Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Hello Families!
Happy holidays and I hope you all had a wonderful winter break!  I expect that none of you found coal in your stocking this year. J  I didn’t either!  I have been having a delightful break so far.  The holidays really snuck up on me this year, so last week I spent much of the week shopping for Christmas gifts for family and friends, making and eating cookies and spending a lot of time with loved ones.  It was a great way to spend the first half of my break. 
My friends and I adopted a family in need for the holidays.  The family included a mother, a 13-year-old son, a 19-year-old daughter and two adorable dogs (one was an 11-week-old puppy).  Last Tuesday we brought them the gifts we had bought for each family member and a Christmas dinner.  Seeing how grateful and happy this made them, put smiles on our faces and warmed our hearts.  Everyone’s bucket was filled that night.  This truly is the season of giving and I can’t wait to adopt another family next holiday season.
I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with my mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, uncle, my brother Tyler, Tyler’s girlfriend Nicole, their dog Bella and my cat Tiffany.  That made 10 of us, including the animals, sitting around the tree sharing stories, laughs and delicious food!  It was such a special weekend spent with special people.
My family has a tradition of always having cinnamon rolls and “egg-goop” Christmas morning.  “Egg-goop” is an egg scramble that my dad makes.  Each time he makes it, he puts in different ingredients and that is why it is called goop.  We never know what goop is going to be in it!  Do your families have any special traditions for the holidays?  I know several families all get new pajamas on Christmas Eve.  We used to do that.  I love traditions because they make things extra personal and special!
As I start my second week of break, I am beginning to brainstorm all of the things I need to do to prepare for our return to school.  Remember all of those papers I showed you that I said I needed to grade?  I finished grading them!  Now I am working on what we are going to be doing in Readers’ and Writers’ Workshop and looking at our new unit in math, which focuses on multiplication.  As I do my “homework”, I want you to remember to work hard on your writing, reading and journaling homework.  I am eager to look at the great work you did and fun you had over the break.  And, although it is called “break”, I hope you have been keeping your mind engaged because we have a busy week of learning in store for us when we get back!
Today is December 27th, which means 2012 is only five days away!  Can you believe that a new year is already upon us?  I cannot.  I can say that I am very excited for 2012.  I believe it will be a very good year for all of us.  Many people make New Year’s resolutions.  I am someone who likes to start the year with a few resolutions.  Last year on my list was to try at least two new recipes a month and to call my grandma more often.  I can proudly say, I was very successful with these resolutions.  This week I am starting to think about what I would like to work on in 2012.  I challenge you all to do the same.  I look forward to hearing some of your New Year’s resolutions in 2012!  Until then, have a wonderful last few days of break and a safe and happy New Year’s!
Yours truly,
            Miss Jaques

Sunday, December 11, 2011

War...What Is It Good For?

There has been quite a bit of excitement both in the classroom and on the playground in response to recent events involving our social studies curriculum.  As Iroquois in the Seneca Nation, we have found ourselves in the middle of a war between other Iroquois nations.  One morning, we came into the classroom only to find one of our longhouses had been destroyed and crops from the Mohawk nation had mysteriously been placed on our land.  After several accusations and rumors, we decided to do some investigative work.  Unfortunately, we still do not have any credible evidence to inform us of who is behind the attacks.  Some think the Cayugas are to blame, so we have kidnapped one of their tribe members named Paytah.  The other day, we learned that the chief of the Onondaga nation, named Atotarho, has an evil side.  We started discussing the possibility of Atotarho being the culprit behind our demolished longhouse and arrival of crops.  This has caused us to consider finding peace with the other Iroquois nations.  We will continue to discuss how to return to a life of harmony as we wrap up our Iroquois study this week.

With this being the last week before winter break, we will also be finishing another unit in math.  To get ready for the end of the unit assessment, I suggest having a focus on measurement, perimeter and area and analyzing data at home this week!

