Saturday, October 30, 2010

Character Parade and Fall Fun Festivities


It was another festive day in Hog Heaven as our First Graders came dressed as their favorite literary characters. We had everyone from Toto to Darth Vader present and accounted for. The day started with a Character Parade that went around the first floor of the school. Students brought a book with them to represent their costume. Older grades lined the halls and cheered on the Kindergarten and First Grade students as many of them remembered when they were the ones parading through the halls. Afterward, students worked on center activities including Q-tip skeletons, stained glass (tissue) pumpkins, and bat hats. In the afternoon, students also tinkered creating their own haunted house. In the evening, many students returned to school for trick-or-treating through the hallways and then enjoyed the fall carnival on the school grounds. October ended most memorably for all.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mystery Reader Delights Students


Today we had a mystery reader come to visit. Mrs. W. came in to surprise her son and the class. Dressed up as the Reader Queen, she delighted the students with "Trick or Treat" by Bill Martin, Jr. Also, Lola, the Chihuahua was the featured guest and had treats to give to all the children. Everyone loved the surprise visit and we are looking forward to having more mystery readers come in to class and read aloud a favorite book to the students.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Mem Fox Author Celebration - Skyping and so much more...


Today we celebrated the end of our four week unit on the literature of Mem Fox. Our culminating activities started off first thing this morning with technology. We were lucky enough to have a teacher friend of Mrs. Holtsman's skype with us from Australia. Amanda Marrinan is a second grade teacher in an Australian school and she told us all about what her students are doing at this time. Also, she told us that she had met Mem Fox through a workshop she attended. Ms. Marrinan showed the students samples of the food that was featured in the book "Possum Magic", including pavlova (a dessert similar to meringue with fruit), lammington (a sponge cake with chocolate and coconut), and Tim Tams (a chocolate biscuit). Each first grade class prepared a question to ask her, such as "Have you ever been to the Australian Zoo?" and "Does your class read Mem Fox books too?" It was a wonderful visit and kick off to our "Down Under" day.
Next, we had a former student of our school who was born in Australia play the digeridoo for the students. He explained the background of the instrument and its markings. That was another wonderful experience for the children.

The rest of the day was filled with arts and crafts, reader's theater, books about Australian animals and a Mem Fox book that we saved until last called, "The Goblin and the Empty Chair." They were captivated by this thought-provoking story. Enjoy hearing Mem Fox read it to you:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Writers Sharing Writing


Over the past few weeks, we have been enjoying the literature of Mem Fox. In Reader's Workshop, the children have made connections to her works in Reader's Response notebooks, charted similarities and differences on Venn Diagrams, and retold the stories using story maps. In Writer's Workshop, we used Mem Fox as our Author Mentor. We wrote great beginnings like Mem Fox, told stories with some great details like Mem Fox, and always stayed in the moment for a great ending, just like Mem Fox. As our mentor, her books were used as a model for students to borrow some of the wonderful ideas and techniques of Mem Fox in our Small Moment (personal narrative) pieces. One of the classes' favorite activities is to share their writing with each other, much like they do when partner reading. They take turns and read their writing to each other. Each reader/writer can use this time to make edits to their writing from suggestions from their peers. They compliment each other on the great writing they are doing and everyone feels very special. They take this reading and editing time very seriously...as you can tell from the pictures. Mem Fox would be very proud...as are we!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Open House: Settling into First Grade


Last night was our First Grade Open House. Students have been in school for 31 days as of yesterday, and their learning and growth have been amazing. The children were very excited to show-off the classroom to parents. We called the children to the floor as we usually do with our morning song, "We're Going to be Friends" by Jack Johnson. After a few housekeeping items, we started our Power Point featuring a day in the life of a first grader. From reading books in the hallway before school starts till the end of the day, parents received a snapshot of the day. After the Power Point, students took their parents on a self-directed tour of the classroom using a flow chart. Included on places to visit were the Math Counts board, book bins, vocabulary word wall, class library and class promise. It was wonderful to see everyone and share our great learning.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Mem Fox Author Study - The Beginning


Our author study for the next few weeks will be on the works of Mem Fox. Mem was born in Melbourne, Australia and at the age of six months was brought to Africa with her missionary parents. The mission, Hope Fountain in Zimbabwe used to be called Rhodesia. She married and Englishman and finally moved back to Australia and had a daughter. She is an advocate for child literacy. She said: "Literacy has become the great focus of my life — it’s my passion, my battle and my mission and my exhaustion." Mem has received numerous awards ranging from the Dromkeen Medal for Distinguished Services to Children’s Literature in 1990 to Children’s Language and Literature Achievement Award from the Speech Pathology Association of Australia, 2007. When visiting her website, be sure to go the "How to Read Aloud" section. It is loaded with wonderful pointers on how to make reading to a child a magical and delightful experience for both parties.

With the first week of our author study completed, the students have heard the books Possum Magic, Night Noises, Time for Bed, and Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge. In Reader's Workshop, we have started an attribute chart listing the title, character, events and interesting language of each book. We also started a chart on Mem's interesting life, took out our map and found Australia, and looked through piles of her books to get students excited about reading them. In Writer's Workshop, we learn how to develop our own small moment writing by using Mem Fox as our mentor. We are anxious to get the second week of our study underway and can not wait to hear the books Koala Lou, Shoes for Grandpa, and Hattie and the Fox.