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Friday, August 30, 2013

Crew News August 30, 2013

Character Trait - Empathy

Another character trait that we have learned about is Empathy. Empathy means thinking about how someone else feels.  We are all good at noticing how someone else is feeling. We are now working on the next step of thinking about how to help others when they are having a tough time. We are learning that really thinking about how someone is feeling helps us decide how to help them.

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

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

Important Dates
September 2 - No school - Labor Day
September 6 - No school for students - Teacher Professional Development Day
September 11 and 12 - Fall Voyage for 1st Grade
September 13 - Day of Rest for 1st Grade
October 4 - Boot Camp

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Crew News August 29, 2013

We have been doing some testing in reading, too. These tests are done one on one with each student. Ms. Josie (our Literacy Specialist and Coach) and Ms. Elisha (our Reading Recovery Teacher and Coach)  have been helping Ms. Mary Beth and I with this testing. We are just about finished and I have already learned the first thing that I need to teach every student in the crew. We all need to learn to retell a story after we read it. (I have learned many other things that I will also teach in small groups or one on one but this one runs across our whole crew.)

Retelling is different from summarizing because in summarizing you tell only the most important points in a short statement or paragraph while retelling is telling the entire story again including the little details (especially the character's names). This is the best way to assess what a child at this age/developmental stage understands about a story. If they can retell it accurately and in sequence, then they understand it. If they get confused or tell it in a random order then they have issues with their comprehension.  We are going to begin practicing retelling the stories we read to help us improve our comprehension.

Reading consists of many components but all of these components lead to reading comprehension. We read to get the meaning of the piece of text we are reading. We try to incorporate comprehension instruction all along the way. We begin with decoding skills or word attack skills but we talk about the meaning of the story, too. We then move on to teaching fluency. Fluency is reading in a smooth manner with good expression. Fluent reading helps comprehension. If a child is reading with expression you can tell that he or she understands what they are reading. While students will continue to work on decoding skills and fluency throughout their school years, after first and second grade, reading instruction becomes mainly about comprehension.

We need to build a good foundation for your child's reading comprehension now. You can help by asking your child to retell the stories he or she reads to you (make sure you have read the story to so you know if they are accurate). You can also retell stories that you read aloud together. Take turns retelling parts of the story that you just read together and make it fun. This practice will really helps develop your child's comprehension and vocabulary.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 2.2 Counting Up and Back

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Crew News August 28, 2013

More on the Math Test
 Yesterday's math test came home today in the red 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 the self-assessment page.

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 his or her library books.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Our New Twitter Friends

We have made some new friends through our crew Twitter account this year and we are already learning so much from them. We are only in the getting to know you stage of our friendship and we hope to learn more and maybe collaborate on some projects in the future.

The first friends we made were Mrs. Price's class from Victoria, Australia. In just a few short days, we have already learned so much about Australia, time zones, weather and more. Below are a few short snippets of our Twitter conversations with them but these are always followed by more discussion and map viewing in our classroom. Enjoy the snippets and feel free to check out our crew Twitter account @MsJillsCrew for more of the conversation. They have sent us more questions tonight that we will answer and discuss tomorrow.

We have also started conversations with two classes from Ohio, Mrs. Mere's class and Mrs. Frazier's class. Here are the beginnings of those conversations.

We can't wait to see what tomorrow will bring.  Be sure to ask your child about this and maybe follow along with us on Twitter.

Crew News August 27, 2013

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.  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 - taking their first written test. 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 26, 2013

Crew News August 26, 2013

We launched our Social Studies Expedition today. We started with a silent gallery walk. During this walk we looked at lots of pictures and artifacts. Our goal was to try to figure out what we were going to be studying during this expedition. This activity is often called a mystery piece. Having a bit of a mystery to solve heightens excitement and builds curiosity about what we will be studying.  We will do this again when we start the second case study of this Expedition. We will reveal tomorrow what this first case study will be about. If you know what our first Expedition is about, please don't tell your child. Let them have some time to think about it and wonder about it. This will really increase their engagement in the study. See below for some photos that show how interested we were in the artifacts we were studying.

Learning Targets

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 1.12 Thermometers and Home Link 1.13 Number Stories (On this page, students can just draw their picture right in the space provided rather than taping or gluing a picture there.)

