Friday, September 22, 2017

Week of 9/18 - 9/22


Reading Workshop Rotations
We spent a good chunk of time practicing reading workshop rotations this week. From 9:30-10:45 each day, children will be engaged in small group activities while I meet with guided reading groups. This is a very important time of day (as you can imagine!) so we spent this week practicing the rotations and expectations.

The rotations are:
  1. Guided Reading - students will learn to decode and comprehend texts at increasing levels of difficulty
  2. iPads - students will use a variety of apps to reinforce literacy and math skills (i.e. Starfall, RAZ Kids, Sumdog)
  3. Snack & Books
  4. Word Work- students will practice building and writing words using various materials such as magnetic letters, white boards and journals
Math
We spent lots of time playing addition games and discussing tools and strategies that are helpful for adding numbers. Tools include number lines, 100 grids, counting fingers and connecting cubes. All of these tools provide a helpful visual for combining quantities and seeing the total as a larger number. Addition strategies include counting on (beginning with the larger addend and counting up the smaller addend) and counting all.

Upcoming Dates
  • Picture Day - Tuesday, Sept. 26th
  • Early Release - Wednesday, Sept. 27th (Children will be dismissed at 12:35. Please notify me if your child's dismissal will be different on this day)
  • Open House - Thursday, Sept. 28th. Parents will rotate through the first grade classrooms (beginning in our own room) to hear about learning targets in math, literacy and technology. Please arrive at 5:00!
Sincerely,
Mrs. Bradstreet

Friday, September 15, 2017

Week of 9/11 - 9/15

Dear First Grade Families,
Our first full week was very productive. Students built upon procedures and routines they learned last week and participated in some new and exciting activities. Here are a few examples:

Morning Meeting
They were introduced to the greeting and activity portion of morning meeting. We will begin each school day with a morning meeting. This special time of the day is designed to build a strong classroom community, help students get to know one another and practice important social skills such as taking turns when speaking, saying good morning to one another and establishing appropriate eye contact. Students learned how to do the "wave" and "eyes closed" greetings, followed up with a "rhyme time" activity.

We spent time creating and practicing classroom rules that centered around the following guiding expectations:
  • Be Safe
  • Be Responsible
  • Be Respectful
  • Be Kind
Students generated "smaller" rules to fit within these larger expectations. For example, they thought of "Push in your chair" for the Be Safe guideline. The rules are posted in the classroom and will be reinforced on a daily basis. Students who are "caught" following the rules will be rewarded with a Class Dojo point. You can access your child's Class Dojo account at home (sign up instructions were sent home during Open House) to see what they earned points for that day.


Social Skills
Students learned about social skills through the acronym C.A.R.E.S. Each letter represents a social skill that is critical to school success:
Cooperation
Assertion
Responsibility
Empathy
Self-Control
For each skill, we read a picture book that exemplified it, created a list of school examples and wrote a sentence about one of them. These pages will be stapled into a book for each child. You can ask your children how these skills can be demonstrated at home!

Handwriting
Our first graders spent lots of time practicing writing their first names with an uppercase letter at the beginning only, followed by lowercase letters. Please reinforce this proper way of name writing at home. We also began handwriting books to review the proper formation of letters and numbers.

Important Dates:
  • Picture day is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 26th. An order form was sent home in red totes this week. Please be sure to send back your order form as soon as you can.
  • Early release is Wednesday, Sept. 27th. Children will be dismissed at 12:35pm. Please notify me if your child will have a different dismissal plan for this day.

Sincerely,
Mrs. Bradstreet

Friday, September 8, 2017

First Week Recap

I am happy to say we had a productive and successful first week in first grade! I truly enjoyed getting to know all of your children and I look forward to working with them over the course of this school year. Here are some highlights from our busy week:

Procedures and Routines
Our biggest goal this week was to learn the "how-to" of many school and classroom procedures. The students practiced how to do the following:

  • walk quietly through the hallway
  • safely evacuate the school for a fire drill
  • go through the lunch line
  • use the playground equipment safely
  • how and when to use different "level" voices
We will continue to practice and reinforce these procedures until they become positive habits!

Math Workshop
Students were to introduced to an important part of our math program (Investigations) - math workshop. During this time, students will work in small groups to use a variety of math tools and play independent or partner math games. In addition, it is a very important time for students to work cooperatively, make responsible choices and sustain attention on a task. This week, we focused on using four math tools - pattern blocks, geoblocks, power polygons and connecting cubes. Students worked in small groups to explore these tools, figure out ways to use them, make observations and share these observations in a class discussion. Ask your child to tell you about some of the math tools they used this week!
Image result for Pete the Cat

Pete the Cat: Rocking in my School Shoes
We read plenty of school-themed stories this week but the favorite was definitely Pete the Cat! We listened to the author, James Dean, read and sing this story to us. Then, students decorated their own school shoes and wrote their own page for a class book to go along with this fun story. The school shoes will be hung up for all to see! 

Important Reminders
  • We have P.E. on Monday so make sure to wear sneakers!
  • Red totes should be returned to school on Thursdays.
  • Any changes to dismissal need to be called into the office or emailed to me.
  • Technology will be on Tuesdays (beginning on Sept. 19th)
Thank you for your help in making this a great week!

