Sunday, December 18, 2016

Holiday is Upon Us!

What a spectacular month we have had in school. The holiday feeling began when all of the grandparents and special people joined us for their special day and continued on to the last minute of school before the vacation began. Your children have been so excited and joyful, they have truly been a magical holiday gift to Ms. Thomas and I. It seemed like whenever we turned our gaze from one child to another we were seeing acts of kindness and true holiday spirit. If you continue to read all the way to the end of might even get pictures! 

 Of course, the candy houses were a huge hit! What child wouldn't gaze upon trays of candy in sheer delight!  I did warn them that when they took them home.....the candy might be all dried out and too hard to eat. However, I believe that there were a few diehards who said that they didn't care and they were going to try and eat them anyway. (Good luck on that one!) Also from my previous might want to keep the candy house out of reach from doesn't end well. ;)

The Hanukkah party was a lovely event. The kids got to eat latkes, play with the dreidel and make paper menorahs. Of all of the events this month, this was the calmest of the it was nice to have a bit of a break!

The excitement of putting on the advent with a second grade class was beautiful. Mrs. Merrill's class and ours joined forces to put on a 20 minute advent gathering. We were in charge of lighting the 3rd week of advent candles (light, promise and hope) and then add a story of a person who personified the meaning of the 3 candles. The person that was chosen was Santa Lucia in that she was giving person who brought light into peoples lives when it didn't look like there was a lot of hope. The students handed out paper Santa Lucia buns that had one of those words on it ....and the audience was to make a personal wish of light, promise or hope for someone in their lives. Another feature of this was that some of the students were able to share their musical talent. Throughout the entire day, we had so many words of appreciation given to our class. They did an awesome job!

Amazingly, throughout all of this....we were able to publish our books in the writing unit of "How To's" . We have everything from How to Brush Your Hair, or Paint a Picture....even one on "How to Listen to the Teachers" ! They are delightful. We will be sending them home the week we get back from break.....but as soon as you have read them, they need to come back for our class library of published books!

Were you able to see our rock museum? The students proudly displayed their favorite rocks. We got a lot of amazing remarks from the lower school students! When we get back from break, we will get a chance to tumble our favorite rock and make them beautiful enough to hang as a necklace!

As many of you saw, the Holiday Program was a huge hit. We had 3 different rehearsals throughout the last week and the final product was beautiful. We have some true performers in our group!

Many of you have probably already received the mid year comment cards. When I write my comments, I am mindful to tell you how amazing each one of your children is and also the goals that I have set up for them for the rest of the year. Your children all have been progressing beautifully and I am anticipating so much more in the next five months!  In the math section, you will see that a lot of the markers have been marked with a N/I. That is either because we haven't introduced them yet or it is due to the new math program. Please read this note from Peg Bailey to explain more:

Dear Parents:
At the end of this week, your child's first semester progress report will arrive in your homes.  It's always a great time to reflect on all that our student's have accomplished . . . both as learners, friends, and classroom citizens.  You may notice that there are several markers in the Mathematics section of the report that are marked as "not introduced".  As you know, we've shifted our curriculum to Math In Focus (MIF), which has a different emphasis in content and sequence.  We will be revising the math section of our progress report for next year, giving us this year to implement MIF and identify our priority learning objectives in the curriculum.  Please refer to the narrative comments to gauge your child's progress in math this year.

As for what you can do over the holiday break? We did send home - "just right" books that your child  can read to you.  "Just right" meaning ...that they could read through most of it....but might have a challenge word here or there. These books are to be read when you have some relaxing time that you can enjoy and encourage your child's reading growth. They are not meant to be a daily assignment. 
The other thing that I encourage if you have a few extra minutes....or if you are standing in long lines...or on a long road practicing math facts. The last week we have been spending a lot of time with math facts to 10.......doubles (2+2, 3+3, 4+4 etc....), doubles 3+3+1. 8+8+1 etc.....) and some math facts that include a teen number and a number up to 10 (13+6, 17+2 etc...) The students are capable of solving all of the equations that we have been working on.....but need some additional support with automaticity. We have been working on many strategies to get them to solve these equations...but sometimes the basic speed of the math fact can get in the if you have time....take a few minutes here or there to run some math fact practice. 

