Sunday, March 22, 2020

Dear Parents,

What a crazy time we are living in!  I hope this finds everyone enjoying some quality time with family - and staying healthy!

Please click HERE to go to the First Grade Remote Learning Website.  

I can't believe it is almost April!  Read on to learn about what we were working on before our break.  

Classroom Highlights:

Reader's Workshop:
Before Spring Break Book Club groups prepared some Reader's Theatre plays about some of the Historical Figures we were learning about, such as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King, Jr.  Everyone did such a wonderful job!  Thanks to Mrs. Stahlecker and Mr. Greenlaw who helped the kids with this project!  It really paid off and the kids look forward to performing these plays for our class and their Book Buddies! 

For most of our time before break we were focusing on reading nonfiction.  We learned about things good readers do to become "super smart" nonfiction readers:  

We are also working on the comprehension strategies of determining importance, paraphrasing, summarizing and synthesizing.  These can be tough skills to master for first graders!  In fact, at this level it is really about exposing them to these skills and practicing them together.  We practiced retelling what we learned from our nonfiction texts.  We tried to give a "3 Scoop Retell" - 

We practiced these skills when doing research about an important American Figure or Symbol.  As we read, we worked on determining which facts were the most important and took notes.  We then worked collaboratively with a small group to create a project that would teach others about our topic.  

*Ask your child what paraphrasing means. 
(That is a big word and many of us are still learning!)
*Ask your child to paraphrase what they read - tell it to you in their own words! 
*Practice summarizing stories you read.  Tell the most important facts  or events from the book.  Model this for them!  They will get better at this skill with lots of practice and repetition!

A couple of weeks before break we began our last unit, reading fiction.  This unit focuses on learning about story elements - characters, setting, plot, problem, solution.  

So far we discussed the tools readers use when reading nonfiction.  Including taking a "sneak peek," predicting, and retelling by determining the 5 or 6 most important events and using these to summarize the story or chapter.  

A future goal is to discuss character traits and support our opinions of a character by citing evidence from the story. We will also discuss the lesson or theme in the story.  This can be tricky!  

*As you read with your child stop before, during, and after the book and discuss predictions, ask questions, and determine important events.  
*Talk about the setting and stop and notice when the setting changes. 
*Discuss the lesson or theme in the stories you read!
*You might also discuss characters and their personality traits.  Talk about evidence from the text that support your opinion about a character. 

Writer's Workshop:
We completed our unit on Information Writing.  A folder with their work will come home soon.  The concepts we focused on included:
*Teaching readers about a topic
*Having a beginning that captures the reader’s attention
*Adding facts and details that teach about the topic
*Adding nonfiction text features to help teach readers, such as illustrations,
  labels, maps, charts, or diagrams.
*Thinking about questions our readers would have about our topic
*Using comparisons and examples
*Writing an ending

Everyone did such a great job!  The first grade team is thinking of having the kids use what they've learned about writing these "teaching books" to write some new books at home, during their remote learning time.   

Ask your child what they learned about writing a nonfiction teaching book.  What do good writers include in their books to teach their readers?
(See chart above for ideas!)

 Our most recent math "Topics" or units focused on developing the concept of tens and ones, which is a key foundation of our base-10 number system. We worked on strengthening the kids' understanding of the place value system and used this understanding to compare 2-digit numbers, with the math terms and symbols of "greater than," "less than," or "equal to."  We then began adding a 2-digit number to a 1-digit or 2-digit number as students add within 100.  Students find answers using concrete models, drawings, properties of operations, and strategies based on place value.  

We noticed patterns, like...
                           3 + 5 = 8
                           30 + 50 = 80

                              3 tens  + 4 tens = 7 tens
                                     30 + 40 = 70

 Student can also draw a model of the tens and ones as lines and dots.  Then, if you have enough ones (dots) to make a new group of ten, add those.  Then count the tens and ones.

