Newsletter: January 2023

January 2023 Newsletter Clip (Donnelly's Daily Apple)

Recapping January 2023:

The first month of the new year has come and gone so quickly! In January 2023, we learned about Russia and built a mini-model of St. Basil’s Cathedral, explored the history of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, categorized animal types, studied contractions, and much more! Here are the highlights – or you can DOWNLOAD + PRINT THE FULL VERSION HERE: [January 2023 Newsletter].

Monthly Highlights:

  • RUSSIA: We had so much fun this month ‘traveling’ to Russia and learning the language, culture, and significant places. Shout-out to Polina for helping us learn new words, and Kate (Polina’s mom) for making us Russian ‘pancakes’!
  • MLK DAY: We learned and really engaged with MLK Jr. Day and the history. We also had some excellent conversations about segregation, non-violence, and how our world has changed from his time to today!
  • MONEY MATH: We’ve been practicing our coin recognition, counting, and number sense with money! In February, we’re going to do more ‘mock shops’ to practice & build our skills.

What We’re Up To In Language Arts:

  • WRITING PRACTICE: We start each day with a writing lesson, either practicing with new blends, contractions, or noun/verb pairs. Our focus in January was deepening our craft and learning to spell sight words on our own! Our afternoon class was challenged to come up with adjectives and sentences for pictures as well as build fluency (through timed practice!).
  • CONTRACTION: Another big focus in January was contractions and not only learning what they are and why they’re used, but the parts that go into each contraction. We did a lot of contraction matching, modeled writing, and independent writing to help recognize and use contractions in our daily work!
  • SENTENCE STRUCTURE: Building off of our learning from prior months, we continued to practice and label complete vs. incomplete sentences. This is an ongoing (and rather tricky!) skill because sentence parts can feel ambiguous. Our focus areas are recognizing good punctuation and capitalization, and remembering to look for a subject and verb to make each sentence complete.

What We’re Up To In Math:

  • Math Fluency: This practice looks like building our ‘speed’ for different problems through stations (in a large group, small group, or individually).
  • Solving Equalities/Inequalities: We practice this skill by balancing two sides of an equal sign and recognizing when problems are equal, not equal, or greater/less.
  • Expanded Form: We studied this concept a lot in January! Expanded form breaks down numbers by focusing on their place value and adding their ‘parts’ together. (Ex: 30 + 5 = 35 or 300 + 50 + 5 = 355).
  • Base 10: We also practiced using ‘base 10’ blocks (physical blocks and drawings) to help with number recognition and visuals!
  • Money: Recognizing coins and their value, adding, and beginning to “count” are all areas we focused on this month, too!

What We’re Up To In Science:

January was all about animals, classification, and creating collages & models to help visually represent what we’re learning!

  • CLASSIFICATION: A big focus of this month was animal categories and separating animals into groups by their characteristics. We talked about mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects, and birds and what were components of each group. We also talked about vertebrates vs. invertebrates and how to identify animals by all of these important traits.
  • MODELS & COLLAGES: Built into our STEM units was time for hands-on creation. We made some habitats, collages to depict different animals and where we’d find them, and focused on the important distinctions between different categories.

What We’re Up To In Social Studies:

This month we ‘traveled’ to Russia and got to have a real experience with our fluent Russian-speaker, Polina!

We watched short clips on Russian dances and history, played with nesting dolls, studied the different places and attractions in Russia, tried sweet ‘pancakes’ (similar to crepes!) and our afternoon group even built a mini-model of the St. Basil’s Cathedral.

We also did a one-day deep dive into MLK Jr. Day, which was fun because some students didn’t know what the holiday was about or why it was celebrated! We had some great discussions about changes in our world and what segregation means.

We also talked about ways we can be more accepting to others and in general, how our world has changed so much since MLK Jr’s Days (and why that’s a good thing!).

Other January 2023 Updates:

Coming back from Winter Break can always be challenging, but our group was ready to get back into the routine and jumped right in with good attitudes! As always, here are our “High, Low, Buffalo” moments — ‘High’ is a happy moment, ‘Low’ is a bad moment, and ‘Buffalo’ is a random moment — from January 2023:

  • HIGH: The Return! Although the break was fun (and much-needed!) the general consensus was happiness about returning to school, learning, and our regular routine. Everyone was in high spirits, and despite some rainy days and missing out on playground/fairy garden time, there was inside play, puzzles, and ‘telephone’ games to be had!
  • LOW: Missing Our Friend This month one of our friends traveled to Japan. We missed Kanoa and the fun balance of having another boy in our group We’re excited for his safe return to school and his ‘work’ in the fairy garden!
  • BUFFALO: Edward’s Crazy Ending! Our afternoon group finished listening to the story, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, which was absolutely a crowd favorite! Everyone was surprised by the ending (in a good way).

Spotlight Student:

Each month we celebrate a student (or students) who are doing exceptional academic work and/or been outstanding in terms of behavior, attitude, or empathy towards others.

This month’s Spotlight Student is Addy! Addy has not only gone out of her way to do extra homework (she completed 25 pieces in December!) but she is always volunteering and focused on what we’re doing in the classroom.

She is also a good friend to her classmates and can often be found encouraging others, reminding friends of the rules, or nudging those off-task to help them back on task. Addy, we’re excited for your academic growth and leadership in the classroom. Thank you for being you!

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You can also download the full January 2023 Newsletter [RIGHT HERE].