Monday, January 31, 2011


Today, we read our Scholastic News which focused on animals that lived in polar regions and how their bodies adapted for the environment. The kids were so fascinated with this, that our discussion continued for an additional 20 minutes beyond the text, focusing on things such as wind chill, climate, record lows, and weather patterns. We visited the website of Antarctic Connection and discovered some interesting facts such as:
-The coldest temp in Antarctica was -129 on July 21, 1983.
-The warmest temp was 59 on Jan 5, 1974.
-The weather has been described as a "blinding, shrieking blizzard all day".

How interesting! BURRRR!
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Friday, January 28, 2011

Learning Life's Lessons

We have been talking lately about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Our discussions have been extremely interesting, and the children have really seemed to appreciate what he did for the equality of all. Today, we watched a video called Our Friend Martin which chronicles his life. It follows two boys, Miles and Randy, as they go on a field trip to the King homestead. While they are there, they fall into a time portal and are transported into different time periods of his life. It integrates real footage and audio, with a story line that the kids loved! They really appreciated the things that he did!
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Have I Ever Told You?

Today, we read the book Of Thee I Sing by President Barack Obama. I have had this on my shelf for a while, and the kids have been begging to read this! Here were some of our favorite parts:

-Have I told you lately how wonderful you are?
-Have I told you that you are smart?
-Have I told you that you are brave?
-Have I told you how important it is to honor other's sacrifices?
-Have I told you that you are inspiring?
-Have I told you to be proud to be an American?

What an interesting, inspirational text. I have never truly seen the kids more entranced than when we read this book. We are going to do some extension activities with this, and this is also the kickoff to our famous person project (more information to follow).

Loren Long, the illustrator of this story among many others, will be our visiting author this year. So, if you have books at home, or are interested in buying some from the bookstore, you will be able to send them in to be signed on his visiting day. How exciting!

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Light and Its Reflection

Today we talked about light. We discussed how light moves in one direction (if I shine a flashlight in front of me, the wall behind me will not light up). Upon further discussion, we started talking about how light bends and reflects to change directions. We pulled out the mirrors and flashlights and did a little experiment. The kids shined a light on a fixed object (wall, ceiling, poster, etc), and then put the mirror in front of the flashlight. What happened? How can we get the light back to our object while still using the mirror? These questions led to some wonderful discussions! What a smart group of 2nd graders we have!

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Appreciating Differences

I am a huge fan of the TV show called "The Talk", and on it I heard about this wonderful book. Today, we read the book called My Brother Charlie by Holly Robinson Peete. This is a book about a set of twins, one of which has autism. When we read the book today, we talked about how important it is to celebrate each others differences rather than make fun of them. Differences are what make us great, unique, and who we are. Our discussion then turned to what a boring world this would be if everyone were the same, liked the same thing, and dressed the same way. Our uniqueness is what makes our world so interesting!
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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Our Estimation Jar!

We have started our estimation jar, and we are having so much fun! Everything that we put in our jar is a "yummy treat", and I have never seent the kids more excited to practice thier estimation skills! I am asking that if you would like to donate items for the jar, it would be greatly appreciated! We need items that are in sealed packages (from the store) and have ingredients on them. Here are some samples:

-bag of smarties
-any form of candy
-cheese curls
-sugar wafers (as seen in the picture)
-any other yummy ideas

Thank you for all of your help!
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Testing Reflection

So, our first day of testing is under our belt, and I think that we have learned a great deal from it. I am so proud of my wonderful class. Today, as they finished parts of the OLSAT, I saw almost all of them going back and reviewing their answers and checking their work. This is an amazing accomplishment! Testing is a somewhat difficult thing for a 2nd grader, especially to have to sit for so long, and they are doing such a phenomenal job! Tomorrow, we are on to the word study portion of the Stanford. They do have homework again tonight: Get a good night's sleep and eat a healthy breakfast tomorrow. Thanks for every bit of encouragement you have given them, it really shows in their positive attitude and willingness to tackle anything!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Testing Information

Here is a link to the letter that was posted by Mrs. Szymusiak about our upcoming testing at the end of the month.

