Thursday, September 25, 2008

Up and Running, Full Speed Ahead

After two full (five day) weeks of school the children have really settled in. Only subtle reminders are needed for routines and behavioral expectations are becoming ingrained in the minds of all. Now the trends take a new direction and begin to focus more directly on the content of the academic subject areas. Math, reading, language arts, social studies, science and handwriting are all very familiar along with their general focuses and concerns. Transitions are what get us from one subject to the other, from one room to the next, and from the playground into the lunchroom. These are also opportunities for the children to "get their squirms out" so they can hone in on classroom activities and instruction. The first grade ship has set sail and let me be the chipper captain to inform you all, "Thar be all me mateys aboard 'n they be gettin' eager to learn!"

Phonics and reading are piggybacking one another very nicely as we focus on one phonemic sound a day through isolation and recognition of it in as many words and sentences as we can. The decodables should be in the Mail folders almost daily with the phoneme of the day circled and tallied. These little books are also great practice for letter blending by sounding out words into individual letter sounds like this: s-t-o-p. The word building game has been introduced and students are learning how to change words with the simplest switch of one letter. Example: start with the word /ham/, change one letter to get the word /jam/. And of course there are stories from the big books and other literature books being read throughout the days and weeks. Engulfing children in literature is an important early literacy strategy.
Math is taking a turn from the number grid to more abstract concepts like time, dominoes, and rulers. Most of what is seen in Everyday Math is introduced first, and then revisited in later units. The biggest assist you can offer your child is to help them identify the plethora of mathematical possibilities around them every day. Help them to see the patterns and numbers everywhere. Another great way to help them is by practicing addition facts.
Social studies and science have been coupled with our 4th grade buddies lately because of the way the fourth graders are able to provide individualized instruction as well as modeling positive behavior (in most cases) for the first graders. The science aspect narrowed in on the properties of matter and the formation of molecules within the three forms of matter; solids, liquids, gas. Social studies is identifying characteristics of a leader, along with purpose for rules. For six and seven year olds rules can be quite a difficult concept to fully understand, but they are all grasping it more and more everyday.

Upcoming Dates of Importance
Friday, September 26 -
Melt into the Mustang Motto - popsicles to celebrate our behavior!
Saturday, September 27 - Last day for Scholastic Book orders
Monday, October 7 - PICTURE DAY - Make sure to submit your child's order fo
National Geographic Checks - right away

HomeLinks - just about every single night

Reading Logs - Now you can print out your own from home... And in color if you'd like! Traditional paper logs will still be coming home but just showing you where I found it.

Link of the week - National Library of Virtual Manipulatives - an online collection of many of the manipulatives we use in the classroom such as geoboards, pattern blocks, tangrams and many more. All the virtual spaces are accompanied with grade level appropriate problems and opportunities to excel in problem solving and thinking critically. I found myself tackling some of these activities in my own free time-very cool creation! You might want to walk your child through it the first couple times. Enjoy!