These past few days of Mind Up were spent focusing in mindful listening. We started by introducing the students to a new part of their brain. You may have heard your first grader talking about their Reticular Activating System (RAS). Ok, typing that sentence just made me laugh, but ask your first grader about their RAS and see what they have to share!
A few weeks ago, we had the students focus as hard as they could on their sense of hearing for a short amount of time and then discussed all the things they were able to hear. We came up with a long list, but that was just our sense of hearing. All of our senses are busy picking up different sights, tastes, smells, feelings, and noises and sending them to our brains. Our RAS is the part of the brain that gathers all those messages and decides which messages are important enough to be passed on to the rest of the brain and which things can be ignored. We talked about how when they are trying to listen to instruction in the classroom, we need to train our own RAS to know how to ignore distractions like noises from other rooms, the hallway, outside, or friends sitting next to us and focus on the teaching.
To strengthen our ability to focus our RAS, we did some listening exercises and the kids had to work hard to focus on certain sounds and really ignore all other distractions. We took note of what our body does when we are focusing really hard and came up with the following list:
If you were to walk the halls around first grade, you will often hear us asking the kids to show us what mindful listening looks like or to focus their RAS…you can use that at home, as well!
We are looking forward to some fun activities coming up this week and are hoping for great weather on Friday for the Walk-a-thon!!!
September 17 – Constitution Day
September 18 – Library Day
Don’t forget to send your child’s library book back to school today.
September 21 – Picture Day
If you are ordering pictures, please send in your child’s picture envelope on or before Thursday.
September 20 – Math Assessment
September 22 – Super “G” Walk-A-Thon
We are pumped up and excited to walk in support of our school!!! Plan to dress your first grader in a superhero shirt/cape/costume and comfy shoes on Friday. The first graders will be walking on the track from 9:45-10:30. All parents are welcome to join us outside to walk on the track. Donation envelopes can be sent in on or before Monday, September 25.
Finally, if you are interested in helping out as a sight word parent volunteer this year and have not already filled out this survey, please do! It is okay for your younger children to come along with you when you help out during our sight word practice. If you are available on a different afternoon send me an e-mail, I would love to have 2-3 parent helpers twice a week! Thank you!
Sight Word Parent Volunteer Survey
You might hear your student talking about our MIND UP time during the day. Mind Up is a curriculum that helps teach students about their brains and how their brains work in order to help them be more proactive in how they approach learning and social interactions.
So far, we have learned some key areas of the brain. You may have heard your first grader talking about these three key parts of the brain: Prefrontal Cortex, Amygdala, and Hippocampus. The prefrontal cortex is what we call our WISE LEADER, it is where our smart thinking happens (math, reading, etc.). Our Hippocampus is where our memories are stored, we called is our MEMORY SAVER. And the amygdala is the part of our brain the helps us stay safe when we are in danger, we call it our SECURITY GUARD.
During Writer’s Workshop, we have been writing small moment stories. A Small Moment story is a true story about you!
We talked about how important it is to plan out a story before we start writing it (so, we don’t put all the details on the first page and then run out of things to say OR to make sure that we know what we want to share on each page, in case we don’t finish the story in one day and have to come back to it another day). To help the kids make a plan, we created a new writing paper that includes a special box on each page for them to draw a quick sketch in. We practiced drawing a quick sketch for the beginning, middle, and end, before writing any words or drawing any pictures.
Our first graders have been working so hard to grow their reading stamina and we have reached right around 13 minutes of sustained reading. Our goal is 20 minutes, so we are close! Eventually, they will have at least two 20 minute blocks of read-to-self time each day. As we worked this past week to problem solve any distractions that arose, we also were able to focus on some important reading strategies.
We talked about how important it is to warm up as we read. We know to look at the pictures and think about what might happen in the story, but we also focused on thinking about what words would go along with the pictures that we saw in the book. The kids were able to predict words they thought they might see in the book. Then, when they went to read the story, they were able to read words that may have been tricky, but because they had predicted those words might be in the story, their brains were ready to read them. Good readers warm up to a story before reading the words, to help them be the best readers they can be.
The cool temperatures this week definitely made it fell like fall. We loved getting outside to enjoy the sunshine in between a few drops of rain. On indoor recess days, we’ve been enjoying GoNoodle activities and the kids have loved drawing, creating, and reading books from our classroom library. Be sure to check out our class photo stream to see a glimpse of indoor recess and some of the other fun activities/lessons we’ve enjoyed this week. Just send me an e-mail if you would like me to share the link with your family again. 🙂
September 11 – Library Day
This will be our first visit to pick out a library book!
**The book that your child chooses from the library is a “just for fun” book. Right now, the kids may choose any picture book they would like. (Later in the year, they will be able to choose from nonfiction and chapter books too.) Library books are perfect for you to read aloud to your child as a part of your nightly reading routine. In a couple weeks, your child will begin bringing home a “take home book” at their “just right” reading level. These books will be excellent practice for your child to read aloud to you at home. Please feel free to send your child’s library book back to school as soon as you are finished reading it. We have a bin to collect them in, and I will make sure your child’s book makes it back to the library.**
September 14 – Jet’s Pizza Night
September 14 – PTC Meeting @ 6:30
September 15 – Early Release Day
Students are dismissed from school at 12:15. Sack lunches can be ordered through Food Service and will be sent home with your child. Please make sure your child knows if he or she needs to order a sack lunch.
This week our first homework packet will be sent home. Please look for this in your child’s blue folder on Monday. Directions are included right on the page. For more information about homework in first grade please check out this link –> HOMEWORK.
We are off to a great start with our wonderful math program. During the first two weeks of school, we’ve been visualizing, representing, and breaking apart numbers using a variety of math tools: counters, stair steppers, and number cards. When we break apart a number, we take a larger number and split it into two smaller numbers. We call the two smaller numbers partners because when we add them together they equal the larger number. So far, we’ve discovered the partners (and switch partners) for 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. (Check out the chart below!) We have also used our knowledge about partners and patterns to solve addition (+0, +1, +2) and subtraction problems (-0, -1, -2).
During our math routine, we have been hard at work practicing with our 120 number grid, money flip chart, number path (<–link), and secret code cards. This routine involves a series of math activities that we will continue building on each day for the rest of the year to strengthen our students’ flexibility with numbers.
During Writer’s Workshop, we have been writing small moment stories. A small moment story is a true story about you!
So far, we’ve learned that good small moment stories have a beginning, middle, and end. So, we’ve been writing across three page booklets and the kids have been doing a great job of stretching out their stories.
We also learned that good writers always keep working! We used the phrase “When you’re done – you’ve only just begun!”. Good writers add details to their pictures and words, or they can start a new story.
Remind your child that anything they do (soccer practice, reading a book together, play a game, visiting grandma and grandpa) can become a small moment story!!!