Friends in First

January/February 2016

Happy New Year!

It's hard to believe it's already January! Last week it was a little challenging getting back in the swing of things after our long winter break. We're continuing to talk about expected behavior and how to be thoughtful friends to our classmates.

A BIG thank you to the families that helped with the Gingerbread centers! The kids had a blast and it's always fun to see kids getting more time to do crafts and fun projects that supplement our learning! Some winter center pictures are below.

This is my favorite part of the year because we've hit a stride in our learning. We are reading and writing more than ever and the enthusiasm for learning is palpable. Below are some picture of students sharing their amazing original gingerbread stories. I was extremely impressed with their originality and hard work they put into this project!

Thank you again for the very generous gift card and chocolate! I used part of the gift card to purchase a docking/charging station for our ten mini iPads! This is very exciting, as I'm always trying to find new ways to organize our classroom and make the kids more autonomous learners. I'm also going to be ordering some new math activities for centers, and books that are needed to supplement our curriculum.

Winter is here so kids are starting to bring in their snow pants, boots, gloves, and hats. Please feel free to send your kids with their winter gear in a reusable bag. This is sometimes an easy way to stay organized at this time of year. Please let your child know if he or she should leave their gear in their lockers and LABEL everything!

Please make sure you scroll down to important dates.

Writing Workshop

Tap those sounds and spell those Word Ring Words....!

We've wrapped up our small moment stories and now we're writing about our opinions. First graders have a lot of opinions! It's been fun hearing opinions that range from best snacks to best video games and favorite animals. Students are working on adding reasons for their opinions in order to sway someone else's opinion on the subject.

It's important that we're fostering independence in our students by having kids tap out the sounds they hear in words, look around for places to find words, and think about word parts we already know inside of other words. Word Ring Words can't usually be sounded out and that's why we're really working on memorizing their spelling. I know it's hard to watch your kids spell words incorrectly, but it's an important part of the learning process. One thing I have kids do is underline the words that don't look right and then move on in their writing. Later, they can go back and problem solve how to solve the words. This encourages kids to try and move on, without inhibiting their writing fluency.


Wow! We've had fun with technology this year! We've been consistently using the mini iPads for RAZ Kids as our "Listen to Reading" center during reading workshop. In math, we've been using many different apps for practicing our math facts. Ask your first grader what his or her favorite app is on the iPads!

Last week first graders created their own slideshows about mammals and specifically beavers. We used "Little Bird Tales" to make the slideshows and fourth grade students from Mrs. Ryan's class actually worked with each group to help them record their voices and complete their projects. Now, I'm working on saving them to the website and sharing them with you!

We've also started using Apple TV in our classroom to mirror what we're doing on our iPads. The kids have had fun being able to see the different resources we have on the iPads displayed on the interactive whiteboard.

After describing all of these uses for technology in the classroom, I also want you to know that I am very sensitive to making sure the kids don't have too much screen time at school. I am a great believer that kids need time to interact with each other and practice cooperation and team building throughout the day. We will still be playing math games with a buddy, reading, and having discussions with our friends throughout the day! It is so important to make sure the kids know how to have conversations and have interpersonal relationships throughout the day!

Important Dates

Monday, January 18th - MLK Day - no school

Wednesday, January 27th - Early Release

Friday, January 29th - Report Cards go home

February 3rd - Early Release

February 10th - Valentine Centers - I'll send out a class list in the coming weeks!

(Please don't send in food/candy with the valentines.)

February Vacation - 2/15 - 2/19

Save the Date: Open House - Thursday, April 7th - 6 - 7 pm - Kids are expected to come to this event. There will be a music performance and first graders will be showing what they've worked on for the China unit. More information to come.