"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents."
Quoted from the Illinois Reading Journal
"Time flies when you're having fun." The first graders and I have many times looked at the clock at 2:25 and commented that we were not ready to go home -- we were having too much fun. It's hard to believe that we have started the 4th quarter. We have learned a lot, but there's still LOTS and LOTS to do. In fact, during this quarter, we will apply the skills we've learned in order to master them more fully as well as explore new concepts. One of the life skills that we are practicing is analyzing problems and offering solutions. It's rewarding to step back and watch this incredible group of 6 and 7-year-olds work through complicated math problems together, collaborate to produce writing, and seriously discuss issues that arise as a result of our shared reading. Most of all, to apply these skills to their daily lives. You can be proud of them.
Literacy BlockPerformance Standards:
* apply comprehension skills: recognize and explain story structure, summarize selections, identify sequence, use inference to understand, draw conclusions based upon evidence in the selection
*decode words with /oo/ as in moon and book; plural nouns
*write a personal narrative
*identify verbs and pronouns
* analyze problems and offer solutions
At the nucleus of our literacy studies is the concept of treasure, specifically, family treasure. Early this school year, the students and I identified treasures they might put into a box - concrete examples. Now, as we are growing in our ability to reason, we debated the more abstract idea of treasures that are not "things" we can put into a box. Our study includes fictional accounts, personal narratives, poetry, and art. One of Three, the next personal narrative in our anthology, is a little girl's story about being one of three sisters. But, as often happens with siblings, later in the story the older sisters do not want the little sister to tag along. Then, the storyteller describes how she is one of three - when she is with mommy and daddy. Writer's workshop will turn to a study of personal narratives. The children will write personal narratives. I encourage them to talk to you about memorable events.
High Frequency Words (HFW) are words introduced with each story. Many of these are among the most frequently used in our language. Please study them with your child.
hand, keep, kind, sister, want, Mama, daddy
Spelling: No spelling words this week. Instead, we are focusing on base words and endings.
Math and Science are working hand-in-hand as we study physical science and measurement. We're learning that we can measure matter in different ways, and will work together to measure. We're exploring properties of matter, and changes to matter.
The students are taking online timed math drills in order to increase automatic response. You can practice at home using the websites below.
Math websites you and your child may enjoy:
Matter, Matter, Everywhere. Students and I will explore the concept of matter. New vocabulary will include terms such as properties, mass, liquid, solid and gases. I've found interesting material for our interactive board and from Science A-Z that we'll use in addition to our text and library resources.
The following quotation by Theodore Sizer eloquently conveys my philosophy
"A good school asks much of its students, makes them do the work the best
they can, and gets them into the habit of taking responsibility for their
lives. In doing so, it expresses our great respect for them, a respect that
ensures a quality education and a successful life."
WORD WALL: A wall of high frequency and vocabulary words. The words are
posted as we work with them. The purpose of the Word Wall is to keep
the words visible at all times. I teach the children to refer to the Word
Wall and encourage them to use it frequently.
READ THE WALL: Activities using the word wall for review and
reinforcement, riddles, and games such as Word Wall Cheer and Stand Up Sit Down.
CALENDAR TIME: An integral part of the curriculum, Calendar Time includes
math skills such as graphing, patterning, and counting; reading and writing;
social studies and science; reasoning skills, and much more. This time is
also used as "homeroom" time to discuss matters relating to classroom or
school wide activities.
CATERPILLAR: In conjunction with Calendar Time, the caterpillar is used for
counting by ones, twos, threes, fives, and tens; recognizing and practicing
odd and even numbers; patterning, and predicting.
BEAN CUPS: Simply, cups of beans used for counting, adding, and
subtracting. I also use the bean cups for early experiences with
multiplication and division.
SNACK: Each morning we have a short snack time. Clearly label your child's
snack with his/her name. Special thanks to parents who send fruit or
vegetables -- a zippered bag with your child's name is helpful. Place the
snack in the outside pocket of the book bag for easy accessibility. It is a
good idea to tell your child what you have packed for snack. Each year a
number of children eat their lunch instead of their snack and are unhappy at
lunch to find only crackers or such. For your child's sake, send only
nutritious finger foods.
DO NOT SEND JUICE OR DRINKS FOR MORNING SNACK.
Your child must be able to open his/her own snack.
Please send a napkin daily.
LUNCH: First grade is a time to develop responsibility. I expect your
child to behave appropriately, display proper and courteous manners, and
follow the rules set for lunch period and recess.
BIRTHDAYS: Many parents have donated books
for the classroom or school library in honor of their child's birthday.
