Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuesday Tales

Mashal wrote the most wonderful lead in her ABC story. She invites the reader to go on an ABC Adventure! I can't wait till we get it published and up for everyone to read! Great job, Mashal!!!!

We went to the library between our reading and writing workshops. Don't forget...Tuesday is library day!

I met with two reading groups today. Don't forget to ask your child if they have book to read to you.'s important that these books come back to school the next day. If you can't read it with your child the night they bring it home, please write me a note, but RETURN it to school. They need it for readers' workshop time. They can bring it home the next night, but again, return it to school. Do not keep it at home!

Tomorrow we will have a visitor in the room filming the shared reading lesson and the small group reading lesson.

Have a great night!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Tales from Monday

We continued to work on our ABC books. We read the book, The Z Was Zapped by Chris Van Allsburg and took a look at how he organized his book. Alisha and Natalie finished their ABC Books and they were so GREAT, I had to send them to the office!!!! They got to read their books to Mr. Burger! We will hang their books outside our classroom for everyone to read, plus, we will be working to put it on PhotoStory, where you will be able to see her writing and illustrations, and hear them read. Great job, ladies!

In reading, we learned that good readers take a picture walk before they begin a book, activating their schema. (Schema: what you know) I read The Little Yellow Chickens House and modeled how it connected to what I knew about the book, The Little Red Hen.

I also began small group/guided reading groups today. When students meet with me in a reading group, after reading with me, they take the book home. They have to read it at least three times either to three different people or three times to the same person. The listener then listens as the student retells the story. Sometimes, they have additional work to do. There is a sheet with the book where I indicate what must be done. Please ask your child if they have a book to read to you. It must be returned the next day.

In math, first graders worked on understanding the calendar and second graders worked on patterns in the hundreds chart. You will hear me talk about the hundreds chart quite a bit. They should be able to "picture" the number chart in their mind at any time. This is for number sense and mental math.

Tuesday is library day. Be sure and remind your child to return their books.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Mystery Reader Sept. 26

Happy Birthday, Grier. Hope you are having fun with your grandparents!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Fun!

2nd graders took their Math MAP test today. I'll be able to pull their reports tomorrow. I'm sure they did very, very, well!

Today was Griers birthday and what a surprise she had! Her grandparents from Maine came to visit and were our Mystery Readers today!!!! Happy Birthday, Grier!

My camera and video recorder's batteries died right in the middle of taking pictures. I'm recharging my batteries right now, so check the blog tomorrow for pictures of our 1st Mystery Readers!

Now that all the testing is done, I will be able to start reading, writing, word work and math small groups next week. This is where I can teach to your child's individual needs in order to help them succeed.

Have a GREAT weekend!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tales from Thursday

We continue to write our ABC books. I've been able to conference with quite a few of them. I'm also finishing up assestments so that I can be more focused in my teaching and meeting their academic needs. I've been able to pull one small group for interactive writing and they are now publishing their ABC story.

In reading, we are working on a readers' theater: Old Black Fly by Jim Aylesworth. This is an ABC book, but it is also written in rhyme. We hope to present it to Mr. Aylesworth when he visits our school in November. I also hope we can invite parents in for a presentation of our books and our readers' theater.

In Math we worked on our math menu, exploring number sense. We also went to PE and Music.

Tomorrow we have art. 2nd graders have a math MAP test. A few first grade students will be taking a reading test for further evaluation of their reading needs.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wednesday Wows!

The BIG event today was Nature Dan from the Bartlett Nature Center. I took lots of pictures and I'll work on getting them up on the WIKI and Blog this weekend. In the meantime, here's Isabella with a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach on her head! Anna wasn't too fond of it either!

Tomorrow we have PE and Music. Be sure and wear gym shoes. Don't forget Friday is MAP testing for 2nd grade (Math) and reading for a few 1st graders.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tuesday Tales

The ABC books are coming along. I'm seeing quite a bit of variety. A couple are publishing their books now and when they are done I'll put them on the wiki for you to see.

We read another TIME for kids today and then went to the library. We also worked some more on our new vocabulary words. You can click on the link to the right to take a look at them. Try to use them in your conversations whenever possible.

