Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Thanks for an AMAZING year!

Dear 1st Graders (now 2nd GRADERS!!!!), 

You were a fantastic class, and I will miss you so much. Stay active this summer--play hard, read a lot, and be creative. Although I'm not going to be at UMS next year, I will find a way to stay in touch. Please feel free to send me an email any time: sorensonvt@gmail.com

Lots of love,
Mrs. Sorenson

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Field Day

I hope your 1st grader told you all about UMS Field Day 2014! It was a fun, full day, and we were very fortunate (once again!) with the dry weather. Water balloon toss, sponge relay, Duck Duck SPLASH, bouncy castle, picnic lunch, playing catch, stilts and balance boards, roller racers, frisbee, bubbles--there were so many amazing activities!

The pictures don't even begin to cover the fun we had, but aren't our t-shirts so great?! Thanks to Mrs. Lucier for the design idea and guidance with making them.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Another phenomenal bike trip!

Wow! What a day we had! I heard several students say, "That was the best day EVER!" after the trip. I love this trip for many reasons--the chance to get outdoors and be active together, primarily. But I also love seeing students in a totally different environment, in many cases showing me their amazing biking skills with obvious pride. And amazing biking skills come in many forms, from the students who are using training wheels and peddling away, trying to find their sense of balance to those who are cruising on two wheels with ease. Then there are the students who are new to the world of biking without training wheels, and are cautiously moving outside their comfort zones. Life in the classroom is the same in some ways--students are moving forward in their academic work at different levels, working towards the next level of challenge that is right for them. It's just neat to see this at work in such a dramatically different setting. I am proud of everyone, and this is one UMS 1st grade tradition I will miss immensely when I leave.

Thank you, all families, for helping to make this happen! It could not happen without you. I managed to get a few photos, but not many. If anyone took pictures you'd like to share, send them my way and I will post them on the blog.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Bike Ride Field Trip

Happy (warm) Monday! I hope you are enjoying the summer-like, sunny day. A very important note went home with your child today about our bike ride field trip on Wednesday. In case it did not make it, here's the link to see it. We're hoping for great weather, but we will go even if it's raining lightly. Please help your child dress appropriately for whatever weather conditions we may have that day. Thank you!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Chick Hatch/Spring Reading and Writing Celebration

I truly enjoyed seeing such an amazing turnout on Friday afternoon for our celebration of your children's learning. Thanks again for your flexibility with the date change and understanding my situation. It was a great afternoon, even without the freshly hatched chicks in the room. And, truthfully, it was a lot fresher smelling in the room than it was when the chicks were there! :-)

I took quite a few photos on Friday, and I have photos of every child holding a chick when we took them outside on the Wednesday after they hatched. Enjoy the slideshow! Your children are truly amazing, and I am so proud of how far they've come this school year. It takes a village!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

More interest-based inquiry

Have you heard about our visitor today? A frog hitched a ride in a student's backpack onto Bus 13 and into UMS. Once I heard the rumor, the little guy was set free...but not before I snapped a few photos. Naturally, students were abuzz with excitement about this! Students were so excited and many questions. So, once again (hooray for an inquiry mindset!), our reading mini-lesson time was devoted to answering two "burning questions." First, was this a frog or a toad? Second, what are those large, disc-like circles next to its eyes? Our research led us to many more questions and "Wow!" moments as we learned new and interesting facts about frogs. Some of our findings are below, in an annotated photograph we created with an iPad using the Skitch app. And, just when we thought we had determined the differences between frogs and toads, a student read the statement, "All toads are frogs." in one of our nonfiction texts. We'll resume our thinking and conversation tomorrow. :-)

In the "Skitch" below, we were trying to determine if the 'creature' was a frog or a toad. Our evidence that it's a frog is written in pink, with info about toads written in green. We used two nonfiction texts about frogs as our research sources.

We planted carrots!

All first graders were part of carrot planting yesterday morning in the garden plot next to the school, behind the Colchester Food Shelf. In the fall, they will help harvest them. Many of the carrots will be donated to the food shelf, and some will be served at a school lunch so everyone can sample them.

Seed tape is handy when dealing with tiny seeds.

Monday, May 26, 2014


I am not sure what other title to give this post, because the learning first graders do every day is nothing short of just that--amazing. But something special happened in our classroom on May 15th, and the memory of it sticks with me even now, almost two weeks later.

The question was raised--and truthfully I don't even remember why--"What do butterflies use to taste?" Naturally, several students shared what they thought was the correct answer. Healthy debate ensued. I had a lovely reading mini-lesson planned that day. I scrapped it. It was good, but it could wait. The energy and desire to find answers was sizzling in our classroom that day.  I couldn't miss this opportunity. I presented students with the simple challenge: Since we don't agree on the answer to this question, let's find out! I asked them, "How could we find the answer?" I was a happy teacher when students mentioned both digital and print sources. Our research and inquiry mindset is starting to show--in an authentic context!

Some students went to the library for books. Some students got online and search KidRex.com (a great kid-friendly search engine). Some used a subscription research site we have, PebbleGo. Others scoured our classroom library for books on the topic. Students worked alone, in pairs, and in groups. Some wrote about their findings, some drew, and some talked through their thinking together. It was wonderful--reading, writing, and wondering for a real purpose!

Using PebbleGo to try to find the answer...

Presenting his findings!
When we came back together, we looked at the evidence I had been collecting from students on an online "pinboard," Padlet. Some of their sources are pictured there. Many students shared their thinking and evidence aloud in front of the class. In the end, we all agreed that we had learned something new, and some even admitted their original thinking was wrong (a HUGE step for a first grader--believe me)!  It was AMAZING! I wish all of you could have been there. By the way, ask your first grade if he/she remembers what butterflies use to taste...

Here's our Padlet:

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Watch a chick hatch!

This was an exciting moment on Monday afternoon! This chick was one of nine to hatch. We started with 13 eggs. It happened at dismissal time but everyone saw at least most of the process. Thank goodness because the rest happened overnight!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Skyping with Alabama!

We had a very enjoyable Mystery Skype with a class in Alabama yesterday. They told us right away they had big news--they hatched chicks! We were so amazed and happy because, of course, we did too! After we asked questions to determine each other's location (always fun and challenging), the classes decided we should show a chick to the other class. The other class had a very different looking chick--ask your first grader for more details!