Important Dates
September 2 - No school - Labor Day
September 6 - No school for students - Teacher Professional Development Day
September 11 and 12 - Fall Voyage for 1st Grade
September 13 - Day of Rest for 1st Grade
October 4 - Boot Camp

Friday, August 23, 2013

Crew News August 23, 2013

Blogging and Tweeting
We have introduced blogging to the crew. They are all very excited about it. Each child has their own blog at a site called Kidblog. All blog posts are approved by me before they are posted to ensure that your child shares only appropriate information. Similarly, all comments on each post must also be approved by me before they will appear. You are welcome (and encouraged) to comment on any blog, just know that your comment won't appear immediately. It will appear after I approve it. This prevents spam comments and other types of comments that the crew doesn't need. You may share the link to our crew Kidblog page with your extended family so that they can comment, too. Nothing encourages a young writer more than getting a comment and knowing that someone has read what they have written. Commenting on students' blogs could count as part of your volunteer hours!

We take turns posting on our blogs so it might take a while before you see your child's first post. No one is required to publish a blog post but they will all at least create a draft of a post. We will add more and more different items to our blogs as the year progresses.  We will add things like photos, ShowMe presentations, Telligami presentations, 30 Hands presentations and more. They become so independent with all of this so quickly. Your child's blog will be a great place for you to visit to get a glimpse into what your child is learning at school. Remember, they would love a comment.

Your child may also blog from home. If they can't remember their password, just send me an email and I will send it to you.

The link to our Kidblog page is on the sidebar of our crew blog.

I have recently connected with a teacher, Mrs. Price, in Australia through Twitter. We are hoping to have our classes connect with each other through Twitter (time zones will make Skyping or connecting live a bit tough). She has also commented on a few of the students' blogs. Our class Twitter account is @MsJillsCrew. We learned about it today and sent a couple of questions to Mrs. Price's class. We can't wait to read their responses.

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

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

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Crew News August 22, 2013

We visited the library for the first time today. We have been waiting for this day. We all were able to check out some great books. We will have library on Thursdays throughout the year. Please help your child remember to bring back their library books so that they can check out new ones. Thanks.

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

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Crew News August 21, 2013

Character Trait - Stewardship
Another character trait that we have studied is stewardship. The short definition of stewardship that we use in first grade is: taking care of our world. We know that we need to keep all parts of our world clean and in good order. This includes our playground, our classroom, our hallways, our school, our homes and our community. We have stewardship day every Tuesday. During this time we all clean and organize our desks. We also go on stewardship patrol at random times during our week. During this time we clean up our classroom or hallway. We all are very good at taking care of our classroom and school. You might try using stewardship patrol at home. You never know, it just might give you the help you need in keeping up with all of the household chores you have to do.

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

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Crew News August 20, 2013

What Are We Learning in Math?
Learning Targets are statements that tell what skills, concepts or standards a child is working on or currently learning. Here are a few of the learning targets that we are working on in math right now:
  • I can make tally marks for numbers.
  • I can count forwards and backwards by 1s.
  • I can tell the numbers that come before or after another number.
  • I can write my numbers 0-9 correctly.
  • I can determine which of two given numbers is greater.
  • I can share my mathematical thinking with the rest of the crew.
  • I am beginning to learn to count by 2s.
  • I am beginning to learn to count by 5s.
  • I am beginning to learn to count by 10s.
It is often fun to practice counting by 2s, 5s and 10s while riding in the car. See how high your child can go when counting by each of these numbers.

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

Monday, August 19, 2013

Crew News August 19, 2013

Today is our fist day to have homework. Homework will have two parts each day. One part of the homework will be completing the Everyday Math Home Link page. At the top of each page there is a short paragraph written to the parent so you will have a little background information about the topic we are learning about or what we did in class that day. At the bottom will be a few problems for your child to complete.

We will have homework Monday through Thursday with no homework on the weekends. Because of this no homework on the weekend plan, occasionally the Home Link your child has on a particular night might be from the previous lesson or a few times during the year we might have two Home Links in one day. Both of these situations will be pretty rare.

