Bubbles and Chalk Day

Every year, we look forward to celebrating the end of the year together outside with bubblessidewalk chalkpopsicles, and fun!  We are all stocked up on FUN & chalk, but…we would LOVE if you would add bubbles, LARGE bubble wands, or popsicles to your shopping list in the next week.  We hold our celebration on the second to the last day of school (Thursday, June 8), so if you are willing to help supply us, you can feel free to send in your goodies anytime before that day.  This is always such a fun day for the first graders and we can’t wait to celebrate all the hard work they did this year with this fun celebration!

Learning Update!

Reading:

This past week in reading, we revisited paying close attention to how our characters were feeling in the beginning, middle, and end of a book. Each day we read a story and stopped three different times to discuss the characters’ feelings.  We noticed that almost always our characters’ feelings do change!  Often the main character started off happy, in the middle something happened to make them feel scared, sad, or mad, but by the end the problem was resolved.  We compared the characters feelings in our books to a rollercoaster with lots of ups and downs.  We also noticed that when our characters’ feeling change they are learning an important lesson.

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Math:

This week, we took our Unit 7 assessment – our first graders did great!!!  Next week, we will start our last math unit on 2-digit addition!!

Learning Update!

Reading:

In Reader’s Workshop this past week we focused on characters in the books we are reading. We focused on how our characters were acting and tried to find descriptive words for these character traits (bossy, confident, brave, anxious, selfish, demanding, mean, shy, sneaky, etc.).

We practiced with some of our favorite Kevin Henkes books. We will continue working on characters next week!

Math:

We continued to study shapes during our math time this week.  We started the week combining triangles, rectangles and squares to form new shapes.  We learned about: rhombuses, trapezoids, parallelograms, and hexagons.  We also found that we could combine and transpose our shapes to create patterns.

Later in the week we began exploring with 3-dimensional shapes! We touched on the following shapes…

We learned about the attributes of each of these shapes.  We also briefly discussed how these 3-D shapes compare to the 2-D shapes. For example: the 3-D sphere is just like a 2-D circle and the 3-D rectangular prism is just like a 2-D rectangle.  We combined different shapes together to create new shapes and also tried to break large shapes apart into smaller ones.

Then, we moved into measurement. We discussed how in the old days before rulers were invented, people used to use their body parts to measure objects.  This kids couldn’t believe this was true and brought up a very big problem… our feet and fingers are different sizes!  We realized that when we use a common unit – like a paperclip – we all get the same results.  To test this theory, we used paperclips to measure various things in our math book and around the room.

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We also introduced the word “length” and talked about how to line up measurement tools properly to get the most accurate measurement.  We compared lengths of objects from shortest to longest and longest to shortest (1, 2, 3)

Writing:

We have been just like buzzing bees working on our informational writing the past few weeks!!

We focused on revising them with some new techniques to make them even better.  We learned how to add precise words to make our writing more exact.  We used exclamations and wondered to make our books more interesting.  We even made comparisons to show how our topics are like or unlike something else.

Precise Words:  All whale have blowholes to help them breathe.  Several whales have teeth.

Exclaim & Wonder:  Blue whales use baleen to help them eat.  Did you know that?

Comparisons:  Whales can be very large.  Some whales are bigger than a bus!

This past week, we began getting ready for our next writing celebration.  We chose our best informational book to keep at school and worked to be sure that our book made sense.  Then, we focused on making our books easy-to-read.  We edited our books by adding punctuation and capital letters.  We also went back to spell our words correctly.

Next week we will fancy up the illustrations in our books, add a table of contents, cover, and celebrate!!!

Learning Update

Math:

During our math time this week we studied some familiar shapes: rectangles, squares, triangles and circles.  We learned that every shape has special attributes that are always true!!
Screen Shot 2014-04-26 at 11.09.54 PMWe also learned that shapes can be divided into equal parts.  When a shape is broken into two equal parts we call these halves.  When a shape is broken into four equal parts we call these fourths.  It’s important to understand halves and fourths especially when we are trying to share something (like a pizza, cookie or granola bar) equally.

