Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Exploring 3-D Shapes

Our Wonderful Wednesday was full of marvelous math! Students enjoyed a different type of math routine that day. Everyone started by choosing a paper review page about three-dimensional shapes. After this was done, students could choose one of three choices to explore 3-D shapes: more paper (worksheet) practice, building with foam and wooden blocks, and using toothpicks/marshmallows to create three-dimensional figures. Students loved the hands-on geometry fun!

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Magic E

We started studying the "magic e" spelling rule last week, and we will continue to explore this tricky spelling skill after the break. Students are making good progress, and our "magic e" wands were a hit for practicing what happens when you add e to the end of a short vowel, one syllable word--it makes the vowel says its name! Our wands are at school right now, awaiting glitter to make them even more magical. :) 

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Sombreros and Lizards!

We concluded our study of Mexico last week with several projects--two of which are pictured below. Students enjoyed designing sombreros and three-dimension line lizards. I will post photos of their final products displayed in the hallway and in a bulletin board in our classroom as soon as I hang everything. Mexican art is colorful, so these projects will add color and brightness during this brown and gray time of year! 

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Reading Workshop--Wonderful Words

Since last week, we have turned our focus to vocabulary during Reading Workshop mini-lessons and read-aloud sessions. We have now add two strategies to the Expand Vocabulary section of our CAFE reading strategy board: "Tune into interesting words" and "Use your schema and context clues to determine possible meanings." I have previously shared resources from a professional site I enjoy, The Daily Cafe, via the 'Parent Info' tab on this blog. Yesterday, I sent a printed copy of a "Parent Pipeline" newsletter that I found through this website to better explain the strategy I taught yesterday--how students can figure out the meaning of a word they don't know using their schema (what they know about the world, other books, etc.) and the context clues in the book (other words in the sentence/paragraph and the pictures). I will continue to send these newsletters home as they are relevant to what students are learning in reading. I hope they are helpful!

Stay tuned for more information about our vocabulary learning in first grade!

Monday, February 18, 2013

More about Geometry

As I posted not long ago, our current unit of study is about Geometry. Students have had many chances to explore two-dimensional shapes in a variety of ways. Today, some students played a game called "Make My Design," in which one person made a design with six pattern blocks behind the file folder and then had to use descriptive words to help their partner create the same design. They did very well! I also introduced the word polygons. Polygons are two-dimensional shapes that follow these rules: only straight sides, no overlapping/intersecting lines, and no gaps. Students will have an opportunity to make polygons with straws, twist ties, and pipe cleaners at the "Hands On" math station tomorrow if they didn't already do this activity today. The Math tab on this blog has a Geometry section, which students enjoyed exploring today. Tomorrow we will start to learn about three-dimensional shapes.

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Valentine's Day Photos

It was great to see many of you for the "We LOVE to Read and Write" celebration last Thursday. I hope you enjoyed listening to the children share their writing and read their good fit books. Our day was filled with Valentine-themed fun at various times throughout the day. The pictures below show some of the fun we had in our classroom.

Conversation Heart candy makes for a great math activity! Students estimated, sorted, counted, added, and compared numbers--all with Conversation Hearts!  
These were my favorite Valentine bags yet...heart people bags! They just look so ready to receive everyone's Valentines. The delivery was calm and everyone seemed OK about having to wait until they got hope to open their bags. 
We have very efficient mail deliverers in our class!
Our celebration began with a slideshow of photos of students reading and writing since the beginning of first grade.
Thanks to all who contributed to the snack! I did forget to put out two items, and we enjoyed the cookies a little later in the party, and the strawberries were delicious the next day. Oops!
We had a great turnout! I wish  you could see the balloon at each table. Our room looked quite festive!
Proud and happy readers and writers!
Everyone shared their writing binders. 
It's great to see how much progress everyone has made!
Smiles everywhere!
It was neat to see children proudly reading to several different visitors. 
Snack time!!!
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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Geometry (and our cute Valentine bags!)

