Blizzard Bag Day Two – Dr. Seuss Version

Good morning!

Hope this blog post finds you all safe and working well on your blizzard bags!  I wanted to share a video with you that includes a read-aloud, a bunny eating her breakfast, a Dr. Seuss discussion and more!

See you soon,

Mr. Smith

The Amaryllis Moment

I received an amaryllis for Christmas from my father.  Since it was winter time I figured it would be a cool experience to have our students watch it grow.  After taking the bulb, soil, and plastic pot out of the little cardboard box I set it on my desk for all to see.

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Well, we didn’t see much for awhile.  But eventually, out of the dirt slowly grew a small, pale stem.  I watered the plant according to directions, kept it out of direct sunlight, turned it every so often, but still no flower.  Gradually the small green stalk started heading for the ceiling.  Some time after that a bud began to form.  Then one Monday morning, several weeks after it was planted, a bright red, pink, and white flower welcomed us to school in a glorious way.

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One of the most enjoyable aspects of teaching is the “amaryllis moment”.  Sure, it is an incredible thing to behold when students are bursting at the seams to answer questions to concepts they only learned days, or even minutes ago.  But what is much more amazing and satisfying to both teacher and student is that amaryllis moment – that moment in time when a student who has been struggling with a concept for days, weeks, and perhaps even months finally understands.  Finally “gets it”.  Finally has conquered the matter that has troubled their brain, their time, and even challenged their self-esteem.

When the amaryllis blossoms it is a sight to behold – like a firework exploding then freezing in time.  When children display grit failure after failure, watching the timid or even shocked smiles that spread across their faces and then freezes in that moment of understanding and satisfaction at the realization that they have just overcome that difficult concept – it is SO much more amazing than any flower blossoming or firework exploding.

And I’m just the soil in this analogy.  Or perhaps the water?  Or I suppose the gardener.  It is the amaryllis itself that truly has to do all the work.  It is the young student who has to block out all of the discouragements and distractions to finally break through the soil and prevail.

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The amaryllis moment requires time, patience, endurance, and a brave determination that says, “Yes, I will succeed no matter how long it takes me and no matter how discouraging my failures become.”

CONGRATULATIONS and CREDIT are due to all the kids out there who stick with “it” every day no matter the trial so they can grow – so they can learn, and know more, and be more.  And when the next challenge wields its ugly face, they will be prepared to rise even higher than before…

Mrs. Guerrette

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Our school is full of talented, hard-working individuals.  Our third grade class is no exception.  We have had the privilege of having three paraprofessionals working with our class this year, as well as with Mrs. Scarpa’s students.

One of these skilled educators is Mrs. Carrie Guerrette.  This year is her first year working as a teacher in our classrooms, but she is no stranger to our school and community.

Carrie recently graduated from NHTI with an associate degree in Early Childhood Education.  Prior to going to college she worked in the health field as a medical assistant, licensed nurse’s assistant and a phlebotomist.  She is also currently our school’s ChiPS (Children, Parents and Staff) organization president.

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Mrs. Guerrette is a wife, mother of two girls in first and fifth grade, and owner of a dog named Toby.  She enjoys coaching soccer, reading, traveling, spending time at the beach and she always enjoys time with family near and far.  The thing she is most passionate about is volunteering in her children’s school and in the community.

We are proud to have Carrie as a staff member now, and the third grade students and teachers are particularly grateful to have the opportunity to work with Carrie on a daily basis.  Thank you Carrie for all that you do in helping make our students’ learning experience great!

An Adoption from the SPCA

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A couple of weeks ago our class visited the Pope Memorial SPCA in Concord.  Yesterday a special adoption occurred involving one of our very own students and a beautiful rescue kitty!cat

Zoe, a wonderful eight and a half year old black and white cat was adopted from the SPCA by Jonah and his Mom, Jessica.  What a special event for both the O’Brians and Zoe!  Zoe was a “lonely heart” cat meaning she had been at the SPCA for more than 45 days.  The O’Brians were not only given a precious pet but were also provided with bedding, toys, food and litter from the SPCA.  What a GREAT organization.

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I am so thankful for Jonah and his Mom taking on the important responsibility of taking care of this great animal that needed a forever home.

If you want to help out the SPCA and their volunteers there are many ways:  donate items, volunteer your time, spread the word about their great facility, or adopt an animal that needs food, shelter, and love.

 

Making Learning Relevant: Fossils

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For the next few weeks our class will be learning about fossils – the different types of fossils, how fossils are made, and why fossils are important.

Fossils are old – often REALLY old.  Fossils are rare (especially in our Granite State of New Hampshire).  Fossils are remains of dead plants and animals, or evidence of dead plants and animals.  Who wants to learn about really old dead things?  Why learn about really old dead things?

