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.




Saturday, July 15, 2017

Welcome to First Grade!

I hope you are enjoying your summer!

I can't wait to meet all of my new first graders and
I'm looking forward to a fantastic year!

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

*Also, please mark the dates below on your calendar.*

Monday, July 17th-July 31st - Online Check In
Online Express Check In will open at 12:01 AM on Monday, 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 some of the forms need to be printed and turned in to your teacher during Meet Your Teacher Day on Monday, August 7, or the first day of school. All students must register via Online Express Check In by July 31st.  For assistance please contact our GRE Registrar:
            Anita Rudman: or 303-387-7707

Monday, August 7thth - Meet Your Teacher
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 Monday, August 7, 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 shown below by clicking here for our online scheduler.  The online scheduler will be available July 17th through July 31st and the password is digger.  Each time slot is reserved for a maximum of six students.  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 an Edukit, it will be delivered to your child’s classroom.  Click here for a map of teachers’ classrooms.
Sign Up For One of The Following Times on Monday, August 7th

Thursday, August 10th -  First Full Day of School
The first full day of school for students in grades K-5 is Thursday, August 10th. I know it may seem silly to start school on a Thursday, but I love it, especially for first graders! There is so much to go over about how our classroom works and everything that is new to first graders, like eating lunch in the classroom! It is nice to have two days to get settled! And, our days are long for the kids in the beginning, so starting with two days, then having the weekend, is perfect for them!
**Students will meet me on the front blacktop for an opening flag ceremony. There will be signs with each teacher's name. Find "Mrs. Martino" and line up behind our sign.

School will be in session from 8:30AM-3:30PM next year.    
Click here for the 2017 2018 Conventional Calendar
Click here for information regarding the Rolling Start to the School Day

Click here for general drop off and pick up procedures.

On the second day of school students will enter the building through the front door on their own between 8:20 and 8:30 and walk directly to our classroom.

Wednesday, August 16th – Parent Back to School Night
I will provide parents with an overview of the school year on August 16th during the following two Back to School Night sessions: 6:05-6:35PM & 6:40-7:10 PM.  Jenny Brown, our 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!
Thursday, August 17th or Friday, August 18th – 1 Hour of Assessments
In an attempt to gain more targeted information regarding your child’s academic strengths and needs, each child will come to school for one hour only on either August 17th or August 18th to complete reading and math assessments. Having students complete assessments with their teacher at the end of the second week of school allows students to adjust to classroom practices and procedures.  The assessments administered will 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 your assessment day and time.  The password is digger.  Because we value the information we obtain on these days, it is mandatory that all children complete their assessments on either August 17th or August 18th.  Please bring your child to the front vestibule and teachers will escort him/her to his/her testing location.  Students will conclude their assessment day in the gym where your child take his/her school picture.  Our Before and After School Enrichment program (B.A.S.E.) will be available on both August 17th and 18th. Please contact B.A.S.E. as soon as possible as spaces are limited.

I am looking forward to meeting each of you and starting our first grade journey together soon!  If you have any questions at all, please feel free to email me at  Enjoy the rest of your summer!  

Stacie Martino