Archive for January, 2011

Cotuit Art Center Written by: Julie

Our most recent field trip was to the Cotuit Art Center. We had a blast! First, we got a tour of the Art Center. We talked about most of the paintings and sculptures. Then we went to the workshop. We had to run because it was raining. We made an art chain. We each made different cut-outs from construction paper and we chained them together. It was awesome! Then, we ran back to the Art Center and they gave us a scavenger hunt to do! It had all sorts of questions on it. It was very fun! We didn’t get to all the questions, but it was still fun. We went back to sit down and they asked us what we had answered. It was so much fun!

Posted on January 31st, 2011 by hsawyer  |  1 Comment »

Stages of Spelling

This week I would like to share with you some general information about the different stages/developmental levels of Spelling. It will give you an overview of where your child has been and where he/she is headed, in terms of spelling. Keep in mind that these are guidelines and that each child will move through the stages at a pace that is just right for him or her! Each student is working on “word work” each week that will help him/her solidify an understanding of the rules and patterns in his/her current stage of development.

Stage 1: Emergent Spelling: Children are able to string scribbles, letters, and letter-like forms together, but they do not associate the marks they make with any specific letter sounds. This stage is typical of students 3- to-5 years old. The students learn:

  • The differences between drawing and writing
  • How to make letters
  • The direction of writing on a page
  • Some letter-sound matches

Stage 2: Letter Name-Alphabetic Spelling: Children learn to represent sounds in words with letters. At first, their spellings are shortened and inventive, but they learn to use consonant blends and digraphs and short-vowel patterns to spell many short-vowel words. Spellers are 5- to-7 years old. The students learn:

  • The alphabetic principle (the idea that letters and letter patterns represent the sounds of spoken language)
  • Consonant sounds & short vowel sounds
  • Consonant blends and digraphs

Stage 3: Within-Word Pattern Spelling: Students learn long-vowel patterns and r-controlled vowels. They may still confuse spelling patterns and spell words such as “meet” as “mete.” They often reverse the order of letters, such as “form” to “from.” These spellers are 7-to-9 years old. They learn:

  • Long-vowel spelling patterns
  • r-controlled vowels
  • More-complex consonant patterns
  • Diphthongs (ex: “ou” & “ow”) and other less common vowel patterns

Stage 4: Syllables & Affixes Spelling: Students apply what they have learned about one-syllable words to spell longer words, and they learn to break words into syllables. They also learn to add inflectional endings – such as, -ed and -ing, and to differentiate between homophones, such as the words “your” & “you’re.” These spellers are often 9- to-11 years old. They learn:

  • Inflectional endings
  • Rules for adding inflectional endings
  • Syllabication
  • Homophones

Stage 5: Derivational Relations Spelling: Students are able to explore the relationship between spelling and meaning. They learn that words with related meanings are often related in spelling despite changes in sound

(ex: “wise & wisdom”). They also learn root words and prefixes and suffixes – such as “pre-, -able, and –tion.” These spellers are 11- to 14 years-old.

Posted on January 31st, 2011 by hsawyer  |  No Comments »

Haiku with “Guyku”!

Today after a snowy and fun-filled recess, we jumped right into Writer’s Workshop: Poetry. Today’s mission…create a haiku poem. Haiku is a form of poetry with three lines. The first line has 5 syllables. The second line has seven syllables. The final line has 5 syllables. To inspire the children, I shared with them the wonderfully creative book, Guyku, written by Bob Raczka and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. They were captivated!! Each member of Room 202 raced to get his/her writing notebook and to secure a great spot. Within minutes, as they settled under desks and counters, propped against walls and curled up on the rug, all that could be heard was the scratch of pencils as free hands (and some feet) tapped out the number of syllables. Some impressive haiku was created. Keep an eye on our “Writing Nook” page! I will be posting some of the poems soon!
Also, check out the new “Guyku” link under our blogroll for some inspiration or to join the “Guyku Club!”

