Thursday, December 29, 2011

Oh What Fun!

The day before Winter Break we played school wide Bingo and decorated gingerbread houses! Okay, they were actually graham cracker houses but it was still lots of fun! Thanks again to everyone who sent in supplies and joined our festive party. Thanks also for my wonderful and generous gifts! I loved all of them!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Grinch!

My class agreed it would be fun to participate in a Reader's Theater based on the book, How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss. Using Testmoz, students let me know which roles they were interested in (and not interested in). I did a random drawing for students eager to play the role(s) of the Grinch, Cindy Lou Who, Quotations Who and the much coveted, Max the dog. At the last minute our original Grinch was out sick and the original Max had second thoughts and decided a speaking role was preferable. Luckily, the students were very flexible and we managed to find some willing understudies! We had a ton of fun presenting this Reader's Theater the last day before Winter Break.
Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Rosetta Stone

This Set of Headphones (With a Microphone) Cost $5 at Big Lots
We recently announced the exciting plan to pilot the Rosetta Stone program in classrooms in grades 1 through 6 in the self-contained gifted program at Sonoran Sky. Information was sent home last week but here are a few answers to some FAQs. 

The paperwork needs to be completed by January 3, 2012, but we are hoping to get everyone enrolled before Winter Break. Here is an additional copy of the registration form. Parents have the opportunity to explore this program for free through Monday using the log-in information emailed earlier this week. Students will need a set of headphones with a microphone. I will purchase a few spare pairs for the classroom, but obviously it is more sanitary for each student to have their own. Headphones with microphones range dramatically in price. I urge you to look at some of the less expensive headphone options and when you send them to the classroom, it would be helpful if they are labeled with the student's name.  We are planning to have the students access the Rosetta Stone program between 40 and 60 minutes per week during school hours and they will be free to use the program at home as well. 
Regarding Mandarin (which is the fastest growing language in the world), Rosetta Stone uses Pinyin for typing/writing exercises (as do students in China using a computer) and provides the option to view the written language in Pinyin, Traditional, and Simplified characters. Typing on a keyboard requires the Pinyin alphabet as there are far too many characters (40,000+) to use any form of keyboard. Rosetta Stone uses the following interface: typing in Pinyin, and reading in any of the 3 available character types.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions, concerns and if any of the cost of the program itself or the headphones will be a hardship. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Postcard Project

About a month or so ago we started doing some research on Arizona. The class came up with a list of interesting facts, created timelines and put together presentations using Google docs.
We wrote out 49 postcards and mailed one to a 2nd grade class in every single other state. Postcards to us have been trickling in from across the U.S. and we have enjoyed reading them. Below there is a brief movie about the United States postcard project.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Monetary Donations

Many of you have recently asked how you can help with resources and/or what the procedure is to make a tax-deductible donation since the 2011 tax year is coming to a close.  If you are looking to donate we would appreciate any monetary donations to the classroom or to the PVUSD Self-Contained Gifted Program. If you are making a donation specifically to the classroom, there is a Request for Acceptance of Donation and Gifts form in the front office.  You can also donate at the Gifted Ed Website and you may specify Sonoran Sky in your donation.   
Thank you all so much for your constant generosity and support! It's a little bit startling to realize we are nearly halfway through the school year!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

It's December!

Wow, it's already December! We have only 12 more days of school before Winter Break. My focus these next two weeks will to be to keep the class in as much of their usual routine as possible. There are many special events coming up so it will be a challenge!

In Language Arts we have been preparing for the WordMasters ChallengeThe WordMasters Challenge is a fun and mind-stretching classroom competition for Language Arts students in grades 3 - 12. My class is involved because we work at least two grade levels beyond. Over 4,200 school teams, from 50 states, participated last year. Unlike other language-arts contests, which emphasize grammar and punctuation, this competition addresses higher-level word-comprehension and logical abilities and helps students learn to think both analytically and metaphorically. 

Tomorrow we will review what we have learned about analogies and will continue exercises and strategies. The test will be given in the classroom during the school day and all students will be participating. 

In math, the students are very much differentiated but we are continuing to learn about units of measure and geometry as a whole group and are also on the road to wrapping up the timed math challenges.

As part of Social Studies we will be talking about customs and traditions of ChristmasHanukkah and Kwanzaa but if your family celebrates a different holiday I would be glad to incorporate it into the unit. Please let me know! Also, you are welcome and invited to bring in an activity that shares a special holiday or tradition that your family celebrates. Learning about other families and cultures is important in our classroom.  The kids are always very excited about the holiday season and would be thrilled to have a visitor come in and share some knowledge. 

Please let me know if you have any questions, concerns or if you are interesting in doing a holiday project with the class. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Twitter Chat

We had a blast today participating in our first class Twitter Chat! We tweeted with other elementary classes all around the United States and Canada playing "Name That Toy."
We learned some of the Twitter lingo and that we need to keep each tweet to 140 characters (or less). Students enjoyed the challenge of figuring out what toys other classrooms were tweeting clues for.