Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Week in Review: February 17-21, 2014

Have you seen our Skype and Blogging Connections map 
lately? We are a connected class! We'll add England and
the Bahamas to the list in March (and more)!
Last week was a productive week, even with the anticipation of vacation in the air. First graders came to school ready to learn, and we had another amazing week! Thank you to everyone who was able to come in for the parent-teacher conference last week. Sharing your child's growth and success in first grade is always a privilege! 
Ask your child to tell you why penguins are such strong and fast swimmers. Better yet, visit our class Kidblog pages! We learned more about penguins this week as part of our study of close reading of digital texts. 

Reading Challenge/Vacation Homework
Your child should have brought home his/her good fit book bag to help do the important job of reading during the break. I hope everyone participates in the Reading Challenge and logs their reading time to work towards a whole-school goal! If your child misplaced the recording sheet, simply record the title of the book and number of minutes read, along with the date, on any piece of paper. Happy reading!

I highly encourage students to write on Kidblog over vacation. It's a perfect opportunity to write with a purpose! They can access their Kidblog from this blog (right-hand sidebar) or via the Kidblog app if you have a smartphone or tablet. Our class username is mrssorensonsfirstgrade-4. You'll need that to log in using the app. 

Reading Workshop
Our study of nonfiction text features continued last week as students explored the Table of Contents, Headings, Labels, and Diagrams in books. We also continued our study of digital text and how accessing information from a website is same/different than with printed text. After studying text, photographs, and video footage of how penguins swim quickly, students were given the task to work with their literacy partners to create a picture to demonstrate their understanding using iPads and the Doodle Buddy (free!) app. Check out your child's blog (see right-hand sidebar) to see his/her work!

It's fun to co-teach with Mrs. Boucher!
Many students have learned to share jobs quite effectively
 and are able to collaborate to produce some amazing work!
This diagram of a penguin labels some of the things
 penguins have that make them powerful swimmers.
Writing Workshop
We focused a lot of our time last week on writing in the digital form--on our Kidblogs! Students created at least one new post about the penguin learning we did, and many also wrote about the chapter book we recently finished reading--Lulu and the Brontosaurus. Students also took time to the blog of Ms. Smith's class in Seattle, Washington, as it was their turn to be the focus class for our Primary Blogging Community (PBC). (We call them Blogging Buddies.) Students should check out their Kidblogs this week--the comments are pouring in, as we are this week's focus class, which means students from the other three PBC classes are commenting our our Kidblogs. Hooray! :-) 

Our reading focus of studying the Table of Contents in nonfiction books is helping prepare students to write their own TOC for their next nonfiction teaching books! After vacation, students will learn how to add important nonfiction features to their writing as they write about a topic of their choice (one they know a lot about). The TOC helps organize a writer's thoughts and provides a structure for the book. 

Blogging is writing!
When we return from vacation, we will begin a study of sharks to introduce students to the idea of research. We will write a nonfiction teaching book as a class to learn how to research and how to write about what we learn when reading books, reading websites, viewing videos, etc. Perhaps the most engaging form of research we'll do--an interview and lesson with Jillian, a shark videographer and researcher! Jillian will Skype with us live from the Bahamas on March 17th! Our class research will help students prepare to do their own research on a topic (of their choice) and write a report about what they learn!

Telling time to the five-minute interval and practicing addition/subtraction facts, and reviewing place value concepts were the main focuses last week. Telling time is hard! Please don't be alarmed if your child is struggling with this skill. While we will explore telling time on both analog and digital clocks to the nearest minute by the end of first grade, it is expected to be a developing skill. Time to the hour and half hour should be mastered by the end of first grade. Check the math tab on the top of this blog for resources to help practice telling time (and other) math skills.

We enjoyed a Mystery Number Skype with Mrs. Barnett's class
 in Bannockburn, Illinois on Friday. They stumped us with the number
zero as their Mystery Number. We chose 111, because that's how many
days we've been in school.
When we return from vacation, we will begin a math unit on geometry--one of my very favorite topics to teach! We will study both two- and three-dimensional shapes, sharpen our understanding of using attribute words (thick/thin, small/large, red/blue, etc.) to compare and contrast objects, and explore the concept of symmetry. All math is hands-on, but the geometry unit is even more hands-on than  most. I love it, and I hope your child will too. 
These students are playing Time Match to reinforce and practice telling time.
I look forward to seeing everyone after vacation on March 5th! Here are a few more pictures from the hands-on part of a reading mini-lesson last week--exploring nonfiction features in nonfiction books. Have a great week!

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