Wednesday, March 21, 2018

If You Want To Know About Us as Friends & Community Members...

…you need to know that we: 
*created an unbelievable library from which we all serve each other.
*tied shoes for our friends who need help.
*created a gorgeous “Happy Hat” for Dr. Mueller.
*brought food for those who might need some help.
*gave compliments to kids whenever they share their new books during Writing Workshop - and then clapped afterwards.
*picked up trash on the playground, in the garden, and everywhere.
*listened to everyone.
*said “thank you!” to the safety patrol (and anyone else who helps us.)
*straightened up book boxes for each other.
*gave nice “questions and comments” to presenters during our grandparent expert projects.
*helped clean our classroom.
*smiled at other people.
*said “I’m sorry!” when someone is hurt.
*fed the birds and animals in the garden.
*shared our crayons with kids at another table.
*helped our friends carry things when their arms got too full.
*talked about the R & R’s (Right and Responsibilities) at our school and tried to live them.
*decorated our Storybook Garden to make our world a more beautiful place in which to live.
*decided to create special “Thinking of You” cards for friends of Dr. Mueller who are sick.

We all just love living and learning with our friends in Room #202! I am so blessed to live and learn among such kind-hearted children.

Home/School Connections
For the Week of March 21-27

*Your Interactive Reading Log work will be to create a thoughtful illustration of your current readings, continue listing the current books read and the following prompt. “Most children have collected much data on fiction books; others, more nonfiction. But, several recently have challenged us to read more poetry! Write the name of a poem suggested by your family.” (We can’t wait to have the children share your family’s beloved poem! We just might even have to create a survey from that data collected. Thanks, as always, for supporting the work we do here at school.
*As we shared during last Thursday’s Curriculum Night, the children are currently looking at numbers larger than 100. Our biggest challenge is figuring out how to write the numerals down accurately. For instance, the number “one hundred and two” sometimes elicits 1002. (Some kids hear 100 and write it out in entirety and then tack the 2 on the end. Think how problematic “six hundred and thirty-seven” would be - or even “four thousand, three hundred, ninety-eight!” (60037 and … 400030098!) For fun, call out larger numbers and see how your mathematician is doing, keeping the place value straight. By the way, we use these cool mats to help us keep our thinking and numbers in line.
*Please see the email to sign your child up for their science experiment. May is now closed. The open dates are March and April. Thanks!

Special Dates:
Our Last Learning Celebration of 1st Grade - Wednesday, April 25th at 2:20

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

If You Want To Know About Us as Mathematicians...

*We notice two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes throughout our world. We identify them and create our own. We spend valuable time looking closely at shapes and how they fit together (or not.) We create intricate designs using the attributes of each shape to build a more incredible structure.

*We use other manipulatives to help us solve math problems, too. We understand place value more because of our work with Frogs on Logs and sticks. Through using base ten blocks, we are seeing even more number patterns and are working hard to show examples for random larger numbers.

*We also use hundreds boards through play on three-dimensional picnic and ocean 100 board scenes and through games and challenges on two-dimensional 100’s boards with Expo markers. Being able to identify larger numerals is important in our work. We notice so many things about our hundreds’ boards. We skip-count, seek evens or odds, look for patterns and more. We even do puzzles to figure out which numbers are missing. Because of our thoughtful work with smaller numbers, we can understand concepts with bigger numbers even better.

*We sign in on different graphs and charts each day. We read questions and the answer choices. Then, we choose the one that fits us most. Our “Graph Analyzer” of the day helps us critique the results that we notice on our Venn diagrams, bar graphs and T-charts. In those conversations, we often use words like “greater than, less than, equal” and more.

*We read math problems to solve from our Beach Math board. There, we encounter a variety of problems. We come up with our own ways of figuring the problem out. Later, we share our strategies for solving the problems and our solutions.

*As our work in kindergarten, we continue to review our calendar monthly. We count the days between special events. We find specific days and dates, holidays and more. We figure out why months often start on different days. We use our family calendars in authentic ways as we log our ballgames, performances and more. We know calendars are a type of measurement. On our calendar also, we continually notice patterns. We continue with the patterns that are established for the month and create new ones for the next month. We like to play around with growing patterns as well.

