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!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

In Like a Lamb?

Hi First Grade Parents!

After the lion-like snow day last week on the last day of February and the lamb-like weather we have had since the beginning of the month, I hope we don't get hit with a bunch of snow at the end of the month!  Spring has almost sprung afterall!

Sorry about not posting our Dr. Seuss activities last Friday, but we did not get to anything due to an assembly and all the other reading and math we usually do each day.  We made up a few activities on Monday, but I still did not have enough for pictures.  The lone picture will be the mini-writing lesson we did after we read Green Eggs and Ham.  I got this cute idea from Cara Carroll. 

The students had to rhyme where they would and could eat eggs and ham and record it on the writing sheet.  Then they were asked to illustrate green eggs and ham on a paper plate.  Some chose to decorate their plates so their ham and eggs were a bit overshadowed by the design :).

I am going to take the time to explain our guided reading centers since it is such a big part of our day.  We have guided reading for at least 60 minutes every day (I usually go a bit over) except on Wednesdays we go for 75 minutes since we do not have morning recess that day.  This also gives me an opportunity to see every reading group that day.

While I am meeting with reading groups, the other students are independently working on one of five choices of activities.  This concept is from the Daily 5 model of guided reading.  Each student not working with me will get to choose one of the five centers to work at quietly until it is time to change.  Students are at each station for 20-25 minutes before switching. 

The first choice is Read to Self.  As you can see from the picture (from Kelli B. from Castles and Crayons) each student is to choose a book from their book bins (all at independent reading levels) and start reading quietly by themselves (in one spot) right away.  We spend the first five or six weeks of school building up stamina each day.  They all know the need to read the whole time or we find time to practice later on in the day.  I can't believe how well they do! 

The next choice is Read to Someone.  Students will get a choice to read with someone as long as they are quiet, reading the whole time, stay in one spot, and sit EEKK or elbow, elbow, knee, knee and hold their book in the middle.  This choice is a popular one in our class so we review the expectations every week.  The second picture is just a little poem to help them remember their job!

Another choice is Listen to Reading.  I have a rule that only two students at a time are at this center.  I put in two different book titles each week, but I also had this singing book and they absolutely love it.  I go home hearing those songs in my head.  I am looking for more singing books on tape since the interest is there.  When they are finished listening they are required to complete a follow up activity to test their comprehension and understanding of the story.  They could draw their favorite part of the story, draw each of the characters and the setting, or relate the story to something similar that has happened to them in their life (relating text to self).

Another choice they have is Word Work.  Each week I have two hands-on activities that they may choose to do.  We go through each center activity on Fridays for the following week so they know exactly what is expected of them.  Sometimes I have a recording sheet that you may see, but many times it is just working with concepts involving sight words, vowel patterns, or other concepts such as contractions, nouns, verbs, or adjectives.  Again the expectations are that they need to work alone unless the activity calls to work with someone (such as Bingo).  They also need to get started right away, work the whole time, and clean up when it is time to switch.

The final choice is Work on Writing.  I also have two different writing prompts or activities for the students to choose from.  One is always an activity that comes from them.  I will make blank books up for them to be both the author and illustrator or create a prompt that will interest them.  The other activity will be a more structured writing activity such as rolling cubes with words on them and putting them in order to make a sentence.  Then, they will need to write and illustrate the sentence.  Another example is to find hidden pictures from Highlights magazines and then write where they found each object.  I made sheets that say, I found the ________________________ and they will need to fill in the blank telling me where in the picture they found each item  ( I found the toothbrush on the back of the park bench).  I like the writing center because I can see the progress of their spelling.  I also use this writing to see what future activities I need to create or find based on the spelling need.  Again, this is a quite and independent activity. 

While they are working on the Daily 5 activities I am pulling students to work in small guided reading groups.  We will be practicing reading strategies to increase their independent reading level.  These books are at their instructional level meaning that they are not quite able to read the book independently.  This is why it is soooooooo important to read every night.  It may seem like they are reading books they have memorized and they may have, but that is why I sent home the blue reading comprehension cards.  Many students are wonderful word readers, but they need to understand the story as well.  Ask them what happens at the beginning, middle, and end.  If you have not seen the blue reading comprehension cards let me know and I will get them to you. 

Remember to keep track of your reading minutes!  The Reading Night will be next week!

Stay dry!

Mrs. Parker