Here it is.....I promised you!

I hope that your holiday vacation is filled with lots of love and time to rest. We all need it after this very busy month!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Movie from grandparents day!

For those who wanted to see what your grandparents saw at grandparents it is.

It's 9 minutes long....and loaded with choose a time when you can sit back and enjoy!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Note From Nan Zosel

 Winter Wear Wanted!

The Lower School is collecting new and gently used Winter Wear 
for families experiencing homelessness.
Coats  Jackets  Boots Snowpants

Students may bring donations to their classroom or 
deliver to the "Service Shelf" located near Gym C.
Nov. 29 - Th. Dec. 14 - Thanks!
Thursday, November 10, 2016

Mid November Has Arrived

As I was watching the students at recess the other day, it seemed so strange to see them running around without coats, hats and mittens on a mid November day. We have been truly blessed with the sunshine and warmth that we have had this fall. It has been a special gift. Who knows how long this weather will last.....I suggest making sure you have all the winter gear they will need sooner than later as we know that it eventually will be coming our way!

This week has been an interesting week to say the least. The election has created a buzz in the environment. In some cases it has been a buzz of excitement in other cases it has brought up many thoughts of concern. We respect that there are a multitude of thoughts in regards to the election and we have been allowing your child to talk. We have not spoken about the results of the election as a full group but rather, we have chosen to talk with the students in small groups or individually. We have found that the smaller setting allows children to share more freely. We feel that our job is to let the students know that we are hearing them and that adults are doing everything they can to make them feel safe.

In other news, we have been incredibly busy, as usual. There are days that I look at my watch and I can’t believe that it is already noon. For example, on Tuesday, we went from our meeting time, to guided reading, to word work groups, to Chinese, to math and then to skating within the first 3 hours of the day! It is unbelievable what we get accomplished!

In Writer’s Workshop, we started our new unit on “How To’s”.  We have spent a lot of time brainstorming what we are good enough at doing, that we could explain it in simple steps. This believe it or not is the hardest part of the How To project. The students need to decide on something that is explainable and not too big. For example, a lot of students have said that they want to write a How To about skating. We have been coaching them to see that  skating is too big for a how to....but a certain part like how to skate backwards would be more appropriate. At this point, we have written a How To about brushing teeth.....but will be asking them to think in more depth about other things that they could explain. We are using word organizing words like, “First, Then, Next, Last” to guide our writing instructions.

In Science, we are continuing our study of rocks. Morgan’s dad, Brian Wright was our special geologist visitor who came down and talked to the students about the 3 main different types of rocks- sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic. He even wrote a song with a little rap in it that the kids learned how to sing. We are going to continue practicing you might hear parts of it  at home! 

Our Guided Reading and Word Work Groups have been moving along beautifully. It is always such a treat for us as teachers to see your child grow and develop new reading strategies. It is also a joy to watch your children truly enjoy literature!

In math, we are starting to work with numbers up to 20. Our ultimate goal is for your children to think of numbers as a group of tens and ones....and right now we are establishing the language and using graphic organizers.

A couple of housekeeping thoughts:
-If you haven’t signed up for grandparents/special person’s day, do so as soon as you can,

-If you know of anyone who is interested in attending Breck, have them come to the Open House on Saturday, November 12th!

-If you travel and would love to open up the world to your child’s class....feel free to send a postcard to our room and tell us about where you are:
         The address is: 123 Ottawa Ave N. Golden Valley, MN 55422

-Remember to look at your child’s homework folder everyday and initial the Peek at the Week.
Sunday, October 30, 2016

End of October

The last days of October are here and there is much excitement in the air. Your children have been eagerly anticipating the Halloween holiday and have been making decorations to fill our room with merriment. I am sure that this Halloween at school will be one that they will remember as we have lots of fun activities prepared! I know that most of you have experienced a Halloween at Breck, but I feel that we should probably review some of the basic facts of the day.
-To start, if you are driving your child to school, it is a very popular day and there is limited parking. Arrive early so that you can get a spot. We will be opening the classroom doors at 8:15.
-Your child should be in complete costume when they arrive at school. In some cases, such as if their costume is too bulky to get through the bus door and they need to put it on when they enter the school doors that is completely fine. However, please don’t send your child with anything that needs to be assembled. We really do not have the time to take care of anything too big...because the parade begins right at the beginning of the school day.
-Our parade and lower school sing along is always a favorite of the parents. If you would like to go to the Anderson gym and sit on the bleachers, we would love to have you join us. It usually lasts until 9:15.
- If you are helping with the party- it will begin directly after the parade/sing a long.
-PLEASE...have your child wear clothing under their costume of have something that they can change into. We are going skating at 11:05.... so they will need to be in clothing that will be suitable under their gear. Also.... PLEASE have a bag that your child can put their entire costume in..... so that they don’t lose any pieces. Thank you!

