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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Crew News August 31, 2011

Character Trait ~ Beneficence
Beneficence is the character trait that we have been studying this week (and a few days before our Voyage). Beneficence means doing kind things for others without expecting anything in return. We are all very good at showing beneficence. We read several books about characters who showed beneficence such as Smile, Ordinary Mary and Because Ben Hugged His Mother. Ask your child how he or she has been showing beneficence and encourage them to notice when someone at home is showing this trait. During our closing circle, we often talk about ways we saw crew members showing beneficence during the day.

More on the Math Test
Yesterday's math test came home today in the green homework folder. The test consists of two parts. Part A includes those concepts that your child should have mastered at this point and Part B includes concepts that have been introduced but do not need to be mastered at this point. Everyday Math is a spiraling curriculum which means that we are constantly reviewing and using concepts that we have previously learned.

When marking your child's test, I simply circled items that were incorrect, underlined directions that weren't followed and wrote a letter "B" by numbers that were written backwards. Students also completed a self-assessment and an open response problem. I did not make any marks on either of these pages.

The open response lets me know who is already able to apply skills we have been learning and if they are able to express their thinking in drawings and in words. This is typically very challenging for all students at this point in the year. As we move through the year the goal is for all students to be able to explain their mathematical thinking and reasoning orally and in written form - either drawings or words.

I use the results of each test to help me determine who needs more help with certain concepts and who may need some enrichment around certain concepts. I am sure that you can see those same things as you look at your child's test.

Finally, you may be able to see that simply taking a test by filling in blanks was a challenge to some students. As I mentioned yesterday, this is probably the very first written test that most of the crew has ever taken. Taking a test will become easier as we go through the year.  When I look at a student's test I am looking for understanding of a concept rather than test-taking skills. So please don't worry if filling in blanks was a challenge for your child. I can see if they understand a skill and they will get better at test-taking.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~Home Link 2.1 Telephone Numbers

We have library tomorrow. Please help your child remember to return their books (if they haven't already done so) so that they can check out new books.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Crew News August 30, 2011

Math Test
We had our first math test today. For most of us, this is the first real test that we have ever taken. We had to talk for a long time about what a test is and how you take a test. We talked about things like not working with your partner this time and doing our best. At this point in the year, we do the tests all together and I read every question to the crew. I also project a copy of the test on the screen at the front of the room so the students will know where we are on the test. They fill in the answers on their own. As they become better readers, they will begin to read the test on their own. The tests we take in first grade are not really the kind of thing that the students need to study for - that will come soon enough in their educational career. While it is probably not something that you want to jot in their baby book, your child did pass a huge milestone today. I will send home the tests tomorrow after I have a chance to look at them.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 1.14 Unit 2 Family Letter

Monday, August 29, 2011

Crew News August 29, 2011

Writer's Workshop
In Writer's Workshop, we have been studying pattern books. For the last few weeks, we have been reading various books that are based on patterns and noticing how the author wrote the book. One thing we have noticed is that most of the time the pattern will change at the very end of the book. That is how the author concludes or ends the book. We are going to try to write some of our own pattern books now that we have looked at some mentor texts and thought about how authors write this type of book.

Interesting Article
 I found a short, interesting article this weekend about how to help your child love to read. It has some good ideas on how to hook your child on reading. Here is the link if you are interested:

Guerrilla Tactics to Get Your Child to Love Reading

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Play Top-It. (This is the same as the game we used to call "War" when we were kids.)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fall Voyage

Our Fall Voyage was a big success and lots of fun for all. (I am thinking that we should change the name to Summer Voyage because the weather was far more summer-like than fall-like.) Below is a slideshow of photos from our trip. If any chaperones have any great pictures that they would like to share, just send them to me and I will add them to this slideshow. Remember you can either just hit play and watch this slide show or you can use the arrows at the bottom of the pictures to move more quickly or to go backward and forwards. Have your child watch it with you so they can tell you all about each picture. Below the slideshow are some facts, stories, etc. about our trip.

Why do we have a Fall Voyage?

We have a Fall Voyage for many reasons.

  • We take voyages to push students just a little bit out of their comfort zone. Real learning occurs when you are pushed out of your comfort zone and are challenged to try things you have not done before. For some first graders the biggest challenge is simply being away from home for a night and learning that they can trust other adults and themselves. For others the challenge is being responsible for themselves and their gear instead of counting on mom or dad to keep track of everything. Most are challenged some way by the activities of the voyage. They must learn to work together, show perseverance when trying to find solutions to challenging problems, push themselves physically, and start to show independence in an age-appropriate manner.
  • I love the voyages because I get to see the students in a completely different environment and see other strengths that they have that might not show up in a classroom.
  • The voyages are also a great place for the students to practice the character traits that we have been working so hard to learn in class. Students also bring back some of the confidence and new skills that they learned on the trip and are able to apply them to academic learning.
  • We also all form tight bonds as a crew and are able to work very well together for the rest of the school year.

