Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Centers today!

Hi Parents!

Sorry it's been awhile, but I have been working on assessing the students, getting everyone working on our classroom rules and routines, and getting to know your kiddos (most importantly, of course!)...

I am also running Odyssey of the Mind, and setting up our FIRST Toquam team, which is a program for the 3-5 grade students which practices problem solving. I am ALSO running Girls On The Run, our FIRST Toquam team, with Ms. Hofer from 3rd grade! Needless to say... I am finally getting settled in with all of the things going on this year, so here I am, posting about my classroom!

I have been focusing on getting our students to rotate through centers safely and quietly. Our room is not huge, so this is especially important as I don't want the kids pushing and shoving when they are going from place to place. As a result, we have been doing centers for most of the day!

This serves two purposes:

1. The kids need to be prepared for independent work. I meet with small groups all day, which ensures that I am meeting the needs of each kiddo. It also means that they need to be independent learners!

2. It allows me to teach the rules of centers without lecturing the kids. I bring them into centers that they really like - one or two, they didn't LOVE because they weren't AS fun, but ya know... gotta do SOME paperwork! :) - and then I teach them to transition. They know that they waste time in centers if they are fooling around, and MAN they do not like that. These centers? They were COOL.

See Below!

Sorting some transportation manipulatives! This works on many skills: Sorting by different attributes, fine motor, problem solving... the list goes on! Note that the kids had to use special tweezers to pick up their counters - great workout for those little hands!

Another little sorter :)

These kiddos are doing a FAVORITE. Seriously guys - it's magic. The sight word HERE seems to be difficult for most to read when it comes to our assessments, so I taught it today. The kids use a push pin, and they poke holes in the word so that once they are done, it's see through! When you hold it up to the light, it's super cool and looks like it's shining. 

Parents, you have never seen kids more engaged or excited. You would think I gave them MAGIC tools. SO CUTE.

Silent, hard working kids! This practices their fine motor skills and builds sight word skills! This was one of the first ones, but next time you might see some additional activities on that sheet.

At this table, the kids were doing a cutting/sorting worksheet which helps them learn to subitize their numbers. Subitize is just a fancy word for being able to look at a "set" of things and know it's a certain number. Kind of like how when you roll a die, you know that 5 dot pattern is 5, automatically.

One last shot of my kiddos doing some sorting. 

Today was a great day!
I am super pleased with the amount of amazing things happening in my room. I love that the kids are working hard and I can't wait to see what we can accomplish this year!

Just a quick reminder - Open House is on 10/6. Ours is the last rotation! I work really hard to talk to ALL parents the best that I can, but please understand I can't really conference re: your child's progress on Open School Night. I am MORE than happy to set up an appointment to meet with you another time to discuss your child's progress as I have a much better idea of where the kiddos stand now! 

I will be signing parents up for December Parent-Teacher Conferences during our open house, so please bring your calendars! :-) See you then!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A peek at our week...

Hi Parents!

We are off to an awesome beginning of first grade. The first few weeks are primarily rules, expectations, and review for the kiddos to get comfortable with what first grade is like.

If your child is anything like the countless children before them, the standard answer to "What did you do at school today?" is "I don't know. Nothing." I don't know why, parents. I swear, I am so exhausted at the end of the day, I'm lucky I'm making it home! I don't know why "nothing" happens. But I guess it does! :)

Here's a little about what we are actually doing....

Integrated Literacy:
Eventually, this will be a period of integrated social studies, science, and reading. The kids will do reading and writing activities focused around social studies and science. Right now? We are doing lots of activities with the book Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes, and learning about the rules. This never gets old. I could teach about character education forever, I swear. Part of this book was about treating everyone equally and thinking about what you say, before you say it. We did a little activity in class about this. I'll try to post a picture tomorrow to Bloomz. It was cute!

Read Aloud:
Right now, we are reading lots of books about (surprise!) character education, how to be a good friend, how to listen in school... Eventually, this will all be traded in for a chapter book that I'll read to the kiddos. Last year they liked hearing Flat Stanley books. Not sure what this year's favorite will be!

