Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Martino Messenger
First Grade News!

Important Upcoming Dates
Friday, February 16th - No School -
 Teacher Inservice Day
Monday, February 19th - No School - President's Day

Valentine's Day Party - Wed., February 14th
Students should bring in their valentines and mailboxes on the 14th.
**Our party will be from 8:35 - 9:40.  
**Click here to go to our volunteer sign-up.

**Thank you Meghan Hoff & 
Kari Lacy for planning our party!  
We are excited!  

Spring Conferences:  Thurs., March 8th & Thurs., March 15th
You can sign up beginning Friday, February 16th.
Click here to sign up.
Make sure it says Gold Rush under schools, then click "go"
Password is:  Digger

Put on your calendar:  Thursday, February 22nd

Specials Showcase Performance
Click here to see the letter about this performance from Mrs. Petty.
**Students are asked to wear a solid color shirt, if possible, in green, blue, or brown.
Arrive 15 minutes prior to the performance, no sooner, please.

                      Classroom Highlights 

Dear Parents, 
I can't believe it is already February!  The year is flying by!  We've continued to be busy first graders!  I would like to share all of the learning that has been going on in class... and let you know what your child will be working on in the upcoming weeks.  In blue you will find some ideas for you to use to begin a discussion with your child about their learning.  

In Writing we finished our work in our Narrative Writing Unit before break by publishing one of our stories.  I hope you saw the folder that came home with some of your child's writing from this unit.  I included a letter that explains some of the concepts we covered.  

We began our next writing unit on Information Writing, or writing "teaching books."  We've talked about what they could write about.  I told them it should be something they know a lot about or something they love to do, and something they care about - something they are passionate about. Our topics range from How to Take Care of a Dog, to All About Star Wars, or American Girl Dolls.  The kids love sharing their expertise!

During this unit we look closely at various nonfiction books and study the strategies authors use to teach their readers, then try and use these in our own books. 
Concepts we will be focusing on include:
*Writing a book that teaches readers about a topic
*Having a beginning that captures the reader's attention
*Adding facts and details that teach about the topic - writing in "twin sentences" (two sentences that go together to add detail - such as: Dogs like to eat biscuits.  As biscuit is like a cookie or treat.
*Adding nonfiction text features to help teach readers, such as illustrations that teach, labels, headings, maps, charts, or diagrams.
*Thinking about questions our readers would have about our topic, and adding details that answer those questions
*Using comparisons and examples to add details
*Writing an ending

The kids love Writer's Workshop!  I often hear, "I love writing!" or "When can we write?"  I love it!

We've also been discussing the need to focus on spelling, conventions, and neatness.  I don't expect first graders to spell all words correctly.  But if a word can be found on our Word Wall, or in a book we are reading, or somewhere in the room... I expect that they use these resources to help them spell words.  The kids each have a "Mini Word Wall" and a "Word Bank Book" where they can find words they might be spelling.  

Words Their Way:  We work on "word work" everyday.  This year Gold Rush adapted the Words Their Way program that focuses on spelling patterns for all grades.  Each child is continually assessed to see which spelling focus they should be working on. I found a parent brochure that does a nice job explaining our Words Their Way spelling program.  Click here to read the brochure.

We've also began daily editing - checking sentences for corrections on capitals, punctuation, sentence structure, and grammar.  Hopefully all of this work will transfer into their writing! 

We are connecting our Information Writing Unit with some work in reading by focusing on nonfiction books.  We've talked about the difference between fiction and nonfiction and began looking at nonfiction text features. We are looking at how authors of nonfiction books use these features to teach their readers.  

