Mid-Year Newsletter

Mid-Year Newsletter
Posted on 01/30/2017
This is the image for the news article titled Mid-Year Newsletter


                                   Mid-Year Newsletter

On behalf of Matthew Thornton School we hope that everyone had a great December break and a Happy New Year!  It is hard to believe that we are halfway through the school year already.  In this issue I will tell you about a new program which began on January 13th and we have mid-year updates from each grade-level and from some of the Specialists.


On January 13th the Guidance Counselors and Building Administrators planned a BKE (Be Kind to Everyone) Day for the 5th grade. Fifteen staff members in the building facilitated small group activities which mixed up the students into varied groups for each of the four sessions. Many of the LHS Pay it Forward students joined in the small group activities as well in order to be positive role models for the students. In the afternoon the Plymouth State Tiger Team presented an assembly for all 5th grade students which dealt with the importance of including everyone, kindness and positive interactions between peers. The day ended with one more session; the make up of this group of students would become the Advisor/Advisee group which will meet periodically. There will be a variety of topics covered in these sessions with the purpose of building a sense of community for our students before they leave for the Middle School. The students completed evaluations of the day which we will consider in our planning for next year.

FIRST GRADE: The first grade students are working very hard as they try to keep warm in this New Year!  In reading, they are learning the long vowel sounds and reviewing the short vowel sounds. In math, they are working on math problems and they are continuing to work on mastering their addition and subtraction math facts to 10.  You can see lots of snowmen and snowflakes as you walk through the first grade rooms. During computer lab time the first graders are just beginning to use the iReady assessment and instructional components in reading and math.  The children are learning about Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington. They are all looking forward to the one hundredth day of school!

SECOND GRADE: We have been very busy in second grade!  Comprehension is our main focus in reading.  When we ask and answer questions we are learning how to find evidence in the text that supports our thinking. This is a really important skill to have when reading fiction and non-fiction.  In addition to comprehension, we are still working on phonics and spelling patterns as well as fluency.  Persuasive writing is another thing we are working on.  Stating opinions and providing details and evidence to support our thoughts are what we are practicing in writing.  We have become quite persuasive throughout the past few weeks!  Math has been fun and challenging.  Counting money and learning how to regroup when we add and subtract have been our focus.  Regrouping includes “carrying” and “borrowing” tens, ones, hundreds, etc. We learned using base ten models and have moved on to working out the problems with paper and pencil.  We will continue practicing, but extra work on math facts at home would be beneficial. In the coming weeks we will be learning about many influential people as we explore biographies. It’s been a great school year so far and we’re looking forward to the rest!

THIRD GRADE: Students in third grade culminated a unit on Medieval Times before the holiday break.  They researched medieval castles and medieval life.  Throughout December 3rd graders studied Holidays around the World and Native Americans. The study of Native Americans included, for some classes, the creation of flip books, for others they studied petroglyphs. Other classes did Tribe Presentations as groups of students researched different Native American tribes. In Reading students worked on Cause and Effect and Action and Linking Verbs.

FOURTH GRADE:  Matthew Thornton fourth graders are having a busy and productive start to the New Year.  Our bulletin boards have been decorated with all sorts of creative writing, art projects, and New Year goals and resolutions.  Immediate recall of all math facts is still a number one priority in all math settings, and children are also working on understanding the relationship between multiplication and division applications.  Our computation goals bring us to the instruction and practice of multiplying two digit numbers by two digit numbers and long division. Fractions have been introduced and instruction is moving along. Reading goals this month have been centered on Main Idea, Summarizing, and Identifying Text Structure. Chapter books and reading resources that are being used during reading instruction include George Washington’s Socks and Kids Discover Hurricanes. The learners will be starting their research projects in Social Studies where children will use the World Book online encyclopedia to gather information about a state. Science topics that are being studied are renewable and nonrenewable resources, electricity and power resources. They are also learning the advantages and disadvantages of different power sources and coming up with new ideas on how to save energy. A representative from Eversource visited with each class to discuss power usage and ways to save energy at home and at school. Lastly, i-Ready diagnostics are being administered in both Reading and Math. We are eagerly awaiting the outcome to see the growth our learners have made over the first half of the year.

FIFTH GRADE: December in fifth grade was filled with creative holiday writing, reading biographies, and research. In Science learners studied life science. They learned about different types of ecosystems and the transfer of energy throughout ecosystems. They also learned about animals, plants, and their roles in ecosystems (producers, consumers, decomposers). Visualization and mind mapping are being employed as student’s finish studying exploration and delve into life during colonial times with their social studies teachers.  Students are also putting the finishing touches on their morning newscasts. They will be taping at the Londonderry Access Center and students from Londonderry High School will work with the Matthew Thornton students as they film their broadcast.

