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Friday, March 21, 2014

Measuring Worms

We had a great time in Expedition today. We measured some worms. We found out just hard that is to do! We also had a great time watching them wiggle around up close.

No homework over Spring Break. Have a great two weeks and remember to read some great books! Your child brought home 3 books to have at home to read over break.

Our IA after the two week break will be Art.

Reminder: We do not have school again until April 8th. See you on Tuesday, April 8th.


We have had a great week of climbing. Thanks to all who came and belayed us while we climbed. What a great experience! Enjoy the slideshow below. If you get this post by email, you will need to go directly to the blog to view the slideshow.

Thursday, March 20, 2014


After several weeks away from the library due to our Winter Voyage and TCAP testing, we had library today. We were all so very excited and found some great books!

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 8.4 A Shopping Story

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Go Noodle

We began using a new brain and body break tool this week. It is an online game called Go Noodle developed by Children's Hospital. Our staff was all trained on it at one of our Professional Development days. It has a wide variety of activities - singing, dancing spelling with your body, etc. - that are led by a character on the computer. We earn points as a crew and can advance to new levels as we earn exercise points. The crew really seems to like it so far.

Also the Imagination Makers performers came to our school today and put on a show called Aesop's Fables - Old and New. We all really enjoyed it. Ask your child to tell you all about it.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 8.3 More Riddles

We have library tomorrow. Please help your child return his or her books.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Wrapping Up our Social/Emotional Skills Groups

Today, Mr. Bill came and help us debrief our experiences in our social/emotional group activities. We certainly enjoyed the groups and have some interesting work from these groups to share with you during Student-Led Conferences tomorrow.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 8.2 Dollars and More

Monday, March 17, 2014

Worm Experiments

This week part of our Expedition will be to conduct some worm experiments. We will do some experiments to see how sensitive worms are to touch, to light/dark, to wet/dry and we will measure and compare our worms. Not to worry, no worms will be harmed during these experiments.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 8.1 Coin Combinations

Important Dates
  • Week of 3/17 to 3/21 Student Led Conferences - check our Sign Up Genius page for more details
  • Week of 3/17 to 3/21 Spring Climbing  in P.E.
  • 3/21 Student DO have school on this day (other schools in the district do not)
  • 4/7 No School for Students - Teacher Workday (other schools in the district have school this day) 
  • 4/11 Voyage - Rock Climbing in Castlewood Canyon

Friday, March 14, 2014

Spellbinder Storyteller

We had the Spellbinder Storyteller from the Douglas County Public Library come out again today. We were all spellbound as she told her stories. Ask your child to tell you all about it.

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

Our IA next week is PE. We will be climbing. Be sure to have your child wear appropriate clothing and shoes for climbing (it is hard to get the belay harness on over a dress or skirt). Hope to see many of you there - we climb at 11:45 am.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Presenting Our Learning in Expedition

In Expedition, we worked in expert groups for the last week or so. Each group read an article about some topic related to worms: how they move, what they eat, their enemies and how they reproduce and more. After reading their article, each group chose how to present their learning to the rest of the crew (hint: after one group thought of a puppet show the idea spread like wild fire). Below are some photos of their presentations. (You can click on each picture to see a larger version.) Enjoy!

Our puppets and backgrounds are on display in the classroom.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.

Math ~ Study for tomorrow's test including: showing numbers in Base 10 blocks, fact families, telling time on an analog clock and writing the time digitally, naming shapes (triangle, square, circle, rhombus, hexagon, etc.), reading a data table and and answering questions using the data, completing a function machine (in/out box), and showing an amount of money in 2 different ways using different coins.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Nonfiction Book Study

In reading we have begun studying nonfiction books and their special features. There are so many great nonfiction books out now for younger readers. Ask your child to tell you about some of the books we have read and the features we have talked about.

Some of the great nonfiction series books we have been looking at:

Amazing Animals Series - more should be coming in from the library soon. These are beautiful and easy to read.

Backyard Books Series - fascinating but still easy to read.

SeeMore Readers. These books by popular nonfiction author Seymour Simon are perfect for 1st graders.

True or False Series. This is a fun series to read. Each page asks a true or false question and then gives the answer and a short explanation. These are just a bit more difficult to read but still accessible for 1st graders.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 7.7 Symmetry

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sight Words

Word Work

Our new sight words are: out, one, some, this, with
Previous words include: and, going, of, for, like, little, look, saw, she, said, the, thing, they, was, with, come, get, from, have, are, some, went, want, out, her, very, favorite, made, here, night, friend, when, because, talk, could

We are working on learning to spell these words correctly. We can read them, now we must learn to write them. These are great words to point out to your child when they are reading or to have them practice spelling at home, too. 

Ask your child to explain how we practice these words at school using the Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check method.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 7.6 Tracing Shapes

Monday, March 10, 2014

How Do You Know?

