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Field trip and other notes  
Activity Date: 2/7/2018

Hi Families of room 18!


Another day off from school! There is not much snow, but at least at my house in northern Hamden, the freezing rain is coating everything with ice. Our field trip scheduled for today have been postponed to Wednesday, February 21st. We realize that some parents who signed up to chaperon our trip may not be able to come on the new date. If you cannot join us, please let me know and I can refund your chaperon fee. If that happens, we might have room for other chaperons who could not make the 7th but would be available on the 21st. Let me know if you are interested in joining us and I will see how much space we have.


Even without our field trip this week, we have started exploring the concepts of force and motion. We have learned that force is made up of pushes and pulls, and lots of little forces can make a bigger force. We also saw how a bigger force can be stronger than a smaller one. Our next step is to look at using pushes and pulls to cause motion, and also at how other forces can slow or stop that motion. For the next few weeks we will be overlapping this science project with the students' choice projects, giving students time to gather more facts and create a few more activities to share what they have learned. 


With today's day off, the 100th Day of School will now be this coming Monday the 12th. The rest of our plans for the day stay the same. Several children have already brought in their bag of 100 cents in various combinations of coins. Now that money is due by Monday. I have also received emails form several families giving permission for their child to eat our Valentine's Day snack next Wednesday. Thank you! With so many food allergies, it is important that we get permission from each family every time we offer food.


REMINDER to third grade families: recorders should be brought into school every Monday! Several children did not have their recorders this week, which makes it very difficult for them to participate in practice in the recorder lesson.


In our extended morning meeting/social skills group, we are focusing on cooperation, as well as reviewing our SOARing expectations. Students worked in small groups to create skits demonstrating appropriate behavior in different parts of the school. We have also enjoyed greetings and games that require us to respond to what someone else has offered us, or need full cooperation and turn-taking of the entire group for us to be successful. We are practicing working together for a common goal!


Stay warm and safe, and let's hope for an end to winter weather for a little while!

Michelle Brand


January news  
Activity Date: 1/21/2018

Hi Families of room 18!


Two exciting events this week: the first recorder lesson for third graders on Monday, and our school Spellathon on Friday! Third graders received their recorders on Friday. I encouraged them to write their names in Sharpie on the cases, since the name stickers seemed to be coming off easily. Third graders will attend an special recorder class (like an extra special) on Mondays, so they should get in the habit of bringing their recorder to school every Monday. Some kids store it in their backpack when they are not playing it at home, so they won't forget to bring it in.


For the Spellathon, we will keep practicing our words this week in school and take the test on Friday. Kids can focus on the first 10 words or do all 20. Let's hope for lots of pledges to help build our new inclusive playground. Next week, after the Spellathon, we will switch around some of our spelling groups to better address students' changing needs.


In reading, we are focusing on characters. Students have looked for patterns of behavior and come up with wider statements about the characters, going beyond just naming a trait. We will use those patterns to predict future character behavior, and then look at each main character's journey through a story, as they meet and react to problems. Our writing work continues to focus on information writing. Students have set writing goals for themselves and have explored different nonfiction text structures. Now we will practice using different kinds of facts such as definitions, examples, tips, and steps. 


Project groups are working on activities like Powerpoints, dioramas, and posters. They are discovering all kinds of facts to share through their activities. Do you know the difference between a national monument, a national park, and a national memorial? Do you know how many reptile species there are in Arizona? Or what the most popular video game formats are? Those are the kinds of information students have been learning over the last two weeks.


The whole school will soon undertake a "reboot" of our SOARing expectations, as we review appropriate behavior in different areas of the school. Just about midway through the school year, this is a good time to remind ourselves of the rules and expectations to help us all work and learn smoothly together. 

Michelle Brand

Mid December thoughts  
Activity Date: 12/10/2017

Hi families of room 18!


Now we have had our first snowfall of the year, and it politely came on the weekend so it did not mess up our school schedule. We may not be so lucky the rest of the month (or even the rest of the week), but it was nice to enjoy watching the snow without worrying about whether it meant a snow day or not.