*We read from books that teach us math concepts. For example, When the Doorbell Rang taught us all about dividing in natural ways.

*We tally and count. We count forward to 120, even starting from different numbers. We count by 1’s, 2’s, 3’s, 5’s, 10’s and 100’s.
*We use money – both counting it and thinking logically about its use.
*We look at clocks - working to read both hours and half-hours. Some of us are trying to tell time by the minute!
*We do “WDYKATN?” (What do you know about this number?) We share all the different ways we can reach that number through the myriad of ways in which we learn.
*We use dice games to help us practice skills. Not only do they help us understand probability in natural ways; but, they also give us extra practice generating random numbers for addition practice without wasting lots of paper.

*Obviously, we are solving addition and subtraction problems. We are becoming faster and better over time. We even are graphing the results of our timed math tests to showcase how we are improving as mathematicians. Some of our graphs continue to grow so much that we have had to tape another piece of paper to the top of them!

Home/School Connections
For the Week of March 14 - 20

*Thanks for your ideas about science experiments - we’ll be teaching and learning everything from echolocation, water and triangulation to volcanoes, slime and Jell-O.  Tomorrow night, we will display the chart of experiments chosen thus far. 
*Your Interactive Reading Log work will be to create a thoughtful illustration of your current readings, continue listing the current books read and the following prompt. “Since we’ve been looking at similes, we are finding them everywhere. Jot down a few similes you can think of. (This prompt just might be as easy as … pie!)”
*Keep practicing mental math of simple problems having sums of ten and under. We’re hoping to move away from tracking these smaller problems this week! (From here, we’ll progress into figuring out much larger numbers!)
*Spring Sky Tree

Special Dates:
Tomorrow night, Thursday, March 15 at 6:30 - Curriculum Night (Please let me know if there’s anything in particular you’d love for us to focus on at this time of the year. We’ll definitely be sharing some of our science engagements.)
Our Last Learning Celebration of 1st Grade - Wednesday, April 25th at 2:20

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

If You Want to Know About Us as Scientists...

*We lived as geologists. Rocks and soils changed our lives. As we all collected rocks and soils wherever we went throughout the summer, we had no clue how different our dirt would be! As we sifted and labeled samples, we looked closely at their properties – colors, textures, sizes of grains, and more. We learned about the “life cycle” of boulders and cobbles working down to sand and silt. We looked at unique rocks and learned about their classifications. We experimented, compared and contrasted them – everything from volcanic rocks to river rocks. And we learned about the purpose of rocks in our world and how they keep our world in the shape it is. Our learning led to architecture and how rocks are used in our world in different ways.
*We lived as naturalists. We first sketched a tree without really even thinking. Then, we began looking closely at trees. We each chose a Sky Tree and have followed it across the seasons of our year. We will look forward to drawing one last sketch of a sky tree this year – and seeing how our perspectives of trees have changed! (With our Plants unit of study coming in the spring, even more noticings will take place.)
*We lived as researchers. We are learning big ideas (about solids and liquids, color mixtures, sinking and floating, boiling and freezing, and more) as we explore a variety of interesting artifacts: candles, crayons, clear balls and spikes (polymers). We looked closely at lots of plants, animals, buildings and monuments to sketch them realistically.
*We continually lived as readers and researchers, writers and mathematicians as we read about scientific information and then connected it to our own understanding.
*We lived as historians learning about real scientists who have changed our world! Our vast collection of amazing biographies astounded us as we learned the names of scientists and explorers, researchers and inventors who have changed our world: Einstein, Galileo, Copernicus, Newton, Madame Curie and more.
*We lived as astronomers. We consistently observed and sketched a moon log every single night, going through 28 days of the moon phases.  We learned about shadows and the sun; the moon; stars and the constellations; gas giants and the Milky Way.