             25 + 17
You can make a group of ten out of the ones.  Make a ten with 5 + 5.  You'll have 2 ones left over.  Now you have 4 tens and 2 ones left over.  So, 25 + 17 = 42.
Using this model is a great visual for kids as many need this concrete representation to understand place value.  The 2 in 25 is not just a 2 -- it stands for 2 tens.

The kids also used a 100s chart to help them add a 2-digit number with 10.  Doing this helped them see patterns so they could move to adding these equations mentally.

                             33 + 10 = 43
                             43 + 10 = 53
                             52 + 10 = 63

*Play the math games sent home with your child often, especially the games that help them learn their math facts. **They should be fluent with these (have them memorized) by the end of the year.
*Skip count by 10s, but start at a number other than 10.  (25, 35, 45...)
*Add 10 to 2-digit numbers mentally.  (Ask "What is 47 + 10?)
*Notice patterns with numbers.  Look at a 100s chart together and look for patterns.  Math is all about patterns! 
*As your child works with numbers, ask them to explain how they got their answer.  When you can explain your answer you understand it at a deeper level.

Social Studies
Before break we did a study of Important American Figures & Symbols.  We incorporated this work into reading. During Social Studies the kids really enjoyed working in groups to research either an American Symbol (The Liberty Bell, Mount Rushmore, The Statue of Liberty, The White House, The Bald Eagle, and the American Flag) or an important American Figure (Amelia Earhart, Jackie Robinson, Wilma Rudolph, Helen Keller, and Harriet Tubman).  They worked in small groups, gathered facts, and collaborated to create a poster or a book about their symbol or figure. Along the way we discussed the importance of working collaboratively together.  We reflected on our collaborative skills, filling out a rubric on how well we felt we collaborated. 
Ask your child if they remember what they learned about the American Symbol or Figure they studied!

Well, as you can see, we've been busy!  If you made it this far, thank you for taking the time to read through this! 

As we enter this unchartered territory of "remote learning" please know that I am only a phone call - or face time - away!  I would be happy to talk anytime - to you or your child!  Please let them know that they can reach out to me anytime!  You can always contact me with any questions or concerns - and please let me know how your child is doing!  I will miss seeing them everyday!  

Thank you so much for all you do to support your child at home!  I feel so blessed to be working with such wonderful families!  

Stacie Martino 

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Mrs. Martino's Messenger

Important Upcoming Dates:

Friday, November 15:  Crazy Hair Day
Help support our Kits for Kids program, supporting families around the world who need health supplies. The student council will be assembling the kits, but we need supplies donated.  With money donations we will buy needed supplies to fill the kits.  So, make your hair CRAZY and bring in a donation - any amount is OK!  
(Please see Dr. Brown's Bog for more information about this program.)

Wednesday, November 20th - Gold Rush Annual Thanksgiving Feast and Celebration of Learning
On Wednesday, November 20th, GRE will host the annual Thanksgiving Feast and Celebration of Learning.  Join us in the classroom from 11:10-11:40and your child will share his/her celebration of learning with you.  This is followed by our Thanksgiving Feast lunch from 11:45-12:05 You can purchase tickets here to enjoy the Thanksgiving Lunch.

Food Drive - now through November 22nd
Student Council is partnering with Legend High School Student Government in an annual canned food drive for the Parker Task Force. The annual food drive will run until Nov. 22nd. Please send in your donations with your student. We have a box in the classroom. 
 Also, if your child brings in a monetary donation to provide turkeys, they can wear their PJ's on Friday, November 22.
The two GRE classrooms with the largest participation will receive a Village-Inn pie party!

Dear Parents,
I can't believe it is already October!  I have been enjoying working with your children every day!  They are such a wonderful group of kiddos!  This newsletter is designed to keep you updated with what your child is learning at school.  Use this as a tool to communicate with me and with your child about their learning. In bold you will find questions or suggestions of how to spark a conversation about what your child is doing in school.  Hopefully this will keep you from hearing "nothing" or "I don't know."  We are very busy in first grade, as you will see!  

