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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Spring Voyage

We had a fantastic day of hiking and climbing in Castlewood Canyon. Ask your child to tell you all about it as you look through the photos below and the photos in the photo album at the link below.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Vocabulary and Reading

Once a child begins to read, two things happen: their vocabulary expands very quickly and they need to pay attention to new vocabulary as it comes up in their reading. This seems contradictory but it simply boils down to the fact that vocabulary is important. As an example, in some of our reading groups, we have had to spend some time talking about the many ways authors say "said" as in the phrase - said Jill or Jill said. This week we talked about this as a whole crew. It can be confusing for new readers to understand all of the very subtle shades of meaning in these various words. Just take a look at the list below of a some of the words that authors use to say "said" that we have found in our reading.

Words We Have Found Used in Books to Mean "Said":

These are just some of the ways we have found in our reading. There are so many more. This is just one small example of why reading is such a complicated skill and why even after a child knows how to read, there are still so many things to learn about reading.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Learning is Messy (Again)

Now that I have shared several posts (here, here and here) on skills and standards that are part of the first grade curriculum, I want to go back and revisit an idea I shared with you a long time ago in an earlier blog post: Learning is messy! In that post I said:

Learning is messy! I don't necessarily mean a physical mess although it can be that. I mean that everything your child learns is connected to every other thing that he or she learns. Learning really can't be completely compartmentalized into math, reading, writing, etc. It is easy to see how reading and writing are related and how learning something about writing can improve your reading and vice versa. Other contents seem to separate more easily but are actually all connected, too. That is one of the basic tenets of Expeditionary Learning - we embrace the fact that learning is messy and all tangled up and not neatly segmented into discrete areas.

So while we have these long lists of skills and standards, we don't just march through each list and check things off as we go. We don't do this because learning is messy. Kids learn things at different rates and at different times. Skills and concepts are connected and overlapping and learning isn't sequential and orderly. It is messy.

So we embrace the mess and dig in and mess around with new ideas and new learning all day, every day. We make connections between things we are learning. We have complicated, passionate, messy discussions about the things we are learning - yes, even in first grade.

We learn to learn and be learners. We really focus on noticing, wondering, figuring things out and putting things together for ourselves. Once kids get a taste of doing this, it becomes an addiction. They can't stop noticing, wondering and learning all the time and on their own. This is not to say that parents and teachers aren't necessary - they are. But once kids learn that they can learn on their own, they begin to soar.

Our crew loves to notice and wonder. They love to share their learning. They are becoming very good at discussing things and figuring things out. Most of them are not afraid to make a mistake in front of the crew and then work on figuring out what went "wrong" in their thinking process. They are all willing to talk in front of the crew and share their idea. Wendy and I are constantly making eye contact with each other to share our happiness at all of this growth.

So remember, while we do have lists of standards and content that we teach, there is also so much more to the learning process. There are so many, many other things to learn that aren't on those lists. There are so many different time tables that each child is on and learning is simply a path that meanders rather than a well-established road that isn't flexible. Embrace the mess and dive in with your child. It won't be easy but it will be worth it and it will be fun!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Another Good Read Aloud Series

If you are looking for a good book to read aloud to your child, you should take a look at the Gooney Bird Greene series by Lois Lowry. I recently read the first book, Gooney Bird Greene, to the crew. They loved it. Gooney Bird is a quirky little girl who teaches her second grade class how to tell good stories.  The books in the series are funny and the chapters are just the right length for a good bedtime (or anytime) read aloud. Gooney Bird teaches other concepts in the other books in the series - things like poetry, vocabulary, geography, fables, etc. She teaches all of this while the reader is laughing and doesn't even notice that they are learning. This series is written at the end of 3rd grade or beginning of 4th grade level so it would not really be appropriate as a "on my own" book for anyone in our crew yet. Children are developmentally ready and able to listen to books that are about 2 grade levels above their current reading level so this series is just perfect for reading aloud to students in our crew.  Ask your child about Gooney Bird Greene.

Important Dates
Library - Tuesdays are check out only days for small groups and Fridays are whole crew library time. Be sure to bring back any books that you have finished with by those days if you would like to check out new books.

4/19 Spring Voyage to Castlewood Canyon
4/20 No School
4/28 Outdoor Learning Environment (OLE) Work Day
5/9 Renaissance Art Museum Walk 4:00 pm
5/16 - 5/17 Student-Led Conferences for First Grade
5/23 Third Grade Showcase Portfolios 1:15 pm 3rd Grade Showcase Panel Member Sign Up
5/28 No School
5/30 Sixth Grade Showcase Portfolios 1:15 pm 6th Grade Showcase Panel Member Sign Up
6/5 Sixth Grade Closing Circle 6:30 pm
6/6 Last Day of School - All School Drum Circle at 9:00 am

Friday, April 13, 2018

Thank You!

