Monthly Archives: October 2015

Week 8!

What a fun Friday!!!  We turned off the lights in our classroom and used finger flashlights to help us read during readers workshop!!  Our writing celebration was also a huge success!!  Every child shared a favorite part from his/her story.  We also read our whole story to a brand new friend and toasted (with Hawaiian Punch) to the wonderful writers we are becoming!!!  These first graders have learned so much since the beginning of the year!

We are looking forward to a fun week ahead with some festive activities!!! 🙂 🙂

October 26 – Computer Day

October 27 – Turkey Trot

October 28 – Halloween Party @ 12:30

October 28 – Library Day

October 30 – NO SCHOOL

October 31 – Happy Halloween!!!

Make sure to check out our conference schedule that I emailed to you and mark your date & time on your calendar!!!

Writing Update!

You may have noticed that your first grader’s blue folder was bursting with small moment stories. We have finished our first unit in writing and we spent the week celebrating our writing. Part of the celebration is bringing home all of their stories so they can share them with you! They have worked so hard on these stories! Ask your first grader to share these stories with you! I hope you enjoy them!

This past week we spent most of our writing time preparing a special story to share at our writing celebration! First, we picked out two stories that we are very proud of to revise on our own. Next, we revised our stories with the help of our partners to make sure our stories made sense. When we were revising be ourselves and with our partners, we followed this checklist…

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 Then, we edited our stories by making sure we had capitals in the right places, checking to see if we had punctuation, and double checking to see if we had finger spaces between each word so that our writing was easy to read. We followed this editing checklist…

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After that, we got a chance to use colored pencils to add some color to our stories. Finally, on Friday, we celebrated!

During our celebration time, we had a chance to share a favorite part of our story with the whole class. Next, we read our entire story to a small group. Once we were finished sharing, we came back together and had juice for our juice toast. I am so proud of how far these first graders have come as writers since the beginning of the year.

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.

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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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Last Friday, we took our Unit 2 math assessment which covered everything that we’ve learned about addition and subtraction.  Our first graders did a terrific job!!!  We can’t thank you enough for taking the time to help your child with their math homework!!!

Reading Update!

We 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 also focused on using what we know about word families to help us figure out new, tricky words. The kids noticed word family words that they knew in a snap. When we took a closer look at those words, we noticed that words from the same family all end the same.

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We then used that same word ending to help us figure out other, tricky words with the same word family ending.

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Week 7!

We have a busy week ahead!  We will be wrapping up units in math and writing.  Our first classroom writing celebration will take place on Friday!!!  This week, I will also begin meeting with every first grader to reassess reading levels and sight words.

October 19 – Computer Day

October 21 – Library Day

Please help your child to send their library book back to school on or before Wednesday!

October 21 – Marco’s Pizza Night

October 23 – Writing Celebration

This celebration is just for students.  Parents will be invited to some of our celebrations later in the year!

October 23 – Math Assessment: Unit 2

October 23 – Math Homework Due

Parent-Teacher conferences have been scheduled.  On Wednesday you will receive an e-mail with your family’s date and time.  Please let me know if you have a conflict with your conference time and I can gladly reschedule.

More details about our Halloween Party will also be posted later this week!

Mind Up Update!

This week, we reviewed what we had learned about being a mindful listener and then introduced using mindful seeing.  When we are mindful with our seeing, we are taking in all the details around us.  We talked about how it is important to be mindful of what expressions you see on people’s faces.

We talked a lot about what facial expressions show which feelings.  And then we talked about how we can be mindful see-ers and if we see someone who has an expression on their face that shows they are not feeling happy or good, then we can check in with them and see if there is anything we can do to help their feelings improve.

We, also, discussed mindful movement.  We started by finding our pulse and talking about being aware of the rate that our heart is beating.  After doing jumping jacks for 30 seconds, we noticed that our heart rate was much faster than when we were resting on the floor.  We talked about how our heart pumps faster when we are exercising to get more oxygen to our body so that we have energy to keep going.  But, our heart rate speeds up when we are nervous, excited, or scared as well.  We talked about being aware of how quickly our heart is beating and learned a way to calm ourselves down if we notice our hearts beating faster than they need to.  We talked about sitting up straight to allow for easier blood flow throughout our bodies and taking deep breaths (or yawning) to slow your heart rate and help calm ourselves.

