Orange Cluster Monthly News

October News




THANK YOU: Thank you to all of you who have made time to volunteer in the classroom and/or donated supplies! It helps our class so much. 

PARENT CONFERENCES: Almost everyone has chosen a time for parent-teacher-student conferences. If you haven’t yet, please do so as soon as possible by visiting the schedule at:

HOMEWORK: Please help your child remember to turn in completed homework on Thursdays. We’re putting a little reminder note in the front cover of their homework folder to help them remember too. It is your child’s responsibility to make sure the cover sheet of the packet is filled out & initialed by you. This includes reading 20 minutes a night & logging onto ST Math for 10 minutes a night.

FALL FAMILY FESTIVAL:  This fun day is coming up on Sat., Oct. 26th! Gift card donations for our basket and gently used toys/ prizes are needed by October 18th.


Classroom Update:


In Reader’s Workshop, each child has been assigned an "animal basket" for books based on Columbia Teacher’s College reading assessment system. This is their “just right” book. They will choose books from this basket for reading independently at Reader's Workshop. They will also choose a free choice book to read when they have finished their animal basket book and for other times of the day. Our lessons have focused on word attack strategies to decode new or challenging words: chunking, finding a smaller word inside a word, word structure (prefix, root, or suffix) and context clues. This month we’re shifting the focus to these comprehension strategies: activating prior knowledge, making connections, visualizing, monitoring for meaning and summarizing.

In Writer’s Workshop, the children are working on their personal narrative about a tradition. After learning different ways to collect story ideas, each student picked a tradition to tell from their own lives. As we work on this story, the class is learning about the writing process. They are planning their story (pre-write) using a sequencing map. Once their pre-write is complete with a strong lead and a powerful ending, each student will write a rough draft. This draft is the first writing of their story. The goal of the rough draft is to get their story down on paper. Next, we will jump into revising – rereading our rough drafts to make our stories better. The revising step is about the content of our stories – does it make sense and are we creating strong images in the reader’s mind?

The children got their first individualized spelling packets the second week of September. At the beginning of the year, they were giving a spelling test, which covers a variety of spelling rules and phonics. Based on this assessment, students are given an individualized packet, which helps them learn these “rules.”  Once the packet is completed, they will come home at the end of the week for you to see.

The class has also been working on parts of speech. We reviewed nouns, verbs, and adjectives first by playing Mad Libs. Next, we learned about adverbs. Finally, we created sorting maps with these different parts of speech to write interesting sentences.

Finally, you have also seen some word flash cards come home. These are words the class just needs to learn. The don’t necessarily follow any particular “rules.” The flash cards should be kept at home in a place your child can review them frequently. Once we have talked about these words and the flash cards come home, it is their responsibility to write the words correctly in all pieces of writing.


In math, we have been exploring numbers through two project-based activities. With Mrs. Granick, the class has been exploring addition on an open number line through Measuring with an Art Show. There are various “pieces of art” the class is measuring using linking cubes and measuring tape (paper linking cubes). With these measurements, the students are developing mental math strategies to count large numbers efficiently. Many of them are counting by tens or making tens to count and add two-digit numbers. They are learning these approaches from one another and pushing themselves to move away from counting by ones. One example of this would be to 35 + 35. A student may add 30 + 30 = 60 and then add 5 + 5 to get 10. They would then combine the two to get the total of 70.

The other project is Organizing and Collecting: The Number System with Ms. Maye. The class has been counting and taking inventory of our classroom supplies. We’ve charted the results and noticed many patterns. Then we realized we could only order new supplies by packs of 10. We had to amend the class chart to figure out how many we needed to order to get to the next pack of ten and figure out the new totals. This new chart unveiled even more patterns. For example, we’ve been having great discussions on why 30 tens is a very different number than 3 tens. With the pattern searching, the class is becoming more adept at identifying how many tens are in 2 and 3 digit numbers.

The students have been given an individualized math packet. They were assessed at the beginning of the year on different math skills. (We called it arithmetic back in the day!) They work on the packet in class on Mondays. As we talked about at Back to School night, this is one very small component of our math program.

We have also started giving the students math fact tests. A great deal of them passed addition facts the very first time! They will move onto the next fact if they accurately know 50 facts in about four minutes. If they pass, then you will see flash cards come home for the next skill. Learning the math facts with automaticity will help your child with their number manipulation both mentally and on paper.


The class has been separated into groups of 4 to study different culture groups: Native Americans – the Tongva, African Americans, Irish Americans, Jewish Americans, Korean Americans, Mexican Americans and Chinese Americans. These are heterogeneous groups studying a specific culture and becoming “experts” of their history. They first read a shortened/ simplified history of their culture group. Then, as a team, they completed a fill-in the blank puzzle about the history that would check for their understanding of what they read. Now, they are working on writing questions about what they learned to create an educational game. This project will be on display in our museum at the end of the year. This is a challenging project and they are working really hard to develop a strong understanding of the culture group they are studying.


The class (and school) has wrapped up our first unit of courage in our Roots of Respect curriculum. Courage is a nice way to start the year. We read a variety of books where the characters showed courage and how they overcame their fears. We talked about the students’ fears and what strategies they would use to overcome them. While this unit is technically over, courage will come up throughout the year as the class works to push themselves to grow! Next up…leadership.


Upcoming Dates:

Friday, Oct. 18th                      Gift cards & gently used toys or prizes due

Tues., Oct. 22nd & 29th          Magnet Tours

Thurs., Oct. 24th                     Museum of Tolerance field trip

Sat., Oct. 26th                         Fall Family Festival 11:00am – 4:00pm

Expiration Date: 
Jul 31