Weekly Update

The Week of November 11-15

Math Report: Making a ten to help solve teen number addition problems has been the focus of this week. This is a continuation of place value. It challenges children to solve problems in more efficient and precise ways. Children are invited to go beyond counting and move to grouping which will eventually lead to regrouping. This skill will assist children in solving addition problems with bigger quantities. One of the ways we interacted with numbers was taking a mathematical look at the American Flag. Each child was asked to produce an equation using numbers they see in the flag and then the challenge was to demonstrate how to make a ten with that equation. We also engaged with numbers more visually using make a ten flashcards and with unifix cubes. One child even extended this thinking and found ways to use doubles and tens to solve the problems. The example was 8 + 8 = ? this child said they know that 5 + 5 = 10 and since 5 + 3 = 8 there would be 3 + 3 remaining so 5 + 5 + 3 +3 = 16. Wow. This example shows flexibility with numbers that moves away from counting one-by-one.

Reading Report: The highlight of the week was working in our literature circles. The children are becoming more comfortable discussing books and incorporating their discussion roles. We also worked on learning strategies to engage with non-fiction books. We learned about non-fiction strategies like taking a sneak peek, studying one page at a time to really get smart about a topic, and making predictions about the next page. The children used this knowledge and applied this new understanding to their state research projects.

We also had the experience of an author visit in the library! It was so much fun to learn more about the writing and illustrating process.

Writing Report: Our small moment stories have continued this week. We had fun sharing our stories with each other and I was blown away by how supportive each child of each other during the share. They complimented one another, cheered each other on, and were inspired by each other's writing talent. During our phonics work we focused on punctuation, spelling, using our glued sounds of "all", bonus letters, and digraphs. It is exciting to see their writing skills evolving.

Thematic Unit Report: Wow! First graders really put in a lot of work completing their state research projects. Their presentations were comprehensive, clear, and organized. I am a very proud of all the first graders and I heard a lot of positive feedback from older students, teachers, and administrators. Great job everyone!

More Pictures from the Week

The Week of November 4-7

Math Report: We completed Unit 3 which introduced addition, subtraction, and missing addend number stories. We have moved on to Unit 4 which will cover an introduction to place value for ones and tens. For example the children explored the concept that number 22 has two tens and two extra ones. This concept is important to master because it lays the foundation for more complex number stories and equations. One of the ways we explored this concept was through reading the story Caps for Sale and using that story to play a game. The game asked the children to sort "caps" into ones and tens. The children had to record their answers and the different ways they sorted and exchanged their ones. It was challenging, but with continued practice they will all succeed! We ended the week creating number stories with rhyming words, drawings, and teen numbers. This was another challenging task as it required thinking and processing from multiple domains. Next week we will work on representing and comparing teen numbers and visualizing teen number addition.

Reading Report: Reading this week, continued to focus on partner work. We learned the strategy of supporting our partners. We don't just tell our partners the words, we help them. We likened this to dramatic play-- you wouldn't go to a group of friends and say, "I'll be the mom, dad, and dog and you can just watch." It was emphasized that we all work together to create and support all the roles in reading. We also learned that partners can work on many of the same goals as readers work on individually.

Writing Report: We learned how to stretch out a small moment to make a longer, more detailed story about things that we know and like to do. We read the book, A Walk in the Forest by Maria Dek. It has short sentences but gives us so much extra insight into all the feelings, thoughts, and sequence of events that happen during a walk in the forest. As you work with your children this weekend start narrating these ideas as you are doing little things like running an errand or going to a museum. There is so much to notice around us and to become excellent writers we must show the reader the world that we see from our point of view.

Thematic Unit: We have worked on researching our states for our state project. Each child has been provided with a packet of questions to answer about their state. This is a really big step for many children as this may be the first experience for them to use information from books to answer questions and create a finished research project. I introduced the idea of citing sources, that as they research they must list where they get their information. For first grade, I ask that they include the author and title of the book. It was a challenging concept, but I think with continued practice and modeling they will produce solid work. It was a special treat this week to have our reading buddies in middle school assist the first graders in starting their research online. The final project should be a poster board with the facts they found most appealing from the packets. I will be assessing their learning based on their work provided in the packet, and their ability to represent their new knowledge on their posters. I hope to open our classroom for presentations once they are completed.

More pictures from the week!

