Sunday, December 8, 2013

Week in Review: 12/2/13

Can you believe it's already December?! We are cruising towards the end of 2013, and our first graders are rolling right along with their learning. Here's a look at some of the week's activities.

Our current math unit focuses on measurement. So far, we have measured with rulers to the nearest inch, thermometers to the nearest two degrees, and tape measures (also to the nearest inch). We will move back into telling time this week, as we explore telling time to the quarter hour (measuring time). Next week, we will also learn about a "super power" I want all first graders to have--Fact Power! This means knowing addition and subtraction facts within 10 automatically. We have built a foundation for understanding what addition and subtraction are (and we will continue to do so throughout the year). The next step is to build automaticity (memorization) of math facts. We will do this through songs, recitation, games, and paper-pencil practice too. You can support your child's learning of basic facts through flash cards and other practice at home. We will first focus on +0, -0, and +1, -1 facts through ten (1+0, 2+0...10+0, etc.) and also doubles facts (1+1, 2+2...10+10).

Measuring with a tape measure--students measured each other's wrist, elbow, ankle, head, and hand span and recorded the measurements in their math journals.

This week, students enjoyed exploring some new math tools. Below, students are playing with Base 10 blocks. Just as they did with rulers and dominoes, students had a chance to play with the Base 10 blocks first, before they are introduced as a math tool. This is a popular activity, and it helps students focus on using the blocks as a tool when it comes time to use them for math purposes.

In the photos below, students are using a tool called a Rekenrek. For more about the Rekenrek, I recommend this link. As with the Base 10 blocks, students had time to explore the Rekenrek first, and then I brought the class together to learn about how to use it as a math tool. I was so impressed with the conversations I heard happening during the explore phase. Students naturally wanted to use it for counting, and many were eager to write down addition facts to match the beads on their Rekenreks. Some students even put theirs together to explore larger numbers. This group of children are curious and eager mathematicians, which makes math time very interesting and fun!

Here are some pictures taken by students from some math choice time last week...

We had three Skype calls last week! We had two Mystery Number Skypes, one with Mrs. Langhus' class in Portland, Oregon, and one with Mrs. Beck's class in McGuire Airforce Base in New Jersey. We also were interviewed via Skype by a 2nd grade class in Dallas, Texas on Thursday afternoon. They are doing a study of weather (which we will be doing as well, beginning in January) and they asked questions of us about the weather in Vermont. We were able to ask them questions about their weather too, which made for some interesting comparisons! Believe it or not, it was warmer here than in Dallas last Thursday (but they had temps in the high 70s on Wednesday). :-)

Answering a weather question from students in Dallas. 
Asking students in Texas a question about their weather.
Talking to the second graders in Texas!
Morning Meeting
Below are two photos taken while doing a favorite Morning Meeting activity--The Cold Wind Blows. I am going to leave the explanation of this activity up to your child. Ask your child to tell you about it! We've played it many times, and it's a class favorite! Smiles all around!

Holiday Card Project
Our class is part of a project I found via Twitter called the Holiday Card Project. Over 1200 classrooms around the world are participating this year. Each classroom is put into groups of 30. We made 29 holiday cards and I mailed them on Saturday. They went to schools all around the USA, two went to Canada, and one to Mexico. We should receive a card from all of these schools as well. So far, we've received two, one from New Jersey and one from North Carolina. We are keeping track of the locations on a big map in our classroom. This project is a way to open students' eyes to the world around us and also to share some holiday spirit! The theme for this year's cards was "Hats, Scarves, and Mittens." We went with the mitten theme. :-)
Students created beautiful cards and put lots of time and care into their work! That's the spirit of giving!

All ready to be  mailed!
There was, of course, a lot more going on last week, but no pictures to go along with it. Here's a written snapshot of the rest of last week's learning:

SWR (Spelling): We continued to practice short vowel a and i word families, as well as proper sentence formation. Students were masters of the popular spelling game "Sparkle" on Friday. Ask your child to tell you how it's played. 

Writing: Last week, we spent more time thinking about how to bring our writing to life by unfreezing our characters by making them "move and talk." We also discussed how our stories are much more interesting when we tell them in "itsy bitsy" steps. We even sang the "Itsy Bitsy Spider" song to connect to this idea! I am starting to see students write more focused stories with richer detail. We will continue our work with personal narrative (small moment) writing until the break, and we will begin report writing in January.

Science: Because of our special weather-related Skype and our holiday card project, we didn't get to do as much science as planned last week. We'll be full speed ahead in our study of solids and liquids this week!

Reading: Last week, we studied authors' use of words in books, both in how word choice appeals to our senses and how authors sometimes use vocabulary we don't understand. We began to explore strategies for what readers can do when they encounter a word they don't know when reading (look at the picture, use the words around the unknown word to infer the meaning of the new word). I am trying to help students notice how authors' word choices can make their writing more interesting to read, in the hopes that students will transfer this idea into their own writing. Also, paying close attention to word choice and being thoughtful problem solvers when we come to words we don't know helps improve reading comprehension. 

Can you tell we're busy in first grade?! I hope you have a great week!


  1. What a fun week!! Sending cards to other schools is such a great idea. I'm sure the kids will enjoy getting cards in return.

    1. We got eight in the mail today!!!! So excited to open them with the class tomorrow morning!