Monday, September 30, 2013

Important Info!

Homework officially started today! It's not due until next Monday, though. :-)

Check your child's backpack/green folder. The first math assessment was sent home today too. Have a great evening!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Upstairs Library is Open!

We had a Reading Celebration on Friday (and it will continue on Monday, too) to congratulate students on making it to 10 minutes of successful Read to Self time. They actually went from 8 minutes one day to 12.5 minutes the next, and then 13 minutes. Whoa! To celebrate, students received a special Reading Star bookmark, a sticker about reading, and (no doubt the most exciting news) THE LOFT OPENED! The loft is actually called our "Upstairs Library" or the "Loft Library." It is a fantastic place to read, and it was closed up until Friday. Since students did so well learning the routines of "Read to Self" time and what it means to be a diligent, focused reader I figured they were ready for the responsibility of being calm, careful, and quiet readers in the loft. I was right! So far, everyone has done a marvelous job of being quiet in the loft and moving in, around, and out of it safely. Bravo, first graders!

Read to Someone time!

Students are now so good at "Read to Self" time, I knew they were ready to try "Read to Someone" time. This is another important component of our Reading Workshop, and one that students will do nearly every day. Reading with another person helps students develop better reading comprehension (through book discussions) and fluency (as students tend to read with more inflection and expressiveness when reading with other people). Also, this is a very motivating part of reading, as many people enjoy sharing books with each other! Our first Read to Someone time last week went very well! A few students were out of the room when I took these pictures, but they won't escape my camera for long! ;-)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Word Work

Students explored some of the choices that will be available at the Word Work station during our Daily 5 time (which will begin next week!). They were excited to have a choice of activities to do to practice spelling words--and everyone worked diligently at their stations. Some children even did great work at one station and still had time for more high quality work at another station! Watch for more information about Daily 5 time in future posts...

Making Ten

We started to explore ways to make 10 today, an important foundation skill in math. We will explore this concept in many ways this week and throughout the year. Today, students used unifix cubes to make sticks of 10 with two colors. They then showed the corresponding number models on a recording page. In another math station, students play the math game "Penny Cup" on the computer, which is a game that helps children practice combinations of 10 in a different format.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A peek into reading in our classroom today...

We started our day with two sight word poems to practice this week's new red word--my. Students added these poems to their poetry and song folders. 

Today's new reading strategy was "Chunky Monkey." One way to figure out an unknown word when reading is to break it apart into chunks/find parts you know. Then put it back together and try to read the word. Many students discovered that they used the "Chunky Monkey" and "Stretchy Snake" strategies together, and we discussed that readers use many strategies at once when figuring out tricky words.
These are two of the students who shared how they solved tricky words using their book and our document camera (see above and below).

Monday, September 23, 2013

Reading Strategies

Have you heard about our reading strategy mascots? These furry friends help students know what to do when they get stuck on a word while reading. Stretchy Snake (stretch the sounds of the word and put the sounds together), Lips the Fish (get your lips ready and say the first sound(s) of the word), and Eagle Eye (check the picture for clues) are just a few of the many strategies students will learn about and practice during our mini-lessons in Reading Workshop over the next several days and weeks. Ask your child what each animal reminds us to do to help ourselves when we're stuck in reading--I hope they can tell you because they sure are getting good at trying these strategies! Much more information to come! (And I will also post pictures of students sharing how they used these strategies in their independent reading (Read to Self time). 

Math Games

We play a lot of games to practice skills during our Math Workshop. Today, many students learned how to play "Rolling for 50" a game to practice counting up and back on the number grid.

Today we officially began Unit 2 in our Everyday Math curriculum. I scored the Unit 1 assessments over the weekend and will send a copy in your child's green home-school folder tomorrow if he/she finished it. A few students need a little bit more time. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Readers hard at work!

We squeezed in some 'Read to Self' time after school pictures and before P.E. yesterday. I am pleased to report that this is a VERY popular time of our day, so much that students requested that we have it before school ended yesterday. HOORAY!!!!!!! We are working very hard to build a community of productive, happy readers! Students are working very diligently towards our goal of reading for 10 minutes without breaking our reading stamina. I promised to throw a reading party when we reach that milestone. We can do it! And we'll be reading for 20 minutes before long. I remember last year losing track of time and having to stop the class after 25-30 minutes of focused, quiet reading. What a good problem to have. :-)

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Today (and tomorrow) at Math Stations...

As I've posted before, students go to Math Stations every day. There are four math stations total, and students go to two stations each day. Between today and tomorrow, students will take their first math assessment at the Meet with the Teacher station. I will explain more about our math curriculum at Curriculum Night next Thursday. In a nutshell, these assessments give me valuable information about each child's progression in math and what he/she has mastered and/or needs more practice with. This allows me to differentiate my instruction to meet everyone's needs. Of course, assessment is ongoing and is done informally on a daily basis. You will receive a copy of the Unit 1 math assessment in your child's green folder next week, along with a brief letter explaining the scoring.

Here a glimpse into today's stations...
Students liked taking the math assessment. Hooray! 
Geoboards were a hit at the All by Myself station.
Mrs. Lucier introduced a game called "Bump" at the Hands On station. This game will be played in many variations throughout first grade. 
I introduced the games on our classroom blog (see the math tab above) and students explored these games at the Technology math station. Students can access these games at home--or anywhere!

School picture day!

Everyone was smiling pretty on picture day yesterday! Here's a glimpse "behind the scenes." I can't wait to see everyone's pictures!

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Today we celebrated "Dot Day" in first grade by reading one of my favorite books, The Dot, by Peter H. Reynolds. Here's an excerpt from the Dot Day website about the day:

International Dot Day is named for the classic Peter H. Reynolds storybook The Dot. Available in English and many other languages, the book shares the story of a girl who begins a journey of self-discovery after a caring teacher challenges her to “make her mark.”

We all "made our marks" today with dot artwork inspired by the book. I will post the full gallery of our dots artwork very soon!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Do you tweet?

If you are a Twitter user (or even if you aren't...yet), you should follow @Sorenson1st.

As of now, I'm the classroom "tweeter." But soon, students will take over this job. This is simply a way to quickly disperse snippets of info about our day, and it's another way to help you get a glimpse inside our classroom. 

The first two pictures below were tweeted on Friday. I took a picture during sharing time and tweeted it. Then I told students about and showed the Twitter feed on our classroom blog. A bit later, I added another tweet and shared it with the class. Several students seemed familiar with Twitter, and all are familiar (at least somewhat) with classroom blogs. 

I encourage you to follow both @Sorenson1st and @CSDCommunity, our district's Twitter account, to stay up-to-date with what's happening in the Colchester School District!

Speaking and Listening is an important component of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Our daily sharing times help students practice these skills, as do our many other meeting and sharing times.
Educreations is hands down one of my favorite apps on the iPad. Students are learning to use it during our math workshop time, and they will use it for many different subject areas throughout first grade (along with several other apps). We will share our creations using this app soon!
I did not tweet this photo, but I should have. Mrs. Lucier (our amazing classroom assistant!) worked with groups on Friday to better understand number models/number sentences. Students used click cubes (unifix cubes) to break 10 cubes into two groups and show the corresponding number sentences on a white board (e.g.: 2+8=10, 5+5=10, etc.). We will practice this important skill in many ways as decomposing numbers is a critical building block of mathematical understanding.