Saturday, November 23, 2013

Week in Review: 11/18/13

Conferences, Assessments, etc.
As always, it was a busy week in Room 6! Your child should have come home with his/her report card yesterday, as well as results from recent assessments (spelling and math). We will go over all of this at the conference next week, but I wanted to give families a chance to see it beforehand. I look forward to seeing everyone on Monday or Tuesday for the conference! Please be in touch with me if your conference time (listed on the report card envelope) does not work for you. I'd rather have short notice than no notice if you need to cancel or change your time. Thank you!

Now, for my "week in review"! (Please note, this is just a peek into parts of our days in first grade. I cannot possibly include everything--I'd be writing all weekend!) :-)

Mystery Skype
Our Mystery Skype this week (and it has become a weekly thing, for sure!) was with a class just outside New York City. We had a successful Mystery Number Skype, and the correctly guessed our number (12, because there are 12 girls in our class--next time our number will be 10 for ten boys!), and we guessed their number--24, because they have 24 students in their class. We are going to try using a number line on our laps next time, because we saw the boys and girls in NY using it very effectively. Our number grid on the bulletin board has worked well, but individual number lines will get everyone in on the action, and we're definitely ready to add this element. 

Our students are learning to ask great number questions.
It's neat to see classes just like us in other states!
Integrating Art and Literature
We explored a great website Mrs. Flanagan shared with us--BookFlix! The link to this site is on the right sidebar of this blog. I encourage you and your child to check it out! We looked at a fiction/nonfiction paired set of books about owls as a springboard for our owl art project. The first steps of our project are shown below and I will post pictures of the finished products on Monday. They are AMAZING! Our inspiration for the project came from a teacher in Vancouver I've connected with via Twitter and this blog post.

I'm excited to share the finished owls, but I did not take pictures of them yet--stay tuned!

Science: Solids and Liquids
Ask your child what makes a solid a solid and what makes a liquid a liquid. We've been thinking a lot about sorting things into those two categories, and children have become pretty proficient with it. We often think, "Does it hold its own shape?" to decide if it's a solid, and "Can it be poured?" or "Does it take on the shape of its container?" if it's a liquid. Yesterday, students got to see a solid change states twice! We took crayons and heated them in a toaster oven, then let them cool. So, they went from solid, to liquid, and then back to solid again (in a different form). Your child should have brought his/her new crayon home yesterday. Here are some pictures of the experiment:

Students worked on a solid/liquid/gas picture sort while waiting to do the crayon project.

More Science: Four Winds
We are so fortunate to have Bobbi and Tammy this year as our Four Winds volunteers! Bobbi is Marybeth's grandmother, and Tammy is Ian's mom. They are absolutely fantastic and the children and I look forward to their lessons in the classroom. We had a Four Winds lesson last Monday, and the topic was Leaf Litter. Students learned what happens to leaves after they fall from trees, and what other life forms are part of this ecosystem. In our explorations outdoors, we discovered lots of little critters eating away at the many leaves on the ground at the edge of the woods in the back of our school. Some of the things we discovered: slugs, worms, tiny green bugs, mushrooms, and millipedes. Using magnifying glasses made it that much more exciting! Check out some of the photos I took during our lesson, both indoors and out:

The big news this week is that we finished our class book, Making Ten, and sent it to first grade students at a private school in Newtown Square, PA. They, in turn, sent a book about making ten back to us. We haven't viewed their book yet, but we look forward to doing so when we return from the Thanksgiving vacation. Everyone had a part in making our interactive book, and it was created using an app called "Book Creator" for the iPad. The link to our book is here. You have to view it on an iPad/iPhone (or an Apple computer) either in the Book Creator app or iBook to see and hear our audio and video files. I will have it out in the hall at conferences for those who don't have access to an Apple product. 

We spent time this week reviewing counting money (pennies, nickels, and dimes), using dominoes to explore addition, and using a number line to help solve addition and subtraction facts. We had many hands-on activities during the week, as always, some of which are pictured in the collage below. Ask your child to explain the "Domino Parking Lot" game or one of our "Bump" games, or the "Roll and Cover" game they did on Friday with either a picture of pumpkin pie or a turkey. There are lots of ways to make learning hands-on and fun! 

What does it mean to make your writing "come to life"? Well, in our writing workshop this week it meant making our characters move and talk. In our case, our characters are people in our Small Moment narratives, which are stories of things that have happened to us in our lives. For example, my latest shared story was about dropping a plastic grocery bag in the parking lot while talking to Mrs. Hughes. I needed that bag, so I chased it...and chased it...and chased it...until I finally got it when I was nearly to Middle Road! We can make our writing more interesting by using dialogue and showing action in our words and pictures. Students caught onto this idea quickly, and I cannot wait to get back to it--and have students share what they wrote--after vacation. Our writers are blossoming! Any time that I announce it's time for writing, I get a big "HOORAY"! And when it's time to stop, there's an audible groan. It makes my teacher heart smile. :-)

There's more, but I'll save it for a future post. In the meantime, enjoy the rest of your weekend and I will see you for the parent-teacher conference.

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