Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Kevin Henkes Author Study


Over the past few weeks, our Reader's and Writer's Workshops have been immersed in the works of Kevin Henkes. Characters such as Chrysanthemum who is named after a flower gets made fun of at school and Lilly who is asked several times by the teacher to put her items away during class, and Owen who loves his blanket so much but is getting ready to go to school and cannot take it with him - are all characters that the children are making meaningful text-to-self and text-to-text connections. Finding so much in common with these characters make them real and lovable to the students.

We have been working on story elements (the characters, setting, problem, order of events, etc.) using graphic organizers. They have also been comparing and contrasting books and characters using Venn Diagrams. By learning to use these organizers in Reader's Workshop, it helps to develop their stories in a Response to Literature in Writer's Workshop. A class developed Response to Literature rubric was created in order for students to gauge how their writing compares to a standard response. These responses include a great beginning that makes sure to have the author's name and in the first few lines of the response. They learn how to start with a question or statement. The response also has a short retelling or summary of the story with a connection and then a closing which can give a personal feeling from the book.

We can't wait to share these writing responses in future posts and we know your response will probably be like that of Mr. Slinger's in Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse when all he could say was --"Wow"!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Computer Lab Time


Students had the opportunity to go to the Tech Lab with Mrs. Holtsman and get some practice on Apple Laptops. Mrs. Holtsman, our Technology Specialist, showed the students some specifics of the keyboard, such as using shift key, the colon and the backslashes. These are very important beginning lessons in learning how to log on specific sites. They had a lot of fun logging onto to a sight called http://www.buildyourwildself.com/.
We can not wait to go back and learn more about different learning sites.

Listening and watching how Mrs. Holtsman is logging onto the laptop.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Echoes Across the Day


We are very excited about our bulletin board this month. It features our Science space unit and also reflects on how we incorporated that theme throughout the day's lessons to make them more meaningful. It features Reader's and Writer's Workshops, Science and Math. In Reader's Workshop, students were learning about nonfiction conventions such as labeling, closeups, comparisons and cutaways. They made a book that sampled each of these major conventions. The piece chosen came from a book which compares Earth and Venus because they are just about the same size. In Writer's Workshop, another child chose to write a report on the stars and planets. In Math, we used star and planet word problems, and in Science, students created their own constellations and named them. These "Echoes Throughout the Day" unify the teaching and learning for the students. It is a wonderful way to bring cohesiveness to a unit and theme. Also, it worked out superbly with our "Sleepover Under the Stars" event!

Monday, February 7, 2011

100th Day of School for First Grade


On Thursday, we marked another milestone in First Grade - the 100th day of school! It is a very exciting day because we have been counting each day since the first day of school just waiting for the momentous 100th day event. Each day has been noted by affixing a dot sticker in a tens-grid. Students are taught place value using these tens-grids and also taught the base ten number system utilizing counting the days and marking the calendar. We enjoyed many activities that centered on the number of the day 100. In Reader's Workshop, every child read three or four books to equal 100. Afterward, they signed their names to the chart (above). In Writer's Workshop, each child was given "a hundred dollar bill" and asked to write about what they would buy with it which included cars, houses, and lots of animals!. They filled in numbers on a hundreds chart and stretched for 100 seconds. During lunch, we hid 100 Hershey Kisses around the classroom and when the children returned, they had a great time finding them and placing them on the big 100's chart (below). The day was capped off with "A Hundred Day Snack" whereby parents sent in in items such as Skittles, M&Ms, pretzel sticks, mini Oreos, crackers, red hots, and gummy bears. The children were given a big tens-grid and placed ten items in each section to create their own 100 day snack. Another great day...the hundredth day...in first grade!

Friday, February 4, 2011

"Make Way for Ducklings" Mystery Reader


Our very own Coach Hall was our mystery reader this week. Coach Hall reminisced about hearing her Grandmother T read her a favorite book called "May Way for Ducklings" by Robert McCloskey. Coming from the Boston area, this book mentions familiar locales, from Beacon Hill to Louisburg Square, and over the Charles River--often from a duck's-eye view. This story is about Mr. and Mrs. Mallard Duck who need to find a safe place to raise their eight ducklings. It follows the adventures of the ducklings with a happy ending on a little island pond where they follow Swan boats for peanuts. Afterward, Coach Hall had the children acting out different animals, including ducks, lions, and snakes. Then she shared some Boston cream cakes with the children for another very happy ending!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Word Family Focus During Skills Block


During the Skills Block portion of our day, we focus on two word families a week. On Monday, we introduce the word families. This week was the "-ake" and the "-ide" families. By writing on these blank picture cards, students brainstorm words that are in that family. For instance in the "-ake" family, there is rake, make, and stake. We review these words daily by pointing to each and having them say the rhyme and onset together "r-ake - rake." By teaching the children word families, they learn how to make multiple words from just knowing part of word. We say, "If I can spell "-ake", I can spell rake, take, and make." By the third day, students pick four words from the family. They draw a picture and write a short sentence using each word. In this way, we can check to see if they understand the word and use it appropriately in the sentence. Below is a sample of the activity.