Life was very busy in the last week of school in 2012!  We welcomed two guest readers, enjoyed a variety of Grinch Day activities, sang at the school holiday sing-along, and wrapped up the year with a classroom party.  I am particularly grateful to ZP's mom, CB's mom, and NT's mom for organizing the party.  Many thanks to all the parents who contributed to the party.  The children seemed to have a wonderful time.  I certainly enjoyed watching their joy!

I hope that you have been enjoying a relaxing and rejuvenating holiday season with family and friends.  Most of my extended family gathered this past week, and now that we have returned home I am eager to see the children and learn about their holiday adventures.  

I have just a few notes for you as we prepare to return to school on Wednesday, January 2.  

In January, we will begin the Math Masters program (also known as "Rocket Math") to practice quick recall of basic addition and subtraction facts.  More information on this program will go home next week.  

Homework will resume the week of January 7.  Homework packets will now include a writing component and word study activities will be reduced.  Please see the homework cover page for details.  Math homework will consist of practicing math facts in conjunction with Math Masters.  

Finally, I am deeply grateful for your kind thoughts and generous gifts.  Words do not adequately express my appreciation, so I must resign myself to a simple, "Thank you very much!"

Thank you so much to one of our parent chaperons for sending along this batch of photos from the field trip.  It seemed easier to make a new slideshow than to add them to the first one, so I hope you don't mind checking two places for views of your child on the field trip!

Also, I received some very good questions about the word study homework from one student's parents.  I'm guessing that they are probably not alone in wondering about the oddball words, so I will copy my answer to them here, to share with all of you.  Please note, however, that the word lists are differentiated according to the children's spelling needs.  We will discuss this in more detail at our conference, but please know that not everyone has the same list. 

We have reviewed the sorts in class, including the oddballs, but it takes awhile to get used to the concept.  In a few weeks, all of this should be very routine for your children.  Here is a quick summary:

The oddball words are the ones that look like they should belong in the main feature categories, but they don't sound right.  So, one group's  words this week are sorting CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words with short /a/ sounds and short /o/ sounds.  'Cat' and 'sock' are the headers.  Jam, had, cab, ran, sad, map, and ham all belong under the heading 'cat.'  'Was' looks like it should belong there, but it's different.  It's an oddball.  Likewise, hot, mop, fox, box, mom, lot, etc, all belong under 'sock.'  They all have a short /o/ sound in the middle of the word.  'Boy' looks like it should belong there, since it has an o in the middle position, but it's a different sound.  It's an oddball.

For that set of words, 'was' and 'boy' are the only oddballs. If a word sort includes oddballs, they usually only have a small number, just to highlight the contrast. Spelling patterns in English can be so helpful, but it is critical to remember that there are exceptions. I hope that in older grades they discuss the reasons behind the exceptions, but for us, it's enough just to know that exceptions exist.

The spelling test on Friday will consist of ten words selected from each category of word study words. There will also be a sight word dictation sentence to bring in the word wall words.  These are the words in bold on the word wall page of this website. This sentence will be very simple at the beginning, e.g. "You can do it." "Look at me." "I can see you." This is another way for me to check not only that the children can apply the word wall words but also that the children remember to begin sentences with an upper-case letter and finish with the correct punctuation mark.

Thanks very much to this family for taking the risk and asking questions!  I hope that these answers are helpful to everyone!  :-)  




Many thanks to the parent chaperons for helping to make our field trip a success on Friday. Wow! Literally, we couldn't have done it without you!  Although I was disappointed by the lack of service provided by the farm, the students did not seem to mind.  In fact, I was tremendously impressed with our group's patience, cheerful attitude, and good manners.  If you were not able to join us at the farm, you should know that your children did a fantastic job.  Several parents were helping to take photos on Friday.  I will add them to the slideshow below as I receive them.  Stay tuned!

In other classroom news, we have completed our math unit on patterns.  Your student should be able to tell you the difference between a repeating pattern and a growing pattern.  She/he should be able to give you examples of both types of patterns and be able to represent those patterns in more than one way, e.g.  a clap-snap, clap-snap pattern could also be represented as an AB pattern or as a square-triangle pattern.  We will be studying sorting and two-dimensional shapes in the last few weeks of the first quarter.  For sorting, I am collecting buttons and lids.  If you happen to have any loose buttons in your junk drawer, we would love to have them for our math work.  Any lids that can be salvaged before you toss them in recycling would be wonderful.  I found about ten lids in my family's recycling bin yesterday - everything from laundry soap to a chip container.  We are hoping to have a wide variety of sizes, colors, and textures.

On Monday, your child will be bringing home our first homework packet of the year.  We will add components to the homework packet as the year progresses, but for now you will see three types of assignments on the cover sheet:  daily reading, word study, and an optional double-sided handwriting page.  Please initial at the top of the page to indicate that your child has completed the assignments.  Only the cover page needs to be returned on Friday.  Please let me know if you have any questions about homework.  

And, parent/teacher conferences will begin the week of October 22.  We will spend time discussing your child's adjustment to first grade, strengths and areas for improvement, and the results of your child's reading assessments.   These assessments are tremendously helpful to me as I work to focus our classroom instruction to meet the individual needs of each student.  If you have specific questions that you would like me to address during our conference, please send them to me as soon as possible.  

Thanks again and again for sharing your children with me.  I am the luckiest teacher in the school!


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.  :-)