Important Upcoming Dates:
Thursday, September 20th - Digger Dash!
Friday, September 21st - NO SCHOOL - Teacher Training
Our fall Parent Teacher Conferences are scheduled for
Thursday, September 27, and Thursday, October 4th.
Look for information about how to sign up soon!
October 8 - 12 NO SCHOOL - Fall Break
I can't believe it is already September! I have been enjoying getting to know your children! They are such a wonderful group of kiddos! This newsletter is designed to keep you updated with what your child is learning at school. Use this as a tool to communicate with me and with your child about their learning. We are very busy in first grade, as you will see!
We have "Reader's Workshop" everyday. We've been focusing on finding "Good Fit Books" and building our stamina for reading them in class, adding more time to sustained independent reading each day. Reading for an extended period of time can be a challenge to many first graders this time of the year! We start small and build on it every day. It is so important for the kids to spend time in class - and at home - practicing the skills they are learning! The best way for your child to become a proficient reader is to spend time reading books on their level every day. We have been busy working on good reading habits and tips and tricks for solving hard words!
Before Reader's Workshop we have"Word Study" everyday. This is a time to focus on phonics and patterns we see in words. This year we are using a program called Words Their Way. I've given the class a spelling test to see what they know about letters, letter combinations, and the sounds they make. This helped me start them at the appropriate Words Their Way level and differentiate for each child. Each week your child is given a "Word Sort." It has words that focus on a particular pattern, such as short vowels, blends (two letters whose sounds, when put together, blend closely - such as bl, st, dr, cr....), digraphs (two letters that, when put together, make a new sound - such as ch, sh, ph, th..), and long vowel patterns (two vowels that make one long vowel sound ("magic e"or "silent e" as in cake, and other combinations like oa, ai, ea...).
Another part of literacy is our Writer's Workshop:
Right now we are working on writing and telling "small moment" stories from the events in our lives. A small moment is one moment from our day. Unlike a huge "watermelon story," such as a trip to Disney Land, a small moment is a "seed story" - or one event from our trip, such as riding on Splash Mountain. First graders love to tell stories! They come in everyday with a story about going to the park, loosing a tooth, or playing with friends. But sometimes they struggle with coming up with ideas to write about. As they share their stories tell them, "That would make a great small moment for you to write about at school!"
In Writer's Workshop I teach them to go through the Writing Process. Our steps are:
1. - Think of an idea. For a small moment, this could be something you do (like riding my scooter or going to gymnastics), or something that has happened to you (like getting caught in a rain storm or making cookies with Dad.)
2. - Plan I tell them this is the most important! We will learn various ways to plan our story. Right now we are thinking about what happened first, then next, then after that and are "touching and telling" (touch each page as you tell the story out loud and think about what would go on each page), then sketch(draw a quick sketch on each page to help you remember your plan)
3. - Write! As you can see, we don't begin with writing our story!
4. - Revise I tell them, "When your done you've just begun!" We add detail to our story using "spider legs" and think how can I make my story better?
5. - Edit We check spelling and punctuation. We are talking about leaving spaces between our words, writing with lower-case letters, learning strategies for spelling words we don't know, and using punctuation. Of course not all of our spelling is expected to be correct! We focus on the patterns we are learning in our Words Their Way sort, and we use our Word Wall to help us spell. First graders spell phonetically and that is what we want them to do for most words right now.
We've been working on our first Investigations unit on counting, addition, and subtraction. This first unit develops students' ideas about counting and quantity, place value and the structure of the base-10 number system. It develops computational fluency, and focuses on the operations of addition and subtraction.
We began with counting. We counted items in a "Mystery Bag" with a partner, then had to record what we found. We talked a lot about strategies that help us keep track when we count, like moving an object or grouping them when counting large amounts. Our representation of what we counted should be easy for someone to see how many we counted. We looked at each other's work and had discussions about what we noticed, then worked to make our representation more organized.
Students use the strategy they best understand. They begin with counting all and work through the strategies when they are developmentally ready. Most first graders still need concrete examples they can see and count before moving to the abstract. They move to the abstract when they are developmentally ready. If your child still needs to count on his/her fingers, or use a manipulative to see numbers, that is just fine!
To build on these concepts, count often with your children. Practice counting by ones, fives, tens, and twos to 120. When they become fluent, try starting at a number other than one.
Make story problems for your kids, such as "We are having people over for dinner. One family has 6 people, one has 5, and we have 4. How many plates will I need?
It is so important to take the time to build a strong classroom community in the beginning of the year in which all students feel safe and can learn. We talk a lot about our school motto, Going for the G.O.L.D.: Give respect, Own your actions, Listen and Learn, and Do your best. We've been discussing how to be a good citizen, and characteristics of a good citizen. We've been reading books by Mary Small and Jill Lynn Donahue about being responsible, honest, considerate, respectful and other important behaviors good citizens possess. The kids will be collaborating in small groups to create posters that explain how to be good citizens at Gold Rush and go for the G.O.L.D. around our building. We will post these around the school.
We are working with our technology teacher, Megan Fleet, to learn how to use an app on our iPads called Seesaw to share our work with our peers and our families. I have shared a link for you to sign up so you can see items in your child's "portfolio." This is an exciting way for them to share their thinking and learning with you! Make sure to check out your kiddos amazing work!
Ask your child to tell teach you about what it looks like and sounds like to go for the G.O.L.D. at Gold Rush.
What's coming next?
Reading: More work with good habits for solving tricky words, looking for meaning in words, and setting goals for ourselves as readers
Writing: Extend small moment writing to study mentor texts and use the
"craft moves" we notice from these texts in our own writing.
Math: Subtraction story problems, more efficient counting & adding strategies,
and beginning geometry in October.
Science: A unit called "Pebbles, Sand, & Silt" - an introduction to Rocks & Minerals.