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.

Learning Update!

Math:

This week, we reviewed all the different kinds of stories and equations that we have focused on in Unit 5. We then took the unit assessment and the students performed very well. We will continue to practice the skills that have been introduced this year, but we are ready to move into our next unit of math that focuses on sorting, organizing, and comparing data.

 Writing:

This week, the first graders worked hard to get ready for our fifth writing celebration of the year. We spent time sorting our stories into a GREAT pile and a ‘not so great’ pile. They chose one story to revise and edit. Then, in preparation for our celebration, we studied other authors and noticed that they had added a cover with a title, a dedication page, and an all about the author page. And just like them, we tried it too!  If the stories don’t entertain you, the about the author pages will!  It was such a fun celebration of all we’ve learned!!!

Learning Update!

Reading:

This week, we reviewed the long vowel combinations that follow the rule TWO VOWELS GO WALKING, THE FIRST ONE DOES THE TALKING: ee, ea, ai, oa.

And then we introduced a new set of vowel teams that don’t follow that same rule. We discussed vowel teams with ‘o‘ and vowel teams with ‘y.’

 

Math:

During our math time this past week, we spent time studying our 120 number grid.  We noticed patterns in the ones place and tens place going across the grid and down the grid.  We also used our number grid to find 10 more and 10 less than a number.

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While our number grid can be very helpful, it’s not our only tool for adding ten more and ten less.  We can also use our ten sticks find the answer when adding and subtracting tens.

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We learned how to use the partners of 100 to solve equations that totaled 100. The partners of 100 are very similar to the partners of 10; however, we are working with tens instead of ones. This strategy came in handy for solving some of our two-digit equations as well.Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 10.08.47 PM

We also used our understanding of the relationship between addition and subtraction to solve equations. This strategy helped us to quickly find the missing partner in an addition equation once we solved the subtraction equation.

Learning Update!

This week, we worked 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 able 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). That’s a lot of work for a first grader, but we are working on growing their independence in this area.  We will continue to work on this throughout the school year. If you see any constructed response papers come home, have your child read through their response with you and point out those three parts (restate, answer, cite).

Learning Update!

Reading:

This week, we focused on long vowel sounds. We focused on four vowel teams that usually follow the rule: Two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking. It says its name.

We found these vowel teams in tricky words, focused on the first vowel’s name, and stretched out the sounds to decode the words.  We also went on a hunt through our books to find words that had these vowel teams and sorted them as a group.  We found the occasional ‘oddball’ word that doesn’t follow the rule, but our first graders are on the lookout for these vowel teams and recognize that the vowel team will most likely say the first vowel’s name.

Writing:

In Writer’s Workshop we have been adding leads and endings to our stories.

Our leads are our way to hook our readers into our stories. We can use weather, season, and time of day to get the reader’s attention.

Example: “One hot summer morning, we went swimming in the pool.” 

Our endings wrap up our stories and signal to the reader that our story is finished. We noticed that authors we were reading added their big idea or  heart of the story (lesson we can learn) at the end. We worked on wrapping up our stories like our mentor authors by using sentence starters like I really like… or … is so much fun.

Example: “I am so thankful that I don’t have to share a room with my little sister.”

Math:

During our math time this week, we continued to solve missing partner and missing total stories. We also stretched our thinking by using the Make a Ten strategy to solve equations and math stories with three addends or partners. After we looked for two partners that could make a ten, we found that adding the third partner to ten was a snap!

We are starting to work on counting and writing numbers up to 120. To help your first grader practice this skill, have him/her start at any 2 digit number and then count out loud to 120. This could be a great activity to do together in the car. As an extra challenge, you can even have your child write the numerals up to 120!

 

Learning Update!

Reading:

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.

Writing:

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…

 said

Math:

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!

Writing:

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!

Math:

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.

Reading:

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!