Friday, April 22, 2016

What Else is New?

I know it has been a while since I have posted on my blog.  Many parents have shared with me that they would rather see things on our Facebook page than read my blog.  I understand. Life seems to be  all about quick and easy information.  But if this information helps one parent know more about his/her child's education, than it is important to share in my mind.

So here is a quick rundown of some of that activities that have been going on in 3B:

Writing:  We have been discussing and learning about different ways authors can write nonfiction pieces.  Whether it is in question/answer format, chapters, alphabet book, or told from viewpoint of an animal or object, writers need to think about how they would like to share their writing.  After reading many different model texts, students are now working on a nonfiction piece of their own in which they will select the format in which to share their learning.  Currently, students are researching a topic of their choice.  I am please to see that the students are gaining an understanding (not perfect, but the basic idea) about referencing their research and how to write notes.  There has been so much progress since the beginning of the year in writing.  It is kind of amazing to me!

Literacy:  I love the excitement that continues to grow from book clubs!  It is not uncommon to hear a group that has recently finished a book ask when they can start a new one!  I absolutely love the conversations and deep thinking that happen during their discussions.  I am a little sad, to be honest, about some students continually forgetting to read or record their thoughts for book clubs.  It has become a little bit of a problem lately, even though it is only a few students.  Let's keep reading these awesome books and building our reading skills and strategies.
     Some of the skills and strategies we have been working on or recently focused on were analogies, recognizing mood of a story, genre types, and visualizations.  Besides book clubs, we continue to slide in guided reading with other literature pieces that are shorter so students can focus on a specific skill or strategy.
     Students will be creating video blog post for their most recent book club. These are called "vlogs".   Stay tuned for information on when these will be posted to their blogs.

Social Studies:  Oh my how the students love social studies!!!  They can't get enough.  We are currently learning about the early civilizations of the Powhatan and Cahokia, as well as moving towards the settlement of Jamestown and the Boston Tea Party.    With all this nonfiction reading, we also focus on various reading strategies such as using context clues to determine word meaning and determining important information.

Math:  Everyone should have brought home his/her most recent math assessment on fractions. If you, parents, have not seen it, you need to ask your 3B child where it is.   This was a tough unit.  It was important for students to demonstrate an understanding of reading and writing fractions.  Most of the students can do this with great success.  We will continue to work on writing improper fractions into mix numbers and vice versa as this can be difficult.  I have also spoke to the students about effort in story problems.  Many students need to remind themselves to ask themselves what is the question asking.  It is not about finishing the problem quickly, but recognizing what the problem is asking and determining the best way to solve it.  
     We are now moving into multiplying large numbers!  We will also get back into our routine for multiplication facts as all the assessments we have had last week and this week have really tampered with our schedules.

As you can see, we are very busy.  The students and I joke that we need more time in the day as the day just flies by.  It is hard for me to believe the year is wrapping to an end in a month.  I really don't want to give up my 3B family......such great kids!!!

End of the Year Assessments....So Many Assessments

One round of assessments for the end of the year is over.  The students put great effort into their MAPs assessments, and I was pleased with the progress the students made over the year.  There were a few students who I feel did not put much effort into their various MAPs tests, and it showed in their score as they were done quickly.  But I am going to focus on the positive and those who worked so hard.   I am proud of each and everyone!  Students were working towards scoops of ice cream for each tests that they improved their score on.  If a student raised his/her score in all three tests (reading, math, and language), they earned 3 scoops of ice cream and toppings.  If a student only raised his/her score in two of the areas but went down in one, they only earned 2 scoops.  I think you get the idea. We will be enjoying our ice cream this week sometime!  Yummy!  These scores will be sent home with the student's report card at the end of the year.

We have also received everyone's Iowa Assessments results.  These take a lot of time to analyze and look through.  The central office is busy compressing the data and getting information ready for parents.   Just to give you a head's up, I was very pleased with the results of the Iowa Assessments.  It is the first time 3rd graders take this set of tests, so there is always some "nerves" involved and this one assessment may not present a true picture of a student's strengths. Overall, I was very pleased.  These results will also be sent home with students' report cards at the end of the year.   Please remember that this is one score for each student.  It does not represent the whole student and what he/she is capable of.  Don't put too much stress on these results, as with any standardized assessment. Students need to be proud of their score and parents can help build that perception. 

