Friday, November 16, 2012

First Grade Science and a Student Teacher

Hello and Happy Friday!

We have had a big couple weeks so I will get right to it!  Last week we started science and learning about pebbles, sand, and silt.  We talked about scoria, obsidian, slate, granite, and limestone rock types.  We also had a blast "finding" treasures in the sandbox outside.  Treasures included pennies, polished rocks, gold rocks, and super balls that look like rocks.  Mrs. Brenner had this wonderful idea to have the students dig for the treasures by scooping the sand into sifting grates.  Boy was this a big hit!  Every single student was engaged in this activity.  Here are the pictures I took:

We looked at different kinds of rock and sorted them into properties.

Magnification glasses were a big hit!

Students could look at a guide to see what kind of rock each one was.

We will continue science for the new few weeks.

In other news we have a student teacher in the classroom from now until January 25th.  Here name is Becky Englin and she will be sending home a parent letter next week to tell you a bit more about herself.

Thanks for all you do and have a wonderful weekend!

Mrs. Parker

Saturday, November 3, 2012

November Already!??

Where has the time gone?  I can't believe it is already November!!  As of yesterday we have been in school for 42 days. 

 I have to apologize for not keeping up with this blog as much as I would have liked to the past month.  We have been so busy during the day that I have been forgetting to take pictures of our activities.  Getting behind with posting has started to stress me out so to make myself feel better I made a deal with myself that I can just write how our week went and I do not need to have pictures posted for each blog.  We will see how that goes : ).

We had a very busy October.  We started guided reading groups the second week and I cannot believe the progress I have seen so far!  Thank you so much for working hard at home.  I can tell your children are reading each night as well as practicing their word cards.  First grade as a grade level has set a focused goal of working on sight words.  To help with that I created the weekly sight word sheets for those students that just need that extra exposure to those words.  When I assessed their sight words again last week to progress monitor every single one of them improved to the goal for the pre-primer words.  You should have gotten the green primer sight word cards because of their progress.  These next 52 words are a bit more challenging, but keep practicing with your child!  I can see the confidence soaring when I work with them each day in guided reading. 

In math we have been working on understanding the equal sign, decomposing or breaking up numbers, structuring numbers, number order, skip counting forwards and backwards, place value, addition, subtraction, problem solving, math facts of +1/-1, odd and even, and greater than/less than.  I would like to share what I learned at a math conference this summer when teaching greater than/ less than.
Students will place two dots next to the larger number and one dot next to the smaller number and then connect the dots!  All these years I was struggling with alligator teeth drawn on their work............  A simple instruction technique that students really understand! 

I also can't believe how quickly my class has taken on odd and even numbers!  They are so motivated still about odd and even numbers that we discuss at least one number every day during calendar time.  I perform these assessment checks for them each day to help monitor and drive my future instruction and I am seeing unbelievable progress!  Many of the students are ready for more challenging material so my next goal is to try to make more time in the day for daily math centers.  I am going to divide the class into 3-4 groups according to student need and then work with the neediest 2-3 days a week and the other two once a week.  I will then try to follow up those lessons with math homework.  This may take a couple more weeks yet, but it is something I am making a priority! 

Now to the fun stuff!  We had our costume parade this past week and boy were they all adorable! 
Since I do not post pictures of the students I thought this picture would be great to share.  This picture was taken when we walked outside.  Look at the amount of parents and friends watching the parade!  Keep in mind that there were even more people around the fence and along the Eddy Street sidewalk too.

Sorry for the Glare, but this was the best picture I could get.  We read the book The Fierce Yellow Pumpkin by Margaret Wise Brown.  What great descriptive words in this book!

We then made pumpkins by tearing the paper- No scissors were allowed!  Look how great they turned out!!  We also wrote two adjectives to explain our own pumpkins.  I just had to hang them up.....: )

Finally a close up!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Mrs. Parker

Friday, September 21, 2012

Reading, Writing, Math Oh My!

Our second full week of school has gone very well.  We are getting used to the classroom routines and new expectations of first grade!  I am so proud of how hard all of my students are working each and every day.

English Language Arts or ELA is almost in full swing.  We are still practicing our routines for Daily 5 and got up to 12 minutes in Read to Self just yesterday.  We are practicing working quietly now so when guided reading officially starts the students know what they need to do during that time.  Here are the anchor charts I created for each of the Daily 5 focus areas to post in the classroom Here .

Next week we will be assessing reading levels and forming guided reading groups.  I will be sending home tips for reading with your child as well as comprehension questions to ask your child when reading both fiction and nonfiction texts.

I am so excited about writing this year!!  The students are working so hard ALREADY!  I found this chart on Zeek's Zoo blog and made one for my classroom.  Each student wrote their name on a post-it and stuck it on the "Use finger spaces between words" area (orange).  We have had lessons practicing what proper spacing looks like and then they would have time to write themselves.  I looked through all the writing they have done so far and put an orange star on their paper if they met the goal.  If they met the goal then they will be able to move to the green area to work on "Capital letters to start my sentences."  Their name will stay in the orange until they meet the goal of finger spacing. 



