Saturday, May 27, 2017


So many events occurred in May. Whether we were cultural observers, paleontologists, humanitarians, authors, mathematicians or just plane having fun,........we did all of these things well and with passion. It has been an amazing journey this year. Your children, the students of this first grade magically came together as a community that was committed to all that it tried and accomplished so much. It will be very difficult to say goodbye to these students. They have all captured a little bit of our hearts. Please enjoy this 9 minute video of May.
If you clicked on this before....and it didn't should work now!
Thursday, April 6, 2017

Birthday Wishes

Hello all!
This week the first graders have started their service project which encourages families to bring in items for another child's birthday party. We have been spending the year talking about how different families spend their birthdays and realize that there are many different traditions. Please help us in making this birthday wishes service project a success.

Birthday Wishes
April 6-21

We are collecting birthday celebration supplies for our local food shelf.  Families who use our local food shelf often are unable to buy extra items 
that make a birthday special,like
Cake Mix & Frosting, Candles, Rice, Noodles, Cookie Mix, Pizza Crust mix, 
Paper Plates & Cups. Gluten-free, Kosher and Halal items are often needed by families as well. 

If you would like to donate, 
please bring items to school April 6-21.  Thanks
Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Placement Letter from Peg Bailey

April 2017

Dear Lower School Parents:

Each year, I invite parents to provide input into the class placement process for their children.  If you wish to share your thoughts with me, please send me a letter or an email by Thursday, April 20.  The timeliness of this information is very important, as we will begin this process the following week.  Therefore, letters received after this date will not be considered for the upcoming school year.

A few important things to remember:

·       Please write your child's full name and grade next year at the top of the letter.  *If writing about more than one child, please send a separate letter for each student. 

·       Share your insights about friendships to foster or separate, your child’s learning dispositions and/or temperament, and the type of environment you feel your child thrives in. 
(You may want to share feedback on what has made this year particularly successful for your
child, or if this has been a challenging year, what you believe may have contributed to this.) 

·       Requests for specific teachers will not be considered.

Several factors are taken into consideration as teachers and the administrative team place students into next year’s classes.  Summer moves and other changes impact class assignments.  Thank you, in advance, for respecting and trusting our decisions.

Best regards,

Peg Bailey
Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Math Post from Peg Bailey

This week, we have spent the last two days in meetings with our math consultant, Cassy Turner.  She met with grade level teams to talk about our successes with our new program, Math In Focus - and to help us look ahead as we plan our continued implementation.  It was good to hear her affirm how we're teaching math in our classrooms, and how engaged our students are with new vocabulary and problem-solving strategies.  One thing we heard loud & clear was to make sure our students are 'fluent' with their math facts.  So, continue to practice these at home.  Last night, approximately 35 parents attend "boot camp".  As one parent commented, "I need to be in school again to learn math this way."  Much of last night's session was "hands-on" for parents . . . here are notes taken by Peg Bailey from Cassy's presentation.  

Singapore Math In Focus
Boot Camp for Parents
February 2017

Presenter:     Cassy Turner, consultant and trainer

Big Ideas in Singapore Math:
Number Sense:  our goal for students is to develop a deep understanding of number
Making Connections:  we want students to see connections between mathematical ideas
Visualization:  mental models help students see the math
Metacognition:  we want to give students opportunities to “think about my thinking . . . .”
Communication:  How do I communicate and share my understanding?

For our youngest learners, they learn to tell a number story about a picture.  They learn to apply the concept of number bonds.  Students use manipulatives to understand math.  Math In Focus moves from concrete to pictorial to abstract. 

Strategies our students learn:
·      Make a ten
·      Using a tens frame
·      Make the next ten 
Where we start . . . 67 + 5  leads to a vertical algorithm  67

Language of Math In Focus - parents will likely hear:
·      Decomposing – breaking numbers apart to make an easier equation
·      Subitizing - You can see a quantity and know the number without counting.
·      Regrouping/Renaming – trading ones for a ten, tens for a hundred, etc.

Bar Modeling – an essential strategy (visual representation) in Singapore Math In Focus
·      Drawing a picture to represent a problem increases understanding
·      Bar models support students in 3/4th grades to understand fractions
·      Bar models introduce students to the structure of algebraic thinking

·      Part-whole models (adding or subtracting parts to make a whole) – students are introduced to this in the early grades
Examples of problems:  Helen has 14 breadsticks. Her friend has 17.  How may do they have altogether?  - Or - There are 21 fish in a bowl. Fifteen are from students. The rest are from the school.  How many are from the school?

·      Comparison models  (How many more or fewer is one quantity compared to another?) Example of a problem: Grant buys 345 fruit bars. Ken buys 230 more fruit bars than Grant.  How many fruit bars does Ken buy?

Parents worked on creating a bar model for this problem:

A farmer has in his pasture 63 farm animals consisting of cows, goats, and sheep.  There are twice as many goats as cows, and twice as many sheep as goats; how many has he of each sort? 
The bar models show we know the relationship
between goats and cows is 2:1.  This can be represented as 1 bar for cows and 2 bars for goats.  We know the relationship between sheep and goats is 2:1.  Therefore, there are 4 bars for sheep.  We know the total is 63 animals and we have 7 bars.  Therefore, 63 divided by 7 = 9.  If each bar represents 9, then we have 9 cows, 18 goats, and 36 sheep, which is 63 in all.)
This year, we are teaching computation to mastery – a foundation needed for the next grade’s work.  This year, some of the concepts are being picked up in science (such as measurement).  By the end of next year, students should be ‘caught up’ with the program, since this year we ‘backfilled’ some concepts and vocabulary since the program is new to all.