It hasn’t all been about Halloween in first grade! We have been so busy, it seems as if a day doesn’t go by where I am not astonished with all that your children are accomplishing. I have many pictures to share with all of you, but I have been having issues converting them into a form that you can see them on the blog. We are in the process of trying some new strategies; so don’t be surprised if when I get it working again, you might just receive a blog of short picture videos.

Our science study of rocks has been amazing! Your children have been sponges and can’t seem to get enough of looking at their findings in a magnifying glass or a microscope. Especially when they get their microscopes focused on something sparkly or shiny, it is as if they are opening a hidden treasure! The excitement in their eyes and the enthusiasm they are sharing with all when they make a new discovery is infectious! Thank you for helping them find their 10 rocks. To start we compared our property words, to find that there were many similarities between boxes. They seemed especially interested in a rock that was a conglomerate. I think that they liked the word more than anything. We will continue measuring our rocks and doing other experiments over the next 2 months.

In Writer’s Workshop, we are about to finish our first writing unit called the: Small Moment. We have been learning how to edit. Whether editing means to check for punctuation, looking for capitol letter usage or adding on for more clarification, your children have been working on one or all of the above. We have been having them share their writings with a writing partner who has helped guide the editing process. By Friday, we will be having our first published book celebration.

Our Guided Reading/ Word Work Groups have been in full swing for 2 weeks now. We have appreciated you helping your child getting their guided reading books back every day. We have guided reading 4 times in our 6 day schedule, so plan on having your child read the book or the chapter in the book that we have assigned and return it the next day. There will be some days that your child will be bringing home a book that we aren’t doing in guided reading, but instead it will be what we call a ”just-right” book.

Math! With the new curriculum and the excitement that was brought to us by Cassy Turner (our math advisor), I have been experiencing the teaching of math in a different way. Your children seem to be responding to in a very positive way. By the end of this upcoming week we will have finished our 4th unit on subtracting numbers 1-10. This math program spends a lot of time working on the real world math problem and then the conversion to the actual algorithm. What has been interesting is to teach is that addition and subtraction are really intertwined. We will be doing a few lessons later this week where we are going to teach math families. In a simplistic form you can take the same 3 numbers and write them in different forms.
Example: 3+4=7 or 4+3=7 or 7-4=3 or 7-3=4

Last Friday, we got a SeeSaw app up and running on our iPads. This app. is made so that you can view some of the work that your child has been doing in class. At this point, we only have a couple of pictures on it, but we see that it will be used for more curricular areas in the long run. We will be sending home a sheet that has a QR code and instructions on it. All you will need to do is upload the SeeSaw app and run the code and you should be able to view what your child has done. 

To think that we have only finished 2 months of the school year!
Monday, October 24, 2016

Grade 1 Homework

This week we began working into our first grade homework routine. The first layer of first grade homework is the take-home reading routine. Thank you for your support with reading these books together at home and returning them daily. We hope you find this to be a meaningful home school connection.

Many families and children may be curious about how the rest of grade 1 homework will unfold. With the new Singapore math curriculum, we are in the process of developing a thoughtful homework plan to extend our curriculum and provide worthwhile math homework for first graders. We are looking to continue rolling out our first grade homework within the next few weeks. For now, you can anticipate the following about homework:

  • Book bags will continue to come home each day.
  • Other homework elements will be mainly Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.
  • Occasionally, larger homework projects and games will come home with multiple
           days for flexibility of completion.
  • One piece of the homework routine will be ongoing math fact practice.
  • One day of homework each week with focus on a literacy activity.

