We were tremendously honored to start this week with a visit from a published author, Helena's mom!  Izabela shared her love of writing with the children and described the process of writing from getting an idea all the way to publishing.  It was a perfect opportunity for the children to connect to their own 'how to' books, since Izabela's latest book (the title roughly translates as 'Something from Nothing') focuses on turning discarded items into useful or beautiful creations.  We are so grateful to Izabela for taking the time to visit the class and for  bringing such a fun project for the children to complete.   Please see the photos below of Izabela and the students as they present their "how to" books.

Now the children are transitioning to another form of nonfiction writing:  all-about books.  This week, we have studied a variety of examples, and we have begun to play with some ideas.  I am hoping that some of the children will ask you for help in finding materials related to their topics over the break.   Writing nonfiction is helping us build our strategies for reading nonfiction, too.  We are paying close attention to text features such as the table of contents, headings, the index, a glossary, captions below pictures, and various styles of teaching pictures (charts, diagrams, etc.)  Writing an all about book is a huge undertaking, and the children will have the chance to write more than one to develop their skills throughout the process.

Finally, as we prepare to run outside and enjoy this incredible sunshine, I would like to share with you some of the answers the children gave when I asked, "What did you learn this week?"  You will see a continued emphasis on insects and other minibeasts in the next several weeks, and we will spend a lot of time on pebblego.com.  In case you have extra free time this week, your child has the username and password for pebblego on the homework packet.  Enjoy!

Earthworms have five hearts. AC

Snails keep their eyes in their long tentacles.  ZS

Insects have six legs. MD

Bees have a yellow black yellow black pattern.  AK

Spiders have eight legs.  HZ

Earthworms have a special ring for getting married. TB

Some snails are poisonous. AC

Some spiders are poisonous.  MD

Snails have thousands of teeth. SM

Snails use their one big foot to move.  AC

Earthworms don't have eyes.  ZS

Earthworms live in the dirt.  MD

As always, thank you for sharing your children with us.  I hope you all have a lovely spring break, enjoying the  time with your families.  We'll see you in May!

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.
The students have each taken a turn sitting in our author's chair this week.  They have spent most of November writing a variety of nonfiction books, and it was time to celebrate their effort.  Each child chose their best or favorite nonfiction piece and read it to the class.

In preparation for all of this nonfiction writing, we did a lot of nonfiction reading.  Many of our large group read alouds have been nonfiction, and several literacy centers have focused on nonfiction books in the last few weeks.

We noticed that many nonfiction books use a question and answer format, so some of the children decided to try that in their writing.  Sometimes the title of the book is the question and the entire book is the answer.  Sometimes there is a question on each page.  Sometimes the same question is repeated throughout a book and in other cases there are a variety of different questions all about one topic.

I was truly impressed by the children's enthusiasm in diving into nonfiction writing.  They shared information and expressed their creativity.  If you have the chance to visit our classroom, please spend a few moments enjoying the children's work on our "I Am An Author" wall.   The students would love to hear your reaction.  Until then, here are a few photos of our young authors.