Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Butterflies Released Today!

We had a gorgeous morning to release the butterflies!  After patiently waiting for several weeks, the kids were ready for this day. 

Actually, it's been a little more than three weeks since the teeny, tiny caterpillars arrived in a clear plastic cup.  The cup, which comes filled with food for the caterpillars, was placed in the butterfly habitat in our classroom library so the children could monitor the growth each day. After about a week and a half, the caterpillars changed to pupae.  Once they hung upside down on the inside of the lid on the plastic cup, they were removed and attached to the mesh habitat.  Again, the children watched and waited patiently for another week and a half, and Monday, 4 beautiful Painted Lady butterflies emerged!  We fed them watermelon, oranges and nectar.  Initially, the butterflies were somewhat still; by late this morning, however, after eating fresh watermelon brought in by Rebecca, the butterflies were eating and ready to fly!

You can see and hear from these two videos, how the children encouraged the butterflies to take flight.  I just love their kind, encouraging voices!  I think the children really enjoyed this exciting learning experience!  I uploaded the videos to Vimeo this time because I think the quality is better.  I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013 Grant!

I have wonderful news to share!
I recently received a grant to purchase stability chairs and books for the listening center for my students.  When Chris Beiswenger, parent to Cameron, received notice from PricewaterhouseCoopers(PwC) about the grant, his family extended the generous offer to me and I was chosen as a teacher recipient for a grant!
PwC collaborates with to donate funds, time and skills so that teachers can obtain the classroom resources they need for their students. Through the already funded 380+ grants, PwC has helped nearly 40,000 students!  PwC doesn’t just provide the funding – their employees volunteer in the classrooms as well!  Chris Beiswenger has already graciously volunteered to be in the classroom.  He plans to assemble the chairs when the materials arrive in the fall.  The incoming first graders will be thrilled to learn that Chris also plans to be on hand to read to the students.  As a teacher who tries to instill a love of reading in all my students, I am thrilled that Chris plans to be a guest reader and share with the students the importance of reading!
The materials in my grant, “Active Learning” are 8 stability chairs and books for the listening center.  A stability chair is similar to a yoga ball, and has a base.  While sitting on the chair, the children get to wiggle and squirm as much as their bodies need.  My plan is to place 6 chairs in the daily listening center station and two chairs in my classroom library.  The grant also includes books on tape for the listening station.  The majority of the books are nonfiction, content that will keep young listeners actively engaged in learning.
Although every child is unique, all six and seven year olds share the need to move about, which is the reason for this grant.  First graders are a noisy and active group and need frequent movement breaks.  Incorporating more movement into the daily curriculum to help them stay focused is something I constantly work on.  When this grant opportunity was presented by Chris Beiswenger, I kept my fingers crossed that I could get stability chairs for my wiggly, squirming first graders...
I really look forward to sharing these resources with my students and feel so fortunate that the Beiswenger’s made this exciting opportunity possible for my students!
If you’d like to learn more about my grant, click here.
Here are some pictures of this active bunch of first graders standing at their desk while working on "seat work."  :)

Monday, June 3, 2013

Summer Reading!

At the end of the year, all elementary students will receive a letter from our district curriculum director with their DRA reading level.  You can use that information when choosing books with your child for summer reading, but keep in mind; children need opportunities to choose what they read.  For most of us, reading is enjoyable because we choose our books, and children are no different.  If we’re interested, we read more.  On the other hand, when we’re forced to read, reading becomes a chore, and for young readers, oftentimes that chore leads to the dreaded, “I hate reading.”  
If you’re concerned because your son will read only books with a Marvel logo, don’t fret.  Interests change.  At the beginning of the school year during the self-selected reading center, I thought the boys would never expand their interest beyond gross-looking insects.  When they made the transition to Pokemon, Bakugan and Star Wars, I was relieved.  I had similar concerns with some of the girls.  It seemed their interest in pink, Barbie and princess books lasted forever.  But given a choice, most girls now choose Magic Tree House, nonfiction, Henry and Mudge , or favorite authors, such as Laura Joffe Numeroff.   Choice is a good thing.
If you’re interested, I’m passing along information about books and DRA levels from a site I use on Scholastic.  Clicking on the DRA level actually takes you to a Teacher Store.  I’m not at all promoting purchasing the books, but browsing through the selections might be helpful for some.  Plus, there are a lot of book titles from which to choose at each level. 

Link up to the Scholastic Site here

Also, this site allows you to input book titles and get the DRA level.
Another Scholastic Link here

Don't forget about the wonderful children's section at the Brecksville Branch of the Cuyahoga Library.  They have a listing of Accelerated Reader (AR) titles at the reference desk.  All you have to do is ask for help. :)
I hope this information helps and you enjoy lots of enjoyable reading throughout the summer!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Math - Fractions!

I forgot to mention the children will also work with fractions this week. They will label the fractional parts, cut the "pizza" slices, and then, glue the whole pizzas onto another paper. Although our geometry Core Standards in first grade include partitioning circles and rectangles into two and four equal shares, for this activity the children will work with three equal shares as well. 


Click here to download Fractions with Pizza!

June 3, 2013 Classroom Newsletter

Dear First Grade Families,
For those of us whose lives revolve around the academic calendar, the end of the year is here…(sigh)  While I share the children's enthusiasm for the lazy, unstructured days of summer, I am sad about saying good-bye to this wonderful group of fun-loving and kind-hearted children. 
 I will really miss them.
The expression, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” comes to mind when I think about these kiddos.  They are a kind, loving group because of you, and your interest and involvement in their academic lives.  This past year, you took time to communicate with me when you had concerns and questions.  You helped your child make homework a part of his/her daily routine and encouraged the development of good study habits.  And most importantly, you read with and to your child and listened to talk about his/her school day.  You made the difference; thank you!
It goes without saying that I will miss all of you as well. 
I wish you all the best this summer in everything you do.  Enjoy!


In the newsletter, I mentioned a wonderful blog post about summer sight word practice.  This is an image from the blog.  You can link up to the blog, Make, Take, & Teach here.

Accelerated Reader (AR)

Our school district offers Accelerated Reader (AR), a computer-based reading program used in many schools to monitor reading comprehension.  Our class completed 3 AR quizzes together, and the students will take 2 quizzes independently this week.  All students will be prepared for the extensive 2nd grade AR goal/point system utilized in our building.
  • There are two steps involved with AR:  the selection and reading of the AR book, and the computer-based quiz.  Children choose AR books from many places, including your home.  Many of the books the children read for their reading logs throughout the year are on Highland Drive’s AR list. Also, our building library has a collection of books, color-coded by AR reading levels.  An explanation of the color-coded levels is available here.   You’ll find three lists of AR book titles on that site as well.
(Site image - AR Information)  
  • The AR computer-based reading program provides comprehension quizzes that include five to 20 multiple-choice questions. Quiz results are immediately available and include the number of points earned based on the point value assigned the book and the number of correct answers on the test (to be used in second grade.)
  • For the first three quizzes we completed together as a class, I choose the AR books.  I wanted the children to develop confidence with using the AR program so we worked on the quizzes together during computer lab; the children did answer all questions independently, however.  For the final two AR quizzes, the children will select books within their individual reading range.
  • When you stop in at the library this summer, try to pick up a few books that are featured on our AR book list to help your child prepare for the second grade reading requirements.  The Brecksville Branch of the Cuyahoga Library has an outstanding collection of AR books available! 
Thank you for your support, and please be sure to let me know if you have any questions.