# Week 29!

It’s a short week!!  We’re looking forward to some warm and dry weather too!!

# March 31 – April 9 – Spring Break: No School

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.

In Reader’s Workshop, we started a new unit focused on learning from all types of texts. We filled bags with different topics (dogs, dinosaurs, weather, plants, presidents, etc.)! The students are working with a bag of books that focus on one big idea for a few days.  Some of the books from their topic are nonfiction and some are fiction.  The first graders spend time each day reading through the books on their topic to see what they can learn and teach others about their topic.

# Math Update!

For the last few weeks, we have created graphs and made comparisons during our math switch time.  As our expertise grew, so did our graphs! Instead of comparing just two groups of objects, most of our graphs now compare three categories of data, like the graph below:

We are always trying to make comparisons between the data in each category (group) by finding the MAGIC NUMBER. With three groups it’s a little harder to find the difference especially when comparing the top category of data with the bottom category of data. If we use a pencil to cover up the extra information, finding the MAGIC NUMBER is a breeze.

We then transitioned to solving comparison stories. Our first graders learned a new strategy called: COMPARISON BARS. Comparison bars are a visual tool for solving stories in which two amounts are compared and the difference (magic number) is either known or unknown. Check out the examples below:

Thank you (ahead of time) for helping your child on his or her homework pages this week. Be sure to check their work. This new strategy is tricky and sometimes our first graders are unsure about where the known information should go. (If the magic number or the difference is known, the information always goes inside the oval.) We will review more comparison stories next week and then we will wrap up Unit 6 with an assessment.

# Writing Update!

This week during Writer’s Workshop we jumped right into writing nonfiction books.

We talked about all that we have learned about nonfiction books this year and then we built a list of the features we will add to our nonfiction books. We then picked a topic we are all experts at, Georgetown Elementary School, and wrote a nonfiction book together.

Next week, we’ll brainstorm ideas that the kids are experts in and they’ll start writing their own.

# Week 29!

Only 9 school days until spring break!!!  Let the countdown begin!!!

# March 16-29 – Hand2Hand Donation Drive

We invite you to participate in our spring donation drive to support Hand2Hand — a community program that provides food to families in need through the school year and during the summer months.  This blog post explains the types of donations needed, drop off location and time frame.

# March 24 – Body Safety Presentation

(Presented by the Children’s Adovcacy Center)

# March 25 – Mother/Son Event

We are excited to begin some new learning during our reading and writing workshop times this week.  The kids are going to LOVE jumping back into nonfiction and showing off their expertise as they write “All About” books!!!

# Writing Update!

After working for a few days to write our last small moment story, we continued to work on drafting CONSTRUCTED RESPONSEs to questions about a text. Our first graders have worked hard to listen to questions and figure out answers, but they need to fully respond to a question in a format that shows they understand the question (restate question), they can answer the question (answer – ALL parts), and they can use information from the text to back up the answer they chose (cite information from the text).

This week, we used Raz-Kids as a tool to help us practice our constructed response. When the first graders reach a certain level within Raz-Kids, a constructed response question gets added the end of the quiz they take after reading their book. We worked together to read a story, answer the quiz questions, and then form a constructed response answer to the last question.

# Math Update!

We began our Unit 6 in math this past week.  Our first grade mathematicians are 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.

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.

The 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!).

We’ve already learned so much about being a great decoder and how important it is to use 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:

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.

# Some more fun books!

We had so much fun practicing with some of our higher level comprehension books that force the kids to figure out tricky vocabulary words and really infer beyond the text to understand the story.

We first read the book The Stranger (Chris Van Allsburg).  This story really puts the kids to the test to see if they can be careful to pay attention to all the small details that are on each page and put them all together to figure out who the stranger is.  We stopped on each page to check for understanding  about the WHO? and WHAT? and by the end, the kids were so proud of all the thinking they were doing to figure out who this stranger really was.

Then, we spent time reading the book The Sweetest Fig, by Chris VanAllsburg.  The kids shared so many questions and connections, it was easy to see the thinking they were doing in order to figure out what was happening in this story.  We had lots of vocabulary questions to figure out in this book.  One of the questions was, ‘What is a fig?‘  I made a stop by the grocery store and found some in the dried fruit section.  I brought in some dried figs and the kids were enthralled with them.  We had many adventurous first graders who were willing to try one and most of the kids loved them.  I am pretty sure they taste like raisins, that’s what they looked like at least.  I didn’t try one (not quite as adventurous as they are).  In the story, when the characters ate the sweet figs, their dreams came true. So, if your child was adventurous and tried a fig today, don’t forget to…