Mrs. Bradstreet


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Children's Book Week (part 2)

Our school had a wonderful time celebrating Children's Book Week this week! In addition to dressing up each day, we enjoyed some very special activities.

Students are beginning to explore fiction writing. In writing workshop, partners were given a set of five words with which they had to write a creative story. It was so interesting to hear the different ways each pair told a unique story using the same group of words! We also used a coding app called Scratch, Jr. to code a creative story on the iPads. Mrs. Hartley taught the class how to make a story with characters, a setting and a problem and solution. Partners worked together to code dialogue and character actions. These will be shared with you when they are finished.


On Wednesday, we had an author visit with one of our ELL teachers, Mrs. Freeman. She has recently published a book titled One Good Thing About America and she taught the students about the lengthy process involved in publishing a book. Each of our 17 students role played an important part in this process and it was clear to see how much work goes into writing and publishing a book.

On Thursday, we took advantage of the beautiful weather and enjoyed a story walk outside. The class enjoyed this "active" read aloud of Catherine Falwell's Scoot very much!



Thursday, April 27, 2017

Celebrating Children's Book Week (part 1)

To prepare for Children's Book Week (May 1st-5th), we decorated our classroom door with a Freckle Juice theme. The class enjoyed this classic Judy Blume read aloud earlier in the spring. Each child illustrated a self-portrait (with freckles, of course!) and we wrote our own secret recipe for Freckle Juice.



Next week, there will be lots of special events including an author visit, guest readers and a Learning Garden Book Walk. I will write a second post next week to tell you how it all went! Your child received a handout in their red totes which outlines all of the fun activities as well as something special to wear each day of the week. Please be sure to read over it so you can help your child participate!


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

All About the Community

Students have been hard at work learning about community helpers and businesses that offer goods and services. With Mrs. Hartley's help, they learned how to use Google Earth to locate local businesses such as Willow's, Dairy Queen and the Maine Mall and then classified them as either providing a good or a service. They had a great time exploring this app and even got the chance to look up their own home addresses! This lesson supported an economics learning target: students understand that money is earned and used to buy goods and services
In addition, they learned about community helpers - people who work or volunteer to help others within a community. After brainstorming a lengthy list (which included crossing guards, paramedics, garbage collectors and farmers), they created All-Star trading cards for six community helpers and wrote their job descriptions on the back.  This lesson helped students understand the rights and responsibilities of various leadership roles in the school and community (a civics and government learning target). Both of these activities were great opportunities to follow up on last week's Junior Achievement lesson about government services and paying taxes.


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Junior Achievement: Our Community

Our classroom welcomed Mrs. Hewins on Tuesday, a volunteer with the Junior Achievement program. Please visit this link to learn more about the program. She will visit us Tuesday afternoons for the next several weeks to teach the class about community, jobs, needs vs. wants, goods and services and spending/saving money. This is fantastic exposure to financial literacy for our second graders. The essential learning targets for this program include: Students understand that money is earned and used to buy goods and services. Students understand the concept of saving money for the future.
Mrs. Hewins works at a medical supply company called Solstice Corporation located in the Knightville neighborhood. She is also a proud resident of South Portland and lives within the Skillin neighborhood. During her first lesson, she defined the key terms they will be using in this program (community, jobs, volunteer, skills) and engaged the students in differentiating between goods and services provided by our local businesses (Willows, Idexx, the mall, etc.). They also played a Tic-Tac-Toe game which involved listening to a job description and identifying the job that went with it. It is always exciting when someone new visits and we are already looking forward to next week!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

All About Polar Animals

All second graders have begun learning about animals of the Arctic and Antarctica. In this unit, students are researching an animal of their choice and writing their own nonfiction text based on the animal. They will include many text features including headings, diagrams, labels and a table of contents. Students have been hard at work for more than a week now locating information in a variety of nonfiction sources.

Here is a sneak peek of some of their work so far:


In the upcoming weeks, students will finish these books and create a visual display of their animals. They will also create a life cycle collage using an iPad app! This has been a productive and highly engaging week of learning and we are looking forward to the rest of it!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Introducing... Nonfiction!

This section of a nonfiction book has been "text-mapped."
Captions are highlighted in yellow, headings
are in purple and keywords are in blue.
We have shifted our reading focus from fiction to nonfiction. It is always an exciting change because students just LOVE to read about science and social studies topics. Specifically, we are looking closely at text features ("extra" features of a book that go beyond the main text to give us more information). There is a long list of text features but we have focused on the following: table of contents, keywords, photographs with captions and/or labels, glossary and diagrams/charts. We have also explored "text-mapping" in which we took a copy of a book and created a scroll with it. Students color coded different text features and then made observations about what they noticed. You can visit this site to find out more about text-mapping.
My reading group also made text feature "collages" as a visual reminder of what each feature looks like. These will be hung up in the classroom for easy reference. Even though we have just begun, students are doing a wonderful job with these new learning goals!
Students worked together to find examples of text features in paper copies of books to create these posters.