It’s been a great start in First Grade! We have had so much fun getting to know each other and learning how to work together as part of one classroom community. We spent the first two weeks of school working on expectations, routines and building our classroom family. Now, we are working towards implementing all of the components of our daily academic schedule. The children have adjusted beautifully and continue to impress me with their kindness and drive to succeed! We are going to have a wonderful school year!
Meet Our Class!!!
Our first integrated unit is called Personal Identity. In this unit, the students will learn all about themselves and their families. Some of our Essential Questions are, 'Who am I? What influences my personal identity? Where do I come from? What is my responsibility to my family, culture, and community?' So far, we have written our own books about our weekly lives and routines. We've also focused on reflecting on our daily lives and routines as well. Students made wheels to represent the human life cycle and a day in their life. We have discussed and learned important elements of our families' cultures by sharing artifacts, making family trees, and writing "Me on the Map" books locating our town, state, country, and continent.
The first big thing we have been learning in language arts is the structure of the Daily 5.
Daily 5 is a way of setting up our reading block so that each student is actively and independently engaged in meaningful literacy tasks. The kids have been building stamina and independence while they Read to Self, Work on Writing, engage in Word Work, Listen to Reading, and Read to Someone. The students rotate through these centers in between mini-lessons and small group instruction - I have been very impressed with their ability to transition between different activities throughout our morning! Talk about teaching to the whole child!
In addition to learning this structure, we have also begun learning strategies to help us become better readers. We have a CAFE menu in our classroom, which stands for COMPREHENSION, ACCURACY, FLUENCY and EXPANDING VOCABULARY. So far, under our comprehension heading, we have added the strategies, “Check For Understanding” and “Back Up and Re-Read”. Under our accuracy heading, we have added “Using Beginning and Ending Sounds”, and “Do The Pictures Match the Words”. Finally, under our fluency heading, we have learned to “Choose Good-Fit Books”. Please refer to your parent pipelines (emailed with the weekly updates) for in-depth descriptions of each of these strategies!
Our current writing unit is Personal Narrative. This week, we used our illustrated story plan to write the words for our Personal Narrative. The children looked at each part of their plan and wrote a beginning, middle, and end. Then, the students were paired up to talk to their partners about adding details. Their peers were able to read their short stories and help their friend elaborate on each part to add more depth to their stories. It is so much fun to watch them compliment and encourage each other as writers! Next, we will partner up again to discuss our kid-friendly rubric: Does your story have three parts? Is your story about just one topic? Did you use details? Did you use spaces between your words? Did you use a capital letter at the beginning of your sentences? Did you use punctuation at the end of your sentences? Its amazing to see these stories take shape!
We also learned about ZOOMING in on a topic! We discussed our topics from our personal narratives to decide if we could zoom in even closer on our thoughts! For example, I loved sharing about my trip to the mountains with our class. This was an exciting topic but I wanted to focus in one ONE part of my trip. A mountain trip is a "too big topic" so I chose a "zoomed in" experience about the time we played at Sliding Rock! The students then began writing new personal narratives with their own zoomed in topics!
We also learned how to add temporal words to our stories! In the beginning of our writing, we learned to add words/phrases like First, In the beginning, and One day. In the middle, we added transition words like Next, Then, and After that. We also added good closing words like Finally and At the end. We finished up this week by adding details into our stories about what the characters are doing. I can't wait to see what they will write about next!
Our first math unit has been all about patterns! In First Grade, our “Big Idea” is Patterns and Cycles, so what better to way to integrate math than by looking for patterns in our mathematics skills. We’ve learned to skip count by 5’s and 10’s as well as have noticed the patterns that counting makes when filling in numbers on a hundreds chart. We’ve also studied patterns with shapes and identified many different ways to make patterns such as “ABAB” and “ABCABC”. The students have also learned to draw and interpret tally marks. They enjoyed making the connection between skip counting by 5’s and counting groups of tallies! Studying numbers and their locations on a hundreds chart is a great way to observe a variety different patterns and the kids continued to observe these patterns when we learned about ordering numbers and figuring out numbers that come before and after!