Thursday, October 12, 2017

October 13, 2017 News

Thank you again for attending conferences.  The children were thrilled to “run the show” and excited to share their stars and wishes with you.

Our new C.A.R.E. (Character Always, Respect Everyday) theme for this month is Empathy.  We think about empathy as "I Care, I Act."  It is putting yourself in someone else's shoes and being aware of what someone else could be experiencing.  We have watched a few videos and these are located on the class blog.  The class favorite is the "One Day Boomerang" video.  I think we have watched it around 6-8 times already.  It really is a great one!

We have been busy discussing our Word Masters words each day.  The kids are absolutely fascinated when they find one in their reading!  Continue to help your child practice the words, even the ones they already know.  We will discuss analogies over the next few weeks.  We have learned that an analogy is “the relationship between two pairs of words.”  We are learning that by looking at the first set of words, you can then figure out the missing word.  There are many different kinds of analogies.  We will talk about the various ways to make analogies: synonyms, antonyms, homophones, and part/whole are just a few.  I have already shown the class the Quizlet website for practicing their Word Masters words.  There is a link on the class blog under the Language Arts websites.  One caveat is that someone else created this list so the definitions are limited in the fact that they do not include all the definitions for each word.  We talked about that as a class and decided that this would be just one way to practice the words, not the only way to practice.  As I mentioned last week, there is also a link on the “Helpful Info” section of all the words and definitions. 

Math Night for Parents is next Tuesday, October 17th.  Cassy Turner, our faculty trainer for Math in Focus, will be here for her presentation at 6:30pm in the Middle School Dining Room. 

Reminder: picture retakes are on Monday, October 16th.  Please send in the old package with your child if (s)he wishes to take retakes. 

Another Reminder: Monday is also our field trip to Gibbs Farm.  It’s a non-uniform day with comfortable, weather-appropriate attire and walking shoes.  This happens to be on Picture Retake day, so if your child wants retakes, (s)he should come to school dressed in the uniform and bring a change of clothes to change into for our field trip (unless your child wants to wear their uniform for the whole day). 

Some more information about our field trip to Gibbs FarmThe Gibbs Museum of Pioneer and Dakotah Life represents an important period in Minnesota’s history from 1835 to 1900.  The museum tells the true story of the pioneer family of Heman and Jane Gibbs.  They use replicas of the buildings that they built on their farm, which stood precisely where the museum is located.  It all started with the tiny sod cabin or “soddy” in which they first lived with their children to the wood frame house they were finally able to build.  We will also have the opportunity to learn about the life and culture of the Dakota people who were living in the area at this time.  On this trip, we spend the morning outdoors, learning about how the Dakota people lived. It can be quite chilly as we spend most of our time in shady areas outside. Please have your child dress in layers, as in the afternoon we are mostly indoors.  

There will be no school next Thursday and Friday for Faculty Workshop.  The long weekend is a great opportunity to visit that special place for the Minnesota Amazing Race project.  In case you need help, the directions for this project are in the “Helpful Info” section of our class blog.

In early November, we will begin our Citizen Science project called Project FeederWatch.  FeederWatch is a winter-long survey of the birds that visit feeders in backyards, nature centers, community areas, and other locales in North America.  Our class will count the birds we see at the feeding station outside the library windows from November through April and post our bird count data on the Project FeederWatch website.  The data we collect will help scientists track the movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance.  It is important work, which supports the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s study of birds.  We are providing the data these ornithologists need for their study, so they don’t have to come to Breck School twice a week all winter to collect it themselves.  We do that work for them and that is why it is called Citizen Science; ordinary citizens are helping scientists.  To be successful at this, we will be learning how to identify bird species and increasing the number of birds we can ID by sight.  For more information about either the Project FeederWatch or the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, visit

Lastly, Halloween is around the corner!  We will celebrate on Tuesday, October 31 with the parade beginning at 8:40am and our party immediately following.  In third grade, we party all together, so your children will have the freedom to visit all four classrooms as they choose.  Reminder that costumes should be school appropriate (no weapons, scary objects, or face paint).  Children may bring in a change of clothes if they want.  

Friday, October 6, 2017

Executive Functions, Organization, and Independence

If you missed the Third Grade Parent Meeting on Executive Functions, Organization, and Independence, here are some links:

Parent Presentation

Strengthening Executive Function in Children: Tips for Parents and Practitioners

Parenting to Boost Executive Function (from Psychology Today)

Study: Too Many Structured Activities May Hinder Children's Executive Functioning (from Education Week)

October 6, 2017 News

Thank you so much for attending conferences.  I love this time of year because the children are setting their own goals and working toward being more responsible and accountable.  They took goal setting honestly and seriously and they were excited to share them with you (even if they were a little nervous). 

In math, we finished up our first unit on place value and will begin Unit 2 next week.  This next unit is all about mental addition and subtraction, along with rounding and estimation.  The children will learn many different addition and subtraction mental math strategies. 

