Thursday, October 19, 2017

Weekly Update

This week writing time was all about punctuation and capital letters. We spent a lot of time learning how important punctuation is in telling the reader how the story should be read. We took turns punctuating and reading the alphabet, which was a great way to hear how punctuation changes how text is read. We practiced editing for punctuation, read books about punctuation, and we watched some videos about punctuation. Some of it was even fun!

Links to videos we watched:
Punctuation Saves Lives
Captain Cluck: End Punctuation
Captain Cluck: Commas
Kung Fu Punctuation

Next week each second grader will choose a story to bring to a writing celebration and then spend time getting that story ready to share. We will completely rewrite these stories, but I think it will go fast.

In reading we have been working hard on visualizing. We have been practicing paying attention to details that help us picture the characters, setting and action, in order to better understand texts.  We listened to Abiyoyo by Pete Seeger and The Magic Hat by Mem Fox. After we drew the details that we pictured, we talked about them and compared our visualizations. We will continue this work next week and talk about how an author tells you the details they want you to picture. The details that aren't as important they leave up to the reader. We have also been working on goal setting in reading. After reading with everyone we talked about areas of strength and areas to work on. Each individual student and I worked together to decide if he or she will focus on accuracy, fluency, or comprehension and set a goal as to how they will do that. Ask your child if he or she has set a goal yet and what it is.

I am happy to report that math workshop is finally feeling like a good idea! After the kids did such a nice job on their first test, I'm convinced that they are getting enough direct instruction. Plus we have the routines and behaviors just about mastered, which makes things feel less chaotic. Ask your second grader how they think Math Workshop is going. Then give your child a number and ask him or her to represent it two different ways. We have been working on how to show numbers in base ten, words, expanded form, and as numerals. These skills set us up for two-digit addition with regrouping. By the end of this unit the second graders will be able to add with carrying (which we call regrouping), and on top of that they are going to have a solid understanding of what that

Also ask your second grader to see his or her Life Skills progress report. Everyone has a sheet in their mail today with two sets of the Life Skills section of our report card. The second graders got to grade themselves and the I gave them a grade. The grades I gave them are not necessarily the ones that will be on the first trimester report card, because there is still time for change, but they will probably be close. My hope is that you are able to have a good discussion with your child and I like to make sure what is on the report card is not a shock to anyone : )

There is also homework in your child's mail today. Another thing to look for is a bright pink Parent Teacher Conference appointment paper. Please check your calendar and send the bottom half back to me as soon as you can so we can make changes if we need to. Thanks!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Weekly Update

We read a few books to help us recognize
the difference interesting transitions
can make in writing. One of them was Suddenly!
This week in writing we worked on transitions and I have to say I am impressed with what the second graders are writing! By adding leads, wrap-ups and transitions they have really elevated the quality of their writing. Next week we will start to get ready for a writing celebration by working on conventions: capitals and punctuation. This is tricky for the second graders, but really helps their work look polished.

We took our math test and I was blown away by how well the second graders did! The problem where most of the kids had a hard time was in explaining how they know a number is even. I was looking for them to tell me that an even number can be split equally - or evenly. They all know the difference between even and odd, but explaining why a number is even or odd is a little trickier. Next week we will take our pre-test for Unit 2. This unit covers place value to the hundreds, adding two-digit numbers and counting money. It is a big one! The homework this week has a section of subtracting 10. By the end of this math unit the second graders should be able to do that in their heads by going to the tens place and taking one away. Some can already do it, but for some this was a brand new idea. Watch how your child does this section. It will give you a good idea of their understanding of place value.

In reading we wrapped up our work on the questioning comprehension strategy by reading the book The Mary Celeste. This is an awesome book for asking questions and using clues from the text to help answer them. The second graders really had to pay attention and it was fun to watch their discussions at the carpet. What really happened to the Mary Celeste is still a mystery - to us anyway. Although we did watch a few snips from a program on The Smithsonian Channel which claims to have figured it out. There are lots of YouTube videos out there and a few podcasts, but I haven't watched or listened to them yet. If you do, and you find a good one, please email me!

Here is the link to the video we watched in class:

If you figure out how to get the full episode let me know! Although some of the second graders thought these clips were spooky enough!

Next week I am planning on starting work on the comprehension strategy visualization, which helps kids "picture" the story in their heads. This gets to be more and more important as the second graders move away from picture books and into chapter books and novels.

Rocky Raccoon reminds the second graders to make a picture
in their minds of the characters, setting, and action. This helps
them monitor their comprehension.
On Monday I will be out of the classroom because I will be doing reading assessments. I have listened to each of the second graders read individually, so on Monday I will be meeting with each student to help them write a reading goal. Some students will be meeting with me to read another book and then write a goal, and some just need to write a goal. Mrs VanHaitsma will be in the classroom while I finish assessing and meet with the second graders individually. Mr Field gives all the teachers this time out of the classroom so that we can work with the students to get a clear of where they are and where they are going as readers, and have uninterrupted conversations with them about their reading strengths and weaknesses. It might not sound like a big deal, but it is such a gift!!

On Friday we had an assembly highlighting the ways our school was #bettertogether. We spent the rest of the day working on social studies. Mrs King, Mrs Hills and I planned three different activities for the students to learn about the three big concepts in our first unit. We talked about the three types of communities: rural, urban, and suburban, and we talked about community helpers: people who make our community a better place. We also talked about citizenship, and how good citizens are involved in their communities. I was even able to tie in our genius time projects. When you watch these videos you will see what I mean:

Kid President: How to Change the World             Disney Citizen Kids

I think we will have our first genius time project presentations next Friday!

