Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Nutcracker and Final Week Before Break...

This week marks the final week of school on the 2007 calendar. Students can look forward to the completion of Unit 4 in both Open Court Reading and Everyday Math. End of unit assessments will be administered on Tuesday and Wednesday, as time permits. Skills isolated on the Open Court assessment include letter sounds, letter combinations, vocabulary, and comprehension abilities. Skills being tested on the math assessment include measuring to the nearest inch, counting money, odd and even numbers, temperature readings, and domino counting and addition.

The Nutcracker Ballet was a very exciting event for everyone involved. I want to thank the parent volunteers for chaperoning and the students for their tremendous behavior and cooperation during this special event. Below are pictures of the girls and boys, respectively, in their ballet attendance attire.

During the final week of December look for significant amounts of review material as it is important to recover many of the skills learned throughout the first four months of the school year. A two week winter break opens the possibility for students to fall out of their academic routine and habits. Please continue to read, work with numbers, and talk with your child about school related things daily over winter break.

*** Winter Party ***
Room 108 Parents are throwing a party to welcome the 2007-2008 Winter season on Friday, December 21, 2007 at 1pm. The timing could not be better as the 21st of December is the winter solstice and will have the shortest amount of daylight in the 2007 year. Children will be doing some arts and crafts activities and collecting their belongings before the break. Parents are welcome to attend and join in the fun!

Stay warm out there and I will see you on the black top!
Mr. Reynolds

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Report Cards and other...

I would like to say "Thank You" to all the families that have helped me to create a hard-working, motivated first grade classroom. All the children in my classroom brought home their first grading period report card and I must assure you all that each student has already made significant individual gains in the first four months of the academic year. Perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of the first grade classroom is knowing there are still many skills to learn and hone. I ask you all to continue helping me in the development process to ensure each student achieves a significant amount of personal growth throughout the next grading period.

Next I would like to extend a word of "appreciation" to the Room 108 Art Appreciation parents. Lori Malinksi, Paula Hurtado, and Carrie Bankes infused our classroom with an excellent array of Henri Rousseau artwork and awareness. Rousseau created a number of jungle themed pieces of work that fit in very well with the growing jungle theme in our room. After viewing many different Rousseau characteristics students were able to utilize many different artistic materials such as stamps, construction and wall paper, oil pastels, magazine cut out, and others to produce their own rendition of Rousseau inspiration.

Below is an assortment of pictures of Room 108 Art Appreciation work.
(pictures courtesy of Carrie Bankes)

Two final notes: 1) Scholastic December book orders must be turned into Mr. Reynolds by Tuesday, December 11 to ensure delivery prior to winter break.
2) Our class will be attending a performance of the Nutcracker Ballet on Thursday, December 13. For many of the children this may be their first formal ballet experience and I am asking for each child to dress in an appropriate manner for such an event. Many people have put in a lot of hard work and practice to present this performance (there will even be a live orchestra!) and out of respect to them I feel the audience should look and behave in a manner that will reflect this.

Thank you for your time and support in creating a successful first grade experience for our students. Please remember to bundle up for the cold weather!!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

December is here...

and so is the colder weather and first snow! Wintry weather brings a change of scenery both outside the classroom and in. December brings with it the Nutcracker theme that will peak with all of first grade attending the Nutcracker Ballet on December 13.

Open Court Reading recently introduced the phonetic letter combinations wh-, ch-, th-, and sh- and also qu-. As these combinations become familiar, focus will shift to vowel/letter combinations and sounds such as oa, ou, ea, and aw. We will continue reading in the themed big book "Our Neighborhood at Work."

Everyday Math has now progressed past the initial "exploration" period of rulers and thermometers and is beginning to focus on smaller units both these instruments offer. Measuring things to the nearest foot and inch will becoming commonplace as well as reading temperatures (in degrees Farenheit) to the nearest degree. Time-telling, both analog and digital, will move to reading clocks to 15 minute intervals.

You should have all seen by now a "Four-Square" writing activity. "Four-Square" writing can applied in a number of ways but at this point is being utilized for themed writing of four sentences. How "Four-Sqaure" works: A blank piece of paper is folded and unfolded horizontally and vertically. A topic is then written in the center. Each square then has a category for which each student picks (from a list on the board) words of their choice. These words are then arranged into a complete sentence in the corresponding box on the back side of the paper. When all four sentences are complete, students are given lined paper to "publish" their writings. Published writings are occasionally displayed in the hallway and/or classroom. This has been a productive activity for modeling the early stages of writings. It is my hope that modeled writing will help to mold more complete sentences and thoughts in students' journal entries.

Hope all is well in the homes and please send your children to school prepared for the weather. We will continue to have morning and lunch recess as the weather permits. All children should have a warm coat, hat, and gloves. Stay warm!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Unit 4 Underway...

