On April 12 and 13, the elementary school will dismiss at 11:30 AM to provide time for Student-Led Conferences.  Sign-up sheets will be placed near the elementary entrance April 4 - 6.  After that, the sign-up sheet will be outside our classroom door.

Student-led conferences are an exciting opportunity for the children to take responsibility for their learning and to celebrate their progress.  They will do this by showing you various samples of their work and sharing some of our classroom routines.  In our class, the children will have a menu of stations to share with you during your conference time.  I have scheduled 40 minute blocks, so you will have ample time to enjoy each station. 

During the conference, please remember that this is a celebration of your child's growth and progress.   You might want to ask your child open-ended questions about their work like:
    -  What was your favorite part of this project?
    -  What are you most proud of in this subject?
     -  What has surprised you in your learning?

If you have lingering questions regarding your child's academic or social progress after the student-led conference, please contact me for an additional conference time.  I would be happy to meet with you. 
Here are some reflections from the students about their learning this week:

We learned a lot about teeth.  Inside your tooth you have dentin and pulp.  You have a jawbone.  We made a graph of a tooth. (H.Z.)

We have been working on the heart of the story.  It is important to make the whole story cool and interesting.  We put a heart around the heart of the story on our planning page. (Z.S.)

In writing we are learning on how to stretch the problem in a story.  We read a book called Andrew's Loose Tooth that had a long problem.  And we are writing our own stories with a problem. (M.D.)

In poetry, we find and frame words we know, and we practice writing word wall words quickly. (A.C.)

We're doing a lot of writing, all the time. (T.B.)

Everyday we have a new activity in math and a story problem or something like that.  We played a game called Dot Addition.  (P.K.)

We had new centers this week and guided reading, too.  My favorite center is art. (H.Z.)

Our poem this week was called, "My Teeth."  (M.K.)

In math, we have done lots of math problems and games, too. (S.M.)

We always have fun at school!  (D.S.)

One of my favorite parts of working with first graders is sharing some of my favorite books.  This week we read The Recess Queen by Alexis O'Neill, one of my all-time favorite books about friendship breaking down barriers.  The story is told with enough whimsy to provide children the comfort of humor while accessing the gravity of the main character's mean disposition.  And Laura Huliska-Beith's illustrations are magical.

Throughout first grade, we develop our comprehension of a story by retelling the main story components and by making connections.  The students worked in small groups to discuss the importance of key story elements and personal connections to the book.  Some of the children may post additional connections and thoughts next week.  For now, we will share our current work-in-progress with you.  Enjoy!

First of all, many, many thanks to all of the parents who gave their time and energy to make the First Grade Popcorn Sale such a success!  The children began the week making posters to promote the sale, and they were very excited today to help work and sell the popcorn.  We will find the total amount raised on Monday, but every indication is that the children raised a sizable amount to donate to the Warsaw Children's Hospice.  Well done, students! 

Academically, we are moving forward by leaps and bounds.  As part of our language arts work every day, we read a poem together and then search for various spelling patterns, letter sounds, and sight words.  This week, we took a moment to enjoy our success with this work.  At the beginning of the year, it was much more difficult for us to find words from the word wall or with a certain sound.  Now, when I ask the children to find a word with the long-i sound, for example, nearly every hand is up in the blink of an eye.  It's a beautiful thing. 

In writing this week, our student authors were working on a personal narrative.  The children first planned their stories using a three-box graphic organizer to represent the beginning, middle, and end.  Then the children transferred their ideas into sentences on standard lined paper.  I also asked the children to use a checklist to make certain they completed the expectations for the assignment.  Here are the checklist questions:
     *  Did you give your story a title?
     *  Did you write the beginning, middle, and end of your story?
     *  Did you write the most about the heart of your story?
     *  Did you write 8 sentences or more?
     *  Did you begin each sentence with an uppercase letter?
     *  Did you finish each sentence with a punctuation mark?
     *  Did you spell all word wall words correctly?
     *  Did you write neatly?
Half of the class had the chance to sit in the author's chair and read their stories to the class today.  The other half will present on Monday, and then we will post these pieces on our author's board.  Again, the children are making great progress.  They are creative, resourceful, and growing in confidence.

I would also like to mention our work in mathematics.  Most of the children really enjoyed participating in World Math Day.  Thank you to all of the parents who allowed your children extra computer time at home to practice and participate in the event.  The 60-second mathematics contests in World Math Day were a perfect introduction to our new unit in mathematics.  We have begun a unit called, "Number Games and Crayon Puzzles" in which the children will hone their understanding of addition and subtraction facts, use these facts and other strategies to solve story problems, and practice strategies to find all the possible combinations to reach a certain total.  Many of the games and assignments in this unit build on the work we started earlier in the year.  In fact, I am hoping you will be able to help your child find the copy of the Primary Number Cards we sent home for homework in the fall.  You used them to play Compare and Double Compare with your child.  Please let us know if you can't find the number cards.  There will be more opportunities for you to use them to play games with your child in the coming weeks.

Thank you, as always, for your continued support.  I wish you all a relaxing and restful weekend.
Today we celebrated Dr. Seuss' birthday.  We are so grateful to Dewey's mom for sewing a Cat in the Hat style hat for each one of us!  Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!  We received so many compliments as we wore our hats to the library and during the day.  And they helped put us in that special Dr. Seuss mood. 

At the library, Mrs. Matter read a Dr. Seuss story to us, and she showed us the website:  www.seussville.com.  I put a link to Seussville on our Useful Websites page, too, so it will be available to you anytime.  Mrs. Matter also told us an interesting fact about Dr. Seuss' real name:  Theodore Geisel.  You might want to see if your student remembers.  We finished our day with time with our third grade reading buddies.  The children read some of their just-right books with their reading buddies, and we enjoyed listening to Green Eggs and Ham as a large group.

We also put the finishing touches on our Matter unit for science this week.  As a special treat, we conducted a fun experiment in each of the three first grade classrooms.  In our classroom, we conducted an experiment to answer the question:  What can happen when you mix a solid and a liquid?  Results vary, of course, depending on the materials.  In our case, we used baking soda and vinegar to inflate a balloon.  The procedure and your child's observations are included in the science journal that was sent home today.  When our students visited Ms. Dickinson's room, they explored different aspects of surface tension and characteristics of liquids.  In Ms. Berton's room, the children experimented with the non-Newtonian substance commonly called, "Oobleck."  This is a nice connection to Dr. Seuss this week, as we read Bartholomew and the Oobleck prior to the science rotation.

Thank you, as always, for your continued support of your child's learning.  The children are growing in independence, and I am so pleased to help them celebrate their daily successes. 

Have a wonderful weekend!