Life in 216

a peep into your child's day



Day 2 of our group rotations went super well!  Most of the kids didn’t even need their schedules!  They are really enjoying it, and I am excited to see some results in about 6 weeks. :)

We normally have garden on Thursdays, but Ms. Rachel was out today.  Instead, we went to the library to check out some new books.  They now know all of their reading levels and were really able to choose some just right books.  They learned how to find books by their level with Ms. McBrayer and Ms. Ray.  I think I want to make a poster with some examples of series they can choose based on their level.  If anyone would like to help me with this, just let me know!  (any help is always appreciated!)

Doubling has been the buzz word in math for the past couple of days.  The first thing we did this morning after morning work was go over their Magic Pot problems from homework.  They learned to play 2 new games today: Doubles Array and Double It.  The chose chose a card from the deck (number one through ten), doubled the number, created an array (rectangle) and wrote an equation to match it.  They enjoyed having the time to play games a the end of the day and worked very well with their partners.  Here is Asa and Sebastian playing!


Please remember that tomorrow is the deadline for the Scholastic Book Order forms.  Also, please sign up for a time to meet for a conference if you have not already done so.  Thanks so much!  Enjoy your evening!! :)

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The Magic Pot


We started cross grade level grouping today, and it was a total success!  I made little schedules for the kids so they would know where their next groups were located.  Across the entire 2nd grade, there are 7 adults who are teaching guided reading groups.  We looked at our data and our literacy coach grouped the students based on reading levels.  This will be so great to be able to make sure we are meeting the needs of all students.  Some students only have one guided reading group whereas some may have three.  I am looking forward to seeing how this all works out!

Other than our normal math classroom routine activity, today’s lesson started off with a read aloud.  We read The Magic Pot which is an old Chinese folktale about a couple, Mr. and Mrs. Haktak who found a large brass bowl while digging in their garden.  This pot was magic though!  When you put something in, it doubled inside the pot!  So when the Haktak’s put in 10 gold coins, 20 gold coins came out.  You will have to ask your child what happened when Mr. Haktak startled Mrs. Haktak!!!  We practiced doubling with numbers up to 10 and then created our own magic pot problems.  When I asked the kids what they would put in the magic pot if they had one, here are some of their responses:

  • Asa- himself
  • Sebastian- donuts
  • James- legos
  • Keira- ice cream
  • Aidan- money
  • Ms. Engel- Jockamo, my dog
  • Jewel- shoes

We are creating a class book of magic pot problems.  Here is a picture of Keira’s math problem that she came up with!

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I put the parent/ teacher conference letter in your child’s folder.  Please choose two times that would work best for you to meet.  If none of the times work for you, just let me know, and we can figure out another time.  It is next Friday, August 29th.  I am excited to discuss your child’s 2nd grade year so far!!


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Word Detectives


Students were word detectives today!  Not only were they problem solvers in figuring out how to break words apart, but this also carried over into our writing lesson.  Students took about 10 minutes to work with a partner and read each other’s writing to help with spelling.  They used strategies that we use in Fundations to help each other with spelling the word (with all sounds even if not correctly which is ok!).  When they finished, they went into fixing the words their partners found and then continued to work on their All About books.  It was great to see so many students working as a team with helping each other do the best they can and having no judgement.

We are working on story problems in math, and students are learning various strategies in solving the problems.  As the unit continues, they numbers are getting higher and counting on our fingers isn’t always going to work.  Some of the strategies we are working on is adding in parts with tens (breaking numbers apart to add using the number ten), using a number line, drawing pictures and using a hundred chart.  Please practice basic math facts up to 20 to help with pairing number combinations.  They pretty much have their combinations of ten down!  Even if you just work on a few, addition and subtraction, each night, that will help!

We read this really great story today called Those Shoes.  It’s one of my favorites with such a beautiful message.  Ask your child what they story was about and what message they took from author.

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Garden Observations


Check out these pics from our time in the garden today.  We made observations and drew detailed pictures of things we noticed!

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I hope all have a wonderful weekend!!!!

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Reading on


Many times when we read, we come to words that we may be able to sound out, we use all the strategies we know to help us get that word, but the meaning of the word still isn’t there for us.  Today, we talked about various ways that can help in figuring out the meaning of the word.  I read a part of an irish folktale where they talked about a pratie seed.  We looked at the picture, we reread, and still, there was no clue as to what the word meant.  We had to read on to find out!  On the next page, it told us how this pratie seed turned into a potato!  A lot of times, we skip it and forget about it, but another great strategy in inferring the meaning is to read on to see if we can figure out the word.  Students practiced this during their independent reading time and most of them had to read on instead of just looking at a picture.  When your child reads their nightly reading book, use this skill to help them in figuring out the meaning of a word before telling them what it means.

It was pocket day in math which the kids always love!  We had a significantly lower amount of pockets from last time (82 pockets).  Today, the class wore 63 pockets!!!  The last time we did this lesson, each student took the one cube for every pocket they had and then we counted them up.  Today, we added them up differently.  We made a HUGE equation on the board and added them up that way.  It looked intimidating when we first looked at it, but then, we took pairs of numbers that equaled ten.  By the time we went through all the numbers, we had found 5 sets of numbers that equaled ten.  This is one strategy that the students will learn in adding equations that have multiple addends.  They first find combinations of ten and then doubles (which will come later next week).

I hope you have a great evening!  One more day till Friday!  Remind your child that it is Show-n-Tell day and Popcorn Friday!!! :)

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Don’t Know a Word?


Students listed off so many strategies that they use when they get to a word they don’t know.  We talked about how one strategy may work at times, but then sometimes it doesn’t so it’s important for us to use multiple strategies.  For example, kids often look at pictures to help them, but what do you do when you are reading a chapter book that has no pictures?  We practiced this skill during reading workshop, and I was very proud of them for all having used at least 2 strategies which they shared at the end of the lesson.