Star Reporter: This week our star reporter shared the news that it is now illegal to harm animals. It was made clear by our star reporter that we should all treat animals with respect and love. The class agreed :)

The Week of October 28-November 1

Math Report: This week we worked on subtraction stories where the children were asked to draw a math mountain, a number sentence, and draw their answers using circles. It is important for them to represent their answers in multiple forms to ensure flexibility with their thinking. The subtraction problems used smaller numbers so they can focus on the reading component of the problem, but we will be working with larger numbers soon. We also had a lot of fun on Halloween and on Friday engaging in pumpkin seed math. They were challenged to think of different ways to count their seeds by grouping them in 10s, 5s, 2s, and 1s. This would be great homework over the weekend if you can ask them to group the family's snack in different ways and count the number of groups and the number of snack items. A book we read about pumpkins stated that the grooves on the pumpkins are where the seeds grow inside, so we thought about ways we could correlate the number of grooves to the number of seeds per pumpkin. It was a lot of hard work but they all did a beautiful job thinking critically about the math behind the pumpkins.

Reading Report: In reading this week we focused on introducing books to our partners without spoiling the ending. We meet knee-to-knee and eye-to-eye when we talk so we know our partners are listening. We then say the title and author of the book and then give a description of the main parts of the book. When we read together we meet shoulder-to-shoulder and knee-to-knee. We also were able to meet with our literature circles again this week to discuss the books even further. In literature circles we are assigned a book and then each member is responsible for connection, questioning, summarizing, or defining new words. It is important work and I would love for you to engage in this conversation for reading homework this week with your assigned books or any other books you read during the week!

Writing Report: We had a few interruptions to our reading this week with an invitation to see the second graders' simple machines project presentations and then another wonderful experience of working with the upper schoolers to create lava lamps for Spooky Science. On the days we had writing workshop we focused on writing letters--reminding students that writing can take on many different forms. We wrote notes, lists, and letters. This is another fabulous homework idea...write lists for things to do on the weekends, write letters to family members who live far away or notes to people in your home! We also worked on editing and adding more detail to stories in their writing folders.

Thematic Unit Report: We have completed our unit on communities which seamlessly connects to our next unit of America the Beautiful. Our first project we will be working on is our State Research project. Children should start thinking about what state they would like to research. I will be bringing in books from my local library to spark interest. Monday I hope to have everyone choose their state to research and then we will focus on our projects over the next week. I am looking forward to our next unit!

Some more pictures to enjoy!

The Week of October 21-25

Math Report: Since completing the second unit in our curriculum we have started unit 3. We are exploring missing addend word problems. These word problems can be tricky because children have discovered the pattern with word problems to just put the numbers they see together, but in these they have to read carefully and find the answer to the problem that is asked. We learned some new center games that support addition and subtraction fluency and flexibility in number sense.

Reading Report: We learned strategies about double checking our reading. So if we come across a word we don't know we should check all the parts of the word, we should see if that word makes sense with the pictures and the sentence and we should read it out loud. We also emphasized that a sound reading strategy is to keep trying and never give up! Sustaining attention and enjoyment from reading is important and we should try our very best every time, we revisited the story of the Little Engine that Could and chanted, "I think I can..." over and over before we started our reading for that day.

Thematic Unit Report: We completed our neighborhood map that is now currently on display outside our room. The children loved this project and worked really hard! We also started this week looking into our own cultures and reading about other cultures so that we can notice similarities and differences. We will be ending our unit soon and move on to the next unit which will be America the Beautiful.

Star Reporter: We learned a little bit about the stock market from our star reporter this week. He shared that he has been monitoring his own share in Johnson & Johnson and said that it is rising right now but had some trouble recently because many people have complained about the medicines they use. But to help boost the stock, he handed out Johnson & Johnson brand bandaids and encouraged all of us to buy their brand!

Our Halloween carnival was a success! The children and families who came seemed to enjoy themselves and we had a lovely day :)

Enjoy some more pictures from the week!

The Week of October 14-18

Math Report: This week we completed Unit 2 of our math curriculum and enriched with continuation of our addition/subtraction number games. We explored a new game called Placing Chips which introduced place value. This was very challenging at first, but once the children were able to notice the patterns, and understand that the 22 means two tens and two ones, they were thrilled to notice more patterns. We even had a few students explore place value to the 100s! This will enhance their ability to add and subtract bigger numbers coming up in the curriculum.

Reading Report: This week we had the opportunity to work with our reading buddies which tends to inspire the children to read more and have fun discussing characters and books. We also started our literature circles this week. Originally I thought about adding this to our homework, but I will be making this part of our Friday schedule. The book they brought home this week was their literature circle book. They were given roles like connector, summarizer, discussion leader, or character tracker. I wanted the children to focus on the reading and not get frustrated or focused on writing, so this was discussion only. Please continue the discussion of the books at home and explore more of the roles! We will do this each Friday with a new book and new role during our reading workshop time. We also completed Unit 2 in our Wilson Fundations phonics program this week and have reviewed our trick words (words that cannot be tapped out to spell) and will be starting digraphs and building longer sentences with longer words.

