Greetings from Tr. Richelle!
We are off to a great start in First Grade! The children have truly embraced the GFS theme for this year of Peace; they are expressing what peace means to them through both words and action – and art! (To celebrate Peace Day, we designed peace plates to hang from our playground fence. The children enjoyed using the dot painters to add color around the painter’s tape, which created the white space for the peace symbol.)
Speaking of themes, the First Graders worked hard in September on our classroom theme of Making a Difference in our School. One of the ways we can make a difference in our school is to follow rules and fill each other’s buckets. We have been following common sense rules for the first couple of weeks, and the children have been practicing their leadership skills when they fill the role of Line Leader and remind their friends to follow our routines, but we are not stopping there! Involving the children in defining classroom rules not only helps them understand why we need rules (which helps them follow the rules!), it also gives them ownership of their classroom environment.
As a foundation for defining our classroom rules, we discussed our Hopes and Dreams for First Grade. Connecting goals (hope and dreams) to rules is important to the process. And it is indeed a process, because the children usually start with fun and fantastic hopes and dreams! Each step takes a couple of days, because this gives the children time to reflect and add more to the list, and sends the message that we are doing important work. The next step is to consider why we come to school. As you can see below, we have drilled down to realistic hopes and dreams and are now focusing our learning goals by subject. When we are finished with this step, we will have an amazing list of hopes and dreams that will guide us in defining rules that will help us achieve these goals!
We have also revisited the concept of bucket filling that the children learned in kindergarten. (Google “bucket filling” if you want to know more!) We read How Full is Your Bucket? (For Kids) by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer and will be exploring more deeply what bucket filling looks, sounds, and feels like so that we can support our community in the classroom and around campus.
Speaking of books (and all things reading and writing), we have already started Fundations® Unit 2, and it’s a very powerful unit! The children will be blending and reading three-sound short vowel words – and segmenting and spelling those words! We will be reviewing sentence structure (capitals and punctuation), and learning our first “trick” words – those words that have to be memorized and can’t be tapped out.
We have also been learning to work independently in centers so that children can take turns meeting with me for guided reading. Their favorite center so far has been the listening center (audio books with paperback books to follow along), although I must admit that I have received more than one “Yessss!” when it was someone’s turn to work with me!
In the month of October, we will be digging deeper into the The Teachers College (Lucy Calkins) Writing Workshop unit on Small Moments: Writing with Focus, Detail, and Dialogue. The children will be invited to share their work with partners and to present their work in the Author’s Chair to the whole class.
Rounding out our language arts program is handwriting. In September, we learned our left from our right (with the help of a fun song), completed a review of capital letters, matched capital letters to lower case letters, and started to practice writing lowercase letters. We have many more fun songs coming up to help us remember how to form our lowercase letters!
In math, the children are enjoying working in their interactive math journals to help them develop and express a deeper understanding of addition. We will be starting to work on our subtraction unit in October. The children will be learning how to find “missing parts” of 6, 7, 8, and 9, and will be introduced to subtraction expressions and number sentences. We will then learn to “read” (and solve!) subtraction stories: stories about taking away, about comparing, and about missing parts. Finally, we’ll connect addition to subtraction and connect models to symbols.
In science, we will take full advantage of our beautiful campus to observe, identify, and classify trees based on a variety of characteristics. We will also observe and describe residents of trees and seasonal change in nature. October is a great month to take science class outside!
Our classroom theme and social studies curriculum for October is Making a Difference in our Community, and we will be exploring how we can make a difference on a larger scale than in our school. Along the way, we will learn about jobs, fire safety, and maps. Wait until you see what the children will be designing and building for this unit!
In closing, I share this image of the children enjoying “S.T.E.A.M.* Bin” time. They enjoy the challenge of designing a structure from different materials. So far, we’ve explored Lego blocks, Cuisenaire rods, dominoes, Clics, and linking discs. Under construction in this picture are a train, a plane, and a toy.
Dates to Remember:
Saturday, October 1st from noon to 3:00 pm Harvest Fair (Rain date: 10/15)
Friday, October 7th and Monday, October 10th NO SCHOOL for students!
Wednesday, October 12th 10:00 am - All School Gathering - Parents are welcome to join us! 3:00 to 4:15 pm – Kids Care/After School Service Club
Monday, October 24th Community Cares/Morning of Service
Monday, October 31st Halloween Parade and Class Party. Stay tuned for details!