All posts by wendygillespie

February 23, 2016


Hello Parents,

  • 100th day of school- check
  • Walk-a-thon – check
  • Valentines’s Day – check
  • President’s Day long weekend – check


Lots of things going on here!

Telling time– to the hour, half-hour, and nearest 5 minutes, using terms like “half past” and “a quarter till” etc.

Geometry – plane shapes/2 dimensional (sides, vertices and angles including right angles), solids/3 dimensional (faces, edges, vertices)

Addition and Subtraction  – we continue to practice and hone our use of strategies to use these operations fluently as well as efficiently with 4 digit numbers.

Multiplication and Division – we’ve been dipping into and trying different strategies to do repeated addition using the partial product strategy.  Double digit multiplication isn’t a 2nd grade standard, yet because of their strong math foundation and number sense, students are able to take this on naturally and at their own developmental paces.  As for division, again, not a 2nd grade standard, we’ve done a bit of this as well.  Look at homework as well as work in the “Leave Home” pocket of their folders to see what we’ve been working on in the classroom!


We write a lot in our classroom.  Not much of that gets sent home though :/    I do have a spot in the classroom where I hang up the latest completed assignments.  However, I sent home a piece that children completed over weeks and weeks.  It involved the writing process of:

  • research
  • write (rough draft)
  • edit
  • rewrite (another draft to use to type piece)
  • type draft/edit/
  • final draft

Keyboarding!  Your children were able to navigate through Microsoft Word to type their writing piece and edit!  I hope your were as pleased as I was when you saw how much work your child put into this 🙂


Next for our Critical Literacy Unit will be more non-fiction writing pieces leading up to a project that will include all or most of the above pictured features of non-fiction text.  We’ll continue to work on strengthening conceptual understanding, synthesizing information and writing to convey understanding.  Not a lot of work comes home from this, because most of the writing we’ll be doing are small pieces that are really exercises leading to the final product or project.

Reading– as I’ve mentioned before ( I hope I have!), we read everyday.  State and district standards state that this time of the year in second grade who are “at grade level” should be reading at DRA 24 to 28.  Ask your child what leveled books they’re reading each day! We read not only for growth and progress, but for the pure pleasure of it as well!  That’s why along with “Leveled Reading” time, we have “Book Nook” reading time, when children may read anything from  my library or what they’ve brought from the public or school library here in the classroom.  Children may borrow books from my library anytime!

Coming Up

  • Week of March 13 – Theater Class Performance on Thursday
  • Week of March 20-24, minimum days (School ends at 12:30 all week)
  • Week of March 27 -31 Spring Break (No school)

Scholastic Book Order

Hopefully you’ve had a chance to look at the book catalogs I sent home in the folders and/or the Scholastic website.  I’d like to close the order out by 2/28.  I must say, it’s fun for the kids to come to school and leave with a new book or 2, and it’s nice for me as well, since I get points from your orders.  I use them to replace worn out and old books and refresh my library!





January 26, 2017

Hello Families,

Children have been working hard since coming back from the holiday break.

Word Study/Spelling

  • Spelling tests every other week.   (There is a test tomorrow January 27)
  • Word Sorts are from a book that provides “a practical, research-based, and classroom-proven way to study words with students.” [Words Their Way; Marcia Invernizzi, Francine Johnston and Donald R. Bear]  What we do with the word list given each week expands and enriches vocabulary and spelling within word pattern spellers (our 2nd graders!)
  • The Spelling Word list is from a 3rd grade book that has a scope and sequence that I follow.  Each day children have work to do on worksheets and their Word Study Books to help them with spelling and study strategies.
  • We do DLR  (Daily Language Review) each morning that has children learning/practicing punctuation and grammar, comprehension, vocabulary and word study, reference skills, and other language skills such as correct/incorrect spelling, letter writing, and identifying mistakes.
  • As of this week, I’m also having children read a short text on the back of the DLR to practice reading comprehension.  It too is a 3rd grade book.


