From the Northeast Elementary School Challenge Teacher, Miss Barr...
Dear Parents and Guardians,
I am writing to you today to let you know that I will not be returning as the Challenge teacher at the Fitzgerald and Northeast Elementary Schools next year. I have transferred to a 4th grade teaching position at the Stanley Elementary School in Waltham. Although I have enjoyed my role as Challenge teacher, I have missed being a classroom teacher very much. This decision was a very difficult one, but one that I know is right for me.
It has been a pleasure working with your children over the past several years. It has also been wonderful getting to meet many of you and to work with you to help your child get the most out of his or her school year. For the parents of new Challenge students, I'm sorry I won't get to work with you and your children.
Please know that I will meet with administrators at both schools to ensure a smooth transition.
I wish each of you a wonderful and restful summer!
Challenge Teacher- Fitzgerald and Northeast
President- Massachusetts Association for Gifted Education
781-314-3093 ext. 7454
Challenge Program at Northeast
During May I worked in Mrs. Trinque's room and Mrs. Dean's room.
In Mrs. Trinque's room I worked on various center activities that provided students with an opportunity to explore math patterns and math symbols.
In Mrs. Dean's room I worked with Guided Reading groups. One of our favorite books was Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See? After we read the book we created our own page for the story.
Third graders have been busy working on fractions. We played fraction games to practice comparing fractions, we found the value of a fraction of a number, and tried to find a rule for changing an improper fraction to a mixed number. We also did experiments to learn about volume.
I was also lucky enough to get to join the third grade on their field trip to the Paine Estate.
My fourth graders were busy preparing for MCAS. Some of my fourth graders worked on strengthening their fraction sense by increasing or decreasing recipes. We found that we really needed to pay attention to the questions being asked. Other fourth graders worked on long division and applied these skills in solving word problems.
In literacy we explored our creative side. We began by learning about the four major parts of creative thinking: fluency, flexibility, elaboration, and originality. Then, we brainstormed all of the things we could think of that came to mind when we hear the word "blue." We finished by writing our own poems about the color blue!
In fifth grade we continued to develop our fraction number sense. We explored the idea of common denominators and thought about why we might pick the lowest common denominator.
Challenge Program at Northeast
I continued working in Mrs. Hall's kindergarten class. April is Poetry month and to celebrate I worked with a small group on poetry skills. During literacy time, I met with groups of students to work on our reading skills.
I continued working in Mrs. Whiting's first grade class. We focused on number sense and explaining our thinking.
In third grade we practiced our division skills by playing a game called "I have… who has?" This game strengthens mental math skills because students have to solve multi-step computation problems in their heads. Mrs. Gianfelice's class also wrote division word problems which were turned into a PowerPoint show. We also explored tangram shapes and tried to make different animals and figures.
Mrs. Wiggins' class explored square numbers and square roots. We had to make sure that we didn't rush because it was easy to mix up the two concepts. One of our favorite questions was, "What two digit number is a square number and a cube number?" We also explored tangram shapes and tried to make different animals and figures.
In Writer's Workshop we worked on scripts, tools for generating ideas, and publishing. It is so exciting to watch such an excited group of writers create their stories!
Some of my fourth graders have begun exploring fractions. A main focus of our discussion has been, "Are all halves equal?" Other fourth grade groups worked on division problem solving, what to do with remainders, and the relationship between decimals and measurement. My other fourth grade groups explored decimals and the relationship between measurement and decimals.
My fourth graders have also been focusing on developing well thought out open responses to math questions.
In fifth grade we have continued to explore geometry with lessons on flips and slides. We tried to use our number sense to determine if shapes had been flipped or not.
Challenge Program at Northeast
March was a busy month! I spent the beginning of the month working with second grade as part of our new screening process. I spent the rest of the month back in classrooms.
I started working in Mrs. Hall's class this month during literacy time. One of my favorite parts of class is having the kindergarten students read stories to me.
I started working in Mrs. Whiting's class this month. We worked on problem solving skills in math.
During March my third graders worked on problem solving and "showing your thinking." We focused on answering open response questions. Our main strategy is called "ICE."
I- Illustrate (draw a picture to help visualize the problem)
C- Compute (show your math computations)
E- Explain (use words to explain your thought process)
In addition, we explored the connection between arrays and multiplication.
