Monthly Archives: October 2014

Writing Update!

We are continuing to write Small Moment stories in Writer’s Workshop. As we began the week, we wrapped up our learning learning about what makes a story easy to read. They learned that in order to write stories that are easy to read, they need to write 5 star sentences. 5 Star sentences are include…

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Then, they each got a specific job to work on to make sure they are writing our best 5 star sentences. They will keep their writing goals for the next few weeks and then, if they are making progress in their goal area, we will switch to a different writing goal.  Each day, as they go off to write, we check in and remember what our writing goal is to make sure we are focusing on that as we write.  They have a bookmark to help them remember their goal.

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We also focused on our small moment story. When we are writing our stories, it is easy to list off a bunch of things we did. We might end up with stories that sound like this….

“This weekend I went to the mall with my mom. We got some clothes. Then we went to Subway and got a sandwich. Next we went home and watched a movie. I hope we can do that again!”

We have been calling this a watermelon story. A watermelon story is a big story (many moments). In Writer’s Workshop, we want to write tiny seed stories. These stories are small, zoomed in stories. Like seeds in a watermelon, there are small stories inside of big stories.

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Looking at the example story, we could write a seed story of going to the mall. We could also write a story about getting our sandwich from Subway or watching a movie at home. We want to focus on one moment in time, and write lots of details about that one time.

We will continue to work on this next week. Way to go First Graders!!

Math Update!

Our first graders did an absolutely fantastic job on the Unit 2 assessment that we took this week!!! 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 and stories.

A skill to continue practicing with your child from 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.

This past week we also 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. Unit 3 will focus on learning strategies for solving addition and subtraction, as well as missing partner stories and equations. We can’t wait to get started next week!

Social Studies!

We started our Economics unit for social studies today.  The first things we learned were needs and wants.  A need is something we can’t live with out, a want is something that makes life more fun.  🙂  We talked about different wants- things that we have asked for for our birthdays or things that were on our Christmas list.

The kids know that we have 5 needs:

foodwatershelterclothes, air

We also talked about goods and services.  A good is something you buy that you can hold or touch, and a service is something that someone else does for you.  The kids did a great job of brainstorming different kinds of services- mailmen, waiters, policemen, teachers, and dentists.

We turned our room into a factory this afternoon to talk about producers and consumers.  We learned that we are all consumers (use, buy, & eat things) and we learned that producers make things.  We all became producers within Factory 104 and made a product to show off to the class.  Take a look at the goods our producers made:

Halloween Party!

Just a reminder…

Our Halloween party will take place this ThursdayOctober 30, from 2:45ish-3:25ish.


On Thursday, October 30, your child can bring their Halloween costume to school in a bag.  We will change into our festive gear around 2:30ish. Your child will wear their Halloween costume during the party and home from school.  (You are welcome to arrive early if you would like to assist your child in putting on his/her costume.)

All parents are welcome to join us!! 🙂  Thank you so much to all the parents who are donating supplies and volunteering during the event. Please send in your party donations by Wednesday, so I can double check that we have everything we need.  Food items can be brought in the day of the party.

We are looking forward to lots of fun!!!

Week 9!

It’s going to be a BUSY, BUSY week!

October 27 – Computer Day


October 28 – Unit 2: Math Assessment


October 28 – Picture Retakes


October 29 – Library Day


October 30 – Halloween Party @ 2:45


October 31 – NO SCHOOL


Thank you so much for confirming your fall parent/teacher conference time with me.  If you haven’t gotten back to me yet, please send me a quick e-mail to let me know if the time/day works well for you. The schedule can be found here: Conference Schedule

A quick homework note, there will be no math homework this week due to the assessment for Unit 2 and pre-assessment for Unit 3 that all the first graders will be taking.  Also, your child will not bring home a take home book on Thursday!  Enjoy the long weekend!! 🙂

On Thursday, your child can bring their Halloween costume to school in a bag.  We will change into our festive gear around 2:30ish. Your child will wear their Halloween costume during the party and home from school.  (You are welcome to arrive early if you would like to assist your child in putting on his/her costume.)

All parents are welcome to join us!! 🙂  Thank you so much to all the parents who are donating supplies and volunteering during the event. Please send in your party donations by Wednesday, so I can double check that we have everything we need.  Food items can be brought in the day of the party.

Math Update!

This week we continued to solve subtraction stories and write subtraction equations.

We learned how to prove that an equation is true by making a circle drawing underneath to show that the each side of the equation is equal.  As your first grader completes the subtraction equations on the homework pages, please encourage him/her to prove their answer with a circle drawing.

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We also learned that we can use addition to help us solve subtraction.  If we know the partners for an addition equation, we can use this understanding to help us find the missing partner in a subtraction equation.

