Saturday, March 31, 2012

Noticing Poetry in What We Say and What We Hear

The first grade team will introduce poetry formally this week. In room 109, we've already begun to spend time listening to each other talk in an effort to find the seeds of poems in our natural, everyday language. We won't "listen for words that rhyme but, instead will listen for words that feel true, expressions that surprise us, or language that describes something in a new or beautiful way." Collections of the words will be posted on a bulletin board inside our classroom.

We'll also begin to search for "true, amazing, beautiful, interesting, vivid words and sentences selected from stories and other read alouds."  We'll display these collections in talking bubbles above each child's self portrait in the hallway.  

*Ideas taken from Reading and Writing Poetry by Georgia Heard and Lester Laminack

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cathryn Falwell Visited Rowe School Today!

Today was truly our lucky day because we were able to participate in book activities led by Cathryn Falwell.  The author grows vegetables and mystery vines in her garden next to Frog Song Pond in Maine.  The pond and its creatures are featured in her books Turtle Splash!, Scoot!, and Mystery Vine!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Homework Reading

Your children have made great gains in reading! As a result, many are bringing home longer books to read each night. We realize that spring is a very busy time. If your child does not have a chance to read his/her book, please keep it home an extra night or two.

I would also like to mention that every book does not need to be read aloud to you. Now is a good time to encourage whisper reading or even silent reading. Your first graders are truly ready to read independently.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Apps to Check Out

I have created a new section on this blog called Apps to Check Out.  You'll find it on the right-hand sidebar.  Please keep in mind that these are not links to the actual apps.  Something good to know is that many of them are offered in a Lite version which is free.  What's nice about that is you can use them for awhile to determine if they're worthwhile.

Some book apps worth chasing down are the iPad books found at Oceanhouse Media (through the iTunes store) and Nook Kids found through Barnes & Noble.  Please let me know if you bump into quality titles elsewhere as I would love to start a bookshelf on our classroom iPads.  We have yet to invest in this area and the only iPad titles I can share (other than stories found on TumbleBooks) are those I have purchased for my personal iPad 1.

I will continue to add to this list.  For the record:  the order of the listing is random.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

iPad Magic--It's More Than Free Apps

Ever since I held my first iPad, I knew deep down that this was the perfect tool for primary grade students.  I knew this with all my heart but I didn't exactly know why.  Now I think I do.  In fact, I can explain it in one word--audience.

As you know, first graders love to share what they learn.  They enjoy becoming experts in whatever it is we do.  Six and seven-year-olds live to talk about what they do well and what their pals do well.  I'll bet they've kept you up-to-date on their reading levels, their latest big book story, which math triangles are the easiest (probably the doubles), and what we're studying in science.

Did you know that every student in our class scores a self assessment at the end of each unit in Everyday Math?  Five or six skills are described and for each skill, the students determine if they can (1) use the skill independently AND explain how to do it, (2) use the skill independently (but cannot explain how to do it) or (3) use the skill with help.   

I believe that our challenge as educators is to structure authentic sharing experiences between students and their families all year long--not just at the end of a unit or at conference time.  The iPads can certainly help us to do this.  Many of the apps I am most excited about are those that allow students to document their learning through the use of pictures and video.  Your children will be able to practice explaining their thinking AND how they do what they do as they are working and learning throughout their school days at Rowe.

Our classroom blog will truly begin to breathe when we are able to embed snippets of video.  Stay tuned as we learn to use images with words and/or voice-overs, as well as, video to show you what it is that we work so hard to do.

P.S.  Tomorrow I will post a list of quality apps that we are beginning to explore.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Pebbles, Sand, and Silt

Our class is beginning an earth science unit.  We've started a study of rock, one of the most important earth materials.  Our investigations will center on the properties and uses of rock in many of its particle sizes--pebbles, gravel, sand, silt, and clay.  The children will be working extensively with materials, observing, comparing, and communicating what they learn through their firsthand experiences with earth materials.

Soon your child may ask for help finding a rock or two to contribute to our class rock collection.  A rock from your yard or neighborhood is fine.  As our study continues, your first grader will be learning more and more about rocks.  Try to find opportunities to talk with your child about sand, gravel, and soil and ways people use these materials in construction (asphalt, concrete, bricks, mortar, etc.) and landscaping.  This is an engaging theme for a family outing.

We're looking forward to lots of discoveries and new experiences as we explore the earth materials that can be found all around us.  If you have any questions or comments, or have expertise you would like to share with the class, please contact me.

--Taken from the FOSS Pebbles, Sand, and Silt Module
The Regents of the University of California

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Dr. Seuss' Birthday

I forgot to bring my camera to school on Friday, March 2nd--Dr. Seuss' birthday.  Fortunately, our Tech Support Teacher, Cathy Wolinsky, was working at Rowe that day.  Before school, Cathy gave me a tutorial on using an iPad to take pictures and even offered to cover my morning duty so that I could fool around with the process before the students filed in.  Later in the day, she explained how to email the images to myself so that I could create a slideshow of the day. 

Thanks, Cathy!

Click on The Cat in the Hat to view our busy day of preparing for our assembly honoring Dr. Seuss.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

We Love Science!

Prior to vacation, we finished up our Science unit, Balance and Motion.  I've included a second slideshow titled, Balance and Motion-2 so that you might view some of the wild fun we had learning about this concept.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Valentine's Day

We hope you'll enjoy our Valentine's Day photos!

The 100th Day of School

There are so many ways to get to 100!  Please click on the words, 100 IS A LOT, to view our collections of 100.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dr. Seuss' Birthday

Tomorrow is Dr. Seuss' birthday.  To celebrate, we've joined forces with Ms. Berry's class and Mrs. Boutin's to plan a few fun activities that will take place in the gym during the last 45 minutes of the school day.

Part of our agenda involves using an iPad to project the storybook, The Cat in the Hat, onto the huge screen in the gym.  Following the reading of this book, two first graders will hook up with a kindergartener to read the first six pages of the sequel, The Cat in the Hat Comes Back.  We practiced reading our designated parts on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Our plan was to continue to practice reading our assigned pages on Thursday.  As  it seemed likely that school would be cancelled, we made extra copies to send home.  If at all possible, please help your first grader to practice reading his/her assigned pages.

I plan to take pictures all day Friday so that you might get a bird's eye view of the fun we have.  Stay tuned!