Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Balloon Countdown, Fraction Friends, MCAS, Leprechaun Trouble, Flipping" for Geometry, and a Passion for Poetry

March came and went, and we sure were busy! So busy that it left little time to blog!

Our previous reading unit was Test Prep. We worked a great deal on perfecting test prep strategies such as previewing a passage by reading the introductory blurb and previewing the questions in an effort to set a purpose for our reading and isolate keywords that we will focus our attention on as we read the passage.

We displayed an umbrella and shovel in class to remind us to find the big idea (or umbrella topic) and dig for specific text evidence in the passage.

We also got valuable practice writing detailed open-responses using the acronymn ANSWER. We start by Analyzing the question for keywords and Note planning how we will organize our thinking. Next, we Skim and scan the text for specific details and evidence. Then, we Write our response with detailed sentences and text evidence. We End by Reviewing our work through editing and revision. We analyzed open responses from third graders several years ago. Our goal is to "score 4" with rich evidence.

For more test prep practice, please visit McGraw Hill website for activities geared towards third grade Common Core standards here. This link to Help Teaching offers a great deal of practice using reading strategies ranging from cause and effect to point of view. Interactive Skill Builders for ELA standards are available here.

We enjoyed a few classroom activities and events as part of our MCAS Balloon Countdown. Take a peek below at some of the fun-filled events:

It was great to see those "smarties" hard at work on testing days!

Topic 10 delved deeper into fractions. In addition to comparing fractions with like and unlike denominators, we also identified fractions closer to 0 or 1. Fraction strips and drawn representations of fractions such as 2/6 and 6/8 helped us find equivalent fractions. We demonstrated what we knew as we created Fraction Friends--an activity inspired by the talented Mrs. Lemons at Step into Second Grade with Amy Lemons. 

Mischief was made in Room 16 on March 17 when Lola the Leprechaun snuck in to our classroom and left a green mess! We composed three paragraph expository pieces detailing the materials and steps necessary to create an effective leprechaun trap. We were even lucky enough to share our published pieces with our first grade Buddy Readers in Miss O'Day's class!

Today we concluded Topic 11 on Geometry. This unit introduced students to more than a few new vocabulary terms including line, line segment, ray, parallel, perpendicular, acute, right, obtuse, scalene, rhombus, and decagon! In an effort to categorize these terms and provide visual examples, we created posters and flipbooks. One morning, we used the app Screen Chomp to demonstrate the difference between lines and line segments as well as parallel versus perpendicular lines.

Our current Literacy unit has us diving into poetry. As we read and analyze poetry, we search for familiar elements of poetry such as alliteration, hyperbole, similes, and metaphors. Students have begun composing a variety of poems ranging from I Am poems, dead word poems, book spine poems, color poems, Pairs poems, and most recently--concrete poems. 

Mike W. and Shane work on publishing their "I Am" poems after 
teacher conferences.


Charlie works on her "Last Night I Dreamed of..." poem.

Dead word poems offer vivid, more alive words for boring, overused words.

Book Spine poems are created compiling and arranging four of our favorite classroom titles.

We read Mary O'Neill's Hailstones and Halibut Bones as our read aloud inspiration for our sensory color poems.


 Lilly adds to our brainstormed list of things that are green. 


Tomorrow students will share a few of their published poems with their Buddy Readers!