Math workshop was explorations in Base Ten blocks and the Math Menu. I was involved in meetings outside the room, so we had a substitute during math.

Tomorrow should be a lot of fun with Nature Dan. Unfortunately, our butterflies, ladybugs, and mealworms have not arrived. But, our two tadpoles are now frogs!

Friday second graders will take their Math MAP test. A few first graders will take additional reading tests.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday Marvels

We changed our schedule today. I wanted to make sure that we had enough time for writing, so after Liberty Live, we move right into the writing workshop time. They finish their Daily Pages (writers' notebook) and then they can get out their writing folder and begin. During this time, I will pull one small group for specific teaching. Then we will have the writing lesson and go back to writers' workshop. I can then again pull small groups and/or conferencing. This gives them plenty of time to write. Today we looked at different types of books and how we could use their format to write our ABC books.

Next we have readers' workshop followed by word work.(Today we read Time for Kids). We begin math just before lunch and finish up after lunch.

Tomorrow we have library, so don't forget to return your library books.

As a reminder, Homefun goes home on Monday but it is DUE back to school on Friday. Help your child be responsible and return it on time.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Fun!

We had a VERY busy day!

First, we went to our art and then enrichment period. When we came back, we sang Happy Birthday to Isabella, then watched our video for A Room With a View.

We immediately went to our Bus Evacuation Drill. Even if your child doesn't ride a bus, we do take them for field trips. We have practice drills so that we can be safe when riding a bus.

When we came back we began watching our Beginning of the Year video, but then went to the Computer Room for our MAP test. Today we took our reading test. Next Friday we will take Math. (2nd graders only). Some students will take further testing next week if they did not meet certain benchmarks. As soon as I have the results I will be in touch with you.

After lunch we did our second on line project: Oreo Cookie Count.

Each student had 2 attemps to stack oreos in a tower. Bela had the winning total: 16

Here's a picture of Bela building the winning stack:

We'll further discuss the results on Monday, creating a class graph and average.

Enjoy the weekend and don't forget to read!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Beginning of School Year Video

The long awaited video:

September Room With a View!

We are participating with schools all over the country in a Room With a View! We will take pictures in the same locations, every month and talk about how the weather changes. We will then look at the videos or pictures of schools across the country and learn about weather and children in other locations. Here's our September contribution:

Check out our wiki: to see every month as we post them as well as the link to the other schools!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wednesday Wonders

Here's Grier reading a GREAT book: quietly, thinking, focusing on her reading! What a reader!

We talked about The Art Lesson and how it is an autobiography of a small point in Tomie dePaolo's life, and how he stood up for himself, and how he began learning about art. We also began a timeline of books we are reading. After looking at another of his books, 26 Fairmont Ave., we determined that The Art Lesson was set in the 1930's.

In math workshop we worked on place value and problem solving. They each have a problem solving log to keep track of their growth this year.

In writing we read Matthew's ABC's. In this book, a teacher has 25 students, all named Matthew. We saw how the author orgainzed the book through word choice to create an ABC book.

We continue to observe our tadpoles. Here's Alisha as she carefully observes their changes.

I will be at a meeting at district office all day tomorrow. Although I have talked to the class about my expectations, please reiterate with your child how this is a guest teacher, that the rules are the same: follow the 4C's.

There won't be a post tomorrow. See you Friday!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tuesday Thrills!

We reread the book The Art Lesson and then wrote what we thought the book was mostly about. Tomorrow we will share our thinking.

Today was library day. Be sure and help them remember their books every Tuesday!

1st graders worked on bigger/smaller numbers and 2nd graders worked on counting currency.

We added to our anchor chart on ABC books and spent time writing our own.

Have a great evening and don't forget to READ!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday Marvels!

Today we read the book The Art Lesson by Tomie dePaola. I chose this book as most students love to draw and they would be able to connect with the character in the book. The focus of the lesson was to help them understand that readers think about the words and pictures in books becaue it spurs connections, questions, and even some outrage (!) as we read and listen to the story of Tomie dePaola's early experiences with school and art. We will reread the book tomorrow, discuss it further, and then write and/or draw what we think the book was mostly about.