How We’ve Lived as Scientists Since Writing our Student-led Conferences
Not only are science experiments showing up authentically in our real world; but, we are also discovering some of them in our Science textbooks and on the Internet. One of our young scientists was inspired to check out: “How can you make reactions?” Therefore, we all loved mixing vinegar and baking soda. Someone else mixed borax to create crystals of her own - using her initial as the base. Someone else had heard that vinegar and salt clean dirty pennies - in case you’re wondering where some of your pennies are going lately…

Where We’re Heading with our Last Major Individual Project for 1st grade: Featured Science Experiments
Isn’t it amazing how our children have merged naturally into creating experiments for themselves?  That’s truly the purpose of having featured science experiments presented by our children to their friends. Not only will they decide on some huge topics of personal interest; but, they also will teach the big ideas behind their demonstration. Please don’t immediately think of solar ovens and volcanoes though… Real science happens all around us.
For instance, when my Tiff was in first grade with Mrs. Dori Gilbert, she was always surprised by how quickly some of her favorite breakfast cereal became soggy. So, her project was to compare and contrast three varying types of cereals in milk. She was careful to choose very unique ones – one with o’s, one with flakes… Then, she tried it all out. She read books and talked with others to try to understand the science behind her results so she could be prepared for their questions.
On the scheduled day of her experiment, she brought bowls, measuring cups (to ensure they all got the same amount of milk), cereals, and even a tray to fling the soggy cereal on. She wanted the children to be able to see how soggy the cereal was when she flung it up on her tray. She had practiced what she was going to say with us at home. And she had even practiced giving her answers for any questions she thought she might get. (For those harder concepts, she jotted a few notes to help jog her memory of the more technical aspects of the experiment. Some children jot down science terms that they want to be sure to share with the class.) As she started, she shared her “title” and materials. She shared the reason she had even come up with this experiment and then told the children what she was going to do. She did the pouring and measuring herself. But, because she wanted it to all be scientific, she had helpers come and help pour the milk all at the same time. The audience sat at attention, closely watching the whole process. The soggiest cereal stuck right to the tray. But, the less soggy ones sort of slid down it. Then, she shared with the children her new learning about the properties of cereal pieces and of milk – and related scientific information. (I’m sure you can see that this experiment was surely one chosen by a child with a real-life problem – and the “test” was definitely her creation as well. But, the conversations that ensued and the wonderings and questions the children had truly started even more interesting science observations and conversations.)
So, our science experiments will be somewhat similar. The children will think and try out things at home. They will research by talking to others and reading information. They will practice the process of introducing their experiment, handling the materials, and “doing” the experiment. They will practice the words they will use to explain their science teaching. If there are any new science terms, they could have them written on special cards. If they were inspired by any particular scientist or researcher, they will share that. They will practice their presentation again and again for their family – and practice answering any simulated questions from their home audience. So, although there is no formal written component to “turn in” for this project, practicing how to communicate their results to their audience will be essential.
Then, on their big day, they will bring all the materials and be prepared to introduce their topic, share their materials, and demonstrate their experiment. They will then teach the concept and big idea in science. (They may even be able to tell a real-life scientist who inspired part of their thinking!) They will then take questions and comments by their young friends. Because, of course, part of the science process is communicating your knowledge and answering your friends’ questions. As a written component and illustration to the demonstrations, all the other children will complete a science experiment document based on your child’s experiment and teaching. In fact, your child/scientist will circulate through the classroom answering questions and assisting children as they seek to write up each friend’s experiments.
So, by the end of everyone’s experiments, your children will have a section in their three-ring binder showcasing at least a dozen science experiments of their friends! What a gratifying and complete process it all will be! The children learn so very much from each other. I know you will love hearing about all the teaching and learning of friends.

Home/School Connections
For the Week of March 7 - 13

*Talk with your child about some of the engaging experiments we have in our classroom right now: growing crystals, geodes, cleaning pennies, baking soda (volcano-like) reactions, “jelly stone” polymers, color mixing… Think together about some of the things they’d like to learn about - and then teach to their friends. Over the years, young scientists have demonstrated and explained concepts of everything from optical illusions and creating rain to how electricity works and making lava lamps. The possibilities are huge! As typical with projects, we do not want any repeated ones. So, please work with your child to jot their top couple of science ideas in their reading log to bring back to school, beginning Monday. And, think about your preferred timing for the project: March, April or May. If you need any suggestions for types of experiments, consider checking out some library books. (We’ll encourage that, too, with our trips on Thursday to CFI library and Friday to Sandhills Library.) Check the internet or let me know as well.
*Your remaining Interactive Reading Log work will be to continue jotting down book titles for March. Thanks for trying to keep up with that so you can have some fun collecting that data, highlighting those chapter books, starring those favorites, counting them all up at the end of the month! There’s lots of time to meet some of your goals you just set! ;)
*Keep practicing mental math of simple problems having sums of ten and under. For a challenge, flip the problems and turn them into subtraction ones!
*Spring Sky Tree! 

