January 26-30

January 2009
Click the thumbnail above to view pictures from the past two weeks via Picasa.

I hope everyone enjoyed the snow day on Wednesday!  This week we celebrated the Lunar New Year by making Year of the Ox puppets, paper lanterns, and having a group from Cornell show the first graders how to use chopsticks and do a traditional lion dance!  The students each got a "lucky money" envelope with a chocolate coin at the end of the presentation.  

We looked at "igh" words and at words that start with g with either the /g/ sound, as in go, or the /j/ sound, as in giant.  We will continue to study letters with more than 1 sound (a,e, i, o,u, c, g...) so that we can try each letter sound when figuring out unfamiliar words when we are reading.

In math we used base-10 blocks to add two and three digit numbers and reviewed using the greater than > and less than < sign.  We also played a variety of math games based around money: trading in pennies, nickels, and dimes for dollars, and trading in one, five, and ten dollar bills for one hundred dollar bills.

Next week's sight words will be: yes, does, her, room, need

This week I attended a district-wide Literacy Academy where I was able to learn about Kidspiration, a program installed on the school computers that allows students to create a variety of graphic organizers to document their ideas.  I hope to implement this tool in our room in the coming weeks!

I also finished the mid-year assessments this week, which included a writing sample and having students solve some math problems and explain how they figured them out.  On Monday (February 2) all first grade teachers across the district will be out of class to evaluate the writing samples together.  Richie will be in our class that day.   
Please note there is no school next Friday, February 6 or the week of February 16-20.

Report cards that come out in early March and will be discussed during conferences.  Please sign up below for a conference time and call or email me if you need to schedule it on a later date.

January 19 - 23

This week I spent two days evaluating students' reading and math skills in the library on an individual basis while Ms. Bartimer was in the classroom.  Since this was a short week filled with special events and testing, we will continue to work with these words next week: eat, give, little, right, there.

On Tuesday the class read the book Martin's Big Words about Martin Luther King Jr. and saw the slideshow below showing all 44 US Presidents before watching the inauguration on TV with the rest of the Annex:

In math we worked with the inequality sign < and pretended it was a mouth trying to eat the bigger number.  I try to reinforce on the concept that the mouth wants the larger number and focus on the term "greater than" before moving on to read the inequality from left to right using either "greater than" or "less than."  For example, we are reading 3 < 4 as "4 is greater than 3" right now, but eventually students should be able to read it as "3 is less than 4."  It was interesting to observe that students saw the equal sign = as only being used to point to the answer in an equation (e.g. 5 + 6 = 11) and not as meaning "the same as," so we reviewed that it can also be used without any addition/subtraction (as in 45 = 45).  This week we also reviewed the values of base-10 blocks as representing two-digit and three-digit numbers, using the terms "ones place," "tens place," and "hundreds place."

On Thursday we got to hear the local Beauty and the Beast Storytellers tell three tales.  One was about a giant pumpkin with great sound effects provided by the audience, another was about a ghost catcher who outsmarted the ghosts, and the third was about a forgetful boy who repeated whatever someone told him.  Ask your child to fill in the details for you!

On Friday morning we had a visit from the Museum of the Earth public program coodinator, Samantha Sands, to talk about our field trip on March 9.  We also had a brief video chat with our partner class at Northeast Elementary School using Skype!  On Friday afternoon we learned about momentum by making foam race tracks for marbles.  The lesson was based around the concept that if the marble had a longer, steeper slope to roll down it would be going faster - eventually fast enough to not fall out of a loop or twist in the track.  Look for pictures of those experiments to be posted here soon....

A reading strategy we are starting to use is to think about spelling patterns (e.g. "ce" usually sounds like "s") and to try both sounds a vowel can make when sounding out unknown words.  We examined the spelling pattern "ee" and "ea" that usually sounds like long e, and made a list of such words for reference when we are reading and writing.  We also reviewed the two sounds vowels can make and how a silent e at the end of a word can signal the long sound (aka letter name). 