Writing report: We finished stories from last week and started new stories. We are still adjusting to writing using our story paper with the Wilson program rather than using a blank page. The story paper will help increase skill in handwriting and also encourages children to practice the writing strategy of matching the words to the pictures. We will keep working on this next week!

Thematic Unit Report: Our map of the neighborhood has developed several drafts with lots of collaboration and problem solving. I have been blown away by their attention to detail and excitement for the creation of this map. They have also learned more about their space and environment. I hope to finish our map this week and then I'd like to start our discussion of the similarities and differences among communities around the world.

Star Reporter: Our star reporter this week brought us an excellent presentation of the peak fall foliage colors in Michigan. The report included why it was so beautiful and what is so fascinating about the timing and graduation of the colors in fall. Many wonderings were expressed about what is different about Illinois and Michigan and why some areas might have more colors than others. It was a wonderful introduction to discussing similarities and differences among cultures, communities, and environments.

More Pictures from the Week

Pumpkin Carving Night

The Week of October 7th-11th

Math Report: This week our math included several new games that focus on addition and subtraction. The games are very easily differentiated to accommodate various skill levels. Please continue this practice at home to encourage more discussion of numbers, patterns, and subitizing. We played "hide it" where we have a set number of cubes and one player hides a portion of them and then the other player has to "guess" how many are hiding. The challenge was to "guess" without counting each cube. They could use subtraction, counting on, grouping (5 groups or 10 groups). Another game we learned was How Many to 25. This game used a game board and a dice. Player 1 rolled the dice and placed their counters on the board. Player 2 repeats this step. Whoever fills the board with the most counters wins. The question asked is, how do we know without counting who won? This facilitates conversation about numbers and what it means to have more or less and helps children visualize what is more and what is less.

Reading Report: This week we focused on dropping bad reading habits and starting new good reading habits. Some of the bad reading habits made us laugh. We talked about The Freeze (not trying when we don't understand the word), The Mumble (pretending to know the word and mumbling through it), The Blooper (making up a word that maybe had something to do with one component of the story), or The Tell Me (asking for someone to tell you before trying first). We talked about identifying some of these habits in ourselves and worked with our reading partners to help us through it. We talked about creating good habits while reading like looking at all parts of the word, looking at the context, checking our thought with the context of rest of the story, and not giving up. Reading can be challenging, but we have to work at it, practice, and persevere. We can also help one another as we build our reading stamina and as we reflect on our own reading habits.

Writing Report: This week we continued to work on our stories on story paper. We added more details to our pictures and words, we made sure the pictures and the words matched each other. We also worked on thinking about how to spell out new words by tapping out our letter sounds. We also worked on planning out our writing before putting the words on the page. Think of the whole story before you start writing, not just the topic. During our phonics we began thinking about trick words and how to spell those correctly. It is important that we learn these because these words we won't be able to tap out the sounds. We will be starting a notebook with the trick words spelled out so we can refer to them without having to ask to increase our independence during our writing and reading time.

We also had the chance to interview our Griffin Buddies which helped us practice our writing skills as well!

Thematic Unit Report: We have continued our study of maps. We have finished our maps of our homes and now we are working to extend to a map of our neighborhoods. Our task this upcoming week is to connect the maps of our own streets with each other to see how close we all are to one another. We will continue learning the roles of community members just as we learned the roles of family members and classmates. We will include these in our maps.

Star Reporter: We learned about a lovely story celebrating a crossing guard's long career. It was a wonderful addition to our communities unit and how vital each person's contribution is to our community.

The Week of September 30th-October 4th

Math Report: This week we continued our exploration of subtraction. We practiced during warm-ups with subitizing cards and mental math. We worked on discussing number patterns and answering open ended questions regarding those number patterns. We worked in our notebooks, and solved subtraction arithmetic but also solved subtraction word problems. It is important to show proof of our answers so we had to show our work using proof drawings along with a number sentence. We are continuing our discussion of the symbols of subtraction, addition, and equal. We also are continuing to highlight the importance of counting something. For instance, in a math word problem we are always quantifying something. They need to answer with a complete sentence and not just solve the arithmetic problem--This increases their flexibility with numbers.

Reading Report: This week we learned the strategies of rereading familiar texts to discover a hidden story or noticing new details. We practiced this by reading Goodnight Moon and learned that there was a little mouse on every page. How interesting! Why did the author do this? What is the hidden story there? Why is it important to the text? We then practiced on our own, reading books from our bins. We talked about this with reading partners and then learned something new again, because partners will see different things and then we can grow our ideas together. We also had our reading buddies available again to encourage reading even further--we facilitated book discussions with books chosen by the first graders.

