Wednesday, January 10, 2018

"Where Are You From?"


          “Where are you from?” is becoming such a sweet and reflective thought. With the children in the early writing stages of in-depth studies of their beloved grandparents as well as finishing the first half of first grade, we are truly in a time of reflection. We read from Marie Bradby’s Momma, Where are You From? and noticed so many descriptions about life long ago. Note some of her words:

            I’m from Monday mornings, washing loads of clothes in the wringer washer
        and peach baskets full of laundry to hang on the clothesline
        strung from tree to tree –
        the sun bleaching the sheets, the wind whipping them dry.

        I am from beans – green, lima, and pea – picked, strung, snapped,
        and shelled into pans,
        then put on the stove to simmer for an hour.

        I am from peddlers, driving a creaky old wagon with a big old horse
        and calling up and down the street:
        “Fish-man! Fish-man! I’ve got fresh trout, spots, and
        croakers today! Fish-man! Fish-man!”

            Then, later in the book:
            Momma, where is that place?
        Where is that place, Momma?
        It’s where the edge of town met the countryside;
        where the city sidewalk ended and chickens ran through yards.
        Where families grew into a neighborhood as close as a knit sweater;
        Where we threw up a hand to everyone we saw.

          We are thinking deeply about our grandparents and the lives they lived – the things they experienced as children, their homes and families, their schools and careers, the historical moments that changed their lives. Those things all indeed impact us – and make us who we are as grandchildren. Interestingly enough, as we look back on that beautiful book, children often remark, “When we talk with our grandparents or hear our parents tell their stories, it really does feel like it happened to us!” I can already tell that many of your children heard sweet stories and experienced important (and sometimes simple) traditions, helped make favorite family dishes and learned about some harder times even – during these last several weeks. Thanks so much for beginning their research into their loved ones in such authentic and real ways. In our classroom, we will be reading texts, too, about life long ago – from our social studies textbooks to beautiful family stories from a variety of diverse backgrounds.

          If you wish to see introductory information, engagements and the complete criteria again for these projects, please look here…
Introductory information from November:
Homework engagements focusing on grandparents:
Complete criteria:

        Similarly, in our classroom, we will be reflecting, too. We will be thinking as learners, classmates and community members about “Where are we from?” We came to CFI as twenty-one independent little people – most of us with few connections to anyone here. Just look. Eighteen months later, look at the close-knit friendships, the powerful stories, the eloquent presentations, the thoughtful books created during writing workshop, all the amazing things these children can do! Over these next weeks, we will work hard to look back as readers, writers, mathematicians, scientists, social scientists, and community members – and realizing how far we have come!

        Furthermore, all of this reflecting will set us in a powerful place, almost ready for our first grade student-led conferences! We will continue working and pulling together a smorgasbord of important things to share with you on that special day. For now, you need to know that our student-led conference days will be held primarily on the 15th and 16th of February – either before, during or after school. If you have a preference for particular days or times for your family’s conference, please email me to let me know. Thanks for doing what you can to be here for that special day of looking back!
As always, thanks for reading!

Home/School Connections
For the Week of January 10 - 16
*Reading Logs – By popular demand, our reading log entries for the rest of this month will focus on the grandparent project itself. Since these projects should be written in a memory book or album, please feel free to write that information directly into the keepsake book itself - or on index cards or papers to be adhered there. Although I’ll be including all the criteria in the interactive reading log, you are welcome to write all your research in your project book. If the interactive reading log pages are blank for the rest of the month, that is fine. Our focus for the month will be on that project. That being said, if you would like to star your favorites and/or count the books read during December and January, you are more than welcome to do so. We will definitely begin gathering that data again in February and will share related information about our growth as readers during our Student-led Conferences.

*Grandparent Expert Projects - Look over the expert project criteria (either on the blog or in the interactive reading log prompts) and talk about how the information you gathered over the holidays can meet these criteria. Begin writing those facts. As stated, these projects are to be done in a smaller book format – not a poster board. Please don’t rush out to buy a fancy album though; some of the most meaningful keepsake books have been written on white thicker paper and bound.

