Sunday, January 20, 2013

What's Happening in 1st Grade?

Hi everyone! I hope that you're having a great weekend. And, of those of you who have Monday off, please enjoy the long weekend! Remember, Monday, January 21st is an inservice day for teachers, so there is no school for students tomorrow. Since tomorrow is MLK Day, we spent time last week learning about Martin Luther King, Jr. and we will do so again on Tuesday. Click this link to see a free video on about MLK.

I have some pictures to share with you from the past few days at school. Here's a quick summary of what's happening in each subject at the moment:

Fact practice is the main theme of our current unit in math. Students were introduced to Name Collection Boxes and Fact Families. I created two Educreations tutorials last year about these topics because I had several students absent when these topics were introduced. Here they are, if you're interested in learning more:

We continue to study nonfiction texts. Students learned about  many nonfiction text features and their purpose (how they help the reader). We are now moving into how to read nonfiction texts. For example, some nonfiction needs to be read sequentially, but a lot of it can be read in pieces and parts--you can skip around and find topics that interest you, the answer to a question, etc. Features of nonfiction such as a table of contents and index can help you find the part of the text you need. Also, we will be looking at comprehension skills with nonfiction texts, such as thinking about the author's purpose, questioning, understanding and analyzing text, reading for meaning, and recalling and restating facts. 

The chart below (it's so long I had to take two pictures of it) shows some of the features students have studied. It's not quite complete in the picture, but it gives you an idea of what we're doing.

Every "Book Club" (a.k.a. reading group) is reading nonfiction texts with me. This group read a book about mapping and then worked to create their own maps of a room of their choice. They all chose to  map their bedrooms. I will post pictures of their finished pieces soon. 
Sharing and Read Aloud:
Most students share each week during their share time. Hooray! I am now asking that students ask questions of one another rather than the questions and comments that have been the choice up until now. My reason for this is to provide another time for students to practice the skill of asking questions to find out more information about something. Coming up with relevant and meaningful questions during sharing time will help students do the same in other subject areas. Students love sharing time in our classroom, and it's a great way for students to develop speaking and listening skills too.

SWR/Word Study:
The class is doing quite well with the first grade spelling skills as outlined in our district's SWR scope and sequence. Students are, for the most part, applying both red words and word family words into their written work. Most students are also transferring this knowledge to their reading--use word family "chunks" to help them figure out longer words in their reading (e.g. if you can read/spell -og and -ing it can help you solve the word blogging). The skills that are not yet automatic for most students are applying sentence rules in their own writing--sentences begin with an uppercase letter and end with a mark of punctuation. Everyone knows these rules, but the majority of students still need to be reminded to apply them when writing their own pieces. We are taking extra time to practice letter formation and to break the habit of mixing upper and lower case letters when writing. Practice, practice, practice!

Social Studies:
We are having fun with our Mexico unit, and last week we focused a lot on learning some Spanish words. We sang a song in Spanish for our greeting, learned color words, and even used Skippyjon Jones books to learn some new Spanish vocabulary! The Amate Bark paintings in our hallway look beautiful and they are ALMOST all complete. Illness in our class has delayed completion a bit, but I promise a slideshow of the finished work ASAP. Coming up soon--more Mexican art and Spanish word learning (counting is on deck for next week) and learning about Mexican food! This will include some cooking projects and sampling of a variety of fruits and vegetables grown in Mexico!

Writing Workshop:
Our current unit of study, Writing for Readers, has caused an amazing transformation in the appearance and readability of everyone's work! Students are taking much more care to slow down as they write and think about their handwriting, spacing of words, integration of spelling skills, and use of punctuation. We will be publishing new pieces soon, and they will be shared at our "We LOVE to Read and Write" celebration on February 14th. We will also publish them in a digital format on the blog. Stay tuned for that.

Explore/Free Choice:
We take about 20 minutes each day for explore and free choice time. This is also a time that students finish work that they needed more time to do. Our explore time is in the afternoon, right before Writing Workshop. It's a great time for students to be social and creative, and it's a perfect way to get some of their wiggles out before settling down to write. Students are most excited to write, draw, and build with blocks and Legos during this time. Sometimes, the 20-minute time frame is extended, when everyone's been focused and hardworking all day. If the class transitions and listens well all day, we naturally have more time for our explore/free choice time. :-)

Finally, in case you are wondering, we will do lots of science in first grade! Our main science units are solids and liquids, weather, and the life cycle of a chicken (hatching chicks). We will begin these units in February. 

Have a great week!

1 comment:

  1. I really appreciate all the time you put into your blog Mrs. Sorenson! It is so nice to see all the hard work going on in your classroom. Thank you!