Monthly Archives: February 2014

Math Update!

During our math time this week, we continued to solve missing partner and missing total stories.  We also revisited a concept that was first introduced back in October.  We used our understanding of the partners in an addition equation to help us find the missing partner in a subtraction equation, but this time we were working with teen totals.

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We ended the week learning a new strategy to solve stories and equations with thee partners.  To find the total when we have three partners, we can make a “rainbow” and count on – and then do it again!

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We will continue to work with this new strategy next week and we will also be exploring the number grid.

Writing Update!

In Writer’s Workshop, we worked on adding more details to our Small Moment stories. First, we talked about using our five senses to show not tell what we were feeling. Instead of saying “I was so happy”, we could say, “I was grinning from ear to ear”. Instead of “I was embarrassed”, we could write “My face turned red”. This gives the reader a much better picture in their mind as they read our stories.

We revisited what we learned about dialogue. Anything we heard or said can be added to our story to make it more detailed. We noticed that we used the word “said a lot – boring! There are many much more interesting words to use that just “said”! We created a list of words to use instead of said including…


These kinds of words will make our dialogue much more exciting to read!

Math Update!

We are back to our normal math routine after a long week of assessments!

This week our math switch groups reviewed how solve missing partner addition and subtraction equations.  To support our math learning we added new purple and blue quilt cards to our math tool bags.  Our purple and blue cards are very similar to our previous yellow and orange cards, except this time we are encouraging our mathematicians to count-on or “make a ten” as they solve equations with teen totals.

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We also began solving mixed stories again.  Our mathematicians had to listen carefully to each story, determine what was missing (either a partner or the total), and write an addition equation, subtraction equation, and math mountain to go with.  Below is an example of a missing partner story:

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Make sure your child is showing their thinking (using one of the methods above) on their homework pages before you send them back to school.  Thank you!

Reading Update!

We started off the past week of nonfiction reading by focusing on making pictures in our minds.  We are learning so many new things from our nonfiction texts and part of that comes from slowing down after each new section of reading and really picturing in our minds what the book was describing.

We also talked about how when we are reading nonfiction books, we come across tricky words.  Sometimes the words themselves are tricky to decode and sometimes the words can be decoded, but it is a new vocabulary word that we don’t know.  If we have a tricky word to decode, we reviewed all our animal friend decoding strategies:

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But, we also talked about how nonfiction books are a little different from fiction books when it comes to decoding.  To help with tricky words, it is important to focus on what that section is trying to teach and then reread the section, look at the picture, and even check the glossary for clues!

As always, sometimes when we try all the decoding strategies, there are still going to be words that we can’t figure out without help.  So, we added a new section to our tracking app and the kids now have the option to record the sentence that has their tricky word in it.  Then, when we come together as a class, we can all coach the  student through the word or see if we have any schema that might help explain their tricky vocabulary word.

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Donations Needed: Graham Crackers!

Room 104 is in need of graham crackers!!  Our supply has slowly dwindled as these crackers are shared whenever a child does not have a morning snack.   If you are willing, we would appreciate any and all donations of honey graham crackers to be added to our classroom stash.  Thanks so much!

P.S. Don’t forget to send your child to school with a healthy snack each day!

Writing Update!

In Writer’s Workshop we are back to Small Moment stories! We reminded ourselves that Small Moment stories are zoomed in stories that are true about you! We also reviewed that they tell the who, what and where on the first page.

During this unit, we will be using some authors we know (and meeting some new ones) as mentors. We talked as a class how a mentor is someone who teaches you something. The authors we are going to look at are great writers, so they can teach us how to write even better Small Moment stories!

The first author we are looking at is Angela Johnson. In her book Joshua’s Night Whispers, she zooms into a small moment of her son Joshua snuggling with his dad and listening to night sounds before bed. We talked about how Joshua probably felt warm, safe and snuggly, and then we took out out our brainstorming page and wrote down an idea of a time when we felt that way too! We can write stories that are important to us, and a lot of times those important stories are related to a feeling.


We will continue to look at other books by Angela Johnson and a few other authors to help us write even better stories!

Reading Update!

We continued our study of nonfiction books this past week.  We started the week by checking to see if we are understanding what we read.

In a fiction book, we practiced using our CHECK FOR UNDERSTANDING checkmark to stop every few pages and see if we could remember WHO we had just read about and WHAT had just happened.  In our nonfiction books, we realized that we needed to stop after every section to check to see if we understood the big idea of what that section was teaching.  We worked on summarizing the section by just answering the WHAT question from our checkmark.  If we could answer it, then we kept going.  If we couldn’t quite figure out the big idea from that section, then we went back to reread.  We also talked about how the pictures could help them understand the big idea.

The kids have learned so much from our nonfiction books already and they just LOVE sharing what they learned with the class.  We have been tracking our thinking and sharing throughout the week.

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This week, we asked the kids to add their reaction to what they learned into what they shared.  We talked about how when they learned something new, sometimes their first reaction was: that is so COOL!  But other times it could be something else…

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The kids worked on adding their reactions and it was so fun to see how their reactions brought out further understanding of their learning.

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And we didn’t stop there, we talked about how when we learn something new, sometimes it opens up a new question for us.  We gave the example of when we shared Jordan’s learning about storms on Jupiter being worse than storms on earth, it made us wonder, “What do those storms look like?”  Jordan was able to grab her book and show us a picture of their hurricane on Jupiter that makes the red spot on the planet.  And, when we shared Andersen’s learning about how sharks take a test bite before they eat their food, it made us wonder, “Does the test bite kill the animal, or will it survive?”  There were lots of kids who were throwing out their thoughts to try and answer our question, but we decided we would have to do some more reading to find out what really happens.  We’ll keep working on adding these questions in while we track our thinking.

Aren’t these first grade readers amazing?! Way to go guys!

Field Trip: Zoo!

Thursday, May 22, we will be going on a field trip to John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids to learn about animal parents, their young, and how different animals grow up differently.  Our Georgetown Parent Club has graciously covered the majority of the cost for this trip and all we need from you is $1 for each student. Please send $1 to school with your child in an envelope labeled with Zoo Trip and your child’s name.  We need to submit payment to the zoo before spring break.  We would appreciate your $1 by the end of February so that we could get things in order.