Hey blog frequenters thanks for checking in on the classroom action. This week Unit 4 is in full swing with an exciting array of new material ranging from reading to social studies, and science to math. A lot what we are doing is becoming closely intertwined as the first grade curriculum demands that many skills be introduced and practiced for the first time.

Math has put the student in the pilot's seat for navigating new instruments such as rulers and thermometers. Taking measurements and reading temperatures are just a few of the skills being added to the fast filling bag of first grade necessities. This bag of skills will come in mighty handy as science lessons begin focusing on observations and analysis.

Reading is focusing on jobs around the neighborhood and in the community. More in-depth kinds of stories and writings are emerging from the Open Court series, and don't forget the ever important pre-decodables!

Keep up the positive reinforcement at home and I will see you on the blacktop!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving Break

It was a very quick week full of review and house cleaning. These two days were a great opportunity to review strategies and skills covered thus far in the year. Students were especially fond of the spelling review game "Sparkle!" If you have not heard about "Sparkle" yet, you must ask your child about it. The real game of Dominoes was introduced and children seemed to grasp the initial concepts about the game. If you are familiar with the playing of dominoes and terminology I would encourage you to play some with your child and/or family. Reading review focused on a number of different reading and comprehension strategies as well as the imaginative Unit 4 introduction activity "Sketch-to-Stretch."

I hope you all have a delightful Thanksgiving Holiday with family and loved ones! If you are traveling, please do so safely!

Gobble Gobble!!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Completion of Unit 3

This week marked the end of Unit 3 in both Open-Court Reading and Everyday Math. Assessments were administered during class periods on both Wednesday and Thursday. Students all worked extremely hard to complete both assessments and are now ready to engage in Unit 4 for both content areas.

Open-Court Reading shifts from "Things That Go" to "Our Neighborhood at Work." Unit 4 focuses on types of jobs and the skills necessary to perform the tasks of different kinds of neighborhood employment. Phonics skills associated with this unit will include newly acquired letter combinations such as -ar (as in card) and -er, -ur, -ir (as in chipper, fur, bird).

Everyday Math will now be spiraling back to some already familiar kinds of number awareness such as temperature, time-telling, and money changing. Basic addition skills will continue to improve along with subtraction skills as both will be incorporated in concepts new and old.

Social Studies and Science activities will continue on the path of introduction concepts and experiences such as those incorporating properties, phases of matter, the life cycle, biological and ecological studies. Geography skills will also be introduced as students become more familiar with maps of the United States and the World. Directional awareness will build from the cardinal directions onward to ordinal directions. Essential map reading skills will also be isolated including map keys, scales, and locations.

Please continue all you are doing at home with your child. Reading abilities are improving across the board and it is due to increased phonemic awareness, decoding/blending skills, and modeling of reading. I ask you continue to read with your child every night and encourage them to read as much as possible to you. * Keep your eyes open for the next Scholastic Book order coming after Thanksgiving! *

Thanks for reading my blog and never underestimate the effort in focus and hard work!

-Mr. Reynolds

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Happy Veterans Day!

** A quick reminder that Monday will be a musical show and tell during the music period. Please have your child bring in an item, talent, or other related to music. **

This week marks the end of Unit 3 in both reading and math. End of unit assessments will be administered on Wednesday and Thursday (Game Days.) Your child should be prepared if you have been keeping up with predecodable readings, Home Links, and been in attendance on a regular basis. I ask you take extra initiative to ensure well-rounded, healthy meals and plenty of sleep for the entire week.

See you on the black top!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Week Wrap-up...

*Congratulations to you for checking my blog for this post if you noticed there was not a Mr. Reynolds' Reader in your child's mail folder today. I'm hoping to make the full transition to online updates by the time reports cards come out (December 7, 2007.)

The week was fast, focused and similar to the title of our Open-Court big book story of the week "On the Go." We read and learned about different types of transportation including something as simple as your feet to something as complex as a rocket ship.

Number awareness and manipulation continued to increase speed as we accelerated towards new skills such as frames and arrows and number-line counting (skipping.) Please keep working on addition facts at home. Subtraction is just around the corner...

Using our transportation theme we constructed a classroom train full of cars traveling to different states in the USA. We learned directions from the compass rose on our classroom map and had found little difficulty navigating our way across a map of the world. The students were excited to find different states and landmarks as we read our issue of Time for Kids.

Please continue to read nightly with your child and work together on the Home Links.

** Picture retakes are next Wednesday, November 14 at 8:45am. **

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Weekly Newsletter - Vol.1 Issue 8

Here is the weekly Reynolds' Reader for the week of October 29, 2007. My hope is to eventually move away from paper copy of my reader and have it published online only.

Mr. Reynolds' Reader - Volume 1 Issue 8

If you read this post or have successfully viewed any of my newsletters online in the pdf format please leave a message to let me know. I am trying to get an idea of my audience out there. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Wednesday was an onslaught of Halloween fun and wild costumes! Thanks to all the parents that came and helped out during the classroom party. The parade was a success along with the party. Here is a short little iMovie creation from my pictures to recap the day. Thanks goes out to all the families that brought party favors to hand out to the class. Everything was a real success and it was a lot of fun to be a part of a terrific school-based Halloween celebration!

