Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Each week the students write using The Write From the Beginning Program. The program teaches the students to write using Thinking Maps. Over the last several weeks we have been writing "to tell why." The students have written about their favorite food, their favorite color, their favorite toy, and this week they wrote about their favorite t.v. show. They first brainstormed their favorite shows on a Circle Map. They then chose one show to write about in a Flow Map. On the Flow Map they had to write three reasons why it was their favorite show. They also had to include adverbs in their writing. They then used the Flow Map to help them write sentences. After they were finished, the students came to guided writing with me to edit and revise their work. After revising their work, the students created their own television to illustrate their favorite t.v. show. Sorry there are no pictures - I forgot to take any!
This week we have been reading The Little Engine That Could. Yesterday the students created story element charts to describe the characters, setting, problem, and solution of the story. (Fellow teachers, you can download the chart here for free.) Then, as a whole group, we retold the story on a Flow Map. Today the students created their own version of the Flow Map in small groups on train paper. After writing their retell, the students colored their train, cut it out, and ordered it on their sentence strip railroad track. Each group then read their retell to their classmates. Following this activity, the students made connections to the story. We brainstormed things that they once thought they could not do that they now can do. They wrote their connections on mini trains and placed them on their tracks.
Are you a frog? No! We discussed how students and frogs are similar and how they are different. They then wrote what they learned about frogs on a Circle Map. Using the Circle Map, the students wrote and illustrated why they are not frogs.
As a part of our study on life cycles, we discussed how most butterflies are symmetrical - their wings look the same on both side. To help the students visualize this, they cut out a pattern of a butterfly and folded it in half. We then put dobs of paint on just one side of the butterfly. The students then folded the other half on top of it to smoosh all of the paint. They then opened the butterfly to see that both sides now looked the same. I related this mini-lesson back to math and patterns. We talked about how the paint formed a pattern on the butterfly. We then added the butterflies to our garden display in the hallway.
To assess their understanding of area, I had the students create two seperate squares or rectangles using paper color tiles. The students then had to measure the area of their squares or rectangles. After measuring, they compared the two shapes to see which had the greatest and least area.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Last Friday we had our annual Field Day. Thank you to Coach Bentley and the other specialists for organizing such a fun day for the students. The students participated in the ball hug race, the scooter race, the egg and spoon race, freethrows, the bean bag toss, jump roping, tug-of-war, the shoe fling, the softball throw, and the 40 yard dash. Thank you to all of the parents who came out to enjoy the day with us.
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Last Thursday we had our grade level Spring Egg Hunt. Due to the weather, we improvised and had our egg hunt in the cafeteria. The students seemed to love it! Following the egg hunt, the students snacked on popcorn and juice. Thank you to the parents for donating the eggs and candy. Click below to enjoy a quick slideshow of their egg hunting.
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We held our second annual Earth Day Book Swap last Thursday. We held it a day early due to Field Day. Students in each grade brought books to trade with other students as a way to reuse what they already had. Thank you to the parents who volunteered their time to help the students find and trade books.
Last week we continued our study of life cycles by comparing the life cycles of bunnies, butterflies, earthworms, silkworms, and chicks. After learning about them, the students were divided into groups and assigned one of the animal life cycles. The students then became "experts" on their animal and created a diagram of the life cycle. They then presented their diagram and any information they learned about their animal to their classmates.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Don't forget! The Earth Day Book Swap is this Thursday from 8:00AM-12:00PM in the first grade common area. Students may bring in as many gently used books as they want. They will be given a book swap ticket for each book brought in which they can then use to redeem for another gently used book brought in by another student. This is a great way to teach the students to reuse what they already have.
The students have been blogging away! They have written over 250 posts so far. Their latest blog entries are about additive patterns. When they wrote about additive patterns, they first created patterns in Kidspiration which then then exported to our class' shared folder. They then had to import the photo into their blog. Although the steps to export and import seemed tricky at first, the students were up the challenge and were very successful. They have also been using our writing strategies from Write From the Beginning to write personal narratives. They have also been practicing writing sentences using word wall and phonics words as well as using adverbs from our grammar lessons. When you get a few minutes, read their great posts at their KidBlog.
Today we had an early Earth Day lesson with our literacy strategist, Mrs. Reed. Mrs. Reed teaches our first graders all about gardening throughout the year. Today's lesson was focused on the world's best recyclers - earthworms. We first learned about vermiposting from Vermi the Worm through videos and interactive games on the Promethean Board in the science lab. Your students can visit Vermi the Worm at his website to learn more about composting. The students then observed a compost bin filled with soil, shredded newspaper, and potato peels. Mrs. Reed then helped the students build a worm tower. The students added soil, shredded newspaper, water, and lettuce leaves to the top half of a 2-liter coke bottle. They then added earthworms to the mixture. The top half was then placed with the spout down onto the bottom half of the 2-liter coke bottle. Then they filled the bottom of another bottle with soil and planted lettuce seeds in it to grow on top of the worm tower. The students will continue to take care of the earthworm tower by feeding the earthworms and making sure they have plenty of moisture which they need to breathe. They will also observe to see if the lettuce grows and what drainage comes from the compost. Eventually the worms will be added to our grade-level garden. Our potatoes and onions that we planted a while back are almost ready!
Today the students traced their shoe on one inch graphing paper. They then counted how much area in squares their shoes covered. Because their shoes did not always cover complete squares at the edges we had a mini-lesson on fractions by talking about putting two or three parts of a smaller square together to make a whole. After counting, the students wrote the area of their shoe on a t-chart on the whiteboard. As a group the students then ordered the areas from greatest to least on the board. To check their work, the students then ordered the shoe tracings on the floor in the order that they had written them on the board to see if it was truly from greatest to least. (Sorry there are not more pictures - we needed all hands today to count the squares!)
Last week as we learned about additive patterns, we talked about how there are patterns everywhere in life. We talked about how patterns can add beauty to objects and can look like art. So, the students used three and four step cards to build various additive patterns. They first built the patterns with color tiles and then recreated the pattern, step-by-step, using paper color tiles which they glued on to black construction paper. They then shared at least one thing they learned about additive patterns.
Last week and this week we have been learning about the garden habitat and life cycles. As a part of our study, we have had an earthworm habitat in our classroom. We have been having fun observing them and learning interesting facts about them. To reflect on the learning, the students each created their own earthworm which we then added to our garden bulletin board. They then shared one thing that they learned about earthworms and shared it with their friends.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Using the Brace Map we created in class, the students created their own Brace Maps about the parts of a plant and their functions on the computer using the program Kidspiration. We then worked on learning to export the pictures and then insert them into Microsoft Word. We also are working on cropping and resizing pictures. The kids think it is "magic!"
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Last week we read "Habitats: Where Animals Live" to talk about the different needs of living creatures. After reading, the students worked in teams to list the animals from each habitat region on a Tree Map. After listing the animals, each student illustrated one animal for each habitat region on a six-part chart.
To review parts of a set, the students made fraction caterpillars. Thank you to Mrs. Carroll from The First Grade Parade for inspriing this wonderful idea! The students used three different colors of dot paint to create a caterpillar. They then told what part of the set each color was on their caterpillar. The students then added them to their hallway garden display.