Ask your child if he/she can name the pictures we are using to represent each vowel sound:

long a: acorn       long e: eagle       long o: OK sign
short a: apple        short e: egg        short o: octopus

long i: eyeball       long u: unicorn
short i: itchy       short u: umbrella

Finally, we are almost finished reading aloud the third book by local author Ruth Stiles Gannett, The Dragons of Blueland.  Next week we will begin another classic, Mr. Popper's Penguins.

In their own words... and voices!

*Newly Updated* Special thanks to Geoffrey's Dad for helping the students record videos of themselves reading the snow books they wrote and explaining pictures of some of our recent activities!  
Click the play button on the bottom or on the picture of a student on the side to hear them. 

January 12 -16

This week in science we learned more about balance by making mobiles.  We looked at images of Alexander Calder's mobiles online and some students got inspired to make theirs colorful and able to rotate and spin, like his.

In writing this week we made lists, which eventually we will use to help plan out our writing.  We practiced finding words we want to write around the room and, as usual, using the word wall list and invented spelling.

In reading this week we rotated through stations that included reading with a partner, reading to yourself, listening to books on tape, working with words, and reading online via raz-kids  (teacher username = aprovan, email me if you need your child's password again).

We reviewed how silent e can make a vowel say its name (e.g. hid vs. hide) and we looked at words with the /ow/ sound that fit the "ou" spelling pattern (about, out, shout, etc).

In math we started using the proper terms for the base 10 blocks (cubes (1), longs (10), flats (100) and blocks (1000)) that we will use to study place value later in the year.  We also reviewed the different formats of equations, or number sentences: 1+2=3, 3=1+2, or

On Thursday we enjoyed the students' singing in their wonderful concert and had a nice lunch with many of the families afterwards.  Thank you to Connie for organizing that event and to everyone who contributed to its success!

Please remember there is NO SCHOOL on Monday, January 19th in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  Our class will be able to watch part of the inauguration ceremony with other Annex classes on Tuesday, January 20th.  I will be doing assessments in the library both Tuesday and Wednesday (Ms. Bartimer will be my substitute).

On Monday, March 9 we will be going on a field trip to the Museum of the Earth!  A detailed flyer is included in this week's hand-outs, and more information will be posted here in February.

Next week's sight words are: 
eat, give, little, right, there.

December 2008 VoiceThread

January 5 - 9

I hope everyone enjoyed the snow day on Wednesday!  
Please note that we will have school on May 22 
due to the number of snow days taken so far this year.

This week we learned the following song, which goes to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.  Ask your student to sing it and read along with the lyrics below:

Time to tell the old year "bye"
Snowmen, mittens, cold wind blows,
It's the first month we all know
2009, let's all say "hi"

In math we measured various body parts with measuring tapes.  We reviewed adding two-digit numbers with a number grid ("counting up" or "counting down") as well as exchanging pennies, nickels and dimes.  We also reviewed telling time to the nearest quarter hour.  Many students came back from winter break with new watches which was helped them to practice telling time and has helped keep us on schedule!

In reading we practiced reading with a partner, remembering that when someone gets stuck on a word you should wait 3 seconds to let them think, ask them if they want help, and then give them a clue.  This is a strategy you can use at home, too. 

In writing this week we wrote letters to Zoe O. to send to her new school.  It was good practice using our word wall list, and checking that each sentence had a capital letter and question mark or period.  We also recorded each student reading aloud the snow books they wrote at the end of December.  Look for those to be posted here in the next few days!

We studied the two sounds the letter C can make: /k/ like "candy" and /s/ like "cereal."  We looked at some spelling patterns that can help us to figure out which sound the letter is making, for example usually C sounds like S when you see "ce" like cent, "ci" like city, or "cy" like icy.  See if you can list more words at home that fit that pattern!

Next week we will look at the two sounds G can make (/g/ like gorilla or /j/ like giraffe) and we will continue to study the effect of silent e on the sound vowels make throughout the rest of the month (tap vs. tape, hop vs. hope, kit vs. kite...).

The First Grade Chorus Concert will be Thursday, January 15th from 10:15-10:45 in the Annex gym.  You and your families are invited to attend and stay for lunch in our classroom!  I will try to videotape it and post that on here.
*** Next week's sight words will be: about, now, ride, stop, that  ***