It's Spring!

3/26/2013

 
I hope that you are all enjoying your spring break with your families!  I'd like to share a few notes with you about our work last week as we wrapped up the third quarter.

First, thank you all so much for helping us with our force and motion construction project.  The students explored the concepts we researched in our force and motion unit, for example:  friction, types of surfaces, speed, and motion along a straight, zig-zag, or circular path.  In addition, the children had the opportunity to work as a member of a small team.  They had to compromise, take turns, and use their words to solve problems together.  I wish I had taken a picture of their faces when I first explained the assignment.  Their excitement was priceless!
Here is the link to the March Motion Science Project video, in case it doesn't appear above:  http://youtu.be/fIt7O8HU6tE

Second, the children celebrated their work as writers in small sharing circles.  With a class our size, it is not reasonable to ask the children to maintain their attention so that all students have a turn to read to the class.  However, it is important that the children do share their writing aloud with others.  Small sharing circles is one way we celebrate our work.  Please enjoy the slideshow below of our sharing time.
As you can see, our sharing circles took place on "Wear Green" day.  We had 96% participation, so our class had the best showing among all the first grades!  Hooray!

Finally, please allow your child some time on the computer to log in to reflexmath.com to get some practice with math fact fluency.  When your child has demonstrated measured progress with a certain fact, the small circle in the top right corner will turn green.  This green light indicates that your child can exit the program without losing any progress.

Thank you, again, and I hope you continue to enjoy the break!
 
 
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Happy St. Patrick's Day to all those who celebrate Irish heritage!  Many thanks go to S.L.'s grandparents for visiting our room and sharing some Irish joy with us.  S.L.'s grandpa read a story, and her grandma and grandpa gave each student a lucky shamrock and pencil.  Thank you!

It is hard for me to believe that we are already at the end of the third quarter.  The end of each grading period is a wonderful time to consider how much we have accomplished.  I am delighted, of course, with the children's progress, and I am eager to share more specifics with you in the third quarter report card comments.

This week, we will finish several projects.

In writing, the children will put the finishing touches on their favorite piece from the last two weeks.  One skill we have been working on is revising our writing with descriptive words.  In first grade, we do not erase a boring word.  We simply cross it out and write a more descriptive word above it.  This gives evidence to the student's thinking during revision.  We have practiced crossing out boring words like "said" and replacing them with more interesting words like "whispered", "shrieked", or "exclaimed."  

In reading, in addition to practicing comprehension strategies for both fiction and nonfiction, we are also practicing alphabetical order.  Last week, the students each had a turn alphabetizing words on the Promethean board during our reading stations.  This week, we will add to this skill by practicing dictionary skills.  

In math, we are continuing our work with addition and subtraction.  The children will practice skills with story problems and a variety of manipulative games.  Please feel free to boost your child's confidence by practicing doubles facts at home.  Knowing all the doubles up to 10 + 10 can definitely help your child be successful with related problems.

In science, we will review pushes and pulls, ways things move, sound, and we will wrap-up our unit on force, motion, and energy with a construction project, building on our research.  Thank you for the tremendous help you have provided by sending in so many recyclable materials!  We are in good shape now with boxes, but we will continue to accept any toilet paper or paper towel tubes that you can spare.  Also, we will happily use donations of duct tape or masking tape.  

We currently have more than 500 box tops - wow!  This is looking good!

Wednesday, March 19 will be Green Day.  Please help your child wear as much green as possible on Wednesday.  Thank you!


 

Magnificent March

3/10/2013

 
We are in need of several items in the classroom.  We have almost depleted our pencil supply for the year, so any donations of pencils are most appreciated!

Also, for an upcoming project, we will need an abundant supply of items that might be in your recycling bin.  Please send in any paper towel tubes, toilet paper tubes, various-size cardboard boxes (like cereal boxes, cracker boxes) and clean yogurt or tofu containers.  We will also be grateful for any donations of clear tape, masking tape, duct tape, and string.  If you're looking at something made of thin cardboard or plastic, and you're not sure, please send it in!  I promise to recycle any materials that come in that we don't use.  :-)  I don't want to spoil the surprise of why we need so many materials, so please stay tuned to the blog.  We will use these items the week of March 18.  Many, many thanks in advance for your help!!

