Tuesday, August 25, 2015

2015-16 A New Year!

Welcome to a new school year. We have had a pretty good start so far, and I am looking forward to the year ahead. I want to remind you that 2nd grade is a big transition year for our students. They go from being handed almost everything they want or need at the end of 1st to being totally independent at the beginning of 3rd grade. I am the lucky lady who is trying to build that tough bridge with you and your child. 

One way that you will see that occur is in homework. The kids still have "packet-like" homework that is due once a week, but they also have a menu of suggested activities that should be done each night. In 3rd grade many of the teachers assign their homework nightly and expect it turned in the next school day. Another difference is that I do not withhold recess from a child for incomplete homework. At this age, kids are welcome to complete homework at parents guidance. 3rd graders are expected to manage their homework daily and independently. 

Writing is a big change from 1st to 3rd as well. In 1st grade, the kids had the habit of numbering each sentence. We are working hard to change that habit and have the kids connect their writing into paragraph form instead. In 3rd grade, the teachers expect the kids to write 3 paragraphs right now. That is a huge transition!  

Many people are unaware how closely tied reading and writing really are. People who read fluently, tend to write fluently as well. So what does that mean to you? 
1. Listen to your child read out loud, are they pausing often to sound out words? Stopping at the end of a row instead of a period? Giving up easily? These children are usually afraid to write because they are used to making mistakes with spelling and do not feel like their thoughts are good enough for a story. 
2. Does your child read in short bursts of rhythm? These children are good at writing short phrases but usually leave important connections out of the writing piece that makes the phrase become a sentence.  
3. Kids who read at a normal speech pattern, tend to write complete thoughts and use punctuation well. 
4. Children who read super fast, tend to write quickly as well. Even though they have a good story idea, it may be difficult to read because of the following things: no punctuation; no spaces between words; incomplete thoughts; random shifts in topic. 

Our goal this year is to move the majority of the children into the 3rd group, and build their reading skills closer to a 3rd grade level. 

"What about math?" I can hear you asking. 

In 1st, the kids should have been able to add fluently 2 single digit numbers and apply strategies to add 2 2-digit numbers. They should also already understand that 10 ones= 1 ten, 10 tens= 100 and that 85 has 8 tens and 5 ones. This basic understanding would have been beneficial for the kids now as we are learning place value to 1000. If they had a concrete knowledge of 1st grade skills then 2nd grade would be pretty easy because they could just include 10 hundreds= 1000, and that 853 has 8 hundreds, 5 tens, and 3 ones. After this, we could begin adding 2 3-digit numbers together.

Unfortunately, many 2nd graders can not quickly add 2 single digit numbers without using their fingers and they are not fluent with their addition facts. We need to master our facts (90 in 5mins) and include subtraction as well. The 3rd  grade teachers are already asking that we begin multiplication ASAP, and we can't get through addition right now!  

I know this seems like a lot, but pease just trust and support me. We'll get your child through the school year, together.