We began looking at different birds we will see at our feeders and taking notes about each one.  All About Birds is a great website for this information (the link is on the right hand side of the blog). 

On Monday, your child will bring home the first Word Masters list.  As I mentioned at Back-to-School Night, all Breck third graders participate in three “meets” that deal with vocabulary words and analogies.  We will look at how to use a dictionary to look up the new words and will talk about different strategies to practice the definitions of the words.  The work on the words is primarily done at home.  At school we will work on the concept of analogies and practice solving analogies in many ways.  Each night, the children will have two or three words to learn (you will see this in the planner next week).  This helps break down the large task of learning all 25 words at once.  As the test gets closer I will send home practice Word Masters tests so that you can see the format and strategize with your child.  Please keep the vocabulary list hand and practice the words with your child so (s)he is prepared for the first “meet” on Monday, December 4th.  The following two meets will be cumulative, so keep this first list in a safe place so your child can practice these words.  We will practice the analogy part here at school.  I have posted the vocabulary words on the blog, in the “Helpful Info” section (the link is called “Word Masters List #1”). 

On Monday, October 9th, we will have our second Community Meeting for the kick-off of our new C.A.R.E. them, Empathy.  Your child will be receiving a new C.A.R.E. t-shirt to wear.  The children will have the opportunity to wear these for every Community Meeting day with non-uniform pants (jeans, etc.).  The shirts will come home on Monday with your child.

Upcoming date to remember: Picture retakes are on Monday, October 16th.  Please be sure to send in the old package with your child.  Hopefully, your child’s picture envelope will arrive soon!  This day is also the date for our field trip to Gibbs Farm.  If your child plans to do picture retakes, (s)he will need to wear the uniform to school and then change into non-uniform clothes immediately after for our field trip.  

Thursday, September 28, 2017

September 29, 2017 News

Conferences are next week.  If you are able, please bring your child to your scheduled conference.  Together, the students and I will discuss our “stars,” or strengths, as well as some “wishes,” or things we would like to work on for the next few weeks.  At our conference, we will discuss our goals and the action plan for achieving our goals.  If you want to be prepared, come ready to give your child two “stars” and two “wishes.” 

Skating will begin on Monday!  Students should bring in a bag with skates (and guards), helmet, snow pants, jacket, and gloves/mittens.  Thank you in advance to those parents that are able to meet at the Ice Arena to help tie skates. 

Curriculum highlights:

This week we spent lots of time debriefing from our River Rendezvous field trip.  We made mind maps of each station we visited and talked about our new knowledge.  The children continue to learn different personal narrative writing strategies.  They were able to meet with their Writing Partners and offer encouragement and advice.  The children will take their first chapter test in math and we will begin our next unit of mental math and estimation strategies after conferences.  Your children have also been highly engaged with their practice on IXL. 

Some resources for you in your Growth Mindset journey:

Friday, September 22, 2017

September 22, 2017 News

Thank you to Sara Ahluwalia and Abby Kordosky for accompanying us on our River Rendezvous field trip today.  We came back to school much hotter and sweatier than when we left but I know the children will learn a lot of new information.  Perhaps your child will share a few tidbits with you this weekend?  Next week, we will make a mind map of our trip.  Pictures will be up very soon on the Photos section of our class blog. 

Your children have been engaged in Writer’s Workshop, where they are learning about writing small moments for personal narratives. We are learning different strategies, such as writing about a special person or place.  Next week, we will continue the conversation with other strategies: how you felt during a moment and writing with a storytelling voice and not a reporter voice. 

In math, we have been busy reviewing place value to 10,000.  This week, we made large numbers and worked closely with each place value.  Important vocabulary words are standard form, word form, and expanded form.  We are looking at different ways to write numbers, as well as comparing numbers with “greater than” or “less than.”  We began to organize our math spirals (where we keep notes and practice problems) and the children are learning how to take notes.  Your children are very engaged in their different math learning groups!

In social studies and science, we talked about glaciers across Minnesota thousands of years ago.  Ask your child what they remember about these glaciers (hint: they caused the lakes!).  We also began learning the four key ways to identify birds.  We are watching a series of videos from “Inside Birding” and taking notes.  The videos are linked on our class blog. 

The children had their first word study test on Thursday and did quite well!  The new word sort was already introduced and three choices are due next Friday, September 29th.

Book orders finally came home (your children were very excited to get them in their hands!).  Ordering is voluntary and can be done either online or via sending in a check with the paper order form.  Directions for ordering online can be found on the blog in the “Helpful Info” section under the link “Scholastic Note.”  If you are ordering “the old fashioned way,” the paper forms are due on Monday.  If you choose to order online, you can place that order at any time.  Your child can even choose books from different flyers, too. 

