Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Our self portraits are finished!

I am so proud of how hard students worked on their self portrait collages. The slideshow below displays our finished products. They're amazing!

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Four Winds Volunteer Needed

Hello! We are in need of a Four Winds Volunteer for our classroom...Karen Bates, mother of a UMS 2nd grader (and a wonderful Four Winds volunteer), wrote up a little blurb describing Four Winds. Please contact me or Laura Labrie (her info is listed below) if you'd like to volunteer. Thank you!

Four Winds Parent Desired for Mrs. Sorenson’s Class!

If you would be interested in leading an hour-long Four Winds class with a partner, once a month in Mrs. Sorenson’s class, please contact Laura Labrie at 654-7395 or

The Four Winds Nature Program utilizes a “teach the teacher” model. Throughout the year, a Four Winds naturalist educator comes to your community each month to lead a two-hour informational presentation for parents and other volunteers. Once a month, these volunteers then team-teach an hour -long lesson in individual classrooms. 

Four Winds's community-based education programs bring children and adults together to explore the natural world. Through these programs, we are helping people of all ages make meaningful connections to nature.


Curriculum Night is tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. in my classroom (Room 6). We will give an overview of the 1st grade curriculum for about 45 minutes. Reading volunteer training for people who have never done the 1st grade volunteer reading program will take place from about 7:15-7:30 p.m. I hope to see you there!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Writer's Notebooks

Wow! I was very excited to begin using Writer's Notebooks in 1st grade, and I knew students would be excited too...but they surprised me with just how excited they were! On Friday, we personalized our composition notebooks, which are our Writer's Notebooks. THANK YOU to the many parents who sent stickers for the class to use to personalize their notebooks. They absolutely loved using them, and their notebooks look great. Enjoy these pictures of the decorating process and the finished products. You can check out your child's notebook in person at Open House on October 6th, and I hope to post some of their writing soon on our writing blog. I will post a notice when I have that blog up and running...

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Math News

Students took their first math assessment last week for Unit 1 in our Everyday Math program. You will receive a copy of this assessment in your child's green folder on Monday. We will talk about the math program, including homework expectations, at Curriculum Night on Thursday. Homework will begin on Monday, October 3rd. We send homework on Monday, and it is due by Friday. 

We have been hard at work in math every day! Here are some photos of recent happenings during math time...

Number Grids: We use the number grid every day during our math meeting. Students have been noticing many patterns on the number grid and many are using it as a resource when they forget how to write a number. On Friday, students practiced locating numbers on the number grid and counting forward and back. We also practiced skip counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s. 

Using "icky fingers" for pointing made our # grid work more fun!
So silly--he's fully into character with his "icky finger." :-)

Pattern Blocks are fun, but sometimes it's disappointing to have to dismantle a cool creation when it's clean-up time. This week, students had the opportunity to make a pattern block design that they did not have to put away! Pattern block stickers are great! Students had to plan their designs with pattern blocks BEFORE making it on paper with the stickers. This was a great exercise in spatial relations. Look for these great designs at Open House on October 6th. 

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Literacy Partnerships

We started a new component of our Reading Workshop last week--Read with Someone. We now have two components of the "Daily 5" of literacy under our belts! For now, I chose reading/writing partnerships for the children. We will stay with the current partnerships for a while, and then I will switch them around again. After two or three teacher-selected partnerships, I will allow students to have input on who they think would make a good literacy partner. I feel it takes some experience with working with different students (not just choosing our best friends) to make an informed decision about who might be a good partner. So far so good with literacy partnerships!

Just in case you're wondering...the other three components of the Daily 5 are "Work on Writing," "Word Work," and "Listen to Reading." Soon, students will select which Daily 5 component to work on each day during their "Daily 5" choice period during our Reading Workshop block. We do a reading mini-lesson, Read  to Self, sharing circle, Read with Someone, and (soon) Daily 5 choice. 
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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Book shopping!

Students learned about choosing "Good Fit" books this week. They learned the acronym "I-PICK" to help them shop for appropriate books. Please see the photo of our "I-PICK" poster below for more information. Students keep a collection of books at an appropriate reading level in their own book bags in the classroom, which they take out for Read to Self and Read with Someone time during our Reading Workshop. They can exchange books in their book bags every week or more often if needed. Book shopping for the first time was very exciting! We also watched a fun video with a song about "I-PICK." We hope to learn the song and movements and create our own video to post here. Stay tuned!

This student is showing you what a book bag looks like and was actually interrupted during his shopping for a quick photo. :-)
Smile, book shoppers!
Book bags filled with good fit books!
This is the "I-PICK" poster. These are the things students must consider when selected good fit books.
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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Our New Rug

Our  much-anticipated area rug arrived last Thursday afternoon! Students were surprised to walk in to a colorful change when they walked in on Friday. The rug is not only colorful, but it provides a more comfortable gathering space in our meeting area. Comfort is key, as this is where we meet for Morning Meeting and all mini-lessons, read alouds, and more! The rug helps everyone form a circle when we need to sit in a circle (although it's rectangular, having a visual border helps us estimate how much space we'll need to fit everyone), and the rectangles inside help everyone maintain a self space during whole group teaching.  It was so sweet to see how excited everyone was to see the rug (but I think I was the most excited!). :-)

Look at our rug!
Just another angle...
Goofy faces!

