Thursday, November 17, 2016

November Update

Halloween has passed, the air is getting colder (dare we say the word "snow??"), and the first graders are busier than ever! In the classroom we continue work on the skills and habits needed to grow into more focused students, ready for deeper thinking and learning. Here's a look at what we've been up to lately:

Reading and Word Work

The first graders are becoming more capable and thoughtful readers. We have begun book shopping from our classroom library and our readers can’t wait to get their hands on new books! The last month of reading instruction mainly focused on strategies for reading unknown words and determining the meaning of vocabulary. We hope you have been enjoying watching your child's progress at home through their take home reading. Next, we will be focusing more on the comprehension side of reading and begin to practice retell, making connections, and checking for understanding.

Our word study groups have been an opportunity for us to study how words work. Some of the concepts our groups have focused on:
  • Hearing beginning middle and ending sounds
  • Rhyming
  • Recognizing syllables
  • Learning high frequency (sight) words
  • Making plurals


What an amazing group of authors we have in room 26! After completing our "Small Moments" unit, the first graders are entering into informational writing (a non-fiction genre) with How-To books. In this form of procedural writing, our first grade experts are writing directions to teach how to make or do something. Of course, we'll still be working on spelling, capitalization, spacing, punctuation, and other important writing skills, too.


In Science, we have continued our study of rocks by sorting and classifying our personal collections of rocks. We have also explored the uses of rock around Breck School using our rock guidebooks. We found many types of rock at Breck, including granite in the chapel, slate on the middle school floor, and salt (’s a rock!) in our dining room. We also ventured to the Breck pond to collect a special rock for a rock tumbler experiment. We wondered what would happen to our rocks in a rock tumbler machine. In the end, the tumbled rocks were a bit smoother and shinier...perfect for a rock necklace!!


We are just wrapping up a unit on numbers to 20 in our new math curriculum, Math in Focus.  In this unit, we worked on developing the foundation for place value (tens and ones) as well as a broader understanding of number comparison (more/less, greater than/less than). The students continue to deepen their thinking about numbers and persevere with challenging mathematics. Next, we will take a short break from number and computation to explore another side of math...geometry and shapes!!

Social Studies/C.A.R.E. 

Elections and voting were the BIG topic this month in social studies. We discussed the general ideas of voting, candidates, political parties, and read many fun books like Duck for President and Grace for President. During November and December we are focusing on a familiar C.A.R.E. theme of “Responsibility." We are defining this as: "seeing a need and taking action to do the right thing!" In the classroom, children are discussing ways to be responsible at home, at school, and in the greater community. The holidays are a great time to volunteer as a family if you would like to teach your child more about being a responsible citizen and contributing to others. My favorite resource for family friendly volunteer opportunities is:

Growth Mindset

You may have heard your child talking about growth vs. fixed mindset (a BIG idea for a first grader!) but we talk about this topic a lot in the classroom. When approaching school work, especially if it is challenging work, we often observe children slipping into a "fixed mindset" and they will say things like, "I can't do this!" or "This is too hard." With coaching, we help them to first recognize that this type of thinking is called "fixed mindset" and it does not help us to learn and grow our brains. Instead, we want to re-train our brain to think with a "growth mindset" and say things like "I can't do this...YET" or "This is challenging but I can do hard things!" 

Here is a brief intro video if you are not familiar with the concept:

Looking Ahead... 

A very special day in November is Grandparents' and Special Friends' Day. The children will spend a great deal of time and effort preparing to host their guests in our classroom. If you have not registered your child and his/her guests yet, please contact Barbara Hedensten in Advancement 763-381-8129.

SNOW! I hardly want to say the word but it is likely to arrive in MN soon. When the first glorious snow falls, your child will need to have snow pants, coats, hats, gloves, boots, etc. for recess each day. Many families opt to keep a pair of snow pants at school. Also, be sure to label EVERY item. Our lost and found tends to be FILLED with lost hats and mittens by the end of winter.

Happy (almost) Thanksgiving!
Ms. Bennett and Ms. Madden

Important Upcoming Dates: 

November 18      Pajama Day
November 23      Grandparents' Day (School ends at noon.)
Nov. 24-28          NO SCHOOL-Thanksgiving Holiday/Teacher Workshop
November 29      School Resumes
December 1        Orchestra Hall Field Trip (Chaperoned by teachers.)
December 2        Skating Begins (Volunteers for skate tying will be contacted with details.)
December 9        Candy House Activity (Volunteers will be contacted.)
December 13      Hanukkah Party (Volunteers will be contacted.)
December 15      Lower School Holiday Program (6:30 PM-Chapel)
December 16      Last Day of school before Winter Break (No Extended Day)

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