GYM: WEDNESDAYS -- In accordance with the St. Joseph Parent's
Handbook, the children MUST wear gym uniforms and athletic shoes on gym
day. For your child's safety NO JEWELRY IS ALLOWED. Please refer to the
handbook for specific information. CLEARLY LABEL YOUR CHILD'S SWEATSHIRTS
ART: Please be sure to send an art smock to cover your
child's uniform as the children work with various mediums. Ask your child
to bring home the art smock periodically for laundering.
LIBRARY: The class focuses upon read aloud and skills that correspond to the
COMPUTER: This class focuses on learning computer skills
and working on new programs as well as integrating classroom projects
throughout the year.
SUPPLIES: With a few exceptions, supplies are collected and distributed as
needed throughout the year. Please only label your child's book bag, art
smock, pink pearl eraser, crayons, scissors, and pencil case.
HOMEWORK FOLDER: I'm often told by parents that first graders are nervous
about homework. So, here's the scoop...
Your child will take the homework folder home daily. All practice sheets and home-school communication are
in the folder. In first grade, it is acceptable, even advisable, to help your
child with homework. Read the directions to or with your child, allow him/her
to make the initial effort to complete the work, and then assist as needed. As the
year progresses, you may find that all you need to do is look over the
homework for errors and completion. All work is handed in the following
morning upon arrival. Please check the folder daily. The pockets are
clearly labeled "Leave at Home" and "Return to School." Please read on to learn about another important component of your child's "homework" ...
HOME PRACTICE: Your child may not receive traditional written homework
daily, however, I assign practice activities each day. The children are
expected to read or be read to at least 15 minutes every day as well as
practice vocabulary words, math facts, and spelling. When written practice
is assigned, it will be necessary for your child to listen to my directions
and relate the assignment to you. These activities will coordinate
with and extend the curriculum. Be aware that satisfactory completion of
home practice will be reflected on your child's report card. It is
important to establish a routine immediately. This should include a
quiet place free from the distractions of TV and radio. It is beneficial to
allow your child a short playtime and snack immediately after school and
then begin home practice activities.
HOME-SCHOOL COMMUNICATION: Throughout the school year your child will
receive notes and forms that require a parent/guardian signature and must be
returned to school. I begin asking for such communication the day after it
is sent home.
ALL MONEY SENT WITH YOUR CHILD should be placed in an envelope or zippered
bag. Include the following information on all such communication. Please
PRINT neatly -- soon your child will be able to read this information and
proudly place it in the appropriate collection location.
Student's full name
Content Identification (e.g., book order, lunch)
SUBSCRIPTIONS: Periodically, I send home forms for books, magazines, and
software. Please do not feel obligated to purchase these items.
LOST AND FOUND: Clearly label ALL of your child's personal belongings.
Sweaters, sweatshirts, mittens, and boots all look the same to first graders
and their teacher!
CONFERENCES: I am always willing to listen to your concerns and ideas. If
you ever need to speak with me, please call the school office and leave a
message. I will return your call as soon as possible so that I can discuss
your concerns or schedule a mutually convenient appointment time. Please
know that my early morning is spent in preparation and organization time for
the school day and that after school there may be previously scheduled
meetings or appointments.
LISTENING: It is necessary for the children to listen carefully and then
follow directions the first time. In a world filled with so many sounds and
distractions, listening seems to be a skill that is seldom practiced. At
the beginning of the year I "take it slowly." Later, I will say the
directions one time and then ask for questions. The children are expected
to listen not only to me but also to the questions asked by their
classmates. Please assure your child that it is acceptable to raise his/her
hand and ask for help if there is something he/she does not understand.
RESPONSIBILITY: First grade is a good time to allow your child to develop
responsibility. Your child is responsible for completing their work and
handing it in each day. All of the work I assign can be finished if your
child uses their time wisely. Seat work is a review of previously learned
skills. I do not assign seat work that can't be completed independently.
If your child tells you that they are unable to complete the seat work,
please let me know so I can monitor your child's independent work skills more
HANDWRITING: Some of the children have developed bad habits in the
formation of the letters and now is the time to correct these habits.
Once a letter is practiced, the students are expected to form it properly. I also stress
proper handwriting position and pencil grip. Hopefully, your child is practicing at home.
Perhaps you may want to remind them. CURSIVE HANDWRITING: You are doing your
child a disservice by encouraging or allowing them to use cursive
handwriting. The fine motor skills of a six- or seven-year-old child are not
developed enough to progress to cursive before they have mastered manuscript.
Working together, we will have a wonderful year. Thank you.