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April newsletter

Dear families,
It was wonderful to see you all today for our family morning. The first graders loved showing you their published all about books and enjoyed reading the letters you left them. Out in the hallway, 1-306 was very proud of the reflections they wrote based on their initial Work Time goals and the actual result of their cumulative work describing what they produced and learned. Our first graders are thoughtful readers, writers and problem solvers. There’s a lot to be proud of!

Reading

When we return, your student will be reading a book series to observe, record and track character traits. These book clubs, or character clubs, will be small groups of readers in which your student will get a chance to respond to stories orally, demonstrate understanding through written work as well as debate and discuss with their group members. Get ready to ask your student all about the character club they are a part of when we return from our spring break.
Each day, 1-306 is reading independently for longer periods of time. Congratulate your student on their ever-growing reading stamina and encourage them to check out and read books that are appropriate to their reading level. This may be a longer book, a chapter book or even a picture book that rewards rereading. If you are not sure about what books are just right for your student, please let me know. Visit the library over the break or look at the Scholastic catalogs that have been going home as well. Follow your student’s reading interests!

Writing

Starting in April, 1-306 will begin a poetry writing unit that focuses on using and integrating expressive language that evokes a feeling. In our classroom, we will be labeling strong poetry as language that “sings.” This unit will be an exciting time for your student to practice many of the poetry conventions and features they learned about during Reader’s Workshop as well as demonstrate their creative uses of punctuation and poetry craft (such as alliteration or metaphor, to name a few).

Math

The inventory work we have been doing in math this month will continue after spring break as 1-306 continues developing efficient ways to collect, organize and count large amounts in building their understanding of place value. Your student will also learn a variety of new games that support place value and its many uses when computing or problem solving. Small groups in math will be working on a variety of skills aimed at strengthening number sense and math strategies, specifically in subtraction. Math tools, such as the rekenrek and bead string, have had a significant effect on how your student is describing numbers (often broken down by groups of fives or tens). In April, students will be working with an open number line, a model that will allow students to further construct meaning when utilizing their understanding of place value.

Content Study

Restaurant Study is heating up and we have many interviews and trips lined up. During our family morning, I hope you all had a chance to look at our timeline of discussions, graphic organizers and student work. Our upcoming experiences will all support the big idea that is behind how a restaurant works and learning all about the many components that must operate together to have a successful restaurant that serves the neighborhood. Homework assignment: please email me any pictures you take of specific parts of a restaurant as well as send in any menus when we return from break. Thank you!

I hope your student has a relaxing and enjoyable spring break. Please make sure that your child reads each day and that you read with your child. (Many of you have told me that your student is using DreamBox regularly!)

Important Notices:

-Thank you to our wonderful student teacher, Susan. When we return from spring break, ask your student about our new student teacher!
-Birthday celebrations continue to be monthly and on the last Friday of each month (if there are no schedule conflicts).
-Our classroom Instagram account, peckslip_306, is still up and running but with less updates since the 100th day of school.

Best,
John

March Newsletter

Dear families,
I hope you had a relaxing and enjoyable break with your kids. Although February was a short month, 1-306 was very busy.  Please see below for important curricular updates:

Reading

Much of our February reading work focused on poetry. We studied the different features of poems such as white space, rhyme, rhythm, repetition, and imagery. We read poems from many different anthologies, including our class anthology. We learned that some poems have shape, poets use specific word choices, and that poems can be about many different topics. We noticed that poets write lines and use interesting punctuation. We are excited to revisit poetry when we prepare to write our own poems this spring.
This month we will look carefully at the work of Cynthia Rylant during our Author Study unit. We will notice how Rylant writes multiple genres including personal narrative and chapter book series. We will continue to work on fluency, expression as well as studying authors as writers. You can support your child with this work at home by pointing out character traits in a series or identifying the genre of a book you’re reading (“Is it an All About book or a How-to book? How do you know?”).
In April, we will begin reading series books in Character Clubs.