Links to Other Content Standards for First Grade

I thought that after reading the standards for math for first grade, you might be interested in looking at the standards for other content areas as well. Below are the links to these other standards including versions for parents. The links to the standards for parents are condensed and quick and easy to read.

Reading, Writing and Communicating Standards
Reading, Writing and Communicating Standards for Parents

Social Studies Standards
Social Studies Standards for Parents

Science Standards
Science Standards for Parents

Other Standards for Parents (Art, Drama, Music, PE, etc.)

Below are a few photos of the new rock wall/bouldering on our playground. The kids really like it!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Standing Firm on Consequences

Last week, I wrote about using consequences rather than punishments when working with children. This week I want to address the hardest part of all of this - standing firm on the consequences you give. It can be so difficult for the adult to watch the child living with the consequences of their actions. They are often genuinely very sorry and upset about how things turned out for themselves or they are promising to "never do this again" and begging you to drop the consequence. Often at this point, many parents can see that the "child has learned the lesson" and will sometimes feel like the consequence is not necessary. This is when you need to stay strong and allow your child to deal with the consequences. It will make all of the difference for your family later. As your child grows they will need to be able to make good decisions and the consequences of a bad decision get much bigger as they grow. It truly is best to let them learn how to make decisions and live with the consequences now so that they don't have to learn when the stakes are higher.

A few examples:
  • When your child forgets to bring back their library books on library day, don't run back home to get the books for them. Yes, you want them to have good books to read but you also want them to feel the natural consequence of needing to wait a week to get new books.
  • When your child refuses to wear a coat and it is cold outside, let them feel the cold and wish that they had made the choice to wear a coat. (Of course, you will surreptitiously check the temperature to make sure that this is safe for your child. Only very rarely will the temperatures merit you stepping in.)
  • When your child refuses to get dressed on time for school, don't argue, just bring them to school in their pajamas.
  • When your child forgets to pack their afternoon snack, don't run one up to school for them. They will be just fine without it, perhaps just a little hungrier when they get home from school.
  • When you are going to walk to the park with your children and one child just won't get ready, leave that child at home with the other parent or a neighbor (if you can) and take the other children. No need to make a big fuss, just go ahead and go without the child who won't get ready.
  • Don't give warnings. If your child is misbehaving when you are out somewhere simply tell them that you will have to leave if they don't stop. Then if they don't stop the behavior, leave without saying a word.
It is hard to watch your child cry or "suffer the consequences" but if you help them learn these lessons while the consequences are smaller (even though it doesn't feel like it at the time), you will all be much happier in the end.

Here is the secret, we all mess this up all the time. The good news is that your child will give you another opportunity to practice these new parenting/teaching skills again and again. Remember, we can do hard things.

For more stories and ideas, check out the short articles below:
How Failure Can Lead to Success
Guiding Kids to Own and Solve Their Problems
Learn the ABC's for Training Kids to Do Chores

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Math Standards for First Grade

This is part two of the math post that I started last week. This time I will simply share a long list of skills that students learn in first grade math. I will try to put them in parent-friendly language.

First Grade Math Skills
  • Count starting at any number less than 120.
  • Read and write numerals up to 120.
  • Understand place value including breaking a two-digit number into tens and ones.
  • Compare 2 two-digit numbers using <, > and =.
  • Compare 2 groups of objects using terms like "this group has 3 more" or "this group has 6 less".
  • Adding a two-digit number and a one-digit number. 25 + 4 = 29
  • Adding a two-digit number and a multiple of ten. 32 + 20 = 50
  • Identify coins and their values.
  • Find the value of groups of two coins or more.
  • Mentally find 10 more or 10 less than any two-digit number.
  • Subtract multiples of ten (10-90) from numbers between 10 and 90.
  • Use addition and subtraction within 20 to solve word problems.
  • Solve word problems that call for addition of three whole numbers whose sum is less than or equal to 20.
  • Add and subtract within 20 using multiple strategies. (Including all the types of problems I mentioned last week.)
  • Demonstrate fluency for addition and subtraction within 10. (Fluency means quickly and accurately finding the answer to problems. It can mean memorizing them but it can also mean solving them quickly using a variety of strategies. Within 10 means that the answer to the problems are between 0 and 10.)
  • Add and subtract three numbers.
  • Understand the meaning of the equal sign. 6 = 6, 7 = 8 – 1, 5 + 2 = 2 + 5, 4 + 1 = 5 + 2.
  • Understand (but not name) properties of addition and subtraction. Examples: If 8 + 3 = 11 is known, then 3 + 8 = 11 is also known. (Commutative property of addition.) To add 2 + 6 + 4, the second two numbers can be added to make a ten, so 2 + 6 + 4 = 2 + 10 = 12. (Associative property of addition.)
  •  Organize, represent, and interpret data with up to three categories.
  • Ask and answer questions about the data in a graph or chart.
  • Learn the various attributes of shapes.
  • Build and draw shapes.
  • Put two or more shapes (either 2D or 3D) to create another shape.
  • Halves and fourths of shapes or groups of items.
  • Order three objects by length; compare the lengths of two objects indirectly by using a third object.
  • Tell and write time in hours and half-hours using analog and digital clocks.

