Monthly Archives: March 2015

Week 29!

We have a busy four day week filled with fun and maybe another 60 degree day too!!!

If you have not checked out MobyMax, please do!!!  This website is a terrific way for your child to practice important academic skills and strategies at home.  There are also two contests taking place right now!!!  (If you need your child’s log-in information again, just send me an e-mail!)

March 30 – Computer Day


April 1 – Library Day


April 1 – April Fools Day


April 2 – Talent Show


April 3 – April 12 – Spring Break



Have a wonderful spring break!!!  Enjoy lots of rest, relaxation, and hopefully sunshine too!!!  I wish you safe travels if your family is vacationing somewhere outside of West Michigan.  See you soon!!!

Writing Update!

Our first grade writers began studying a new genre of writing this week: NONFICTION.  The kids were over the moon excited to start this new learning!!!

To begin, we brainstormed a list of topics that we know a lot about.  We used four categories to help organize our areas of expertise: people, places, activities, and things.  Under each category we listed as many topics as we could.

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After our topic lists were full of great ideas for nonfiction books, we got started with our writing.  We learned to think about our audience and include facts in our books that our audience would want to know.

We also learned how to plan for our books by “trying on” our topics.  To make sure our topic was a “good fit”, we used our fingers to list five different facts before starting our pictures and words.  If we were unable to come up with five facts, we moved on to a different topic.

In the next couple of weeks, be sure to explore any nonfictions texts that you have at home with your child.  Review the different nonfiction text features (headings, table of contents, captions, charts, maps, glossary, etc.), so your child feels confident about adding these interesting elements to his or her books!!!

Math Update!

We began our Unit 6 in math this past week.  Our first grade mathematicians our now sorting, organizing, and comparing data.  What a blast!!

To start things off, we learned how to take random data and record it on a chart or graph.  Crossing out each object as we add it to our graph helps us to be accurate in our representation.

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After graphing the information, we were able to notice many things about the data we were studying.  Which group had the most?  Which group had the fewest?  How many in all?  And, we were also able to make comparisons – how many more or how many fewer.  To compare our data, we drew matching pairs and then circled the magic number.

Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 10.29.50 PMThe magic number represents the difference between the two groups being compared.  No matter if we are comparing how many more or how many fewer – the number is always the same (that’s why it’s magic!).

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When you are looking over your first grader’s homework be sure to check if he or she is circling the word that correctly matches the data.  Understanding when to circle more or fewer can be a little tricky especially if your first grader is reading the homework page on their own.  We always underline the group that is listed first, so we know which part of our graph to go back and study.

We can’t wait to learn more!

Reading Update!

We had an exciting week in Reader’s Workshop this week! First, we reorganized our classroom library. That was a BIG job, but the kids were such wonderful helpers! We sorted all of our books by topics. Some of these topics included “Things Families Do”, “Dogs”, “Dangerous Animals”, “Animals that Can Fly”, “Animals that Change”, “Weather”, “Famous People”, “Jobs”, “Sports” and many more!!

This coming week, we will choose new topics on which to become experts! I can’t wait to hear about the new things they will learn!


First Grade Families,

We are excited to pilot a web-based curriculum called MobyMax in our classroom and school.  All students will have access to MobyMax at school and at home.  Today we checked out this awesome program during our computer time and took our Fact Master placement test!!! We are hopeful that this site will be a useful way for our students to practice skills during the school year and over the summer months.

MobyMax is tailored to your child’s individual needs, and I think you will be very impressed by how fast your child will excel while using Moby.  Moby’s features include:

  • Placement tests that accurately identify where your child excels, and where his or her “missing skills” are needing improvement.
  • Targeted instruction to “fill in” those missing skills.
  • Systematic review sessions that ensure that your child retains 100% of what he or she has learned.

Best of all, your child can access Moby from your home computer at any time.

NOTE:  If your child is taking a placement test for a skill area, remind your child that the questions get harder and harder.  It’s okay if the material is hard—it may not have been taught yet, meaning it could be coming later in the year or in it isn’t taught until the next grade level.  

Login steps for your child:

  •  You can also go to and click on the mobymax whale image.  This will take you right to the site.

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  •  Please go to
  •  Enter your child’s information. (I sent this to you in an e-mail.)

Once logged in, your child will immediately start the lessons and begin working on grade level skills.

You can sign in as a parent as well by selecting “Parent” from the drop-down menu and entering your child’s username and password.  You will be able to monitor your child’s progress and even send messages to me.

Have fun!

Reading Update!

We’ve already learned so much about being a great decoder and how important it is to use many strategies to figure out tricky words.  This week, we tried to push ourselves even more as readers by learning a new strategy that taught us how to break apart words into syllables, so we could decode multi-syllable words.  This new strategy had a special name: SPOT & DOT!!!

Before we could try SPOT & DOT we had to develop our understanding of a syllable.  We learned that words can be split apart into syllables and every syllable has its own vowel sound.  (This vowel sound is sometimes made up of a vowel all by itself.  Other times it’s made up of a team of vowels working together.)   Since our SPOT & DOT strategy works with words that contain two or more syllables, we studied several words and tried to predict if they had only one syllable or many syllables.

Next, we were ready to SPOT & DOT.  We followed the steps below:

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After Step 3, we swooped our fingers under each syllable to read the word.

We tried reading many 2-syllable and 3-syllable words as a class before the kids tried some on their own.  We will continue practicing this strategy next week as we tackle some of the tricky multi-syllable words the kids find in their own books.

Writing Update!

This past week during Writer’s Workshop we completed our narrative writing post-assessment! We spent the first part of our week reviewing the parts of a great small moment story.

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After our review, we had time to plan, write, revise, and edit our very best small moment story.  We did it with no help, not even from our writing partner.  I was very impressed with what these first grade writers know about good writing.  These stories are AMAZING!!!

Writing Update!

In Writer’s Workshop, we got to celebrate some amazing Small Moment stories!

First we picked our favorite story we had written so far. Then we made sure our stories had everything we learned from our mentor authors. We checked for leads, show not tell, other words other than “said”, ellipses, sound effects and an ending.

After we knew our stories had all of those great details, we double checked for finger spaces, neat handwriting, capital letters, and punctuation.

We then made a title for our stories and created a cover. We also wrote a dedication page and an about the author page.  After putting all of our pages together, we left our stories on our desks and each got 3 sticky labels. We went around and read each other’s stories and left a book review on the back of the story to share what great things they had in their stories.

We ended with a Hawaiian Punch toast!!!  It was such a fun celebration of all we’ve learned!!! 🙂