Writing

February marked the end of our How-to writing unit. We began the unit by looking at different types of how-to books and noticing their features. We brainstormed a list of topics that we know well and could teach others about. We learned to grab our reader’s attention by starting our piece with a question or a reason that would motivate our reader to read our books. We planned steps across our fingers and acted out our steps to ensure that we included important details. Next, we drew teaching pictures and labels. We added transition words to show the sequence of our steps and wrapped our pieces by finding a way to let our reader know that they were ready to try out our directions. We celebrated by sharing our books with partners and offering compliments as well as helpful suggestions for future how-to books.
Children will continue working on informational writing by writing their own All About Books this month. Students will begin the unit by revisiting non-fiction books and noticing their features. We will choose topics that we know a lot about and will learn to create a table of contents, fun facts, diagrams, glossaries, and various other sections in our books. During the latter part of this unit, we will use books to research interest topics and write a second All About book based on our research.
In April, we will switch genres and learn how to write persuasive pieces.

Math

Students delved into geometry this month as we worked with Van Hiele puzzles. Children used a set of shapes to compose, draw and identify new shapes. Children learned to name and describe shapes by examining their characteristics such as the number of sides, number of vertices, and number of angles.
This month marks the beginning of our Organizing and Collecting Unit. This unit is designed to help students develop a deep understanding of place value in our number system. Throughout the unit, students will count assorted objects and will learn to group those objects into groups of ten and individual ones. Children will learn that place determines value (ie:  in the number 56, the 5 represents 5 tens or 50 and the 6 represents 6 ones, or 6.)  This understanding will help children as they begin to use more sophisticated strategies, such as splitting apart numbers, to add and subtract and solve problems mentally.

Content Study

In February we studied and rehearsed plays during Readers Theater. Children practiced reading fluently and with expression by thinking about how their character was feeling and what their character might sound like. Children worked on projecting their voices and using their bodies as they acted out their parts. We will revisit our Readers Theater scripts in March and perform them for our big and little reading buddies.
March is an exciting month because we will begin Restaurant Study. During this unit children will learn how restaurants work. We will visit several different types of restaurants and write persuasive reviews about the businesses we visit. We will interview different restaurant workers to learn more about their roles and responsibilities.  After that, we will create our own restaurant!

Important Dates:

March 15th- Parent Teacher Conferences
March 29th- Family Friday
March 30-April 6- Spring Break

Thank you to all who joined us on our 100th Day Celebration.  I forward to seeing you on our next Family Friday!

Best,
John

December 2017 and January 2018 newsletter

First Grade Happenings


This week, first graders made a list of what they think is most important to include in the 1-306 newsletter to families. Here is the list they generated:

“We have learned to use because, but and so to write more.”

“We have become much stronger independent readers.”

“We have finished Seed Study!”

“We have been reading and writing how-to books.”

“We have been using strategy bookmarks when reading.”

“We are studying nonfiction.”

“We are becoming better readers and writers and spellers.”

Community

Our classroom has two new adults in 1-306. Diana, an America Reads tutor, helps in the classroom and works with students during reading and writing times. Also, Susan, a student teacher, will be with us until the end of March. Ask your student about both Diana and Susan and what work they have done with them.

This week, we welcomed a group of educators that will be doing a short series of activities with 1-306 over the next two weeks. These activities focus on social and emotional learning that relates to how students think about themselves in terms of gender and identity and what they associate (or don’t) with these ideas. Ask your student about the (extremely fun) activities that they are doing with BJ, Tommy and Marion.

READING

First graders in 1-306 are indeed becoming much stronger and thoughtful readers during Reader’s Workshop each day. The continued work of creating mindful readers continues: ask your student how they know if they are reading interesting books.

In January, the reading work of first grade has been twofold: using punctuation to read more fluently and using more advanced strategies to decode. Students have been trying out intonation based on punctuation and discovering that reading more expressively helps with comprehension.

