Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Math Games We Know!

Hi Parents! Tomorrow, I am going to teach your children how to play Top It.

Here is a tutorial on this game:
Top It

It is basically what I grew up calling "War"...

You stack the cards, all facing down.
Each partner draws a card.
Whoever's card is "more" keeps both cards.
If there is a tie, you both draw another card and see who the winner is. That person can keep all 4 cards!

This is a foundational game. They will be playing Top It for years to come, with different skills embedded! For example, another game we will play this year (later) is Addition Top It.

This is something fun you can play with your kiddos that will not bore you, and they always love it! ;-)
Sunday, September 17, 2017

Math Time!

We have been busy at work in the afternoons! This is always an issue for me because I can never remember to take photos because we're just so hard at work... but I did the other day! :)

During math we have been working on getting centers up and running. I have been doing some pretty easy, easing into the curriculum work with the kids. The centers that they've done so far are Dreambox (it is a daily center in my room), Games/Puzzles - which are all Everyday Math games, or games I have created to go with EM, and teacher center - which is when they meet with me! I prefer to have them in more than 3 groups but right now, this is what's working! I'll explain what's happening in the photos :)

Brady and Alison's group are writing numbers. I dictate the number and the kids write it. Right now, this is so I can assess where they are in their numbers and number sense. This particular group was pretty good at writing even the higher numbers!

Elodie writing her numbers!

This is Bella and Eloise playing Bunny Hop. Bella is taking the die - it's her turn to roll! This game gets the kids working on hopping on a number line. They ALWAYS get confused because they forget that you don't start counting until you actually hop, so we play this game for awhile until it becomes sort of second nature. 

Here's Aiden and Oscar playing Bunny Hop! They prefer to work on the rug :)

I'll try to remember to keep posting these math pictures so you can check out the cool learning that they're doing! I would really appreciate it if you would put the kiddos on Dreambox. The district is looking to only purchase it for schools that are really using it next year, and I want to make sure we have the usage in there, because the kids really do gain a lot from it. Last year I had a little guy adding double digits - and mom, dad and I had a discussion that we didn't teach him, he learned from Dreambox! Pretty cool :)

Another Donors Choose Project!

Hi Parents!

Here is another Donors Choose project to check out/share on social media if you so choose :)

This project should have a half-off funding opportunity, so less than $200 will fund it, and then I'll be busy at work making morning work binders for the kids!

I think I told you - and I mean it - I ALWAYS have some sort of project idea going on! It's a blessing and a curse :)

If anyone wants to come in and help, I meant to offer this at Open House... I am happy to have parents in during reading or math centers to work with groups. The only thing I'd ask right now is to give me until October to get everything up and running before you volunteer, because it gets a little hectic with assessments at the beginning. Thanks!


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Title 1 Schoolwide

Hi Parents!

Thank you so much for those of you who came to open house. I know that it's a lot to be able to get home from work, get the kids fed/ready, hire a babysitter or bring them with you... I get it. Which is why I'm even more thankful that you came!

I hope everything I threw at you made sense. I know it's a lot to learn, and I try to remember to say ALL the things, but of course I forget some. :)

I did not fully explain Title 1, and Mrs. Block sent me a site she researched that explains a bit more. Here it is: https://www2.ed.gov/programs/titleiparta/index.html

In addition, here is another really good link to explain the difference between the targeted assistance program, which we used to fall under, and the school wide program which we're adopting: http://cde.state.co.us/sites/default/files/documents/fedprograms/dl/ti_a_sw_compoftaandsw.pdf

Please let me know if you have any other questions! I will post again tomorrow to give more info on some of the things I talked about tonight. Thank you!
Wednesday, September 13, 2017

"Read to Someone" Time!


We have been working on building the next component of Daily 5 into the reading block. It is called "Read to Someone", and it basically consists of the kids sitting with a partner and taking turns reading a book. The partner who is not reading is supposed to be listening, and the kiddos will be taught how to help their partners "check for understanding" to make sure that their partners are listening to what they're reading.

Here are some photos of the kids doing Read to Someone:

My favorite part about Read to Someone is the engagement level of the kids! We have been working on building stamina with Read to Someone, and they are showing some good growth! Tomorrow, I will be working on introducing "Work on Writing" - the children will have to write during this time period, and focus on writing the whole time! They LOVE this center normally because they can basically write about whatever they choose. Eventually, I will give the students a genre of writing to work on, but for now, we just want to develop a love of writing!

See you all tomorrow!

Reminder! Open House Tomorrow...

Tomorrow is our OPEN HOUSE night! 

I am looking forward to seeing you all from 6:00pm until 6:25pm tomorrow! 

This is just a reminder that this is an adults-only night.  We have been working hard in our classroom and I can't wait to tell you all about our curriculum and what we're going to learn this year!

Donors Choose Project!

Hi Parents!

One thing we do in the classroom - I guess you could say I do it - is use Donors Choose to obtain classroom supplies.

If you are not already familiar with it, Donors Choose (DC) is a crowd funding site where public school teachers can request items for the classroom, and anyone can go on the site and donate as little as $1.00 to support the project.