I understand that we will all be full of excitement and holiday cheer this week, but we still have a lot to accomplish in the classroom.  We have our class holiday party this Friday from 2-3pm.  This will be a wonderful time to be festive together.  Thanks to our party parent volunteers, I know we are all in for a great time! 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I'm SO Thankful!

Dear Families,

Every year around this time, I remember why I call this month “No-school-vember”.  I found myself exhausted this weekend after a complete five-day week.  Not only was it a full week, but also it was a busy week in the classroom.  The most exciting thing was that we welcomed a new student into our class on Tuesday.  We are so happy to have Roland as a member of our class.  Roland and his family moved here from Vermont.  As someone who knows little about the state of Vermont and has visited the East Coast only once, I look forward to gaining new knowledge from Roland.  Your children have done such a nice job helping him feel a part of our class, and Roland has been a great role model to his peers by quickly learning and modeling our class and school expectations.  It is because of your children, that despite being tired, I love coming to work everyday!
We started a new math unit this past week.  Hopefully you all saw the “Family Letter” that came home explaining this unit.  We have begun the unit by focusing on measurement, both in U.S. customary units and metric units.  There has been a brief introduction into fractions as we discussed measuring to the nearest ½ inch and centimeter, as well as ¼ and 1/8 inch.  You can support your child’s learning of measurement at home by involving measuring and estimation into everyday activities at.  Occasionally ask them to measure household objects or how many inches, feet or centimeters they think something might be.  The more we are exposed to math, the easier and more routine it becomes for us!
Our Iroquois nation was in need of a new chief.  Our class decided that a good chief was one who was honest, kind, and helpful and did what was best for the people as a whole.  After multiple students in our class “interviewed” for the part, our clan mothers deliberated and on Tuesday, named Trek as chief!  We look forward to Trek providing us with his wisdom as we continue to discuss this week what we need to do as a nation to live in harmony.
Our school as a whole is focusing on the theme of “gratitude” and on the writing trait of organization.  Third grade came up with a meaningful and integrated project to go along with this theme.  With harmonious Iroquois on our minds and Thanksgiving just a few days away, each child has been making a book relating what they are thankful for to what the Iroquois were grateful for.  Through this project, our goal is that the students will relate more and gain more knowledge about the Iroquois, as well as develop their skills of writing organized paragraphs.  (Remember, a paragraph has a strong topic sentence, detailed supporting sentences and ends with a concluding sentence that ties back to the topic sentence.)  Soon you will be able to see their finished books displayed in the school’s hall along side their Sexton Mountain peers.
Lastly, the students were able to get their artistic minds working this week as the created their own African textiles.  I won’t do their beautiful work justice by trying to describe it here, so please stop by our classroom and admire their work as it is displayed on the wall outside our room.  Thank you again to our Art Lit volunteers.
Do you ever have those days where you are just so incredibly happy and know that you are exactly where you are supposed to be?  Friday was that day for me.  I had a smile on my face from the moment I walked through the school’s doors to the time I drove out of the parking lot later that evening.  Your children and I spent the day not only learning, but doing one of my favorite things, laughing!  I was in utter bliss just being in the classroom with your children, watching them work their hardest, sharing stories with each other, and again, laughing with them.  I feel so grateful to have a job that makes me this happy.  The families, staff, and children at Sexton Mountain are simply amazing and we should all be thankful that we are able to be a part of such a wonderful community!

I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend and Happy Thanksgiving Week!
Yours truly,
Miss Jaques

P.S.  No spelling this week since it is a short week.  There is still weekly writing and math homework though!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Eventful Week!

