Wednesday, December 13, 2017

News Tidbits

There will not be an official blog entry this week.  Here are the newsy tidbits:
  • Thursday is the Holiday Program!  Semi-dressy attire and kids should come to the classroom no earlier than 6:15pm.
  • Friday is a non-uniform day and the Lower School Code-In.
  • Our Third Grade Holiday Party is next Tuesday, December 19th from 8:50-10:00am.  It is also a non-uniform day.
  • Be sure to check the Lost and Found items displayed in front of Gym C!  
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!  

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Update from Mrs. Zosel

Our Lower School Winter Wear Collection has been extended through Monday, December 18th.  Donations will be delivered to Jefferson School in Minneapolis, where one out of every five students is unsure where they may be spending the night.  Thank you for your generous gifts of new and gently used winter wear.  Boots, jackets, gloves, mittens, and snow pants for ages 5-10 are the most needed items. 
Friday, December 8, 2017

December 8, 2017 News

WOW!!!  What incredible scores on this week’s Word Masters challenge!  Your children seemed so proud of themselves.  They had an incredible time practicing the words with “Quizlet Live.”  What a motivating game to help study the words!  Be sure to ask your child how to play the game.  Our next “meet” will take place on February 26th.  Some of the vocabulary words from the first list may appear on the second and third meets, so children should continue to practice the words.  The second list of words are coming home today.  Like with the first set of words, we will practice 2-3 each night to help break up the task of learning the new vocabulary words.  This process will begin after we return from winter break.  The new Quizlet site will be up later today on the blog.

We have been busy bees working on a variety of writing projects.  The children were eager to take a couple of weeks and work on their own creative writing.  Most are writing fiction stories, and they have enjoyed the time to write freely.  We are also learning what makes a good paragraph.  Ask your child about the components of a paragraph (topic sentence, supporting details, conclusion).  See if they can remember what colors we are matching them to on a stoplight, or a train. 

The last word sort before Winter Break will come home today.  The quiz will be next Friday, December 15th.

In math, we are wrapping up our Bar Modeling chapter.  This is a challenging chapter, but an important one.  We will use these skills moving forward as we solve real-world problems with multiplication and division (and fractions later in the year).  Next week, we will finish up the chapter, take an assessment, and then have some fun coding.  After Winter Break, we will begin our Multiplication and Division chapter. 

Next Thursday, December 14th, is the annual Holiday Program in the Chapel.  The program for the whole Lower School community (Pre-4) will begin at 6:30pm.  Children should dress in semi-dressy attire and arrive to the classroom no earlier than 6:15pm.  ALSO, if you wouldn’t mind helping your child clean out his/her locker before or after the program, that would be wonderful!  Children can leave their winter gear (for recess), but everything else non-essential should go home.   

Speaking of winter gearthe temperature sure has dropped outside this week!  I think we were all in shock on Tuesday as the blustery winds almost carried us away!  Now is a great time to make sure your child has all his/her winter gear available each day.  This includes: winter coat, snow pants, snow boots, hat, mittens or gloves, and anything else to keep your child warm.  We haven’t had much snow yet, but it’s only a matter of time, right? 

Next Friday, December 15th, is a non-uniform day.  It is also our Lower School Code-In. 

Our Holiday Party is coming up on Tuesday, December 19th, from 8:50-10:00am.  Like Halloween, all third grade classrooms will be open for business and the children can visit each room.  This is a non-uniform day for everyone. 

Lost and Found items will be set out on tables in front of Gym C next week.   Please ask your children to check for their lost belongings before winter break.  Feel free to come take a peek, too! 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

December 1, 2017 News

I hope you had a restful and memorable Thanksgiving holiday!  The children enjoyed Grandparents and Special Friends Day with their guests last week.  They seemed proud to share Breck with these special guests.  Be sure to check out the pictures on the Photos page.

I know it hasn’t felt like winter lately, but please help your child to dress appropriately for outdoor recess (winter boots, snow pantswhen the snow does come, mittens/gloves, hat). 

In Writer’s Workshop, we are learning about paragraphs!  We will use colors to help us distinguish the different parts of a paragraph.  Our knowledge of paragraphs will allow us to practice informational writing when we return from winter break. 

