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Friday, September 29, 2017

Challenge Day!

Wow! What a fantastic day! Our crew absolutely loved all of the activities. The biggest hits were the Minute-to-Win-It games that our crew parents set up for us in the afternoon. I will let your child and the photos tell you the rest of the story. Here is the link to our photo album with tons of pictures along with a few preview photos to whet your appetite. If you were here and took pictures please feel free to upload them to our new Challenge Day photo album.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Counting by Twos

Earlier we tried to line up while counting by 5s. Last week we tried lining up by 2s. Ask your child which one was more challenging.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

We Are Family

As I mentioned earlier, our first Expedition is called, We Are Family. Our first case study is a study of our own families and how they are alike and different. We have been using our math skills to create graphs with information about our families as you can see in the picture below. So far we have graphed the number of people in our family, where our families live and what our families' favorite dinners are. We also learned a little bit about maps when we talked about where our families live. This week we took a look at our grandparents lives to see how their childhood was similar to or different from ours. We are learning that we are part of a family and part of our family history.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Math Problem Solving

During math we are beginning to work on complements of 10 and other numbers. Complements of 10 would include 1 and 9, 2 and 8, 3 and 7, 6 and 4, 5 and 5. We work on learning/remembering these in many different ways. One day last week we worked on finding complements of or ways to make 8. We used dot cards that had 2, 3, 4 or 5 dots on them to help us. We spread out all over the room to work. This activity was something that all of us were comfortable working on and the room became very quiet as we worked. As some students needed more challenge, Ms. Wendy and I would either challenge them to find more ways to make 8 (if this was true for them and they like to "complete" problems) or we would give them another number to work on. After working on this for a while, we came back together as a whole group to debrief our solutions, how we found them and what we noticed about the numbers as we worked.

Some students showed their thinking by drawing the dot cards that they put together to make 8 while others wrote out equations to show their thinking: 5+3=8, 4+4=8. As they worked all of the students began to realize that you could use more than 2 numbers to make 8: 4+2+2=8 and some even used 4 numbers: 2+2+2+2=8. This is an example of a low floor/high ceiling activity. Low floor/high ceiling means that all children can do the activity at a basic level and some will continue to take the activity to higher levels of thought.

In math, it is important to me that we have whole group lessons and activities that we can all work on although at different levels. I want us to have common experiences, language and background in math content. After we work on a whole group lesson or activity, we will often but not always break up into small groups based on abilities to work on concepts that we need more help on or to try some more challenging math. This way, all of our crew is exposed to new math concepts and deep discussions and also given remediation or enrichment if needed. I believe that all children can learn math at high levels if given open ended activities and time to play with and discuss math concepts.

Monday, September 25, 2017


We are hitting that time of year when students become more aware of what other students around them are doing and not doing. Up to this point, they haven't really noticed when some students are doing different things than they are. There are two reasons for this:

  1. The differentiation techniques that I have been using have not been very easy for a first grader to spot but they are becoming a bit more obvious.
  2. They are becoming more aware of themselves and those around them and how they are the same and different.

I wanted to share with you how I deal with this so you it could help you in your discussions with your child at home. One day a while back I began a crew discussion by asking what day they all lost their first tooth. They looked at me with confusion and explained that they didn't all lose their first tooth on the same day and that some of them hadn't lost a tooth yet. I nodded and then asked them what day they all learned to ride a two-wheeled bike. This time a few of the crew figured out that I was making a point but others still needed to straighten me out and explain things to me. Just to be sure I asked one more question about what day they all learned to walk. Now they all laughed and decided that I was being silly. This is when I talked to them about how we all do things at different times and in different ways and that this is completely normal. I then began to talk about how this relates to learning to read, write and do math. I explained that we were all going to learn to do those things well but probably not on the exact same day. At the time, they seemed to understand - but understanding and feeling okay about that are two different things. We will continue to talk about this and how we all have different strengths and weaknesses but that we all continue to learn. You can help by reiterating this at home.

Important Dates
9/29 Challenge Day - Lunch from home needed. Keep those donations coming!
10/2 - 10/13 Fall Break
10/16 No School - Teacher Work Day
10/18 Crew Photos and Re-Take Photos
11/6 Vision and Hearing Screening
11/7 No School - Professional Development for Teachers
11/22 - 11/24 Thanksgiving Break

A Few More First Grade Fashion  and Other Photos

Landon dressed up for his book reading. He is writing books at home and bringing them in to read to us.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

What Does Writer's Workshop Look Like?

On Tuesday, I was conferring with students about their writing and as I stood up to move on to the next student I looked around and noticed what the classroom looked like. I was so impressed with the crew and how involved they were in their writing that I decided to take a few quick videos to share it with you. I promise that I didn't bribe or threaten them - they were just writing. They love to write. They did begin to notice that I was filming them but it didn't really district them from their writing. So while I won't say that our Writer's Workshop runs this smoothly every day, it is like this often and that makes me very, very happy. If you get this post by email, you will need to click through to the blog to view the videos. Videos don't come through in the emails from the blog subscription.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wordless Wednesday

 (Click through to the blog to see the two super short videos.)

Chloe donated The Poky Little Puppy to our crew. He will be well-loved.

First Grade Fashion
Student-made pin.

Rainboots are a must.

Flashback to the movie Grease. :)

Backwards shirts are a "thing" right now.