Monthly Archives: March 2013

Reading Update!

This week, we introduced the comprehension strategy of questioning (and we all know first graders are good at asking questions!).  We talked about how good readers are thinking while they read.  One of the ways that we think is by making connections or by visualizing.  Another way readers think while they read is by asking questions.  This week we began our focus on questioning by revisiting one of our favorite stories, Tuesday, by David Weisner.  We talked about how readers can have questions about a book before they read it, while they read it, and after they read it. The kids had a blast walking their way through the pictures and asking questions about what was happening in the story.  We later went back and tried to find answers to some of our questions.

We spent the rest of the week on another classic David Weisner book,FLOTSAM.  The kids couldn’t take their eyes off this book and were begging to share their thinking.  It was so much fun!  We jotted down our questions as we went through the book and ended up with six and a half pages of questions.  I went through and picked out just a handful of their questions and we went back through the book to see if the kids could find answers to some of these questions and it was fun to see their understanding of the book develop as they shared their thinking with the class.  They are pumped to continue sharing their questions with other books.

Writing Update!

We spent this week working on fixing and fancying up our writing for our celebration.  This whole unit focused on using other authors as mentors to learn from.  So, this week we studied how other authors fancied up their stories for publication.  We noticed that they have covers with titles, dedication pages, and about the author pages.  And just like them, we tried it too!  If the stories don’t entertain you, the about the authors pages will!  We will celebrate next week.  Keeping with the theme of using other authors as our mentors, part of our celebration will include adding book reviews to our friends’ stories.  We’ll post pictures later for you to enjoy!

Writing Update!

We had so much fun in writing this week checking out some of our favorite authors.  We focused on how there are so many authors that have great ideas like Angela Johnson and we can use their books to learn from too.  After digging through piles and piles of books in our classroom, the students found books that used speech bubbles, bold letters, words in all capitals, sound words, flaps, and more.  They were so enthusiastic about trying new techniques that some of our favorite authors use.  It is exciting to see first graders studying other authors and stepping out of their comfort zone to try something new!

Here are two great examples from this week (just one page from each story)

Reading Update!

This week, we introduced the last of the Daily Five activities, Read to Someone!!  We talked about why we practice reading to others: to practice reading fluency, practice using our decoding strategies when we or our friend gets stuck on a tricky word, and to have FUN. We talked about many strategies that we have learned this year to help us with our fluency: rereading books, scooping up words instead of reading one word at a time, paying attention to quotation marks and punctuation, and using our pointer finger.  These are all strategies that we are going to need to work on as we read to someone.

We also talked about what our partner readers jobs will be during this time: be urgent, sit facing away from other readers, sit elbow-to-elbow and knee-to-knee with your partner (EEKK), use a quiet reading voice, have all your just right books and reading tools out and ready to go, etc. There are many ways to partner read, but for now our students are each taking turns reading their own just right books to their partners (I read, you read). We also discussed how it would be distracting if there were lots of partners all reading at the same time because it would get loud in the classroom, so we have put a limit on how many partners we will have during each reading block.

We are experts with our Check for Understanding checkmark, but this week, we introduced a new way to use it.  When the students are reading with a partner, one partner is going to read a page of their book and before going on, they are going to check to make sure that their partner understood (and was listening) what was just read.  So, the partner who read will stop and ask their listening partner, “Who did I just read about and what just happened?”  If the partner answers correctly, they will go on to the next page.  If the listening partner can’t remember the answer to one of the questions, then the reader will reread that page and ask the questions again.  They are doing a great job with this to see if their partners are following along with them.

Readers as Leaders Assembly

We had a great time at our assembly!

Mind Up!

We have been talking about how attitude affects how well you can handle situations, especially solving problems.  We introduced the words: optimistic and pessimistic.  We talked about how optimistic thinkers think with happy thoughts and are more likely to solve problems successfully.  Pessimistic thinkers are often defensive and react with anger when problems arise. The kids spent a good deal of time role playing different problems and sharing how an optimistic thinker would react as opposed to a pessimistic thinker.

For example: If someone takes the seat that we want at lunch

Pessimistic Thinking: “That person is so mean, it’s not fair, I was going to sit there.”

OPTIMISTIC THINKING: “I can find another friend to sit by, I can try to sit there tomorrow.”

We agreed that we need to start practicing optimistic attitudes so that we can handle problems better on our own. We are going to practice taking a few deep breaths when a problem arises and thinking of the problem from a different point of view.  When these situations arise at home, remind your first grader to use optimistic thinking…ask them, “how can we think about this situation optimistically?”

Math Update!

This past week in math, we focused on working with two-digit numbers.  We looked for patterns on a 100’s chart that would help us learn how to count by tens from any number and not just a decade number (decade: 40, 50, 60, 70…non-decade: 24, 34, 44, 54, 64).  Once we established these patterns, we talked about adding and subtracting groups of tens from any number.  We learned how to use the 100’s chart to help us find the answer, but we also talked about how you won’t always have that tool around.  So, we learned how to use a ten stick and circle drawing to help solve that problem.

When we draw the picture for addition, we draw the ten sticks and circles for both partners and then count up all the ten sticks together before FREEZING to count up the circles to find the total.  When we use the ten sticks and circles for subtraction, we draw the total, cross off the partner we’re taking away and then count up the left overs to find the missing partner.

 We also talked about how we are great at finding our partners of ten and how our partners of ten will help us find our partners of 100 (4 + 6 and 40 + 60).

We plan to take our Unit 5 math test this week, I feel very comfortable with how the kids have adapted to these new addition and subtraction strategies.  We will also plan to take the Unit 6 pretest this week before we set our math switch groups for our next unit.  We will jump into measurement and graphing with Unit 6, the kids always find this unit so much fun!

Reading Update!

Once again this week, we immersed our classroom in lots of read alouds with the hopes that lots of connections were being made.  We share some text to self connections (This book reminds me of something that happened to me, helps me understand how the character was feeling), text to text connections (This book reminds me of another book we’ve read, helps me predict what might happen at the end of the book), and, SURPRISINGLY, some of our readers branched into making text to world connections all on their own.  A text to world connection happens when you a read a book and something in the story reminds you of something that happens in our world on a large perspective.

We read a book this week called Zink the Zebra.  In the book, Zink is a little zebra that is spotted instead of striped.  All the other zebras won’t play with her because she looks different.  A few of the kids in the class chose to be writers that day and wrote connections from Zink to Martin Luther King Jr.   Because they were connecting to the book we read about MLK Jr., it was a text to text, but we talked about how it is also a text to world because it was reminding them of the problems that many people struggled with during the civil rights movement and how MLK Jr. helped fight for equality.

We’ll keep our eyes out for other opportunities to make text to world connections.  Way to go first graders!