LSGI (Daily 5):
We used this model last year. It is an hour long block of time where I'll teach guided reading, and the kids will work on writing, reading to themselves, reading with partners, listening to reading, and working on word work. I love LSGI! Right now, though, we are working on building stamina for reading. This is especially important as I teach the kids how to read for longer periods, and build brain power! We're up to 8 uninterrupted minutes so far. Also, this is the period of time where I test the kids on their DIBELS and get a sense of where they are in their reading skills.

Another testing period right now! We are seeing where the kids are with letters, sounds, and blends. This is a huge year for phonics, so we need to see what we have to work on, before we start teaching the first grade concepts. The kids did great today with their letters and sounds -- tomorrow, we'll work on writing words.

This math program is sort of new in a sense! We just upgraded to the next version of Everyday Math, which is called EM4. It is more common-core based, and focuses on specific skills to allow mastery of concepts before moving on - something the old EM was not so good at. So far we have reviewed Monster Squeeze, a game the kids played in K, and estimation. We are going to go over how to rotate through math centers tomorrow! I like to do centers with the kids. I find it to be fast-paced and it keeps the kids on track, especially since math is at the end of the day!

Please let me know if you have any questions - but like I said, we're still reviewing and getting ready to dive into some new concepts! For those of you who have asked about homework...
I do send homework.
I send math homework most nights.
Reading homework is simply to read each night for 20 minutes.

I will review homework with you when we have Open School Night. I think homework can be valuable, but I really try not to give too much of it!

That's all for now! Check back in soon!

Also, if you have not signed up for Bloomz, please do so. It is a great tool for me to communicate with you, and I tend to share pictures of the kiddos on there during their school day!
Friday, September 2, 2016

The MANY Faces of Our Awesome First Grade Classroom!

SO thankful for a very successful week 1! My class is amazing... so thank you for letting me borrow your kids for the next 10 months or so! I am so happy they're here.

A few things (reminders, really):
1. Please make sure you fill out and return all of the paperwork we sent home to you. This includes the information sheet, health card, dismissal information, and ALL papers sent home by me! I like to have another copy of this information, for my records. I keep it in a binder that I take with me to and from school, to make sure I have your contact information.
2. Your child should have a healthy snack each day. We do not provide snack at school, as much as I wish we could. I don't keep anything extra in the room usually.
3. Please make sure to keep a copy of my contact information, as well as our class schedule, so you have it on hand. I am typically available through email, phone, and using Bloomz. I try to get back to all families in a reasonable amount of time, but for something like a dismissal change that is a SAME DAY request... if I do not respond to you during the day, please call the office and give them the change directly. You can always write a note and stick it in your child's folder to change dismissal information. VERBAL requests for change in dismissal information will not be followed; we need to have it in writing!
4. PLEASE send a change of clothes for your child. Please send them in a clearly marked plastic bag. I find that Ziplock bags, the gallon sized ones, tend to fit a change of clothes. We get dirty. Especially 5/6 year olds. :-) It is good to have a change in case of any incidents.
5. Please check your child's folder and empty it, EVERY night. I promise, there are reasons for this... mainly, to communicate via notes/flyers, but also because I need to be able to see if you put anything in there that I need to look at!
6. Homework usually begins after Open House. Our Open House happens to be later this year, so we will start homework a little earlier. Some nights, homework will be a couple of items to do. Some nights, there will be no written homework at all. EVERY NIGHT, your child is expected to read for 20 minutes. If you have a kiddo that is not reading just yet, you can help him/her with the reading. By the end of the year, your little one will be reading to you!

IF YOU EVER NEED READING SUGGESTIONS, PLEASE LET ME KNOW! I do Scholastic Book Orders in my class, and I can recommend which books to choose for your child's reading ability. I can also send some home, if you are having trouble finding something for him/her to read.

Sorry to bombard you with information! Please don't hesitate to ask any questions :)
Monday, August 29, 2016


Hi Parents!

ALMOST THERE! So excited for our first day!

