Sunday, January 26, 2014

1/27/14 Newsletter & Groundhog's Day

We're not sure how the bitter cold temperatures will impact school attendance this week; hopefully, we'll have time for several Groundhog's Day activities at the end of the week because first graders are fascinated with that furry rodent.  :)
 Poems for the children's poetry binders.
Partner work - identifying rhyming words

Common Core Standard W.1.2. Informational Text Writing

Link to upload or view the Groundhog's Day Documents
Newsletter for the Week of January 27, 2014

Stay safe and warm this week!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Jan 20, 2014 Newsletter

This picture shows a reading group at the listening center area.  The children are comfy-cozy while seated on new soft seat cushions, a gift from some of my students' families - an awesome, wonderful group.  (The seat cushions are available through Lakeshore Learning.)
Through the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation, I was a recipient of a Grant-to-Educator grant in 2005 and received learning materials for a listening station.  I was able to order dozens of books, including many that are well above the reading level of first grade students.  I wanted the children to have more exposure to nonfiction selections, as well as increase their attention span and improve their listening skills.  This group is listening to Wolves, by Gail Gibbons, equivalent to grade level 4.8.
I take comfort in knowing the kiddos get to sit comfortably will listening to challenging audiobooks, and for that I am so grateful to my students' families for their generosity and thoughtfulness!
Link to view or download the 1/20/14 Classroom Newsletter
We added base-10 blocks to the children's individual math tool kits to make sure they have ample opportunity to manipulate and work with tools as they  develop understanding of place value.

First time exploring base-10 blocks, tens and ones (longs and cubes)
 Explorations - a time to sit or stand
He explored division... "12 can be equally divided into four groups."

Informational Writing

 "How do you build a snowman?"

At the time of this nonfiction writing, the ground was covered with beautiful, white snow and an informative writing about how to build a snowman seemed like a perfect writing assignment.

 Before the children worked on their writings, we completed a shared writing together, a model so the children could see how the writing was to be done.  For our class writing, we wrote about how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.   Our shared writing included a topic sentence, sequenced events, transitional words (first, next, then, last) and a closing sentence. 
Shared Writing, Pre-writing Draft
I love Vincent’s comment at the end of our pre-writing draft; it shows how prior knowledge and perception make writing a unique experience for each student.
The children then worked with partners to talk about their experiences with building a snowman.  Two of my twenty-five students had never experienced building a snowman, but fortunately, we had plenty of eager volunteers enthusiastically share their stories.   We created a list of words for their writings and displayed it in the front of the classroom so the children could easily access the words during the writing process.  To help the children organize their writing, they completed a first draft on this prewriting paper. 
Word Bank

Copying words from the word bank
Pre-writing paper

Most children worked with a partner to revise and edit their first draft; some needed extra support from me. While editing, the students were looking for sentences that made sense, correctly spelled word wall words, beginning capital letter, ending punctuation and at least four steps in the process.  Publishing of the final draft involved rewriting their stories onto paper that would be displayed, alongside their snowmen in our hallway.
From the prewriting to the publishing process, this writing activity spanned about five school days.  After we take down the snowman display from the hallway, I’ll attach this rubric to the student writings so the parents can celebrate their children’s progress.  :)

Writing Page
 Extra Writing Page
Data Collection Page
Link to preview or download the 6-Page pdf document


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

You don't have to look far to find a group of children who live and love others
as Dr. King did... 
(Fall 2013 - I need to update!)
We'll begin our discussion about Dr. King by reading aloud I Have a Dream to learn more about concepts such as peace and justice.

The children will respond to this literature by writing creatively about ways to show peace and kindness to one another.

Link for this 2-page writing activity.  The children will decorate a picture of themselves that I'll attach to their creative writings (similar to last year - see below.)
I look forward to sharing the work of these first graders!
From last year, January 2013 - This group worked together to create a timeline of Dr. King's life and then, took turns reading parts of the timeline to one another.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

January 13, 2014 Newsletter

We have another short week ahead of us in our district.  Friday is records day.  Unlike last week, our kiddos should be able to get outside and enjoy outdoor recess activities every day.  (They need a little sunshine and time for running about.)

Link for the Classroom Newsletter



 In my newsletter, I referenced the Retell Glove for working on Common Core ELA Standards: 
RL 1.1 Ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
RL 1.2 Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding
 of their central message or lesson.
RL. 1.3 Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.

I'm not sure to whom to give credit for the retell glove.  I found a number of free resources on the Internet with links to download or options to copy.  I created this glove based on information I found on this site: 
We're also working on the skill of sequencing for a writing activity.  The children are working on a narrative writing about how to build a snowman.  I'm very proud of their work thus far and look forward to sharing their efforts later this week!
Have a wonderful week! 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

January 6, 2014 Newsletter

The snow is absolutely beautiful here, but we are ready to bid farewell to the arctic temperatures!
You can see from these pictures how the polar vortex affected parts of Lake Erie in Northeast Ohio.  The first picture was taken about two months ago, and the second was captured this week.

Lake Erie appears to be frozen as far as the eye can see. 

Closer to home...our house has been a chorus of cracking and loud popping sounds. Apparently, the pieces and parts of our house that are responding to the sudden change in temperature by shrinking, are causing the loud cracking sounds as they move against or away from a connection or joint. Yikes.  While it’s comforting to know the creaks, pops and cracks are common in extremely cold weather, we are keeping our fingers crossed and hoping there's no damage to our home. 

It's a little difficult to see in this picture ... we had ice on the inside of almost every window frame in our house. 

 With the wind chill factor, our temperatures dipped to -33 degrees today.  The good news – we’re headed toward seasonal temperatures again and expect Friday to be close to 40 degrees! 

As I’m putting this blog post together, the call came in from the superintendent that school will be in session tomorrow.  I can’t help but smile, thinking about the moms and dads who are rejoicing at this moment with the wonderful news!  J