We began our unit with a trash bag.  I rummaged through a trash bag and pulled out different items.  After examining these items, it only took a few educated guesses to discover the owner of this trash bag – our classroom’s valued paraprofessional, Mrs. Duffy.  Why go through someone’s trash?  Because someone’s trash can give us clues about what that person’s life is like.

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Why learn about fossils?  Because fossils can give us clues about what earth’s life was like MANY years ago – how cool is that?  Learning about fossils is not only like solving mysteries, but it easily connects to the process of scientific inquiry – something our youth definitely needs experience with.

When someone is studying any topic, if the topic is relevant to their life, they are bound to be more interested.  So how do we make studying fossils relevant, especially in our fossil-starved State of New Hampshire?

  1. By investigating current events
  2. By examining how it relates to our lives
  3. By acting out the process of a paleontologist

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Today our students read an article and watched a video about an adult wooly mammoth that was discovered by Michigan farmers…this past weekend!  This investigation of a current event alone inspired students to want to go and dig in their backyard.

For the last couple of years students at our school lobbied (unfortunately unsuccessfully) to have an official state fossil declared.  They researched what types of fossils were discovered in our own state, learning how fossils related to our local lives – it was an incredible learning experience.  This year I have contacted a UNH and Dartmouth professor regarding a fossil we have in our class – they are very intrigued and have already provided some feedback (see below).  We have a large, real life example in our classroom!

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In a couple of weeks our class will be taking a short walk behind our school to “dig for fossils.”  Although we will likely not find any authentic fossils, students will discover something – and participate in the process of how to excavate and study fossils.

Making learning relevant is one very effective way we here at Bradford strive to help make our students’ education engaging and worthwhile.  I certainly hope your child finds our fossil unit to be both an exciting and valuable experience.

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Classroom Fossil

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Donated by Anonymous Community Member

Professors’ Comments on our Classroom Fossil:

“The fossil seems somewhat vertebral, or even the end of a long bone.  My first guess was that is was from a whale, but really not certain.  I note that it seems imbedded in a hard rock matrix.  Therefore, geologically quite old, and probably not from around here.  Which then begs the question – something from quite distant in time.”

– Professor Gary Johnson, Dartmouth

“Definitely fossil bone which makes it a lot more interesting than most of what passes through my email box from state residents! I agree with Gary that my first guess would be whale or at least large mammal (bones look hollow). Size looks like it could be a dinosaur but bone texture looks more mammal.”

– Professor Will Clyde, UNH

The Voters Have Spoken!

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Our third grade classes started off the year learning about citizenship, and what it means to be a good citizen.  We also discussed our rights and responsibilities as American citizens.  We focused on one major right and responsibility, voting, and our students voted to participate in a community service project.

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One book we read, “Grace for President” by Kelly DiPucchio, talked about a class voting for a class president and how they used the electoral college as their format.  Each student in our classes was a representative of a state or multiple states, and voted between two admirable service projects: helping to collect or donate items to a local food pantry or the Concord – Merrimack County SPCA.  The SPCA won by a landslide!  I made sure to commend the students that voted to help out the food pantry, and for caring for those who need help to get the food they need.  Our school does help out a local food pantry, so they will be able to participate in that service project if they wish in the near future.

We look forward to seeing the energy and hard work we KNOW our students will put into getting the word out and collecting donations for this organization.

The Official Results (Blue: SPCA, Red: Food Pantry):

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Encourage: A Letter to my Students’ Families

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According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of the word encourage is “to make someone more determined, hopeful, or confident.”  This is my goal every year as a teacher – to help my students become more determined, hopeful AND confident.

Students in the third grade start becoming more aware of both their strengths and weaknesses.  Sometimes students will focus on how they do not measure up to their peers in certain areas, rather than being proud of their abilities and doing their best to overcome challenges.  I feel it is all of our jobs as adults to encourage our children to be pleased with who they are – all of their strengths, weaknesses, and everything that makes them a one-of-a-kind human being.

My goal is that every day each student in my classroom will:

  1. gain confidence in their abilities
  2. become more determined to do their best in every task they are presented with
  3. be hopeful that despite challenges, mistakes and the occasional failure, that consistent effort will indeed produce favorable results

Do we as adults always succeed with what we set out to accomplish?  Certainly not.  However, it is how we handle both successes and failures in front of our children and students that just may impact them more than how “good” or “bad” we are at our jobs, hobbies, and everyday responsibilities.

As your child’s teacher I will do my best to encourage your son or daughter throughout the year.  I am determined to do so, confident that I have the skills to do so, and I am hopeful for an INCREDIBLE school year.  Your child deserves it.

Sincerely,

Mr. Smith