Tuesday, February 21, 2017

February Update

February has been a busy month in first grade.  We've passed the mid-point of the school year which means we are diving into the deepest parts of our learning. This is both exciting and challenging. We've had to spend a bit of time re-building our class as a team to get ready to solve problems together and rise to our best selves as learners. You can continue to support your student outside of school by making sure they get a lot of sleep, good nutrition, and time for play and relaxation! 


Reading instruction continues to challenge the children to broaden and improve their skills in reading and comprehension. Children are refining their abilities make meaning of unknown words, monitor understanding, and improve fluency and expression. We are also beginning to look more closely at informational texts (non-fiction) noting features like table of contents, headings, labels, and glossaries. At the end of the week, we'll begin non-fiction book clubs during our reading times. Be on the look out for new March reading logs that will encourage our readers to set goals and push their reading stamina by reading longer and stronger. We will also have a special spring break reading challenge!

Readers work with long and short vowels in word work. 

Writer's Workshop 

In writer's workshop, we wrapped up our opinion writing unit and we've created a book of reviews that could rival the wisdom of Yelp! We have a chapter that reviews "Places to Go" like Florida and Mexico, a chapter that reviews "Stores" like PetSmart and Cub Foods, a chapter that critiques restaurants Yogurt Lab and Yum, and a chapter titled "Popular Things" that offers reviews of Pokemon Go and dogs! Now, we are beginning to write non-fiction chapter books related to our study of the ocean. Thank you for helping your child to generate ideas in his/her Tiny Topics journal!

Editing our reviews using a checklist. 
Edited and ready for publishing!!


In math, we have really gotten into the core grade 1 concepts of addition and subtraction, with and without regrouping. Children have learned to use a variety of strategies to solve and explain their mathematical thinking behind multi-digit problems. It has been important to strengthen their understanding of place value and basic math facts in order to help them see patterns in the mathematical operations of addition and subtraction. Our next math unit will focus on strategies for improving mental math.

Playing a subtraction game: Race to 0!

Here are some ways you can help at home:

  • Encourage your child to teach you the strategies of the program. Learn to see math in new ways and avoid teaching "the way you learned" (in fact, grade 1 students are intentionally not introduced to the vertical algorithm because the horizontal equation strengthens their mental math skills). 
  • Continue practicing and strengthening basic addition and subtraction facts up to 20
  • Play games with math!

Demonstration of "Terrific 10s and 1s" Strategy


In science, we have begun our study of the ocean. We had a thoughtful debate about how many oceans there are (our class is quite divided between 5 identifiable oceans, 4 named oceans, 1 world ocean). We are also exploring the depths of the ocean beginning with the coral reef and the sunlit zone. At the Minnesota zoo, we experienced many tropical ocean dwellers. We observed the creatures of the coral reef and asked questions to the zoo aquarists. We also visited the sharks, stingrays, and Hawaiian monk seals. Next, we will be exploring other ocean zones including the mysterious abyssal zone.

Social Studies and CARE

This month, our CARE theme is STEWARDSHIP. We have been discussing ways we can care for ourselves, others, our school, community, and world. We are also learning more about US Presidents and discussing qualities of a good leader. 

Learning and Mindset

As busy as the first graders are, this time of year can often cause learners to fall into a “slump.” Children may rush to just get work done and not show the typical enjoyment for school that they usually do. In the classroom, we talk a lot about the idea of "mindset" and effort. Now we are helping first graders to develop a deeper understanding of the learning process by discussing the concept of the "learning pit:"

Originally created by James Nottingham/Adapted by Ms. Bennett

Important Upcoming Dates:

February 24- Skating Ends
March 2-3: Parent Teacher Conferences/No School
March 6-10: Lower School Book Fair (we will shop on Thurs., March 9)
March 13: Grade 1 Islands Adventure (More info coming soon!)
March 17: Spring Break begins at 3:15 PM

Enjoy the spring-like weather!
Ms. Bennett and Ms. Madden

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