We also are doing some hard work with the comprehension strategy of Determining Importance and paraphrasing.  Wow!  These can be hard concepts for first graders, but everyone is doing a great job!  As we read we think about what is really important information and what are just interesting details.  We are paraphrasing what we learn, writing it down in our own words.  We practiced this skill recently when learning about Martin Luther King, Jr.  You may have seen your child's technology project on Seesaw.  Everyone did a marvelous job!  (Please see "Technology" below for more details about this project.)  We will continue working on this skill by connecting reading instruction with our Social Studies unit, researching important American Figures and Symbols, beginning next week.  This week the kids also began practicing and performing Reader's Theatre plays about an important American figure.  They will be researching the American Figure, and working collaboratively on putting these plays together, having fun performing them for our peers, Book Buddies, and maybe even a kindergarten class!  

When your child is reading nonfiction books at home, point out some of the text features and discuss their purpose... Why did the author choose to put this text feature (map, diagram, labels, chart...) in his/her book?  What does it help teach?  How can you use this in your teaching book?

You can also practice the steps for paraphrasing as you read together.  S.T.P. - Stop, Think, Paraphrase (cover the words with your hand, then say what you learned or what happened in your own words.)  You can do this with both fiction and nonfiction.

We will be completing our third unit on addition and subtraction soon. It was a big unit and covered some important concepts.  Recently, we've been working on counting large groups of objects by putting them in groups of 5 or 10.  It is important for the kids to practice counting by 5s and 10s at home so they can be fluent and able to apply this skill when counting objects.  Later, they will be using skip counting to help them add and subtract by 10.  Also, please continue to practice counting by 2s.  This is still hard for many of the kids.  Playing the math games I've sent home is also important. 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 of Mathematics Education at Stanford University.  Last year I was lucky enough to go to Stanford with some other teachers from Gold Rush to listen to Jo Boaler and learn about the latest in what her research says about teaching math.  She has a website called Youcubed.org. I've included a few links below that have some really interesting information about teaching math that I think you might enjoy:  

Four Boosting Messages

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, Investigations, 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.

Depth, Not Speed

I've also included a link that many parents have found helpful.  It is a link to "Math Words and Ideas" from our Investigations curriculum.  They are included with our lessons, and can show you how we teach some key concepts or how we approach certain math ideas:  

Math Words and Ideas

Most of the kids have been completing the Sunshine Math sheets that have been coming home for homework.  I encourage everyone to try these problems!  You may need to help them read the problem... we talk about how important it is to read the problem more than once.  If they are not sure how to solve the problem you can offer some ideas, or even show them how you would figure it out.  Encourage them to do the thinking!  You will notice that this math covers many concepts we haven't yet covered in class.  If they seem too hard for your child, just have them try the ones they can handle.  Remember, this is optional. Have fun with this!    

Our next unit is on measurement.  This will include telling time to the hour and half hour, and an introduction to fractions.    

As your child works on math problems, including the Sunshine Math, talk about different problem solving strategies they can use to figure out the problem, including drawing a picture, acting out the problem, making a chart, or using objects they can manipulate to help them. 

We completed our unit on Rocks, "Pebbles, Sand, and Silt."  The kids really had fun with this unit and enjoyed being "geologists."  They did many activities that real geologists do, including separating rock materials into various sizes and naming them - from smallest to largest (clay, silt, sand, gravel, pebbles, cobbles, and boulders.)  We discussed how these materials are used to build or make many things we use everyday, and went on a walk around the school, noticing where we see these materials being used. Your child will be bringing home their "Field Notebook" soon.  Take a moment and let them share what we did and what they learned during our Rocks unit.   

Our next Science unit will begin after Spring Break- a unit on life cycles where we will observe the life cycle of meal worms and later, in the spring, butterflies and plants.  

Ask your child if they can tell you the different sizes of rocks we learned about.  Also, where do we see rocks used in the world around us?  

Social Studies:  
We began a unit on American Heroes and Symbols with a discussion about Martin Luther King Jr. We also learned about Rosa Parks and Ruby Bridges. Next week we will learn about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln for President's Day.  Our Book Clubs are working on Reader's Theatre plays about these historical figures.  We will also be learning about historical landmarks, such as The Statue of Liberty, The Liberty Bell, and Mount Rushmore.  They will be working in small groups, using an online research website called Pebble Go to help gather facts about one American Hero or Landmark, then share their information with the class by creating a collaborative project.  They will be able to choose to make an informational poster, book, or use technology, creating a project with Sonic Pics or Adobe Spark Video.  

