Saturday, November 9, 2013

Week in Review: 11/4/13

Although I usually post more than once per week, I am going to try a format that many of my teacher/blogger friends do, which is a week-in-review. These posts will be posted after each school week is finished, sometime between Friday and Sunday evening. 

These week-in-review posts will highlight happenings in each academic area, and I will likely post mini-updates throughout the week (as usual). 

We are moving right along in Unit 3 of our Everyday Math curriculum. The big concepts in this unit are patterns (not just with shapes, but patterns in numbers as well); time to the half hour; counting pennies, nickels, and dimes; and continued work with exploring strategies for addition and subtraction within 10. Students will take the Unit 3 assessment at the end of the week.

We were treated to a visit from a math consultant on Monday, Lori Silvas, who visited with each grade level at UMS and did model lessons. Ours was the classroom in which the 1st grade model lesson took place. Not only was this excellent professional development for the teachers, the students clearly gained a lot from it as well, particularly in terms of being able to explain their "math thinking." A big emphasis in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is being able to explain one's thinking and find evidence/proof to justify our thinking. In math, saying "I just knew it" as an explanation for how one solves a problem is not enough--the CCSS requires that students explain how they know. A great way to be reflective as learners!
Ms. Silvas encouraged children to talk to each other about their answers and how they arrived at the answer. While we do a lot of discussion during math, I plan to help students form math partnerships to foster discussion during math mini-lessons.
How many dots on the ten frame? This was flashed for just a few seconds, and then students had to think and share how many dots they saw and how they knew the number. This was repeated for several numbers, 0-10 and can be extended to numbers in the teens and beyond.
The class learned a new game: Common Card Compare, which is a fantastic way to teach/reinforce understanding of numbers in the teens. Our new sets of ten frame cards are on the way!
Thank you for helping your child practice his/her SWR skills this week! I could definitely tell that students had been doing a little extra work at home, and that makes a real difference. Did you like the format of the Spelling Menu of practice ideas that I sent home on Monday? This was something new to me. If it's popular, I will send more like it. Next week, we will continue to work on the short a and short i word families (with an emphasis on the -ig and -id families). The new red word will be "said." This one is always tricky and will require extra practice. I highly recommend shaving cream on the table or countertop. It smells good and is a popular way to practice letters and words! We will continue to work on sentence rules and punctuation, as this is still not automatic for most students (sentences begin with an uppercase letter and end with a mark of punctuation). 

Your children are becoming amazing at sharing their thinking about reading! This week's focus was finding the main idea of a text and supporting details. Next week we will focus on learning more about characters, using details in a story to support our thinking. We will also revisit our decoding strategies, as many students have reverted to trying to "sound it out" whenever they are stuck on a word. While this strategy can be useful, it's important for readers to remember that there are many other ways to figure out unknown words. Our list of strategies is here:

We spent most of last week practicing "paying attention to the punctuation" in writing. This was a focus in reading instruction two weeks ago, so it was a natural connection to teach about how we can use punctuation in our writing to help our readers just as famous authors do for us. Students definitely understand how to read the punctuation, but using punctuation in independent writing is still an emerging skill. Don't worry if your child forgets to add an uppercase letter at the beginning of each sentence and a period at the end, but a gentle reminder to do so is definitely OK! :-) Next week, we will work on developing children's sense of character in their small moment (personal narrative) writing, which connects directly with our upcoming focus in reading.

Social Studies
Our study of community helpers wrapped up with the sharing about our interviews with family members. Students also added a post to their KidBlogs about what they want to do for a job when they grow up. We sure have a lot of aspiring teachers in the group! 

We've also started to explore geography concepts through our Mystery Skype and blogging connections. We will delve further into our studies of Mapping and Our Place in the World around the beginning of December. There are many exciting projects--and more Skype connections--to come!

The next several weeks will be dedicated to a unit on Solids and Liquids. We will continue this learning during our Weather unit in science in March-April. I will post more information about our exploration of Solids and Liquids as the unit progresses. Students will begin with a pre-assessment on Monday. 

Technology Integration
As I'm sure you've realized by now, use of technology is interwoven into learning activities throughout the day. I use it extensively as a teaching tool, and students are using it it many ways to enhance/share their learning. The photos below show some of our learning with technology last week.

We now have the RAZ-Kids app on all school iPads. This is a free app from Learning A-Z. If you have an iPad or another tablet, this is a way for students to access the resources. Of course, they can also access it via any computer. The biggest advantage of the app is the ability to EASILY record oneself reading and hear it played back instantly.
Students enjoyed using Word Wizard and the Magic Fish spelling/word building apps on the iPads this week at the Word Work station during Daily 5 time. These apps allow students to get instant feedback on their spelling skills, and the Word Wizard app reads words back to students after they build them. It also allows students to take spelling quizzes.
Word families on the Word Wizard app. This is also a great app to practice letters/sounds.
Students worked with their literacy partners to create a new blog post this week about community helpers. Please check our Kidblog site and leave comments!
I've posted about our connections in the Primary Blogging Community before, but this week was our first week to leave comments on another first grader's Kidblog. We are working with Mrs. Langhus' class in Portland, Oregon right now. We will continue to leave comments on their blogs next week until every child in their class has a comment. Our class will be the focus class next week so you will likely see more action on our students' Kidblogs. Very exciting! If you'd like to help your child leave a comment for a student in Mrs. Langhus' class, go to our Kidblog site, scroll down to the "Blogroll" on the right, and click on Mrs. Langhus' name. (Please have your child log-in to our Kidblog site first!)

1 comment:

  1. Lauren and I liked the new spelling format of exercises to choose each night. We'd definitely like to see that come home again for homework. :)