Ask Me About...
How was school today? Fine.
If that sounds a lot like your current afterschool conversations, explore how RCDS encourages in-depth conversations between students and parents. Each week, Lower School teachers email Ask Me About…. a series of specific, yet brief, questions parents and other family members can ask their children, about lessons, hands-on projects and other happenings during the week. RCDS families say Ask Me About… is a helpful conversation starter to talk to their children about school and an easy way to stay up to date with their child’s learning within their classroom.
Ask Me About by Lower School Grade
An overview of conversation starters along with an explanation of what RCDS students are learning from Beginners (Kindergarten) to Grade 4.
- Ask an RCDS Beginner...
- Ask an RCDS First Grader
- Ask an RCDS Second Grader
- Ask an RCDS Third Grader
- Ask an RCDS Fourth Grader
Ask an RCDS Beginner...
1. What are all the ways you can combine numbers to add up to 10?
Beginners (kindergartners) practice number combinations because it:
- Allows students to create a stronger number sense. We start with 1-10 frame and then build upon it once Beginners have mastered it.
- Provides context for what a number actually represents instead of just memorizing.
- Familiarizes students with basic mathematical vocabulary and symbols. What does “plus” or “+” mean? What does “minus” or “-'' mean?
2. How do you sound out and write three letter words?
Three letter words that have the pattern consonant-vowel-consonant such as cat, zip, rug, and pen, are CVC words. Identifying and writing CVC words is part of the Fundations Reading and Writing Curriculum for Lower School. These words can be read by tapping out beginning, middle and end sounds with your fingers and blending the sounds to make the one-syllable word. By systematically breaking down the word, students will orally identify, produce, and manipulate various phonemes within words and develop phonemic awareness rather than just memorizing words.
3. Who sat at our table for Family-Style Dining today?
Family-Style Dining is a signature tradition at RCDS that gives students an opportunity to socialize and eat lunch with different faculty members and students in other grades. Every six weeks the seating plan changes, so you’ll often hear about different students and teachers that your child is getting to know and forming connections with.
Ask an RCDS First Grader
1. What did you learn on the Dinosaur Dig?
Hands-on science activities and experiments help students connect scientific concepts to real-life. Recently, first graders have been studying vertebrate animals, including those that are extinct. In order to better engage students and help them make real-life connections, Lower School Science Teacher Ms. Grolemund led them on a Dino Dig to excavate fossil models of dinosaurs. They learned how scientists can discover a lot about the history of life from fossils, such as what types of animals live in a particular location or what type of food they ate. In second grade, students will continue to expand on this content and dig for real fossils during their earth science unit.
2. Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty?
Every Lower School class produces a class play each year. This time-honored practice fosters teamwork and collaboration, and bolsters self-confidence, self-expression and communication. The theme of Ms. Brennan’s first grade class play featured a host of characters from fairy tales and nursery rhymes. In preparation for the play, students read some of the Mother Goose classics and then Ms. Brennan introduced them to fairy tale twists and mysteries like “Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty?”, “Hansel and Pretzel”, “Cinderella Bigfoot” and “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs.”
3. What are you wearing to the World Fair?
First graders were tasked with researching a country of their choice and writing a nonfiction book about it. The World Fair is a culminating event that gives students the opportunity to present their final writing projects and have a bit of fun by sharing foods from the country they’ve studied and representing the traditional cultures through dress.
Ask an RCDS Second Grader
1. What was the best part of the Publishing Party?
While building upon writing skills, second graders are introduced to three different genres: opinion, narrative and informative writing. Exhibitions like a publishing party give students an opportunity to practice presentation skills, hear their peers’ pieces, drive conversation with classmates, grow as writers, and celebrate their work.
2. What kind of Native American Dwelling are you working on?
Second graders conclude their Social Studies unit on Native Americans with a culminating STEAM project. The project challenges them to build models of Native American dwellings that reflect the regions and natural resources unique to the environments inhabited by different tribes. Students are challenged to plan, build and test the dwelling design using research skills, problem-solving, resiliency, and creativity.
3. What is the Clock Game and how do you play Three Card Addition War?
Students love incorporating games into their learning. The clock game challenges two teams to race to fill in the minutes on a clock. The friendly competition is a fun way for students to learn how to tell time, practice their multiples of five, and work as a team. Three Card Addition War is another exciting way to keep students engaged in math. The object of the game is to collect the most cards. Each player reveals three cards. The player with the largest sum wins the cards. The game gives students the opportunity to practice addition strategies, regrouping ones into tens, different number combinations and comparing numbers using greater than or less than. As students’ math skills progress, they can introduce more than three cards or graduate to two card multiplication.
Ask an RCDS Third Grader
1. What is a schwa?
As students learn to read and write they are taught long and short vowel sounds and spelling patterns. Sometimes in the English language there are exceptions. A schwa is a vowel sound where a vowel does not make its long or short sound. It usually sounds like the short “u” sound. Example: the “a” in “balloon” makes the “uh” sound. Often students’ names in the class include a schwa which causes excitement. Example: “a” in Alexis
2. How do you measure the weight of a pumpkin in grams using a pan balance?
Incorporating tools like a pan balance in math class offers students a more visual and hands-on approach to determining weight and comparing numbers. Hands-on lessons are more engaging and allow students to make real life connections and, in turn, gain a better understanding of concepts.
3. What are 3 clues that can help me figure out the main idea of a text?
Some ways third graders practice reading comprehension are during silent D.E.A.R. time (drop everything and read), studying Scholastic News and using ReadWorks software. Students use post-its to take notes during their reading. Some tips to identify the main idea of a text include paying special attention to things like:
- The title
- Bolded words
- First and last sentences
Ask an RCDS Fourth Grader
1. What is the difference between prime and composite numbers?
RCDS uses a spiral curriculum called Everyday Math that spreads material out over time and revisits concepts repeatedly over months. Mrs. Ahmadi’s fourth graders were first introduced to prime and composite numbers by visually representing numbers with tiles and creating an array. By using a visual representation of the concept, students can better understand that there are only two ways to create an array for prime numbers and multiple ways to create an array for composite numbers. As students build upon their math skills and learn more about concepts like multiplication factors and square numbers, concepts like prime and composite numbers are reintroduced. Spiraling this content leads to better long-term mastery of facts, skills, and concepts.
2. What will you choose for your next Book Talk?
Rather than simply logging reading hours, fourth graders are tasked with writing and presenting Book Talks about every six weeks. Book Talks start as a simple assignment in the beginning of the school year and become more challenging and independent as the year progresses. The class works together to create a rubric that defines the expectations of the Book Talks. Students must create a story map, determine main character traits, share examples from the text to support main ideas, and provide a book rating. During the presentation students focus on public speaking skills – stand up straight, remember to make eye contact, be aware of your volume, expressions, gestures and tone of voice. The process encompasses more than just reading comprehension. They build confidence, give opportunities for peer discussions and inspire students to explore new genres of reading.
3. What is happening at the U.S. shipping ports? What are some reasons for the delays?
Studying current events helps students understand the importance of people, events, and world issues. Students read unbiased, age-appropriate news articles from outlets such as Scholastic News and CNN Student News, which stimulates them to explore and learn more about the world, gain a deeper understanding of current topics and expand their perspectives.