Friday, September 12, 2008

Week Three Came and Week Three Left

Hello Readers! Room 108 routines are getting polished and students are beginning a much closer investigation of their surroundings. Patterns are being identified all around us in the form of letters, words, numbers and people. We are locating important reference points in the room such as name tags on our desks, along with letters, words and punctuation marks posted on the walls. We are also getting to know our classmates much better. Independent work time has become one of the early favorite parts of the daily schedule because it affords students the freedom to explore more thoroughly the classroom, their classmates, and themselves. Free exploration is a great way to encourage creativity, identify individual special interests and execute individual choice.

Here's what else this week brought for Room 108 students:
Phonics is in the early stages of letter sounds and identification. Much of this is review but new letter stories and combinations are introduced each day along with more letter writing practice. Letter sounds are being combined to practice the skill of blending. Blending is an early reading strategy used to decode new, unfamiliar words. Phonics skills will be isolated in "Decodable" books. These books will be coming home in your child's mail folder when we have finished with them in class.
Open-Court Reading introduces children to a whole class reading approach and envelopes all children in one story or reading each day with comprehension at the focus. The first unit is titled "Let's Read" and uses word repetition and rhyme schemes to promote motivation for all readers. Many of the readings thus far have been very short and simple while isolating one comprehension skill such as prediction or visualization.
University of Chicago's Everyday Math begins with the first unit emphasizing number sense and tally marks, along with exploration of tools students will be utilizing in future investigations. Some of these tools include dominoes, pattern blocks and templates, tangrams, and geoboards. Writing of numbers and number sentences was also introduced and will be groomed in the future.
The Social Studies' theme for the beginning of the year is "School and Family." Children have been engaged in defining and relating to terms like community, family, helper, and caring. So far students have been able to determine what makes up a community and can describe aspects of successful communities. Students are also demonstrating what family and community look like daily with Mann school's Mustang Motto and Room 108 Rules.
The science curriculum starts out with a theme of "Matter" and puts an emphasis on the properties of different kinds of matter. Students are naming descriptive words and have begun organizing different objects according to their characteristics and properties.

Sandwiched in between the demands of curriculum and special area classes is an assortment of early school year requirements like fire drills and bus evacuation procedures. Children have been forced to experience indoor recess during some rainy days and cope with the unfortunate scenario of a substitute teacher. (I had to attend a required Handwriting Without Tears training session at the district office.) All in all I would say Room 108 is adjusting pretty well to the intricacies of first grade. I am looking forward to the coming weeks and diving deeper with the students into the great sea of learning.