Then there are also the Standards for Mathematical Practice:
  • Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
  • Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
  • Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
  • Model with mathematics.
  • Use appropriate tools strategically.
  • Attend to precision.
  • Look for and make use of structure.
  • Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.

I may have left off a few bits and pieces of some of these but this will give you a good idea of what your child is working on in first grade math. If you would like to read the full version of these standards or some parent versions, please check out the links below.

Colorado First Grade Math Standards
Colorado First Grade Math Standards for Parents
Standards for Mathematical Practice for Parents 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Scholastic Branches Book Series

Many students in our crew are ready for the books in the Scholastic Branches series. These books are very appealing to readers in our crew. Click here for the link to the Scholastic Branches site for more details about each book series. I have included photos of the site below to pique your interest. Ask your child which books they are interested in. Most of these are also available at the public library.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Looking for a Good Read Aloud?

I have begun reading chapter books aloud to the crew in addition to continuing to read picture books. Reading aloud is fun and builds comprehension skills and vocabulary. We recently read Ready Freddy: Tooth Trouble by Abby Klein, the first book in a large series of books. The books in this series are so appealing to first graders. In Tooth Trouble, Freddy is the only one in his class who hasn't yet lost a tooth. He is so distraught about this that he creates and carries out several plans to try to make one of his teeth fall out. First graders can really identify with this theme. This illustrator also provides readers with the challenge of finding the word "fin" in every illustration. (Freddy is a shark lover so "fin" is one of his favorite words.) While this book is a "chapter book", it is written at a level that would be "just right" for about one third to one half of the students in our crew. So, many will be able to read the books in the Ready Freddy series on their own. Others will enjoy them as a read aloud.

Our current read aloud is Roscoe Riley Rules #1: Never Glue Your Friends to a Chair by Katherine Applegate.   The books in this series are all tales of how Roscoe ended up in the timeout chair - nothing outlandish, just his mishaps and mistakes that will feel familiar to most first graders. In this book, Roscoe is trying hard to help his teacher, a first year teacher, manage the behaviors in his class. His plans don't always work the way that he hopes that they will often with very funny results. Ask your child to tell you about this book.

Our future read alouds will probably include Gooney Bird Greene, Clementine,  The Dragon Masters, Anna Hibiscus and more - depending on our timing.

All of these books are available at the Douglas County Public Library so check some out on your next visit. Happy Reading!

Important Dates
Library - Tuesdays are check out only days for small groups and Fridays are whole crew library time. Be sure to bring back any books that you have finished with by those days if you would like to check out new books.

4/4 - 4/9 Douglas County School District's Art Show
4/9 - 4/13 State Testing for Grades 3 - 6
4/16 - 4/19 State Testing for Grade 5 only
4/19 Spring Voyage to Castlewood Canyon
4/20 No School
4/28 Outdoor Learning Environment (OLE) Work Day
5/9 Renaissance Art Museum Walk 4:00 pm
5/16 - 5/17 Student-Led Conferences for First Grade
5/23 Third Grade Showcase Portfolios 1:15 pm
5/28 No School
5/30 Sixth Grade Showcase Portfolios 1:15 pm
6/5 Sixth Grade Closing Circle 6:30 pm
6/6 Last Day of School - All School Drum Circle at 9:00 am

Friday, April 6, 2018

Katie Woo, Pedro and Mr. Putter

I brought in a new series of books for us to explore - the Katie Woo series. Katie Woo is a series of early chapter books about a first grade girl who has many of the same adventures and problems that our crew has - being bossy, losing a tooth, going camping, having the flu and more. To learn more about the Katie Woo series of books, click here. (To view the video below, you will need to go directly to the blog.)

One of Katie's best friends is Pedro. Pedro now has his own series of books and I brought some of those in for the crew to enjoy, too. Pedro doesn't have his own video about his book series yet. He does have some great adventures including collecting bugs, solving mysteries, playing soccer, and learning karate. To learn more about the Pedro series of books, click here.

The other series that I brought in was Mr. Putter and Tabby series, by Cynthia Rylant, the author of the Henry and Mudge series and Annie and Snowball series. This series is about the adventures of a retired gentleman named Mr. Putter and his cat Tabby. I am always surprised by how much first graders enjoy this series. I think they see Mr. Putter as a "grandpa" figure and enjoy reading the stories of his adventures. Many of his adventures include his next door neighbor, Mrs. Teaberry and her dog, Zeke, so the books can sometimes feel like Henry and Annie from the previous series have grown up. Again, this series has very sweet stories that first graders enjoy.

Be sure to check some of these books out on your next trip to the public library!