Additionally, first graders have also been learning to self-monitor for meaning when reading books, stopping and using taught strategies when encountering a tricky word and working hard to understand new vocabulary words based on context.

In February, 1-306 will build on their fluency work as we begin a unit on Reader’s Theater scripts.

WRITING

1-306 has been experimenting with, trying out, arguing over and discovering the magic of… punctuation! (And print type.)

Central to this work has been students making choices to use punctuation based on what they are learning about specific writing craft, as well as considering what they want to say to their audience, the reader.

Also, first graders have been using various punctuation and print type across genre, in fiction stories and letters Seed Study work and non-fiction books in January.

First graders are currently working hard on procedural writing in the form of how-to books. Many of them are using the list of things they are experts at and know how to do that you helped them make at home!

In February, we will be continuing to learn about informational texts as we delve into writing high-interest all about books. Ask your student what topics they feel most expert about.

MATH

First graders are continuing work that helps them develop number sense and fluency that builds on their knowledge of doubles facts. This month, math partners have been playing various games that use a rekenrek as a tool to support how they describe their thinking when composing and decomposing numbers. A big idea that many students are discovering is how doubles facts – facts that they describe as just knowing – help them solve “near doubles” problems.

First graders have also been working on verbalizing their thinking, both on paper and orally to their math partners, explaining and showing work clearly and sequentially.

Ask your student about some of the Double Decker Bus math games and strategies they have developed with their math partner.

In February, we will start a new math unit that builds and deepens first graders skills in composing and decomposing geometric shapes.

SEED STUDY

This week, first graders celebrated an entire season of growing, observing, experimenting, sketching, discussing, writing and learning about seeds.

1-306 students shared their portfolio of Seed Study work with their fourth grade buddy and explained many of the lifecycle ideas we have learned as well as new vocabulary. They also shared their plant (which will be going home this Friday, 2/2). When your first grader takes home their Seed Study folder, they can share the letter their fourth grade buddy wrote them, including the praise and feedback they received.

REMINDERS and notices

  • Tuesday, February 13: Family Morning celebrating the 100th day of first grade. 1-306 doors open at 8:40 AM!
  • Please note that birthday celebrations will continue to occur on a monthly basis at the end of the month. We will put parents in contact with each other to coordinate items.
  • Scholastic Book Order Forms have been going home, please let me know if you have any questions.
  • First graders are bringing home their sight words each Thursday, please continue to work on them over the weekend using suggested practice ideas.
  • Classroom Instagram account: peckslip_306

 

November Newsletter

First Grade Happenings


Community

This month, we welcomed seven new students into our first grade classroom. The transition has been an exciting time and first graders are using and developing many of their social/emotional skills by accommodating, teaching, helping and supporting their new classmates. All of our first graders are adapting to new routines, rug spots, and line spots.  Please encourage your student to line up in their line spot each morning.

READING

During Reader’s Workshop, we have been emphasizing engagement and independent reading. Ask your student how they know if they are reading interesting books.

1-306 concluded our fiction elements reading unit in November.  We learned to use story elements such as characters, setting, a kickoff and other important events and a tie-up in our retells.

We have begun to take a close look at non-fiction books.  We compared fiction and non-fiction texts and sorted books based on the fiction and non-fiction elements that we found. First graders have generated their own lists in hunting for non-fiction features.

In December, we will continue to explore non-fiction texts.  We will identify non-fiction features and the purpose of each feature.  We will practice using text features to locate important information in our books.  We will study different texts on the same topic and notice how the information presented is the same and different.

We are typically having two read alouds each day that model much of the reading work your student is working towards: thinking aloud about what we know and noticing what we still wonder. You can support you child as they read non-fiction at home by discussing features, facts, and wonderings as they read.

Is your student bringing home 2-3 Just Right Books each night? Continue to support your student in being responsible for their book bag, choosing appropriate books and returning them each day.

