Saturday, February 21, 2009

Multicultural Center Visit

In recognition of African American Appreciation month, Lynn Allen, director of District 97's Multicultural Resource Center  transformed the auditorium into a student friendly exhibit of artifacts and information about the cultures of transcontinental Africa.  The exhibit began with Ms. Allen connecting the roots of African life to the United States and other countries, specifically those involved in the Triangle Trade.

This is a particularly difficult concept for most first grade children to comprehend but makes a unique connection to our new Open Court Unit titled "Journeys."  As we follow the sailing trip of Bill Pinkney around the world we will discuss life at sea and many extensions from this great
 captain's once in a lifetime journey.  

After the introduction, brief background and overview of the exhibit the students were let loose to explore everything for themselves.  Students were able to get their hands on musical instruments, traditional African games and daily use items, books and other artifacts from these timeless cultures. 
Students seen here are examining a hand carved wood slab designed to be a cover for a cabinet or other wood worked storage space.  Just above it is an oval shaped wooden artifact said to be a mixing/serving bowl.  The kids sure had fun getting their hands on everything!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The End of Unit 5

Salutations Readers!  I want to begin by thanking all of you that participated in the most recent set of parent/teacher conferences.  I appreciate your continued support, encouragement, and reflection pertaining to the education and experience of your little first graders.  I am grateful for your honesty and openness in addressing the developmental needs of your children.  Although they are not as "little" as they were 6 months ago, we still have plenty of learning experiences designed to foster continued individual growth!  

Unit 6 in Open-Court phonics focuses on the final phonetic pieces; digraphs and dipthongs.  Yes those terms may be unfamiliar to some of you but they are letter/vowel combinations that make a single sound, often irregular sounds, such as /oo/ spelled -ew or the /au/ and /aw/ in words like hawk and haul.  These final phonetical recognition skills should really help those emerging readers take off into the independent realm, with increased fluency not far behind.
Our reading continues with a unit titled "Journeys."  Whole class reading graduates from the big book to student readers.  Each student will have a book in front of them to follow along as the class reads assorted stories and selections about travel.  Reading will focus on concepts to increase comprehension skills and focus on various learning goals such as listening for details, developing vocabulary, clarifying, summarizing, and discussion.  
Many writing skills are being adapted for individual use and performance as exposure to literature is becoming more familiar and concepts of print, such as punctuation and capitalization, are more apparent than in previous months.  
Everyday Math in Unit 6 is more of the familiar concepts, but diving to a deeper level.  Addition and subtraction facts are being related to one another in fact families and on fact triangles.  Measurement explores the other side of the ruler, and metric system, with centimeters.  Pattern blocks will be used to manipulate fractions and quarters will finally be used in the counting and exchanging of coins.  Digital clocks will be investigated as we continue telling time to shortened intervals and also for the purpose of timing.

Keep up the fact practice at home as well as the nightly reading.  There are links on the right hand side for both of these classroom connections.  I suggested "Tumblebooks" to many of you during conferences for reading practice and if you haven't found the link already, its under "Fun Academic Links."  Just follow the Tumblebook title and look for the "Storybooks."  

Monday, February 9, 2009

District 97 Climate Survey

Hello Parents of District 97 students.  Here is the link for the Climate Survey you should have heard something about.  Please take a few minutes of your time and fill one out for your student at Mann School.  This survey is important for the future progress and direction of District 97. Your thoughts are asked for and appreciated.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Presidential Extensions

Happy February greetings to you and yours!  This month brings us all kinds of persons, places and things to honor, remember and celebrate.  February is not only African-American Appreciation month but it also honors two of America's most historic presidents' birthdays and celebrates all presidents with a national holiday.  And of course nobody can forget their loved one(s) on February 14th!  Room 108 will be sure to take many of these events as great learning opportunities and extensions in the classroom.  

The big theme right now is differentiation!  With so many ability levels and minds soaring around the classroom it is very important to take an opportunity to meet, challenge, or remediate children at their respective developmental needs.  In some cases students are paired, put in small groups or asked to work independently.  It is amazing the kind of things the entire class can accomplish when each child has good direction, focus, and works hard to accomplish their tasks.  

This week marked the beginning of parent/teacher conferences and they will continue through the end of next week.  I appreciate all your help in scheduling!  I know many of you had to shuffle a thing or two to make times work but I have to thank you for making it work!  I look forward to meeting with each of you and discussing the progress and future direction for your student.  

I will leave you with a link for a presidential "Guess Who" courtesy of  Some of you might want to rack your brain alongside your child to attempt a guess... How well do you really know our presidents??  

Keep up the great work and communication at home!  "No man is an island" and if your children don't say thank you for all the help keeping up in Room 108 then let me tell you how grateful I am right now!  Working together makes for some of the best learning experiences!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Groundhog Snowball Throw

Puxatawney Phil indeed saw his shadow this year which means six more weeks of winter weather.  Room 108 recognized the annual event by watching some video footage, during snack time, of the "Inner Circle" at Gobbler's Knob to see the legendary groundhog.  Here is a pretty simple little flash game the children really wanted me to pass along.  There is nothing academic about this game... it simply provides an out-of-school free time internet game!  Click here to throw some snowballs!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Art Appreciation: "Sick"

Here it is... The video slideshow from the most recent art appreciation based on student interpretation of Shel Silverstein's poem "Sick".  I'm sure your child will want to watch it, maybe more than once, and the song might get stuck on repeat in their head, and yours.  Hope you all enjoy!