We will have two more Word Study word sorts (including the one that was sent home today) before winter break.

We began our bar modeling chapter in Math this week.  We have learned that a bar model is a strategy to help us solve problems.  The children are putting their addition and subtraction knowledge into place as they solve real-world story problems.  We will finish this chapter before winter break.  One last note about math facts: please continue to encourage your child to practice his/her math facts.  It is so important that the children are fluent with their facts, particularly addition and subtraction.  After winter break, we will begin our multiplication and division chapters, and the children will need to start practicing those to become fluent.  

Our first Word Masters “meet” is on Monday.  We have spent a lot of time practicing our vocabulary words and analogies.  Your child will be able to bring home the test next week after we review it in class.   

The children have been eager to count the birds at our feeders for Feederwatch!  Koen even spotted a winter wren this morning!

In our study of Minnesota, we have been discussing logging and the impact that had on Minnesota’s white pine forests.  We traveled back in time to the mid-late 19th century.   

On Thursday, December 14th, we will celebrate the holiday season with the annual Holiday Program.  The program for the whole Lower School community (Pre-4) will begin at 6:30pm.  Children should dress in semi-dressy attire and arrive to the classroom no earlier than 6:15pm.   

Friday, December 15th, is a non-uniform day for everyone.  We will also have a Code-In from 8:30-9:30am. 

Upcoming partyon Tuesday, December 19th, we will have our Holiday Party from 8:50-10:00am.  Like Halloween, all third grade classrooms will be open for business and the children can visit each room.  This is a non-uniform day for everyone. 

Winter Break will begin at the end of the day on December 19th and school resumes on Wednesday, January 3rd.
Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Winter Wear Donations

Breck Lower School is collecting Warm Winter Wear for children experiencing homelessness.  Needed items include coats, jackets, snow pants, boots, gloves and mittens for ages 5-10.  Donations can be new or gently used.  Donations can be delivered to classrooms or to our "Service Shelf" located near the Middle/Lower School entrance through December 13th.  Thank you for sharing!
Thursday, November 16, 2017

November 17, 2017 News

We are still in the midst of publishing in Writer’s Workshop.  The goal is to have the finished products done next week to share with our guests.  The published books will come home for your child to share with you, too.  Next stop on our writing journey…paragraph writing!

Has your child told you about his/her Mystery Book Club?  We have been learning about detectives and what makes up the mystery genre.  We are learning important vocabulary words that go along with mysteries (detective, witness, suspect, red herring just to name a few).  We have learned that clues are really important, too.  We will wrap up our current books next week.  After Thanksgiving, your children will have an opportunity to read another mystery book with a partner/group of their choosing. 

We have spent this week subtracting with regrouping in math.  Your children are awesome at subtraction!  They are very proficient at subtracting (and adding) these numbers into the thousands.  Some of your children (depending on their math learning group) used the place value chart to help solidify place value skills.  We will wrap up this unit before we leave for the Thanksgiving holiday.  When school resumes, we will be focusing on bar modeling with addition and subtraction story problems. 

Feederwatch began this week!  Everyone was excited to identify the birds at our feeders.  We will continue doing this for the rest of the school year!

Next week, we will celebrate our grandparents and special guests.  Wednesday’s activities are sure to be fun for students and their grandparents or special guests.  I look forward to meeting your family members and friends!  Since next week is a short one, there will be no blog update (but I will post pictures after Wednesday’s event).  I hope you all have a very happy Thanksgiving and safe travels. 

Lastly…don’t forget that our first Word Masters “challenge meet” is Monday, December 4th.  We continue to practice with analogies at school.  You can help your child by continuing to study the 25 vocabulary words and their meanings.  
Friday, November 10, 2017

November 10, 2017 News

We celebrated two important historical dates in class this week.  The 42nd anniversary of the disappearance of the Edmund Fitzgerald is on Friday, November 10th.  We read the story, The Edmund Fitzgerald: Song of the Bell by Kathy-Jo Wargin and watched actual news footage from 1975.  You can listen to the song by Gordon Lightfoot here.  We also celebrated Veterans Day by learning about the history of the holiday from the History Channel.  We did some reading comprehension activities to go along with this special day. 