*Penny Jar - We’ve been playing a game at school - adding a set number of pennies each day to a bucket and counting to learn the new total. Challenge your child to count, add more pennies each night, figure the total, and write the new amount. Continue the game, encouraging them to “count on” each night from their written number rather than recounting from the very beginning.

Special Dates:
Friday, January 19 - Half-day dismissal (Please be sure your child knows their lunch plans.)
Monday, January 29 - Friday, February 2 - Grandparent Project Presentations
Friday, February 2 at 11:30 -  Busride to Sandhills Library
Friday, February 9 at 2:20 - Our Learning Celebration
Wednesday, February 14 - Our Friendship Day Celebration
Thursday & Friday, February 15-16 - Student-led Conference Days

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Grandparent Expert Project Criteria

Genealogical Expert Projects
On Grandparents
Winter of 2017/2018
Mrs. Barnes – First Grade

Criteria to include in the projects
* Informational Statistics:
1.      Grandparent’s full name and your nickname for him/her
2.      Birthday and/or birthplace
3.      Family fact – anything about parents, siblings, extended family
4.      Marriage (date and/or location)
5.      Information about education and/or career

* Character of Grandparent:
(Or the more subjective qualities that make his/her life so special!)
6.      Description – Telling characteristics of person; perhaps some of their favorite things, pets or collections. What is this person like?
7.      Retelling of a special childhood memory
8.      A description of “what life was like back then” (in regards to any of these topics: transportation, homes, clothing, foods, chores and/or school…)
9.      A family tradition from a favorite holiday
10.  The most significant historical event and how it changed your grandparent’s life
11.  Favorite pastime that the grandchild and grandparent pursue together (playing cards, adding to collections, gardening, drawing, talking…)
12.  How many times has this grandparent said, “I always want you to remember…” and told you something that they consider so important for you in your life? Please use this section to share advice from your grandparent. Feel free to use your grandparent’s handwriting on this fact – or your own.

The format of this project is to be unique! The children should create a memory book or album of some type that would be appropriate to become a family keepsake passed down through future generations. Therefore, there should be no large displays or poster boards of any kind. If there is memorabilia involved, it should fit in a shoebox (or similar) box to be stored with the book. In fact, they could be stored eventually with all your other historical documents (birth certificates, photographs, important family information.) Much first grade curricula is re-emphasized in these projects as the children look through the eyes of mathematicians (dates and ages), geographers (birthplaces, travels), readers, writers and historians.

** The facts should be handwritten by the child, written and spelled in their own way. As always, if you feel a need to translate, please do so on post-it notes for me to use during the presentations. I will tuck those into the book for your future reference.

Where You Can Find Information:
Journals, diaries and/or family Bible
Telephone calls
Photo albums
Interviews of the Grandparent
Interview other family members about the grandparent

Other Things You Might Include:
Copies of newspaper articles
Gifts from the grandparent to the grandchild
Inexpensive jewelry or award that was special to person
Graveyard rubbing of a family tombstone
Photographs & Sketches
Audio tape of the person’s voice
Signature of person in final product
“Mask” of person’s face
Perhaps a copy of an old photograph with a caption by your child (if available!)
* You may wish to include some type of a family tree for your personal records. (I believe it is a valuable experience for a child to see a tree showing grandparents, parents, and then the child. However, sharing that type of family tree can get quite intensive with a room full of children on a full day of project presentations. Please know that while we value that record, we will not share them during our presentations. Thanks for understanding!)

Timetable for this Project:
* Personal Research and Conversations with a grandparent from November to January
* Writing should be done during January.
* Presentations will be held in late January.

Notes on choosing the grandparent:
* Since this project is so in-depth and involves such writing, I strongly recommend emphasis on one grandparent. I know it is hard to select one person from those special people you love so much. Perhaps, you could make that a summer goal to create expert projects on the others!
*Please note, too, that there are few very specific requirements. There is lots of flexibility in getting to know grandparents – whether we see their hobbies or jobs, home places or life long ago. Giving 12 interesting facts about grandparents – and enabling us to get to know them and their life – is our endeavor.