Reading - 
We have "Reader's Workshop" everyday.  We've been focusing on finding "Good Fit Books" and building our stamina for reading them in class, adding more time to sustained independent reading each day. It is so important for the kids to spend time in class - and at home - practicing the skills they are learning!  The best way for your child to become a proficient reader to to spend time reading books on their level every day.  I love how Richard Allington, a well-known educator and researcher, puts it:  "Few can learn to do anything well without the opportunity to engage in whatever is being learned."

Ask your child to tell you what a "Good Fit Book" is:

A "Good Fit Book" is one where you....
          *...know most of the words (This can be hard!  When asked, the kids 
              usually say, "Yes!  I knew all of the words" - even when they didn't.
              Therefore, I tell the kids they should know all of the words.  We are 
              learning what this looks and sounds like!)
          *...understand the book - It makes sense to you! We talk a lot about                     how important it is to understand what we read.  We are always 
              asking ourselves, "Does this make sense?"

As you read with your child, stop and ask them "Did that make sense?"

**It is essential that your child read Good Fit Books in order to grow as a reader.  Please encourage, and help, your child find Good Fit Books to read at home!

Vacation Book:  A book that your student can read very fluently and understands what they are reading.  Too easy for the student, but can still enjoy every now and then. 

Good Fit Book:  A book that your student can read fluently, they understand what they are reading, knows almost all of the words (95-98% accurate!), and gets your student thinking!  These books are the key to helping your child grow as a reader and should be read the majority of the time!

Dream Book:  A book that your child is interested in reading, but he/she knows less than 95% of the words.  This is a book that can be enjoyed by having someone read to them. This is also a book that your child will someday be able to read, but only after continuously reading Good Fit Books to help them grow as a reader.

**It is still so helpful and important for you to read to your child! Take time everyday for them to read to you, and for you to read to them and enjoy books together!  This builds a love of reading!

Gold Rush is uses a reading curriculum for grades K-5th written by reading expert Lucy Calkins.  

First graders began the year with Unit 1: Building Good Reading Habits. We talk about how a habit is something you do every time, without thinking about it.  We've been practicing the good habits readers do every time they read a book.  

The following came home in your child's Homework Folder last week, so you can practice these at home too:

We've also been talking about Good Habits for Solving Hard Words.  The following sheet was sent home, explaining the decoding strategies readers use. Readers need to know a variety of strategies they can use to figure out tricky words.  Often, not just one strategy will work!

Ask your child:  "What can I do when I get stuck on a word?"

Finally, we also focus on comprehension strategies during Reader's Workshop time.  Good readers utilize a variety of comprehension strategies which help them become purposeful, active readers who are in control of their own reading comprehension.  These strategies include asking questions, predicting, monitoring your comprehension (being aware of when you do or don't understand), making inferences, visualizing what is happening in your head, and summarizing & synthesizing information.  Right now we are working on a comprehension strategy called Making Connections.  When we Make Connections we connect what we already know (our "schema" or background knowledge) to the text we are reading.  We say, "This reminds me of..."  Connections help us understand a story at a deeper level. Our connection can help us understand how a character is feeling. It can also help us predict what might happen next.  We can also connect what we know with new learning.  We listen to our "inner voice" when we read.  When we learn something new, our "inner voice" might say, "Wow!"  "I didn't know that!"  "Cool!" or "Yuck! That is gross!"  

As you read with your child ask them, "What connections do you have?" or "What does this remind you of?"  or "What did you learn?"  You can also model the connections you are making.  It is great for them to hear examples of making meaningful connections!

We also have "Word Study" everyday.  This is a time to focus on phonics and patterns we see in words.  Gold Rush uses a program called Words Their Way.  I've given the class a spelling test to see what they know about letters, letter combinations, and the sounds they make.  This helped me start them at the appropriate Words Their Way level and differentiate for each child. Each week your child is given a "Word Sort."  It has words that focus on a particular pattern, such as short vowels, blends (two letters whose sounds, when put together, blend closely - such as bl, st, dr, cr....), digraphs (two letters that, when put together, make a new sound - such as ch, sh, ph, th..), and long vowel patterns (two vowels that make one long vowel sound ("magic e"or "silent e" as in cake, and other combinations like oa, ai, ea...).  

