Friday, November 27, 2009

Food Drive

Wow! Thank you for contributing to our food drive. Between the four first grade classes, we were able to donate A LOT of food to the Colchester Food Shelf. We also had fun sorting, counting, and graphing the food our class collected. Thanks again for your contributions!
This isn't the whole class, but it was a whole-class effort to collect, sort, and count the food!
Sorting and counting are fun!
A quick graph of how much food we collected. Wow!
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Turkey Treats

On Tuesday, students were introduced a new type of writing: "How To" (otherwise known as procedural writing). This is a genre first graders will practice in a future unit of study during Writing Workshop. I projected an example of "how to" writing onto the Smartboard, which gave the directions of how to make a tasty turkey treat using Oreos, frosting, and candy pieces. Students had to read and follow the directions, and then they could eat their yummy treat! A copy of the "recipe" was sent home on Tuesday. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009


Students will bring their book bags home tomorrow with books to read over the Thanksgiving break. Other than that, there is no assigned homework (SWR or Math) due to the short week of school. Happy Thanksgiving!

Marvelous Monday!

Students love our cooking days! Today we had another guest cook, Mrs. Pine. Thank you, Terri, for coming in and leading the cooking project today. Students helped make oatmeal cookies. They were delicious! Students enjoyed visiting two other stations (in addition to the cooking station). A great way to end a busy day! Here's a glimpse of the things happening during the last hour of our day...

These two worked cooperatively to build a log cabin. Lincoln Logs are an oldie but a goodie!

The chef's helpers!
More helpers!
Students have been working on magnet "lap books" to summarize their learning in our science unit about magnets.
Some students chose to make a turkey during their free choice station.

Morning Meeting

There are so many parts of our day that it would be hard for students to remember to tell you about all of them! That is a large part of the purpose of this blog! :-)
We start every day with a Morning Meeting on the carpet in our meeting area. Morning Meeting has four components. We begin with a Greeting. This is when students say hello/good morning to each other in a variety of ways--the way we do it changes each day. Next comes Sharing. Each student has an assigned sharing day and can tell about things that happen to them in their lives or show meaningful objects and tell about them. We then move on to the Activity. The activity varies quite a bit and ranges from cooperative games to songs and movement activities. We always end with Morning Message. I write a note on the interactive whiteboard to tell students about our day. There are often parts of words missing and an interactive "Question of the Day" to get students up and involved in creating and reading our message.
Students love the "Shoe Greeting." Ask your child to explain it to you!

Sharing is a fun way to learn about other people's interests and activities.

I will take pictures in future Morning Meetings to show you more about what happens during this important time of our day!

We are thankful...

Last week, I introduced students to a great program available on many computers at UMS called Kidspiration. This software allows students to create graphic organizers of many types. We explored using a web diagram to create an "I am thankful for..." page. Students learned important technology skills and seemed to enjoy the process! Students finished their documents today, and I promised them I would put them on the blog ASAP. Check out the documents we made in the slideshow below.

Note: You may have to ask your child to explain what some of the symbols represent as far as thankfulness. ;-) I think "I am thankful..." started to become "I like..." or "I think _____ is cool!". In any case, it was a fun learning experience!

Here's a "virtual book," another way to view the Kidspiration projects. Enjoy!

Align Center

Thursday, November 19, 2009

SWR Basketball

We played basketball during our SWR (Spelling, Writing, Reading) time this morning. First, all students spell the words in their SWR notebooks. Then a person from one of the teams volunteers to spell the word for the class and tries to score a basket (throw a ball into the recyling bin). Students can get a point for spelling the word correctly and making a basket. Everyone who wants a turn, gets a turn! Children have been asking for this game, so I think they must enjoy it! :-)

Flu Clinic Changed

Hello! Just a quick note that the November 30th H1N1 vaccine clinic has been postponed. The vaccine is not currently available for this clinic. We have been told that it will be approximately 1-4 weeks until we are able to get the 2nd dose of the vaccine. I will keep you posted!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Reading Buddies

Last week, I scrambled up our reading partnerships so students could have the chance to read with someone new. Every day during Reading Workshop, students spend at least 10-15 minutes doing partner reading after their independent reading time. Partnerships will change periodically. Some of the new partnerships are pictured below:

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Report Cards

Hello, everyone!
I have been busy with doing assessments and writing report cards. As you are probably aware, report cards are sent home the day before your scheduled conference. Please contact me if you do not remember your conference time. I look forward to seeing you next Tuesday or Thursday evening!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cupcakes and Magnets... :-)

We had another great cooking project today--decorating fall cupcakes with Mrs. Jones. Students rotated through three stations: cooking, choice time, and a magnet experiment.

