For our last Teacher Meeting of the year (we have no Teacher Meetings in May and the last two in April are part of a Math Book Study), we invited two second grade teachers to come and share what they felt were weaknesses when their second graders entered this year. First grade teachers want to spend this last nine weeks really honing in on the skills that will make their children more successful as they begin second grade. This is what was shared and discussed:
- Susanne Shall shared a skill sheet of 2nd grade skills where she highlighted the skills that should be covered in first grade. She noted that 2nd grade teachers felt the students were weak in identifying nouns, verbs and adjectives. Guess why? We don't have that on our first grade Pacing Guide so it's no wonder the kids don't know it coming into second grade! That's something we can certainly do something about!
- Second grade teachers felt like they had lots of kids coming in that had handwriting that was not readable. First grade teachers do handwriting the first nine weeks but don't usually revisit it again, but this year they will make sure to do a few mini-lesson on being able to read your handwriting!
- Second grade teachers also felt that narratives going into second grade were weak - weaker even than the narratives in the first grade portfolios. During discussion first grade teachers felt that it might be because first grade teaches narrative at the beginning of the year. However, this year first grade teachers will revisit narrative at the end of the year again to pull a portfolio piece from the end of the year instead of the beginning of the year. This should help close that gap.
- In Math second grade teacher Lynn Patterson talked about a few misconceptions about the Open Number Line. In showing teachers where children are going with the strategy, she helped first grade teachers understand their responsibility.
- Lynn also mentioned how important it is for students to have fluency with the combinations of ten leaving first grade. The teachers talked about games that they could do this last nine weeks such as "10s Go Fish" with Uno cards to reinforce fluency. Suzanne Shall promised to copy a group of new games with 10 combinations that could be practiced this last nine weeks and then sent home for parents to practice over the summer.
- Math vocabulary was another area that we discussed. We cleared up the difference between a number sentence or expression (5+5) and an equation (5+5=10). Lynn also cautioned the teachers about transitioning from the cutesy names such as the alligator munchy mouth to the more mathematically correct "less than" and other cute names that we may have used to introduce new concepts.
- Giving more advanced students strategies is also not recommended. Students should come up with the strategies themselves and they will, when they are ready. Often a teacher has taught a strategy before students are ready, but the child doesn't really understand it and can't really explain it. Second grade teachers would rather first graders not be given new strategies if they are not ready.
- Lynn also recommended chetsmath.blogspot.com for teachers to check and to share with parents who are interested in knowing what is to come.