Happy Thanksgiving!

11/21/2012

 
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Congratulations to Z.P. our October Star Citizen!!
Happy Thanksgiving!

We are thankful for so many things in first grade!  If you didn't get to see the students' computer lab project, please scroll down to the blog post from last week.  The children were given the prompt, "I am thankful for," and we quickly brainstormed as a class different things that might make their lists.  This is a somewhat brief writing project, since the children needed time to be able to type their work.  As the year progresses, we will be publishing our writing more and more on the computer.  If your child needs extra keyboarding practice, you may want to explore: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/typing/.

This is a free online resource that encourages children to become more familiar with the keyboard.  First graders often find it difficult to use the traditional hand positions for typing since their hands are still pretty small, so for us, we are aiming for the children simply to develop their familiarity with a qwerty keyboard rather than traditional touch-typing skills.  

I received a couple of questions from parents about the "tardy" policy at school.  Our school day begins promptly at 7:50 am.  Children need to be in their classroom (not just in the school building) at 7:50 to be on time for school.  Children who arrive after the 7:50 bell must check in with the school office and get a tardy slip.  However, please consider that the children often benefit from a few extra minutes to take care of their morning routine.  Children who arrive earlier are able to turn in their daily folder, pack their coat in their backpack, make their lunch choice, and sharpen two pencils to be ready for the day, all without rushing or worry.  Having a peaceful start to the morning can make such a difference.  So, even though it is not required, please consider helping your child arrive at the classroom no later than 7:45.  Thank you for your consideration of this suggestion!

Now that it is getting colder, I am asking the children to wear their jackets to recess.   I generally ask the children to wear whatever jacket they wore to school in the morning.  Our usual recess time is close to 10 am, so it is often still chilly.  Please make sure that your child's jackets are labeled with his/her name.  Thank you!

Next week, we will be finishing our history unit focusing on past and present.  You may want to discuss some concepts with your child such as:
- How have schools changed from long ago to today?
- How have houses changed from long ago to today?
- How has transportation changed from long ago to today?
- How has family life (children's games and chores, e.g.) changed from long ago to today?

We will also be finishing our math unit on skip counting.  You can help your child be prepared by practicing counting to 100 by ones, twos, fives, and tens.  The students also need to be able to count backward from 30 to zero.

Finally, one of our goals in first grade is for the students to share their writing with others.  One way we will do this is to take turns sitting in the "author's chair" and reading our writing to the class.  Almost all of the children had the opportunity to share their writing in the last few days.  I will add the last couple once we return to school next week.  The children were reading their favorite pattern book.  Next week, we will be writing nonfiction question and answer books.  

Thank you again for your tremendous support and enthusiasm during AEW week.  I told the children that I would be mentioning them by name as I make my "I'm thankful for" list on Thanksgiving.  I am also thankful for the gift of working with a wonderful group of parents.  Thank you!!

 

We are thankful!

11/14/2012

 
 
 
Mill Run is buzzing with preparations for American Education Week!  Here are a few notes about the events that involve our first grade classroom.

On Thursday, November 15th, we will have a special program in our classroom beginning at 11:30 am.  We will also have a special activity for you to complete with your child.  The children also enjoy having some free time to show you their classroom.  From 12:15-12:45, you are invited to a special turkey feast in the cafeteria, hosted by Mr. Vickers.  From 12:45-1:15, please plan on taking your child to the library to visit the book fair.  At 1:15, we will return to our normal classroom routine.  

As part of the American Education Week festivities, Mill Run has three theme days.  On Wednesday, November 14th, students are encouraged to wear patriotic colors.  Teachers will wear clothing representing their alma mater.  On Thursday, November 15th, students and teachers are encouraged to wear a shirt or jersey representing their favorite sport, team, or player.  On Friday, November 16th, we will all wear Mill Run colors or spirit wear.  Since our special turkey feast is on Thursday, please feel free to join in the fun by wearing your favorite sports jersey or shirt.  

Also, please remember that due to the turkey feasts for other grades, our snack and lunch schedule will be altered somewhat on Wednesday, November 14 and Friday, November 16.  Students will be able to purchase lunch from the cafeteria on these days, but many children prefer to bring lunch from home since we will be eating in the classroom. 

In academic news, we have begun our social studies history unit focusing on comparing and contrasting the past and present.  We will focus on learning about the first Thanksgiving as a way to access these concepts.  In math, we have begun a unit on skip counting.  First grade students are expected to be able to count to 100 by 1s, 2s, 5s, and 10s.  They also need to be able to count backward from 30 to 0.  In addition, we will be exploring problem solving using skip counting skills.  For example, on Friday, the children worked to solve this problem:  "There are 8 children in a group.  How many hands are there?  How many fingers?"  The students are encouraged to show their thinking using pictures, words, numbers, symbols, or charts.  In reading, we are building on our comprehension skills by practicing making connections.  We are also continually working on our decoding skills.  In writing, the children are writing pattern books.  This is an opportunity for the children to build stamina, practice spelling unknown words, add details, and check for beginning capitals and ending punctuation for each sentence.

Finally, we are beginning to include math pages with the weekly homework packets.  Please make sure your child completes both sides of the math page labeled 'homework.'  The math page labeled 'enrichment' is optional.  Also, the word study lists going home on Monday have a few oddball words.  For the children sorting short e and long e words (on pink paper), there is one oddball:  "been."  For the children sorting short a, short e, and short i words (on green paper), there is one oddball:  "what."  These words could also be sorted by initial digraph (ch, sh, th, wh) for enrichment.  When sorted that way, there will not be an oddball.  For the students sorting the -ick, -ack, -ock, and -uck word families (on salmon paper), there are no oddballs.  This is a great list for the 'word hunt' homework activity.  

I look forward to seeing all of you on Thursday from 11:30-1:15 for our special American Education Week program.  We will be sure to take pictures to share for those parents who are unable to attend.  
 
 
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Please enjoy these photos from Mill Run's Book Character Parade last week.  The children did a wonderful job choosing a character and deciding how to bring that character to life for the parade.  Many thanks to the parents who attended the parade and helped make the children feel so special!

Here are a few 'housekeeping' notes for November:

*  Please save the date for American Education Week!  On Thursday, November 15th, we will have a special program here in our classroom at 11:30 am.  The children will make a brief presentation about Thanksgiving, and we will have time for parents to enjoy time together with their children.  At 12:15-12:45, you are all invited for a Turkey Feast hosted by Mr. Vickers in Mill Run's cafeteria.  Following the feast, I am told that parents are encouraged to take their children to the library to shop at the book fair.  This is shaping up to be a tremendous celebration of our school and classroom community.

*  Due to the turkey feasts for other grades, our snack and lunch schedule will be altered somewhat on Wednesday, November 14 and Friday, November 16.  Students will be able to purchase lunch from the cafeteria on these days, but many children prefer to bring lunch from home since we will be eating in the classroom.

*  In homework news, the current homework packet is being stretched until Friday, November 9 due to our two hurricane days and the short week this week.  Thank you for understanding.  Also, there will be no homework the week of Thanksgiving.  As a reminder, you only need to return the homework cover sheet with your initials.  Homework is only checked for completion.

*  We have welcomed a new student to our class, and he is already fitting in beautifully.  We now have 27 students:  13 girls and 14 boys.  I will send an updated class list shortly.

*  Thanks again for your incredible support during our parent/teacher conferences.  It is a real pleasure to share good news with you about the wonderful things your children are doing at school.  Report cards will come home in your child's backpack on November 14.  Please return the report card envelope the next day since we will re-use them throughout the year.