Have a discussion about Martin Luther King Jr.  
Ask them to tell you what they already know about George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. It is fun to see what they think they know before we begin a topic!  
In the next few weeks you can also ask them about the American Figure they are researching.

To build schema for our Famous Americans and American Symbols unit, first graders learned how to access assigned books within Epic Books about Martin Luther King Jr.  They took screenshots of pictures that illustrated important moments in Dr. King's life.  Through Spark Video, they organized their screenshots and recorded their new learning about this American Hero.  
**Please see your child's project on their Seesaw portfolio!  

Student Sample #1


Student Sample #2

I've enjoyed sharing some of our learning with you!  I hope you enjoy talking with your child about their work!  

I have a wonderful class and I feel so blessed to share my day with your child! I can't thank you enough for all of your help and support everyday!  My door is always open so please let me know if you have any questions or concerns!  

Stacie Martino  

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Martino Messenger
First Grade News!

Important Upcoming Dates:

Winter Party!
Our Winter Party will be Thursday, December 21st from 8:30 - 9:30
More information to come!

Electronic Progress Reports (EPRs) 
EPRs will be released to parents on Saturday,  December 23rd,  through Parent Portal

Winter Break!
No School Friday, December 22nd - January 7th!
We will see you on Monday, January 8th!

Dear Parents, 
I can't believe it is already December!  We have been super busy in first grade! It was great to see so many of you at our Thanksgiving Celebration of Learning before our Thanksgiving break.  The kids were so excited to show you some of their work and amazing thinking they have done in class! So glad so many of you were able to make it!  

Classroom Highlights

We've continued to practice that Reading is Thinking by practicing the comprehension strategies we've discussed so far, Making Connections and Asking Questions.

Last week we started discussing Story Elements - setting, characters, plot, problem, solution. We began with setting.  We read Goldilocks and the Three Bears and drew and wrote about the setting in the story.  The kids also tried this on their own.  This can be a little confusing for the kids!  They often start telling me the plot of the story - telling me what happened, instead of describing where and when the story takes place.  We will continue to discuss story elements after Winter Break.  

*Ask your child to listen to their inner voice and to think out loud, sharing what their inner voice is saying as they read!  
*Discuss what you learn and questions you have, then have try and discover the answers together!
*Ask your child to describe the setting in the story you are reading.  You can also discuss the characters, plot, problem & solution.  

Of course, we continue to work on decoding strategies too!  I can't stress how important it is for your child to read every day!  The best way to become a better reader is to read a lot... at least 20 minutes each day!

In writing we've been continuing with our small moment unit, writing stories from our lives.  We discuss how writers use various strategies to help our readers understand our writing.  One strategy we've been practicing is to bring our stories to life - making people talk, move, think, and feel.  We are also trying to tell our stories in "itsy-bitsy steps"  - writing what happened first, then next, then next and using lots of detail.  We've also looked closely at mentor texts and noticed things authors do in their writing that we can try in our own writing... things like "pop out words" (bold face words), ellipses (...), and onomatopoeia (words that show sound, like "ding" "whoosh" or "clickety clack." We are also focusing on editing our work, correcting spelling and adding punctuation.  We will be finishing up our narrative unit before Christmas, then move on to writing information pieces about topics we are "experts" on.  

*Ask your child to share how they are bringing their stories to life when they write!

We just finished our unit on geometry.  This unit focused on two dimensional shapes and the relationships among them.  Our goal was for students to describe shapes according to their attributes (triangles have 3 straight sides and 3 corners), and to understand that shapes can be put together or taken apart to make new shapes. Students were asked to observe, describe, compare, classify, represent, and build with 2-D shapes.  We used what we know about shapes to recognize them in the world and to use geometric vocabulary to describe them. 

