Friday, November 17, 2017

Week of 11/13 - 11/17

The Circus Ship Kinderkonzert
We were treated to a special concert presented by the Portland Symphony Orchestra. Please visit this link to learn more about the performance (scroll down to the "Brass Kinderkonzerts" section). The students really enjoyed learning about brass instruments including the trumpet, tuba, trombone and french horn.

Turkey Trouble
We read this humorous story about a turkey dressing up in various disguises to avoid becoming Thanksgiving dinner. Students brainstormed and created their own turkey disguises to go along with this fun book. They created "Wanted" posters for their turkeys, too.

Students worked with story problems with multiple addends and explored the math concept of commutative property of addition. They realized that the order of addends does not affect the sum. They did well writing equations to represent the story problems, too (for example: 3 + 4 + 3 = 10). We had great discussions about addition strategies. Students used connecting cubes, number lines, dot cards and illustrations to solve their stories.

Winter Clothing Reminder
It looks like cold weather is here to stay! Please help your children dress warmly with winter coats, hats and mittens. Once there is snow on the ground, boots and snowpants will be necessary, too.

Important Info
  • Early release is on Tuesday, Nov. 21st - children will be dismissed at 12:35pm. There is no school the rest of the week!
  • Parent-teacher conference sign-up sheets went home in red totes this week. I am working on a final schedule and will send home confirmation notices on Tuesday!
Mrs. Bradstreet

Thursday, November 9, 2017

11/6 - 11/9

All reading groups have moved forward a level in their guided reading texts. It is very important that your children get additional reading practice at home with their book bags. Thank you for taking the time to have your child read to you each weekend.
This week, we focused on two more reading strategies - Flippy Dolphin (change the vowel sound) and Skippy Frog (skip the tricky word and then go back and try again). Students also continued to self-monitor reading strategies.

After reading Growing Vegetable Soup, we brainstormed activities we enjoy doing with our families. Students wrote their own family activity stories, making sure to begin each sentence with an uppercase letter and end it with a period. We also explored the use of labels in pictures. Lois Elhert uses labels in Growing Vegetable Soup so many students used them in their own pictures.

We spent lots of time decomposing numbers in math. Students engaged in different scenarios where they were given a total and had to think of all of the combinations to make that total. For example, one scenario was that I had 9 vegetables - some of them were peas and some of them were carrots. How many of each could I have? Students were able to come up with all of the possible combinations of peas and carrots I could have, as well as the equations to match the combinations.

Reminder: There is no school tomorrow as we observe Veteran's Day. Have a great weekend!

Mrs. Bradstreet

Friday, November 3, 2017

Week of 10/31-11/3

Our focus reading strategies this week were Tryin' Lion (think about what makes sense) and Chunky Monkey (look for a small chunk in the word that you know). Students began to self-monitor as they read. First, I listened to them read and checked off the strategies I observed. Then, I asked them to name the strategies they used and compared it with my observations. They did an excellent job thinking about their own reading strategies. You can try this at home, too. As your child reads their book, ask them to name the strategies they used. This will support your child in meeting the learning target I can use strategies to decode words when I'm reading.

We read the story Daddy Calls Me Man to explore stories about family. After enjoying this beautifully illustrated story, students brainstormed a family member to write a story about. Our target was to write sentences with an uppercase letter at the beginning and a period at the end.

We revisited familiar math games from Unit 1 to practice counting back as a subtraction strategy. Children played Roll & Record Subtraction and Five in a Row Subtraction to practice this important skill. They had flexibility to use a math tool (such as a number line or connecting cubes) to assist them in subtracting. At the end of the week, we explored story problems and games with unknown and/or missing addends. Students were given the total (i.e. 7 cubes) and had to generate combinations to make the total. They could see that different combinations can add up to the same sum.

Upcoming Dates
  • Friday, Nov. 10th - no school (Veteran's Day)
  • Tuesday, Nov. 14th - KinderKonzert at the high school. We leave right at 9:10!

Thank you,
Mrs. Bradstreet

Friday, October 27, 2017

Week of 10/23-10/27

We focused on the Stretchy Snake decoding strategy this week. Students also engaged in various word work and comprehension activities to follow up with their leveled texts. Some groups worked on sequencing major events in their stories while other groups sequenced words from a favorite sentence in their books. There was also lots of work with phonemic awareness including segmenting syllables, identifying letter sounds and building consonant-vowel-consonant words such as sit and beg.

We read the book Chinatown by William Low and used it to inspire our own stories about special places. Students brainstormed, wrote and illustrated about a place special for their own families. They worked on beginning each sentence with an uppercase letter and ending with a period.

We finished unit 2 on Geometry and began unit 3 at the end of the week. This unit revisits addition and subtraction by focusing on specific, more efficient strategies to solve addition and subtraction problems. Students worked on "counting on" to solve addition problems while playing Roll & Record and Five in a Row. Ask your child to give you a demonstration of counting on!

