Saturday, January 19, 2019

Math Fact Strategies, Martin Luther King Jr., and Opinion Writing

I love January.  No, not because of the poor weather and post-holiday slump, but because January is a month where many first graders begin to "gel" with their skills.  Suddenly reading clicks with decoding and comprehension, math concepts are blossoming, and students begin to get into their "groove."  Their social skills are developing even more and group projects become an amazing way for students to take charge of their learning.

Math! Addition and subtraction strategies are important building blocks for other key math concepts.  Students have been exploring fact strategies like complements of ten, doubles facts, adding three numbers, and what I call the "teen trick" (10 plus 6 is six-teen, and, yes, there is no such thing as three-teen, but students LOVE joking about it.). More importantly, partners and groups discuss their strategies with one another and talk about why one strategy works better in certain situations.  For example, 6 plus 7 is close to the doubles fact 6 plus 6, so you can just add one more to get 13; 9 plus 5 is the same as 10 plus 4, etc.  I love hearing the VERY thoughtful way students talk to one another about how they came up with an answer!

Martin Luther King Jr:  I am always so touched by how surprised students are that there used to be unfair laws about who could sit or go to school where.  They innately recognize that what counts is on the inside.  As we talk about MLK, I keep the conversation light and discuss how people can peacefully work to change the world for the better.  I point out that we can change the world by a smile or a frown, because the little things we do make others feel good or not so good.  We watched a small portion of Dr. King's "I have a dream" speech, where he talks about the content of our character.  I do not discuss his assassination.  My favorite part about this social studies unit is that students use words and vocabulary from our HEART and Second Step programs, which show that we embrace Dr. King's ideals naturally and all year long.

Collaborative Writing!  Students partnered up to compare 2 animals this week. They did a wonderful job using a Venn Diagram to state how leopards and zebras are similar and different.  Of course, who doesn't want to then make a zebra or leopard face!  Later in the week, we also started a VERY fun group project for opinion writing.  My sincere thank yous Aubrey's and Eden's moms for coming in to help!  Our opinion writing project will have a tech twist that I will share with families at the end of the month.  I think you will truly enjoy it!

Reading!  This week we discussed folk tales where animals learned a lesson.  Many of the tales also "explained"  why an animal has a short tail or why their fur is patterned a certain way.  We compared the structure of these stories and discussed how usually there is one character that is foolish or a trickster and that other characters are wise.  These common character types in fiction are the foundation of many literature genres.  

Homophones! no and know, way and weigh, these words sound the same but have different spelling/meanings.  We explored these ideas by making a book of words pairs. Thank you to Louis' dad for keeping students on track and for giving them more ideas for word pairs!

REMIND! If you have been receiving Remind texts via Verizon, Remind will not be able to text you after the end of the month.  You should have received an email/text with suggestions on how to continue to receive my Remind posts.  I believe their advice is to either use their app to receive texts or sign up to receive email notifications.

Paper Towel rolls needed!  Soon we will be making number scrolls for math.  This fun first grade tradition is how we practice writing from 1 to larger numbers. In the next week or two, please send in a clean, empty PAPER TOWEL roll.  Toilet paper rolls are too small for what we need. 

Have a great long weekend!
Mrs. S.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Surveys, Goods and Services, and Many Guest Star Readers!

Our first full week after the break was filled with special projects in math, reading, writing, and social studies. Next week, we will begin one of my favorite tech projects!  

Math! We spent Monday in our survey groups.  Trios thought of a question to ask the entire class and surveyed each student.  The group's then made tally and bar charts of the results.  Louis' dad was there to help groups navigate and stay focused on this important data skill.  On Tuesday, each group discussed their results and we practiced answering questions such as "How many fewer students voted for ------ than ------?"  and "How many students in all voted for ------- and -------?" Comparing data and being able to answer questions about the data is an important first grade skill.  The rest of our math week was spent exploring doubles facts with ten frames, rekenreks, and unifix cubes.  Math fact strategies like knowing doubles facts (8+8=16) and how to build on them (8+9 is just one more so the answer is 17) is an important base for your child's math career.  The next few weeks will be spent building math fact automaticity.

Reading! Now that we are back in the swing of things, students are reading more complex texts and being asked more questions about their understanding of the text.  PLEASE remember to get back in the habit of reading and returning those nightly reading books.  It is your child's responsibility to return the book to me and have a quick discussion of how it went.  I then give advice on what type of book they should pick next.  If your child is not returning the book regularly or if they are bringing books home that are not a good fit, they are missing out out an important part of building reading competency.  Please email me or send in a note if the books are not a good fit.

Phonics! The TH diphthong was the focus of our phonics, phonemic awareness, and spelling this week.  Next week, we will be moving on to CH and a bit of mixed practice between TH/CH.  Spelling for the remainder of the year becomes a bit more challenging, as we move beyond 3-letter words.  In general, the class is doing well, but spelling practice at home becomes increasingly important.  The study habits you build at home this year will be a solid foundation for your child next year, when the words focus on more than one spelling pattern at a time.  