-Mr. Reynolds

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Classroom Newsletters Now Online

Classroom Newsletters are now online in a pdf. What does this mean? Well pdf is an acronym for portable document format and it allows me to distribute the newsletter in a paper-free way. Some of you may be interested in keeping up with the classroom via pda, Blackberry, or if you're like me iPhone. Now you can view all the same information and MORE with my blog and newsletters right in the palm of your hand (or on your personal computer screen.)

Click here for the latest issue of Mr. Reynolds' Reader (Vol. 1 Issue 7)

Friday, October 26, 2007

What a week!

I must begin by telling you all what a tremendous week this group of students had! Monday started out a bit rocky and distracted but as we ventured into the week each student was able to individually focus on the tasks in front of them. We read a number of stories and began to work with visually representing stories. We introduced possessives and each child wrote sentences to describe pumpkins they found in their own personal patch. Math brought us a plethora of patterns ranging from shapes to numbers and letters to colors. Patterns are everywhere! We learned about the seasons and reasons for their change. We talked about the Earth rotating and revolving around the sun.
Because of all the hard work Friday turned into quite an academically rewarding day. We started by galavanting down to Ms. Cairns first grade room to learn about Venn Diagrams and fill one out with a partner from Cairns' classroom. When we returned it was time for everybody's favorite spelling review game "Sparkle!" Then it was off to gym. Then children all had the chance to make Halloween puzzles which we will piece together next week. The afternoon was filled with the writing of Thank You letters to our classroom grandparents (My parents) for all the wonderful Dr. Suess and Berenstein Bears books they have sent the classroom. We spent the last 45 minutes of the day with our fourth grade buddies working on Wilma the Witch and her special witches' brew. The very last thing I do each week is meet with each student for individual meetings. During the meetings I go over their spelling tests, behavior, and the sought after Homerun Chart. Congratulations to the many homeruns and grand slams hit this week! The Grand Slam Dugout will be opened early next week for prizes. Keep up the great focus, behavior, and performance!!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Unit 3 Begins...

I want to thank you all for a wonderfully productive and successful set of parent/teacher conferences. You all offered me very supportive and helpful feedback regarding your children, their tendencies, and ideas for improving instructional strategies.
Wednesday of last week marked the completion of Unit 2 in both Reading and Math. Both subjects were capped off with an end of unit assessment, both of which I have now graded. The only theme difficulties were found in the money portion of the Math assessment. Students are still having a difficult time showing equal amounts with different combinations of coins. This is a skill we will continue to cover over the course of the year so please do not be too concerned yet.
Today begins Unit 3 in Math and Reading. The theme for reading is "Things That Go." Math will begin to head in a direction towards patterns in both geometry and numbers. Clocks, time, and money will still be very much involved in math lessons but additional skills will be introduced for each area.
Please continue to read and review math facts (addition 0-9) with your child every night. If addition facts are becoming mastered then begin working on subtraction facts 0-9. If you still have sight word lists, please work with your child on sight words (they are similar to math facts in the sense that they must simply be memorized for further application.)

Today has been a great start to the week. Lets all keep up the hard work!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Conference Week

This is parent/teacher conference week for grade one at Mann. You should have received a conference notification in your child's mail folder last week. (It was attached to their spelling test.) You will also receive an e-mail of your conference time. Because of the scheduling of some conferences parents will have a few different assessment items to talk about. This week students will be taking the end of unit assessments for Unit 2 in Open Court Reading and Everyday Math. The Open Court Reading assessment spans the course of two days and about two and one half hours in time. Each assessment is a required piece of the school's curriculum and requires focus, hard work, and determination from every student. If your child has been attending school every day, keeping up with math Home Links, and reading different kinds of writing they will be more than prepared for these tests.

Here are a few websites to visit if you are interested in extending your child's achievement from home.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Columbus Day

I hope you all enjoyed the three-day weekend. Illinois public schools are very unique in their observation of the Columbus Day holiday. My home state of Minnesota does not observe this holiday however they do take a full Thursday and Friday off for fall parent/teacher conferences and teacher development.
The week ahead will be one of hard work and participation hopefully capped off with a major addition to our classroom jungle. As long as student behavior permits, we will build the large trees for our jungle animals to live in. "Bongo" the monkey is our jungle animal that comes down from the vines to help us with our community circles. Bongo has many friends and that is why we are expanding our jungle, so he can invite his friends to our learning environment.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Welcome to the wonderful world of Blogs!

Hello and thank you for finding the way to my blogspot. This is a little corner of the internet that will allow me to connect with you as someone with interest in my classroom. The updates on this blog will be weekly with an occasional extra update. I will add more as I go and hope you will continue to visit!