From the very beginning of the school year, I have been asking the crew two questions all the time whenever they gave an answer or added to a group discussion:
  1. How do you know?
  2. How did you figure that out?
At first they did not like it at all. They thought I was telling them that they were wrong and they would immediately try to change their answer or comment. Some of them stopped raising their hands to contribute for a while because they didn't want to answer these questions. Now, though, they know that I really am asking them how they figured something out and love to answer this type of question. We have come a long way since the beginning of the year. No one shies away from answering my questions anymore. They love it. Below are a few examples of this and how I am now able to push them in their thinking more and more each day and how they welcome it. I told the crew that we are in the "sweet spot" of first grade right now and I meant that they are capable of so much and they we all trust each other and can share without feeling uncomfortable - even when we are not quite right in our sharing. We are open to changing our minds.

Reading - We have been talking a lot about how the point of reading is to get the message that the author is presenting. We know that it is still important to read the words correctly but now we have to think about what we are reading and see if we understand it. To bring this point home to the crew, I read them a poem called "sun" by Valerie Worth (click here and scroll down to the last poem on the page to read it). I showed them that while we could read all of the words correctly the first time through that it took us a while to figure out what the poem was actually saying. (It took us a while to figure out that there wasn't really a quilt on the floor for the cat to lay on!) Anyway, they enjoyed bouncing ideas off of each other and trying to figure out this very short poem. It was eye-opening to many of them that they had to do this even though they could read all of the words. Throughout the discussion, I asked them, "How do you know?' and they were able to go back to the poem to use the lines that helped them figure out their thinking. Quite a feat!

Math - We learned a new game using shapes called "Make My Design". The premise of the game is simple. One person creates a design using blocks behind a file folder "wall" and then tries to get the other partner to create the same design by using only words (no hand gestures) to describe how to place the blocks (neither partner can see what the other is doing because they have a file folder set up between them - see the pictures below).

This is a huge exercise of the communication skills. The crew thought that this was going to be very easy but that turned out not to be true. After playing for a little while and hearing several of the students who were giving directions feel frustrated, we regrouped to talk about what was happening. We had the students watch Ms. Wendy and I play a game in the middle of our group circle and talk about what they saw us doing and why. We talked about how to give very explicit directions but the biggest point we made was that the game wasn't over once you revealed the designs. This was when the hard part began. We asked them to talk to each other to think of other ways that they could have given their directions once they saw what each other was doing. Again, quite an exercise in communication and critical thinking.

Expedition - During Expedition one day I asked the crew what they thought the worms did for the soil and the soil did for the worms. After hearing their responses, I pushed their thinking by asking them, "How do you know?". This led to all kinds of responses like: "I just know", "My dad told me", "I saw it in a book" and "I read it on the internet". Of course, my follow up question was: "How did your dad/ the author of the book or piece on the internet figure that out?". This question baffled the crew. They answered that scientists told the authors, etc. I countered with, "Well, how did the scientists figure it out?" which led them to say that the scientists looked it up on the internet and now we were stuck. It took lots of probing and pushing to get to the idea that scientists observe and do experiments to figure things out. We decided to set up our own experiment to see if we could tell if worms help the soil. We have worms in soil in our worm farm and we have a jar of dirt with no worms in it. We are going to compare the dirt later to see if we can see a difference. Again, lots of thinking and learning went into setting up this simple experiment but this is how Expeditionary Learning works. This experiment is going to matter more to them since they came up with it rather than me telling them what we were going to do.

P.S. This also led to a long discussion of how things get on the internet in the first place and how we need to be sure we are looking a good sites when we look for information.

Ms. Pam's Blog
Now if I haven't worn you out completely, then take a few minutes to check out Ms. Pam's latest blog post, Teaching and Learning to Read Visual Images, to see more of this kind of thinking. Our crew is one of the crews featured on this post.  Remember there is a link to Ms. Pam's blog on the sidebar of our crew blog so you can check it frequently.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 7.5 Practicing with Fact Triangles

Important Dates
3/15 Life is Art Adult Fundraiser 6 - 10 pm
Week of 3/17 to 3/21 Student Led Conferences - check our Sign Up Genius page for more details
Week of 3/17 to 3/21 Spring Climbing  in P.E.
3/21 Student DO have school on this day (other schools in the district do not)
4/7 No School for Students - Teacher Workday (other schools in the district have school this day)

Friday, March 7, 2014

Melting Snowman

Melting Snowman
As we are beginning to work on spelling more words correctly, we are playing a game that will help us with that. It is called Melting Snowman. It is basically just the game Hangman but I didn't want to have to explain "hanging" to first graders so I changed the hanging man to a melting snowman (photo below). Play is just the same, you guess letters to complete the phrase and if you guess incorrectly, a part of the snowman "melts" (is erased). You have to guess the word or phrase before the snowman melts. This would be a great game to play at home with your child. It really makes them think about letters, words and how words work. You can play this on paper but it would work better with a small whiteboard or chalkboard since you are erasing parts of the snowman.

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

Our IA next week is Music.

Thursday, March 6, 2014


Today we learned all about polygons. Then we got to create some polygons using straws and twist-ties. Check out some of our polygons below.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~Home Link 7.4 Identifying Polygons