February 23 - 27

This week we welcomed Ryan back to the classroom!  He has done a great job learning the routines and reconnecting with everyone.  I've been really proud of how the students have been eager to help him and include him.

We started studying "fact families" in math, which involves making 2 addition equations and 2 subtraction equations using a set of 3 numbers (e.g. 5+3=8, 3+5=8, 8-3=5, 8-5=3).  We also introduced name collection boxes, which are various ways to make or say a number (e.g. 12 = 1 dozen, twelve, 6+6, 14-2, etc.), and the addition/subtraction table which can help students see patterns in addition and subtraction.

We also learned two new reading strategies and practiced using each:
1. paying attention to ?, !, words in bold, italics, underline or otherwise different to read more fluently and with expression, not like a robot.
2. picking a word from a book to remember and try to use in conversation/writing that same day to expand your vocabulary.

In writing we addressed the first grade goal of using the words like "First, Next, Then, Last" to organize our sentences when we wrote instructions for how to do something.  I will have copies of your child's writing available for you to take home at his/her conference next week.

Please remember that students will be dismissed at 11:00 on Thursday and Friday next week.  

We would really appreciate additional tissues and glue sticks for the classroom.  
Thanks so much for your ongoing generosity!

Next week's sight words will be: door, just, last, more, pick
Enjoy these pictures from the past two weeks:

February 9-13

Happy Valentine's Day!  I hope you enjoy all the beautiful crafts your child brought home this week.   Many of the crafts will be available during choice time for the next few weeks for anyone who missed that day or wants to make more.  We will make Borax crystals in different colors later in the year.  Directions for making Borax crystals yourself are available online.    Thanks to Mary Jo for providing many of the supplies and to all the volunteers who helped out! I will post pictures of the festivities here soon. 

Please remember there is no school next week (February 16-20).  When we return we will begin learning about dinosaurs in preparation for our field trip to the Museum of the Earth on March 9.  In addition to learning science, specifically paleontology, one of the objectives of the field trip is to develop friendships between the schools as the students will eventually end up at the same middle school.  We will practice some conversation skills to help facilitate social interaction between the students, especially on the bus ride when students will be sitting with their buddies.

This week in writing we responded to letters from our field trip buddies at Northeast Elementary School!  We also worked on describing a specific event in great detail, by explaining each step we took to make a wheel and axle design in science using words like First, Next, Then and Last to organize our writing.  That piece of writing will be on display in the hall outside the classroom and you can see more examples of your child's writing during conferences in the first week of March.  If you have not already scheduled a conference time, you can do so below or I will contact you after the break.

This week in math we reviewed drawing a picture for a word problem, using "doubles" addition facts to solve similar problems (e.g. if 5+5=10 then 5+6=11), and using function machines more.  We also used tangrams and played some money games with $1, $5, $10, $50 and $100.  Please continue to help your child memorize the "doubles" addition facts from 0-10 and to challenge your child to work with two and three digit numbers at home, too! 
In reading we created a display of the reading strategies we have been learning and practicing at school.  The strategies are organized by what they help readers with: comprehension/understanding, accuracy/reading words correctly, fluency/reading smoothly, or expanding vocabulary/noticing, learning, and using new words.  

Recent "accuracy" strategies we have been learning include:
1. Skip an unknown word, read to the end of the sentence or page, then go back and reread so you can make a better guess about the unknown word.
2. Trying each sound a letter can make (hard/soft c and g, long/short a, e, i, o, u)
3. Looking for word parts (words within words like "end" in "blend" and blends like "bl")
When we read we also practice accuracy by sounding out all the letters in a word (not guessing after the 1st letter), using the pictures for clues, and thinking about what would make sense in the sentence/story.
We need tissues and ziploc bags (sandwich or quart size) for the classroom!
Thanks for your generosity.

We will study these sight words in the last week of February:
hear, mine, tell, were, time

February 2 - 6

I spent Monday alongside the other first grade teachers in the district evaluating recent student writing samples.  The results of your child's specific work will be discussed at conferences (see below), but in general I found that our students have great ideas of things to write about, use good descriptive vocabulary, and are skilled at using phonetic spelling for words they don't know.  Some common goals for the class to work on included using capital and lower case letters appropriately, using transition words between ideas (first, next, then, last...) and using a wider variety of sentence structures.

While I was at this meeting Richie helped the students experiment with wheels and axles.  They configured different designs using large and small wheels in a variety of combinations.  See the pictures below and the Foss Science Balance and Motion website for more information about the experiments we have been doing and an interactive "roller coaster design" game your whole family can enjoy.

You'll also see pictures of us celebrating Sophia's birthday this week with cupcakes that had mini marshmallow snowpeople on them, and a applesauce and cinnamon dough project with Sophia's Mom and brother.  You may have seen some of the extra dough come home on Wednesday afternoon in a Ziploc bag.  Your child can use the dough to make something and set it out to dry for a few days and it will harden into a cinnamon-scented masterpiece!  MaryJo suggests that you bake it at 200 degrees for about an hour to thoroughly dry it out.  Our masterpieces will come home at the end of next week.

This week in math we looked at patterns in addition facts, such as what happens when you add zero or add one, and when you switch the order of numbers (2+3=5, 3+2=5, 5=2+3, and 5=3+2).  We also started to memorize the "doubles" (1+1, 2+2, 3+3 ...) and the pairs that add up to 10 (0+10, 1+9, 2+8, 3+7, 4+6, 5+5).  Please help your child practice those kinds of problems at home so they can become automatic and use those facts to help them solve similar problems.  Up until this point we have been using manipulatives like pennies, fingers, calculators, or drawing a picture to solve addition problems, and throughout the rest of the year we will be encouraging students to do more "mental math" and build off the addition facts they have memorized.  For example, if you know 6+6=12 then you can easily figure out 6+7.  Many of the students are using this strategy already in addition problems but aren't as comfortable using it in subtraction problems.

We also introduced the Function Machine in math, where students have to figure out the "rule" that is being applied to numbers.  This is very similar to the Frames and Arrows number patterns students have been doing, but it is usually displayed with a box showing numbers going in and out, and then the input and output numbers are in a table or list.  It can be a bit of an abstract concept for students and the visual organization often confuses them, so I try to simplify it by asking students how to get from the first number (input) to the second number (output). 

This week we wrote a friendly letter to our buddies in first grade at Northeast Elementary School who will be going on the field trip to the Museum of the Earth with our class on March 9.  We should be receiving letters from them soon and will communicate with our pen pals throughout the rest of the school year!

Next week we will study these wight words: 
gave, keep, house, name, had

Please make sure your child has not accidentally brought home someone else's snow pants, and be sure that your child's name is in every article of clothing that comes to school!  Also make sure your child has extra pants, socks, and underwear here at school for when snow accidentally gets clothes wet during recess.

Please note that students are dismissed at 11:00 on both Thursday, March 5 and Friday, March 6.  Conferences will take place both afternoons.  Scroll down to sign up for a conference time if you have not already done so (I will email you or send a note to confirm your requested day/time).