In math, first graders worked on the number line, adding and subtracting one more and one less. They also worked on patterns. Second graders worked on the number grid with numbers over 100 and played coin top it.

In writing, we began an anchor chart of Jerry Pallotta's ABC books (non fiction/informational). We will continue with this tomorrow.

I also wanted to share Grier's writing. I used the ELMO so all could see how she is writing her ABC book. There is LOTS of voice in this:

A is for Animal Alphabet Book!
A is for animal alphabet book! Hi, Reader! Want to go on an animal adventure? Great! We start with Aa, you know the alphabet. Let's go!

A is for anteater. "Slup! I love ants! My mouth is like a vacum tube. I use it to suck ants. Yum!" format...lots of voice...good word choice! Wait till you read the REST of her book!

Tomorrow we have library, so be sure and return your books.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Fun!

Yeah!!! I can post from school! That means you will get the update earlier and we will be able to have students create a survey they can vote on at home!!

Today was a very busy day. We were in and out of the classroom all the time it seemed. We had are art rotation first thing this morning. When we came back we took a "test": PSI or Primary Spelling Inventory. This is a test that gives me information as to where they are on the spelling continuum so that I can pinpoint their instructional needs. I will be working on those this weekend so we can begin small group instruction.

We then went to the computer lab for a practice test for MAP. This is a practice that helps the kids maneuver around the computer,keyboard and mouse.

We then came back to the room and talked about balance. I have decided begin using Quantum Learning in addition to the 4C's. All based on how the brain functions and learns, we will be learning about the following lifeskills: Integrity, Failure Leads to Success, Speak with Good Purpose,This is It!, Committment, Ownership, Balance, and Flexibility.

Some of the students are having a very hard time learning when to work and when to play. Their behavior is interferring with everyone's learning. Because this is a learning curve, I want to help them as much as possible before I call parents for a confernce. The student is in charge of their behavior and they are the ones that need to change their actions, so I want to help them with the tools before we need to go a further step. However, you can talk to your child about these 8 Keys of Excellence:

Integrity: You do what you say you are going to do. It is your character. It is who you are when no one is watching.
Failure Leads to Success: everyone makes mistakes, but if we learn from our mistakes, we will succeed.
Speak with good purpose: there is a time to talk and there is time to play. There is a way to talk and way NOT to talk. We speak with kindness always. We don't talk and interfere with others learning.
This is It! (MY FAVORITE!!!) You have to be in the here and now. Today will NOT be repeated. A reading lesson will not be repeated and if you choose to not listen, to goof off and miss instruction, you are not here, you will not learn. This is can't go back!
Committment: agreeing to do something. Commit to learning...commit to getting your work done.
Ownership: take ownership in your education. Only you can learn. Only you can change behaviors that interfere with your learning.
Flexibility: things change and we can't get upset if we have to change or go with the flow! Sometimes we have to quickly re-adjust and we have to get our mind off the old and quickly onto the new.
Balance: Words and Actions have to agree. Many times kids can repeat the rules, but their actions are not matching what they say. We need to be in balance, where what we say is what we do.

Phew...that's a lot, but students this young CAN do this! I've seen it over and over. I've used Quantum many times before and it does change behavior. We talked about balance, speaking with good purpose, and this is it today. We will continue with this next week. Depending on their actions will determine if we need to move into behavior goal setting.

This weekend I will post links to Quantum Learning on the portaportal site so you can take a look at this fantastic program based on how the brain works. It fits right into our PBIS philosophy but it also helps to build intrinsic motivation.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thursday Thrills!

We reviewed how to pick a just right book and looked at the pictures we took yesterday. We also discussed what to do when we get to a "tricky word" (a word we can't read):
1. Reread the sentence, thinking about the story.
2. Look at the picture, thinking about the story.
3. Look at the first letter. Thinking about the story, try a word. Ask yourself: does it look right...sound right?
4. Look again at the 1st letter, then the second letter. Look for a little word inside a big word. Point (to the first letter), then slide. (say the sounds). Think about the story. Does it look right...sound right?