Once the project funds, DC purchases the materials, then sends them to the school. All we typically have to do is take some photos of the kids using the materials and write a thank you note to our donors! Pretty cool, huh? This has allowed me to have SO MANY more materials that are not school-funded or personally funded. Much of what I use in the classroom has been funded through DC. I encourage you to check it out!

I JUST posted a project for new headphones, which will be up and running soon. Feel free to share this site with friends and family! Here is the link: https://www.donorschoose.org/project/firsties-need-headphones-for-their-liste/2790778/

((This MAY or MAY NOT be active as I post this. If not.... please check back! Most projects take a few hours to post.)

Thanks for checking it out!

Ball Words

Hi Parents! I sent home a letter in your child's folder today about Ball Words, and I wanted to follow up with some more information about them.

Ball Words are essentially the first 220 words that a reader needs to know. They are the most frequent words in our language, according to research. If you are really in the mood for a "good read", here is a little more information about them: Dolch Words ;-)

I like Ball Words for a TON of reasons....
1. They allow all children to be successful.
2. They allow "high flyers" to work on words at a higher level.
3. Ball Words are SUPER motivating. I mean MAJORLY.
4. Ball Words promote teamwork and helping friends.
5. This sight word system works toward my ultimate goal: get your child to be a fluent reader.

How does it work?

1. I will begin to assess your children to see what words they need to work on. At the beginning, your child may come home with a bunch of certificates for passing a whole bunch of levels! It WILL slow down after the first time I assess them.
2. Once I determine what level your kiddo should begin on, I will give him/her a little binder ring with all of their ball words on it. They keep this in their book bins. They will also receive a take-home sheet of the word list for whatever balls they're working on.
3. Each week, I will quickly assess your child on their words. If your child passes, they will get another certificate and move up to the next level! Pretty easy, right?
4. I will put your child's name on the champion wall when he/she passes the next level of ball words!

If you have any questions - please let me know! Please be patient as I get this rolling... it sometimes takes a few days to get the first assessments done. Thanks!
Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Reading Superstars!

Hi Parents!

We have been working hard on setting routines in our classroom. Thank you so much for all of your support so far - I know the beginning of the school year is sort of crazy! Your kiddo is probably super tired and cranky by the time he/she gets home in the afternoon - no rest time here, and it's tough, I'm sure. I see them getting tired right after recess, usually. :) They WILL adjust, I promise. It just takes some getting used to -- even for me!

Here's a recap of the last couple of days:

We are learning routines. Most of our time has been spent learning how to rotate through centers, how to put away and take out materials, and how to speak with partners during our rotations. We follow a workshop model so the kids are quite familiar with it, but they always need a big refresher at the beginning of the year. In addition, I like to make sure they are really comfortable with the routines before I start having them rotate through our actual academic math centers. Once they have the routines, they are always much more productive in centers and can really focus on their work. We did begin our first math lesson today - skip counting - which we all needed a little refresher in! :) We practiced counting by 1s and 5s, and tomorrow will review 10s. We will also learn 2s - which is not a skill many of them have done before.

We are learning the routines of Daily 5. I will give you more info on Daily 5 when we have Open House next week, but basically, it fosters independence in students during the reading block. It helps develop a sense of urgency and a purpose for reading, and it engages the kids and lets them make their own choices during reading. All of this always leads to pretty great success during the school year! We are currently working on Stamina, which I have described to the kids as "doing something for a long time without getting distracted or giving up"... which we are applying to our reading. We tried to build some stamina today. We ended up reading for 3 minutes before we got sidetracked! We're aiming for 4 minutes tomorrow :)

Integrated Literacy: 
For us, this is just a fancy way of saying we're integrating science and social studies with literacy. We have always done this as we are a SS based magnet school! We're working on learning the rules, writing about them, and learning how to be a good friend. This is a social studies unit! We will introduce our next integrated unit in a few weeks.

Phonics: We are still working on routines for phonics. We re-learned how to use the sand and phonics cards the other day, and today we worked on putting ABC's in order. You wouldn't believe it, but this is hard for some of the kiddos - even the ones who know their letters :)

Here are some cool photos of the kids during "Read-to-Self" time. You'll notice they are quite focused: 

In addition, here are some photos of them hard at work!

I'm hoping to finish putting up our hallway bulletin board tomorrow, which will display today's superhero writing!


1. Please send an extra set of clothes for your child if you have not done so already. 
2. Please send a snack each day for your kiddo. I try not to keep snacks in the room.
3. Please continue to reinforce the behavior clip chart at home. I really appreciate your help with this - it's really important for the kiddos to get praised for the positive behavior as much as the negative!
4. OPEN HOUSE is THURSDAY 9/14. I prep LOTS of information for my families and I really am hoping you can make it. You should have a list of times that presentations are taking place by tomorrow. 

I have to give a huge thank you to Brady's mom, Lori Ginelewicz - she took home a ton of math books to prepare them for our class today. This is super time consuming and probably my LEAST favorite activity, so I really appreciate it! Anyone else who would like to prepare/cut out things... let me know! I am ALWAYS coming up with some pretty fun activities, but have no assistant to prep them... :) I'll never say no to some help!

