Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Feast in Room 104

On Tuesday, our class celebrated a favorite holiday for many, Thanksgiving. For the past few weeks, we have been learning about the Pilgrims journey to the New World... how the Mayflower was the second ship (the Speedwell was the first, but it sprang a leak and it had to return to England.) The students learned how the Native Americans helped the settlers survive by teaching them how to grow crops and hunt in this new land. Also, students learned that the Pilgrim children were just like them - they loved to learn, play, and listen to stories. For our celebration day, we read a few books, namely,"The First Thanksgiving" and "The Plump and Perky Turkey." We decorated cookies to look like turkeys, pine cones that looked like turkeys, and crafted a "thankful turkey" with feathers that listed what we are thankful for. The best part of the whole day was our Thanksgiving Feast. Parents sent in food items and we supplied the "chicken nuggets" as our turkey representation. We had string beans, mac and cheese, corn, fruit, rolls, pumpkin pie, cookies, and brownies. We wanted it to be a feast that the kids would love and remember!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Learning About the Pilgrims and the Mayflower

As we were walking to lunch a few weeks ago, one of our students said, "We need to get our Pow Wow stuff out like the other classes." It's hard for the current First Graders to understand that we don't have the Pow Wow celebration in First Grade, just Kindergarten. But it is a time to reflect and talk about our tribe from last year and discuss what we remember about it. For the past few weeks, we have been learning about the Pilgrims, Mayflower, and how the Native Americans helped these early settlers through harsh winters. We have been reading a few chapters a day of the book, "...If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620." This book is written in a question and answer format which is very familiar to the students because we just finished a writing unit on nonfiction question and answer books. Questions such as "Who were the Pilgrims?", "What could the children take with them on the trip?", and "Did the children go to school?" are a few of the very interesting questions in this book. Students also learned that the Pilgrims had to stay in the same clothes for months and one of the first things they did when they came to shore was wash their clothes!
We are complimenting this text with a class book where students are drawing the Mayflower, Pilgrims, Native Americans, and of course turkeys. They are writing some fun facts that they have learned about the Pilgrims journey to the New World in their books. The students have learned that the Pilgrims were thankful to their Native American friends because without them they would have never survived. For the Pilgrims, it was a time to give thanks and we share that tradition with them on Thanksgiving Day!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Look at Nonfiction Writing - Question/Answer Books

Our class has just finished a three week unit in Writer's Workshop on pattern books. A pattern book is a book that has a repeating line or phrase written in it. A familiar pattern book is "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" and "The House That Jack Built." We took pattern books a step further by diving into question/answer pattern books and then one step further into nonfiction question/answer books. These are books about a nonfiction topic (in this case Soccer). A repeating question is asked and an answer is given directly after the question. Carson added a few nonfiction conventions: a Table of Contents, captions and close-ups are added to the her nonfiction pattern book. This book has an extra added feature - look at the bottom of each page - it grows to incorporate a sketch of what the previous question was and the added element of the new answer. Read along and learn about soccer!

What is this thing? It is a soccer ball that kick with your feet and try to score a goal. And it is white and it is a sphere and the shapes are black.

What is this thing? It is the net that the soccer ball goes in when you score a goal. And it is made of medal and strings.
What is this thing? It is the team shirt that you wear on soccer games. Everybody wears this shirt on soccer games.

What is this thing? It is the coach that tells you where to stand. And he yells, "Stand there."

What is this thing? It is your team mates that help you score a goal and they say pass.

What is this thing? It is the other team that tries to steal the ball from you. And if he does they will score a goal.

I like soccer because it is fun and you get to meet people and I like to kick the ball from side to side.

Every Day Counts - Everyday and Everyway!

Every morning for about 10-15 minutes, we engage in math instruction that supplements our daily Math block. It is called Every Day Counts. The bulletin board is transformed into an interactive math roadway. Each month new activities are added to the board to provide a continuous learning experience for students. By building on concepts a little at a time, every day, children gain confidence in their mathematical thinking.
Students use the calendar to review the days of the week, analyze and predict patterns, match quantities with numbers, compare numbers, and develop number sense. A Number Builder is used for students to see number combinations, use the language of addition and subtraction, tell addition and subtraction stories, and record number sentences. Counting Tape and Ten Grids are used to compare and order quantities, group and count by tens, fives, and ones. The Clock helps students learn how many minutes in an hour, count by fives and ones, and read the minute hand. In October, a Picture Graph was added to collect, record, and interpret the data. Measurement provides the opportunity for students to estimate and compare lengths of objects in the classroom.
Each month, as new elements are added and taken away, students are learning from their discoveries. Their observations and thinking of Math are being developed every day with Every Day Counts!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Oh Canada!!

Welcome to our class Matt! Thanks for the great introduction. In our class, we have several girls and boys who play soccer and softball. They write about their experiences in Writer's Workshop. Shortly, we will have some sample writing pieces on the blog to share. We hope that our blog will help you with your education courses and your future as an educator. We love our neighbors to the north and look forward to hearing from you.
O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!

(Learned that from watching lots of Philadelphia Flyers hockey games!) (Sorry about the playoffs last year!)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Skills Block - Interactively Fun!

We have a jammed-packed Skills Block in the morning. This is where the students get to practice phonics, phonemic awareness, and word building. Each day we "work on" a morning message. This message is written on the board and contains about three to four sentences. It usually includes what the day is; what the resource for the day is; and a miscellaneous sentence. The sentences do not contain any punctuation. They may contain any of the following: contractions, misspellings, punctuation, capitalization and/or vocabulary words. Students take turns putting quotation marks, commas, circling vocabulary words, and correcting misspellings. After this exercise, (about ten minutes), we take five minute increments and teach a few antonyms, new contractions, new word families, or introduce another skill. For the last ten minutes of the Skills Block, students have the opportunity to practice a learned skill. In the picture, the children are playing "Concentration" with contractions. Partner groups are given cards with two words on it and asked to find its' contraction. For instance, "do not" would be on one card and the student would have to know the contraction is "don't". The cards are placed face down and students take turns flipping over two cards at a time and trying to find the match. Interactively practicing these skills are a favorite time of Skills Block for the children and it also allows us time to monitor their learning while everyone is having fun!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Special Halloween Surprise

As a special Halloween treat, we had a big surprise for our students as they came in from recess. The table was set up for the world famous "Witchy Poo Brew" - (a Halloween Snack Mix). We mixed together "snake eyes" chocolate chip morsels, "butterfly wings" Fritos, blood drops "red hots", cat claws (sunflower seeds), worms (gummy worms), and the list went on and on. The students were "oooing" through the entire process. We dumped cupfuls of the ingredients into a large punch bowl and stirred as needed. When the children went to resource, we had the bowl "cooking". When they came back, they had a nice Halloween snack mix bagged up waiting for them at their desks.
However, the fun didn't stop there. We played our "Looking for Dracula" song one more time. This time, the kids were given their own set of "fangs" to use while singing the song. There were a lot of laughs this Halloween day...and hopeful one that the children will never forget!