We have already collected more than 400 box tops, so we are getting very excited about our chances to win the March contest.  Thank you to everyone for your help with this.  Every box top helps raise money for our school!  

In academic news, we will be finishing our math unit on fractions and moving into addition and subtraction.  We will build on strategies we practiced in the second quarter to solve harder problems and story problems.  We will also write our own problems.  When solving a story problem, students will be asked to show their thinking in pictures, numbers, or words.

We are also wrapping up our unit on matter and beginning a unit on force, motion, and energy.  Most likely this unit will continue into the fourth quarter, but we will begin by focusing on types of motion and pushes and pulls.

In reading, we are continuing to practice comprehension skills for fiction and nonfiction.  In nonfiction, we are paying attention to key vocabulary, the author's purpose for writing, and formulating questions that can be answered in the text.  In fiction, we are continuing to build fluency by reading in the character's voice, and we are thinking about our reading by visualizing what is happening and making inferences.

In writing we are finishing writing small moment personal narratives.  We have begun to work with a writing partner to help plan our writing and revision.  We are focusing on adding details to our writing to make our stories more vivid.

Coming Soon:

*  Picture day is Tuesday, March 12.  

*  Wednesday, March 13, we will attend an assembly provided by our wonderful PTO.  Wednesday is also "Wear Red" day for Youth Art Month.

*  The Mill Run Carnival is Friday, March 15.  By all accounts, this will be a fun family event.  "Just chill!"
 
 
Our study of our national symbols focused on the flag, the bald eagle, the Statue of Liberty, and the Washington Monument.  As you can see above, we culminated the unit with a project in the computer lab.  The children were asked to draw a picture and write at least three sentences about their favorite symbol using the Pixie software.

Now that we have finished the unit on U.S. Symbols, it is time to begin a quick unit on matter.  In this unit, we are focusing on science standard 1.3, which reads, "The student will investigate and understand how common materials interact with water.  Key concepts include
a) some liquids will separate when mixed with water, but others will not;
b) some solids will dissolve in water, but others will not; and
c) some substances will dissolve more readily in hot water than in cold water."  We will be squeezing in several experiments as well as building our nonfiction reading skills as we dive into our science textbook.  You are welcome to reinforce your child's learning at home by conducting simple experiments to see how various materials such as vinegar, milk, baking soda, powdered drink mix, sugar, salt, sand, oil, soil, and rocks act when mixed with water.  Making cookies for the sake of science?  Definitely.  It's a beautiful thing.  

In math, we have begun our study of fractions.  In first grade, we focus on halves, thirds, and fourths.  It is important that the children understand that a fraction represents a part of a whole, that fractions require the whole to be divided into equal parts, and that the fraction name tells the number of equal parts in the whole.  We will also learn how fractions can describe part of a set.  If I have three apples, two green and one red, I can say that 1/3 of the apples are red.  Studying fractions at home can be very fun at snack-time.  Pizzas can be divided into fractions, fractions of the pizza could have different toppings, and apples can be sliced into fractions as well.  Enjoy!

If you have the chance to visit Mill Run, please visit the bulletin board across from the cafeteria leading onto the kindergarten/first grade hallway.  Our class was responsible for decorating the bulletin board for the month of March.  We decided to link to Dr. Seuss' birthday and focus on reading.  Each student interviewed his/her reading buddy, comparing their buddy's answers to the children's own responses.  We asked:
  • Where do you like to read?
  • What do you do to become a better reader?
  • What is your favorite book?

Then, the children turned the interview responses into books.  A brief self-reflection like this can be a very powerful tool to increase one's own confidence in reading.  I encourage you to discuss the same questions at home as a family.  

As part of the Youth Art Month festivities, Mr. Browning is organizing a contest for three "color days"  The first color day will be Wednesday, March 6, and the color is blue.  Please help your child to pick out an all-blue outfit on Wednesday.  Thanks for your help!

Finally, many thanks go to AV's mom for sparking interest in the PTO BoxTop collection.  If we all work together to check our pantries, tissue boxes, and ziploc bag boxes, we might collect enough to place in the March contest.  Quite a few boxtops came in yesterday.  The students will count them on Monday, and we'll keep you posted with how many we have.  Thank you for your help!