Conference registration will open next week.  Please schedule with your child in mind, as (s)he will lead the conference.  Thank you in advance! 
Thursday, September 21, 2017

Hurricane Help

Hurricane Help!  Felix, a second-grader, has asked us to consider dropping some change in the containers located at Door D, near Gym C, and near the Upper School Office.  All change collected will be sent to the Red Cross.  Thanks!

Friday, September 15, 2017

September 15, 2017 News

Thank you for attending Back-to-School Night!  For those of you that were unable to attend the meetinga note about Word Studythe children will be introduced to a new word sort each Day 1 in the six-day cycle (and they will be introduced to their first word sort next Thursday).  They are responsible for studying the words until the test, which is on Day 6.  The children should choose three ways to practice their words (using the choice sheet that is taped on the inside of their word study notebook).  I discourage children from doing all three choices all in one night as that is not best for learning.  Periodically throughout the year, the children will be exposed to new choices to help them practice their words.  Please refer to the “Helpful Info” section on the blog for other important documents. 

Today is a Blue and Gold non-uniform day!  This afternoon, we will attend the annual Homecoming Coronation in the Anderson Gym.  This community-building activity brings the whole school together to show Breck spirit!  Saturday morning at 11:00am is the Blessing of the Animals and 12:00pm is the Homecoming BBQ, if you and your family are interested.  Hopefully you are able to attend some of the festivities!

Another highlight of our week is we got to meet our Preschool Buddies!  Each child has a new friend with a preschooler from Mrs. McCool’s preschool class.  We did a Venn Diagram where the buddies were able to discover similarities and differences with each other.  Be sure to ask your child about his or her buddy.  Pictures are on the blog in the Photos section.

Sunday (September 17th) is Constitution Day.  We will celebrate today by watching a Charlie Brown video about what happened back in 1787.  It will lead to a conversation about our three branches of government and how we have a government “for the people,” with one chief executive officer.  This week, we also began talking about “long ago” in what we now know as Minnesota.  We have begun to answer our big question, “What was here?”  In science, we have discussed different aspects of phenology.  We will also learn different Minnesota birds in preparation for our FeederWatch program (it begins in November).   

Don’t forget -- Picture Day is Monday, September 18th.  You can fill out the paper form or online.  We will have our pictures taken at 10:00am.

Next week your children will formally begin Writer’s Workshop, where they will review how to write small moments for personal narratives. We will learn different strategies, such as writing about a special person or place.  We will then continue the conversation with other strategies: how you felt during a moment and writing with a storytelling voice and not a reporter voice.  Your children will have a chance next week to meet and actively engage with their writing partner as they share work with each other and gain constructive feedback.  We will talk about “encouragement, not discouragement.”

In math, we will begin out place value work (to 10,000) our different groups that I mentioned at Back-to-School Night.  The third grade teachers will be sending home an email with the contact information and name of the teacher that will be working with your child.  These groups will change with each unit, and we will be sure to let you know which teacher will be working with your child.  This week, the children also logged onto their IXL accounts and have loved practicing!

Please remember to sign up to volunteer (if your schedule allows).  Our Classroom Ambassadors, Erin Mehta and Meredith Rice, will compile them all so they can make our volunteer list for field trips, parties, and other special events.  Thank you in advance for your time!  Our first field trip is next Friday, September 22nd to River Rendezvous in Bloomington.  If you are able to accompany us (we need two parents), please email me or our Classroom Ambassadors.

Repeat from last week about conferences…Believe it or not, conferences are just around the corner on October 6th and 7th.  If possible, I would love for your child to attend.  We will be setting goals in class and will share that information with you at the conference.  If you have any questions regarding conferences, please feel free to ask.  Online registration will begin soon.  Be on the lookout for a letter outlining these dates.

Has your child chosen his/her Minnesota destination yet?  Once your child has chosen his/her destination, let me know (a couple of you have already let me know).  I will compile a list so we can attempt to not have any repeats.  Remember to include information about why this place is an important Minnesota place, and what we can learn about Minnesota’s past, present, and/or future from visiting it.  Take a 3-minute (or less) video of your visit, and then bring it on a flash drive for me.  These videos are due Monday, April 23, 2018.  My plan is to collect all the videos and create a class movie of Minnesota destinations to share with students and families at the end of the year (TBA in May 2018).  What a great way to discover all that Minnesota has to offer!  The directions were sent home in the June mailing, and there is also a copy posted on the blog, under the “Helpful Info” section.

Halloween is on the horizonwe will celebrate on Tuesday, October 31st.  As a reminder, children should come in school-appropriate costumes without weapons and without face paint.  After our Halloween Parade in the morning, we will come back to the classroom for our 3rd Grade party (where all classrooms will be open for all third grade students) from around 9:30-10:45am (with clean-up time included).  After, the children can change out of their costumes into more comfortable clothing if they choose.

As always, do not hesitate to contact me for any reason, small or large. I love working with your children and we are on our way to becoming a thoughtful and responsible community of learners.