Posted on January 26th, 2011 by hsawyer  |  No Comments »

The Resolutions of Room 202

To view our resolutions for 2011, go to the WallWisher link under our BlogRoll (on the right hand side of our page).

Posted on January 17th, 2011 by hsawyer  |  3 Comments »

Spelling & Word Work

Last week we dedicated time during each day to learn the new routines and activities that the children will use as “Word Work” to practice their spelling & phonics skills. These activities will be completed independently, with a buddy or in a small group.

“Word Sorts” Phonics-Based Technique

“Word sorts” are a phonics-based activity where students sort words according to their sounds and/or spelling patterns to discover sound and symbol relationships for themselves

1. Closed sorts: The teacher explains the categories (ex: short “a” as in cat and long “a” as in bake) and model the sorting process before the students sort.

2. Discovery Log Entry: After completing a sort, students reflect on what they have learned about the words and their patterns by writing their discoveries in their word study notebooks.

3. Blind sorts: This sort involves a teacher or classmate calling out a word, and student pointing to the category to which it belongs. Blind sorts help students become less focused on visual patterns (they way the word looks) and focus on the sounds of words as well.

4. Writing sorts: A combination of both closed and blind sorts, this sort involves the teacher or a buddy calling out a word, followed by the student writing the word in the proper category.

5. Speed sorts: These sorts are the same as ordinary word sorting, except that the student is timed while he/she tries to complete the task accurately and quickly. The child then completes the sort again and tries to beat his/her own best time. Speed sorts should be used only after the children have an understanding of the spelling patterns and have had guided practice using those patterns.

6. Word hunts: Students hunt through their reading and writing for words that are further examples of the patterns they are studying.

These activities will help strengthen each student’s understanding of spelling patterns and will improve their spelling overall!

Posted on January 10th, 2011 by hsawyer  |  No Comments »

Math Fact Fluency

We have a new program at Mullen-Hall designed to help with math fact fluency. This week in the computer lab, the children designed their own avatars and started with some review of the basic addition facts. To practice from home – visit

Log in – using your username, password and site code (if you don’t know these, send me an email and I’ll give it to you!)

Choose Ms. Sawyer if you have a choice.

In the oval at the top of the page, there is always your next suggested activity.  Please do that activity every time.  The computer will record your results, and will figure out the next thing you need to do to strengthen your skills!

When answering your math questions, use the number keypad if you have one (on the right hand side of the keyboard).  Your first three right fingers go on the 4, 5 and 6, and your thumb goes on the zero.  Once you get used to typing the numbers using this method, you won’t have to look when you answer a question….

Happy Practicing!!

Posted on January 6th, 2011 by hsawyer  |  No Comments »

What’s New with Spelling?

Happy New Year! I hope that vacation has given all of you the chance to relax and enjoy your families! I have enjoyed time with my friends & family, spent some time puttering around the house and have spent lots of time reading! Typically though, as the vacation week winds down, my “school brain” kicks in and planning for how learning can be maximized during the next stretch of the school year begins. This time, my thoughts and planning were centered on “word work” and improving student spelling.

Beginning this week, in addition to the spelling skill that is introduced in our Reading Street curriculum, the children will work with spelling patterns that will move them from their current developmental spelling level to the next higher level. Students will work with words that can be categorized by sound, spelling pattern, meaning and/or by concepts. Each week an area of focus will be chosen for your child based on spelling assessments that were administered earlier this school year.

The routines for this small group, partner and individual word work will be introduced this week to the children with spelling patterns that will help him/her feel successful. They will be introduced to closed sorts, buddy sorts, word hunts, blind sorts, and “discovery entries.” Sorts allow students to be actively engaged with words. Students discover how words go together and learn to make generalizations that explain why those words go together. Numerous opportunities to sort the words during the week will help each child internalize his/her understanding of the chosen pattern. Each child will document his/her work in word study notebooks that will allow us to monitor his/her progress.

Stay tuned for next week’s newsletter for more information on the developmental spelling levels and our word work activities!

Posted on January 3rd, 2011 by hsawyer  |  3 Comments »