Tuesday and Wednesday, April 26th and 27th, will be days in which we do our FAST assessments.  These are tests done for the Iowa Department of Education in two areas of reading; comprehension and fluency.  Students have taken this assessment twice this year already and are familiar with them.  As the other assessments, these results will be sent home at the end of the year. 

Great job 3B!  You have been troopers and worked so hard!  I am proud of you!!!

Yes, We are Learning Spanish

We are very fortunate to have new students speaking Spanish joining our Howard Winneshiek family and enrolling at Crestwood.    We all know learning a foreign language is a great thing to do, but now our students have more reason to learn one.  Communicating with students who are not strong in speaking English in their language is important.  Thus, I decided we would try to do some Spanish lessons with my 3B kids.  Well, I have not had Spanish since high school (which was a VERY long time ago) so I decided to seek out some help.  Thanks Brooke's mom, Libby, who teaches Spanish at the high school, for helping us out.

On Tuesdays and Thursday,  Anna and Katie will be in our classroom teaching the students sounds, words, and sentences in Spanish.  They started last Thursday and it went very well!! The students were beyond excited and tried really hard.  We have a ways to go but it is a great starting point.  These two girls are working with Mrs. Schwade planning lessons and creating activities for the students to participate in.

I will be posting some of the new words, sounds, or songs they teach us either on this blog page or our class Facebook page for parents to see what they are learning.  I encourage everyone to practice at home as well.


Arbor Day Field Trip....Coming Up!

Hard to believe but May is almost here and the next few weeks are full of activities.  It is important to check your child’s folder every night as various papers will be sent home with new or updated information.
This Thursday we have a small field trip out to Vernon for Arbor Day.  Students will rotate through various stations about trees, plants, wildlife, soil, and water.  They will also each be given a small tree to take home and plant. 
With this field trip, we have four parent chaperones going along.  Due to the large class sizes we thought this would be helpful. 

Students will ALL be eating sack lunches from the school!  This is not an option so students do not need to bring along a lunch. They also do not need to bring any digital devices as we are only going out to Vernon.  Students may bring along a hat and sunglasses if they want. 

That being said, I must also tell you I will not be going along with the students on this field trip.  I will be attending training for my new position for next year as an K-12 Instructional Coach.  I love this field trip and am sad to be missing, but this training is something I cannot miss.  I have all faith in my sub, Mrs. Olafson, and that things will go well as she has subbed in my room various times and knows the students.  She knows what is going on and about the field trip. 

So briefly, Thursday is a field trip to Vernon.  Students will leave Crestwood Elementary around 9:30-9:40 and return about 2:00.  Parent chaperones should meet us at the Nature Center by 9:45 and bring their own lunch as well. 

Next Thursday, May 5th, is our big field trip to Lark Toys and the Eagle Center.  More information about that field trip will be coming home soon.

Let the craziness begin.  Stay tuned for more information and keep checking our class Facebook page for updates.

Monday, January 25, 2016

KidWind STEM Day!

If there is something that students love the most in 3B, many would say Genius Hour or STEM days! These times in our week are very hands on, and the students are very engaged.  We all love it!!!

To end our social studies discussion on natural resources, we had a KidWind STEM challenge day.  Students tried to create the blades of a wind turbine that would produce the most volts of energy.  I had the base and volt meter set up in which partners would test their blades using.  Each partnership was then given a hub in which they attached their blades.  

Many decisions went into developing the best blades:
     Materials used
     Pitch - which many learned about as the day went along

It was a wonderful day of students making a plan, analyzing and testing it, making changes, and retesting.  While some students created wind turbines that moved, others did not and had to consider what they could do differently to make their wind turbines spin.  It was so awesome to see all the thinking and processing going on.  Powerful thinking and learning!

I kept all the information from the students and we will have another KidWind day in the future in which they will change something (variable) to test if their new wind turbines work better or worse then their original set.  

Here are just a few pictures from the day:

What Else is Happening?

I apologize for not posting a blog post in a while.  I have found that I reach more people by posting pictures, information, and events on our class Facebook Page.  Therefore, that is where most of the daily information about our class is posted.  I realize not all people have Facebook so try to update my blog page as frequent as possible.

Here is a quick snapshot of some of the happenings in math and science during the past month:

We recently finished a quick math unit on writing and reading numbers up through the millions place.  Students practice reading large numbers and strategically making the largest number they could by playing a card game called 'Number Top It"

We just moved into a math unit on geometry.  Students will learn/review lines, line segments, rays, polygons, and lines of symmetry.  To record all of our new learning, students created a flip book to use and show their new learning.