Writing:

During our writing time this week, we reviewed all the parts of a great Non-Fiction book and took on the challenge of writing a whole book in two days using one of our expert topics from reading workshop.  The books were incredible and our first graders sure did work hard!!!

We also spent time this week talking about facts and opinions.  If we are writing a teaching page about the lunchroom in we want to include facts like:

“The lunchroom has a place to get drink.”

“There are tables for every class to sit at in the lunchroom.”

“Mrs. Reagan will come and visit in the lunchroom.”

We are trying to be careful not to add opinions that tell how we feel because someone else might not feel the same way:

“I love to sit by my friends.”

“My favorite lunch is chicken nuggets.”

Next week, we will try adding comparisons and exclamations to our books!!!

 Reading:

This past week in reader’s workshop, we looked at words that were important to our topic. We practiced with a non-fiction book about the Sun & Plants. We found the words solar panelschlorophyll, and photosynthesis to be important words. These words helped us learn and teach others about what we read about. We shared our topic’s important words with the class too!

We remembered how important it is to understand what we are reading and with some of these new topics and tricky vocabulary words, we needed to use some of the tools that nonfiction books provide for us to figure out what the new words mean.  We checked out the glossary for definitions, but also looked at the pictures, checked to see if there were any captions on the page, and reread the words in that section to look for clues.

Learning Update!

Reading:

We jumped back into reading workshop last week by helping ourselves get ready to read new books by first asking what we already knew about our topic before reading. When we pulled out a new book, we asked ourselves, “What do I already know?” This helps get our mind ready to make connections to new ideas.  We spent time comparing the books in our ‘topic bags’ and really thinking about the facts we were learning.  They were able to find examples in multiple books that taught the same information, so they knew that fact must be true.  We were able to share with our partners about things we had learned.

Writing:

Our first grade writers jumped right back into working on their nonfiction books after spring break.  This week, we talked about adding a topic sentence to our teaching pages.  To write a topic sentence, we take our heading and restate it with a little extra detail.  For example, if our heading is The Georgetown Library our topic sentence might say: 

“The Georgetown library has many books.”

Then, we encouraged our first graders to add more true details to the rest of the page.  We are trying to add facts, not opinions to our books!  Here are some examples:

“There are nonfiction books, fiction books, and chapter books too.  First graders can choose one book to bring home.  You must remember to bring your book back every Wednesday to get a new one from the library. ” 

Nonfiction books frequently have a conclusion at the end to summarize the big ideas.  Later in the week, we learned how to add a conclusion that restated our topic and encouraged our reader to care about our topics the way we love our topics.

“Now you know all about libraries.  I hope that you go to visit a library someday too!”

Finally, we learned how to make our pictures teach using labels, diagrams, directions arrows, captions, charts, maps, and even zooming into the most important part of our drawings.  Our books are looking great!!!

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Math:

This week, our mathematicians learned how to tell time to the hour and half hour!! They learned that the two different kinds of clocks that we use in everyday life are called an “analog” clock or a “digital” clock. We discussed that the shorter hand always points to the hours and the longer hand always points the minutes.

We spent lots of time reviewing and practicing drawing the time on an analog clock and on a digital clock!  The hardest part for the kids is to remember that when it is a half hour, the hour hand is half way past that hour (they often read it as the next hour ahead instead of the hour it is half past).

Learning Update!

Writing:

This week during Writer’s Workshop we jumped right into writing nonfiction books.

We talked about all that we have learned about nonfiction books this year and then we built a list of the features we will add to our nonfiction books. We then picked a topic we are all experts at, Georgetown Elementary School, and wrote a nonfiction book together.

Next week, we’ll brainstorm ideas that the kids are experts in and they’ll start writing their own.