I’m so proud of each child in this classroom.  They’re all working hard on sophisticated strategies to solve addition and subtraction into the thousands, multiplication and division.  It takes perseverance, stamina and a measure of self esteem.  Other mathematical strands we’ve been working on as well:

  • measurement
  • money

Coming up:

  • telling time
  • geometry

Critical Literacy and Writers’ Workshop

We’re still reading/listening to stories that are challenging ideas we have about stereotypical characters.  So far we’ve read, discussed and written about No David by David Shannon, Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Connor, Lionel and Amelia by Leone Peguero, and Oliver Button is a Sissy by Tomie dePaola.

Children have also been writing a non-fiction response piece on 2 Scholastic News articles we read, about how the Pilgrims from England and the native Wamponoag experienced the arrival of the Mayflower at Plymouth Rock in different ways.  We started by answering questions, completing a Venn Diagram, writing an introduction and a rough draft.  At this time, students are typing their pieces.  When the typed draft is printed, children will have the opportunity to edit and rewrite and complete a final draft.  WHEW!!


Children took the first of the 3 part test this morning.  Unfortunately, our little netbooks were NOT up to the task.  Very frustrating and disappointing. 😦     We’ll do it again next Thursday February 2nd.  At that time, we’ll be using computers from either Mr. Lee’s or Mr. Serafin’s classrooms.

Other Important Items

  • Walk-a-thon on Friday February 3rd
  • Valentine’s Day– We’ll have a fun day and exchange Valentine’s in the afternoon.  I’ll send home a class list if your child wishes to bring them in for the exchange, which I highly encourage!  And of course, if your child is bringing some in, they must have one for every student in the classroom.
  • February 17 and February 20 are holidays.

Here is a copy of the letter Susan Walsh one of our 2 room parents sent out the other day, in case you didn’t get to see it:

Dear Gillespie Parents,
We kicked off the Walk-A-Thon the first week after break.  Next Friday is the actual walk! There is not much time left to get to our goal of $55,000  (and 85% participation).  ALERT:  We have not had any volunteers sign up to help yet!  YIKES!  If you can help next Friday please signup here.
As of the beginning of the week our “Gillespie'” class leads the school in regards to the donation amount – with a bit over $1500.  GOOD JOB and THANK YOU!   However, if you looked at the charts posted on the class window or in the email blast that went out on Monday (attached below) you can see that our class participation rate is only at 45%.  This is a great event to get our friends and family to participate in …with our kids leading the way and playing a part in funding their school’s success. If you have not sat down with your child to create their W.A.T. website and send it to friends and families requesting donation support please think about doing so.
When you examine the W.A.T. e-blast’s charts closely you can see that there are just 4 classrooms with over 50% participation and only 4 which have contributed over $1000 for their combined classroom.  As a school, with 36% participation, we have raised $15,100 as of week 3. The W.A.T. is the third of 4 major fundraisers (Giving Campaign, LJ Art & Wine Festival, W.A.T. and Gala) we hold during the year.  The first two raised roughly $183K. Our overall fundraising goal is $325K …which would just cover the same programs we fund this year (not including any cost increases).  As you are aware from the Librarian email Ms. Ott sent out or from newspaper articles, the San Diego Unified School District is having financial problems.  Our Foundation is made up of ALL TPES parents/guardians wanting to provide funds to supplement programs, supplies, and teachers that the district does not fund. As a TPES parent, and thus a member of our Foundation, I wanted you to be aware of the information.
Don’t forget … tomorrow is the G.A.T.E. test for Mrs. Gillespie’s class.

January 2017

Happy 2017 Room 6 Families,

I can’t tell you how much I appreciated the amazing gifts I received from all of you!  Thank you so much, I feel quite special!  I hope you were able to enjoy the company of family and friends during the break.  I didn’t “go” anywhere special, I stayed pretty close to home and enjoyed sleeping in, reading, watching old movies and seeing some hockey games (my husband and I are San Diego Gulls fans!).

On Tuesday, despite the glazed looks in everyone’s eyes (including mine!), we jumped right back into the swing of things.


Lot’s of practice and review for addition and subtraction with 3 digit numbers, and some multiplication.  We’ll continue to work on solving multi-step problems.

Children are being taught and practicing different strategies to find solutions to problems.  These strategies tap into their number sense and help them to really understand what is being done when manipulating numbers to solve the equations.

You may find some of the homework a bit easy.  I want homework to be something your child can do independently, without help for the most part.  Whenever possible though, please check over it.  If they’ve missed quite a few, they may need help with it, and you can write me a not on it letting me know!