One of my third grade groups was so excited after last month's investigation of perimeter that we decided to figure out the area of my classroom. We discussed various strategies for breaking this task into smaller, more manageable pieces and were very excited about our results. We also came up with ideas about why we would need to find the area of a classroom!
In fourth grade we explored the concepts of 3-D shapes, nets, and volume. We realized that we needed to be extremely precise in our use of math vocabulary. There is a big difference between area and volume! Some of my fourth graders explored Euler's Theorem and the relationship between vertices, edges, and faces of 3-D shapes. We also practiced multiplication of larger numbers by completing "Multiplication Boxes." In addition, we practiced strategies for solving larger division problems including the traditional method and the forgiving method.
In Writer's Workshop we worked on improving our personal narratives by adding figurative language such as similes and metaphors.
In fifth grade we explored some challenging problems involving area and perimeter. We learned that you can take a complex problem and break it into small pieces that are easier to figure out. When you put the small pieces together again you can solve the complex problems. We also learned that it is very important to make sure that you answer the question that is asked, and not the one you think they asked.
February always seems to fly by! I hope everyone had an enjoyable winter vacation. Hopefully spring is right around the corner! Starting after vacation I had to take a break from my regular class schedule to screen 2nd grade students for the Challenge Program using the TONI non-verbal assessment. This is a part of our new screening process and I enjoyed working with my 2nd grade friends.
One of my last times in Mrs. McMahon's first grade class involved exploring area. I enjoyed listening to the thoughts and ideas the students had about how to find area.
In second grade we continue to work on place value concepts and subtraction with multi-digit numbers. I'm continually impressed with the variety of strategies students have for solving these problems.
I had the opportunity to celebrate the 100th day of school with Mrs. Gianfelice's class. Our favorite question was, "Can you write a sentence with 100 letters in it?" My third graders in Mrs. Wiggins' class explored the concepts of area and perimeter. They were so interested in these concepts that we decided to find the perimeter of my classroom. We had to create a plan and work together to gather the measurements.
Fourth graders focused on estimation skills, problems with larger multiplication, and problem solving. Some of the fourth graders read Masaichiro and Mitsumasa Anno's math story titled Anno's Mysterious Multiplying Jar. We enjoyed exploring the idea of factorial multiplication… who knew numbers could get so big. If you're looking for a great way to combine literacy and math I highly recommend you check out other books by these authors. I also had the opportunity to explore static electricity with Mrs. Hache's class.
Our focus during February was on geometry. I enjoyed listening to the students share their ideas as they built their polygon zoos. We are realizing that it is extremely important to use exact words in geometry. We also explored the idea of volume and challenged ourselves to figure out if numbers were cubes or not.
I had the opportunity to work in Ms. McMahon's class during math this month. We worked on the race car lab, counting strategies, and graphing. We also learned about "inventive" thinking with a story about our friend Isabel the Inventor. We had to think of new and inventive ways to use a whisk!
I had the opportunity to work in Ms. Hanson's second grade class during math this month. We worked on estimation strategies, finding volume, and problem solving. We also learned about "detective" thinking with a story about our friend Dudley the Detective. We had to solve mystery riddles and puzzles using our strong detective skills.
It was a busy time in third grade this month. I was able to teach each third grade class about "analytical" thinking using attribute blocks. We had to think about the characteristics of our shapes and how we could make 1, 2, or 3 changes to our shapes to solve a maze.
In addition, my math classes focused on estimation, rounding, mathhopper extensions, and the relationship between multiplication and division. I was lucky enough to get to work with Mrs. Wiggins' class on their presentation for All School Gathering on the root "sens." When we weren't thinking about how to share the words sentimental and absent-minded with the school we were busy working on our stories in Writer's Workshop.
Two of my classes explored the idea of "analytical" thinking with a story about our friend Sybil the Scientist. Sybil discovered some new creatures and it was our job to group them into 4 groups according to a rule.
My fourth grade math lessons focused on estimation and working with big numbers. Some of my fourth graders practiced their number sense by solving Zupelz puzzles. I had the opportunity to participate in an inquiry based science lesson with Mrs. Hache's class which focused on insulators and conductors. In addition, we worked hard on our stories in Writer's Workshop and practiced editing and revising.
Our math work focused on problem solving and explorations of geometry. We also worked a lot on developing our understanding of fractions.