Second Grade Tiger Pause Week of 10/21

Can you write a story in just six words?  Legend has it that Ernest Hemingway pointed to this six-word story as his best writing:  “For sale:  baby shoes; never worn.”

The second grade ACE students have already proven that they can write stories using just one word, so this week they took on the six-word story challenge.  They were required to write at least one six-word story that was a memoir (I gave them this example written by an eight-year-old: “Eight years old; combed hair twice.”); their other stories could be about anything.

Here are some examples:

  • I brush teeth, but don’t floss.
  • Play outside? I gotta do chores.
  • One, two, three…hey, watch it!
  • Bread for sale; it’s really stale.
  • I want a puppy, but no.
  • Sweater for sale; worn by grandma.
  • Second grade:  not happy about it.
  • The ghost rides in the darkness.

More next week; I can’t wait!


Whole Class Lessons — Weeks of 10/7 and 10/14

The lessons I taught this two-week rotation are among my very favorites!

With the kindergarten students, I read Press Here by Herve Tullet.

I know I’m prone to hyperbole, but this is the most fun book to read to kindergarten students ever.  The premise is simple enough:  There are some dots.  The author tells the reader to follow some straightforward directions.  The dots respond.  The end.  Don’t be fooled, though — each time I read it, the entire class was whipped into a frenzy of delight by the end.

After we finished, we talked about how following directions is important.  I then did an activity with the kids where I gave them a paper with six circles on it and then I read them directions about how to make the circles into faces (e.g., “give circle one a nose”; “give circle six a smile.  Just a smile.”)  They had to listen carefully and follow just the directions I gave.

In first grade classes, we read the book Not a Box by Antionette Portis.

This book is about a young bunny with a creative mind.  He looks at a cardboard box and sees a racecar, a building on fire, a robot, and many other things.  The adult with whom he interacts throughout the book sees… a box.  The adult is, in fact, so determined to tie the bunny down to a world of limits and labels, that in the end s/he demands to know “If it’s not a box, what is it, then?”  Not an easy question to answer about something which can be anything.

The kids worked on their own not-a-box drawings under strict instructions to use their own ideas and not the ones used by the bunny in the book.  (I already know he’s creative).  They did a great job thinking “outside the box.”  (Sorry, I had to do it).

First Grade Reading Week of 10/14

Unlike first grade math, first grade reading proceeded mostly as normal, with a few exceptions due to the aforementioned firefighters and recycling center representatives.

During class, we took a look at a new mystery — the Case of the Lost Backpack.  The first step in identifying the owner of the titular lost backpack was to cross-check a soccer team list and a Summer Reading Program list to determine which students were on both lists.  This narrowed our suspect list down to nine students.

We then took a look at the reading interests of those nine students to determine if any of them might want to read about dolphins, because the backpack contained several dolphin books.  This led to some spirited discussion about whether a dolphin is a mammal or a fish, and whether we could eliminate someone from our list based on the fact that they liked reading about animals in general but not specifically mammals or marine animals.  These kids are quick to want to accuse or eliminate suspects!  I’m working hard to get them to slow down and pay attention to all of the evidence before drawing conclusions.

We eventually identified the owner of the lost backpack (and the students who happen to have siblings in classes held earlier in the week were very careful not to spoil the solution, so kudos to them).  Ask your child to tell you what we discovered.

Homework this week is a mystery reading passage with multiple choice questions.

First Grade Math Week of 10/14

For various reasons, we did not have first grade math this week.  These reasons include the following:

  1. No school on Monday meant no Monday math.
  2. When I went to collect my Wednesday mathies, 90% of them were listening to presentations by the firefighters, who are far more exciting than I am.
  3. When I went to collect my Friday mathies, 90% of them were listening to presentations by the recycling center representative, who is also far more exciting than I am.

In not-unrelated news, perhaps I need to ramp up my excitement.  I’m pricing disco balls on Amazon immediately after I hit “publish” on this post.

Second Grade Tiger Pause Week of 10/14

This week during my Tiger Pause time with the Level One and Level Two students, we continued working on our one-word stories.  The tasks at hand were to:  (1) finish the stories, (2) color them and (3) summarize them in 4 or 5 sentences.  We had some share time at the end so a few of the kids were able to share their stories with the class, but everyone did not have a chance to share.

All of the students have reason to be proud of their work — I was really impressed.  With permission, I’m sharing just one example here.  This student chose the word “play.”  As you can see, he easily conveyed his story, using just pictures and this one word.  In his story, the child wanted to play.  His mother took him to the park, where he played happily.  Then, in a devastating twist, they had to leave to run errands.  Not surprisingly, he was none too pleased.  In the end, they were able to play again.

photo 1


photo 2

Next week, a different type of story writing.  I’m super excited to see what these kids create!




First Grade Math — Week of 10/7

We started this week’s class with a “Five Minute Challenge.”  These should be familiar to kids who saw me for math last year.  I ask the kids to try to complete 100 addition problems (correctly!) in five minutes.  For a handful, this is easy.  For others, it’s really challenging.  That’s okay.  Computation speed isn’t everyone’s strong suit and I don’t expect it to be.  With that said, though, the more automatically those facts come to us, the better off we are.

The goal of the Five Minute Challenge is for each student to beat his or her own previous best score.  So if you scored 25 last week and 27 this week, you met your goal.  Students who meet their goals receive a “smartie pants” (ask your child if you haven’t heard this term).  This time around, our scores ranged from 17 to 100 and the average score was 60.  We had five 100’s!

We then did an estimating exercise (in every group except Friday’s, where I had learned from experience that we were going to run out of time) where I gave the kids a number line and a list of random numbers.  I asked them to place the numbers on the number line.  Some were hesitant to do so, others dove right in.  We talked about ways to make it easier to place the numbers (folding our papers?), which ones to place first, etc.

Finally, we moved on to rounding.  I drew a picture of a hill where the numbers from 0-10 traversed up one side and then down the other side of the hill, with 5 at the very top.  We talked about how when we are rounding numbers, we look at the place we are rounding to (in our case this week, that was the tens place) and that digit will either stay the same or go up one.  It will never decrease!  Then we look at the digit to the right.  If it’s 5 or more, we round up because the ball would roll down the other side of the hill to the ten.  If it’s 0-4 we leave it the same because the ball would roll back down to where we started.

The homework was very straightforward rounding to the tens place.  This week we’ll move on to the hundreds place and we’ll do some rounding in addition and subtraction problems.