Upcoming Dates

  • No school on Friday, Nov. 10th (Veteran's Day)
  • KinderConzert at the high school on Tuesday, Nov. 14th (we leave promptly at 9:10)
Mrs. Bradstreet

Friday, October 20, 2017

Week of 10/16 - 10/20

Reading Workshop
Reading groups began a new leveled text this week. We reviewed some of our decoding strategies and put them to work while reading. This week, we focused on Lips the Fish. It is important to remember that not all strategies work for all words. Good readers think about which strategy makes sense and sometimes tries multiple strategies to read a new word. They are bringing home books bags today so please encourage your child to read the book many times this weekend!

We read the book I Love Animals by Flora McDonnell and used the story to inspire our own writing. Students wrote about animals they love and gave reasons why. Good writers can think of an idea for a sentence and write a sentence with an uppercase letter at the beginning and a period at the end.

We dug deeper into our geometry learning this week in a few ways. We began to discriminate between 2D shapes by telling how shapes were the same or different. We also played a game called "Guess My Rule" where there was a  mystery rule and the class had to guess the rule after looking at two groups of shapes - one group that fit the rule and one group that did not. Partners also worked together to sort shape cards and make posters describing how they were sorted. Ideas for sorting included sorting by number of sides and curved shapes vs. straight lined shapes.

Number writing rhymes were sent home in red totes this week. They are on a green sheet of paper. We use these to remind us how to write numbers properly. The students loved them so much that they asked me to send them home! Please use these to help your child write their numbers correctly.

Mrs. Hartley showed us how to use the Book Creator app to design a class book about Skillin teachers and staff. Each student chose an adult to draw and write about. These will be compiled into a class book. Students also used the RAZ kids reading app and geometry math apps during reading and math workshop.

Mrs. Holt brought puppets to our classroom to teach us what happens to our facial muscles and voices when we experience different emotions. Children noticed how their cheeks and mouths moved up and down depending on whether they were smiling or not. They also heard how Mrs. Holt's voice changed when she used her puppet to show sadness.

Thank you,
Mrs. Bradstreet

Friday, October 13, 2017

Week of 10/10- 10/13

Book Bags
Children are bringing book bags home this weekend! Please give your child many chances to read (and reread) the book to you, other family members and even themselves.  There are reading strategies on the back if your child gets stuck on a word. Reading familiar books will help them build confidence and fluency. Book bags should be returned on Monday with the book inside of it!

We began weekly guidance lessons with Mrs. Holt. She will visit us every Wednesday for the next few months to teach us all about empathy, problem-solving and other healthy social-emotional skills using the Second Step program. This week, the class worked on "reading" facial expressions and recognizing feelings that are associated with those facial expressions.

We worked with 2D shapes in our new math unit. Children participated in activities to describe shapes and combine shapes to make new shapes and designs. In our technology class, they learned how to use the geometry apps Geoboard and Pattern Shapes to practice their new skills.

Thank you,
Mrs. Bradstreet

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Week of 10/2 - 10/5

Guided Reading
Reading groups began their first leveled texts of the year. We spent time "walking" through the pictures, making predictions and using the "Eagle Eye" decoding strategy when we got to an unknown word. We will continue to work with these same books next week. By Friday, children will be ready to bring their books home to share with you!

Writing Workshop

During Writing Workshop, we read a story titled When I Grow Up by Peter Horn. We used this story to inspire our own "I want to be ____. " stories of what we hope to be when we grow up. We brainstormed a class list of possible ideas and then students wrote and illustrated their own. We had everything from "I want to be a ballerina" to "I want to be a YouTuber!"

We finished our first unit on addition and subtraction and began our second unit in math which focuses on geometry (2D shapes). Students spent much of the week playing subtraction games to reinforce appropriate subtraction strategies and tools. They should be comfortable with the strategy of counting backward (beginning with the bigger number) in a subtraction problem. At the end of the week, we reviewed several 2D shapes including triangle, rectangle, circle and square. Students filled in abstract designs with pattern blocks. They were able to observe how different shapes can be fit together to make new shapes.

Important Information:
  • There is no school tomorrow or Monday.
  • We will begin weekly guidance lessons with Mrs. Holt next Wednesday.

Thank you,
Mrs. Bradstreet

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Week of 9/25 - 9/29

We ran "practice" guided reading groups this week. I met with small groups of children to review foundational reading skills such as letter/sound identification. Students were given sets of letter tiles and asked to spell CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words by identifying the first, middle and last sounds and finding the letters to match each sound. Students manipulated words by changing sounds to make new words. This was a great warm up for next week when we begin to read leveled books!

We began to work in our "Words Their Way" spelling notebooks. Groups of students sorted spelling words and pictures based on the spelling pattern of their group. For example, the yellow group sorted pictures based on beginning sounds, the blue group sorted by the -at and -an word families (hat, mat, can, man) and the orange group sorted by beginning consonant blends (such as br, sk, tr).

Subtraction Games
We played two math games to practice the concept of subtraction. The games are called "One or Two Less" and "5 in a Row: Subtraction."  We discussed strategies for subtraction which included counting back from the larger number. Students also used connecting cubes and a number line to solve subtraction problems.

Upcoming Dates
  • There is no school for students on Friday, 10/6 or Monday, 10/9
Mrs. Bradstreet

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
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!
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:
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!

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.

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.