Welcome to First Grade!
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 few 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!
Our current writing unit is Personal Narrative. This week, we made our writing even stronger by focusing on the characters. The students added details about characters' feelings. We created a class "word wall" with feeling words; I am so impressed by their vocabulary! Students listed words such as devastated, wound up, frightened, and disappointed. Our first graders have amazing word choice skills! Students also incorporated dialogue through speech bubbles and wrote about the setting by adding where the characters were during the event.
Our grammar focus was ending punctuation. The students loved using exclamation points to make their sentences really jump off the page! They are aware of their audience, and they understand that ending punctuation helps the reader know exactly how the story should be read.
We have 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, All of the sudden, and After that. We also added good closing words like Finally and In the End. Check out the pictures below of students putting a story back together in sequential order. 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!
English Language Arts
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!
We have also enjoyed using great picture books to learn comprehension strategies and skills such as making meaningful connections, sequencing events, determining the main idea, and comparing and contrasting. Also, by focusing on one book for several mini-lessons throughout the week, the students are able to connect with the mentor text as readers and writers. I have seen some excellent writing craft attempts that mimic these authors' books.
The students enjoyed kicking off the year by studying patterns. This is a great way to introduce First Grade's Big Idea: Patterns and Cycles. Students can easily recognize patterns, and they love to notice patterns in the world around us. Look at the amazing work they've done creating their own patterns.
We are well into our second math unit of the year, and it's all about NUMBERS! Currently, our focus is on numbers zero through ten and continuing to build a strong foundational number sense. Students have explored what numbers actually mean: they use manipulatives such as blocks and beans to count, identify numbers using pictures, ten frames, and tallies, and are even learning to accurately spell these number words. They are also becoming very fluent counting on and counting back on number lines and number charts. We had fun creating our own human number line! We have some mighty strong mathematicians!
Our first integrated unit is Field to Table, and we are learning all about PLANTS! We began with an excellent, hands-on learning activity: students dissected flower plants and labeled each part. They also wrote about the specific job of each plant part. Students created their own wheels to illustrate the life cycle of a pumpkin plant. Mr. Michael helped us carve a pumpkin, and the kids loved exploring all of the parts of the fruit. This week, we have discussed the needs of plants. We had fun singing songs about the needs of a plant and realizing why water, soil, sunlight, and space are important for plants to survive. We are busy creating a class mural representing these needs. There are some talented artists in our group, and I can't wait for you to see their beautiful work!
A big THANK YOU to everyone who has contributed to our First Grade Herb Garden! This is a powerful, hands-on culminating experience for our students. We enjoyed planting rosemary, cilantro, basil, oregano, and more! Students were able to observe the mature plants, and we will also watch the seeds grow over the next few weeks. Students also planted seeds with our Garden in a Glove project. They were able to closely observe seeds sprouting into tiny seedlings - such great learning is taking place! I am so proud of the hard work your children are doing each day. I am excited to continue along this journey of learning with them this school year.