The second graders in Room 10 are off to a great start! We have been spending the past week making new friends, establishing classroom rules and routines, and building a caring, supportive learning community.

In reading, we are working on choosing “good fit” books for independent reading, building reading stamina, and practicing skills and strategies to help us with comprehension and accuracy. This week we are focusing on identifying the characters and setting of the stories we read, as well as making mental pictures of what we’ve read.

In math, we have launched our first unit, “Sorting, Patterning, and Number”, which provides ample opportunities for everyone to recognize, use, and create picture and number patterns. This unit also introduces the kids to many of the materials and routines we’ll use throughout the year, such as Work Place math stations.

Finally, thank you to all who have had an opportunity to return your child’s forms and paperwork. Be sure to check your child’s Take Home folder this week for our class newsletter, which further details classroom policies, volunteer opportunities, and a learning survey regarding your child’s needs and interests.


Welcome, June!  Room 10 is abuzz with end-of-the-year energy.  Thankfully, most of the buzz is being channeled into the many projects the kids are working to finish up.  In math, the kids have been working on year-end assessments and wrapping up their first grade Farm unit or the last rotation of second grade math work places, or centers.   In writing, editing groups have been reading the final animal reports written by their classmates, and helping one another tighten up the work with correct capitalization, punctuation, and spelling.  The kids continue to put great effort into the various components of their animal research projects — written reports, labeled diagrams, and clay sculptures.

On Monday, June 6, we plan to walk to nearby Berkely Park for a year-end celebration with our 5th grade buddies in Ms. Sarah Kohn’s class.  We’ll head to the park at 12:45, play some games, then gather for ice cream and play time until 2:30.  If you are able to join us or donate supplies for the party, check the sign-up sheet outside of our classroom door.  Please bring donated items to school no later than the morning of Monday, June 6th.  Thank you!

As we wrap up this fantastic year in first and second grade, I want to extend a big THANK YOU to each and every one of you.  Thank you for your warm welcome in the fall, thank you for sending your kids to school eager to learn and explore the world, and thank you for your time, support, and commitment to Lewis.

Your child will be bringing a lot of things home next week.  It’s often such a busy time as families transition from the school year to summer break.  If your house is anything like ours, papers are often left in the backpack or put on the kitchen table to “look at later”.  These last weeks, as we finish up final class projects and pack up our first and second grade work, much of our time has been spent reflecting on our growth as learners.  We’ve taken a close look the development of our skills as writers, readers, mathematicians, scientists, and artists. In some cases, we’ve written personal reflections to go with the work.  If you’re able, I encourage you to carve out some time to  sit down with your child and “talk through” a few pieces of their work.  Ask them to share their proudest  accomplishments with you, the things they feel they still struggle with, and their hopes for next year.  Then grab your kiddo’s hand, run through the sprinkler, and celebrate summer!

Image result for dog sprinklerThank you, again, for such a memorable year.  Enjoy your time with family and friends this summer.  I look forward to seeing you in the fall.

Less than three more weeks!  How can it be?  The time is just zipping by.  Late last week we enjoyed a final visit from the Portland Audubon Society, a presentation on Habitats and Adaptation.  After discussing the various physical adaptations of many mammals (nose length, eye socket size, tooth shape, fur, etc.), Marissa shared her large collection of animal pelts and skulls.  Most impressive was the Alaskan timberwolf, a truly majestic creature.

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In writing, our animal research unit is coming to a close and everyone is working hard to revise, edit, and recopy their reports.  Earlier this week, the kids buddied up with classroom “editing partners” and got down to the business of checking each other’s writing for the correct use of capitals, punctuation, and spelling.  We’re looking forward to sharing our final reports with our 5th grade buddies the last week of school.

In math, we’re all finishing up the year with a review of money, time, and place value.  We’ve noticed that many of the kids are still unsure of the value of particular coins, namely the nickel and quarter.  Not surprisingly, these similar looking coins are often confused by young learners.  Whenever possible, give your kids the opportunity to count change at home.  Ample experience and repetition are the best ways to strengthen these skills.  Look in your child’s Take Home folder this week for instructions to play The Money Game, a fun and simple activity that fits the bill.

FullSizeRender-41We hope to see all of our volunteers at Lewis’ annual Volunteer Breakfast later this week.  Please join us in the cafeteria this Friday morning at 8:00 as we say THANK YOU!

It was so good to see so many of you at last week’s Art Night. It really is my favorite event at Lewis, and I just love seeing the pride on the kids’ faces as they share their work with family and friends. It wouldn’t be possible without all of the taping, gluing, cutting, love, and encouragement provided by the Lewis community. Thank you!

