Sunday, October 31, 2010

Literacy Character Parade & Fall Party!

After the parade we celebrated Fall with different stations around the room, yummy Fall snacks, and some good Fall fun! Our friends have worked super hard the first nine weeks and deserved to have an awesome day! :)
They create their very own Scarecrow

made some scary monsters

created a mosaic of an acorn

painted fall leaves and finger-painted trees

and created their own necklace and searched for spooky words

Exploring Quadrilaterals with Geboards

Quad-ri-lat-er-al is a pretty biiig word for a First Grade student, but a pretty easy concept to understand. A quadrilateral is simply a polygon with 4 sides. This means any 2-D shape such as the ones pictured below. The table below shows the quadrilaterals we know from exploring with our pattern blocks. Just like when we explored with triangles, the main goal for this lesson was to make sure students understand what a quadrilateral is and to create different types of quadrilaterals on their Geoboards. Our friends totally blew this exploration out of the water!

Exploring Triangles with Geoboards

This week in math we had a blast exploring triangles. It is important for students to understand that triangles are 2-D closed figures (meaning all lines connect) that have 3 straight sides and 3 vertices (our fancy word for corners). Our friends did a fantastic job creating different types of triangles on their Geoboards. Geoboards are plastic and have small pegs on them which hold rubber bands. Students manipulate the rubber bands to make different shapes--and in this case, we created triangles. The main goal of this lesson was to make sure students understand that there are different types of triangles. Not all triangles have equal sides, they can be large or small, and can be positioned many ways. They exercised their brains together and learned a lot from this activity!

First Grade Skype Session

First Grade had the awesome opportunity to Skype with a teacher in Australia as part of our Mem Fox celebration! In case you are wondering what 'Skype' is, it is a software that enables people from all over the world to communicate with one another. It is a free program that allows you to make voice and video phone calls, send instant messages, and share files with people all over the world. It is an amazing piece of software, and thanks to Mrs. Holtsman, we were able to learn some more interesting facts about Australia and Mem Fox. We had a Skype session with a teacher from Australia. She taught us some interesting facts about Mem Fox, about the school she works at, and about some of the food that was in the books that we read. A special friend from each First Grade class even got to ask her a question! It was such a memorable experience. Thanks to all who made it possible!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Reader's Theater

Here is a short clip from our Reader's Theater production of Mem Fox's, Hattie and the Fox!

Mem Fox Celebration

We completed our Mem Fox author study and celebrated in a BIG way! We began last Friday morning by bringing the students in the cafeteria to SKYPE a teacher who lives in Australia. She shared some information about living in Australia and meeting Mem Fox. Students asked some questions to learn more about Australia and how it is similar or different to where we live. We learned that kids go to school in Australia for the same about of time that we do and they have the same subjects. We also learned that they wear uniforms to school. We continued our day by presenting a "Reader's Theater" version of Mem Fox's book, Hattie and the Fox. Students practiced reading with intonation and remembering their parts. They participated in fun crafts and activities centered around Australian animals.

Mmm... Delicious Dirt :)

We have wrapped up part one of our study on the Earth's surface. Over the past couple of weeks, we studied the different layers of soil, different types of soil and different uses for soil. It's always important to extend our learning. In this case, extending our learning turned out to be quite fun! Mrs. Alvarado and Miss Donofrio thought it would be a great idea to have our friends make their own soil and eat it! As we made the soil, we discussed the different layers we were putting into our cups. First, we added the bedrock (crushed vanilla wafers). Next, we added the subsoil layer (crushed oreos). Finally, we added the humus (chocolate pudding and gummy worms). We learned that the humus is very rich in nutrients and is great for growing plants! Take a look at some of our friends who volunteered to show off how they fill their tummys with our homemade dirt cups!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

We are "digging" science!

Students really are "digging" science as they collected soil samples last week. We are beginning a new science unit all about The Earth's Surface. They collected their sample and then came back to the classroom to examine it closer with their magnifying glasses. They discussed their observations with their partners. They also watched a video clip that posed different questions for them to think about. This week we observe and compare sand, humus, and clay. Students will be thinking about the different types of solid materials that are found on Earth. They will observe the likenesses and differences between different types of soil and rocks. They will try to explain the different changes that take place on the Earth's surface. Don't be surprised if your First Grader comes home sounding like an expert scientist!

Pattern-Blocks: Learning About Relationships Among Shapes!

