Friday Newsletter: Week 1

Week 1 - August 19 2016


Welcome Back to School!

Good Evening Families,

We had a wonderful first day of second grade! We had a complete blast and we were able to get through so many activities today, from Greeting at the Threshold (which we will do every single day of second grade!) to sharing what we “Think, Notice, or Wonder” about the Langston Hughes poem “The Dream Keeper,” to practicing Calendar Routines, completing a 3D-shape activity in math, and thinking outside of the box to create abstract self portraits today for our art lesson. Reviewing from first grade, we stood and practiced the “o’clock” and “thirty” position of our minute hand during Calendar Routines today for math and we watched a fun, educational video! Feel free to review this video with your scholars as we continue to learn more about time and skip counting this year.

Finally, I will leave you with these words from Langston Hughes, which is how we began our morning and our 2016 – 2017 academic year:

“Bring me all of your dreams,
You dreamer,
Bring me all your
Heart melodies
That I may wrap them
In a blue cloud-cloth
Away from the too-rough fingers
Of the world. “



The Signmaker’s Assistant

When we get return from Spring Break, we will our next weekly ELA test will be on Friday, March 25th, and the comprehension section of the test will ask questions about “The Signmaker’s Assistant” by Tedd Arnold. Find the story on YouTube here:

Have a wonderful Spring Break! See you bright and early on Monday, March 21st!


The Basics of Step Up to Writing

In the year of my teaching residency, I co-taught in a first grade classroom, where I became familiar with teaching writing to young students using a program called “Step Up to Writing”, from where the “Stoplight Paragraph” method originates. With this method, students use colors as visual clues to help them construct a clear, well-written paragraph, with a topic and closing sentence, at least two “big ideas”, and supporting details. I have learned this this fun, colorful method can be used with all types of writing we learn in second grade: narrative (stories), expository (information), and persuasive (opinion).

  • GREEN: Go! Topic Sentence.
    • YELLOW: Slow down! Big idea.
      • RED: Stop! Give a supporting detail.
    • YELLOW: Slow down! Big idea.
      • RED: Stop! Give a supporting detail.
  • GREEN: Go back! Remind the reader of your main idea.

The video below may help parents to gain a better idea of what all of these words and colors mean!

Breaking Apart Numbers to Subtract

This week in math, we are learning how to break apart numbers to subtract. To assist my students in doing this, I’ve uploaded a “120 chart” on my website. Students may use this as a visual aide to assist them with doing breaking apart numbers to subtract and, eventually, my hope is that students will be able to visualize this chart in their head, so that they may solve problems that may seem complicated using only “mental math”.


Using the 120 chart to solve a problem like “50 – 37 = ?” my students are expected to know how to:

  1. Break apart 37 into 7 ones and 3 tens
  2. Find 50 on the hundred chart and point to it
  3. “Jump back” 3 tens and 7 ones
  4. Land on the number 13, which is the correct answer to the problem “50 – 37 = ?”

Please find the 120 chart here: or in the right column on my website, under “Take Home Binder”.

How Many Fives Around the Clock?

I came across this video earlier today, and I was pleasantly surprised when I heard the voice of Genevieve Goings of Choo Choo Soul, who I know from a freeze dance song I frequently use for my children’s dance classes. I was excited to find Genevieve’s educational video of counting around the clock by fives, which is something my second graders and I practice each day during our math “calendar routines” and spiral review. I will be sure to show them this video before calendar routines when we get back from the winter beak!

Tens Partners

At this time in our second grade classroom, we are focusing on the following addition strategies:

  1. Solving word problems by finding the given information, determining what the problem is asking us to find, and identifying key words or phrases
  2. Solving addition problems with up to 4 addends vertically

While there are number of strategies my students know how to use, I’m a big fan of the “spiral review”, which includes going back and reminding ourselves of some addition tips and tricks we may have picked up in first grade. I recently discovered fun educational hip hop videos created by Flocabulary, a Brooklyn-based company that creates educational hip hop songs and videos for students in grades K through 12. Below is a video that we watched on Monday to remind us of our “tens partners” which will help us add (and subtract… which we will be delving into when we return from the winter break in January) more quickly!

Fact or Opinion

This week in English Language Arts, my class is learning about facts vs. opinions. I found some fun online resources that allows students to participate in an activity while learning what facts and opinions are. The students really got a kick out of some of the opinion statements in the second video.

School Shopping MaxI came in this year as a mid-year teacher, so I did most of my “back to school shopping” at my regular, go-to places where I knew I would find the items I wanted: Lakeshore Learning, Target, and Dollar Tree (which is a new love of mine). I’ve been meaning to get some sheet protectors to use to display students’ writing for the past few weeks, so I went to my local Office Max tonight. While there, I stumbled upon the teacher section of the store (it was the same aisle where the sheet protectors were), and I realized that Office Max has a lot of great deals! The woman who assisted me also let me know to meet her back at the store in the next day or two because she would give me a couple of items for free since I’m a teacher! Of course now, I’ll be going back to Office Max for quickie classroom needs in the future. Where do you do most of your teacher shopping?


contractionsThis week in second grade, we will be practicing with contractions. Below are some videos that might help your child become more familiar with contractions. The first video features a first grade class performing a rap about contractions and the second video gives a lesson then provides the typed lyrics to the Kidz Bop version of the Bruno Mars song “Just the Way You Are” so that the number of contractions used can be counted by students.

See you tomorrow bright and early!