We kept the artiness and creativity flowing earlier this week with a visit from art teacher Ms. Gina.  She brought in a slew of printmaking supplies: scratch foam, vibrant inks, brayers, and a variety of paper.  The kids designed their own animal print blocks, scratched the image into foam, then made two individual prints.  Although it wasn’t a requirement, many chose to print images of the animal they’re researching in class.

Speaking of research, the kids are working hard on their animal research this week, organizing their collected facts into paragraphs, creating detailed labeled diagrams of their animals, and sculpting clay animal models to go with their reports.  It’s been so much fun to see everyone’s enthusiasm, confidence, and skill as they tackle a multitude of print and digital resources to complete these projects.

Finally, we hope to see all of our volunteers at Lewis’ annual Volunteer Breakfast.  Our classroom – and school – wouldn’t be what it is without the generosity of your time, effort, and important work with kids.  Please join us in the cafeteria next Friday morning, May 27th, at 8:00 as we say THANK YOU!

In math, the first graders continue to work on the ever-popular “Farm” unit.  Each child designs and builds their own farm, which includes houses, barns, roads, silos, and a slew of animals.  There are strict building codes and requirements for the animals, which make the planning and design all the more challenging. For example, chickens must be bought in pairs and need a minimum of one unit of land to live on, while each goat requires 2 units of land.  As you can imagine, this unit provides multiple opportunities to use math concepts such as money, place value, and measurement.

Over the course of the year, the second graders have studied and practiced a variety of strategies to use when adding and subtracting multi-digit numbers, such as number strings and open number line. In math this week we are taking a closer look at the standard algorithm for multi-digit subtraction, which involves “borrowing” or regrouping. This is the method many of us,as adults, are most familiar with from our own childhoods and is yet another strategy kids can add to their “toolboxes” as they move on to higher level mathematics. In order to build a foundational understanding of place value, we’ve been using subtraction boards and base ten pieces to model double-digit subtraction problems. As they gain confidence with the concepts, the kids move on to working with the numbers only. This has been a steep learning curve for many as they challenge themselves to move beyond the “concrete” level of building a number to the more “abstract” level of representing the idea of regrouping with numbers alone. Homework in the next couple of weeks will continue to provide practice with this.

Lewis Art Night is right around the corner!  The artwork has been hung, our classroom docents have been practicing their presentations, and we are all looking forward to sharing our masterpieces with you tomorrow night.  In addition to the hallway galleries, come enjoy musical performances by Lewis students and tasty treats from the Paintbrush Cafe.  We hope to see you there!

Bird-bird-bird, bird is the word!  Late last week we were fortunate to share our classroom with Ms. Christina, a regular volunteer and familiar face around Lewis’ hallways.  An avid birder, she shared her vast knowledge of the Canada Goose — a bird we became familiar with during last month’s trip to Crystal Springs.  We were impressed to learn about the nesting habits of the species, as well as the variety of behaviors that help protect eggs and young goslings.  We especially loved the recorded sounds and photographs she brought in.  Thank you, Ms. Christina!

This week, our bird knowledge really took flight with a visit from the Audubon Society. Guest speaker Laura shared her hour-long presentation “Beautiful Birds”, during which we learned about various adaptations (beak shape/size, talons, egg coloration, etc.), then explored bird-artifact boxes with a partner.  This was a terrific hands-on opportunity to look at samples of real birds, nests, wings, feet, feathers, and bones.  Be sure to check out our blog for some great photos of the day.  As you may know, Portland Audubon Society offers a variety of summer camps for kids.  A catalogue of their offerings came home with your child earlier this week.  Scholarships are available.

As you may well expect, other big news around Room 10 is next week’s Art Night.  The kids have been putting the finishing touches on their artwork, and our volunteer docents have been getting ready to serve as your personal “gallery guides”.  We hope to see you next Thursday night, 6:00-7:30.  If your child is interested in being a docent, and you haven’t yet had a chance to sign up, please return the yellow form that came home earlier this week no later than Friday.  Thank you!


FullSizeRender-40The excitement level was high in Room 10 this week as Mr. Raymond launched our upcoming unit on research and report writing — a nice companion to our “Habitats” study.  He first led the class through a brainstorming session, during which the kids listed some things they knew about Informational Text: “It’s true”, “It’s full of facts”, “There’s a table of contents and glossary”, “It helps you learn new things”, etc.  After that, everyone had a chance to browse through a variety of books and select an animal they’d be interested in learning more about.  Today the class reviewed and practiced skills such as paraphrasing, note-taking, and identifying the main idea/supporting details.  They worked in small groups to read a book about meerkats, then practiced paraphrasing and writing individual facts on notecards.