Special Dates:
This Friday, March 9 - Bus to Sandhills Library at 11:30
Thursday night, March 15 - Curriculum Night (Please let me know if there’s anything in particular you’d love for us to focus on at this time of the year. We’ll definitely be sharing some of our science experiments!)

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

If You Want to Know About Us as Writers...

If you want to know about us as writers, you need to know...
We used to excitedly jump into a beautiful, blank book. We’d spend lots of time on creating the perfect cover; but, sometimes we would lose our interest and move on to another brand new book, repeating the same incomplete cycle again and again. We also used to get lots of fun ideas from what our friends were writing; so, we would start writing and writing. But then, we’d just fizzle out. By the end of the book, we’d sometimes have pages of emptiness. Other times, “The End” would simply fill space rather than having a satisfying ending. But, lately our stories have been exciting from beginning to end! And our nonfiction pieces have taught so much to our readers that we have to get more paper to staple into them!

Some other things we do as writers:
*We write lots of different types of things – personal narratives, nonfiction, friendly letters, written conversations, posters, cards to sick friends and families, notes on birthdays, and poetry.
*We love reading from our favorite characters (like Mo Willem’s Piggy and Gerald or Ann Martin’s doll people.) We try our best to create interesting characters to live in our stories.
*We think about what else would make our stories interesting to read. Sometimes we create circle stories where we begin somewhere, have lots of things happen, and then end around the same place. Or we consider the setting and try to make it come to life for our readers.
*We try to include exciting beginnings, interesting middle portions and satisfying endings.
*We pay attention to the words we use. We want them to be flowing (like Eric Carle), repeating (like Joy Cowley), descriptive (like Jan Brett), or teaching readers (like our nonfiction expert, Jerry Pallotta.)
*When we write nonfiction, we want our readers to learn something. We might put captions under our pictures or labels in them. We use harder science terms to teach somebody something.
*When we write poetry, we know it can be shorter. We think about concrete poems (that often are in the shapes of things), funny poems (like Shel Silverstein), or rhyming poems. But, all poems don’t have to rhyme.
*We get other ideas for our writing from the beautiful, exciting, thoughtful and creative picture books that we start each day with - both from the words and the illustrations! Just some of our favorite techniques were: before and after pictures; zooming in/zooming out pictures; use of a window to show two different perspectives; seeing things from unique perspectives (high in a tree or from the ground); paying attention to tiny details like a hamster from page to page; using a map to show the different settings of our stories; parts of bodies hanging out of a picture border; use of photographs and more!
*We use italics when we are stressing things.
*We use BIG letters when we are surprised!
*We use punctuation for different purposes.
*We use bold letters.
*We use onomatopoeia (noisy words).
*We use palindromes.
*We use more than just “said” when we are having a character speak. We even created a class chart to access. Some of our favorites are cried, exclaimed, gasped, or replied.
*We use dashes when we don’t have enough room for a word on a line.
*We sometimes even use a table of contents and an index.
*We include a copyright date.
*We add an “About the Author” section. Through that section, we tell interesting things about ourselves and our families. We also can add a bit of geography knowledge there.
*And, after we’ve written some of our best books, we like to share them with each other. We sit together and read our pieces. Then, we’ll call on several friends to share what they notice about our work or give us a compliment. Or they might even ask a question if they’d like more information.  Some of our favorite times are spent sharing our writing.
*We LOVE to bring our favorite books home in our Writing Celebration Folders to share with our families! (But, it is always hard for Mrs. Barnes to keep up! We will do our best to bring lots more home by the end of first grade.)
*Of course, we get so much inspiration from all the amazing books that fill our minds, beginning at 8:10 every single day! After we listen to amazing authors, we get ideas from their works about things we can try as writers daily here in our Writing Workshops.