Speaking of snow, kids in room 18 can play in the snow at recess if they bring in full snow gear: snow pants, coat, snow boots, mittens/gloves, AND they have different shoes (and maybe different socks) to wear inside. The snow play can only happen if the blacktop is plowed clear so kids without snow gear can get outside, so it doesn't always work for us. But if you don't mind sending snow gear in, I am happy to get the kids out in the snow if I can!


Our project groups are deep into the creation of their country Powerpoints, taking turns typing and designing their slides. They will keep working on their presentations this week. In writing, most students have been filmed sharing their opinion speeches about things to change or appreciate here at Ridge Road. As we finish up the filming,  we will also shift to spending some time writing another opinion piece on a special place to visit, with reasons why. Most book clubs are finished or close to finishing. Students are practicing writing summaries of important events, using details from the text to support their answers. They are also using an answer format to help insure that they fully explain their answers.


This is an exciting week with an a cappella concert in school on Tuesday, Around the World morning on Wednesday, a chance to watch the 4/5 ID students practice their American Revolution presentation on Thursday, and a time to make holiday cards for veterans on Friday. We are getting into the holiday swing!

Michelle Brand

December Happenings  
Activity Date: 12/1/2017

Hi Families of room 18!


Here we are in December already! Room 18 students finished presenting their project work to each other today. There was a wide variety of activities from posters to dioramas, to a Venn diagram, to Powerpoints, to mobiles, to true and false books, to a Pez dispenser with candy facts! The students shared quite a bit about each topic, and they learned a lot from each other. Today we also met for the first time with the countries groups with room 16 and 17. We are trying to find books for every country, but more research materials from home (facts from online, library books, etc.) would be helpful. Students will research for several more days then start planning and putting together a Powerpoint presentation. We are also looking forward to having family members come in to share holiday traditions from other countries. Please let me know if you would like to teach us about a holiday tradition (read a book, show objects, do a craft...) so we can schedule you in.

Around the World Day, with all the second and third grade classes, will be Wednesday, December 13th. We could use parent volunteers for the morning. Please let me know if you are interested and available. Classrooms become different countries and students travel with their "passports" to learn about holidays and traditions in those places.


The school book fair is this coming Wednesday after school. The class will have a chance to preview books on Wednesday. If you can't come to the after school hours, students may also buy items on Thursday and Friday mornings.


In other academic news, we are working on writing opinion speeches to tell how we could make Ridge Road a better place, or what we think is working well and should be appreciated. Students will be taped reading their speeches, which we will then submit to Mr. Stirk. We may also do some opinion writing about our project countries, telling why that country would be a good place to visit. In reading, we are practicing writing summaries and having book club discussions, commenting and building on each other's observations. Second graders are all working with addition with regrouping in math and will shortly move to subtraction. Third graders have been working with multiplication and some will be moving to division. All third graders should be practicing their multiplication facts. 


We are excited to welcome a new student next week. The class spent some time today making a list of things that are fun or interesting at Ridge Road, from the big playground to Field Day, to help our new friend feel good about coming here.


Attached is the December volunteer schedule. Please let me know if you need to make changes. Thanks in advance for your help!

Michelle Brand

Late November  
Activity Date: 11/19/2017

Dear Families of Room 18,


It was great to meet with so many of you this past week for our parent-teacher conferences (still two more to go). Please let me know if you have any questions about anything else in the report card, or anything we discussed when we met. 

This is a short week, with only three days of school and an early closing on Wednesday. We also have our monthly SOAR school assembly this Monday. Maybe we will have some more SOAR raffle winners, like Leilani and Blake last month. And we will definitely have another Super SOARER to join last month's honoree, Mac.

We will be finishing up all project activities this week and then preparing for presentations to the rest of the class for the following week. Some students may need to complete an activity at home to finish in time. Please check with your child to make sure he or she has (or will have) completed at least four activities.

