Learning Update!


This week we reviewed the different sounds a vowel can made (short, long, schwa).  We built a poster showing different sounds that vowels can make:

We will continue to practice these different vowel sounds throughout the next week as we focus in Flippy the Dolphin (one of our accuracy strategies) who reminds us that when we are stretching out a word, to try the short vowel sound first and if that doesn’t work, FLIP IT and try the long vowel sound, and then the schwa sound.


In Writer’s Workshop, we worked on adding more details to our Small Moment stories. First, we talked about using our five senses to show not tell what we were feeling. Instead of saying “I was so happy”, we could say, “I was grinning from ear to ear”. Instead of “I was embarrassed”, we could write “My face turned red”. This gives the reader a much better picture in their mind as they read our stories.

We revisited what we learned about dialogue. Anything we heard or said can be added to our story to make it more detailed. We noticed that we used the word “said a lot – boring! There are many much more interesting words to use that just “said”! We created a list of words to use instead of said including…



This week, we continued to work on addition and subtraction word problems. We mixed them together and challenged the kids to see if they could tell if the story was adding or taking away. They continue to be very successful when they stick to the following steps:

Learning Update!


In Writer’s Workshop we are back to Small Moment (Tiny Seed) stories! We reminded ourselves that Small Moment stories are zoomed in stories that are true about you! We also reviewed that they tell the who, what and where on the first page.

During this unit, we will be using some authors we know (and meeting some new ones) as mentors. We talked as a class how a mentor is someone who teaches you something. The authors we are going to look at are great writers, so they can teach us how to write even better Small Moment stories!


This week our math switch groups reviewed how solve missing partner addition and subtraction equations.  To support our math learning we added new purple and blue quilt cards to our math tool bags.  Our purple and blue cards are very similar to our previous yellow and orange cards, except this time we are encouraging our mathematicians to count-on or “make a ten” as they solve equations with teen totals.
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We also began solving mixed stories again.The first graders performed very successfully when they complete the appropriate steps in order.


This week, we jumped back into focusing on figuring out tricky words as we read.  We reviewed all our decoding strategies. The kids have grown so much as readers since the fall when we originally taught these strategies. So, now that they are reading much trickier books, we want them to be vigilant about making sure they are reading accurately.

We focused on how our first graders get stuck on stretching out the sounds in a word.  We talked about how if you stretch out the sounds of a tricky word and it doesn’t make sense, don’t keep stretching it out.  Find another strategy to try.  We practiced using Skippy the Frog and then Try’in Lion to use all the other words around the tricky word to help.  If the tricky word is long, Chunky Monkey is sure to help you figure out smaller parts of the big word.

If you notice your student is getting stuck with one strategy, encourage him/her to try a different strategy!

Learning Update!


We started off the past week of nonfiction reading by focusing on how we are learning so much from our nonfiction books.  And when we learn something new, sometimes it opens up a new question for us.  We gave the example of when we shared about storms on Jupiter being worse than storms on earth, it made us wonder, “What do those storms look like?”  We were able to grab a book and show a picture of the hurricane on Jupiter that makes the red spot on the planet.  And, when we shared about how sharks take a test bite before they eat their food, it made us wonder, “Does the test bite kill the animal, or will it survive?”  There were lots of kids who were throwing out their thoughts to try and answer our questions, but we decided we would have to do some more reading to find out what really happens.

We also talked about how when we are reading nonfiction books, we come across tricky words.  Sometimes the words themselves are tricky to decode and sometimes the words can be decoded, but it is a new vocabulary word that we don’t know.  If we have a tricky word to decode, we reviewed all our animal friend decoding strategies:

But, we also talked about how nonfiction books are a little different from fiction books when it comes to decoding.  To help with tricky words, it is important to focus on what that section is trying to teach and then reread the section, look at the picture, and even check the glossary for clues!


This week, ​we worked on comparing two digit numbers, solving stories, and counting groups of tens and ones. Our mathematicians worked hard to solve equations using ten sticks and ones to prove their answers.

We reviewed how to add two ones numbers together, two tens numbers together, and even a tens and ones number together​. ​This was a snap!!

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Then, we began adding a two-digit number (containing a tens number and a ones number) together with some additional ones. To complete this task, we utilized two strategies. First, our handy-dandy method of counting on:

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We had to be extra careful that we counted on accurately. We made sure that we did this by always going back to double check our work.​ Our second strategy helped us visualize how ones can be grouped together to make a new ten – even when we’re working with larger numbers. This method is an introduction to the regrouping strategies that your child will use in second grade and beyond.