*Ask your child to find geometric shapes in the world and describe them using our math language!

This week we will begin a new unit on addition and subtraction.  We will be working on developing strategies for adding and subtracting numbers by counting on or back, solving problems that involve adding more that two numbers, and finding many different combinations for the same number.  We will also begin to work with place value as we represent the teen numbers as a group of ten plus a group of ones. 

Interesting Math Information for Parents:
Jenny shared some information about math homework in her blog.  When you have a moment, please click on the link below and look this over... Great information!
                             Helping Your Child With Math

Last year our staff did a Book Study on a book called Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler.  This is such an interesting book and helps to describe what is important when teaching math.  I thought I'd share a few things that parents might find interesting:  

Jo Boaler talks about the importance of having a "growth mindset"  - the belief that one can learn more or become smarter if they work hard and persevere.  When people have this growth mindset, they may learn more, learn it more quickly, and view challenges and failures as opportunities to improve their learning and skills.  In contrast, in a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They may learn less than they could or learn at a slower rate, while also shying away from challenges.  

There is a great website called YouCubed where Jo Boaler describes her theories and provides many activities and resourses for teachers, parents, and students.  Here are a couple of videos or articles I thought you might be interested in.  I encourage you to take a look!  

I often get asked about why schools teach math so differently than we learned math.  Our addition and subtraction unit begins to form the basis for understanding numbers at a deeper level... having good number sense.  When we have good number sense we can take numbers apart and put them back together in new ways to solve problems.  Jo Boaler helps explain it here: 
What is Number Sense?
A 3 minute illustration of the concept of number sense by Professor Jo Boaler, 

Parents' Beliefs About Math Change Their Children's Achievement:

Social Studies  

We finished up our discussion about the First Thanksgiving and how it compares to Thanksgiving today.  The kids created a folder where they synthesized all of the information we discussed about the First Thanksgiving. This will come home soon.  After Winter Break we will begin a unit on American Heroes and Symbols with a discussion about Martin Luther King Jr., as well as Rosa Parks and Ruby Bridges.  In February we will learn about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln for President's Day.

*Please take a moment and let your child share their 
"Thanksgivng Story" Folder with your when it comes home.

This week we will begin our unit on rocks called Pebbles, Sand, and Silt.  The kids really love working with the rocks and feel like real scientists!  This unit is designed to introduce 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 will come to know rocks by many names and in a variety of sizes. Pebbles and sand are the same material, just different in size.  We will continue this study after our Winter Break.  

*Start a rock collection and notice rocks around your home. Ask your child to describe rocks based on their properties like smooth, rough, shiny, dull, sharp, chalky, light, dark, speckled...

I enjoyed sharing some of our learning with you!  I hope you enjoy talking with your child about their work!  
I have a wonderful class and feel so blessed to share my day with your child!  I can't thank you enough for all of your help and support everyday!  I am looking forward to amazing things in 2018!  

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Martino Messenger
First Grade News!

Important Upcoming Dates

Tuesday, October 31st - Halloween Party!
Our Halloween Party will be on Tuesday, October 31st.  The kids will come dressed in their costumes and the party will take place first thing in the morning, from 8:40-9:40.  We will have an all-school parade of costumes at 9:40.  Then the kids will change into regular clothes and continue on with a normal school day.  
*It works best to have an outfit under their costume, if possible. 

**If you are able to help with the party, 
please click on the link below.  
We need a few items, and some parents to help run a station.  

Tuesday, November 7th - NO SCHOOL
Professional Development Day

Wednesday, November 15th - 
Thanksgiving Feast & Celebration of Learning!
Come and enjoy a Thanksgiving lunch with your child.  Before lunch we will invite families to our classroom to share some of the learning that has been taking place in first grade!  More information to come, but our Celebration of Learning will be around 11:30, with lunch around noon.

