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Friday, August 31, 2012

Crew News August 31, 2012

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 next week  after I have a chance to look at them.

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

Our IA (Integrated Arts) class next week is Art.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Crew News August 30, 2012

We will visit the school library every Thursday.  Today was our first 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.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 1.13 Number Stories - Your child may draw the picture on the Home Link instead of cutting out a picture. Your child does not have to write the story that they tell you but they can if they would like.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Crew News August 29, 2012

Character Trait ~ Integrity
Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching. It includes other components such as telling the truth, doing what you say you will do and not blaming others for our mistakes. We read the books, It Was You, Blue Kangaroo and My Big Lie. Ask your child about integrity and how they can show it at home and at school.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 1.12 Thermometers

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Crew News August 28, 2012

Character Trait ~ Beneficence
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 Ordinary Mary's Extraordinary Deeds and Be Polite and Kind. 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.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 1.11 Explorations

Monday, August 27, 2012

Crew News August 27, 2012


 "The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them."

  --  Mark Twain

That quote is my reading philosophy in  a nutshell. My biggest goal for our crew is that they develop a taste for reading and truly have books and authors that they love. Of course, I want them to be proficient readers, too, but if they are proficient and never actually read then what is the point. If they learn to love reading, then they will put in the time and effort to become good at it. So while I will be teaching reading strategies, fluency, comprehension, vocabulary, decoding and phonics, I will also be sharing lots and lots of great books with the crew to get them excited about reading.

How Do I Try to Do This?
1. We read books throughout the day for various subjects and reasons. If you go to our crew blog, you will see a bookshelf on the side of the page. This shelf is updated daily with every book that we read as a whole crew. (Soon the students will be updating the shelf for us.) You can scroll through the shelves to view books we read in the past by clicking on the previous or next buttons at the bottom of the shelf.

2. We have lots of books available in our room all the time.

3. I bring in collections of books from the library to share with the crew. For example, right now I have a large collection of ABC books in bins in our room. I explained to the crew that this wasn't because they needed to learn their alphabet (I know that they already know it) but to show them how different and interesting ABC books can be. Ask your child which ABC book is their favorite. They have all found one or two to love.

4. I talk about books with excitement and share my love of books with them.

5. I have them share their favorites with each other.

6. We learn that it is good to talk to our friends about books - that is how we learn about great new books to try.

7. We fill any spare moments with books and reading.

8. We start our day with reading. As the students come in they sit on the carpet and browse the bins that have our current collections from the library in them.

9. We will post pictures of our favorite book characters on the wall and we have some stuffed animals of some of our favorite book characters.

10. We laugh out loud and join in with the reading of repeated parts of a books. This makes it more fun.

11. We read books and we also enjoy books on the computer or on our iPads. Tumblebooks is a favorite book reading site. It is on the Resources page of our crew blog. We have a subscription to it through the district and public library. You can access it from home, too. You will just need to enter your library card number and pin number (usually the last 4 digits of your phone number unless you have changed it).

How Can You Help at Home?
1. Read to your child every day. Yes, even after they can read for themselves. Here is a link to a great article about a dad who read to his daughter every day until she went off to college:
Father-Daughter Reading Streak Lasts Nearly 9 Years

2. Share what you are reading with your child - books, magazines, cookbooks, instruction manuals, blogs, websites, street signs, newspapers, news sites online, etc.

3. Use different voices for different characters to make reading aloud more fun.

4. Have your child read to you.

5. Go to the public library - often.

6. Visit bookstores.

7. Have piles of books all around your home.

8. Enjoy the time you spend reading with your child.

9. Check out this link: Guerrilla Tactics to Get Your Child to Love Reading 

10. Check out this link: Read Kiddo Read

In the future I will write posts about fluency, comprehension, decoding, vocabulary and more but, for now, I want to try to make sure that our crew loves books and reading. Then they will be motivated to read those books that they love so much.

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

Saturday, August 25, 2012


On our recent Fall Voyage, many of us were plagued by allergy symptoms. The hike around this lake was the very worst spot. So many were miserable (including me) that I went and found this silly poem that I wrote a couple of years ago about my allergy symptoms at this time of year. I wanted to share this with the crew to show that almost anything can be a writing topic - even allergies.

by Jill Fisch

My eyes are puffy,
My nose is stuffy,

I sneeze and sneeze and sneeze.

Oh, just what is a girl to do
But sit around and say achoo.

The weeds, the seeds,
They do not care about my needs.

They drift around on a gentle breeze,
Unaware that they make me wheeze.

These weeds of summer can tease and tease
And often bring me to my knees.

While I just wait, oh please, oh please,
For the coming of Fall and the next hard freeze.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Crew News August 23, 2012

Fall Voyage

Our Fall Voyage was a big success and lots of fun for all. 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 in 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.

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.

Ants on a Log - This activity required us to all stand on a  log and then switch places without falling off. Lots of teamwork, discussion and support was required to make this happen.