Home/School Connections
For the Week of February 28 - March 6

**Reading Log (focusing on authentic math statistics for the month of February’s recap) - Please read the prompt to go back and review February’s monthly page. Star all the favorites, count all the books and write the total. Then, if there are any chapter books, be sure to highlight them. Thanks for reading further, thinking back to the student-led conference and beyond - and setting new goals for the end of the year! Also, finish writing those book titles for the month of February. Please illustrate a favorite scene and caption it.

*Speaking of new goals, go through your child’s Writing Workshop bag of books created since January of 2018. How well are they progressing as writers? Go through books to ensure that they are finishing, are thoughtful and engaging, and pushing your child’s desire to create new texts!
Upcoming Event:
*Curriculum Night - Thursday, March 15

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

If You Want to Know About Us as Social Scientists...

As social scientists, we’ve been influenced by many significant people in our lives. (The following descriptions of these notable people were contributed by different students.)
Abraham Lincoln taught us to persevere - to listen to people around us and stand up for what we believe in. We loved learning about other people in history who encountered him as well - the sculptor, Vinnie Reams & the little girl who wrote him a letter, Grace Bedell.
Harriet Tubman taught us to listen and learn from our parents so that then, we can stand up for such important causes as freedom for our people.
Zaha Hadid taught us to look at the world through a different lens, seeing architecture in unique, flowing ways.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us to dream about things that we can change. Using our words to change the world is sometimes more powerful than any other resource.
Wilma Rudolph taught us to keep on fighting - even when it seems there’s no way to move further.
Neil Armstrong taught us to put one foot in front of the other. "One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind."
Clara Barton taught us to love and care for those around us - even when people make fun of  us. Each person has a gift.
Albert Einstein taught us that even though we might start learning things later in life, we still can change our world. His ideas were so powerful that here 100 years later, some are just now being proved!
Amelia Earhart taught us to try things that no one else has done before - even if they’re hard.
Michael Jordan and Debbie Allen taught us to dream of doing important things. Just because you are young does not mean that you cannot dream of big things.
Some other important people we are in the midst of uncovering... Astronauts Ronald McNair and Buzz Aldrin; Galileo, Copernicus and Sir Isaac Newton; Pasteur and Leeuwenhoek; Sally Ride and Mae Jemison; Helen Keller and Jane Goodall; George Washington Carver, Eli Whitney, Henry Ford and tomorrow, George Washington.

*As researchers, we are changed through the lives of our grandparents as well. They lived through significant historical times and shared amazing similarities and differences in their lives with us. From their homes and schools, traditions and memories, we learned much. Our research (both written and oral) with our loved ones have certainly given us a perspective we would otherwise never have gotten - and has enabled us to understand much more about our past.

*As historians, we are interested in significant events happening across our globe: some of the beginning perspectives of our country, some first discoveries, the understanding of our Constitution (just to name a few.) Through creating our own class Constitution, we began realizing the importance of community and how to work with others.

*As geographers, we are amazed at the perspectives through which we studied architecture. By looking at homes across the world, we began identifying different elements of architecture (arches, bridges, columns, quoins, roofs and ironworks). We also "visited" via Google Earth and Google Maps places like the Eiffel Tower, the St. Louis Arch, the Great Wall of China, and more. During a field study, we were immersed in completing a scavenger hunt, identifying and tallying many of our newly-found terms.

*Through our inquiry into homes across different places and times, we began seeing a discrepancy between homes in other lands - grass huts, wooden walls, steep roofs in snowy places, mud layers, even cow dung or cardboard. We recognized that people had to use whatever resources they had available in order to create their homes. We became even more aware of our surroundings and now have a better appreciation of our place in this world. Through studying other countries, landmarks and monuments, we can identify and share our knowledge about places like China, Japan, Italy, France, Australia, and more.

*We completed a mini-inquiry into bricks - understanding more about these interesting resources as well as the process of how to create them. We honored that knowledge through creating a movie of the entire construction process to share with the school during our Learning Celebration.

*As citizens, we are invested in building a community of learners and friends. We watched democracy in authentic ways as the world changed around us and as we constructed a community in which we can be proud.