As we are moving closer to winter, please make sure your child is dressed for the weather. We will be going out for recess as much as possible, so kids need jackets, and possibly mittens/gloves, and hats. Sometimes room 18 is quite cold in the morning but warmer in the afternoon, so layers of inside clothing are also a good idea.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Michelle Brand


Moving into November  
Activity Date: 10/29/2017

Hi families of room 18!


What a wet end to the month of October! Hopefully Halloween night will be a little drier. (Although I was reminded that some years we have had significant snow by the end of October, so maybe we should be thankful for only rain...)

It was wonderful to see so many of you at our Haunted Happenings this past Wednesday. The children all did a terrific job reading their stories with expression, and then they had great fun trick or treating around the cafeteria. Thank you to all the families who gave out goodies and helped make this evening a success.

We have finished up our work with narrative writing for right now and are shifting into opinion writing this week. We are also moving into a new reading unit, as we explore how to read nonfiction and learn the most out of our reading. The class has also just started practicing an answer format to make sure we are completely answering open-ended questions. Students will practice Restating the question, Answering the question, Citing evidence from the text, and Explaining that evidence (what does that mean and how does it support my answer?).  This structure will help us avoid incomplete answers like "Yes, because it said so in the story." This will be a year-long process to help students prove their answers using details from the text.

Several of our project groups have started creating activities to share what they have learned about their new topics. Others are still gathering facts or organizing those facts into logical smaller subtopics. Some activities in the works so far are a diorama about the sewers of Paris, a timeline of the Civil War, a poster of chocolate facts, and another poster with information about cotton candy. 

If you have not received it already, watch for information shortly about how to sign up for parent-teacher conferences online. Attached please find the volunteer schedule for the month of November. This is a short month with numerous days off and early closings, which are also listed on the calendar.

Michelle Brand


Middle of october in room 18  
Activity Date: 10/15/2017

Hello Families of room 18!


It was wonderful to see many of you at our 2/3ID community presentation recently. The kids did a great job sharing information they had learned about important members of our school community, or important town services in North Haven. Their model town of businesses was beautiful, too! Thank you for supporting the children's learning by working with them on the businesses, and coming to the presentation, if you were able. We often learn best when we are teaching to others, so the presentation was a good opportunity for the kids to solidify what they had learned by sharing it with others.


We have now moved from learning about people and social connections in a community, and are looking at natural features and landforms. Students have worked in small groups to research a landform and are almost finished creating dioramas of their landform. Next we will look at how those landforms can change, both quickly and slowly. Students are gaining experience in how they can learn about a topic, starting with driving questions and leading through research and organization of information to creation of an activity to share what they have learned.


Students have been writing multiple small moments stories, or personal narratives. This week they will focus on a scary or spooky moment and try to use all the good narrative writing techniques they have been practicing, such as telling the story bit by bit and including details about what they see, hear, and feel. Students will share a portion of these small moment stories at our Haunted Happenings authors' share and Trunk or Treat event on the 25th.


A clarification: the notice that came home last week asking about family participation in the trunk or treat was asking about families that wished to have a car on the back blacktop and pass out Halloween goodies. Students and siblings can do the trunk or treat event even if their family does not pass out goodies. We are just trying to get a head count on how many cars will be there. There were some amazing decorations last year. I can't wait to see what families put together this year!


The weather continues very changeable, and the classroom can be quite cool in the morning and then get quite warm in the afternoons. Sending children with layers, like a sweatshirt or light jacket, is a good idea.


It's October already!  
Activity Date: 10/1/2017

Hi families of room 18!


It was great fun to watch so many room 18 kids going through the Tryathlon obstacle course this afternoon. What a beautiful day for this PTA event. It is hard to believe that we are already into October. It certainly has not felt much fall until the last day or two. Let's hope that we are finished with a too-hot classroom until spring.