Math:

For the last few weeks, we have created graphs and made comparisons during our math switch time.  As our expertise grew, so did our graphs! Instead of comparing just two groups of objects, most of our graphs now compare three categories of data, like the graph below:

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We are always trying to make comparisons between the data in each category (group) by finding the MAGIC NUMBER. With three groups it’s a little harder to find the difference especially when comparing the top category of data with the bottom category of data. If we use a pencil to cover up the extra information, finding the MAGIC NUMBER is a breeze.

We then transitioned to solving comparison stories. Our first graders learned a new strategy called: COMPARISON BARS. Comparison bars are a visual tool for solving stories in which two amounts are compared and the difference (magic number) is either known or unknown. Check out the examples below:

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Thank you (ahead of time) for helping your child on his or her homework pages this week. Be sure to check their work. This new strategy is tricky and sometimes our first graders are unsure about where the known information should go. (If the magic number or the difference is known, the information always goes inside the oval.) We will review more comparison stories next week and then we will wrap up Unit 6 with an assessment.

Reading:

In Reader’s Workshop, we started a new unit focused on learning from all types of texts. We filled bags with different topics (dogs, dinosaurs, weather, plants, presidents, etc.)! The students are working with a bag of books that focus on one big idea for a few days.  Some of the books from their topic are nonfiction and some are fiction.  The first graders spend time each day reading through the books on their topic to see what they can learn and teach others about their topic.

Hand 2 Hand

We invite you to participate in our spring donation drive to support Hand2Hand — a community program that provides food to families in need through the school year and during the summer months.  This blog post explains the types of donations needed, drop off location and time frame.

Learning Update!

Reading:

We’ve already learned so much about being a great decoder and how important it is to use strategies to figure out tricky words.  This week, we tried to push ourselves even more as readers, by learning a new strategy that taught us how to break apart words into syllables, so we could decode multi-syllable words.  This new strategy had a special name: SPOT & DOT!!!

Before we could try SPOT & DOT we had to develop our understanding of a syllable.  We learned that words can be split apart into syllables and every syllable has its own vowel sound.  (This vowel sound is sometimes made up of a vowel all by itself.  Other times it’s made up of a team of vowels working together.)   Since our SPOT & DOT strategy works with words that contain two or more syllables, we studied several words and tried to predict if they had only one syllable or many syllables.

Next, we were ready to SPOT & DOT.  We followed the steps below:

After Step 3, we swooped our fingers under each syllable to read the word.

We tried reading many 2-syllable and 3-syllable words as a class before the kids tried some on their own.  We will continue practicing this strategy next week as we tackle some of the tricky multi-syllable words the kids find in their own books.

Math:

We began our Unit 6 in math this past week.  Our first grade mathematicians are now sorting, organizing, and comparing data.  What a blast!!

To start things off, we learned how to take random data and record it on a chart or graph.  Crossing out each object as we add it to our graph helps us to be accurate in our representation.

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After graphing the information, we were able to notice many things about the data we were studying.  Which group had the most?  Which group had the fewest?  How many in all?  And, we were also able to make comparisons – how many more or how many fewer.  To compare our data, we drew matching pairs and then circled the magic number.

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The magic number represents the difference between the two groups being compared.  No matter if we are comparing how many more or how many fewer – the number is always the same (that’s why it’s magic!).

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We can’t wait to learn more!

Writing:

After working for a few days to write our last small moment story, we continued to work on drafting CONSTRUCTED RESPONSEs to questions about a text. Our first graders have worked hard to listen to questions and figure out answers, but they need to fully respond to a question in a format that shows they understand the question (restate question), they can answer the question (answer – ALL parts), and they can use information from the text to back up the answer they chose (cite information from the text).

This week, we used Raz-Kids as a tool to help us practice our constructed response. When the first graders reach a certain level within Raz-Kids, a constructed response question gets added the end of the quiz they take after reading their book. We worked together to read a story, answer the quiz questions, and then form a constructed response answer to the last question.