Classroom Highlights

Literacy  World Class Outcome: Create meaning strategically in reading and writing

One overall theme throughout the year in reading is teaching the kids that reading is not just about reading the words.  We also think about the information... Reading is thinking!  I say this to them all of the time!  Listening and reading involve thinking, and nothing matters more than the thinking we do when we read, listen, and view.  

This week we started talking about another comprehension strategy good readers use, Asking Questions.  Stephanie Harvey writes, “If we want to develop critical thinkers we must teach our children to think about and question what they listen to, read, and view.  Asking questions enriches the learning experience and leads to deeper understanding.  Questioning is the strategy that propels learners on.  

Asking questions can be hard for first graders. Their first response is to say, "I don't have any questions." I respond by saying, "If you did, what would they be?" They need to learn to push their thinking! Sometimes their questions are ones that have already been answered, or are not very deep, like, "Why is a squirrel called a squirrel?" They need us to help them by modeling good questions. They can ask questions when reading both fiction and nonfiction.

Ask your child to listen to their inner voice and to think out loud, sharing what their inner voice is saying as they read!  
Discuss what you learn and questions you have, then try and discover the answers together!
Model how to ask questions as you read with or to your child!

In writing we've been continuing with our small moment unit, writing stories from our lives.  We discuss how writers use various strategies to help our readers understand our writing.  Next week we will begin practicing "Bringing our stories to life" - making people talk, move, think, and feel.  We are also trying to tell our stories in "itsy-bitsy steps"  - writing what happened first, then next, then next and using lots of detail.  We will look closely at mentor texts and notice things authors do in their writing that we can try in our own writing... things like "pop out words" (bold face words), elipses (...), and onomatopoeia (words that show sound, like "ding" "whoosh" or "clickety clack." We are also focusing on editing our work, correcting spelling and adding punctuation.  We will be finishing up our narrative unit in about a month or so by "publishing" one of our stories, then move on to writing information pieces about topics we are "experts" on.  

Ask your child to share how they are bringing their stories to life when they write!

Math  World Class Outcome:  Look for and make use of structure:  
    I can see and understand how numbers and shapes are organized 
and put together as parts and wholes.

We finished up our first unit on addition and subtraction this week and will begin a unit on geometry on Monday.  Our geometry unit focuses on two dimensional shapes and the relationships among them.  Our goal is for students to describe shapes according to their attributes (triangles have 3 straight sides and 3 corners), and to understand that shapes can be put together or taken apart to make new shapes. Students observe, describe, compare, classify, represent, and build with 2-D shapes. We use what we know to recognize shapes in the world and to use geometric vocabulary to describe them.  

We will finish up this work in the next few weeks, then move on to our next addition and subtraction unit.  

Ask your child to find geometric shapes in the world and describe them using our math language!

Social Studies
World Class Outcome:  Evaluate the roles, rights, and responsibilities of citizenship - We concluded this unit before break.  The kids worked collaboratively in small groups to create posters that teach Gold Rush citizens how to go for the G.O.L.D. throughout the building.  These are hanging up throughout the school, and your child should have the video they posted on their Seesaw portfolio for you to see.

Ask your child to tell you what it means to be a good citizen at Gold Rush and 
why it is important!

Our next Social Studies unit will be a history unit on Family & Cultural Traditions in the United States in the past.  We will be discussing our Thanksgiving Holiday, analyzing how it has changed over time and why.  We will go into December with this unit, discussing various other traditions.  

Begin to talk about your family traditions and customs!

Science:  World Class Outcome: -Demonstrate the process of inquiry:

    *Identify a problem
     *Generate questions

     *Investigate possible solutions to the problem

We began a science unit on Matter, looking closely at solids and liquids.  The kids have solids they've looked at, built with, and observed to describe their properties.  They will go on a search for solids in our world.  They will also investigate liquids and their properties.  We will culminate this unit by discussing how some forms of matter can change from a liquid to a solid, or vice versa.  We will be conducting various experiments.  We will be doing these on Halloween, after our party and parade.  I will need some parent helpers!  If you can stay after our party and help, please let me know!  