It is hard to see the finger spacing on this writing piece, but I also wanted to point out the detail in the illustrations.  We are really focusing hard on adding detail not only our writing, but pictures as well.  We have a rubric posted on our wall of what a score of 4 looks like.  You would not believe how hard my class strives to get that score of 4!   We went created the rubric together to show what a score of 1 looks like (writing and illustrations are scored together), what a 2 looks like, and what a 3 and 4 looks like. 

It also helps that my daughter is in first grade so I bring in her writing pieces as anchor papers and we give her suggestions about how she can improve her illustrations (what details she should add) and grammar (capital letters, punctuation). 

Here is our most recent math homework/game for this week.  If you did not bring this homework home this week you will get it next week.  This week you would have had the dot cards.  This activity is great for your child to work on addition skills in a fun way.  Your child will roll two dice, add up the sum, and then color in that number of squares with one color and you will do the same with another color.  The person with the most colored squares is the winner.  When playing with your child notice how they are adding.  Are they counting all the dots on both dice?  Are they seeing the number on one die and then counting up the other number?  Does it seem like they look at both numbers and then add quickly?  Ask them how they are getting a total.  This will help them understand what strategy they are using and give you an opportunity to give them suggestions to add more efficiently.  If they count all then have them name the number on one die, cover up those dots, and then have them count up from the other die.  For example, if they roll a 2 and a 3 have them name 3, cover up that die, and have them count on 4, 5. 

Have a great weekend!

Mrs. Parker

Friday, September 14, 2012

The First Week Down. . . . . .


Well we finished up the first week yesterday and it went by so quickly!  We have been very busy working on adjustments to first grade.  You should be proud of your children because they are working so hard each and every day!

I Finally got around to taking some pictures of some activities this past week. 

Here is our book bag sheet that will help with communication between school and home.  This sheet will help me see if they are reading at home and show me how they are reading at home.  Are they consistent in their reading at home and school ? Is the reading easy at school, but challenging at home? You can use one line for each book that is sent home.  Each book will be read for three nights.

Sorry about this picture.  I need to learn how to use my camera better.  This is a shape book based off the pattern of Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin Jr. 

 This is the back page of the booklet.  We talked not only about the names of these shapes, but their attributes as well.  What makes a triangle a triangle (three sides, three points, corners, or angles).  They did so well with this activity!
 For this project we were discussing our basic needs and our need for fun.  Students tore paper pieces and glued them to a balloon outline.
 On the inside of the balloon they drew one or two activities they think are fun.
We have been working so hard on writing (already!!).  We are working on handwriting (ask your child to give examples of the Frog jump capitals and where they should start their writing), as well as illustrations in their writing.  In our last writing lesson, we talked discussed writing rubrics and how we should strive to do our best each time we write.  This picture is an example of a score of 4 not only  in the writing, but the illustrations as well.  I am working on an anchor chart for the classroom showing what each score (1-4) looks like.  I will post the completed version once it is finished.  I will also be posting student work so you can see all the hard work they have been doing!  I am very impressed and I know you will be also.
My goal is to post on Friday of each week if you are following this blog. 
Have a wonderful weekend!
Mrs. Parker

Monday, September 3, 2012

Welcome to Grade 2012-13!


I am so excited (and a little nervous) to start the school year. You would think the butterflies would go away after all these years, but the do not! I wanted to be sure to have something current written here if you are checking this blog for the first time, but I will not have a true post until after our first instruction day on Wednesday.


Mrs. Parker

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Month in Review

Ugh!  It seems like whenever I get around to posting I am apologizing about how long it has been since I updated last.  Well, over a month is way, way too long.  We have been so busy this last month and I have been taking pictures, but the time to post has been challenging. 

I am going to update the last month starting with them most recent activities:

We have been working on keeping up with our reading towards the end of the school year.  We are currently in week three.  Each week students that bring back 4 baseballs with a title of book and one sentence about that book on the back will earn a prize on Fridays.  They will get to run the bases and then get a treat for turning in all four baseballs.  At the end of next week we will be ending with a celebration of hot dogs and chips!  Yum!

Here are our North Baseball players that came to read with us today!  The players were wonderful and the students were SOOOOOOOO excited!  I do have pictures of the players reading to the kids, but I am choosing not to post the pictures due to the visibility of their faces.
  North is the defending state champion so if you would like to go watch here is their remaining games: Tuesday, May 22 v. EC Memorial, 6pm start time at Carson Park and Friday, May 25 v. Altoona High School at Altoona Hobbs Field on Spooner Ave.  This game will start at 5pm.

Matt Wilhelm

Matt Wilhelm visited our school again as part of a rewards for such a successful fundraising last fall.  He is very entertaining and the kids talked about him the rest of the day. 

3D Shape Unit

Students chose a 3D shape and had to describe the shape according to their properties. 

I loved this idea!  The students chose a shape and glued it to the paper under the bag of clues.  They had to describe the shape to see if their classmates could guess the shape. 

When they opened the bag they saw the answer! 