Another part of literacy is our Writer's Workshop:  
Right now we are working on writing and telling "small moment" stories from the events in our lives.  A small moment is one moment from our day.  Unlike a huge "watermelon story," such as a trip to Disney Land, a small moment is a "seed story" - or one event from our trip, such as riding on Splash Mountain. First graders love to tell stories!  They come in everyday with a story about going to the park, loosing a tooth, or playing with friends.  But sometimes they struggle with coming up with ideas to write about.  As they share their stories tell them, "That would make a great small moment for you to write about at school!"  

In Writer's Workshop I teach them to go through the Writing Process.  Our steps are:
1. - Think of an idea.  For a small moment, this could be something you do (like riding my scooter or going to gymnastics), or something that has happened to you (like getting caught in a rain storm or making cookies with Dad.)
2. - Plan  I tell them this is the most important!  We will learn various ways to plan our story. Right now we are thinking about what happened first, then next, then after that and are "touching and telling" (touch each page as you tell the story out loud and think about what would go on each page), then sketch (draw a quick sketch on each page to help you remember your plan)
3. - Write!  As you can see, we don't begin with writing our story!
4. - Revise  I tell them, "When your done you've just begun!"  We add detail to our story using "spider legs" and think how can I make my story better?
5. - Edit  We check spelling and punctuation.  We are talking about leaving spaces between our words, writing with lower-case letters, learning strategies for spelling words we don't know, and using punctuation.  Of course not all of our spelling is expected to be correct!  We focus on the patterns we are learning in our Words Their Way sort, and we use our Word Wall to help us spell.  First graders spell phonetically and that is what we want them to do for most words right now.  

Ask your child to tell you about the small moment stories they are writing.

Gold Rush adapted a new math curriculum this year - Envision Math.  This is a wonderful program and adds some rigor to our curriculum. It can be a little challenging for some of the kids as it introduces many concepts earlier than in the past, but we are adjusting. Also, there is quite a bit of reading on some of the worksheets. I use some of them, and not others. (**Please see the note about the math worksheets below.)

A major goal of the Envision math program is to develop mathematical proficiency.  We want students to have...
... a strong background in "number sense" - the ability to decompose numbers naturally, to use the relationships among arithmetic operations to solve problems, to understand the base ten number system, to estimate, and to recognize the relative and absolute magnitude of numbers (NCTM, 2000).  

...and "procedural fluency."  - students who have “skill in carrying out procedures flexibly, accurately, efficiently, and appropriately” 

Click HERE to read an article explaining this in more depth.

I shared at conferences that students need to be proficient with their basic number facts in order to think flexibly and apply this knowledge when adding and subtracting.  Therefore, it is so important for the kids to be playing the math games sent home often to build their proficiency with basic addition and subtraction facts within 20.  These are a great way for the kids to learn their basic math facts which they will apply as they add and subtract larger numbers. There are also many apps and games for the iPad or other digital devices the kids can use to learn their math facts.  Just be careful not to choose ones that time the kids for speed. Research shows that this can be harmful.  Jo Boaler is a professor and researcher of Mathematics Education at Stanford University.  She has a website called where she shares the latest in what research says about teaching math. I've included a few links below that have some really interesting information about teaching math that I think you might enjoy:  

A great video explaining number sense:  
***What is Number Sense?  This video illustrates our goal for our kids - having a strong sense, or deep knowledge, of numbers so we can be flexible and break them apart and combine them in new ways when computing.  Our curriculum does a great job of having kids think about different ways they can solve problems.  It is important for the kids to be able to reason flexibly, and share this reasoning with others, explaining how they figured out the problem.