Search for and describe the properties of liquids and solids in your world!

Our next science unit will begin in January, with a unit on rocks called Pebbles, Sand, and Silt.  The kids really love working with the rocks and feel like real scientists!  This unit is designed to introduce 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 will 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!

Thank you’s!
Thank you to  Donna Pixler for making our Digger Dash banner!  It is so cute!  We love it!

Thank you to Kari Berge for donating our Digger Dash Gummy Bear t-shirts!  They are adorable and we will wear them throughout the year!  Thank you so much!

Thank you to Kari Berge, Lauren Van Abel, Meghan Hoff, Kari Lacy, Jackie Lockwood, and Michelle Spencer for coming in every week and working with a Book Club!  The kids love going to Book Club and they really learn so much from working in a small group!

Thank you to Kari Lacy and Meghan Hoff for helping kids with their Sight Words and helping me introduce Words Their Way word sorts to small groups!

Thank you to Jillianne Mancini, Kate O'Reilly, and Jun Liu for tearing out our math pages so I can hand them out one page at a time!  This makes my life soooooo much easier!  

Thank you to Jillianne Mancini and Nicole Chambers for coordinating our Halloween Party!  We are all looking forward to it!

And thanks to all parents for supporting your child at home! 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Important Upcoming Dates:

Friday, September 15th - Western Night

Friday, September 22nd - NO SCHOOL - Teacher Training

Our fall Parent Teacher Conferences are scheduled for 
Wednesday, September 27, and Thursday, October 5th. 
Click here to schedule your conference using the online scheduler.  The password is digger.  

Friday, September 29th - Digger Dash!
We are looking forward to our all school fun run on September 29.  We hope that you will come and cheer us on.  Please see our running schedule below.

8:45 – 9:00            Stretching (Preschool and Kindergarten)
9:00 – 9:15            Race  (Preschool and Kindergarten)
9:10 – 9:25            Stretching (1st and 2nd grades)
9:25 – 9:55            Race  (1st and 2nd grades)
9:50 – 10:00         Stretching (3rd and 4th grades)
10:00 – 10:45       Race  (3rd and 4th grades)
10:40 – 10:50       Stretching (5th grade)

10:50 – 11:35       Race  (5th grade)

October 9 - 13  NO SCHOOL - Fall Break

Dear Parents,
I can't believe it is already September!  I have been enjoying getting to know your children!  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.  Reading for an extended period of time can be a challenge to many first graders this time of the year!  We start small and build on it every 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!

We are also talking about how readers are strategic - they have a plan when they encounter problems and come to a word they don't know.  We will be talking about the following "fix-up" strategies:

Reading Strategy
Language to Use/Actions to take
Picture Clues
-When the pictures can help the reader figure out a word
“Take a look at the picture, that might give you a clue to that word”
-When the reader breaks the word into smaller pieces/chunks and puts them together
“Let’s try breaking that word into pieces.”

You can cover a part of the word for the student.
Ready, Say, Slide
-When the reader gets his/her mouth ready to say the first sound of the word, says the sound and then slides through the rest of the word
“Get your mouth ready and say the first sound of the word, ok let’s slide through the rest of the word.”

“What word would make sense there that starts with that sound?”
Skip the word (then go back)
-The reader skips (leaps over) the word, reads the rest of the sentence to see what would make sense and then goes back to re-read

“Try skipping the word and read the rest of the sentence, let’s think about what might make sense.”
Running Start, or "Blasting Through"
-After trying to figure out a tricky word, the reader gets a “running start” by going back to the beginning of the sentence to re-read up to the tricky word 
“Let’s try getting a running start and go back to the beginning of the sentence to re-read.”
Cross Check
-The reader asks him/herself:
1.Does the word look right?
2.Does it sound right?
3.Does it make sense?
“Ask yourself, does that look right? Sound right? Make sense?”
Flip the Vowel
-When the reader tries other sounds the vowel can make (short vs. long, sometimes “a” says the short “o” or short “u” sounds i.e about, ahead,)
“What other sound can (vowel) make?”