Writing Report: Our writing this week focused on the strategy of using both pictures and words together. We looked at the book Corduroy by Don Freeman and noticed that underneath each picture are words. We also noticed that those words match the pictures. We used more specific story paper as a guideline for them to create their stories.

During our phonics time we are also working on the strategy of tapping out the letter sounds which can be used in both spelling and in reading. We were building words with our magnetic tile boards this week and will continue this practice next week as well.

Thematic Unit Report: We have been studying maps this week as we continue to learn about community. We made a map of our homes and now we are going to make a map of our streets. We will talk about the importance of neighborhoods and eventually notice the connection of these neighborhoods and build our own map of where we all live in relation to one another.

We have also enjoyed our free choice at the end of the day and inserted more mindfulness practice during the day.

Star Reporter: Our star reporter this week shared a recent study of an octopus dreaming. While they dream they change color. We were able to watch a video of this and it facilitated lots of discussions and personal connections. It was a great way to end our week!

The Week of September 23rd-27th

Math Report: This week we started our exploration of subtraction. We began the week with a quick introduction using subitizing cards. I asked the students to show me with their fingers how many they saw and asked them to show me with their fingers one less. I gradually increased how many less to three less. This is helping them see that subtraction means to remove. We also practiced subtraction looking at the arithmetic problems and showing their work with circles or tallies. Number stories involving subtraction were also briefly introduced. We practiced addition with review of more number stories, number circles, and games learned from last week. One fun activity we engaged with was reading Ten Black Dots and we created our own Ten Dot number stories. We will continue subtraction and addition practice next week.

Reading Report: We focused on two strategies: Reading with feeling independently and with a partner, we also worked on reading with our eyes to take bigger scoops of phrases. We found that it is easier to read bigger scoops after we read then reread that same sentence. Please make sure to practice that home! We also had a wonderful opportunity to work with reading buddies in middle school. We all had a great reading time.

Writing Report: Because it was Kindness week, we spent many of writing blocks working on writing cards to faculty and staff and also community organizers. Everyone who received the cards we very pleased!

Thematic Unit Report: It was kindness week this week so we focused on being kind to ourselves, others, our school, and the community. We wrote cards to staff, we talked a lot about what it means to be kind, we helped our school by cleaning the chairs in our dining hall, we wrote a letter to the post office and then delivered it to the post office on Friday. It was an excellent week! Next week we will start investigating maps and learning more about neighborhoods and the broader community.

Recess Report: Our recess was filled with wonderful days outside again. Friday was the exception with our first indoor recess day of the school year. I saw some beautiful moments outside enjoying the cooler days and sunshine.

Star Reporter: This week we learned about the first Egyptian animated film which came out on Friday the 27th.

The Week of September 16th-20th

Math Report: We have been continuing our exploration and investigation of numbers and addition of numbers through several games. The children are encouraged to think flexibly about numbers and are able to represent them in several capacities. We focused on the equal sign and discussed number statements like 5=5 or 5+1=3+3. We expanded this thought by using balance scales. After the investigation many children were able to write out and discuss statements like 10+3 = 7 +6. They expressed pride and a sense of accomplishment.

Reading Report: In reading this week we discussed the reading strategy of setting goals during our reading time, and also rereading with feeling. It is important that after accomplishing the task of decoding that we now reread to understand the meaning. To understand the meaning we have to know the feelings expressed in the story. We also talked about scooping up the phrases in our reading, so if we were reading a book that did not express a lot of feeling, that we read a phrase out loud that sounds like were simply talking. This also helps strengthen comprehension.

Writing Report: During writing this week we continued working on using appropriate writing tools which includes a quiet voice and a thinking mind. We also continued our focus on adding more details to both the pictures and the words. The children now recite the phrase, "When you're done, you've just begun!" which means that you can always add more to the story and pictures. We introduced the new writing skill that the illustration must match the words. Everything must work together in our finished pieces to produce a cohesive story to share. We have also continued to work on our handwriting during a separate time of the day.

Thematic Unit Report: This week we continued our Communities unit and explored the different roles in our families that help create our family communities. To represent their knowledge each child wrote a book that included portraits of each member of their family and a description of how they contribute positively to the family.

Recess Report: We saw a lot of wonderful play that included examining nature, recording what they saw in their notebooks, playing organized games, and participating in pretend play. We were spoiled with another beautiful weather week!

This Week's Star Reporter

This week during our star reporter share we learned about a newly discovered glow in the dark tiny shark. One of the big take-aways was that it has pockets in its side. It was discussed that this is probably used to keep eggs safe from the surroundings. This news article prompted a great discussion of sea creatures and possibly inspired our next reporter to find another sea related article. Thank you!