Sunday, October 30, 2016


What is STEAM?

An acronym for science, technology, engineering, art and math, STEAM education provides experiences for student inquiry in these subjects.  Designed to encourage higher level thinking, STEAM is a hands-on learning approach.

And lucky for our student population, Miss Kolis, a teacher in our building wrote an amazing grant and opened a STEAM lab in our building.  2nd and 3rd grade students participate in Maker's Club projects and a P.O.W. - Project of the Week is provided for all students.

Last week, we participated in the pumpkin investigation.  Miss Kolis setup hands-on learning stations, using resources from her grant and online resources.  Students used this booklet to record data.

Collaboration and communication are a major focus with STEAM activities.  During our hourlong session, I observed highly energized conversations as students rotated through seven stations.  Although I am having problems with my camera, I managed to take a few pictures of students working together.

Grab a handful of seeds and describe how it feels.

Art - sketching pumpkins

Smell and taste station

Describe the pumpkin

Measure the pumpkin using standard and nonstandard measuring tools

Investigate - sink or float

Measure - predict, then weigh the pumpkin

The STEAM room allows students to make discoveries and connections across the curriculum.  I am grateful to Miss Kolis for generously sharing grant materials that allow students to participate in rich, engaging learning activities!

1st Grade News - 10/31/16

Link for 1st Grade News

Room on the Broom is a delightful picture book that provides a perfect balance of scary verse silly for 1st grade.  With predictable text and wonderful rhyming, it's a great book  for developing phonological awareness and comprehension skills.  Our hallway is filled with enchanting witches "flying through windy and stormy weather."

This wonderful site is filled with excellent resources for aligning Spookley with your classroom needs.  

"It's hip to be square."

Thursday, October 13, 2016

1st Grade News - 10/17/16

In a blink, our first quarter has come to an end...

For the past nine weeks, four differentiated reading groups were busy working on a variety of skills: letter-sound correlation, phonemic awareness activities, sight word reading, decoding skills and comprehension strategies.  Differentiated spelling meant three spelling lists each week, and 3 different spelling tests on Friday!  Thankfully, these little first grade friends made it possible to quickly establish an efficient testing routine that allowed all students to study a challenging spelling list.  Although we don't report a writing grade the first quarter, we transitioned from the beginning of the year when many students wrote words to label a picture to now, writing a sentence or two on topic.  Writing is differentiated as well as students write at their independent levels in writing journals throughout the school year.

In math, we reviewed kindergarten addition and subtraction concepts, worked on two-digit number writing, skip counting and reading and writing numbers to 120.  In social studies, we worked on rules and responsibilities and incorporated a school-wide kindness initiative.  A science project with apples and an outdoor exploration allowed students to work on science discovery skills.  We also spent a great deal of time adjusting to a new online reading and math program called iReady.  I'm looking forward to second quarter and hope it brings more efficiency to that routine as well.

One of the many things I love about working with first graders is their flexibility and patience.  These pictures feature the children during read-to-others and read-to-self activities.  I love the way the kids make these activities work.  Some enjoy an audience, while others prefer a more personal interaction.   It's such a privilege to witness their kindness toward others and love for reading.

Link for 1st Grade News

Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

1st Great News - 10/10/16

Link for 1st Grade News

To supplement phonics instruction, we use Ginny Dowd's - The Phonics Dance.

Kindergarten students are introduced to letters and corresponding sounds through chants and dance movements.  In first grade, students learn hunks and chunks (digraphs, long vowels, variant vowel sounds), also through chants and movements.  The purpose of this program is to improve decoding and ultimately reading comprehension.  Readers who recognize hunks and chunks instantly are able to decode unknown words quickly, allowing the focus to shift from decoding to comprehension.

One of the reasons I love The Phonics Dance program is that it can be used with any basal reading series.  A few years ago, our district adopted McGraw Hill WONDERS and the integration of The Phonics Dance was seamless.

I created word cards to add to the hunks and chunks.  Students constantly reference the display and are thrilled to make connections while reading and writing.

Link for Word Cards (7 pages)

We are nearing the end of first quarter and my first grade friends have done a great job transitioning to first grade expectations and routines.  Starting the school day with Heidi Songs, "I Can Follow the Rules"  has been an outstanding addition to our routine!

Students are following along with this YouTube video.