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We will take our Unit 4 test next week.


This past week we wrapped up our unit on How To writing!

We picked our favorite How To teaching story to get ready to celebrate. We made sure our piece had all of the parts of a good how to story by checking our stories with partners. Then we made sure we had capital letters, finger spaces, neat handwriting, and punctuation to make our writing easy to read. Finally, we added color to our teaching pictures.

On Friday, we were ready to celebrate! We got into small groups to share our writing. Everyone got a chance to share, and we gave compliments to each reader. We all had fun celebrating our fantastic writing!

Learning Update!


This week in writing we continued working on our How To’s! We worked on adding text features to our How To’s. This included using pictures that teach and labels to each of our pictures so that it was clear to the reader. Once we added our labels, we focused on adding a materials page. We used a sentence started “You will need…” to help us list everything that you would need for your How To.

We also worked on adding an introduction and conclusion to our How To. We used sentence starters for both of these areas to make our How To’s exciting to read. Check out our introduction, materials, and conclusion that we wrote as a class.

How to Eat an Oreo.


Have you ever had an Oreo? They are delicious! I will teach you how to eat an Oreo.


You will need a box of Oreos, small glass, milk, and a hungry tummy.


Now you know how to eat an oreo. I hope you liked your Oreo as much as I do!

First graders are coming up with really cool and detailed How To’s. Next week we will work on fixing up our How To’s and celebrating them!!


This week, we asked the kids to add their reaction to what they learned as they were reading their nonfiction books.  We talked about how when they learned something new, sometimes their first reaction was: that is so COOL!  But other times it could be something else…

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The kids worked on adding their reactions and it was so fun to see how their reactions brought out further understanding of their learning.

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Aren’t these first grade readers amazing?! Way to go guys!


Our first grade mathematicians studied some LARGE, TWO-DIGIT numbers this week — some of the biggest numbers that we’ve worked with so far this year!  We noticed that every 2-digit number has a place to show the tens hiding inside along with a place to show the extra ones.  We also represented these numbers using ten sticks and circles, and wrote an equation to match our work.

Since we were working with two digit numbers, we spent a lot of time counting tens and ones this week too.  We were able to do this practice using ten sticks and circles, the number path on our whiteboards, and boxes/jars of objects.  Our first graders learned to count the tens first and then “freeze” before counting up the extra ones.  Taking the time to “freeze” is an important strategy that helps our students recognize when it’s time to switch from counting by 10s to 1s.

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We can tell that our first graders are really beginning to understand the place value of these larger numbers!!!

Learning Update!


We spent time looking at different nonfiction books to see how nonfiction books work differently than fiction stories.  We noticed features that could help us to understand what we were reading better.

The kids have learned so much from our nonfiction books already and they just LOVE sharing what they learned with the class.


This week, we practiced our “Make a 10″ strategy using new green quilt cards. The cards are explained below:

The front side of our green cards shows an equation and the back side shows the answer along with the “Make a 10″ strategy. We wanted our first graders to try to “Make a 10″ before checking on the back side, so we taught them how to practice solving these equations using their fingers to represent the smaller partner. After borrowing from our fingers to make a ten, it was easy to find the teen total.

We ended the week studying our doubles facts. Many of our first graders know the first 5 doubles in a snap. The final 5 doubles were a little tougher.

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We will talk about how we can use what we know about doubles to help us solve other equations. We noticed that here is often a set of doubles that can be found hiding inside an equation. If we can find the hidden double, all we need to do is add one or subtract one to solve the equation.  For example:
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We will continue to work on our doubles facts, so our first graders can more easily use the Doubles +1 and Doubles -1 strategy. It would be wonderful if your child could practice their doubles facts at home too!! Practice makes permanent!!


This week, we worked on brainstorming a list of different things we can teach other people to do. To help the kids think of more ideas, we broke our ideas up into different categories: DO, MAKE, PLAY, or COOK.

Then, the kids got to try writing their own how-to teaching stories. We focused on sketching out a plan of the tools/materials that we need and then the steps of a beginning, middle, and end.

Learning Update!


We are just getting started with a new writing unit: How To! We noticed this week that How To writing teaches us how to do something

We then practiced writing a How To  as a whole class. We wrote How To wash your hands. As a class we thought of all the materials you would need and the steps in order. Before we wrote our steps, we drew a teaching picture for each step and then wrote our steps out.

We want to make sure that what we are writing about is something we know how to do before we start.  We need your help! This weekend, please brainstorm with your First Grader about some topics that they know how to do. Some ideas included might include…

-How to build a snowman

-How to jump rope

-How to play with your dog

-How to take care of your pet

-How to play tic, tac, toe

-How to brush your teeth

We will create a class list of ideas on Monday! I can’t wait to hear all the good ideas!