Starting next week, children will have a spelling test every other week.  The word list will go home on Monday and the test given on Friday.  Some children get nervous about it, but that soon abates.  However, the more the children practice at home (with your participation and help!), the better prepared they’ll be and have more confidence.

Other School Stuff:

pencil-clipartThe Walk-A-Thon!  This is a big fundraiser for our school.  On Tuesday, children brought home a packet and an information sheet about how to raise money for our school.

Hopefully you were able to set up a website for your child to help raise money, there are some contests with desirable prizes to encourage children and their families to participate!  On the window by the door to the classroom is a note about them.

pencil-clipartRE the GATE test:  this will take place in the classroom the morning of Thursday 26th.  Orginally it was to have taken place on the 19th, but I won’t be at school that day, so Mrs. Gordon and I switched dates.

pencil-clipartHave you checked the ETwig recently?  Please do, it’s got scoop on all things TPES that are coming up!

pencil-clipartWear-It-Wednesdays:  Everyone shows their school spirit by wearing TPES tee-shirts, sweatshirts etc!

December 2016

Hello Families,

Life in Room 6 has been busy, full and rich with the sharing of ideas, learning how to work cooperatively with partners and in groups, writing with flair, and solving math problems like no one’s business!!


In between Thanksgiving and the Winter Break:


  • learning the value of coins and counting money, addition and subtraction with money
  • continue to work on 3-digit addition and subtraction strategies
  • a smattering of work with fractions, multiplication and real world problem solving

Critical Literacy

The new unit is about characters in stories, and how authors choose characters to tell their stories.  We’ll continue to  construct an understanding of the purpose of fiction, analyzing and examining characters to make generalizations about character-types,  and recognizing when characters are stereotyped.  Ask your child what stories I’ve read and what we’ve discussed about them!


We read a lot in this class- we read to grow and strengthen our understanding of the world, to become stronger readers and grow our stamina with ever increasing periods of time reading, and to enjoy what authors have to teach us.  This is done in whole group settings, small group work and independent reading periods.  Ask your child what they’ve been reading in class!

Looking Ahead

  • TPES Food Drive bags went home today.  Please read the attached note on the bags to know where to drop them off.
  • 12/8 Peter Pan Performance for parents and community  12/7 in the morning for the school.
  • 12/15 Music Classroom Showcase in the afternoon (I’m not sure of the time, I’ll send something home in children’s folders as soon as I can).
  • Please read the eTwig on the Foundation website!



October 27, 2016

Hello Parents and Students,

Next Monday is Halloween!  WHOO HOO! (or should I say BOO hoo!)  Families are welcome to join us for the parade at 2pm.  All classes get turns to walk around and show off their costumes.  I’d appreciate any parents who’d take some photos and send them to me via email too!  If a costume is particularly elaborate, parents should come to school around 1:45 to help their child with it before the parade.  Again, spray cans are not permitted at school though. 

  • Children may wear costumes to school.  If the costume includes accessories, be aware that fake weapons are not allowed at school.  
  • All make-up and hairspray (including color) must be done at home, not at school
  • Costumes should be easily removed to go to the bathroom!
  • Masks and oversized things may be worn during the parade, but not in the classroom


We’ve been working on addition and subtraction strategies with 3 digit numbers.  We’ve also dipped our toes into multiplication and division!  As well, children are enjoying the challenges of “order of operations” problems 🙂 .  Teaching math at a deeper level looks much different than simply teaching children the algorithm of how to solve a problem.  Base ten blocks are one example of learning what “borrowing” was to us when we learned 2 and 3 digit addition and subtraction.

base-10-flat represents 100 (a flatbase-10-rod represents 10 (a stick or rodbase-10-cuberepresents 1 (cube)

This is to demonstrated to students what they’re really doing when adding and subtracting, and is particularly interesting when using the blocks to show how to subtract something like 143-129!

It’s not unusual for students to be confused sometimes about which strategies to use for which problems.  They’re being introduced to a lot, but in steps.  That said, sometimes it’s still tricky to process all that is being learned.  It’s still early in the year, and things become clearer as they become second nature, and that takes repeated exposure and practice, practice, practice!

