Monthly Archives: October 2012

Math Update!

Our first grade mathematicians continued using the equal sign (=) to create equations with equal partners and totals this week.  We learned that proving our work with a circle drawing is a very important way to support our thinking and double check for mistakes!

This practice led right into our next big learning: solving equations with missing totals.  To begin this new challenge, each of our math groups brainstormed solution strategies for finding totals.  To solve 5 + 2 = ___, our first graders suggested…

…making a circle drawing underneath the partners: 

…counting the partners on their fingers:

A third strategy that we learned was: counting on!!!!  Counting on is more accurate and time saving than the first two methods.  When we count on, we clap our hands to say the first partner and then hold up our fingers to “count on” with the second partner.

This “counting on” strategy is a method that we will continue to use over and over again this year in all aspects of our math learning.  Please encourage your child to “count on” when solving equations with missing totals on their homework pages!

Conference Schedule

Mrs. Stutz’s Conference Schedule:

Monday, Nov. 8

4:45  Alivia Anderson

5:00  Diego Hill

5:15  Eli Sytsma

5:30  Ava Ford

5:45  Kamryn Brewer

6:00  Nora Klein

6:15  Isaac Pontier

7:00  Jack Zuiderveen

7:15  Lilly Sydow

Wednesday, Nov. 7

4:30  Aiden Middendorf

4:45  Justin Schipper

5:00  Taelynn Hatfield

5:15  Caleb Denhof

5:30  Logan Randall

5:45  Jordan Warner

6:00  Evelyn VanTol

6:30 Laney Anderson

6:45  Avery Glass

Thursday, Nov. 8

4:15  Nicholas DeYoung

4:30  Mason DeYoung

4:45  Sofia Delinck

5:00  Teresa Wortman

5:15  Emma Dale

Science Update!

To begin our study of the properties of matter, we talked as a class about what a “property” is.  A lot of the kids came up with things like land, special things in their bedroom, and their house!  We talked about how there are two meanings to that word.  A property, in science, is a special way to describe an object.  We used blocks of different shapes and sizes to brainstorm what different properties could be.  The kids came up with a great list:  color, shape, size, texture, corners, and sides.

We started a game called, “What’s My Property?”  A few students held a shape to themselves, but had to know all the properties of that shape.  The rest of the class was trying to figure out what shape they had, but could only ask yes or no questions about the properties of the shape.  Is it blue?  Is it thin?  Does it have corners?  Is it smooth?  Is it big?  Once we had figured out as many properties as we could… the shape was revealed to see if it matched their guesses!!

Writing Update!

This past week, we created even better small moment stories by  planning the details of our story before we write by telling our story across our fingers.  To do this, the students play their story in their head to remember what happened first, next, and last.  They then point to a finger on one hand and tell the details of the first page of their story, then they move to the next finger while they tell the details for the second page, and keep going to the last details at the end of their story.  The students have really worked at planning out their stories before they just dive into the writing.  We know that good writers do the following: think of a story, sketch their plan, add the words, and then go back to add more details to their words and pictures.

This week, we also introduced writing partners.  It is so important to have a friend to talk to about your writing and get help with planning or revising, so our students each got partnered up this week.  We practiced talking to our partners and asking them questions to help them get started at the beginning of writing workshop each day.  We also practiced being good listeners. 🙂

We worked on writing some words without even thinking about their spelling, ‘writing them in a snap.’  We talked about how when we read, there are some words we don’t need to sound out or even think about, we know them so quickly (like our sight words).  Writers have words like that too, just like readers.  The students worked on finding words they knew in a snap and we added some to our word wall.  You will be happy to know that ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ are on that list! 🙂

Math Update!

Our “math switch” is off to a great start!!!

This week all of our math groups learned how to draw pictures to solve story problems.  This strategy worked great, except it took us a R-E-A-L-L-Y long time to draw pictures of some objects: castles, pigs, bikes.

So, we tried a new strategy: circle drawings.


We also learned about the math symbols: equal (=) and not equal (≠).  Numbers are equal (=) when they are exactly the same.  We practiced using the equal (=) and not equal (≠) symbols to compare numbers, partners and totals.  We used our circle drawings to double check that the numbers we were comparing were truly the same.   This understanding of the word “equal” is the foundation that will assist our students in writing addition equations (number sentences) for the rest of the year!!

Reading Update!

This week, the kids transitioned into reading in three blocks of fifteen minutes.  So they are getting a total of 45 minutes of independent reading each afternoon right now.  The students have become accustomed to filling their book boxes each Monday with a mixture of Just Right books (they can read the words in these books), picture books (they can read the pictures in these books), songs/poems, and some kids have sight words that they keep in their book boxes too.  The first graders get absorbed in these reading materials during our reading workshop.

This week, we added lots of new tags up to our Reading Cafe Menu to help remind us of the strategies that we have learned that will help us be better readers.  We added Flippy the Dolphin under accuracy to help remind us that vowels can make many different sounds.  Under fluency, we added picking out just right books, using our pointer fingers, and our Friday book share.  All of these strategies help us to sound like fluent readers (reading smoothly and expressively).  And under comprehension, we added our Shape GO! Map.  This is a tool that helps the students remember all the key factors of a story in order to retell the story to someone…it helps us know if they are understanding what they read.

Spelling Update!

Our first grade spellers are coming along! We wrapped up Unit 3 of spelling with a review and assessment. Our first graders did absolutely wonderful! Then we started Unit 4 with three new spelling words: in, is, you. It is exciting to see how our first graders are able to integrate their spelling words into their reading. We recognized that we could use our spelling word “in” as a chunk in our reading. We found the chunk in the words: fin, spin, pin, and thin. We will continue to study these words and try our best to spell them correctly in our writing!