October News


October will be a very busy month for first graders at Mill Run!  I will use our blog entry this week to keep you informed regarding upcoming events and other notices for October.

Fall Weather
Now that the weather is getting cool, many of the children are bringing sweaters or jackets to school.  Please help your child to label these items, in case they are misplaced.

PTO Assemblies
Many thanks to our incredibly generous PTO for the Dome Theater assembly last week.  The children enjoyed the experience of being in a mobile planetarium.  This was a perfect introduction to our next unit of study in science on the sun.  I'm sure we will all enjoy the African Acrobats this week, too!

The first grade team has decided to begin homework the week of October 15th.  Stay tuned for more detailed information in your child's red daily take home folder.  With a short week for Columbus Day and our field trip, it made sense to begin when we could keep the routine going.

Tuesday, October 9
On Tuesday, October 9, we will follow a Monday schedule.  This means that your child should be prepared for P.E. on that Tuesday.

Mill Run East
The school will be collecting loose change to support our sister school in the Philippines.  First grade's own Miss Pick visited the school last summer!  It is a powerful opportunity for the children to know that their spare change will make a real difference in the lives of less fortunate children.  

Field Trip
We will visit Great Country Farms on October 12th.  You will receive more information soon on how to prepare your child for our day at the farm.  We plan to have our field trip rain or shine!

Parent/Teacher Conferences
Conferences will begin October 22.  I am looking forward to sharing good news with you about your child.  We will discuss your child's adjustment to first grade, the report card, and the reading assessments that are currently being administered.  I will send out reminders via the red take-home folder.

As always, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.  :-)

It is wonderful to see the progress the children are making every day.  They are becoming much more familiar with our classroom routines and expectations for positive classroom participation.

I hope you have noticed a new sticker inside your child's red daily take-home folder.  This sticker gives you a summary of our first-grade grading policy.  Student work that is completed for a grade will have a letter:  E, M, P, or B.  These letters correspond to the following descriptions. 

E:  The student exceeds expectations for this standard at this time.
M:  The student is meeting expectations for this standard at this time.
P:  The student is making progress toward meeting this expectation.
B:  The student is performing below grade level expectations at this time.

Please note that these grades reflect the students' academic achievement for the specific standard;  they do not necessarily reflect student effort or work habits.  We will discuss these in more detail at our conferences in a few weeks.

Also, there is a fifth option for a "grade":  the smiley face!  There are many opportunities for the students to practice skills in various areas throughout the day independently.  Things like morning work and math practice sheets may come home with a smiley face. 

Finally, below you will find a slideshow of the children's most recent writing project.  We practiced each step of the writing process together for the first time.  We brainstormed words related to apples, we made a draft paragraph, we checked our paragraphs for upper-case letters at the start of each sentence, and we published our work on fancy apple-stamp paper.  Many of the students relied heavily on the examples that we composed as a group, which is absolutely fine at this point in the year.  Other students added personal flair, and in these pieces you are more likely to see creative spelling.  Phonetic spelling is an essential step in developing confident, fluent writers.  Enjoy! 


Writing Conference


I hae been asked to share some information with you regarding the Northern Virginia Writing Project.  A variety of writing workshops for families and parents are available at George Mason University.  If you would like more information, please visit:  http://nvwp.org/youngwriters/saturdayworkshops/
Our second week of school was very busy, despite the holiday on Monday!  Considering our work in reading, writing, math, and social studies, much of our learning reflects this theme:  gaining confidence.

The children are gaining confidence in our many school routines, including our lunchtime habits and even dismissal!  As you can see, Mr. Vickers has already stopped by the cafeteria to have a bite with our class. 

 We have also practiced many classroom routines with great success.  The children are participating in our large group poetry lessons, writing sight words, practicing spelling strategies, engaging in a variety of literacy stations, and choosing books for independent reading.  They have used a variety of math resources to explore number concepts, and they have explored many ways we stay safe and show good citizenship at school. 

Independent reading will be a central part of our reading program this year.  During independent reading, the children have the opportunity to apply decoding and comprehension strategies that we have reviewed together as a class.  One strategy that we discussed this week is that there are many ways to read a book.  It is important for readers to read the pictures as well as the text in a book.  Readers read the text to learn what the author wrote, but readers can also learn from the illustrations.  Details in pictures can help readers with decoding tricky words, making inferences in the story, and making predictions.  

Stay tuned as we add more strategies and your children continue to develop their love of reading!