Curriculum highlights: In Writer’s Workshop, we have been editing our work and will learn about different kinds of leads that writers use.  We will try our hand at writing our own different leads and we will begin publishing next week.  We will also edit again, as the children are learning that writers do not just edit once.  Feeder Watch also begins next week!  We have been preparing by playing a Bird ID game on Kahoot and recording birds we see on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Bird Cam.  We are looking forward to recording the birds we will see at our feeders. 

In Math, most of the learning groups took the chapter assessment for addition and are moving onto subtraction.  The children have been excited to solve the problems with the vertical algorithm.  We were able to have great conversations about our mistakes and reflect on them as well.  We made plans for future assignments.  Lastly, we decided that reading the directions is important. 

Repeat from last week: Grandparents and Special Friends Day is just around the corner on Wednesday, November 22nd.  If a grandparent is unable to come, your child can invite a special adult friend (aunt, uncle, neighbor, godparent, etc.)  This is a regular uniform day for Lower School students, and there will be no Extended Day, with dismissal at noon.  Your child and guest do have the opportunity to ride the bus home.  All registration is done online this year.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. 
Thursday, November 2, 2017

November 3, 2017 News

The children had fun at the parade and party on Monday.  They were able to play Bingo, play other games, dance, and enjoy ice cream sundaes.  Thank you to Joanna Curry, Karla Rosenman, Reena Jackson, Jamie Lampe, and Adam Maki for helping to make it a fun morning!  There are some pictures on the Photo page of our blog.

We had a wonderful local author visit at our Community Meeting on Tuesday.  Shelly Boyum-Breen shared her love of sports and writing with us.  She currently has four books out and is working on 13 more!  We also learned about our next C.A.R.E. theme of Resiliency.  We will spend the next few weeks discussing what this means and what it looks like. 

In Math, we began our new learning groups for Chapters 3 and 4.  We will study addition and subtraction up to 10,000, including the vertical algorithm for these operations.  Your children are excited to write their problems vertically!

In Writer’s Workshop, we discussed how to edit and revise our work.  We also looked at checklists to help us during these processes.  Next week, the children will choose their personal narrative small moment story that they want to publish. 

We continue to work on our birding skills.  The children are learning so much about the birds that will come to our feeders.  Feederwatch begins on November 11th (next Saturday), so our official recording will begin the week of November 13th.

Grandparents and Special Friends Day is just around the corner on Wednesday, November 22nd.  If a grandparent is not able to come, your child can invite a special adult friend (aunt, uncle, neighbor, godparent, etc.)  This is a regular uniform day for Lower School students, and there will be no Extended Day, with dismissal at noon.  Your child and guest do have the opportunity to ride the bus home.  All registration is done online this year.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. 

I recently read an article about making mistakes and how they create learning.  The article is titled, “Why Mistakes Matter in Creating a Path for Learning” and you can read it here.  
Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Breck Scares Hunger Update

Update re: Breck Scares Hunger. Thank you to all you have helped in any capacity so far!

54.7% of our student body have signed up to participate so far....BUT less than 15% have brought in food. 

Good news: there's still time! Food collection will go through FridayNov ember 3rd....7:45-8:30am at MS/US doors. Bus riders can bring donations on the bus.  Thank you for your generous support of this important effort to respond to hunger in our community!💥🍽
Friday, October 27, 2017

October 27, 2017 News

Thank you to Ryan Gilbertson and Emily Ryks for accompanying us to Fort Snelling today.  We learned so much at the fort.  Be sure to ask your child what (s)he learned.  You may want to prompt them about our different stations: Dred and Harriet Scott, the hospital, the blacksmith, the first school, the Indian agent office, and Colonel Snelling’s house to name a few.  We also took a B’Dote walk through the state park.  Ask your child what (s)he learned on that walk (and what “B’Dote” means)!

The weather has changed!  Please help your child check the weather before school.  Now that the temperature has dropped, your child will need proper outdoor gear (jacket, hat, mittens/gloves, and snow pants when the snow starts to stick).  Thank you in advance!

