Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fire Safety Month - A Visit from Fireman Chris


Today we had a special visitor come to our class and talk about fire safety. His name is Fireman Chris. Chris entertained the children by promoting fire safety in a kid-friendly way. The students listened and watched a fascinating slide show then asked numerous questions about smoke, fire, and the causes of house fires. Pictures were shown of kitchens, houses, and forests on fire. Did you know that there is a special fire truck just for putting out woods on fire? It's called a Woods Firetruck.
Fireman Chris put on his gear piece by piece to show the children how the clothing is layered to protect him when he has to go into a burning building. He talked through the oxygen mask and wanted children to see that they shouldn't be afraid if they see a fireman dressed like this, especially in a fire. Chris did demo lesson of crawling on the floor and feeling the wall, teaching the children to stay low to the ground and touch the wall to find their way out. Afterwards, the students had the chance to feel the jacket and other firefighting gear and were amazed at the weight of it all. We want to thank Fireman Chris for taking time on his day off to spread the word about fire safety to our class.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Looking for Dracula - A Halloween Treat

Fall Festivities Abound!!

The news is in -- our pumpkins won Dr. Jones' pick. We were excited at the announcement on Thursday!! Our Literary Character Parade was a fantastic success. Afterwards the students had centers that included arts and crafts activities. Enjoy the pictures of the day!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Aussie Pumpkins Like You've Never Seen Before!


Fall is a wonderful time of year at our school. We have great traditions that make this time of year memorable for the children. There are three events that will take place this week that makes this season such a festive one. The Literary Pumpkin Contest, the Literary Character Parade, and the Fall Carnival.
The first event is the Literary Pumpkin Contest. Our entry this year is a representation of the book, "The ABCs of Australia." This is a favorite book of our class. Each child was assigned a letter of the Aussie alphabet. Students were assigned this as a "family project". All pumpkins were due this week and put on display in our school lobby. As you can see, they are great! We have the Aborigine, the Harbour Bridge, the Great Barrier Reef, kangaroos, cricket, a eucalyptus tree, and a yabby represented. I'll let you know if we win!!
The second event is the Literary Character Parade. Kindergarten and First Grade students are invited to come to school dressed as their favorite literary character. Children parade the halls of the school, proudly showing the book that their costume represents. Afterwards, we have fall center activities in the classroom.
The third event comes at night. The Fall Carnival starts with families trick-or-treating through the school with teachers handing out candy at their doors. The carnival is waiting for them afterwards. All kinds of activities await the visitors at the carnival: dunking booth, rock climbing, ball-toss, and other homemade games. This year our class is sponsoring "The Aussie Lollipop Tree." The plan is when children walk up to the "tree" they will be greeted with a replica of the Australian Zoo. (Pictures will follow) The excitement is growing...Thursday is the day!!

Friday, October 17, 2008

UNF Education Students Visit Weekly and More!


For the past few weeks, we have had two University of North Florida Education Majors observe in our classroom as a requirement for their college course. C. and K. come in for a few hours on Wednesday and have the opportunity to observe a morning in our first grade class. They assist with literacy centers, work with small groups on literacy related activities and assist with individual students. Last week, K.'s assignment was to do a read aloud with the class and lead a group discussion of the book. The book was "The Seasons of Arnold's Apple Tree" by Gail Gibbons and the children made text-to-self and text-to-text connections with the book. It was followed by a writing activity. After previewing the guided reading books last week, they followed up by leading their own respective guided reading groups this week.
The experience they are getting by being in a classroom environment and seeing first hand the workings of a class is so much more valuable than reading about it in a book. We are very happy that these future teachers will remain with us throughout this semester of their Junior year at UNF.
On a related note, we would like to welcome J.P. from Regina, Saskatchewan. She goes to the University of Regina and is also majoring in Elementary Education. J.P. will be reading about what our class is doing as part of her education course. She will visit our blog and comment her thoughts and ideas. We look forward to hearing from you J.P.!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Partner Reading With Fourth Grade

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Reader's Workshop has a brand new twist to it on Fridays. Students from Mrs. Constande's and Ms. Anderson's Fourth Grade class has been partnering up with our class for part of our Reader's Workshop. Last Friday, they were introduced to each other. Their class shared a poem and got familiar with their new reading partners. This week, First Grade students brought their book bins to the floor to share with their their new partner. The fourth graders brought a questionnaire to get to know their little friends better. So after a few books were read, the questions were asked of the first grader. The topic: "What would you change if your were in charge of the world?" Some of the answers were thoughtful: "I would get rid of allergies" and some answerer were comical, "I would have a nicer sister!" At closing, we shared a few of these papers with the whole and group and had a great time learning about each other. These meetings will benefit both grades. Our first grade students have the opportunity to read a book to a "big kid" and the fourth grade student will have the chance to help a younger student with reading strategies; thus, sharpen his/her own reading skills. When it was time to go, many hugs were given out as the older children left and as one student murmured, "I can't wait until next Friday -- I'm going to find a good book to read to her."

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Guided Reading - An Intregral Piece of the Puzzle


Now that the diagnostic testing is completed, we have formed what is called, "Guided Reading" groups. Children are grouped according to their instructional reading level. This is one level higher than their independent reading level. We meet with a small group of students (2-5) a few times a week which allows us one on one time to see, hear, and watch individual students in the reading process. Before reading, a leveled book is introduced. There is a conversation about it to build interest, especially for A-D readers. The next step is hearing the students read softly while we listen. As students are reading, we decide on what the teaching point will be, according to where a difficulty was noticed. After reading, students are engaged in meaningful talk about the book, asked comprehension questions, and strategies are reviewed (or introduced, as needed). Guided Reading allows us the opportunity to observe individual students in the reading process. When writing anecdotal notes afterwards, we chart the strategies used and reference new ones to work on. Guided reading gives us time to celebrate all levels (emergent, transitional, and fluent) readers daily in our classroom!