Writing! Wow.  Your children are doing quite nicely with their information writing! Coming up with a topic sentence, some details and a conclusion about a topic is a key first grade skill.  Their crab writing this week was great!  They listened to a QR story and then wrote down key facts.  They could listen and pause the story as many times as they liked to take notes onto their graphic organizer.  The results were lovely as we completed it with a fun craft.  Next week we will compare 2 animals and complete a partner writing project!

Social Studies! Goods and Services! Partners worked on thinking about what we can buy. Things that we buy are called goods (apples, cranberries, computers, medicine). When we pay people to do things for us (cashier, pet groomer, restaurant server, doctor, security guard, etc) that is a service.  This important concept is built upon in second grade.

Readers! Of course, the highlight of the week was having the high school students come to read their Spanish children's books! Your children were excellent and engaged! Mrs. Steele and I both commented on how well everyone did.  We both had practiced on how to introduce yourself to someone you do not know and how to ask a few polite questions to get to know each other.  From the photos, you can see what amazing books the students had created and how well they turned out!

Ask your child about...

Have a wonderful weekend!
Mrs. S.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Project Time and Some Upcoming Visitors!

We enjoyed a brief week after our break by previewing diphthongs (sh/ch/th), reviewing blends, practicing addition facts and measuring, working on topic writing, and introducing our next social studies unit...goods and services.

Project Time! We have more games and activities for our indoor recess/project time choices thanks to your generosity in December!  Students have enjoyed making mini-posters with facts from non-fiction books, creating with dough or markers, and enjoying a wide variety of classic board games.  Again, thank you so much for your support.

A Special Visit!  Next week we will get a visit from the high school! Mrs. Steele and her Spanish 3 students have written and created childrens' books as part of their curriculum.  On Thursday, they will come to SL and read their books, translate them for our class, and then discuss the books with us.  Last year, my class truly enjoyed the experience!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Thank you, and have a peaceful break!

I want to sincerely thank all of you for such generous gifts to our class and to me. The math manipulatives and books are so wonderful and we will use them often!  And we will be using the playground toys daily, I am sure!

Enjoy the photos from our classroom!

May your family have a peaceful break and see all of you in 2019!

Mrs. S.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Coding, Conferences, and Dreidels

Conferences!  It was a pleasure to meet with families this week and I look forward to meeting with the rest of you next week.  Your children are working hard and I enjoy showcasing their progress!

Volunteers! My thank you to Zachary's mom and Louis' dad for helping us in ELA and math this week. I enjoy seeing how excited the students are to see you!

Dreidels! We enjoyed learning how to play the dreidel game as we learned about Hannukah. We used lentils as "gelt" and enjoyed graphing which symbols came up most frequently.  In the next two weeks, we will learn more about many different winter holidays.

Hour of Code! Mrs. McGregor and the newly named Shakey's Imagatorium hosted the hour of code for us this week.  We learned how to code using apps on the Shaker Lane Website, using Osbots and OSMO.  The smiles in the photos say it all!

Gingerbread Decorating! On Friday, Dec. 21, we will have a gingerbread decorating party.  You received a note in your child's folder giving you details.  Please send in your child's gingerbread money next week so we can purchase the cookies. As mentioned, We rely on families to then donate the items for decorating the cookies. My sidebar has the link for the gingerbread decorating donations.  PLEASE donate exactly what has been asked for, as these items are nut free.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

Mapping! Your children truly enjoyed learning about maps, what the term "bird's eye view means, and the compass rose.  Their dream bedrooms and treasure maps are examples of not only great mapping skills, but some true creativity!

Have a good weekend,
Mrs. S.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Frames and Arrows and Maps

Reading: Music, L blends and short o, sequence of events, and singular and plural:  This week our theme in ELA was music.  Our phonics and spelling practice included l blends and reviewing short o.  We practiced identifying the sequence of events and learned about singular and plural nouns.  My thank yous to Eden's dad and Jackson's mom for coming in this week to volunteer!

Math: Frames and Arrows... Your children had fun working with a number pattern activity called frames and arrows.  They have done well with recognizing you can use the same rule over and over to extend the pattern.  My thank you to Alisa's mom and Meritt's mom for coming in to volunteer this week!

Writing: Following a graphic organizer to complete a story- students are getting better at using a graphic organizer to put their ideas down on paper.  This  week we used them to write stories with a sequence of events.  Using transition words like first, then, next, etc helps them organize their writing.

Maps: We had so much fun this week in our mapping unit for social studies.  Students worked in groups to create Lego maps and on their own to create their dream bedrooms.  We will continue to learn about maps, the compass rose and directions!

Conferences! I look forward to seeing all of you next week and the week after for conferences!

Have a good weekend,
Mrs. S.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving!

Enjoy our break!  Here a few pictures from our week.  Ask your child to tell you all about it!

With gratitude,
Mrs. S.