This was suddenly a more popular space for Read to Self time. :-)
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Sharing during Writing Workshop

Last week, I introduced one way to share our writing--using the document camera projected onto the interactive whiteboard. This student read her piece and received comments/questions from the class. We will explore many ways to share writing. I refer to this type of sharing as "making someone famous." They do feel pretty famous having their writing projected for all to see. It's a great way for students to interact with their own and others' writing.

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Choosing Read to Self Spots

Students were able to start choosing their own "Read to Self" spots during Reading Workshop last week. We discussed what makes a good reading spot, and we all agreed that different places work for different people. Students are going to try various spots around the room before selecting the spot that will be their designated reading spots for a while. Having a set spot makes the transition to Read to Self fast after the mini-lesson, and I think it's important that students have the opportunity to think about what they need to be able to read independently for a sustained period of time. Choosing a comfortable spot where we can focus is critical! As long as students are able to choose a place where they can read quietly the whole time without distraction, they've found a successful spot! 

Here are a few of the self-selected reading spots... (note: The collage will appear bigger if you click on it.)

Another note about Read to Self of last week, students were choosing books based purely on interest. Starting tomorrow, I will teach student a strategy called "i-pick," which will help them choose "Good Fit" books. Good Fit books are books that are both interesting and at an appropriate reading level for the child. I will write more about this as I introduce it to students. :-)

Friday, September 16, 2011

E-mail down

Hi! Happy Friday, everyone! Just a quick note to let you know the Colchester School District email will be down from sometime this (Friday) evening and won't be back up again until Monday. So, if you send me an email, please be advised that I won't see it until Monday morning.

Thank you!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wish list update...

Next week we will be creating writing notebooks and I would like students to be able to decorate them so that they feel excited to use them. If you have any extra/random stickers lying around your house that you would be willing to send to school I would greatly appreciate it! Thank you!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Number formation the high-tech way

I love technology and using technology to enhance lessons. I am looking forward to helping your children learn how to use technology to enhance their learning this year. So far, most of the technology I've used has been for demonstration purposes, although students have had time to engage in learning games on the computer. ShowMe is a neat application online and on the iPad. I have an iPad and I LOVE it! I am excited to integrate more iPad action into our curriculum and learning activities. Today, I showed students two ShowMe videos via the iPad (which I projected onto our interactive whiteboard using the document camera). Yikes! That's a lot of tech! Of course, the good old fashioned way of teaching number formation is fine too, but this was a fun way to experiment with a tool I think has excellent possibilities.

I will keep you up to date with how technology is integrated into our first grade learning activities. It's an ever evolving thing, and I am doing my best to stay current. One thing is for certain--this generation will NEED to be proficient in using technology. It's everywhere!

This video demonstrates correct number formation for the number 5:
This video demonstrates correct number formation for the number 6:

Picture Day!

School picture day really is full of excitement! I have never done this before, but I snapped a few photos of students having their photo taken--just to show the whole experience. I couldn't get everyone (unfortunately), because I was worried my flash might interfere with the photographer's flash. It was a perfect picture day--not too hot and very sunny. Hooray! Our class photo was taken outside. I can't wait to see it!

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

School Picture Day is Tomorrow!

Just a reminder that tomorrow is picture day! Please send the payment envelope to school tomorrow morning if you wish to order a photo package. Our class is scheduled to have photos taken at 10:00 a.m. If students wear  dressy clothes for their picture, please send a change of clothes/shoes so everyone is safe and comfortable at P.E. in the afternoon. Thank you!

Math Stations

Everyday Math is fully underway!  Each day we begin our block with calendar routine.  I then teach a whole group lesson (today was how to use/write tally marks).  Finally, students are broken down into small groups and rotate through four different stations.  Each day they will work with adults at two of the stations while the other two stations are independent tasks.  Everyday Math is a spiraling math curriculum (topics are introduced - we practice a new concept - and eventually go back to the original idea).  The math program will be explained in detail at our Curriculum Night (September 29th).

Last week, I had students work on an assessment task at my table that needed to be done independently. They used their "offices" to ensure privacy. File folders are so versatile!
Sometimes math station work is paper/pencil tasks, sometimes not. Many students seem to enjoy having a mix of math stations--some that are paper/pencil and some that are more exploratory in nature.
Math games will frequently be a part of math station time.
Playing math games on the computer is a very popular station!
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Self Assessment with Technology

Students have been working hard to build their stamina during Reading and Writing Workshops. I've been using my Flip video camera to record students during our Read to Self time and independent writing time. We then come together to watch clips of these work times. Students offer suggestions about what they think went well and what we need to fix. Students have been feeling very successful after watching their hard work on the big screen! 

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Free Choice Time

We have ended most of our days with free choice/explore time. This is an unstructured time in the classroom during which students can pursue activities of their own interests. This is an important time for students to express creativity and just have fun, but it's also an important way to help children build friendship and social skills. Check out some recent activities below...

Watercolor painting is popular! 
The Crystal Connectors are a lot of fun. It's neat to hear the imaginative talk that goes along with these creations!
Arts and crafts are popular. I've been impressed with how students will begin a project one day and go back to it each day until it's done.
Giant Tinker Toys--a fun take on a classic toy.
A ferris wheel!
More Crystal Connector creations. 
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