After we finished up our celebration of learning with our own "How To" Books, we were very excited to start our brand new writing unit...Opinion Writing! During this unit, students will independently plan and write a paragraph to share and explain an opinion, include an introduction and a conclusion that shows an awareness of audience, use multiple details to elaborate on and support an opinion, use several transition words, use a rubric to revisit, revise, and edit writing, and correctly use spelling, punctuation, spaces, and capitalization. We kicked off the unit with a fun game of "Would You Rather?" Check out the pictures of students choosing a side! The students are currently using information from a self-created web and transferring their ideas into paragraph form. They are expressing their opinions by using a strong hook (or introduction), listing out all of their convincing reasons in sentence form, using transition words to jump from idea to idea and ending with a strong conclusion that re-states their opinion and gives their readers a call to action! I can't wait to see how their writing skills grow throughout this process!
English Language Arts
Our recent grammar lessons have focused on ending punctuation, specifically exclamation points, and compound sentences. Once students were able to recognize these conventions, they began to see them everywhere! They understand that writers use punctuation to help their reader make sense of what the text says. Exclamation points help the reader know when to read with excitement! Also, writers can combine two short sentences with a linking word, or conjunction, to create a longer compound sentence. This helps our writing be more fluent, because there is a variety of sentence lengths. Our students' reading fluency is also strengthened by understanding grammar skills. I'm so proud of our first graders for incorporating both of these conventions into their own writing.
Our phonics focus continues to be short and long vowel patterns. We have studied words that use the "silent, bossy E" to make the vowel say its name. Ask your student what happens to the words 'cap' or "kit" if you add an 'e' to the end. They become totally new words with a different meaning!
Our Personal Identity unit is always one of my favorites. It is beautiful to watch our first graders explore and answer the essential questions:
Who am I?
Where do I come from?
What influences my personal identity?
What is my responsibility to my family, culture, and community?
How can I use my gifts and talents to contribute to society in becoming a responsible citizen?
Students worked with Mrs. West, our Visual Arts teacher to paint gorgeous trees, and then students added the apples and leaves of their family members to create a family tree for each child. I can't wait for you to see these on display! They really brighten our classroom, and it's fun to see everyone's family represented through photographs. We also enlarged each child's fingerprint as a visual example of how we are all unique and special. Then, students wrote about what makes them unique. Some students brought in a family artifact that represents the country from which their ancestors come. We learned about families from England, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Scotland, Germany, and more. We ended this unit by studying cultures around the world and talking about life "Then and Now," specifically discussing things like transportation, communication, and homes. This focus led to great conversations that helped us answer questions such as: How are other cultures different from my own? How can I use information from other cultures to become more understanding? How can I compare life long ago to my life today? What would my life be like if I lived during a different time period? What has remained the same from the past to the present?
I am always impressed by the hearts and minds of your children, and they continued to amaze me throughout this unit.
Holiday STEM Challenge with Buddies!
We invited our 5th Grade Buddies from Mrs. Stevens' homeroom to join us in a STEM Challenge! We read Mr. Willoughby's Christmas Tree, a story about a wealthy man whose Christmas tree is too tall for his house. He trims it down and throws away the top. Someone else in the house takes the top for their smaller home, but it's still too large. Each character continues to trim the tree, and another character is able to use the leftover piece - all the way down to the mice in the home! It was a great story that led to wonderful conversations about mindfulness, conservation, and cooperation. After reading the book, our students worked as engineers to design and build the tallest tree using only toothpicks, gumdrops, and marshmallows. We had so much fun with our buddies as we worked through the STEM engineering process. Students realized that an important part of this process is IMPROVING your design. They continued asking themselves throughout the project: "How can we make our tree even better?" I think we've got some future engineers in our group!
We also had fun creating a Santa Shark video with Mrs. Sanders, our Creative Movement teacher, and Mrs. Clancy, our Creative Arts teacher. You can view the video on the school website video page. It's worth watching!!