Archive for September, 2016

Writing Workshop: Small Moments

Written by ValerieW. Posted in 2nd Grade

In our daily Writing Workshop period, we are busily working on Small Moments. 

Image result for the leaving morning      

Small moments are the big and small stories of our lives, and, unlike fiction, these stories  have really happened to us.  We’ve all lived memorable moments which carry a powerful story within,  just waiting to be told.  Small moments  have big meaning for the person who has experienced them.

Now is the time for the Second Graders to ponder their own unforgettable moments, and work on clearly communicating their  stories, crafting them into well-structured texts which will delight readers.

We will be learning from master writers such as Jane Yolen, author of Owl Moon, and  Angela Johnson, author of The Leaving Morning.   The children are learning that these two writers didn’t just come up with an idea in a moment or two and then quickly write out a perfect story.  On the contrary, they carefully thought out their stories – – just what we are doing in writing workshop.

Writing takes time, and a lot of thought and consideration.  You can help your child by helping him or her express to you the memorable moments in his or her life.  Small moments are not a list of morning-to-night activities. Small moments are based on breath-taking views, a thrilling roller coaster ride, a gorgeous butterfly that landed on your hand, the first time you lost a tooth – – those special moments that make a person  happy to be alive.    Ask your child about those moments – – why were they so important? What did they feel like?  look like?  taste like? sound like?  What were you wearing and what were you thinking? Ask for details, details and more details, which master writers regale their readers, allowing readers to experience the moment just as the author has.

All writers need to (and all people should) contemplate the content of their own lives in order to bring greater meaning to it – – and we hope to do just that in our small moments unit!

The Second Grade Team

Eureka Math Module 1: Sums and Differences to 100

Written by ValerieW. Posted in 2nd Grade

Eureka Math Module 1:  Sums and Differences to 100

Our year begins with students beginning to master sums and differences to 20, and later applying these skills to one- and two-digit numbers up to 100.  The children will call upon their budding knowledge of place value,  and their understandings of the relationship between addition and subtraction to help them.

They will build upon skills they learned in first grade to do addition, such as counting on,  in addition to learning skills  which will help them make problems easier, by making ten and taking from ten.

Counting On:

Conversely, students can “count back” to subtract.

Making ten (or a multiple of ten) to add:   You see that 79 is very near 80.  Adding a number to a multiple of 10 is a lot easier!  So you can break up the 6, adding 79 + 1 to make 80, then adding 5 to make 85.

We encourage children to be flexible with numbers, which includes “breaking them up” or decomposing numbers into smaller parts, as represented in number bonds.

With subtraction, a strategy that at first requires quite a bit of flexibility on the part of the students, but which will come in incredibly handy always, is the “take out ten” strategy when subtracting a single digit number:

In both cases children see that they cannot just simply subtract like units (take ones from ones, and tens from tens).  We show them how to decompose the first number by taking out ten from the first number, and then subtracting the second number from the ten.  In future lessons, the children will subtract two-digit numbers, which we will explain soon.

If children can mentally decompose numbers, and then use basic addition and subtraction facts to solve the problem, they will have acquired an incredibly useful mental strategy which will save them lots of time and which, in the long run, will not require pencil and paper. How cool is that?

Something we DON’T teach the second graders is the traditional algorithm.

The traditional algorithm always requires the use of pencil and paper!  And it requires an excellent understanding of place value for it to make any sense.

We use manipulatives every day in our classes, such as base ten blocks, unifix cubes and ten frames.

Image result for base ten blocks   Image result for unifix cubes

base ten blocks                                   unifix cubes                              ten frame cards

We have children draw numbers in base ten notation (example follows) and encourage them to organize their numbers neatly to facilitate counting.

For example, when making a representation of the number 17, we have them draw the number in base ten notation as follows, drawing a line to represent a ten, and then 7 black circles which represent ones as they are shown in a ten frame configuration:

base ten notation

They needn’t draw in the actual lines of the ten frame, only the black circles.  These ten frame configurations are very easy for the children to identify without counting, and using them to organize their drawings helps children become more efficient.

In Eureka Math, the numbers are represented in a slightly different way:

Here is a way of representing 17, yet we find that as the children draw the circles in a line, they tend to smash them all together into a continuous line which they then need to count over again.  The ten frame configurations place the circles into more easily identified groups.

You may find Eureka Math’s Parent  Tip Sheet helpful:


The Second Grade Team

Paid Tutoring Options

Written by Paul Fulce. Posted in MS/HS Principal

We have expanded our tutoring support on campus!  This year, for ease of use and campus safety, our outside tutoring options are being run through the After School Activities program.  We have contracted two excellent tutoring services,  Bee Tutored and AE Teaching, who are available to tutor in many different disciplines and times, including during your student’s free periods (depending on approval and availability).  Please reach out to Bea Zimmerman with any questions or to sign up (

Because of this new offering, we will no longer be allowing outside tutors, who are not associated with these two programs, to work on campus at any time.  Of course, our teachers are still available for extra tutoring of students they do not teach.  A current list can be found here: BFIS Staff Tutors Also, please feel free to reach out to Learning Support or a teacher directly for help with these arrangements.

SPTC Save the Date!

Written by Paul Fulce. Posted in MS/HS Principal

Save the Date, SPTC- Don’t forget to mark your calendars for November 11 and 14.  That’s when BFIS will be holding our bi-annual Student Parent Teacher Conferences.  It’s a wonderful opportunity to sit with your child and their teachers and discuss your student’s progress and work at school.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Want FREE Tutoring?

Written by Paul Fulce. Posted in MS/HS Principal

 National Honor Society will be starting a peer-to-peer tutoring program where anyone in BFIS in need of tutoring can be paired up with any of our highly-qualified NHS tutors.

All individual tutors will have earned an A- or higher in the subject that they will be tutoring. NHS will pair your student up with a member of NHS with a similar schedule and arrange in-school tutoring sessions covering specific subjects you want help in. To sign up and apply to the NHS tutoring program, all you need to do is fill in  NHS Tutoring Program Sign-Up with all of the relevant details.