Two important events this week: Wednesday is Picture Day. Kids can bring in their picture order envelope early if they wish, to avoid possibly forgetting it on Wednesday. Also, Friday is the deadline for ordering a new class tee shirt. This year our shirt will be blue, with all the kids' names listed on the back. The cost is $6. If you need another order form, please let me know.


I am attaching an October volunteer schedule. Because of the short notice and some changes in our schedule, I am not asking anyone to come in this week. After that, please let me know if you are not available for your scheduled slot, or if you can do a different time. Thank you to all who are able and willing to help out in the classroom!


We are wrapping up our study of our school and town communities, with one more guest speaker this week. We are hoping to have children present the results of their work on Thursday, but the time is not set yet. I will let you know once we firm things up. Next we will be expanding our view to look at the entire earth as we study land forms and changes to the earth's surface. In about two weeks we will be moving on to student choice projects.


Our writing work is now focusing on personal narratives, or "small moment" stories. We will be exploring skills like adding more detail and balancing action, dialogue, and description. In reading, we are exploring how partners can help each other become better readers by asking questions about what we are reading. Students are practicing ways to decode harder words and stop and regroup when the reading does not make sense. Math work continues to focus on place value skills, including expanded notation, and rounding, comparing and ordering numbers (different skills depending on the grade). All students are also practicing basic addition and subtraction facts to increase accuracy and speed.


Enjoy your evening, and may this beautiful weather continue!

Michelle Brand

September Notes  
Activity Date: 9/10/2017

Hi Families of Room 18!


I hope you are enjoying the beautiful weather this weekend. It really feels like fall! In school we are settling into more and more of our normal routine. Our new spelling groups have met a few times and students are working on becoming some of the best spellers in America. All students are looking at place value skills and concepts in math. Math homework will start this week. Keep looking for the weekly homework list on Mondays.


In project, students have completed almost all of the interviews of important people in our Ridge Road community. They are now creating large posters with a portrait of their person and the information they gathered through the interviews. Soon we will widen our lens to look at our North Haven community. Students should have come home on Thursday with the name of the business they are to learn more about, and build a model of. Most students got their first or second choice. This is a family project, so we encourage parents and siblings to help out with the model and the information gathering. Thank you to all the parents who offered to chaperon our first field trip to the Connecticut Historical Society Museum. I will send home a list this week with the names of the first three parents to respond, who will be joining us on this trip.


Most students are doing a good job of working with their book bags, remembering to read each night, log their reading, and bring the bag back to school each day. We are really trying to emphasize the importance of reading every day. Thanks for your help in encouraging reading and keeping the books and bags going back and forth.


I look forward to seeing you on Monday night at 6pm for our Open House.


Michelle Brand

First week of school  
Activity Date: 8/31/2017

Dear Families of Room 18,

          The school year is off to a great start! We have been reviewing our SOAR expectations in different parts of the school, so we remember how to take care of Self, Others, and All of the environment at Ridge Road School. We have also been talking and thinking about how to be a helpful member of our classroom community, supporting classmates in whatever they need to learn.

Our first class project of the year will combine our year-long social studies theme of Making a Difference with a science unit on mapping and changes to the earth’s surface. First, we will be looking at what makes a community, and who are some of the important people who help a community run. We will start with our school community and look at our town and wider community connections as well.

One way we can make a difference in our national community is by reaching out to the people affected by Hurricane Harvey. Next week the 2/3ID classes will start running a penny drive to raise money to be donated to the American Red Cross for hurricane relief. A note explaining the drive will be sent home on Tuesday.

Closer to home, we will be looking at town services and businesses. Each child will choose a town business to learn about. Kids should be thinking about a business they know or like in North Haven. It could be anything like their favorite restaurant or store, or their dentist office, or the place where mom or dad works. (No town services, please, as we will all research those together.) Next week I will send home directions for what kinds of information kids can gather, and what to do with that information. I will also send home a permission slip and information about our first field trip of the year, connected with this project.

And I haven’t even mentioned anything about our reading, writing, and math work yet! There will be a lot to share at Open House on the 11th, so I look forward to seeing you there!

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