For a detailed description of the school’s philosophy for our Adventure Education trips, please see the Parent Handbook at the very bottom of the Adventure Education page of the Renaissance website.

What did we do at Camp Elim?

In addition to eating, sleeping, packing, unpacking and taking care of ourselves, we also had time for some learning and some fun. Listed below are the activities we did along with a very short description.

Initiatives (Problem Solving Challenges)
Bag It – This activity had us feeling objects in bags to try to figure out what they were without looking. We learned to use other senses rather than simply rely on sight to gather clues and make decisions. The best part of this activity for most students was that we did it in the teepee.

Mine, Mine, Mine – This activity was a trust walk with a twist. Students were blindfolded. The blindfolded students were led to a tree and they had to feel their tree and notice all of its features. Next the students were taken back to the meeting area and they removed their blindfolds. Then they had to go and find their tree only this time they were not wearing a blindfold. We also played another blindfold game at this station where students were "hunters and deer" and had to find each other or avoid each other.

Unnature Trail – This was a hike with a twist. We had to go on a short hike and along the way find items that were hidden along the trail that should not be there. Some items were very easy to find and other were very difficult. We had to really use our skills of observation to find things. This is when we saw a bear (teddy bear) in the woods. Many of the kids couldn’t wait to tell their parents that they saw a bear in the woods.

Stepping Stones - For this activity a grid of stones was laid out. Students had to figure out the correct path to navigate from one side to the other. This activity took lots of trial and error and lots of patience.

Recreational Activities
Craft – We created space monsters during this recreational activity. We got to use many materials including paint. Our finished products are at school. Thanks to Mr. Dan for transporting them all back for us.

Hike – On this hike our guide pointed out various plants and animals. We were particularly fascinated with the woodpecker homes and the burned areas.

Obstacle Course – This was a huge hit with all of the kids. There were many physical challenges at this station. I don't have pictures because I needed to be at a different station during this time. If any chaperones have photos of this and send them to me I will share them with you.

Solo Hike – This was a short walk with a stop for a little solo time to reflect on the voyage. The kids chose spots within a set boundary and they sat by themselves just thinking and looking around or writing or drawing in their Camp Elim journals. Ask your child to show you his or her journal so you can read some of their thoughts about the trip or see some drawings that they made.

Other Items

We had a big campfire and the chaperones were all a part of it. Two parents, Mr. Joe and Ms. Heather, were involved in a skit that led to many giggles and belly laughs. All of the other parents had knock knock jokes and other jokes to share with the kids. We also did the old campfire standard - we sang "I'm Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee".  Apparently some of the boys were writing their own version of this during journal time before bed. You will have to ask the male chaperones for the details.

The meals were very good. For dinner we had barbeque chicken, green beans,potato salad and jello. We had mint chocolate chip ice cream cake for dessert. For breakfast we had pancakes and sausage. There was also a breakfast bar with fruit, granola, oatmeal and hard boiled eggs. Then for lunch we had sloppy joes, french fries, carrots and water melon with rice krispy treats for dessert.

The kids kept all of the adults smiling with their very cute comments. Just a few examples:
  • When our hiking guide picked a weed to show us, one student asked if his boss knew that he was doing that. 
  • The students were very worried on the bus ride up that the bus might run out of gas.
  • While on the hike students kept asking if we were lost even when the camp was clearly visible.
  • One student's mom told her to be sure to spin on the tire swing because it was healthy for her. (Okay, so that is not true but it was an attempt to get to spin on the tire swing because we were limiting time on the tire swing because the spinning made kids too dizzy.)
There are many more but I can't remember them all. I am hoping that the chaperones will share some cute stories in the comments of this post.

It really was a wonderful trip. Thanks again to all of the chaperones who gave so generously of their time. Chaperoning is just like parenting or teaching – the toughest job you will ever love.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Crew News August 23, 2011

Finish packing any gear that has not already been packed. Your child will need their gear bag, sleeping bag and day pack tomorrow. Your child may have already brought in their gear bag and sleeping bag today. They will need a sack lunch and 4 snacks (2 for each day of our trip) in their day pack along with their water bottle and other day pack items. Tomorrow is our big day. Let's all try to get lots of sleep tonight so we are ready! See you in the morning!

We will meet in the morning at 8:15 am in my room to talk briefly about our trip and the "jobs" you will have. You also need to bring a sack lunch and 4 snacks along with your gear tomorrow. Rest up - it is going to be a great trip!