WRITING

First graders are planning and writing fiction stories.  An important part of this process is learning to choose main and secondary characters, settings, a kickoff (or problem), events, and a tie-up (solution). Another important component of Writer’s Workshop has been giving students enough time to write independently and allow their stamina and engagement to grow. In December, first graders will be working on elaborating and editing as they revise, adding dialogue, character thinking and feelings. They will continue to work on conventions through the use of an editing checklist. Much of the coming writing work will involve using checklists, many of them generated by the class. The big idea around this work is thinking about when and how a writer knows that their fiction book is complete.

We’ve also used oral storytelling to tell stories to each other. First graders have created many interesting characters and events.  You can try this activity at home by taking turns naming a character, setting, kickoff, events, and a solution. Next week, first graders will be sharing their fiction stories with their Little Reading Buddies!

Our following unit will focus on non-fiction writing.  Children will write how-to books based on our seed study unit.

MATH

First graders completed a unit on doubling.  We studied partners and pairs and played many doubles games to help us learn our doubles facts.

We began a geometry unit of study about the attributes of shapes.   We are learning that shape, size, and color are attributes that we can use to name and sort shapes.  We will learn that different shapes can share attributes (e.g., both rectangles and squares have 4 sides) and that shared attributes can be used to define a larger category (e.g., quadrilaterals).

During the following unit, we will focus on problem solving steps and strategies.

SEED STUDY

In Seed Study, students observed, sketched, and wrote about seeds through dissecting various fruits.

Next week, we will begin to explore how seeds travel.  Students will use straws to explore how seeds move through air and water and notice that different seeds move in different ways.

In the upcoming weeks we will plant seeds to observe how they grow. We will also explore the conditions that a seed needs in order to grow well.

We will plant with students on December 15th and will need several families to volunteer to take our plants home and water them over the break.  Please let us know if you’re interested in helping out.

REMINDERS and notices

-Friday, December 4:New families are invited into the classroom to meet the teacher from 3-3:45

-Thursday, December 14Family Morning, 8:45- 9:15 –Planting Day!

-Please note that birthday celebrations will continue to occur on a monthly basis at the end of the month. We will put parents in contact with each other to coordinate items.

-Scholastic Book Order Forms have been going home, please let me know if you have any questions.

-First graders are bringing home their sight words each Thursday, please continue to work on them over the weekend using suggested practice ideas.

-Classroom Instagram account: peckslip_306

October Newsletter

First Grade Happenings


Community

Since our last Family Friday, so much community building has taken place in 1-306. Students continue to practice taking care of each other: asking questions and listening during morning share, using hand signals to communicate, following our classroom agreements and advocating for themselves while using clear language. Our yearlong theme of togetherness will continue as first grade becomes more and more kind, caring and independent.

READING

1-306 students are book shopping weekly and reading “Just Right” books from their book boxes every day. During this reading time, first graders select the books they want to take home to read. This month, we have been doing reading work that focuses on identifying the story elements of a fiction book. First graders have been using tools such as their retelling bookmarks to think about the components of a fiction book and how retelling supports comprehension. Continue to support your student at home by discussing the title, characters, setting, kick-off, events and tie-up of fiction books you read together.

WRITING

First graders have been doing some focused writing during Writer’s Workshop. First graders are thinking of ideas based on their own lives: people, places and events that are important to them. They use their writing folders to organize their ongoing work as well as reference teaching points from small group work when writing independently. Many students also use our classroom word wall to reference our weekly sight words that have been going up. First graders are drawing inspiration from their picture collages and their own life to write pieces, or “Moments” which include descriptions of dialogue, feelings and senses that add details or “stretch” out their writing.

MATH

1-306 has been doing a lot of work to learn about the relationship between doubles and counting by twos. The big idea supporting this month’s math unit has been exploring a double as a number composed of two equal groups and what it means to be an even or odd number. First graders are playing various games to learn their doubles facts.  Many students know easy doubles (1 + 1, 2 + 2, 3 + 3, 4 + 4, 5 + 5, 10 +10), but struggle with trickier doubles (6 + 6, 7 + 7, 8 + 8, 9 + 9).  We are beginning to skip count by two’s and use doubles to help us solve near doubles (i.e. “If I know, 5 + 5, I also know 5 + 6 because I add one more”).