Last, I have a funny request - will you save tin cans for me and send them to school? There is a craft I want to make at our Halloween party, but we will need tin cans (Or maybe they're aluminum - I don't know! Just think soup or vegetable cans : ). If you could rinse them and send them to school I'd so appreciate it.

I also wanted to share some pictures from the skating party. There were quite a few kids from our class there! I got a few of them, but some rolled by so fast I couldn't catch them!

Have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


I have a couple of quick updates. . .
First, we will be taking our very first math test this Thursday. The homework that went home today would be a great review, and some of the second graders brought home their workbook page too. We also took a quiz today. It was a tough quiz. A lot tougher than the test! Please notice that the last question on the quiz did not count towards the grade on the grade slip. We will go over the quizzes tomorrow and then they will be coming home. We will also complete the review test in class tomorrow.Reading through this with your second grader would be a great review too. However, we are doing so much review in class that I don't want you to feel like you have to do a ton to help your second grader be ready. They are ready! Just encourage your child to go slow and think things through.

Next, we have a skating party this Thursday from 6:30-8:30. Reminders went home with the second graders today - Tuesday.

Don't forget this Friday (October 13) is an early release day! We will dismiss at 12:15.

Last, did you hear the news? Hudsonville Public Schools won a prize at Art Prize?! Our You Be You installation won the Youth Collaboration Award! Click the link to read more!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Volunteer Background Check

The form for our Volunteer Background Check is now on our district website. If you want to volunteer in any Hudsonville Public School, in a classroom, on a field trip, or for a party this form needs to be completed. A new one has to be done each year, but you only have to do it once, even if you have kids in more than one building.

Here's the link to get you to the Parent's Page on the HPS website:
Background Check Form

Once you are there, click on the Volunteer Background Check Form and fill it in! You can do it right from your phone!
If you have questions about the form, you can contact Sara Miedema at or (616) 669-7747 ext 7

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Color the Park

We had a great time at the Color the Park run and helped our Parents' Club raise an amazing amount of money for our school. The Parents' Club at Park Elementary School does so much for the staff and students to support learning in each classroom and the school community in general. This is a great fundraiser because it is so much fun for the kids and their families. It is a HUGE job to put on such an event - much bigger than a sub sale - but so much better for our school community. We get to go to a fun, healthy event and spend time with our great big school family.

Mr Beimers tried to get everyone in this shot, but there were over 700 people expected to be at the race!

Here is an after and a before (scroll down a little) of the second grade team. Can you guess what color station we were at?

I bet you recognize that photobomber!

This year two of our very own second graders were winners in the big raffle. We won the girls bike and the hoverboard!!

If you have pictures you want to share, email them to me and I'll post them here!

weekly update

It was so much fun seeing everyone at the Color the Park run on Friday. I posted some pictures on a separate post. You can check it out here: Color the Park 2017

We figured out what Beatrice didn't want to do and why.
We continued our work on comprehension in reading this week. The second graders got check mark bookmarks to remind them to ask "Who?" and "What?" when they read with partners or read to themselves. We also continued to look for the big question in the books we read together. Then we search for clues to answer that question and get to the message the author is trying to tell us. We will continue this work next week before we move on to our next comprehension strategy.

The Wednesday surprise was a surprise to everyone!

In writing the second graders have been doing an amazing job writing interesting leads that draw the reader into the story. They are also doing great with wrap-ups, which was our focus for the past week. Our aim was to wrap up each story with a sentence or two that brings closure to the story or reminds the reader of the main message in the story. Something along the lines of, "It was a great baseball game. I hope I get to do that again soon." Next week we will work on transitions. Once the second graders get these three structures in place in their stories you won't believe the difference in the quality of their writing. After working on the structures of writing I am planning on working on editing and revising. Then we will pick one story to polish and publish for a writing celebration. My goal is to do this right around the end of the month.

Speaking of the end of the month, the second graders have started thinking about Halloween. We will have our party right on October 31st. That's (unfortunately) a Tuesday!! I am sending out an email to everyone who volunteered to help out. If you didn't sign up to help and want to, or did sign up and didn't get an email, please let me know!

This week in math we worked on HARD story problems! We learned what to do with story problems which have missing, hidden or extra information. We also worked on how to attack two-step story problems. We only have a few lessons left before we will review for the test. A review will come home next week for you to look over with your child, but the best way to help your child study is to read through the story problems that come home every day on the Homework&Remembering pages (which are not required homework). Ask your child how they know what to do. What are the words in the story problem which make them think they need to add, or subtract, or use comparison bars. We have been working hard on finding the clues that tell how to set up problems - which is the trickiest part. It's not the adding and subtracting I worry about. It's whether or not they know which one they should do!

Homework this week is something new we are trying. It is a one-page sheet that has a little math and a little language arts. It says October #6 I think. Once again I forgot to take a picture of it. I did go over it with the kids though, so your child should recognize it in his or her mail.

So, in math workshop, we have been practicing talking about the answers to math problems with partners or small groups during independent practice time. It isn't easy, so I made a "taco about it" bulletin board. I'm encouraging the second graders to use the speech bubbles as sentence starters when they get confused or get a different answer than their partner. We still aren't great at it yet, but we will get there! Speaking of getting there. . . have you noticed that those Homework&Remembering pages are getting more and more completed? We are hitting our stride with math workshop. The great thing for me is that I get to work with small groups and meet more of the kids at their level. The great thing for the kids is that they get to play math games - which is great for everyone because they are practicing math facts and building fact fluency!! Not to mention it really is more fun.

One more thing I want to share with you is some pictures of the second graders in art class. Soon you will receive an order form for the Square 1 art fundraiser for the art program. These are pictures of the kids working on their projects.