A note about dismissal information seems really important, since we don't have a meet and greet for me to figure out your child's dismissal info. PLEASE COME TO SCHOOL ON THE FIRST DAY WITH THE ABILITY TO TELL ME HOW YOUR CHILD IS GETTING HOME EACH DAY.

I'm going to be honest. First grade is significantly different than K, because I'm in charge of dismissal information as well as making sure my 21 kiddos are happy and safe while we get settled on the first day. It's definitely beneficial for you to be able to give me this information. If possible, email me ahead of time, and I'll prepare your child's dismissal tag before the first day. I promise, there is a reason for this - I want to make sure your kiddo goes home the right way, every single time.

The first day, I am not going to be able to talk to you much, as I'm going to be handling dismissal information. I WANT to talk to you - really, I do! If I don't get a chance to chat, promise you'll come back another morning and say hello! I am usually in the building early and would love to get to chat with everyone!

That's all for now - again, if you want to email me your child's dismissal information... please send me a note as to whether he/she is parent pick up, bus, etc. If your child is taking a bus, I need the number and the STOP he/she gets off at. I need to write this down on the bus tag.

My email is:

See you soon!
Sunday, August 28, 2016


Hello Parents!

Getting ready for the first day, full speed ahead! I would like to tell you about a program I'm going to be using this year - Bloomz - which is a parent communication tool.

Using this app (website, for those of you who don't use a smartphone) - I can do the following: 
-Schedule Conferences
-Send Group Reminders
-Send One on One Messages
-Have Volunteer Sign Ups
-Remind Parents of Days Off/Early Release Days

It works both ways, so if you have a question for me, you can use Bloomz too! Generally unless I'm sleeping, I respond.

Please see the information (below) on how to sign up for Bloomz! Once you do, I will approve your access to the group, and you'll be all set to go. I am trying this in lieu of Remind 101, which I have used in the past. This app seems to have more capabilities. It's my goal to get everyone signed up by this Friday. I need a consistent communication tool, and you KNOW those folders get so full of things, it's hard to keep track of anything!

Please let me know if you have any questions! THANK YOU! See you Thursday!

(PS: I sent home a little welcome letter on Friday, so you should be getting it tomorrow I'm assuming!)

Friday, August 26, 2016

My favorite bulletin board!

This is still my favorite board - I love it!!

However, my really big reason for posting today is my need for a parent volunteer already. 😱

We have these things called Home Links in math. Basically they're homework sheets. However, the district purchases them in books, which need to be ripped out and sorted... Times 20 kids. I am REALLY hoping one of you awesome moms or dads or honestly, ANYONE will want to take this on for me! Please let me know!! Thank you! 😊

Supplies Supplies Supplies!

Dear Parents,

I know what you're thinking. OH good grief, she's already asking us for things!

Believe me, I get it.

However -- there are some items that, if you're planning on donating to the classroom, we are ALWAYS in need of. Since literally EVERYTHING is on sale right now, I figured I'd give you a heads-up in case you may want to pick something up! My stock is really low on the following:

-Lysol/Clorox Wipes: I use them DAILY. Sometimes TWICE a day. Anyone who knows me, knows that I really, really don't like germs just hanging out in my classroom! :-)

-TISSUES: Although I don't allow the germs free reign, inevitably they show up (sneaky little things). For this reason, we go through tissues faster than the speed of light. Please consider sending a box or two - I think I may have only ONE box left!

-Paper Towels: We DO get them in the classroom, but they're not really absorbent enough to clean spills and messes. They also just plain don't work as well when I'm cleaning the room.

I am positive there's other things we may need, but for right now, this is the BIG stuff...

ALSO, JUST A REMINDER - IF YOU HAVE NOT SIGNED UP FOR THE "BLOOMZ" SERVICE, PLEASE DO SO AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! I schedule reminders in there to pop up on whatever date I need them to be sent to you. It really is a GREAT help if you'd sign up so you don't miss anything!

See you in a few more days -- so looking forward to meeting everyone!!

(PS: Please continue to check the blog -- I have scheduled posts about every other day, for the first month or so of school!)