Today, the purpose of our science experiment was to test the strength of magnets through five different materials: paper, cloth, aluminum foil, cardboard, and plastic wrap. Ask your child if any of these materials shielded the power of the magnet. Students are learning to make a prediction and then test their predictions. It can be hard not to change the prediction when the result is different, but I keep telling students that scientists often make incorrect predictions and it's how they learn. :-)

Guest Readers

During Reading Workshop lately, many students have expressed how excited they are about particular books and how good they're getting at reading them. To encourage this excitement about reading, I have invited students to be "guest readers" during our read-aloud session. This is not required, but several students have shown interest. Our first guests took the stage yesterday. They read the book, Chimps Don't Wear Glasses. Their reading was outstanding, and the class loved it!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Food Drive

You should have received a note yesterday about the food drive currently taking place in 1st grade. I will officially announce this to the class tomorrow to get everyone excited about how we will be helping our community. If your family is able to donate any non-perishable food items for the food drive, please send them in between now and November 24th. We will donate the items to a local food shelf program. Thank you!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Hello! (and info about wiki changes...)

Hello! I hope everyone has had a great weekend! It has been so gorgeous outside. I have bumped into several people out and about, which is always fun! We will surely get outside a lot tomorrow and take advantage of what is supposed to be a gorgeous and unseasonably warm day. And, for those who are wondering, Will is a-OK. He was not well on Friday, but it was a short-lived thing--thank goodness!

I wanted to let interested parents know that I have added the January and February cooking sign-up calendars to the wiki. Just go to the wiki, then to the "Cooking in 1st Grade" link, and click on the correct month. The cooking program has been great fun, thanks to WONDERFUL volunteers!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Magnets and apple pie...

The last hour of our day was spent with explorations of all kinds! Students visited three stations: a cooking station, a magnet experiment, and a free choice station (most kids chose to build or write at this station). Three very different activities with a common theme--hands-on learning is effective AND fun!
Students explored the strengths of different magnets by testing how many paper clips each one would hold. They recorded their results on a data sheet. I encouraged them to make predictions, test, and record--all skills scientists in the "real world" use!
Bridget and her mom were great co-chefs! And the apple tarts were delicious (and pretty too!). Every student visited the cooking station to help make his/her own tart.
Can you tell I take a lot of photos?! Students ham it up for the camera...and show their work on the steps of how to make apple tarts.
I think this was everyone's favorite part of the day. :-) Yum!
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We are so lucky to have a wonderful guidance counselor at UMS--Carol McCleary. Mrs. McCleary has been visiting our class on Thursdays for the past month to teach lessons about common situations children encounter in their daily lives--tattling vs. telling, handing problems with friends, understanding boundaries (self space, etc.), and more. Today students were introduced to Kelso, a frog puppet who helps students learn about nine strategies to help students solve small problems on their own. Big problems (when someone may get hurt or things may be destroyed) are not "kid-sized" and require adult intervention. We often refer to Mrs. McCleary's lessons when solving problems in the classroom and at recess.
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Wednesday, November 4, 2009


This week, we started a science unit about magnets. Throughout this unit, students will explore the essential questions: "What are magnets?" and "Why are magnets important in our world?". We will read several non-fiction books on the topic and conduct experiments to help answer these questions. Students have enjoyed exploring magnets at the "Exploration Station," where they tested objects to determine if they were magnetic or not magnetic. More to come!
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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Math mania!

Several new skills have been introduced in math this week, including telling time the half-hour and practicing addition and subtraction through a new routine called "Frames and Arrows." You will see examples of Frames and Arrows in next week's math homework. As always, our math station time includes a chance for students to make choices in how they review and practice previously taught skills.
There were several options available for students to practice addition and subtraction math facts. These puzzles were a popular choice!
I try to include a hands-on mathematical exploration station whenever possible. Even with many choices available, pattern blocks are by far the most popular. It has been fascinating to watch students' designs become more and more complex. Pattern blocks help students hone their visual-spatial skills.

I first introduced the Frames and Arrows routine using the Smartboard. Students then had an opportunity to practice this skill in their math journals.
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