SPECIAL CURRICULUM: The main focus of the Special Curriculum program is to provide enriching and engaging learning experiences for all children. Winter is always an exciting time for math enrichment. ‘The Meebles’, fictitious people family from Louisiana, are visiting our third graders to teach them all about fractions this month. Students will explore sets and regions and compare fractions while playing games and working with manipulatives.  Second graders are learning about adding, estimating and comparing money amounts. They ordered from a pretend menu and figured out the bills. First grade is always fun! This month they are learning all about the calendar and half birthdays. Fourth and fifth graders are exploring new math websites. Algebra woman is teaching the fifth graders about exponents, the order of operations and using variables. Fourth graders are working on three step word problems and learning to compare, add and subtract fractions.  

The best part about February is The Hundredth Day of School! Because of cold days, snow days, etc. we never know when the 100th day will hit, but it is usually in early February. This is always a fun day as everyone at MTS will be involved in one activity or another.

January is a busy Month for KEY learners!

Fifth grade KEY learners are vigorously preparing for their Greek Mythology presentations in early April.  In class the learners are reading myths, performing plays, practicing the Socratic Method and examining the many influences of ancient Greece. Last week the learners took a field trip to Londonderry High School to use their resource center. They were able to access challenging, comprehensive reference materials. Learners will use this information in their bio-riddle which they will share in April.

Fourth grade KEY learners have chosen an eminent person to research and are delving into their investigation. They have accessed resources from school and town libraries. Some of the students have written to their person as part of their extensive research. They are using their knowledge to become an 'expert' on their chosen person. We are focusing on obstacles these great people have encountered and how they persevered. (P.O.P.) Learners are working on a Venn diagram which compares and contrasts their eminent person to themselves. Please ask your child what they have discovered. The goal is to connect their gifts to the person they have chosen. We have a very interesting list of people to portray and look forward to seeing you at our presentations in April.

MUSIC: The music department is back in full swing after the break.  The band has re-started group instrument lessons, and will soon receive their new spring concert music.  The orchestra has also re-started their lessons, and are currently preparing for the District String Concert, which will be held in the high school gymnasium on the evening of March 22nd.  The chorus has begun working on their Spring show entitled Disney Spectacular, a medley of classic Disney songs that will take the audience back!    Please mark your calendars for the Spring Concert on April 12th

ART: In art this month there are lots of fun and exciting new projects in Ms. Pichette and Mrs. Cowan's classes. The entire school completed the Art-to-Remember fundraiser pictures and the PTA has mailed them to the company. Flyers illustrating student work on products that can be purchased will be sent home in a few weeks. 1st graders have been creating art with a winter theme; snow globes, snowmen and stormy crayon resist pictures. 2nd graders finished a weaving project and learned about weight displacement by creating a tightrope walker. We read the book "The Man Who Walked between the Towers" a true story about a NY street performer Philippe Petit. Students are presently working on a project about architecture using skyscrapers and towers. 3rd graders are just finishing up their Fire Prevention Calendar Poster Contest. It will be mailed on February 27.  Students are also working on a snake straw weaving project. 4th graders are working on 3 way pictures of different characters, one from the land, the sea and the air; this will change into interesting combinations. Fourth graders are also working on a long-term weaving project. It will be quite an accomplishment when they finish as it becomes a bag.  5th graders are working on one-point perspective and learning about city  architecture. Mrs.  Cowans  5th graders are working on a project inspired by the style of artist Keith Hering. 2nd and 3rd graders are working on 3D sculptures using paper mache’, 3rd grade will also be viewing the art work of Piet Mondrian and creating their own art work inspired by his style. 1st & 2nd grades will create work inspired by stories that we are reading in class; they will be using an assortment of media. 


Physical education classes have just completed a bowling unit.  Spare Time Bowling in Manchester provided us with all the needed equipment.  This unit consisted of 2 classes of developmentally appropriate activities.  In addition,  the After School Sports Program had over 60 students participate in bowling. 

Volleyball will be the next educational unit in physical education.  Students will be learning the fundamental skills needed for successful participation in the sports of volleyball.  Serving, bumping and setting will be the focus for skill development.   Furthermore, students will be learning basic rules and regulations and history of the sport of Volleyball. 

LIBRARY: First and second grade students learned about the author, title, illustrator, title page, publisher, and the copyright symbol, as well as understanding what a book’s call number is.  They also listened to folktales, nonfiction, and Caldecott award winners. Third grade classes came to the library to complete a three unit lesson on how to use the online catalog to search for library materials. They were also introduced to the online databases that the library subscribes to -  Facts4me and the World Book online.  We also began a unit on castles where the students practiced taking notes about the parts and features of castles.  They will then compare castles to their own homes. Fourth graders learned about the features of the World Book online and then started a unit on windmills which will incorporate practicing notetaking, and writing an opinion piece about whether a wind farm should be built in Londonderry.  The culminating activity will be when each student crafts a working windmill. Besides booktalks on various literary genres, fifth graders started a unit which will culminate in their writing the text for a wordless picture book about the Underground Railroad.  Included in this unit are understanding what a bibliography is and its importance, notetaking, and using Google slide show to present their finished product.