 Our latest unit in math focuses on geometry, and this has been a fun and refreshing change in our daily math routine. In fact, one student asked me today why we hadn't done math in a couple of days. We have been doing  math--it just seems very different with our new focus! So far, we've focused on our Attribute Blocks (shown below). These have four distinct attributes: color, size, shape, and thickness. Students have played two games with these blocks: Guess my Attribute Rule and the Attribute Train Game. Ask your child for more details. Soon, we will begin our exploration of three-dimensional shapes--always a fun and engaging study! As we explore geometry, we continue to review addition/subtraction facts and strategies, build our understand of numbers, count coins, tell time to the five-minute interval, practice face families, strengthen other skills introduced throughout the school year. 
They used A LOT of blocks in their Attribute Block train! They are not randomly placed...in fact, this game is pretty challenging!

And the Valentine bags were sitting by the loft with care, in hopes that lots of Valentines soon would be there...

Our Valentine bags turned out very well this year! I love how cheerful they look in our room, anticipating the great fun to be had tomorrow.
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The "We LOVE to Read and Write" Celebration is tomorrow!

We hope you can join us for this special celebration tomorrow at 2:00. If not, here is the video I will show at the beginning of our time together. It shows a sampling of the photos I've taken of students reading and writing in first grade so far. If you will be there, you probably should wait to watch it so it's new and exciting when you see it! :-)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Food Shelf Collection Happening THIS Week!

I hope everyone saw my email about our collection for the Colchester Community Food Shelf. If you are able, please send non-perishable food items to school with your child any day this week. We will deliver the items Friday afternoon, as the CCFS is right next door to UMS. Thank you!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

100th Day of School!

Yesterday was a very busy and (I hope) very fun 100th day of first grade! I created a video on Animoto to share some of the highlights of our day.

And here is a short video of our search for 100 numbered Hershey Kisses. The video is nothing fancy, but it is a different way to see one of our MANY activities on the 100th Day!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Our 100th Day Digital Learning Projects

As I wrote yesterday, students were given an opportunity to create something with 100 objects today and to then share it via the iPad. Several partnerships chose the Pic Collage/iMovie option, and their creations are not quite ready yet. Two partnerships shared their work via Educreations, and I've posted their videos in the iPad tab of this blog. Please check out what students have done and stay tuned for more!

We are famous!

Did you see that our nonfiction features iMovie was published on the district blog? If not, you can check it out through this link. While you're there, subscribe on the right-had sidebar to receive email updates from the CSD Spotlight. It's a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of the Colchester School District! Please visit the blog and share the link with others! It was also shared on our district's Facebook page.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Students will exchange Valentines this year in the classroom before our "We LOVE to Read and Write" Celebration at 2:00. Your child should bring Valentines for every child in the class. I will send a class list home tomorrow for this purpose. Thank you!

100th Day Digital Learning Day Project

Tomorrow is the 100th day of first grade, and it is also national Digital Learning Day! We will celebrate in many ways, one of which is a special project with the iPads. Students will work with a partner, choose a material, count 100 of that material, and then create something with it. They will choose an app with which to share their work. I did an example using Educreations, but Pic Collage, Kid Blog, and iMovie are other apps the class knows and may choose to use for this project.

Here is my example, which I plan to show the class tomorrow. I have a feeling they will create much more impressive presentations! :-)

Immersion in a new genre

One of the best ways to get ready for writing in a new genre is to study books of that genre first. In this case, students are studying procedural texts (how-to) to get ready to write their own how-to books. Yesterday, students were given the task of perusing through books at their tables and simply seeing what they noticed. They noticed a lot. Here are some of their observations: these books all teach how to do something, the directions are written step-by-step (sequentially), sometimes the steps are numbered, there are often photographs and illustrations to accompany the text, and many of the nonfiction features we've studied are in how-to books. Wow! Great thinking, first graders!

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