Children are working individually and with partners to represent their thinking when problem solving.  As student understanding has grown, first graders are noticing that it’s much more efficient to represent objects symbolically (such as with circles or x’s) rather than with elaborate drawings. We are working hard to learn from one another’s work and to revise our own work as we develop new ideas and strategies.

SEED STUDY

We are very excited to begin our Seed Study inquiry unit for our first content study. We launched this unit by sharing what we think we know about seeds and brainstorming questions that we have. We will continue dissecting and begin sorting and sketching seeds next week.

Thank you for your food donations. We look forward to dissecting seeds in the near future!

REMINDERS

Thursday, November 16Parent Teacher Conferences

Friday, November 17Family Friday

Tuesday, November 21Walking field trip to the Oculus Farmers Market

 

September Newsletter

First Grade Happenings


Community

During the past five weeks, 1-306 has been working to build our classroom community. We established hopes and dreams, developed classroom rules (or agreements), discovered materials and practiced routines. The time dedicated to building this foundation will support an efficient, fun and safe learning environment for the rest of the year.

A theme for the year will be togetherness. During these first six weeks of school we will continue to take opportunities to get to know one another. Some activities that have allowed us to do this are Morning Meeting, class discussions and time for sharing such as our Closing Circle.

Every day, we have interviewed a Student of the Day. During this process, students are asking class-generated questions, developing their listening skills and learning about their friends. This is also an opportunity for shared writing and reading.

Reading

Literacy is an integral part of our day. It can be found from Morning Message to Math to our future Content Study. In September, we launched Reader’s and Writer’s Workshops. We focused on developing good habits for self-selecting books, taking care of books and reading long and strong.

Every morning, 1-306 reads quietly in their independent reading bubble for an ever-growing amount of minutes. They are working on selecting and reading “just right” books which are not too easy (downhill) or hard (uphill). In each student book box, you will find approximately 10 books which are swapped out weekly when students bookshop.

Our schedule allows for us to visit the school library (in which students check out a book kept in our classroom) and have both younger and older reading buddies each month. These opportunities facilitate a love for reading in your student.

Writing

As writers, students in 1-306 are building stamina, drawing from their own life experiences and exploring taught craft and features. Currently, students are integrating writing folders into Writer’s Workshop, a tool which will allow them to organize their writing in progress as well as reference mini lessons and conferences. A primary objective for the first part of the year will be cultivating independence in student writers. You can view an example of your student’s independence on our bulletin board outside the classroom. This is a great example of how students persist, demonstrate resourcefulness and produce written work with a certain degree of independence.

Math

1-306 students have been working on being focused and helpful math partners. Games such as “Guess My Number” have helped students problem solve collaboratively. Many of the games your students have been playing are familiar and allow them to work on their fluency (such as ways to make 10). Ask your student about the math games they have played in the classroom.

Another regular math routine has been Days of School, allowing students to look at the various ways to count, group and notice patterns in the growing number of school days. Ten frames, number lines, bead strings and hundreds charts are just some of the tools used for this routine.

This month, we will begin a unit on doubles in addition and how to represent thinking on paper. By using the context of pairs, students will be able to create meaning behind doubles facts and grouping. At home, engage your student when counting pairs and single objects.

Read Aloud

During the past month of school, we have been reading various genres of books, including character and author book series (such as Little Critter and books by Ezra Jack Keats). We have also been reading books about feelings and how we can acknowledge certain feelings at school when feeling sad, angry, upset, etc. As our Peace Place and social/emotional work continues, students will be taking a stronger lead in having agency over their own tricky feelings this year and engaging in strategies that lead to communication and togetherness.

Reminders

If you aren’t following our classroom Instagram account, email me. Daily photos, captions and questions to ask!