Sunday, January 26, 2014

Week in Review: Week of January 20, 2014

It was a short week, but it was also a productive and busy week in first grade! So much so that I didn't take many photos! Here are the few that I did take, with a "week in review" synopsis to follow.

The "All by Myself" math station on Thursday and Friday was creating a design with base-ten blocks, counting the blocks, writing the number, and then posting a photo of the creation to Kidblog. You'll have to visit Kidblog to see what they created! Remember, links to the blogs are on the right sidebar of this blog. Students are welcomed and encouraged to blog and comment on each other's blogs at home. 
Students are getting very good at using strategies when doing the group activity "Co-Seeki." Ask your child to explain how this fun Morning Meeting activity works!
Indoor recess has been the name of the game lately, due to sub-zero temps and wind chills. Students have made the most of it, but it sure was good to get outdoors on Friday after lunch! Please send your child to school every day with snow pants, hat, mittens, coat, etc. Students will go outdoors for recess as long as the windchill is zero or above at 11:25 (their recess time). Thank you!

And now for the Week in Review...

Writing Workshop
Everyone is working diligently on their nonfiction teaching books right now! We spent time this week learning to anticipate our readers questions by asking ourselves questions to help generate ideas for what to add to our books. For example, my nonfiction book is about the beach. I modeled asking questions that begin with who, what, where, when, why, and how. Why would someone want to go to the beach? How do you get ready to go to the beach? Where are the best beaches? Students worked with their literacy partner to ask each other questions about their topic to help come up with more writing ideas.

We also studied a nonfiction book about sharks to analyze how nonfiction authors use visual information to teach about their topic. Students noticed that many photographs and illustrations are labeled and/or have captions. They also noticed that sometimes authors show a close-up of something to help you understand it better. For example, in the sharks book, there was a close-up of a shark's skin to show that it's rough. Students were eager to try some of these techniques in their own illustrations. I will post a picture of our anchor chart (a chart that hangs in our classroom to remind students of what they've learned in mini-lessons) tomorrow.

Reading Workshop
Our reading lessons have focused on reading nonfiction texts from the lens of being a writer of nonfiction, since students are writing nonfiction texts in Writing Workshop. One of the most powerful ways for students to learn how to write in a genre is to study that genre. We have focused on determining which information you can learn from the pictures vs. the words in a nonfiction text, reading nonfiction texts like a researcher--to learn more/new information, and reading with questions in mind (and, of course) trying to find answers to our questions as we read.

Students have been very interested in using technology during Reading Workshop as well--we always have iPads in the classroom so students can access reading resources such as RAZ-Kids. They also frequently ask to write on Kidblog, and I am certainly OK with that! Sometimes, I provide a focus for blogging (such as creating a post about their owl artwork and creating base-ten block designs), but often they can choose their topic. Soon, students will be asked to blog about books we read as a class. We are about to begin a collaborative read-aloud experience with a class in Illinois, and blogging will be an important part of this collaboration. (More info on that to come.)

Last week, much of our time in math was devoted to learning about Function Machines. Here's a cool interactive game that provides a fun way to practice this skill: Function Machine Interactive.

You will receive an explanation of Function Machines with your child's homework tomorrow with a supplemental Family Letter. These "machines" can be confusing at first, but they lay the foundation for algebraic thinking. 

We also spent time reviewing counting coins and practicing our "doubles" facts. Here are two fun videos we use to help memorize the doubles:

Students also learned two great new games last week--Blokus and Shut the Box. Both are available at retails stores (not just teacher catalogs) and are excellent for developing math thinking. Blokus helps develop strategic thinking and visual/spatial relationships, and Shut the Box is excellent for strategy, number sense, and addition/subtraction practice.

We play a lot of games in math! I will be sure to keep sharing, as they are a fun way to extend the learning/practice at home!

I highly encourage children to use the Dreambox site at home as well, if possible. The link to log in is on the right sidebar of this blog!

