked about how it is important to help a buddy by coaching them through strategies they can use when they get to a tricky word or part, rather than just giving them the word or answer. This takes some practice but with time they really will get good at it! We also discussed effective ways to turn and talk with a partner about what they are reading together. Here's some pictures of buddy reading in action!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What Does Reader's and Writer's Workshop Look Like?

Each day, the students spend the morning engaged in writer's workshop and then reader's workshop. Workshop time involves a two hour long block (one hour for reading and one hour for writing) in which the students are working on developing their literacy skills. Each workshop time is broken down like this:

Mini Lesson: I bring the kids to the rug for 10-15 minutes to explicitly teach a skill or strategy to them within the unit we are working on. For example, we are still in the "Launching" unit which is centered around establishing reading and writing routines. Typically, I model the strategy and show students how they can use the strategy in their reading or writing. I incorporate turn and talks so the students can reflect on what they saw me do or what I was teaching them. 

Independent Practice: Students spend time reading or writing to practice the skill taught. During this time, students are either independently reading/writing, working with a partner, or meeting in a small group with me to develop reading and writing skills. For reading, each student has their own book bag filled with "just right" books at their level. For writing, each student has their own writing folder that houses pieces of writing they are working on about events that have happened in their own lives.

Share: Students are given the opportunity to share with a partner or group to reflect what they worked on as a reader or writer. Share time can happen in a variety of ways. Sometimes, I let students share with a partner or small group. Other times, I may ask a few students to share their work to the whole class so I can highlight something they did as a reader or writer that I want everyone else to see. It's also a great way for the kids to give positive feedback to one another!

The structure of reader's workshop and writer's workshop will always stay the same. We will always do a mini lesson, independent practice and a share time every time. What changes is the units of reading and writing we are working on. For example, in reading our next unit will be centered around "Tackling Tricky Words". In writing, we will start our "Journaling" unit. This structure is great because once the routine is in place, it gives me ample time to conference with students and pull small groups to meet all the individual needs of your little learners!