Tuesday, January 17, 2017

January Update

January has arrived and students are back at school and ready for more! This is an exciting time of the first grade year as expectations heighten, learning goes deeper, and we begin to see children mature as students.

In reading, the first graders continue to learn strategies for thoughtful and careful reading. Many readers at this point in their development will read words correctly but not know the meaning. They will also read through entire books without reflecting to see if they actually understood what they read. We are learning to use strategies like retelling and questioning to help develop a stronger understanding of stories and texts. Later in the month, we will begin to focus more heavily on non-fiction texts. You can help support your child's reading development by continuing to read with them at home and engaging them in discussion about their books while reading. These are some "thinking stems" we use in our class book talks:

"I'm noticing..."
"I'm thinking..."
"I'm wondering..."
"I'm seeing..."
"I'm guessing/predicting..."

Rana and Kelly read and talk together about Polar Bears.

In Writer's Workshop, we have graduated to opinion writing! We spent some time getting to know the genre and learning how to state our opinions clearly and support them with many reasons. We're also learning how to RESPECTFULLY disagree with the opinions of others. Our writers were especially excited about their new "tiny topics" journals and have been proudly carrying them around each day in case a new inspiration for writing pops into their heads! The children are now hard at work writing convincing reviews of special things in their lives. We have reviews of everything from Florida to Dunkin' Donuts, to Pokemon Go, and more! Our classroom is a real-life Yelp!

After a brief unit on geometry and shapes, we continued to work on some "core" concepts of first grade math. The children have been deepening their understanding of addition and subtraction, tens and ones, and story problems. The first grade mathematicians are being encouraged to go beyond just "giving the answer" but to also practice explaining their work and offering proof through equations, pictures, and diagrams.  It's been exciting to watch their understanding of mathematical operations grow! We hope you have been finding IXL to be an engaging way for your child to continue building their math fluency at home. Next, we will move into the second volume of our math book!

Creating structures with solid shapes.

In science, we are wrapping up our study of rocks and "diving into" the topic of oceans and islands. The class will be reading a variety of books on ocean topography and ecology as we prepare for our trip to the MN Zoo in February and the cherished Island Adventure in March. We will also be starting a new science journal to organize all of our discoveries!

This month in social studies, we will be weaving together the CARE theme of "Tolerance" while studying important "change makers" like Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and Ruby Bridges. As a class we'll be reading several books and biographies from many perspectives to explore themes like fairness/equality, taking a stand, and respecting differences.

Wishing your family peace and warmth,
Ms. Bennett and Ms. Madden

Important Upcoming Dates:

January 23rd-Next Service Visit to Sunrise
February 1st-MN Zoo Ocean Life Field Trip (Volunteers will be contacted soon.)

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