Please don't tell your child to sound out a word. Using that strategy first takes them away from the meaning of the text. Also, if your child is in 1st grade, do not tell them to skip the word and come back. They won't. They aren't developmentally ready to do this.

In math we wrote in our math journal about "Where do we use math?" Writing is a part of math, as well as reading time and of course, writing.

We continued to work on our ABC books. We used the ELMO to show Branden's ABC book. So far he has A is for apples, so juicy and delicious. What great word choice!

And....we went to P.E. and music!

Tomorrow we will go to Art and to the computer lab. Next week MAP testing starts and we are going to do a practice MAP test tomorrow.

When MAP testing is over in October, we will resume (really begin!) weekly computer lab time.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wednesday Wows!

This is Natalie showing us an example of a "Too Easy" Book. She's holding an outfit that is too little to wear. It was a great outfit (great book), wore it ALL the time, (read it ALL the time), but now it's too little (too easy!).

Now Natalie shows ua about a book that is too challenging by wearing a jacket that is too big. She doesn't fit into the jacket and the book is not a good fit: too challenging, fails the 5 finger rule, unable to understand.

Here's Natalie showing us now what a good fit or just right book is like: the jacket fits (can read MOST of the words), can understand what is being read, can read most of it fluently, and even if there is a tricky word, it doesn't interfere with meaning.

We also built a class rubic of a REAL READER, a SO-SO or OK reader and a Pretend reader. (behavior during readers' workshop that interferes with being to grow as a reader). We'll continue practicing tomorrow on being a Real Reader and picking Just Right Books.

We also got our tadpoles today!

Here are Natalie and Chris observing the tadpoles and filling out their science log. Everyone got a chance to obsere the frogs and complete their log. We will do this everyday, notating changes.

We also began our text talk vocabulary. (See list to the right) These are words that we want kids to have heard and be familiar with them in their reading, writing, and understanding. They will not be tested, there is not a test of spelling, it is simply to help build their vocabulary. Try using them in your conversations with your child.

PE and Music are tomorrow, Thursday. Be sure and wear gym shoes!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tales from Tuesday

Today we connected too tight shoes with a book that is too challenging, old, comfortable shoes (think flip flops) with too easy books, and shoes that fit perfectly, with a book that is just right. It helped us understand picking out a just right or good fit book for reading just a little bit better. We then practiced picking out just right books and worked on our reading stamina. We also learned more about our academic vocabulary words: genre, fiction, non fiction, text, author and illustrator.

We went to the library today for the first time this year. Library is every Tuesday. Please make sure your child reads the books they brought home (or read it to them) and return the books by next Tuesday. We want students to be able to pick out a library book every week, but they have to return them.

In math we got our first math menu. If you aren't sure what a math menu is, go to our classroom wiki (click on the link on the right side of this blog), then go to the math section and watch the video that is posted there.

We worked some more on our classroom ABC book. Children then worked independently on their books. We were able to show Natalie's and Kylie's on the ELMO, so that we could "stand on the shoulders" of not only ABC authors, but our classroom authors.

Have a great night!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Monday Marvels

I read the book, Goldisocks and the Three LiBEARians. We were able connect the book to choosing just right books. We will work some more on that tomorrow. I introduced our first academic vocabulary word, genre, and learned that it meant the type of writing. We broke genre down into fiction (make believe) and non fiction(true/facts) and poetry, which can fit into both. We also learned that under non fiction there is biography, autobiography, and informational texts. We learned under fiction, there is historical fiction, realistic fiction, fantasy, mystery, science fiction and traditional literature (or traditional tales: fairy tales, folktales, legends, myths) We identified books in our classroom library that fit under each of these categories. We will continue to work on this all week.

In math, 1st graders practiced number writing while 2nd graders reviewed telling time and counting coins. Tomorrow, they will get their 1st math menu.

During writing, we began our ABC books. We are also writing a class ABC book: The ABC's of school.

And...we had a tornado drill. Phew!!!! That's a lot!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Friday Fun!

What a GREAT day! And..we even had a fire drill!

