Saturday, April 25, 2009
Besides an assembly every day this week (including violinist Phillips Pan, the Battersby Duo, magician Barry Hinnent who arrived with the Chick-fil-A cow, the Fletcher Middle School band, and finally the Caribbean Sound Steel Band), the children have enjoyed a Book Fair all week. On Friday families came back to school for a total arts infusion. Local artisans displayed their craft while the children participated in all types of arts activites.
Each homeroom also has a basket that they put together to sell at a silent action on Friday night. The proceeds go into the PTA treasury, but are given back in support of the arts. As always, this is a week to remember! I feel so fortunate to work at a school where the arts are appreciated and celebrated!
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
The first piece written in early first grade is a small moment, "When I Went Ice Skating." The author writes a series of mini-events and shows that she has learned to edit her own work (using a green pencil). In October the student completed a Question/ Answer pattern book, "Swimming Fun," that introduced a unit on nonfiction writing.
The December piece is a report about the student's family. It includes a Table of Contents, comparison, a "how to"/ procedural piece and a narrative about a vacation. The piece shows that the student has been exposed to and has internalized the nonfiction conventions.
In February the young author wrote a response to the book, Wemberly Worried, during an author study of Kevin Henkes. This is one of many responses that the student wrote during the author study. The work meets the standard as it includes an opening, a detailed retelling and a closing.
The final piece is a letter written during our persuasive writing unit. This young writer wrote to the lifeguards at the beach asking them to come out a little earlier so she can have some fun!
It is always amazing at the progress that children make from the day they enter kindergarten until they end first grade. This bulletin board certainly displays that well and shows a young writer that is well on her way!
Friday, April 17, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Below are some examples of the letters written by our first graders.
Dear Mrs. B,
How are you feeling today? I hope great! Would you mind letting me and Anna have a sleepover some day? Please! Because I really like Anna. We spend the whole day together in school and I am not kidding. We spend every minute together. I promise I will behave. Thank you for listening.
Anna's friend, Kaylee
Dear Miss Correia,
How are you doing? I was thinking if we can have lunch in the class. This is important because it smells bad in the cafeteria. Another reason is if it smells bad people will loose their appetite. For example, one day it smelled bad. I lost my appetite. This shows that we need to stay sometimes in the classroom. I promise to help.
This comes from Parker, a "teacher's kid!"3-26-09
Dear Mrs. Phillips [Principal],
Can you please make the lunchroom quieter? I will give you $100 out of my mom's credit card. Probably not, but I'll try to, okay? And I will clean the toilet and you can make my mom teach monsters instead of kids...
Besides writing letters and mailing them, some students have been writing arguments for one cause over another, like the ones below. Using the persuasive mentor text, Should We Have Pets? by Sylvia Lollis and Joyce Hogan, the Mall-ards wrote their own class book, Which is better - beaches or pools? Make sure to check it out!
Beaches are better than pools because you can play in the sand. You can go in the water. You can bury yourself in the sand. You can lay in the sun. You can eat and drink at the beach. You can build a sand castle and you can find seashells. When you are done at the beach, if you are covered in sand, you can go to the beach's showers. Then you can dry off and go home very happy.
Originally this is a unit we were dreading because it was new. We hadn't written persuasively before and we couldn't find many good resources, but after we discovered A Quick Guide to Teaching Persuasive Writing we were able to use it as the backbone for 15 lessons that we wrote collaboratively using Google Docs for the first time. What we found is that first graders have no trouble finding their voice and stating their opinions. There is lots that they care about and are willing to write about. They have no trouble taking a stand! Now we can't wait to revisit this writing genre again next year!
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
- 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 teacher 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.
- 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 that they are not ready for.
- Lynn also recommended chetsmath.blogspot.com for teachers to check and to share with parents who are interested in knowing what is to come.
This conversation of vertical articulation makes a difference as we close the gaps and help to make our students successful as they transition from one grade to another.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
That first fish fry has developed into one of the many annual Chets Creek traditions. Sometime after the first of the year, the Crab Shack opens with Principal Phillips in charge for a single day in the Teacher's Dining Room to remind us once again that we are in charge of our own destiny - and that we can have FUN along the way! Welcome! - Welcome to the Chets Creek Crab Shack!