Home/School Connections
For the Week of February 21-27

**Reading Log - Remember how Scarlett recognized Amelia Earhart in the background of a movie? Think of something new that you’ve learned - that has transferred into your real life outside school… Or in other words - Think back through the titles of books you’ve read recently (either at home or at school.) Which one has taught you something? Write down an interesting fact or idea you’ve learned. Also, finish writing those book titles for the month of February. Please illustrate a favorite scene and caption it.
**Math 100’s Board Work

Upcoming Event:
*Curriculum Night - Thursday, March 15

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

If You Want to Know About Us as Readers...

*We used to read books like Yuk Soup and Mrs. Wishy-Washy; but, now we read books like Mr. Whisper and Frog and Toad.
*We listen to books every day – all types of books. Through those picture books, nonfiction books, chapter poems and poems, we learn so much. We learn new vocabulary like spectacles and gasped. Through hearing such strong words, we begin using them ourselves in our speaking and in our writing.
*Through listening to great books, we also learn all about comprehension – understanding them better. We hear the beginning and middle of books – and make predictions about what is going to happen next. We wonder about the characters – and think about the types of things those characters do. We take delight in their settings – and imagine how we would feel in places like those.
*We have conversations about books, too. We talk through interesting phrases like “breaking horses” and a person being “fragile.” We talk with our friends about the books that make us think and make us smile. We are inspired to create books of our own – from the ideas we’ve gathered through our reading.
*We maintain two reading logs – one at home and one at school. In our school reading log, we write just one book we read each day and the author. At the end of the week, we think about all our entries and about how we’ve been successful. We write what we have done well and then we think about our goals for the next week. If we need a different kind of book, one of our friends or Mrs. Barnes will help us find it.
*Our interactive reading logs have been just breathtaking! Do you remember way back to the beginning of the year when I shared the statistics of children who read between just 5 and 20 minutes per day – and where they end up? So many of our children have read infinitely more! No wonder their reading progress is growing by leaps and bounds! So many of you mentioned how their reading just seems to be taking off, especially lately… Well, you truly have worked consistently to help that happen. Thanks so much for your most valued responses to our prompts and your precious time spent coaching young readers and encouraging them to fly!
*Those interactive reading logs have enabled the children to have amazingly thoughtful, reflective talk about tracking their reading growth, setting their goals and even assisting me in creating future prompts for their weekly work.
*We know many first-grade high-frequency words (and beyond!) We practiced with word cards for half the year; now, we find and read most of them in context with no trouble. We use our knowledge of those words to help us figure out other new words.
*Here are other strategies we use to help us figure out words we do not know:
            +Think about the word. Think about the topic. Think about words that would be in that type of writing. (For instance, space words are very different from dinosaur words.)
            +Think about the sounds and letters in the word. Look all the way across the word to figure out those sounds and letters. Make some good guesses based on that information.
            +If the word doesn’t sound right in the sentence, look again at the vowel sound. Sometimes just changing from a long vowel to a short one fixes an error.
            +Look inside the word for other little words or chunks of words that you recognize. (Remember those purple and red charts on our Predictable Spelling board?)
            +Think about the meaning of the passage as well as the picture. All reading just has to make sense.
            +Skip over the word to read the ones following it. Think about what new word might match those other words.
            +Ask a friend for a hint.
*Since kindergarten – and especially the beginning of the year when we researched favorite authors, we have loved learning about different authors. After we read books (and series of books) that they write, we love going to their websites to learn more about them as people. We are often inspired by our favorite authors in crafting our own stories.
*Speaking of craft, we learn many things from our reading: contractions, compound words, alliteration, palindromes, making plurals, onomatopoeia and more.

Home/School Connections
For the Week of February 14-20

**Friendship Celebration Cards - Enjoy digging through those Friendship Day bags with your child. Chat about their little friends and the unique ways they showed their friendship.

**Parents’ Homework - Please create those precious special letters for your child (any way you wish to do them!) Thanks for bringing them to your child’s student-led conference.

**Reading Log - (Your child will be bringing them home with these prompts following your student-led conference. But, until then, you can be gathering this information on post-it notes to rewrite and/or tape into the logs themselves. Thank you!) On the February Monthly Log, continue jotting book titles and authors. This week’s prompt is “Choose one interesting sentence from your reading this week. Write it word-for-word to share with your classmates. (I wonder why it spoke to you?)” Please illustrate a favorite scene and caption it.
**Math Puzzle Page coming soon