We went to art and our enrichment activities. I taught the 1st graders SLANT (Sit up straight, lean forward, be ready to Ask questions, Nod your head, talk to your teacher.) When the 2nd graders came back from their art/enrichment rotation, the 1st graders taught it to them.

We worked on what readers workshop looks and sounds like and what a quiet hard working group they were during workshop time!

In math we learned a new game that they will teach you Monday night when they bring home their homefun.

Writers' Workshop was interrupted by the fire drill, but we did list what we are experts in so that Monday we can begin writing.

It was good to see so mamy of you at the ice cream social tonight. Have a GREAT weekend and don't forget to read, read, read!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Thursday Thrills!

Today was our first day to go to P.E. and Music. We will go every Thursday so make sure your child is wearing gym shoes or has a pair to change into on Thursday.

We also celebrated Natalie's 8th birthday. Happy Birthday, Natalie!!!!

We made an anchor chart to remind us of what we do for "Read to Self" during reading workshop: read the whole time, stay in one spot, read quietly, work on stamina, get started right away. We will work on this more tomorrow.

I also started giving out their book baggie books. These are books that are at their instructional level. They are to read these first, then they can choose books from around the room.

We continue to work with following the 4 C's: Care for yourself, care for your others, care for your school, and care for your community. Please talk to your child to help reinforce when to talk (social) and when to work.

During math we worked on 10's facts by breaking numbers apart and putting them back together. I was only able to meet with one small group of 1st graders to give them their toolboxes. I hope tomorrow I can give them to the rest of the class.

We looked at Jerry Pallotta ABC books during writing time. We discovered that he writes about things he knows (fishing, fish, ocean animals, insects, because of where he grew up) and that his ABC books are informational books (Non fiction) that we can learn quite a bit. In fact, we all learned today that there is a FISH called a dolphin. Not the dolphin that lives in the ocean that we all know about, but a fish.

Tonight they are to think about something they are an expert in...race cars, books, dogs, cats, anything and tomorrow we will try to write our first version of an ABC book.

Here's an example of a type of ABC book we have been exploring:

Click on the little eyeglasses in the upper right hand corner for a closer look.

Have a GREAT evening!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Wednesday Wonders!

Thanks to all the parents who made it to open house tonight. I will send the handouts home tomorrow for those who were unable to attend. As always....if you have questions...send me an email.

During Readers Workshop we continue to work on reading stamina, and what a workshop looks and sounds like. I read A Quiet Place by Douglas Wood and how finding a quiet place to read is important so you can think as you read.

During math workshop, each student received their first math journal. First Graders played Monster Squeeze using the number line. (I'm thinking of a number between 0 and 9. The student makes a guess...4. I tell, my number is bigger than 4. So now they know the mystery number is between 5 and 9. We keep going until someone quesses the mystery number. This is a number sense activity. Second graders reviewed the number line, but with bigger numbers: 3 digit and 4 digit numbers. Tomorrow they get their toolkits!

Writing time was spent looking at ABC books and creating an anchor chart of what we notice about the writing of the books. (Reading like a Writer) We'll continue with this tomorrow.

Thursday we have P.E., so make sure they were gym shoes or have a pair here to change into.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tales from Tuesday

We had a very busy day. We began our day writing in our writers' notebook. We call our notebook The Daily Pages. We write down our thoughts, our feelings, things that happened on the way to school....all the things we need to get off our mind before we actually begin writing. We will use this later to "lift a line" for writing time...ideas that reoccur for writing time, and more.

During reading, we worked some more on building stamina for reading. We went over how we pick a good fit or just right book. We will work on this for a few days yet.

Writing time we spent a few minutes on handwriting. We use Handwriting Without Tears for first and second grade. Friday and today we read two Olivia books. We then "stood on the shoulders" of Ian Falconer and wrote about a time we may have lost something or wrote about our lives. I needed a writing sample before we begin our Unit of Study: ABC books tomorrow.

During math, 2nd graders played addition and subtraction top it, while I taught the first graders to play top it. They then all played the three top it games. This is the beginning of the math workshop. Tomorrow they will get their math journals.

Don't forget open house tomorrow night at 6:30. See you then!