One more thing...

I took the children's pictures yesterday. I like to hang them on the bulletin board in our hallway. They took one with their superhero masks and one without. I just thought this was so funny -- when I asked these kids to smile with their superhero masks on, this is what they did.... 

(I asked him why he wouldn't smile... "Superheroes need to be serious when they save the world.")

Thursday, August 31, 2017

"Just Like Me" Game

I almost forgot. We played the "Just Like Me" game today. The child introduces him/herself and says one thing he/she likes. If other children like that thing too, they say "just like me".

These kids were too funny! Here is what they all said they liked...

Elodie – Castle Ruins
Brady – Cherries
Ezra – Cotton Candy Grapes
Bella – Pink Donuts
Kaylee – Reading
Pragya – Cucumbers
Alison – Chocolate
Gabriella – Cookies
Angelo – Popsicles
Oliver – Snakes
Oscar – Giant Gummy Snakes (like SUPER long)
Cristhian – Rice
Eloise – Puppies
Osman – Ice Cream
Aiden – Pokemon Cards
Christopher – Lollipops
Alan – Bananas

Merlyn – Playing Ball


Here are some pictures of recess! We explained playground rules and the kids got to play here for the first official time! We are going to be getting a brand new state-of-the-art playground this year! :)





First Day Review

Hi Parents!

Today was a whirlwind of dismissal information, teaching the kids our classroom procedures, and getting to know your kiddos. I have to say, if today is any indication, this may be one of my favorite classes - they are SUCH good listeners and SO cute!

Some things to review:
Dismissal -- please check your child's tag on his/her backpack and make sure it is correct. If it is not, send me a note tomorrow and I will change it. There are a lot of kiddos who go home lots of different ways so I want to make sure they're right.

Mornings -- I am sorry that I did not get to chat with a lot of you this morning... first day is always hard. Please feel free to come in the morning if you want to chat... I am almost always here by 8:00am depending on traffic.

Daily Folders -- We are in sort of a unique situation in first grade where we do not have para-educators, so your child will eventually end up putting the papers in his/her folder because I do not really have any unassigned time to do them during the day. (Our specials are at the end of the day, which is when I would normally check them.) What that means is sometimes the papers that are "keep at home" may end up on the wrong side. I will do my best to make sure to check them, but the kiddos have to learn how to do it and there is a learning curve! :) This will also help them to be more independent in the long term.

Behavior Clip Chart -- I use a behavior clip chart in my classroom where children have the opportunity to "clip up" or "clip down" throughout the day depending on their behavior. They can move up and down the chart throughout the day. At the end of the day, they will fill out a behavior calendar with whatever "color" they landed on that day. This will make more sense to you when I send a more detailed note about it tomorrow, along with the behavior calendar. Please be patient as we get this started, and remember to chat with your child about his/her behavior daily... but especially during the first few weeks, as we are getting used to rituals and routines. This means even positive behaviors should be talked about -- it is just as important to reinforce the positive! I am saying this because I'm pretty sure this class is rarely going to have any negative behaviors. :)

Supplies -- If you did not already purchase them, please HOLD OFF on sending anything in. I have SO many school supplies and plenty of cleaning supplies... I would rather just let you know when we run out of something, if that's ok with you. Thank you!

Papers in Your Child's Folder Today -- So you see I inundated you with paper. So sorry, but it's all important, I promise.
1. Please send in a change of clothes for your child in a plastic Ziploc or something similar, labeled with your child's name. Although I do not anticipate accidents, it happens occasionally!
2. Please read through the info packet. We have a couple of birthdays this month and I want to make sure you see the information on birthday parties. We have gym twice during a rotation as well. I am going to get together a calendar for you, should have that out to you tomorrow.
3. Please make sure to send a snack each day with your child. We do not keep any extra snacks in the classroom, because we don't want any unwanted creatures to come! It would be helpful if you spoke with your child about what is snack and what is lunch, as some of them were a bit confused today.
4. Please notify me of any dismissal changes by note or email. I prefer email honestly... I usually check it throughout the day, and coming directly to me makes things easier!
5. If you have not turned in your registration card to me, please do that as soon as possible.

That's it for now.... I am going to work on posting some pictures of the kiddos in a bit!

It was an awesome first day :)
Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Tomorrow's the Day!

Hi Parents!
I am looking forward to meeting everyone tomorrow. If you have not already done so, please reach out to me and let me know how your child will be getting home both TOMORROW, and every other day following. For example, I know some of my kiddos are Quamco, but that is not starting until Friday, so there needs to be an alternate way of getting home tomorrow.

I had a request to upload the supply list, so here it is! More to follow soon.... :)

Please let me know if you have any questions! The reason we don't write names on supplies, similar to K, is that it is MUCH easier to just replace a glue stick with a similar glue stick,  rather than dig around in my bin specifically for John's glue stick... if that makes sense! :)

I'm off to buy ALL the coffee.... I'm not used to these early mornings yet! See you tomorrow!