* We really are creating these projects based on our thoughts about our grandparents. We have been thinking, too, about different books about life long ago, talking to the grandparents (during our Grandparent Day as well as at other times) and reading our social studies texts about life long ago.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Making Our Days Count

Photo Creds: Heather Kelly
How our days just fly by! Thanks so much for your kind contributions to our Passing of the Cans. What generous lives you lead! As you can imagine, the children are beside themselves with excitement these days. The lights and decorations, the special foods and events, the music and the flurry. Each day, it seems like there’s another grandparent or two arriving in town. The children hardly can contain themselves. I can remember those years of having young ones so delighted with the season… and I thought it’d last for quite a while. Time flies by so quickly though. My mother always said that when she turned around, we were grown. Now, I know what she means (especially waiting for my oldest to arrive from Washington, DC and having to schedule our events around young adults' work schedules!) With all my thoughts and prayers for a wonderful season, I hope that you remember the message on the chorus of Trace Adkins’ song:
"You're gonna miss this;

You're gonna want this back. 

You're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast...

These are some good times

so take a good look around.

You may not know it now,

But, you're gonna 

miss this."

Just a few notes on our academics:

We have been busily finishing up some special writings, creating some garden decorations, reflecting on our learning, playing math “puzzle” games with our 100’s boards,  and reading some spectacular books. The children have been busily reading individually, with buddies and small groups as their reading skills continue to progress. On our calendar, we will celebrate yet another birthday Friday. We have tried not to just count down the days until the holidays; but, we are making our days count!

I hope you as families share several precious weeks together. Read below for some conversation-starters you can use in preparing for grandparent projects. Remember: those projects are merely in the talking (and photographing) stage now. Enjoy the time sharing meaningful moments and traditions and stories together – and then, when it’s time to share, your child will have lots of wonderful memories to draw from. In January, we will talk, write and read about grandparents and their lives long-ago. All the writing and drawing for the project should be done during those weeks of January – and will be officially due at the end of that month. To see the criteria, just check here again tomorrow.

As always, enjoy your moments together. The time passes too quickly! I will look forward to seeing you all in the new year.






Home/School Connections for the Remaining

Days of December and early January

Over the holidays, please try to connect any authentic learning experiences (that you as an adult use all the time!) into the minds of your youngsters – whether:

*counting money at a restaurant

*figuring the directions on a map

*reading road signs

*wrapping a present

*creating a card

*hearing stories of family members at reunions

*telling family stories
*singing favorite songs

*even making lists of things to do.

Encourage your child to write down stories, lists, memories, even recipes from this special time of year. These drawings and writings may be precious keepsakes for your family in the years ahead. Learning happens everywhere - and with everyone!


*Read as much as you can! For the Reading Log prompt this week, create a little illustration and caption. Then, check out the first half of Richland 2’s First Grade High-frequency Word list. Some of your young readers loved highlighting them if/when they read them authentically in their choice of reading materials. Whatever works for you – will work for us. And then, just think. Think back to the goal written at the end of November. Then, for the rest of the month, just read and read. Stack those books up – and when you can, ask someone to help you jot them down. Or even take a photo of their front covers showing - and print out a picture to tape in! In January, the children will be using their data collected throughout this year in preparation for their student-led conferences. It will be so much more fruitful if they have lots of interesting information to look back on - rather than empty pages.

*Talk with your grandparents about how they lived and learned, laughed and loved. Here are some open-ended conversation starters that might encourage little ones to talk with grandparents:  family, pets, home, bedroom, first responsibilities around home, 1st grade class & school, games, toys, foods, favorite books, hobbies or collections, wedding, jobs, favorite vacations, places lived, military service, favorite stories about childhood, favorite traditions, and a significant historical event that impacted their lives. The grandparents will probably treasure being asked about their lives. You will never regret the time spent in gathering information on your loved ones. One newer section of the project was giving the grandparent a place to share a special message they wish to pass along to their grandchild. If your child’s grandparent wanted to write a simple note for them to always remember, feel free to invite them to. (What a precious keepsake that would be!) Savor these precious moments together!

*Finally, take a deep breath - and look around you. These days get in such a blur, sometimes it is hard to just breathe - and see - all the wonder and joy of watching your children grow. How blessed we are! Plan some sweet (simple!) family times and truly savor your moments together, too.

Special Events:
Tomorrow - Pajamas & Stuffed Animals day
Friday - Sandhills Library trip