So far, most of our learning about our current science unit, weather, has been through reading books together about the topic. Next week is hands-on science week in our classroom! Each day we will focus on a different aspect of weather and do a project/experiment to go along with that component. Tomorrow, students will learn about the water cycle! They will learn a very catchy tune, which I will post on the blog as soon as they've mastered it! Other topics will include clouds, temperature, precipitation, weather tools, and the four seasons. 

Our Connected Classroom
You all know by now that I am fully committed to expanding our learning beyond the four walls of our classroom. Here's what's currently in the works in that department:
  • Mystery Number Skype--We had a little break from this last week, as the school in Michigan had a snow day on Thursday, the day we were supposed to Skype. We'll meet up with them sometime this week. 
  • Our Community eBook--We will be brainstorming what to put in a page about Colchester for an eBook that a teacher in Windsor, Ontario is putting together with 45 classrooms included. Very exciting!
  • Primary Blogging Community: We are now connected to three new blog buddy classrooms. There is a class in Seattle, Vancouver, and Colorado in our new group. We started "blog hopping" to their class blogs last week to get our collaboration started!
  • Collaborative Read Aloud: A teacher I know through my Twitter Professional Learning Network (PLN) contacted me over the weekend to see if we'd like to do a collaborative read aloud together. We chose a book, Lulu and the Brontosaurus by Judith Viorst, and we will begin this project as soon as they are back in school (their school has been closed due to snow and cold temps). They were one of the classes in our first Primary Blogging Community group, and we plan to interact via Skype, our classroom blog, and our Kidblogs.
Coming Up...
100th Day of School!
Barring any snow days, the 100th day of school will be February 5th. There is no project to do at home...we will celebrate 100 days at school through a collaboration between all four first grade classrooms. There is a Sign-Up Genius form if you'd like to donate any materials for our day. Thanks!

We LOVE to Read and Write Celebration
Please join us on February 14th at 1:00 for a celebration of reading and writing in our classroom. We will exchange Valentines earlier in the day. I will send home a class list for this purpose tomorrow. If you can send or bring something in for our celebration, please sign up here

Parent Teacher Conferences
Remember, I am holding PT conferences before the February vacation. Most of you have signed up via the online sign-up. Please be in touch with me if you would like to sign up and have not done so already. Thank you!

I hope you had a great weekend! I will be in touch with news about the the Flynn Theater reschedule or refund as soon as I have more information. Thanks for your patience!


  1. Hi Mrs. Sorenson's class!
    We are Mrs. Schneider's Class in Colorado. We love your blog! We loved the doubles videos. We have RAZ-kids and Kidblog too! We can't wait to comment. How many boys do you have in your class? And how many girls do you have? We have 14 girls and 5 boys. Today we had inside recess too, because it is snowing and cold!
    We will talk to you soon!
    Mrs. Schneider's First Grade Class

    1. Hi Mrs. Schneider's Class!
      Thank you for visiting our classroom blog! We have 12 girls and 9 boys in our class. We are excited to visit your Kidblogs soon!

      Mrs. Sorenson's Class

  2. Hi Mrs Sorenson's Class!
    We are Ms. Lirenman's class in Surrey, BC Canada. We are excited to be part of the primary blogging community with you. We have RAZ-kids and Kidblog too.

    We think our weather is warmer than yours. We have no snow and sometimes we even leave our coats inside the classroom when we go outside. Ms. Lirenman doesn't like it when we do that but we get really warm running around.

    Like Mrs. Schneider's class we are curious how many boys and how many girls you have in your class. We have 15 boys and 9 girls. We have our own iPads too. Do you?

    Ms. Lirenman and Division 19

    By the way we say we are in Grade One but we noticed you say you are in First Grade. Are they the same?

    1. Hello Ms. Lirenman's Class!
      We have 9 boys and 12 girls in our class. We say that we are in first grade, and we are not sure if it's the same thing as Grade One. Our students are 6 and 7 years old, and they all went to kindergarten before first grade. Do you have a grade level before first grade? If so, what is it called?

      We agree that our weather must be colder than yours. We certainly cannot go outside without coats right now! In fact, we haven't even been able to go out for recess because the temperature has been below zero degrees F a lot!

      We do not our own iPads, but we think it'd be great if we did!

      Mrs. Sorenson's Class