By the end of 1st grade, we want students to know their addition/subtraction facts by memory.
By the end of 3rd grade, we want students to know their multiplication facts by memory.
Parents are encouraged to play games and practice basic math facts.

We may want our children to get the right answer, but we also want them to know why it is the right answer.
Mathematical problem solving is central to mathematics learning. It involves the acquisition and application of mathematics concepts and skills in a wide range of situations, including non-routine, open-ended and real-world problems.

Resources: – website and iPad
Xyla and Yabu iPad app
Sunday, January 22, 2017

January is rolling along!

3 weeks have passed into the New Year and I am in constant marvel of your children. If you ask most teachers what their favorite month to teach is in the school year - they will say January because it is as if all of the earlier learnings of the year are now solidifying and students are flourishing. For me, this is so true and watching your children this month has been an absolute joy. Before we left school for the weekend on Friday, Ms. Thomas and I told the students how proud of them we were. They seemed to be genuinely pleased with themselves.... and they should be! 

During our Writer’s Workshop time -we have been working with the students to write persuasive opinion statements. Thanks to all of you who helped the students with their “tiny topic” journals. These journals have been a source of inspiration for the students when they are thinking of what  “opinions” they want to express. We started the unit by looking at six different breeds of dogs. We learned a little about each breed of dog and then we asked the students come up with an opinion as to which one they would get if they could. In establishing a strong opinion we discussed that it is good to have more than one reason to persuade the person you are trying to reach.  Ultimately, we have decided that in our writings we would try and come up with at least three different reasons to make a concrete opinion argument. We have moved from dogs to other subject areas like food, activities, places to travel and the most popular opinion writing choice- what is the best restaurant.  So far, I think that one of the most compelling opinion statements came from Stefanie when describing why you should shop at Costco. Her reason being that “they always have clean bathrooms”.  Oh, your children do make me smile!

We just finished up two math units in our Singapore Math. One unit was numerically based (Addition and Subtraction up to 20) and one was spatially based (2D shapes).
As we continue, we have been working on numbers up to 40, learning how to see the higher numbers as units of 10’s and 1’s.  For example, 32 would be 3 tens and 2 ones. The next unit we will be doing is addition and subtraction up to 40. As the students quickly found out in the addition and subtraction up to 20, the automaticity of the basic math facts is essential to progress. We have spent a lot of time trying to find ways to get the facts more automatic and for the most part, the only way this is going to happen is if we practice, practice, practice. Therefore, we introduced you to IXL, which is a basic skills site that your child can practice. In our homework we are suggesting no more than 10-15 minutes on this site at a time. Even if your child doesn’t finish the assigned task, we ask that you close it down after that amount of time. The beauty of this is if you want to open it up another day, you can always do that.  We don’t want this to take too long each time your child is on it. Another way that you can practice math facts is by playing different types of math games with cards and math facts. If you need ideas, please feel free to ask.

The concept of “Change Makers” has been further explored this month. In the fall we spoke of Jane Goodall as a “change maker”- a person who made a difference for standing up for what they believe in.  This last month, we have learned about Helen Keller, Martin Luther King and a little girl named Ayanna. The students came home with a Scholastic News that described how a young girl can make a difference as was depicted in the early 1960’s civil rights sit-ins. We were also graced with an amazing speaker at All School Chapel- Winona LaDuke spoke to the students about being an agent of change. She was so inspirational and motivational. We are having discussions about how we all have the potential of being a change maker. The homework assignment about, “If I Were President”.... led us into a conversation about the changes our students would like to see. Most of the changes centered around kindness. We talked about if we want to see change, we need to be prepared to stand up and tell others what we believe. Children were asked to read their “President Homework” sheets.  

Being that we have a new president, the students spent some time sharing their thoughts. They were very curious about how one president moves out and another moves in. We found a couple of different websites to show them the White House. They were mesmerized! We found one site that said that you could take a virtual tour of the White House on Google Earth. We didn’t have time to do this.... but I told the students that I would let you know and maybe they could go on it at home.

For science, we will begin our discussions about the ocean this week. The following week we will be going to the MN Zoo to see ocean life. The people who are assigned to this field trip have been notified already. 

In P.E. our skating units are completely done and we don’t have swimming until the end of the school year, so know that you won’t have to worry about any of that coming up soon!

A note from NAN ZOSEL!
Calling all BOXTOPS!  Please bring in box tops by Feb. 14.  Containers are located near door D in the Middle School.  The money raised by box tops supports student led Philanthropy Projects.  They do expire, so please bring them so that we can redeem them.  Thanks!

A note from Katie Peterson

Breck Summer Programs 2017 registration begins on Tuesday, January 17 at 8:00AM! We hope you will join us for "The Most Fun Under The Sun!" Please contact Katie Peterson, with any questions. The digital brochure is available on the Breck website or go to our online registration page here!