In writing, we talked about the features of a nonfiction text and how can someone know that we really know a lot about our topic by the features we put in our own nonfiction writing.  Students all agreed that we should teach our readers something by including multiple how to pieces.  Jewel’s book is all about the beach, and I love how she included how to play beach volleyball.  Keira’s cheerleading book shares how to do a handstand!  They are really taking off with these, and I can’t wait to have our first publishing party for you to read them.

We started story problems in math today.  I’m sure you noticed all the problems on homework this evening!  One of the things we try to do is first get the child to visualize it like a story and ask if the answer is going to be bigger or smaller than a given number in the problem.  It helps them with figuring out if it will be addition or subtraction.  They were engaged and knew their stuff!  We went over various ways to solve a problem and talked about the different strategies for addition story problems.  We got done a little early so they all had some free time with the iPads and playing math games for about 15 minutes.

We finally finished Lulu and the Brontosaurus!  It’s such an awesome book, and the kids all scream “noooooo!!” when I have to close the book for the day.  Ask your child about the multiple endings the story had and ask which was their favorite. :)

I sent home 2 Scholastic Book Club forms for you to check out.  If you would like to order any books, please send them in by August 22nd.  I will put the order in then.  If I receive any late ones, I wait until next month to add them to the order.  Let me know if you have any questions.

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We are beginning our expert projects in writing, and their ideas are pretty awesome for their first books.  Here is a little picture of some of the things the kids were sharing with the class.


Once they all turned and chatted with their neighbors about what they are experts on, they were off to make the cover of their books.  Tomorrow, we will be working on our Fun Facts page!  I am excited to learn more from your children. :)

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The kids have been busy learning their family of ten facts.  We have been playing games like Tens Go Fish and Make Ten in class, having our daily routine of Quick Images using ten frames, and also working on finding patterns in the combinations to help us remember those addition and subtraction facts.  One thing that you can do at home to help is just practice these games with a deck of cards.  The kids know how to play and would probably love to teach you!

I brought in a watermelon for an afternoon snack today and wow, they devoured it!  I didn’t even get a piece!  Some of them even had thirds.  If you are looking to bring in a snack for the class, this would be a cheap and great idea.  :)

Also, I will be in a meeting all day tomorrow at central office to begin the planning of our recent project that was awarded by the ACSF.  Ms. Rabuck and I recently won a grant to incorporate Transcendental Meditation into our/ students’ daily routine twice per day and are Teaching Fellows this year.  I will keep you posted once we finish with the planning process!  It’s pretty exciting. :)

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just a few pics



Here are a few pics from today. :)  They were awesome!

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Stamina with Tree Pose


Did your kids tell you about timing our stamina for reading?  We have done a few stamina checks so far this year.  Our first goal is for the entire class to reach 5 minutes without getting off task.  This doesn’t seem long, but it’s a difficult task to have everyone in the class on task and reading for 5 minutes solid.  We started the lesson with doing a yoga pose- the tree pose.  I had them all start and I timed how long they could stand on one leg without toppling over.  We talked about how if we do this everyday, they would be able to stand on one leg for a longer period of time and build up their stamina, and this is the same for reading.  It just takes practice!  Today, we got to 4 minutes and 21 seconds!!!  We created a list of things they wanted as a reward for their first 5 minutes.  They were 5 minutes of extra recess, drawing time, funny face bookmarks, or buddy reading.  They all voted and chose to have 5 minutes of extra recess.  I am going to do another check tomorrow and see how we do!


After reading workshop, we worked with partners on finding interesting facts on African animals.  The kids worked together to read ‘fun facts’ on elephants, zebras, giraffes and others to share with their class.  This was  great opener to having them begin research on their upcoming All About Books for writing.

Just a reminder to make sure you have turned in all of your paperwork.  There are still a few things that are missing, and it is very important that we have all of your updated phone numbers in case we need to contact you because of an emergency.  We have had quite a few kids not feeling well with soar throats and fever, and we just want to make sure that we can get ahold of you just in case.  Thank you and have a great evening! :)

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The mini lesson for reading workshop today taught us how to reread when we don’t understand something.  Sometimes, we get hung up on a word or what we have read just doesn’t make sense.  A lot of times, we continue to read even when things don’t make sense so we talked about how this is something really important for us all to do (even as grown readers!).  I had to leave to assess Ms. McCarthy’s class in reading, but Ms. Hamilton finished the lesson practicing this skill with them.  They marked parts in their book where they had to reread so that way when they went back with their partners, they could share and have someone to help them.

They jumped right into Fundations and practiced marking up words with short vowel sounds.  I am going to send home more words to practice with this before we retest for our Unit 1 assessment.  Right after that, they began their nonfiction unit in writing and had a little review of writing ‘How To’ pieces.  I walked in for a moment when I had a little break, and they were busy at work!  We will have 3 units of nonfiction writing throughout the year.  The kids always love these units, because they get to research more of a topic in 2nd grade.

Math was an easy day because our lesson for the day was pretty much playing math games for 45 minutes… who doesn’t love that?  We ended our lesson with looking at pocket data and adding up those numbers.

We finished The Magic Finger and jumped right into a new book, Lulu and the Brontosaurus.  It’s hysterical!  Lulu is pretty rotten and mean to her parents, because all she wants is a brontosaurus for her birthday.  Her parents finally told her no for the first time ever (normally she kicks and screams until she gets what she wants).  She packed her bag and off she went into the forest to run away from home.  So far, the kids have cracked up laughing at the story.  We’ll continue this book until probably next week.  Ask your child about what has happened so far in the text!

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