We're diving deep into shapes for our second unit in math. Our friends have become quite that pattern-block enthusiasts! We will focus on 3 investigations for this unit:

Investigation 1: composing and decomposing shapes--making shapes from smaller shapes

Investigation 2: describing and sorting shapes--describing and constructing quadrilaterals and triangles

Investigation 3: quilt patterns--combining triangles and squares to make various patterns

Last week we focused on describing and sorting shapes and will wrap up investigation 1 this week with a quiz on Friday. Our friends have learned all about: describing shapes, filling in patterns with the different shapes, creating their own patterns, exploring the many ways to fill a hexagon and other pattern blocks, and filling in the same pattern different ways. We even worked together to create an awesome chart that shows us all the relationships among the pattern-block shapes! This week we will learn more about filling in the same pattern with more shapes and fewer shapes. Take a look at some photos of our explorations...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Farm Fun!

We had an awesome time at the Sykes and Cooper Farm! Students will be writing about this experience this week. We took lots of pictures so that they remember to include every little detail of this fun event! A BIG thanks to our wonderful chaperones! Enjoy!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Accountable Talk: Book Clubs!

Accountable Talk? Sounds like a pretty big concept for First Grade, or so you thought!
Since we have started our Mem Fox author study (see post below) we have been discussing Accountable Talk. Just like in Science, it is important that readers understand how to communicate with one another. In order to make this fun, we started Book Clubs! Book Clubs are a great way to get the students to work as a team, discuss books, and learn from one another. This is their time to agree and disagree. This is their time to listen to one another and to understand that there are times where more minds are better than one! However, it is also important that students understand that they are accountable for what they discuss about books. It is their responsibility to discuss what's relevant--not their favorite silly band they bought last night!
To establish our Book Clubs, we put students into groups of four. The group is given a folder and the students were asked to agree on a name for their club. Once the students agree on a name, one student records the name and then each friend writes their name on the lines so we know who is in each club.
Book Clubs meet during Reader's Workshop after independent reading time and the mini lesson (which often includes a read-aloud). Once they branch off into their clubs, this is where Accountable Talk begins! Each group is given one to two books that the teachers have already read during a read aloud. So far, we have been working with the Mem Fox books from our author study. At this point, the clubs have discussed whether they like a book or not and why, characters in books, and the settings in books.
After the Book Clubs have had met, we come together as a whole group and friends share the things they discussed in their groups. This is our time to make sure that all of our clubs are on the same page. This is also a great chance for friends to see that each group doesn't discuss the exact same things about the same books. Accountable in First Grade? You bet! :)

Mem Fox Author Study!

We have started our first author study in First Grade. We are studying the 'Awesome Aussie,' Mem Fox! We are not only learning lots of interesting facts about this author, but we are reading many books that she has written. The students get to enjoy these books through teacher read-alouds at the beginning of Reader's Workshop. We discuss the books, pose questions, learn new vocabulary, analyze the characters, think about the setting, and ask to students to discuss their 'wonderings.' Our friends seem to be enjoying many of Mem's books and are really learning some new things about Australian culture! We are very excited to dive deeper into this author study over the next couple of weeks!
To learn more about this author, click here --> Mem Fox

Sunday, October 3, 2010

It's All About Strategies in Math!

This year we will study nine investigations in Math. No matter what investigation we are in, we will always revisit and discuss strategies for solving story problems and counting numbers. The following image shows the four strategies that we cover in first grade. (Click on image to view larger version) Friends have been introduced to each of these strategies, however, they have been told to only use the strategies they are comfortable with. As students master one strategy, they move up to the more efficient strategy. When friends are ready to move on, we will see a lot more who are counting on and using the open number line.This month in Calendar Math, we are going to dive deeper into equations and discuss the parts: addends and sum. We are also going to focus on grouping numbers by 5's and make sure that we are grouping our tally marks correctly. We practice counting on through many of our math activities during the Workshop and we also practice number line with our Start With/Get to game each day before Calendar Math. Take a look at your child's work that will be sent home in their red folder this week and have them explain the strategies they used to solve their problems!

Ordering Numbers

Students have so much fun playing different math games in our class that they have no idea how much they are learning at the same time! Students played the game, "Ordering Numbers." Students worked in pairs and each drew 2 cards. They built towers to represent the number on each card. Then students had to work together to order the towers and cards from smallest to largest. So many such a short game! Let the fun continue!

Near and Far

Students learned to compare objects and how they look when they are near and far. We began this unit by observing two objects up close and then the same two objects very far away. Students also looked at pictures of a cruise ship at port and the same cruise ship sailing at sea. One misconception that we reminded students was that the objects were NOT actually getting smaller, they just appeared to be smaller. Another day, students wrote their names really big on a piece of paper and talked about their observations. Students compared this with how their name looked under a magnifying glass. This served as a great hands on way for students to see that the magnifying glass made the letters appear bigger and only showed part of their name. . We extended this learning to our next science unit by making the connection of the sun and moon appearing small in the sky because it is so far away!