Often, young children struggle with the concept of paraphrasing, or “putting something in your own words”.  There is a tendency to want to look back in the book and copy the text.  To help with this, we’re using a strategy called RCRWRead (the paragraph), Cover (the paragraph with your hand), Remember (to be sure you remembered what you’ve read), Write (the fact in your own words), .  As you can imagine, the success of this strategy really depends on how well a reader understands, or comprehends, informational text.  Some of our especially fluent “fast readers”, who tend to breeze through narrative fiction, often struggle when they first try to paraphrase nonfiction text.  With the RCRW strategy, many kids soon realize that they need to slow down a bit and attend to the details when reading nonfiction.  Continued experience and comfort with these skills are important as the kids get ready to collect information for their animal reports.  In the coming weeks, we’ll be diving deeper into the research as we gather more facts, organize our work into written reports, create labeled diagrams, and build 3-D clay models of our animals.

FullSizeRenderLast week’s trip to Crystal Spring Rhododendron Garden was the perfect launch for our science unit on Habitats.  We’ve been discussing the various birds we saw at the garden, as well as some of the features of wetland habitats.  Earlier this week we were fortunate to have Christa from Portland Clean Rivers Education Programs return to our classroom to give a presentation on wetland habitats.  (You may remember that she visited us earlier this year to discuss the water cycle with us during our Weather unit.)  Christa spent some time reviewing the five major requirements of a healthy habitat (air, shelter, space, food, water),  and discussed various animal adaptations by sharing  beaver, nutria, and coyote pelts, as well as beaver and great blue heron skulls.  It was a great hands-on way to learn more about the animals that call Portland their home.

Larry from the Oregon Children’s Theater returns this Friday to continue our “Loud and Clear” workshop.  Last week we played some silly games to help warm up our voices, then practiced our diction, eye contact, and body gestures while talking about our favorite healthy snack in front of the class.  The kids did a fantastic job!  The final goal of our 4-week workshop with OCT is to give a mini-speech on one of the birds from Crystal Springs.  In preparation for this Friday’s visit, the kids have been making observational drawings of their chosen birds. Our Nexus tablets have been especially handy, as they’ve allowed us to find photographs of each bird to help guide our work.  The attention to detail in the student’s work is stunning.


What an exciting, action-packed week!  Today we had the opportunity to visit the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, where we explored birds and their habitats with scientists from Portland’s Audubon Society.  Some of the species we observed included the mallard, wood duck, lesser scaup, and ever-present Canada goose.  Many were impressed by the variety of ways each bird gets food — especially the diving birds that completely submerge themselves.  We are so fortunate to have Crystal Springs in Lewis’ own “backyard”.  If you haven’t had a chance to visit, I urge you to plan a trip if at all possible.  And be sure to ask your child about the habitat and characteristics of their favorite bird!

In other news, we’re looking forward to our first visit from the Oregon Children’s Theater as they begin their “Loud and Clear” residency this Friday. This workshop, made possible by funding provided by the Right Brain Institute, provides the kids with opportunities to learn the skills and techniques of oral presentation.  Over the next four weeks, the OCT instructors will lead the class through games and other playful exercises that teach many skills commonly used by actors in theater training: diction, projection, eye contact, and rate of delivery.  This week the plan is to learn some silly tongue twisters as we develop the skill of “diction”, as well as some hand signals that can be used to coach one another as we practice our speaking.

Many of our discussions in class revolve around the use of the word “because”, and the valuable role it plays when we explain our thinking to others.  As reflective learners, it’s important that our kids have the ability to justify their ideas with facts and examples.  In writing this week we have been working on opinion paragraphs.  Each child identified what they felt the “best outdoor activity” was, then came up with a list of details that support their opinion.  Our lessons on paragraph development have included the use of a topic sentence, supporting detail sentences, and a conclusion.

This week marked the conclusion of our Garden and Technology classes with Ms. Kathleen and Ms. Cyndi, and we sure had fun!  Our time with Ms. Kathleen helped prep us for next week’s bird watching field trip to the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden with an quick study of bird beak adaptations.  The kids investigated a variety of beak shapes and structures, then discussed the types of food for which they’d be best suited.  We then spent some time in the garden, sitting quietly and looking for birds in their natural habitat.  In Technology, Ms. Cyndi rolled into the classroom with a cart of Little Bits, easy-to-use electronic building blocks for creating inventions.  After a brief introduction to the various components, the kids dove right in.  By the end of the session, we had a vast collection of twirling mini-billboards, waving hands, drawing machines and flapping, beeping feathers.

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