We spent some time this week reviewing our read to self routines. The kids fell right back into the swing of our workshop.  We began a new unit of study focused on nonfiction books. The kids are so excited to dig into this section of our classroom library.  They have found books about animals, planets, weather, people, vehicles, and much more.

We talked about how important it is to warm up to their book before trying to read. Nonficition books are filled with new vocabulary words and if we take the time to look through the pictures, we often have a general idea of what is going on and can make better guesses as we tackle new words.  Encourage your first grader to warm up to new books before they read the words!


We began new math learning this past week!!  Our Unit 4 in math will focus on tens and teen numbers, place value to 100, and strategies for adding larger numbers.  So far, we’ve practiced counting groups of tens.

We studied the teen numbers (11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19) and noticed that every teen number has a 10 hiding inside along with some extra ones.  We also represented teen numbers using a ten stick and circles, and wrote an equation to match our work.

Finally, we introduced our first graders to a new addition strategy called “Make a 10″.  For the equation, 9 + 4 = ___, we can “count on” to find the total of 13.  Since the total, 13, is a teen number (which has a 10 hiding inside) we helped our students notice that 9 + 4 = 10 + 3.  Both of these equations produce the total 13, but solving 10 + 3 is quicker and more accurate.

We will spend much of our math time next week working with this new strategy as it is still very new and fragile.

Learning Update


This week, we took some time to review what the kids have learned since the beginning of first grade. We gave the kids an interim assessment that covers unit 1, 2, & 3. The kids have grown so much in their understanding of numbers, partners, and equations.

We will continue to move ahead with our next units of math that move into teen numbers and beyond (with equations and stories), but we plan to send home an overview of how each child performed on the interim assessment. Please look for that to come home and check to see if there are areas that your child might need to continue to get support. We will meet with any students who have not mastered any areas that were assessed and continue to practice with them. We appreciate any practice that you can do at home with your first grader. Thanks!


As we wrap up our unit focused on characters, we talked about how good readers are thinking while they read.  One of the ways that we think is by making connections to what is happening to our characters. As we read, we stopped to think, ‘Would I feel the same way, if that had happened to me?’ or ‘Do I know of any other characters, from different books, who have felt this way before?’ Connections help us to understand how characters feel and why they are acting the way they are acting in different parts of a story.

Next week, we will focus our attention on fluency.  The kids will practice rereading over and over again.  We will encourage the kids to scoop their words into longer phrases, paying attention to punctuation, using a storyteller voice, and showing our feelings through our voice and facial expressions!


This week, we continued to challenge the first graders to add all the parts of a good persuasive letter as they wrote each day. At the end of the week, we picked a few of their final letters to edit (to be a 5 star sentence) and revise (to make sure it has all the parts of a persuasive letter). Next week, we will celebrate the work that these kids have done in this unit and send off one final persuasive letter before break.

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Learning Update


This past week in reading, we focused on looking closely at 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.

imagesThe kids also spent time sharing the feelings of the characters in their own books with their peanut butter and jelly partner.


Now that we’ve learned all of the parts of a persuasive letter, we challenged our first graders to be more productive during our writing time.  Our goal is for every child  to write a whole persuasive letter with all the important parts in one day.  The kids were excited to take on this challenge and truly blew us away.  We will be assessing and celebrating everything we’ve learned about persuasive letters this week!


Our first graders worked hard this week to prepare for our Unit 3 assessment.  We spent our math switch time solving missing totalmissing partner and subtraction stories using the great strategies that we’ve learned during this unit.

The kids were definitely ready for the assessment and performed very well.  Woohoo!!!  Still, they will be asked throughout the rest of this year to solve stories, and we don’t want your child to lose any of the great strategies that they’ve gained from our learning.

To support your child at home, please encourage him or her to always PROVE THEIR ANSWER when solving a story.  We have taught our first graders to listen to a story and make an EQUATION that matches the story.  Then we ask them to use a math mountain to solve the equation.  This is demonstrated below:


We appreciate all the time that you take to encourage your child on their math homework.  Practice makes permanent and we don’t want our first graders to lose any of these wonderful strategies!!!

Next week, we will dive into our new learning in Unit 4 which focuses on teen numbers, place value and strategies for solving equations with larger numbers.  For this unit, we will stay in our own classrooms.  We will start math switch groups back up later in the year.  We look forward to helping your child grow even more as a mathematician!