Next week, we will brush up on our birding skills as we practice for FeederWatch.  Our station will be right outside our classroom window.  A couple weeks ago, we prepared by visiting the All About Birds website and learned how we can identify birds using four categories: size and shape, color patterns, behavior, and habitat.  The children have been busy learning Minnesota birds.  They are having fun with a bird identification activity book where they have colored the bird and researched different facts.  We will take some time to practice recognizing common MN birds that we may see at our feeders.  We will look at identification cards and interact with different bird pictures on the SmartBoard. 

We continue to discuss our Word Master words.  I am impressed with how well they have a handle on the definitions.  They are really practicing!  Soon, we will do a “Demonstration Analogy” page from the Word Masters company.  You may see these practice pages come home, too.  The class also learned how to play Quizlet Live! with our words.  It is a new favorite game!

We wrapped up our Mental Math unit in Math and will move onto addition and subtraction (to 10,000) next week.

Halloween is next Tuesday!  Your child should come dressed in his/her costume and the parade and sing-a-long (in the Anderson Gym) will begin at 8:40am.  We will have our third grade party after the sing-a-long, from approximately 9:45-10:45am.  If your child would like to bring in a change of clothes, that is totally fine!

Next Wednesday, November 1st is a CARE shirt non-uniform day.  Our next CARE theme is Resiliency!  

From Mrs. Jones: Shelly Bean the Sports Queen books can be ordered (with personalized autographs!) through Monday at www.shellybeanthesportsqueen.comUse the code BRECK17.
Tuesday, October 24, 2017

From Mrs. Zosel

Breck Scares Hunger!  Students in Grades 1-4 will be bringing home a card this week that will help them participate in our All School Food Drive.  We are asking students to consider asking a friend or neighbor to donate canned or boxed food that we will then deliver to community partners.  Donations can be delivered to school Sunday, October 29, or before school Monday, October 30 through Wednesday, November 1

All-School Chapel: Tuesday, November 7
Next month in honor of All Saints' Day, our All-School Chapel will include a small tribute remembering people within or connected to our community who have passed away. 

If you would like a loved one remembered, email Alexis Kent with his or her name, their connection to Breck and a photograph. Please submit the name(s) and photograph(s) by Friday, November 3rd to

Thank you!
Thursday, October 19, 2017

October 20, 2017 News

Thank you to Adam Maki and Melanie Theissen for accompanying us on our field trip to Gibbs Farm.  The children learned so much about the Dakota people and the pioneers.  Did you know that a buffalo bladder was used as a drinking vessel?  Did you know that the Dakota women owned the tipi and they were responsible for setting it up and taking it down?  Did you know that the youngest child was in charge of emptying out the chamber pots each morning?  These are just a few facts we learned.  Be sure to ask your child what (s)he learned at Gibbs!  Pictures from this wonderful trip are on the Photos page of our blog. 

In math, we are learning lots of mental addition and subtraction strategies.  These include the “over-adding” and “over-subtracting” strategies, as well as the more traditional “add the tens and then add the ones” (or conversely, “subtract the tens and then subtract the ones”).  We will also brush up our rounding skills next week (rounding to the nearest ten and nearest hundred).  The children have commented that solving problems with the mental math strategies are “hard, but fun.”  I’ll take that as a win!

We continue to write small moments in Writer’s Workshop.  Soon, we will choose one “seed story” and go through the steps to publishing, which include editing and revising.  The children will be able to publish their own stories on the computers!  This week, we also used our mentor text (Come On, Rain! by Karen Hesse) to further our discussion about being a storyteller instead of a reporter when we write. 

To gear up for Feederwatch, we have been discussing a variety of ways to identify birds by watching the Inside Birding videos produced by the Cornel Lab of Ornithology.  Your children were diligent to watch these videos, taking copious notes.  (The videos can be found on our class blog if the children want to watch them again.)  We have also been working on our Bird ID books, where we are learning how to take notes about the birds we will see at our feeders.

Next Thursday, October 26th we will travel to Fort Snelling all day as a continuation of our study of the history of Minnesota.  This is a non-uniform day for the children (dress in layers and wear comfortable walking shoes). 

Don’t forget that the natural dyeing project is due on Monday!
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.