Dear Families,
This past week has been quite an eventful one to say the least.  The week started off with an extremely successful and fun-filled Harvest Party.  We enjoyed activities such as bowling with gourds, painting creative characters on gourds, and crafting together Tootsie Pop vampires and Fall inspired rings and frames.  All this was done while enjoying delicious cupcakes and the festive costumes that were present.  I would like to thank those parents that devoted their time to plan and implement such a wonderful afternoon.   The most exciting event of the week however, occurred on Wednesday.  After spending Monday and Tuesday resting at home, or at least attempting to rest, Mrs. Jenkins gave birth Wednesday morning to a healthy 7 lb., 20 in. long beautiful baby girl named Lucy.  Mrs. Jenkins and baby Lucy are both doing very well.  I told Mrs. Jenkins that she must send pictures as soon as possible.  We are all so excited for the Jenkins family!
The arrival of Lucy means that my official first day as your children’s teacher was Wednesday!  I am so excited to be in this role now and look forward to spending the rest of the school year with you and your children. 
In addition to these exciting celebrations, our class did a lot of hard work and incredible learning this week.  We are continuing to learn more each day about the Iroquois people.  This past week we created our own Iroquois characters and our clans’ longhouses.  We are eager to get these things up onto our frieze scenery!  New robust vocabulary words were introduced and we did quite a bit of work with these words.  (Robust vocabulary words are the week’s challenge spelling words.)  We determined the definitions of each word together, read them within several stories and texts and wrote our own sentences and synonyms and antonyms for these new challenging words.  The favorite words seemed to be whined, obey and suspicious.  J
In writing, our focus this past week was organization and the importance of including all details and writing those details in a sequential order.  We started to talk a lot about “How-to Writings”.  Examples of how-to writing are cookbooks, instruction manuals and game directions.  How-to paragraphs include the materials needed, details that explain how to do a specific activity, in order and they use words that show sequence, such as, first, next, then and last.  We each are working on our own how-to writing in class.  The students will also be writing a how-to paragraph for their weekly writing homework that is due next Wednesday, November 9th.
We ended the week with yet another celebration.  Friday was Lily’s birthday!  We want to thank her for the scrumptious cupcakes and hope she had a very happy birthday!
Again, I am so excited to be back in the classroom full-time and am grateful to have such a wonderful group of students to share another great year with.
P.S. There is now school Thursday or Friday next week.  Due to a shortened week, weekly writing is due Wednesday and there will be NO spelling this week.  Math homework will be sent home on Monday and due Wednesday still.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Addition and Subtraction Vocabulary

How do you determine when to add or when to subtract while solving story problems?  Look for these key vocabulary words:

in all

how many left
how many less
how many more
how many fewer

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Math at Home

At home, the best way to help your child learn to love math is to play with numbers, and to frequently point out the various ways in which math makes our lives easier. Try these activities:

• Challenge them to guess at things, and then find the answers. Example: How many bowls of cereal do you think we can get out of this box? How many M&Ms do you think are in your bag? How many minutes do you think it will take to clear off the table? Which of these cups do you think will hold more juice?

• Ask your child to measure things in non-traditional units. Example: How many footsteps it takes to get from here to the door. Why do you think it's more for you and fewer for me?

• Have your child compare things: Which do you think is heavier — a cookie or ten chocolate chips? Who do you think is taller, mom or dad? Which carrot is longer? Fatter? Crunchier?

• Play board games, dice games, and card games with your child. Encourage her to make up her own games.

• Talk about how you use math when: balancing your checkbook, paying cashiers, changing bills for coins, etc.

• Teach your child to budget his own money — by helping him save up for a special toy or activity.

• Involve your child in measuring ingredients for recipes.

• Most of all, try to be positive about math — even if it was your worst subject in school. If your child's having trouble in it, or starts complaining that it's too hard or too boring, act as though you know that if she keeps on trying, she'll improve

Ways to help your child with their reading and writing

Let your child see you write — and correct your own mistakes.
• Give gifts associated with writing, such as special pencils and pens, a desk lamp, a hard-bound diary, a children's dictionary, or personalized stationery.

• Show pride in what your child writes by displaying their books and stories for visitors.

• Encourage your child to have a pen pal.

• Invite your child to do crossword puzzles, word jumbles, and other word games that build vocabulary and fluency.

• Read together, and talk about the books and authors you both love.