Language Arts

Children continue to work on spelling patterns in word study, and punctuation/grammar/language conventions in DLR.  It’s one thing to do these tasks in isolation, but getting children to use what they’ve learned when writing a story or response to literature is one of my greatest challenges!


October 6, 2016

Hi Parents,

The boys and girls are working very hard this week, we’re learning new strategies in Math (addition and subtraction).  Thinking and learning is every bit as challenging and difficult as reading, writing and doing!

“Why ARE you teaching so many different ways of doing the same problem?” I hear you ask!

Some very good and highly respected research shows that children who are flexible in their math thinking at an early age, more mathematically proficient, are the most  likely to be successful in the Arithmetic subjects they’ll be doing in their academic future.

I’ve created a new “page” for you to learn about the Mathematical Practices that “the experts” have created.  Our Standards Based Report Cards also include a grade for proficiency in these practices.

Coming Up:

  • 10/8 & 10/9  La Jolla Art and Wine Festival
  • 10/21              TPES Movie Night

September 29, 2016

Hello Families,

It was fun seeing you at the Block Party last Sunday!  What a great job the Foundation did- the food, games, DJ, photobooth- AWESOME!


We are working on addition and subtraction strategies as well as vocabulary:

addends  equation  odd  even  array  row  column

 As most of the students are very fluent in adding and subtracting within 10 and 20, we’ve moved along to larger numbers, discovering that knowing 8 + 9 = 17 can help us to    add 28 + 29.  Making the connection that 28 is the same as 20 + 8 and 29 is 20 + 9 .  Now children can think, “I know  20 + 20 is 40 and 8 + 9 is 17 then I know that 40 + 17 is 57.”  Well, maybe they don’t think it exactly like that, but close!

Teaching children to decompose larger numbers allows them to be able to solve 2-digit plus 2-digit math problems (mostly) mentally, and not need to use the traditional algorithm (carrying and borrowing) that we were taught  all those years ago!  Fear not though, there is a time and place for those algorithms, and they will be taught- just not yet!  Same goes for using the numberline in subtraction.  It’s a  process (soon to be a mental one) to determine the difference between 2 numbers, the algorithm you’re accustomed to will come later also.

Critical Literacy

Being able to think about underlying ideas or concepts  in stories is pretty sophisticated.  It takes time, modeling and doing it often.  Children have the ideas, but sometimes lack the vocabulary to express their thoughts.  Then I teach them!  Concepts (and often new vocabulary) from some of our recent stories are:

loneliness  rejection  regret  compassion  persistence  courage  selflessness  joy  friendship  determination

Then comes the hardest part, writing about the stories using these new  words, supporting their ideas with examples and not just retelling the story.  Again, time, modeling and doing it often.  It’s very rigorous, not always pretty the first few times…then one day- ahhh, a wonderful piece of writing that shows your child can write about a story using a broader vocabulary and backing up their ideas with evidence from what they’ve read, showing they understand that fiction isn’t “fake”, but has truths.

Coming Up:

  • 10/6                Picture Day
  • 10/8 & 10/9  La Jolla Art and Wine Festival
  • 10/21              TPES Movie Night

Please check the ETwig sent to your email this week for more information.



for the AMAZING birthday wishes and generous gift card to AMAZON!!  I’ve already used a good deal of it to purchase a few things for the classroom.



September 2016 (9/19/16)

Hello Everyone,

Today is the beginning of our 4th week of school– time is flying!

What’s been going on:


We spent some time in the first few weeks reviewing the combinations of 10 and 20:

2 number addition facts ( ___ +___ = 10 and ___+___ = 20).  For children to be mathematically powerful, they need to have these facts to be automatic.  Most of the children in this class are, but some are not yet and they need to practice at home.

We’ve moved onto addition and subtraction strategies that are teaching children how to add and subtract using mental math (what we used to call “doing it in our head”).  To you and I who learned how to do math primarily by learning algorithms, these strategies may seem weird and unwieldy, but I promise you, they lead to amazing results.  Being able to add and subtract aren’t all that we’re learning either.  The word problems I’m giving are somewhat simple to begin with, but will become decidedly more difficult as I add different steps children need to do to solve the problems.  To read a word problem and figure out what is really being asked (contextualizing the words and then decontextualizing into a math problem) is a sophisticated and at the beginning, challenging assignment.  The homework coming home is usually far easier than what we’re doing in the classroom.