To kick off our new science unit of Force and Motion, students manipulated simple toys and realized how we use a push and/or pull to play with these toys.  This was introduction to a fun unit ahead.  We then worked through a question posed from Mystery Science.  The question was as follows:

Students were guided through a video lesson trying to determine how to beat an elephant at tug of war.  They loved it!!  I am excited to use more components of Mystery Science to supplement our science standards.  Tomorrow we will work through the idea of push and pull by creating "hoppers" as guided by the Mystery Science activity.  

As you can see, we are always busy learning and having fun!

Book Clubs...Time for Everyone to Get Started

Book Clubs...something that becomes a favorite of many students in 3B.  Well, we have two groups already rolling in book club discussions and now it is time for everyone to get started.  Yahoo!!!

Book clubs focus on building and understanding of reading by tracking thoughts and strategies and then sharing these thoughts in relaxed discussions focusing to build a deeper understanding of what was read.  Groups select their book of choice from various titles and will be making lots of decisions throughout the process: how much to read, when to meet next, etc.  Most of the reading is done at home although this week we will be practicing sharing our thoughts and starting our book clubs in the classroom.

A great way to record thoughts while reading silently is to track your thinking using post-it notes.  Many students find this helpful in remembering what they have read and it gives them more confidence to share their thoughts.  The tracks that the students have been practicing using are as follows:

Students will be involved in book clubs throughout 6th grade, maybe higher.  Stay tuned for pictures showing students engaged in deep discussions while enjoying their book club with classmates!

Mid-Year Assessment Time! You Can Do It!

It is that time again.....formal assessment time.  While I am not a fan of taking time out of class to give these assessments, I am excited to see how much the students have grown academically.  So far, I am very pleased with what I am seeing!

Last week I gave the students the CBMR test, which is a fluency test done for FAST assessment from the Department of Education.  Due to illnesses, students being gone, and the site being down,  I have two or three yet to finish.  Students read three different passages as fast as they could and their words per minute were averaged minus errors.  I was extremely pleased how well everyone did and how much they have grown!!

Wednesday of this week, the 27th, students will take the AReading test.  This is the comprehension and reading skills assessment part of the FAST testing.  Again, this is for the Department of Education.  This test is not timed and done on the laptops.  Students are encouraged to try their very bests so that we can see how much they have grown since the beginning of school.  The scores on this assessment help us determine which students need extra instruction through interventions.

Thursday, January 28th, we will be taking the MAPs math assessment.  This test, if you remember, is done on the iPads and is not timed.

The last formal assessment we need to give is the MAPs reading test.  Students in 3rd grade will take that next Tuesday.

Parents, please make sure your child gets enough rest and eats a great breakfast on these testing days.  Do not stress over them as they are one picture of a child's education, but they are important.  Just tell your child to do his/her best as that is all we ever ask.

Pajama Party! We Reached our Goal for Cadet Pride!

You can't get much more comfortable than wearing your pajamas to school and bringing along a favorite blanket or stuffed animal to enjoy as well.  That's why I heard so many times throughout the day last Friday that "This is the best day Mrs. Kerian" and "Can we do this again soon?"  We got to enjoy a pajama day and movie in 3B on Friday to celebrate a goal we accomplished.

Students have been working hard to get 25 compliments from teachers outside the classroom.  This can be while walking in the hall, lining up at recess, lunch room behaviors, etc. but it can not be from me, Mrs. Kerian.  It also must be a whole class compliment and not to one or two people.  The only thing students had to do to get these compliments was to show good Cadet Pride.  Well two weeks ago the students received the 25th compliment while walking quietly in the hall!  So....they voted how to celebrate, and the winning vote was a pajama party!!!  So fun!!!

Great job 3B!  Let's see if we can accomplish our new goal!  You can do it!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Hour of Code! We Love Coding!

Last week 3B students participated in "The Hour of Code".  Information about the Hour of Code can be found at  This was a movement set up to get all students across the world to participate in at least one hour of coding.  3B was part of this great activity and we loved it!
It is believed that all students will have to have some understanding of coding to be an effective working member of society in the future.  Learning to code at our level involved some great apps and online sites.  Many great coding activities are also found on the "Hour of Code" website at  Students did not want to stop once they figured out how to code.  It was really a great week-long activity that we will continue throughout the year.
Along with this, students also did some coding in TECH class.  They loved coding the cars and bugs to move and drive!
I am excited to say students in 3B can code!  Can you?