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To finish up our week, we learned how to write equations a whole new way.  Equations can be written side-to-side (horizontal), like we’ve always done… BUT, they can also be written up-and-down (vertical).   We practiced solving addition and subtraction stories and writing our equations both ways.  We also practiced counting on when solving vertical equations with a plus sign and making circle drawing when solving vertical equations with a minus sign.

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Next week Tuesday, we will take our Unit 2 math assessment which covers everything that we’ve learned about addition and subtraction.  We are very confident that our first graders will do a terrific job!!!  We can’t thank you enough for taking the time to help your child with their math homework each night that it comes home!!!

Writing Update!

We have been making our writing easy to read in Writer’s Workshop. It is important that we are able to read what we write, and other people should be able to read it as well! That way, it is easy to share the amazing stories we write. There are a few ways we can make sure our writing is easy to read…

– Finger Spaces

– Capital Letters

– Punctuation

– Spelling words spelled correctly

– Neat Handwriting

We spent some time talking about Capital Letters this week.

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We learned that every sentence starts with a capital letter. We also learned that names start with a capital letter as well — just like your name starts with a capital letter. We noticed that the letter i, when it is alone, is also capital. This is because you are talking about yourself, so that should be capital too 🙂

We also worked on punctuation this past week in Writer’s Workshop. We noticed that without punctuation, the reader doesn’t have a good place to pause and take a breath and the writing doesn’t make sense. When we add punctuation to our small moment story, it slows down our story, and it makes our story easier to read and more understandable.

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).  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. We also noticed that if we went back and added punctuation, we needed to make sure we capitalized the first letter after to our punctuation since it was the beginning of a new sentence.

It is hard, but we will keep plugging along and practicing adding that punctuation into our stories to make them easier to read.

We will continue talking about easy to read writing next week as well. We will look at adding finger spaces, punctuation, spelling words, and using our best handwriting.

Science Update!

We started Science this past week and our First Graders loved it! First, we learned about all the jobs that a Scientist does. Those jobs include…

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After we learned about the jobs of a Scientist, we asked the question, “What lives in the grass?” We discussed as a class what we thought might live in the grass and recorded our thoughts. Then, we went outside to make our observations. The first graders were very excited and enthusiastic about recording different things they found in the grass. After we all made our observations, we headed back inside.

The next day, we revisited our observations and decided to sort them (classify) into Plants and Animals, living and non-living, and green and brown. We found lots of flowers, mushrooms, sticks, centipedes, ants, and leaves. We wrapped up Science for the week by sharing what we learned.  The first graders are looking forward to revisiting Science in a few weeks right before Thanksgiving!

Reading Update!

We started the week by reviewing our animal reading strategies from last week.  With every strategy that we have learned, we have explained that each strategy won’t work for every word.    As a last resort, we introduced our Helpful Kangaroo.  We talked to the kids about how when none of their strategies work for a word, they can always ask a friend or teacher to be their Helpful Kangaroo and give them a hint to figure out the word.

To help the kids remember all the strategies they are supposed to try on their own before asking for help, we gave the students a new reading bookmark that has all our animal friends on it.  They pull this tool out each time they sit down to be readers to help remind them what to do when they have a tricky word.  If the kids STILL had a tricky word even after trying all the strategies it is really important for them to figure it out.  If we skip words and never figure them out, our reading isn’t going to make sense and we won’t understand the story!!!!  Since comprehension is so important we have to ask for help if we can’t figure out a tricky word ourselves.  BUT, the best time to ask for help isn’t during our reading time because then we aren’t doing our job of reading the whole time. So, the kids each have a stack on post it notes tucked into their reading tool bag.  If they need help on a word, they mark that page with a post it note to remind them to get help at one of our reading breaks, and then they continue on reading so they don’t waste their time.  The kids are building quite the tool kit to support their independent reading!

We, also, introduced one of our important reading tools, our Check for Understanding check mark.  After reading a just right book, the students pull this check mark out and turn to the first page and use the check mark to cover the words on the page.  The check mark reminds them to ask two questions: who? & what?  This is a self monitoring tool for the kids to use to see if they understood what happened on each page.

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They cover up the words and ask themselves who is this page about? and what just happened? Once they have answered these questions, they move the check mark and read the text to see if their answers to the questions fit with the text on the page.  If it does, they move to the next page.  If it doesn’t, then they cover up the words and try again (this time they should get it spot on, since they just read the text from the page).  Then they check again to see if they got it right by rereading the text on the page.

We have practiced using this tool at school during our reading workshop time and would love for the kids to carry over this skill practice at home too.  We will work on putting their check mark in their take home book baggie. When your child takes out their take home book to read, have them first Warm Up to Read, then read the words, and then retell the story using their check mark to help them.

On top of all this, we also continued learning how to read with our partners.  This week, we focused on how sometimes while we are reading, we come to a tricky word.  We talked about how our partners are great resources to help us figure out those tricky words, while we are reading together.  Here are the steps we follow:

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