Critical Literacy

For the next 5 weeks or so, students will continue to examine how common ideas and abstract concepts reoccur across texts (e.g. lonliness, friendship…).  Initially they will consider several books on the same topic to recognize that ideas emerging from texts are different despite similar concept.  Subsequently they will determine which common ideas/abstract concepts encompass more of the text.  In the process students will develop their perspectives by refining and revising their own ideas about the abstract concepts.  (Montali/Nieto)

Some texts we’ve read are:  Big Al by Andrew Clement, It’s Mine by Leo Lionni, The Rainbow Fish by Marc Pfister.


Using computers in the classroom is important, fun and can be very frustrating.  But mostly fun!  Students have been introduced to learning keyboarding via DanceMat Typing.  I highly encourage you to allow your child computer time at home using this website!

We’ve learned how to turn on, and log into our netbooks.  We’ve also bookmarked some websites and will be learning how to create a document as well as adding media from the internet to the doc.  Web citizenship will be taught by Mr. Lebell, our technology teacher!

Please visit to keep up with what is happening outside of Room 6!



September 2016


Welcome to the official website of Room 6!  This is a private site, because I’m excited to show photos and videos of your children working independently and together!

Class Dojo Message is a great way to communicate on a daily basis, whether it’s one-to-one, or to all parents/students.

You should always look at the ETwig too!  The TPES Foundation website is a great way for you to know what’s going on at our school; events, parent information, who’s who and ways to contribute your time to this special community!

But this site is different.

Here, I’ll be updating you on what we’re doing or studying in Room 6; different subject areas, giving notice about upcoming classroom happenings, as well as other “goings-on” in Room 6!

I’ll have “pages” that you can go to for :

  • Photos and short videos from the classroom
  • Paper templates (for practice at home)
  • website links
  • current charts and posters that are up in the classroom
  • extra work that you may want your child to do at home to hone skills and increase stamina.
  • learning games you can do with your child to help them become stronger and faster attaining skills, and promoting good study habits.

In Math, students have been working on strategies to help them become more adept at addition and subtraction.  While the structure (or procedure) of how we’re adding and subtracting numbers may seem protracted and unwieldy, it’s actually going to help children do “mental math” efficiently and with greater understanding and number sense!

For Social Studies, I use the District’s textbook as well as Scholastic News.  You’ll see issues of Scholastic News come home in their folder, along with some of the work we may have done with it.  From the textbook, we read a bit about maps and globes and I’ll continue with this for a few more weeks.  Coming up are cardinal directions!

Reading is one of my favorite pastimes!  I want all of my students to enjoy reading.  Being able to read independently for pleasure and other purposes is extremely valuable.   At this point, only a few students have the stamina to read for more than 15 or so minutes at a time.  That will change!  Little by little, we’ll work up to being able to sustain attention, focus and interest to nearly a half of an hour or more.  That said, I don’t want reading to be a chore!  Reading fiction or non fiction – there is something for everyone, and children at this age are ripe for learning how to love it!  Each day we have two reading only periods; Independent Reading (leveled books only) and Book Nook Books.  During Book Nook Book time, children may read anything they choose, Library books and books from home included.

Language Arts– Big ol’ topic!  This includes spelling, language conventions (grammar, punctuation, synonyms, antonyms et al), handwriting, and vocabulary.  In class this would be working in our Word Sort books, DLR, Writing Center and Writers’ Workshop.

Another really important piece here is our Seminars in Critical Literacy.  I just love teaching children how to think about what they’ve read.  The Seminars are designed to strengthen conceptual understanding, discover and explore characters and the purpose of literature, being able to synthesize non fiction text, examine the impact of culture on fictional stories, and study how resolution affects story.

Coming Up:

Back-To-School-Night or Curriculum Night is on Wednesday September 14.  As of now, I believe the schedule is :

5:00 – 5:30  Principal Ott in the Auditorium

5:35 – 6:10   TK-2nd Classrooms Teacher Presentations

6:15 – 6:50  3rd-5th Classrooms Teacher Presentations

Campus closes at 7:00pm.

TPES Block Party on Sunday September 25

Picture Day October 6