Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Happy 1st Day of School!

If you're child is anything like me, they were exhausted at the end of the day! It was a great first day back at school, but it will take a while to get used to the new routines. We will definitely ease into the full routine of the day--we will not follow our "normal" schedule for a least a couple more weeks, but we are still definitely busy! My camera is not charging properly, but I had it up and running after lunch time I snapped a few photos of our afternoon activities...

But, just in case you're wondering about the morning, here's a quick synopsis...
We gathered outside when the bell rang and made sure everyone was with us and knew where to go. When we came inside, we said hello to each other and everyone worked on a name tag for our literacy "CAFE" board (more info about that later) while I worked on sorting paperwork and doing the lunch/snack drink count. Then we had Morning Meeting. The children AMAZED me today! We actually started our entire Morning Meeting routine on the very first day--including sharing! I've always just had adults model sharing on the first day, but since they were such a great audience and asked such thoughtful questions after I shared, we decided to go ahead and start our sharing schedule! Today, Austin and Jack shared. I will post our weekly sharing schedule soon, but the students saw it today. Sharing is nothing that has to be prepared in advance--students simply verbally share something that they have done or are going to do. Anything that's important/interesting to your child makes a great "share"! Today we learned about a fun backyard game and an upcoming trip to NYC! Our greeting today was a chant with children's names: "_______ is here. _______ is here. It will be a great day, cuz _____________ is here!" Our activity was called "Just Like Me!" Our Morning Message included info about our day and a Mystery was Jameela's turn to be the Mystery Name person. 

We then practiced the freeze chime signal, learned about the handwashing/snack routine, ate snack, played on the playground, and then went to lunch! The morning FLEW by! 

After lunch and recess, our afternoon began...

We have a subscription to It's a fantastic website with short educational videos that really capture children's interest. There are great supplemental games and activities that go along with the videos. The videos are 5-7 minutes long, on average, and include many subject areas and topics. I especially enjoy the math-related videos. They are excellent! Today's topic was "School." Pretty perfect for today, I thought. Here's the description of the video from the website: 
In this movie, you’ll learn about different schools, such as pre-schools, elementary schools, middle or junior high schools, high schools, colleges, and universities. You'll also learn about schools that teach about a religion or a language. Find out how students, teachers, principals, nurses, custodians, and aids are all important parts of a school’s community. Learn how schools have rules and find out how you should behave in the classroom to make it a fun place to learn and share ideas.
After we watched the BrainPop video, it was read aloud time--today I had three read alouds planned and only got to one :-(. At least it was a great book--Chrysthanthemum by Kevin Henkes. I read this story to get students thinking about names and what they mean and why they're important. We are about to begin an "All About Me" science and social studies unit. Thinking about our likenesses and differences and what makes us unique is a core concept in this unit. Our names are an important part of our identity. After reading and discussing the story, students started work on a very special name plate that will hang below their self portrait on the wall all year long. We will begin the self portrait project soon. Here are some photos of students working on their name plates at their table spots:

Students were so engaged in their art project, I just couldn't stop them to change gears yet again--so I postponed our math lesson to let them work longer. They just didn't want to stop, and they were working so well together. We'll do a double math lesson tomorrow, which will be great--I LOVE teaching math! Before we knew it, it was time for P.E. I lead them on a quick "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" school tour on our way to P.E. I wanted to be sure everyone knew where to find important places/people at UMS. We have two students in our class who are new to UMS, so this was especially important to them. After the tour, the class went to P.E. They did a great job with Mr. T. Hooray!

After P.E., I surprised everyone with a popsicle. We joined Mrs. Hughes' class outside to eat them. Many students enjoyed seeing friends from Mrs. Hughes' class, and I think everyone enjoyed the popsicle. :-)

After our outside time, we headed inside for some Explore Time (aka free choice time). Students enjoyed reading books, doing puzzles, writing/drawing, building with blocks, and designing with pattern blocks. 

It was a great day. I have no doubt it's going to be a great year! Please keep in touch and let me know about your thoughts, questions, and concerns. Also, please feel free to leave comments on my posts. Thank you!
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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Our Classroom

Thank you to everyone who was able to attend Open House this morning! It was great to see everyone's smiling faces and to feel the genuine excitement and anticipation in the air. I can tell this is going to be a great school year!

I took a few quick pictures before Open House this morning--I know not everyone was able to attend, so I wanted to provide a virtual tour for everyone. There are still a few spaces that I have not photographed but will document in more detail in the coming days as we explore those areas of the classroom.

I took photos of all who attended, but I will not put "people pictures" on the blog until more blog permission forms are returned to school. This form was included in the materials in the green home-school folder sent home at the ice cream social (or at the Open House today if you couldn't attend the ice cream social). Please send this form ASAP, as I would like to know if your child can be included in pictures on this blog. Thank you!

Tomorrow is the first day! WOW!!!!

This is the view of our room from the classroom doorway.
A fun entrance for Open House/the first day of school!
The start of our "Reading Cafe" (aka "The Downstairs Library"). This area houses MANY great books and the walls will help chart our learning in reading throughout the year!
The Writing Station's always fun to see how this area evolves.  :-)
A multi-purpose shelf--block storage and  class mailboxes. This is where students will collect their green folders and notices at the end of the day.
The view of the classroom from the back of the room. We got NEW tables this year! Hooray!
The loft (AKA "The Upstairs Library" is very popular with students, but it won't be open right away. The area underneath is the area for "book shopping" during Reading Workshop. Everyone seems to love the lights under there. I'll take a better picture of that area soon!
Our meeting area with interactive whiteboard. This is where we'll have Morning Meeting and whole-group lessons. Coming soon--a big, colorful area rug! Yippee! 
Our calendar/math meeting area. 
Please stay tuned for more photos of our room--they get more exciting with students in the photos! So, please send in the blog permission slip as soon as possible! Thanks!
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Friday, August 26, 2011

Thank you and see you soon!

Thank you to everyone who was able to make it to the ice cream social last night. It was great to see such an amazing turnout! All the first grade teachers are looking forward to an excellent school year. I enjoyed meeting many of you and hope you can make it to the Open House on Tuesday morning from 8:00-9:00 a.m. Stop by whenever you are able to during that hour! The classroom is ALMOST ready. I will post pictures on Monday as a sneak preview. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ice Cream Social and Open House!

Hello, new first grade families! I am getting excited for the upcoming school year! Before we know it, it will be the first day of school. I hope that everyone received my letter in the mail in mid-July. There are two important events coming up before school starts--the annual first grade Ice Cream Social and Open House for 1st and 2nd grade students.

The Ice Cream Social is from 6:30-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 25th at UMS. It's for all UMS first graders and their families. We hope to be outside for this event. When you arrive, please look for me (I'll be wearing a name tag) and say hello. I will have your child's home-school folder available that night so you can look through the paperwork before the first day of school. If you can't attend the ice cream social, you can pick up your child's folder at the open house. The Ice Cream Social is an opportunity to say hello to me and the other 1st grade families--the classroom will not be open during this event.

The Open House is from 8:00-9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, August 30th. This is the time for your child to see the classroom before school begins the next day.

I hope to see everyone at both events, if possible! Feel free to email me at with any questions.