The other part of our homework will be to read a good book or two every night. Your child will be bringing home one book from school each day that he or she would like to read. They choose the book that they want to bring home. They can and should read books from home, too.

It would also be great if you could read aloud to them every evening. This will help so much with their comprehension and vocabulary development. (They will never be too old for read alouds. I love to be read to even now and my family still has family read aloud times even though my daughter is in 8th grade. This summer we read The Giver and The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle aloud as a family.)

I understand that some nights it will be tough to fit homework in with all of the other activities that your family may have scheduled. Please know that it is perfectly fine to save a particular homework assignment for a night when you have more time. I see homework as practice and as a way for you to see what we are learning in class so be sure to give yourself the time you need to take a look at it.

The homework that comes home should not be difficult for your child. If something is challenging please write a note on the paper to let me know. While you can work more with your child at home on the topic, we will also work more with your child on that topic at school.

Graded homework will not come back home. You will have already seen it and we don't want to use volunteer time to manage all of the extra comings and goings of the homework pages. We will grade and keep track of who has completed the homework and then provide extra help to those students who might need it.

Homework assignments will always be listed at the end of the daily blog post (including today). That is why it is a good idea to subscribe to the posts by email or RSS feed. Then you will always know what the homework is each day.

If your child would like an extra challenge, he or she may turn the Home Link page over and create their own math problems on the back or you can create some for them. This is completely optional and only for those looking for an extra challenge.

Request from Ms. Cheryl
Ms. Cheryl would like to do a drumming unit using 5 gallon buckets. If you have one that you could send in, she would appreciate it. 

Important Dates
September 2 - No school - Labor Day
September 6 - No school for students - Teacher Professional Development Day
September 11 and 12 - Fall Voyage for 1st Grade
September 13 - Day of Rest for 1st Grade
October 4 - Boot Camp

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.

Math ~ Home Link 1.1 Unit 1:Family Letter  (This is for parents to read only and does not need to be returned to school.)
Home Link 1.8 Numbers Are Everywhere (This is page that should be returned to school on Tuesday.)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Crew News August 16, 2013

Exploration Stations
Each morning while I am meeting with small guided reading groups or individuals, the crew does some exploring at our Exploration Stations. Check it out in the photos below from earlier this week. You can click on each photo to see a larger version of it.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Crew News August 15, 2013

Hopes and Dreams 

We talked about our hopes and dreams for your child at our recent Listening Conferences. Below is a 30 Hands (ipad app) presentation that the crew and I created about their hopes and dreams for first grade. These were their thoughts on the very first day of school. (If you get this post by email, you will need to go directly to the blog to view the presentation. It will be worth it - you get to hear from each child in his or her own words.)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Crew News August 14, 2013

Crew Code

We have all signed out Crew Code. Our crew code states: You may do anything that does not create a problem for you or anyone else in the world.

This code covers almost any situation that might come up. It also gives students the opportunity to really think about their actions and how these actions might affect themselves and others. We had a great conversation about how it can depend on the situation - sometimes things that are a problem in one situation are not a problem in a different situation. There is much to consider with this code and it helps children see things in a deeper way. You might try using it at home, too.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Crew News August 13, 2013

Character Traits
At our school, we have five character traits that we try to uphold and live by. They are beneficence, empathy, integrity, perseverance and stewardship. We are learning all about these traits right now so we will be able to live them for the remainder of the school year.

The first trait that we have learned about is perseverance. Perseverance means continuing to try even when things are challenging. We can demonstrate this so many ways at home and at school. We read have read several books about perseverance. Ask your child to tell you about the cow who learned to swim in Sink or Swim.

Lochen's Injury
Normally I wouldn't write a blog post about a playground injury but in this case I am making an exception. Lochen bumped his head on the concrete tunnel during lunch recess yesterday. As you probably know, head injuries can bleed a lot. This injury was no exception. Lochen's face, hair and arms were covered with blood. It really worried the crew so I wanted to let you know what happened as I am sure your child mentioned it to you last night. Lochen did go to the emergency room and has one staple in his head to keep the small wound closed. Below is a photo of his staple. He shared his story during morning meeting today and we all took turns taking a look at his staple. We are so glad that Lochen is better today and that the healing has already started.