**Envision Math Worksheets:  Some of the Envision math worksheets can be a little overwhelming this time of year.  They often have a lot of reading and can move from concept to concept, which can be challenging for some of the kids.  However, I do like the challenge they present.  Your kids just might need a little help with them.   **You may see some worksheets come home that are incomplete.  I often have the kids do one side and tell them the other side is a "challenge" and optional.  If you see these come home, you can choose to do some of the problems with them, but please don't get frustrated if they don't understand! These concepts will spiral and come up again, and many of the kids need to build their conceptual knowledge first.  We use manipulatives (counters, unifix cubes...) in class and draw pictures to help kids "see" the math on a concrete level before moving to the abstract.  

Count often with your children.  Practice counting by ones, fives, tens, and twos to 120.  When they become fluent, try starting at a number other than one.  
Play the math games sent home often - keep them in a safe place and play them over and over again! 
Make story problems for your kids, such as "We are having people over for dinner.  One family has 6 people, one has 5, and we have 4.  How many plates will I need?  

Social Studies:  
It is so important to take the time to build a strong classroom community in the beginning of the year in which all students feel safe and can learn.  We talk a lot about our school motto, Going for the G.O.L.D.:  Give respect, Own your actions, Listen and Learn, and Do your best. We've been discussing how to be a good citizen, and characteristics of a good citizen. The kids began collaborating in small groups to create posters that explain how to be good citizens at Gold Rush and go for the G.O.L.D. around our building.  We will post these around the school.  
We will include a "QR Code" (a barcode people can scan from their smartphone or iPad) on our posters that will take them to the presentation the kids create in Seesaw that describes their poster.  We are discussing how to Collaborate and Communicate with our peers.  These are two of the "4C's" that are part of Douglas County's GVC (Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum).

Ask your child to tell teach you about what it looks like and sounds like to go for the G.O.L.D. at Gold Rush.

We began our first science unit called Pebbles, Sand, and Silt. This is an introduction to rocks and minerals.  The kids really love working with the rocks we feel like real geologists!  This unit introduces concepts in earth science while practicing the process of inquiry. The activities provide experiences that heighten students' awareness of rocks as earth materials and natural resources. They come to know rocks by many names and in a variety of sizes.  For example, pebbles and sand are the same material - rock - just different in size.  

Begin a rock collection!  Find different and unique rocks around your neighborhood.  Describe the properties of the rocks you find!





Thursday, July 18, 2019

Welcome to First Grade!

First grade is such a special year, full of learning and new adventures!
I can't wait to meet my class and begin our journey together!
I'm looking forward to a fantastic year!

If you'd like, you can read more about me on the "About Me" tab.

Please take a moment to read over the following important dates and add them to your calendar:

From the desk of Dr. Jenny Brown:

We are eagerly awaiting the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year. I want to provide you with important information regarding the start of the year. It is my hope that this information will make you aware of upcoming events and timelines.
Wednesday, July 17th – July 31st Online Express Check-In
Online Express Check-In will open on Wednesday, July 17. Click here to login. You will use Online Express Check-In to update your contact information, pay school fees, and sign up for volunteer opportunities. Please note that the Emergency Dismissal form must be printed and turned in to your teacher during Meet Your Teacher Day on Tuesday, August 6, or the first day of school. All students must register via Online Express Check-In by July 31st. For assistance please contact one of the individuals below:
GRE Registrar - Christi Dismang
GRE Administrative Assistant - Anita Rudman
Wednesday, July 17th - Class Placement
We know that your child is eager to know who his/her classroom teacher will be. Starting July 17th, you can click here to access the Parent Portal. You will be able to view your child’s teacher by clicking on the schedule tab, then selecting your student in the upper right corner. You can look forward to receiving a welcome letter from your child’s teacher via email by the end of the month.
Tuesday, August 6th - Meet Your Teacher Grades 1-5
We believe that it is essential for students to have the opportunity to meet their teacher and visit their classroom prior to the first day of school. Families are welcome to visit their classroom on Tuesday, August 6th, and drop off school supplies 
We want to ensure that families are able to spend time with the teacher in a small group setting so we ask that you sign up for one of the times below by clicking here for our online scheduler. The online scheduler will be available July 17th through July 31st and the password is digger. The sign up is first come first serve, so please sign up as soon as possible if you have a preferred time or wish to align siblings’ times. If you ordered school supplies through the PTO, they will be delivered to your child’s classroom. Click here for a map of teachers’ classrooms.
Meet Your Teacher Times on Tuesday, August 6th
Thursday, August 7th - First Full Day of School Grades 1-5
The first full day of school for students in grades 1-5 is Thursday, August 7th. Students will meet their teachers on the front blacktop on the first day of school for an opening flag ceremony that begins at 8:30 AM. Click here for a map of your classroom location for our opening ceremony. All teachers will have a sign with their name on it.  
Thursday, August 8th - Rolling Start to the School Day Begins for Grades 1-5
On the second day of school, students will enter the building through the front door on their own between 8:20 AM-8:30 AM and walk directly to their classrooms. Teachers and older students will be available to assist younger students. Our rolling start ensures a smooth start to the day. Parents of preschool students will need to walk their children into the building using the west entrance and sign their child in. School is in session from 8:30 AM-3:30 PM.    
Click here for the 2019 - 2020 Conventional Calendar
Click here for information regarding the Rolling Start to the School Day
Click here for general drop off and pick up procedures.
Balanced Beginnings Schedule for Kindergarten Students ONLY
With the transition to free full day kindergarten, we have the opportunity for additional transition days for our youngest students. Please see information below regarding our start of the year events for kindergarten students only. These opportunities allow our kindergarten students and families a comfortable transition to their new school.
Individual Meet & Greet - August 6th or 7th
We plan to meet with kindergarten families during an Individual Meet and Greets on either August 6th or August 7th. The meet and greet sessions are an opportunity for your family to explore the classroom and begin to build a lasting relationship with your child's teacher.
We ask that you sign up for a time by clicking here for our online scheduler. The online scheduler will be available July 17th through July 31st and the password is digger. The sign up is first come first serve, so please sign up as soon as possible if you have a preferred day or time.
Balanced Beginnings - August 8th or 9th
We will also offer Balanced Beginnings Days on August 8th and 9th. Kindergarten students will meet with a small group of students for an hour on either the 8th or 9th. Kindergarten students will get to know other students in the classroom and partake in classroom activities. This is an opportunity for classroom teachers to observe your child's social, emotional, and physical strengths and needs.  
Again, we ask that you sign up for a time by clicking here for our online scheduler. The online scheduler will be available July 17th through July 31st and the password is digger. The sign up is also first come first serve.
First Full Day of Kindergarten - August 12th
Kindergarten students’ first full day of school is Monday, August 12. A staff member will meet families at the exterior doors near his/her classroom between 8:20-8:35 AM. Parents are invited to a Tears and Cheers breakfast on August 12th from 8:45-9:30 AM in our cafeteria.
Wednesday, August 21st – Back to School Night K-5 (for Parents Only)
Classroom teachers will provide parents with an overview of the school year on Wednesday, August 21, during the following two Back to School Nightsessions: 6:05-6:35 PM & 6:40-7:10 PM. The principal will share school celebrations and upcoming goals for the year in the gym from 5:45-6:00 PM. We hope you will join us for these informative sessions.
Tuesday, August 27th – 1 Hour Assessment & Picture Day Grades K-5
In an attempt to gain more targeted information regarding your child’s academic strengths and needs, every child will come to school for one hour only on August 27th to complete reading and math assessments. The assessments administered allow educators to alter their instruction to meet your child’s individual needs and learning style.
Click here for the online conference scheduler between July 17th – July 31st to select an assessment time for your child.  The password isdigger. Because we value the information we obtain on these days, it is mandatory that all children complete their assessments on August 27th. Please bring your child to the front vestibule and teachers will escort him/her to his/her testing location. Students will conclude their assessment hour in the gym where your child will take his/her school picture. Our Before and After School Enrichment program (B.A.S.E.) will be available on the 27th. Please contact B.A.S.E. as soon as possible as spaces are limited.
We are looking forward to an incredible year! We look forward to seeing you in August!