Growing Readers
As I mentioned in yesterday's Crew News, our crew loves to read. In addition to our time in the classroom library during centers, we also have an independent reading time. During this time the students choose books to read from a bag of "just right" books that are stored in the chair pouch on the back of their chair. They have many great books to choose from and bring one of these "just right" books home each night to read to you. They look so grown up already in the photos below.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Crew News August 22, 2011

Classroom Library
So what do the students do when they arrive at school at 8:30? They have several jobs that they do to start their day. They bring their homework folder and water bottle into the classroom, they put their homework in the homework bin, they make their lunch choice, they go to the bathroom if they need to and they fill their water bottle if it is empty. After that, they can visit with their friends or more likely they can be found in our classroom library reading a good book. They love this time to show each other all of the good books that they have found in the classroom library during center time. Just look at how well they share the space and the books in the picture below. They love to read!
Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 1.12 Thermometers

Friday, August 19, 2011

Crew News August 19, 2011

We are working toward the day when each student in the crew will have their own blog. This usually happens round November or December. In order to understand what a blog is and how you use one, we read our crew blog occasionally and today we wrote our first post together as a crew. We will continue to write posts together about once a week until it is time for each child to have their own blog. Then they will know the types of things you can do with a blog. It is always so exciting when that day comes. The story below about the game Top-It was written by the crew with me doing the typing. I projected the words up on the screen at the front of the room. We talked and wrote and rewrote until we were all happy.

We have been playing a game called Top-It in math. It is a card game and whoever gets the highest number wins. If you get a wild card you get to choose your number. When you are done you start over. Whoever gets the most cards wins. We like this game.
-by Ms. Jill’s Crew
(Pictures are below.)

No homework over the weekend. Enjoy some good books with your child.

Our IA next week will be Art.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Crew News August 18, 2011

We will visit the school library every Thursday. We visited the library last Thursday for a brief orientation. Today was a regular visit complete with a story, a lesson and time to check out books. We were so excited to get some new books to read.  Be sure to ask your child what books he or she brought home today. (Bummer. I couldn't use some of the pictures Ms. Dee took in the library today because the kids had name tags on with their first and last names. The two pictures below are the only ones where the name tags weren't visible.)

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 1.10 Tally Marks

Thank You
Thank you all so much for all of the volunteer work you have already done so far this year. I am so impressed with how things are going so far. A special thanks goes to Kerry for organizing all of this volunteer work. I just gave her a list of jobs that needed to be done and the piles of work disappeared from my room and completed jobs are returning each day. It is so nice to have all of that off of my plate. I am not sure who is doing what but I wanted you all to know how much I appreciate all of your efforts to make things run so smoothly for our crew. Thank you!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Crew News August 17, 2011

All School Meetings
We have All School Meetings on two Wednesdays a month. The dates for these are usually listed on the Renaissance website on the Calendar of Events page. The whole school attends these meetings and different crews take turns leading the meeting. We all really enjoy getting together to see what other crews are learning. Parents are welcome to attend these meetings, too.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Ask your child to teach you how to play Top-It. Directions are on the Math page of our crew blog.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Crew News August 16, 2011

Character Trait
We will be focusing in on one character trait at a time. First, we have been studying perseverance. Perseverance means continuing to try even when things are challenging. We read the book Sink or Swim about a cow who wants to learn to swim and perseveres through many problems to finally become successful. Perseverance is a great trait to remember when we are learning something new. Ask your child how he or she can show perseverance at home and at school.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 1.9 Calendars

Monday, August 15, 2011

Happy Birthday Isabella!

Crew News August 15, 2011

Patrol Groups
Today we met with our patrol groups for the first time. We have two patrol groups in our crew. Patrols are the groups we work with on Voyages. We work together to solve challenges, do team building activities and to help support each other. Our first challenge was to come up with a name for our group. Below are some pictures of us working together to decide on a name. Ask your child what name his or her group chose.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 1.8 Numbers are Everywhere

Friday, August 12, 2011

Crew News August 12, 2011

Teacher's Helper
We handle our classroom jobs by having one student each day serve as the teacher's helper. The teacher's helper leads us in saying the pledge, leads our line, delivers our lunch count and carries our classroom lunch bin to and from the cafeteria. This job is very important to the students. They love it when their turn comes around.

IA (Integrated Arts)
Our IA next week is PE. Please help your child remember to wear appropriate footwear.

No homework for the weekend. Enjoy some good books with your child.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Crew News August 11, 2011

Our Crew Code

We learned all about the centers that we will use in first grade this week. It took lots of patience to listen to how each center worked but the pay-off finally came. Centers is one of our favorite times of day because we have so many choices that we are so interested in trying. You can see how interested we are in the photos below.