Nature Hunt at the Lake - This was a beautiful walk around a lake. We were challenged to really look at, listen to and smell what was around us. We had a list of things to look for and check off as we found them.

Web of Life - During this activity, we learned about how plants and animals depend on each other. We all chose an animal and then made a web (with string) to show how they are all related and what happens to the whole web when one animal is removed.

Recreational Activities

Critter Hike – On this hike our guide brought along some various animal parts for us to take a close look at. We were able to see some animal skulls, feathers, tails, hooves and more.

Obstacle Course – There were several physical challenges at this station. Only one or our patrols was able to complete this activity - it was rained out for the other group.

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. Again, only one of our patrols was able to do this activity because of the rain.

Chapel Games - There were several fun running and very active games that were played in the large chapel. We pretended to be in shark attacks and many other situations. When our last activity was rained out, we came here for some more games with the entire first grade.

Other Items

We had a big campfire with songs, skits and lots of laughter. This was a big hit for most of the crew. I am sure that they will tell you all about the mosquito skit and the spitting contest between two of the counselors to put out the fire.

The meals were very good. For dinner we had beef soft tacos, rice, refried beans, chips and lots of toppings. We had churros for dessert - another huge hit. 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 pizza, salad and grapes with brownies for dessert.

Seasonal allergies were really tough this year. I know that I have never had such a bad reaction to all the weed pollen in the air (thanks to all the chaperones who stepped up to cover for me during my sneezing attacks) and I know that many of the chaperones and kids were affected, too. We all showed perseverance and kept on going in spite of all the itching and sneezing.

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 21, 2012

Crew News August 21, 2012

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.

Crew Code

Be ready for our Voyage tomorrow. Come with sunscreen on, a lunch and 4 snacks, a water bottle and any other gear that you did not bring today.

When we return to school, you can meet us for pick up over by the end of the school that is next to the Early Childhood Center. We will not be standing in our regular spot by the bike racks.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Crew News August 20, 2012

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.

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

As you are finishing up your packing, please be sure to label the outside of your child's gear bag, day pack and sleeping bag with your child's name. It helps the adults help the children find their gear in the big pile of gear that is taken off of the bus. Have your child bring his/her gear tomorrow.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Happy Birthday Owen!

Crew News August 17, 2012

Learning Centers
We learned all about the centers that we will use in first grade last week. It took lots of patience to listen to how each center worked but the pay-off finally came. Working in 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 from various days this week.

IA (Integrated Arts)
Our IA class next week is Music.

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

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Goodbye Emmie

Emmie will be leaving our crew. She is going to a new school. She came in today to say goodbye. We made goodbye cards for her and she brought us a goodbye poem and pencil. We will miss her but we wish her all the best.

Crew News August 16, 2012

Patrol Groups
We have been meeting with our patrol groups. 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. Ask your child what name his or her group chose.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Crew News August 15, 2012

Our Hopes and Dreams for First Grade
On the first day of school we thought about our hopes and dreams for first grade. Below is a Voice Thread (slide show) of our pictures and thoughts about what we hope will happen this year. They are very cute. I am so happy that I will be able to make many of these hopes and dreams come true. Voice Thread is an application that we will be using often this year. Click on the arrow to start the slide show. You can then just watch as the pictures go by or you can move forwards and backwards using the large arrows at the bottom of the Voice Thread. Later in the year we will begin to add our voices to each picture to describe it but for the beginning of the year we are just using pictures. (If you are getting this post by email, you will probably need to go directly to the crew blog to view this slide show.)

If you have trouble reading the print on this Voice Thread, go here to see a larger version.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.

Happy Birthday Phoebe!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Crew News August 14, 2012

Ms. Wendy, Our Educational Assistant

We are so lucky to have Ms. Wendy working with our crew this year. Ms. Wendy has lots of experience working with young children. Last year she was a "floating" assistant and worked with many different crews. Ms. Wendy helps us out in so many ways. Please introduce yourself to her when you see her next time. She will bring out the crew for dismissal occasionally when I have a meeting.

Mr. Chris, Our School Psychologist
Mr. Chris has been visiting classrooms in our school to talk to students about how to solve problems that might come up with friends. He did some role playing with the crew (Charlie is only pretending to cry in the photos below) and brought some interesting props to help him share his ideas. Ask your child to tell you all about it.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 1.2 Family Letter for Unit 1 - this stays at home

Monday, August 13, 2012

Crew News August 13, 2012

Drum Circle
So many new and exciting things are happening in first grade that I can't write about all of them. So I will pick one and save the rest for other days this week. My pick for today --- drum circles. We got off to a great start with our drum circle this morning. We had lots of volunteers from our crew to lead us in different rhythms. We will have a drum circle as part of our morning meeting every Monday. Pictures are below.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 1.1 Introduction to First Grade Everyday Mathematics - this stays at home