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.  Look in this week's Homework Folder for a letter about Making Connections and how you can help make connections at home.

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

After Reader's Workshop we have "Word Study" everyday.  This is a time to focus on phonics and patterns we see in words.  This year we are using 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.

We've been working on our first Investigations unit on counting, addition, and subtraction.  I have been sending home letters from our math program that describe the concepts we are working on and gives ideas for you to support your child at home.  I know it is hard to get to these at times, but they are a great reference for you and I encourage you to read through them when you get a chance.  They really do give you a lot of great information!

This first unit develops students' ideas about counting and quantity, place value and the structure of the base-10 number system.  It develops computational fluency, and focuses on the operations of addition and subtraction.  

We began with counting.  We counted items in a "Mystery Bag" with a partner, then had to record what we found.  We talked a lot about strategies that help us keep track when we count, like moving an object or grouping them when counting large amounts.  Our representation of what we counted should be easy for someone to see how many we counted.  We looked at each other's work and had discussions about what we noticed, then worked to make our representation more organized.

We also work with ten frames.  These enable children to automatically think of numbers less than ten in terms of their relationship to ten, and to build a sound knowledge of the basic addition and subtraction facts for ten, which are an integral part of mental calculation.  They also help us learn place value.  
I love these!  A ten frame is a grid with 10 squares, 5 on the top, and 5 on the bottom:

This ten frame shows the number 7:

We talk about what we notice and I love these discussions! The kids might say, "I notice 7 is 5+2" or "You need 3 more to make 10"
We add ten frames to make larger numbers, like 16 below.  The kids might say, "I notice we need 2 ten frames to make 16 because it is larger  than 10." Or, "Sixteen is 5+5+5+1"  or "10 + 6."  Or, "The 1 in 16 stands for 1 whole ten frame, and the 6 in 16 stands for 6 on the second ten frame.  

Ten frames help us visualize numbers and understand place value. Math researchers like Jo Boaler, tell us that representing math visually is so important!  We will work with ten frames in various ways all year.  

This week for homework you will get Primary Number Cards to play a game.  Under each number on the card is a ten frame representing that number.  Ask your child what they notice about the number by studying the ten frame.

This week we will begin work with addition and subtraction.  We will discuss the tools and strategies students can use to help them add and subtract.  

Students use the strategy they best understand.  They begin with counting all and work through the strategies when they are developmentally ready. Most first graders still need concrete examples they can see and count before moving to the abstract.  They move to the abstract when they are developmentally ready. If your child still needs to count on his/her fingers, or use a manipulative to see numbers, that is just fine!  

I love our math program!  It really helps build a strong foundation and understanding of numbers and how they can be put together and taken apart to solve problems.  We focus a lot on the process we went through to find solutions, and we share this thinking with each other, learning ways to look at a problem.  By explaining their thinking, the kids understand the concepts at a much deeper level, which will help them apply what they know to new situations.  

To build on these concepts, 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.  
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.  We've been reading books by Mary Small and Jill Lynn Donahue about being responsible, honest, considerate, respectful and other important behaviors good citizens possess.  The kids will be 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 are working with our technology teacher, Megan Fleet, to learn how to use an app on our iPads called Seesaw to share our work with our peers and our families. I will be sending a link for you to sign up so you can see items in your child's "portfolio."  This is an exciting way for them to share their thinking and learning with you!  Look for this soon!

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.

What's coming next?
Reading:  More work with activating schema & making connections.
Writing:  Extend small moment writing to study mentor texts and use the 
              "craft moves" we notice from these texts in our own writing.
Math:  Subtraction story problems, more efficient counting & adding strategies,
              and beginning geometry in October.
Science:  A unit called "Pebbles, Sand, & Silt" - an introduction to Rocks &                       Minerals.