Earth Day

Earth Day has come and gone, but we wanted to show how we can have a helping hand to keep our Earth clean! 

Here is an Earth Day promise by one of the students.  I love the picture of him throwing the garbage into the trash!  Great Detail!  Thank you to Cara Carroll from The First Grade Parade for this idea : )

Here is our Reduce, Reuse, Recycle anchor chart we used before writing our Earth Day promises.

Well, this was a quick snapshot of all the fun activities we have done this past month.  We also had baseball math centers and currently working on fraction math centers.  The end of the school year is winding down . . . . . . .   Summer will be here before we know it!

Take Care,

Mrs. Parker

Thursday, April 5, 2012


This short week was sure a busy one!  We tried fitting in as many bunny and colored egg activities as we could the last four days. 

One activity we completed was a jelly bean graph.  We also sorted, tallied, patterned, and added our jelly beans according to color. 

We collected data with different kinds of candy, placed the information in the data table, and then graphed the information.
We also took turns shaking dice to build our own bunny.  This was a popular activity and they all took great pride in their drawings!
This picture did not turn out well, but I had numbered eggs with jelly beans in it.  They had to count the jelly beans in each egg and then write a number sentence adding +1 to that number and then write another number sentence taking away -1 to that number. 

Here is a better picture of the jelly bean numbered egg activity.  
We did make cute bunny clocks to go with this activity, but we did not get to the activity on Tuesday so for the math centers I had them use the large clocks I picked up at the dollar store.  The concept of time is really catching on!  First graders should be able to tell time to the hour and half-hour.

 This was such a cute picture I just had to take a picture!  Here is a flower, a mother duck, and her 6 ducklings!  This math center was using pattern blocks through guided discovery to develop spacial awareness.

 We started a unit on 3D shapes this week and I found this great resource created by Tina Rubie.  Each student got a mystery 3-D shape and had to identify it by name as well as properties of that shape.

This activity was also from Tina Rubie.  This time the students got to choose a 3-D shape and had to give clues so we could guess what shape they had. 

They enjoyed this activity so much that when I asked who wanted to share every single student volunteered.  What a great way to practice the properties on 3-D shapes!!

Yesterday we got a new student to our classroom.  This brings us up to 21 students in our room.  Please keep this in mind when sending the snack bucket to school. 

We do not have school tomorrow so have a wonderful day off tomorrow!  I will see you all on Monday, April 9th!

Mrs. Parker

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hello Everyone and welcome back from Spring Break!  I did not go anywhere, but the weather was so beautiful it made me think I traveled somewhere where warm!

I am sorry to say I have not taken any pictures so far this week, but I am going to update you about what is going on in our classroom.

First of all your child should be bringing home their report card home today.  I have them taped shut and stuffed in a white envelope.  There is also a pink sheet that you should sign and return to me so I know you saw the report card.

I am also sending home information about our field trip April 17.  I know it is early, but we have all the information already so I am sending it home with your child.  There will be a yellow-ish gold color sheet that you can fill out and send to me if you would like your child to get a library card from the public library.  If your child already has one then be sure to bring it with them on the 17th.  When we go they will not be missing lunch so no need to pack a lunch. 

Summer school deadline is fast approaching.  If I have not contacted you, but you would like to have your child attend summer school to keep up with basic math and/or reading skills then please let me know.  You will need my permission before your child can be entered into summer school.  This is for the basic skill classes only.  If you are having your child take discovery programs then you do not need a teacher referral.

We are currently having a food drive until April 5th here at Davey.  If you are able and willing to bring in canned or boxed foods please send them to school with your child before April 5th. 

This week we started a Space Unit for writing/science.  We are writing and studying about each planet including the sun and making our own nonfiction fact books.  I would also like you to see more of your child's writing!  They are very interested in the topic of space and they amaze me by how much they actually listen to and understand since the textbooks are not always at first grade reading level. 

Well, that is all for now! 

Mrs. Parker

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Week Before Spring Break

Hello!  Can you believe how nice the weather has been this last week?  Really? Seventy degrees in March may not be odd in places like Florida, but Wisconsin?  I am not complaining one bit, but I have to admit the students have had endless energy since the warmer weather arrived!  Oh how I wish I had a quarter of their energy level : ).

This week was once again a busy one.  We started a Zoo Animal writing/science unit the end of last week studying giraffes and continued this week with zebra's and alligators.  I bought this Zoo Unit from Deanna Jump and absolutely love it!  She was the same teacher that created the Arctic Animal Unit back in January.

Here is our anchor chart we used after reading about giraffes.

Here are the cute giraffe writing and craft activity.  We are learning the process of writing a research report about a given topic.

Here is the anchor chart for zebras.

zebra craft

Zebra research paper outline.

Here is a Venn diagram comparing how giraffes are alike and different.

We put our thumbprint on one square and another student's thumbprint in the other square.  Then they looked at each thumbprint to compare alikes and differences.  This activity ties into this unit because, we, just like giraffes(spots) and zebras(stripes)  have unique fingerprints.
I am planning to add the alligator pictures by tomorrow!