Our Self-Esteem

Today, we read the book I'm Gonna Like Me: Letting Off a Little Self-Esteem by Jamie Lee Curtis. What an amazing book! It talks about all of the times in a child's life when they may not like themselves, though they should, even when it may be extremely difficult. As a follow-up activity, I had them write an "I'm gonna like me" statement and the results were somewhat shocking. I think that sometimes we go through our day-to-day routines here at school, and forget to see what types of pressure these wonderful children put themselves under. Here are a few of their statements:

-I'm gonna like me even if I'm wrong.
-I'm gonna like me even if I get PR's on my report card.
-I'm gonna like me even when I like pink (written by a male student).
-I'm gonna like me if I like football (written by a female student).
-I'm gonna like me even if I don't score a goal.
-I'm gonna like me even when I fail a test.
-I'm gonna like me even when people make fun of me for being scared of butterflies and ladybugs.
-I'm gonna like me because I'm going to be a black belt.

Wow! I think that the words they picked are very powerful. I ended the lesson by letting them know that no matter what they do, they should LOVE themselves for who they are, which is fantastic!
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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Word of the Day: Vibration!

Today was a very exciting day in science! We have been talking about sounds, and how they are made and travel. Our experiment today revolved around the fact that sounds are vibrations, and they travel in waves. The students created tubes with wax paper on the ends, and then "hummed" into the end, causing the tube and the paper to vibrate (similar to a kazoo). It was really loud in here, but LOTS of fun! I have attached a few samples from their content journals to show their thought process through our experiment!

Just an FYI, we were following the Scientific Method for our process and procedure.

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Adventures in Graphic Novels!

Today, we started our study of graphic novels (including comics but not limited to them). We started by reading about the brave knight, Edward (his not so brave horse) and the magic comic elf. They are trying to defeat the dragon to save the princess, while teaching the kids all about graphic novels and their components. They are so excited. I have never seen them rush to writing workshop so fast. They were actually asking me to stop reading so they could go to their inspiration spots, I love it! We talked a little bit about the details you can add to your illustrations to show action and emotions, and they really seem to be enjoying it. We did not get through the book, so we will continue the discussion tomorrow. I can't wait to see what they plan for their own graphic novel!

Important words for your kids to know:
-Speech bubble
-Thought bubble
-Motion lines
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Friday, January 7, 2011

Learning About Describing!

We have been talking about adjectives and how using descriptions makes our lives and language so much juicer! Today, we played a game where I taped a noun onto each child's back. They then went around and got clues from the other children (they had to be descriptive clues) to try to figure out what the word was. We could only ask yes or no questions, and it really showed the kids how important describing something really is. They loved this activity!!

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Becoming Scientists

Today, we started talking about what it means to truly become a scientist. We began by using the word INQUIRY and what those skills look like. We came up with this list of ideas:
-Record data
-Make a Model
-Communicate conclusions

We said that our inquiry skills were used to help us find out information. We also talked about how we don't have to limit our inquiry to merely science, it can be in any part of our lives.

We then watched a BrainPop Jr. video about the Scientific Method and all of it's steps. Basically, the scientific method is the steps in which we plan and conduct an experiment. Here are the steps we reviewed:

1. Ask a question
2. Make a hypothesis (prediction)
3. Experiment and record your data
4. Draw a conclusion
5. Share your results

We are on our way to being amazing scientists!

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Snack Reminder

I hope that you have all had a very restful break! I just wanted to send out a friendly reminder about snack. Our snack is a very fun part of our morning. We eat while listening to our latest chapter book read-aloud (which is, right now, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH). Anyway, I have noticed that lately some pretty unhealthy snacks have been coming in (chips, brownies topped with candy, etc). I know that with the pressure of the holidays we were all in a rush, but I am hopeful now that we can all get back to focus on our health. Thanks so much for your help and understanding!
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