We also talked about our body movement and how we need to be mindful of how we are moving.  Often, first graders are on the move and bump in to people or furniture around them without realizing it.  To practice being mindful of our surroundings, we each put a ruler on our head and walked around our room trying to keep it balanced on top.  The kids were very aware of where the furniture was, where their friends were, and what speed they were moving so that their ruler wouldn’t slip off.  Since having this discussion, we have talked about being mindful of our surroundings while we are moving around the room, especially around our mailboxes or iPad cart where space is limited (no pushing/shoving).

Another idea we have been talking about is how attitude affects how well you can handle situations, especially solving problems.  We introduced the words: optimistic thinker and pessimistic thinker.  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?”

Reading Update!

We spent time in reading this week reviewing the animal strategies from the previous week (Lips the Fish, Eagle Eye, Chunky Monkey, & Stretchy Snake). We talked about how these are great strategies to rely on when we come to a tricky word, but sometimes even these guys won’t be able to help us out.  So, we introduced some more new accuracy strategies.

If the students have tried stretching out the sounds of a tricky word and then crashing them back together and the word doesn’t sound right, we know that vowels make lots of sounds, so they can try to flip the vowel sound.  Flippy the Dolphin reminds us that when we are stretching out a word, to try the short vowel sound first and if that doesn’t work, FLIP IT and try the long vowel sound, and then the schwa sound.

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If we still need help, then when you come to a tricky word, skip it (Skippy the Frog) and read the rest of the sentence.

Once you have read to the end of the sentence, try it again (Tryin’ Lion) from the beginning of the sentence and make a good guess for the tricky word (using the context clues from the sentence).

The kids have now met: Lips the Fish, Eagle Eye, Chunky Monkey, Stretchy the Snake, Flippy the Dolphin, Skippy the Frog, and Tryin’ Lion.  That is quite a list of strategies.  But, most importantly, when they have tried a strategy and have a good guess of what they think their tricky word is…they NEED to be careful.  Careful Caterpillar checks to make sure that their guess makes sense, looks right, and sounds right.  When the kids guess a tricky word, they need to ask themselves those three questions to self check and make sure that their word makes sense, looks right, and sounds right.  If it does, great! If it doesn’t, then good readers keep trying!

Writing Update!

We have had a busy week in Writer’s Workshop! We know that good small moments stories have lots of details and one of those details includes using dialogue in our stories. We can add dialogue by either writing exactly what someone in our story said or we can add a speech bubble to our picture and write what our character said in the speech bubble.

 We also learned this week, how to finish our stories with a special ending  We talked about how when you give a gift, you finish by wrapping it up and tying a bow.  Stories are similar, our endings help “tie a bow” to our stories and help the reader know that our story is finished. We talked about how sharing some thoughts or feelings at the end of our story is a good way to finish. We used some sentence starters to help us think of some good ideas for endings.

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My favorite endings were the “I hoped” and “I thought” endings, and we had a chance to share some of our great endings with the rest of the class. We challenged the kids at the end of the week to see if they could start a new story that included all of the parts of a good small moment story.

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Math Update!

This week, our math switch groups continued to practice an important addition strategy: COUNTING ON.  We learned how to use our red quilt cards to increase our fact fluency.

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We also spent time studying a new math concept: SUBTRACTION!!!  When we solve stories that involve “taking something away” we use a minus sign (-) to represent what happened.  For example, when given the story:

There were 5 cookies.  I ate 3.  How many are left?

Our first graders learned to represent this thinking with circle drawing, break-apart stick, and minus sign right through the circles that were taken away:

We also emphasized that a subtraction equation always begins with the total.  Then we show the “minus” partner, which means that our answer is actually a missing partner (rather than a missing total like an addition equation).  Our first graders “trained their brains” to count up the total and write that number first to accurately represent a subtraction story or circle drawing with an equation.

With our introduction to subtraction still very fresh and new, please support your child on their homework pages as they learn to understand the strategies involved with solving and representing subtraction stories!!!!