October 25, 2014
I want to give you a glimpse into our classroom at reading workshop time. First grade readers are showing increasing independence in their daily reading tasks such as finding their own quiet place and choosing their own independent reading books. They are transitioning nicely to word work tasks and writing-about-reading-tasks on their own—getting materials, finding a smart seat and getting started to the best of their ability. These may seem like small accomplishments but make no mistake—independence is achieved in baby steps. Students are showing pride in their ability to figure out what they need to start a new task, then, getting to it without teacher intervention. That is huge! What am I doing? Watching them figure it out and settle in. Then, I am calling readers to meet and read with me for specific instruction. I choose a book that is a bit more challenging to read, teach a new strategy for comprehension, reading fluency or vocabulary. Then we practice the strategy until the student has the confidence to try it on their own. These small groups meet with me every day, and together we talk about reading, practice reading, listen to reading and write about reading. Soon, we will add another component to our daily reading called read to someone. Students will learn the behaviors of reading partners—choosing an agreeable book, the behaviors of reading partners and the listening skills required to read successfully with another person. I hope that you are taking time to read to your child at home—I know how difficult it can be at the end of an exhausting day to find those ten minutes. Make it a priority because your child needs to hear an adult voice read a story. Try reading just one page a night of a classic such as The Wizard of Oz or Peter Pan. Find any number of read-alouds on YouTube and listen/watch together at bedtime. Choose the read-to-me feature on Big Cat Books (free app) or any of the books on www.storyonline.net and listen with your child.
Writers are filling their writing folders with many true stories about friends and family. They are learning to collect story ideas from the things that happen in everyday life. Our focus is the strategies writers use to make their stories interesting such as including important details, beginning with a super sentence (when, who, what) and ending with a sentence that signals that the story is over. Students often respond to the image of an ice cream sundae with a cherry on top or a beautifully wrapped gift topped with a great big bow. The cherry and bow are the finishing touch. For first graders, this means writing how they felt— I had so much fun! Or giving an impression-- That movie was funny! I hope to share some of this work with you at conferences.
Scientists use some of the same skills that artists use to show what they notice. For example, scientists and artists are really good at seeing and wondering about details. Students are using this attention to detail to sketch and paint beautiful fall scenes. They are adding small details such as the veins on a leaf and talking about how those parts bring food and water to the growing plant. They are noticing the vertical lines on a pumpkin, and soon will learn what those lines represent (Do you know?). They are commenting that the stem of the pumpkin is where it was attached to the vine when it was alive, but now we say it was once alive. I am amazed at the concentration and peacefulness present in our classroom during projects like this. I know that you will be amazed too—this art will be displayed outside our door. Photos coming soon!
Our Greenbrook Assembly this week was themed Anti Violence and Anti Bullying. Mrs. Lillian took time to meet with us to share a story and talk about what bullying means in the life of a first grader. The students understand that they can take action toward anyone who uses words or aggressive behavior to make them feel bad. We practiced using words like Stop saying or doing that! We reminded students that adults at Greenbrook are here to help and should be told every time words and mean behaviors make them feel upset. Please talk about this topic at home and sign the behavior agreement in your child’s folder. You will see that the children have already signed it—we did it in class—and they understand what their responsibilities are at school.
Those students who do not wish to participate in our fall celebration on October 31 will be offered an activity away from the classroom. Please let me know if you would like your child to participate in the alternate activity and I will take care of it. Contact Mr. Teza if you would like to send a supply from the list that was put in your child’s folder. Other than perishable food, you may send in those supplies any day this coming week. Some of the activities that we have planned are: pumpkin ring toss, a spider game and craft, scarecrow relay and a delicious treat. Students are permitted to wear a costume to the celebration if they choose. Be sure that the costume is easily put over your child’s clothing and does not require that they completely undress to wear it. Have them practice putting it on at home. We will take a few minutes to put costumes on after gym and immediately begin the fall celebration. Students will wear their costumes home. Do not send masks or props. We are not permitted to allow candy, so do not send goody bags. Thank you for your cooperation.
We are collecting Box Tops for Education so remember to clip your box tops and save them! You can send them in any time, we have a collection box in our room. Thanks so much for the recent box tops and to Mrs. I for adding her personal collection to ours!
As we enter this season of fall celebrations, we remember our families celebrating Diwali with well-wishes!
Ask your first grader…
*In the story The Leaf Blew In, remember and tell one thing that happened because the leaf blew in. Do you remember how the story ended?
*What do writers do when they come to a hard word that they really want to put in their story?
*Tell about a strategy you can use to figure out ways to make number 7.
*Are these equations true? 5+2=7 and 2+5=7 Prove it.
*When you can work independently, what does that mean?
*How is the weather changing? How do some living things get ready for colder weather?
Please join us for Bedtime Story Hour on Wednesday evening 10/29 at 7:00 p.m. This is free event for K-2 and younger siblings who would enjoy some coxy bedtime stories, cookies and milk. Children may wear their pajamas and bring a favorite stuffed animal!
Enjoy the fall weather!
Mrs. Gail Magid
1st Grade Teacher
Greenbrook Elementary School