This can all be QUITE CONFUSING so know that homework will always be outlined each week on the Peek at the Week. Please sign or initial the sheet after the work has been completed. The “Peek at the Week” should go back and forth in the take home folder each day. Feel free to write comments or questions, especially if your child didn’t understand the homework or if it was too hard.  If you felt it was fun, we’d like to hear those comments, too!    
Friday, October 21, 2016

Math Night Information

For those of you who didn't get a chance to go to the Singapore Math Night with Cassey Turner, this is a handout that describes what was discussed. Before too long, we will be posting a video of the presentation.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Minnehaha Falls

We could have not asked for a more perfect 5 hours for our field trip to Minnehaha Falls. As we drove into the parking lot, the clouds parted, the sun rose....and we were on our way to an amazing day. Thanks to Mrs. Wright, the students got an experts view of the falls and all the surrounding area. The goal of the trip was to view the falls with scientific eyes. They were encouraged to feel, see, hear and smell the air. They then had an opportunity to draw their findings in their science journal. They saw so many wonderful things. Specifically, they saw a lot of Limestone, Shale and Sandstone. These are all examples of sedimentary rock.....which will be learning about in the upcoming week. I was going to put a few pictures of the trip into this blog...but there were so many wonderful pics....I decided to place it into a movie. Please enjoy this with your child and have them explain what the pictures reveal.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Incredibly Busy!

In my original letter home to the students, I explained that I was so excited to go on this adventure called first grade with them. I had no idea how much I would enjoy the ride. You all have such great kids and we have all been having an amazing journey. As one of the students said in class, “ Every day in first grade goes so fast!”. I take that to mean that there is so much to do that the time just seems to fly by!  This particular week was accentuated by the fact that we started swimming as a P.E. unit and then all of the homecoming festivities. It felt as if we had been to a giant celebration each and every day. Below I have posted a lot of pictures to show you what my eyes have seen over the last week so that you can see what your child has been experiencing.

I attended swimming for a couple sessions to see how they managed the new routine. I have to say that I was super impressed with the teaching staff and how your children responded to the responsibilities. Ms. Carlson and Coach Bob have such a mindful eye on your children- really paying attention to your children’s abilities and making sure that they are getting the coaching they need. They have the class in two groups the sharks and the dolphins. In order to maintain a safe environment the sharks and dolphins show their skills at different times. You’ll have to ask your child which one they are! 
Getting our swimming gear from our lockers.

Waiting for swimming rules and instructions even before we get in the water!

For Homecoming, the senior buddies came down and visited us on Wednesday where they helped us make pennants and pom-poms for the coronation. The relationship that is developing with your child and their buddies has been so endearing to watch.  Your children keep asking, “Is this a senior buddy day?”. On Friday morning, Ms. Thomas and I walked around the campus looking for the history of Breck.  Breck has been on multiple campuses and has had many different identities. The students got a chance to see the past of the school so that they can feel pride in what the school has become.  We found old dishes, chairs, doors, uniforms to name a few of the artifacts of the past. We even found Ms. Thomas and my yearbooks from when we were seniors at Breck.  They all had a hard time believing we looked so different! To end the day we went to coronation where we got to watch some of our senior buddies in the court and Adele caring the crown down! It was super fun.... super loud.... but super fun!

 Our Crown Carrier!

STEAM has started. The first session we went to asked the students to create the tallest structure that they could using marshmallows and spaghetti sticks. They had to work in small groups and try and figure out how to do this project together. Needless to say, it was more challenging than they thought it would be. It was a lesson not only in building, but also in learning how to listen to each other to make it work. 

We did all of these amazing things outside of the classroom while inside our classroom we have been extremely busy too! 
In our:
-new math program we have been looking at math equations as part, part and whole.
- reading program we have been encouraging the readers to look for details in their books.
-our writing program we have been fine tuning our ideas for small moments.
-our science program we have been tweaking our interest in rocks.
 - social studies program we have been learning our role as a community member. Each one of us has a role and are responsible for the follow through. Ask your child what some of the jobs of the students are and ask them the responsibility that goes with it! 

Lastly, I need to reiterate how much I am enjoying your children. They are a very creative, imaginative group who have such a strong ability to articulate their thoughts and ideas. It is only September; I can only imagine where they will be by the end of the year.