Monthly Archives: December 2011

Math Workshop

 more information to come later…

Math Update!

This week our first graders solved stories that were missing a partner instead of the total.  This was our first time exploring ways to solve this kind of problem.  We found that our math mountain strategy helped us organize the numbers so we could count-on from the known partner to the total in order find the missing partner.  So, we worked hard to recognize the total and partner in each story so our math mountains made sense and our work was accurate.

We also learned how to turn our missing partner math mountains into missing partner equations.  Both of these methods are a great way to show proof when solving a missing partner story which is demonstrated below:

Joe saw 6 snakes in the grass.  4 of the snakes were green.  The rest of the snakes were orange.  How many snakes were orange?

We ended the week with two games that provided our students with opportunities to solve unknown partner equations.  Our yellow quilt cards trained the kids to find the missing partner by clapping and counting on with their fingers until they got to the total.  The pancake game also helped the kids to use one of our strategies (math mountain, equation) to find a missing partner.

Writing Update!

    This week, we focused mainly on working with partners to revise and edit our writing.  The students handed their stories over to their partners to see if their partners could read their words.  When a partner couldn’t read a word, the two writers would work together to add more sounds to the word so that it was easier to read.  They practiced using their Word Wall to check for words to be spelled correctly.  I also gave the students the challenge of writing a complete story in one day…with still making it easy to read.  The students did there best to meet that challenge and they have made so many gains in how easy their stories are for friends to read.  It is amazing to look at what their stories used to look like and then now to see how much extra energy they put in to stretching out words, adding spaces, and making their writing neat.

We are also working on adding punctuation to our stories to make it easier for our readers to understand.  This is hard for first graders because in order for them to know where to put a period, they need to understand where a sentence ends (and what qualifies as a sentence).  A sentence is a hard concept for first graders to grasp.  We talked about how periods are cues for readers to know that they can pause and think about the writing before moving on.  We also talked about how a sentence will have a WHO and a WHAT.  We practiced building sentences to help them better identify an incomplete sentence compared to a complete sentence.  The first graders did a lot of experimenting on where to put periods.  It is hard, but we will keep plugging along and practicing adding that punctuation into our stories to make them easier to read.

Reading Update!

This week, each student was able to take part of a reading group.  So, during our reading block, we have four blocks of time.  Each student was in a reading group for one block, read to self for one block, and then had the chance to make a choice during the other two reading blocks.  They could choose among read to self, listen to reading, or word work.

We added more to our Word Work baskets.  The students learned how to search through their poems for words with key features that we have studied (spelling words, short vowels, etc.).  This will be one of the activities that they will have the opportunity to work with if they choose to do Word Work during our reading block.

We also discussed how good readers work on expanding their vocabulary.  As a classroom, we are working to find our students’ strengths and areas to work on when dealing with vocabulary.  We have learned there are many ways to describe a word and we use a tool that helps us remember.  We call it:

How Well do you Know a Word?

  • Green Group: What kind of thing is it? In which family does it belong?
  • Blue Do: What does it do? What do you do with it?
  • Look Like: What does it look like, feel like, taste like, sound like, smell like?
  • Made Of: What is it made of? What does it come from?
  • Pink Parts: What are the parts of the object? What can go with it?
  • White Where: Where do you find it?
  • What Else: What is something else you know? Do you have any connections to this word? Do you have a story about this word?

 The kids have helped me describe all about a few different words, one of which is bunny.  They came up with all sorts of information they knew about bunnies, the only tricky part was knowing how to describe what it was made of.  This is tricky with living things.  A classic first grade response was: bones, blood, and fuzzy stuff.  🙂

Holiday Party

Just a reminder…

Our Holiday Party will take place Friday, December 16, from 2:45-3:25ish.


We will not be having a classroom gift exchange.  Prior to the party, I will pass out a small gift to each child to enjoy!

Math Update!

Our first graders did an absolutely fantastic job on the Unit 2 assessment that we took before Thanksgiving break!!!  We are very happy with each child’s progress and feel strongly that our students have developed the foundational strategies for solving addition and subtraction equations.

A skill to continue practicing with your child from our Unit 2 is showing proof for an answer.  Many of our first graders are growing in their number sense, and it is a snap for them to find the answer to an addition or subtraction equation.  We love this, but we would also like our first graders to prove their answers.  For addition equations we ask our students to count-on (see below).  For subtraction equations we would like our students to use a circle drawing (see below).

As your child continues to solve addition and subtraction equations on their homework pages, please encourage him or her to prove their answer on the page.  This could be counting on, making a circle drawing or using a new strategy too! 🙂

This past week, we took a pre-test for our Unit 3 to determine the best group and teacher placement for each student.  Each child’s placement is based on their individual needs and the skills and strategies that they already have for our new learning.

Our Unit 3 will focus on learning strategies for solving addition, subtraction and missing partner stories and equations.  The kids were introduced to one of these new strategies on Friday: math mountains.  A math mountain is a method for organizing the partners on bottom and the total on top.  So far, we’ve used this strategy to practicing finding the total when we know both of the partners and can count-on.