Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy Holidays

Today was our Holiday Party and the students had fun doing crafts and eating breakfast. Thank you to all the parents who helped with the party and to Mrs. Felli for organizing it for us. I hope you all have a wonderful Winter Break, and I will see you next year!

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Today we read the story of Snowflake Bentley and learned some interesting facts about snowflakes. We also made out own snowflake crystals.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Today we learned about poinsettias and legend behind them. We read one of Tomie dePaola's books and made our own flowers. This was an exercise in listening and following directions. If one did not carefully make the flower as was directed, it would not turn out to look like one.

In math students learned how to play two new menu math money games: Race for a Quarter and Fill the Bank.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Pajama Day

Today we had Pajama Day as a reward for our first 10 Castle Coins. We read the book Ira Sleeps Over, a story about a little boy's first sleepover. Even though we were relxed in our pjs, we still spend the day learning.

Monday, December 17, 2007

What a Snowy Weekend

Well, fortunately we didn't get as much snow as they said we might. Several students will be out this week due to family vacations, so a lot of our work will be review. I am also continuing to meet with students regarding their reading levels.

Today we read another Jan Brett book, Daisy Comes Home. Students have been anxiously looking for Hedgie in Jan's books and are keeping track of where she is on large chart paper in the room. Hedgie is found in all but 3 of Jan's books, but sometimes is very difficult to find.

In math we practiced using money by learning some new games. These games give the children hands-on experience identifying and counting coins.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I'm Back!

Today was my first day back since my maternity leave. It was an emotional day for me. I was happy to see all of the children and they were so excited to see me too. I know they will miss Miss Dishon as well. I am impressed with how well they are reading now. I had individual conferences with about 1/3 of the students and we chose new books for their book bags. I will be working with the remaining children next week.

We took our second set of quarterly assessments today in math and language arts. I am anxious to get the results, as well as review the first set. Other activities we did today were minute math, journal writing about our favorite part of school, and what we want to learn about next. We also read one of my favorite Jan Brett books, The Umbrella. We will continue to read her beautifully illustrated books next week. I shared with the class that I met Jan Brett a couple years ago and spent the day with her when she visited Indianapolis on her book tour. This afternoon I read a non-fiction book about reindeer, and we created a chart listing lots of facts we learned about this animal. The students made some great connections between reindeer and other animals such as cows and penguins.

Hope you have a great weekend. We're supposed to get a lot of snow, so stay safe and warm.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

busy times in first grade!

We are always keeping busy in First Grade! Our reading and writing skills are coming along quite nicely. Our new author of the month for November is Tomie dePaola. We have already read many of his books, including the chapter book On My Way. In writing, we have been focusing on "stretching our story out", or adding more details to our writing. So many of the children have shown a great deal of improvement in their writing recently.

In Math this month, we have been using hands-on activities to work on place value. Many of the children already had a good foundation in this from Kindergarten. As always, we are constantly reviewing and practicing our previously acquired skills in addition, subtraction, time, and money.

In Science, the students have watched their mealworms go through their lifecycle (larva, pupa, adult beetle) and we now have a large container of darkling beetles to observe. The students will continue to observe their beetles as they lay eggs and the lifecycle continues. This has really been a great opportunity of discovery for your children! Throughout the process, we have also learned about other cycles as well, including apples, frogs, and seasons.

In Social Studies, we are beginning our unit on Native Americans. The children will be making pocket books representing many of the different tribes. They are very excited to begin the process and can't wait until they can take their books home to share with you!

Thanks for all your help with the turkeys! They were so creative!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


I apologize for not posting in a while, but things have been very hectic! I will also try to post some pictures soon.

Last week in Science, we began a mealworm project. Each student was given two mealworms to care for and observe over the next several weeks. Students are keeping a calendar and journal to record any changes they notice in their mealworms. I have not told them what will happen with their mealworms, so the students are learning through discovery. They have been so excited about the project!

This week in Math, we began subtraction. We have been using hands-on activities as well as a concrete follow up activity to practice. The students are doing a great job!

In Social Studies, we have been learning about civics and government. The students are developing an understanding of who the President is and what his job is.

Also, just a reminder that library books are due every Monday.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Our Field Trip

I hope you all asked your children about our Field Trip to the Ruth Lilly Health Education Center. They had a great time! They participated in interactive presentations about nutrition, bones, muscles, dental hygiene, exercise, and germs. I think their favorite part was meeting Billy Bones and TAM! A special thanks to those parents who went along and helped.

I sent Scholastic book order forms home this week. If you decide to order any books for your child, please return the order form and check by next Friday, September 28.

Thanks, and have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Field Trip

We are gearing up for our field trip to the Ruth Lilly Center tomorrow. We will be eating when we return to school, so please don't forget to send your child a sack lunch. Thanks!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


We are having a great week in first grade! In math, students have been practicing and improving their addition skills, using various hands-on and paper and pencil activities. In science, we have been talking about healthy choices, which will be culminated with our field trip next Wednesday to the Ruth Lilly Center. And in writing, students have been working on a story about their recent trip to the library.

Just a few reminders:

1. Library books are due on Monday.

2. Don't forget to send $3.00 by Monday with your child for the field trip cost.

3. As the weather is changing, make sure your child is dressed appropriately to go outside for recess.

4. Daily snacks are encouraged for your child.

Thank you all for being so supportive during this transitional period. I really appreciate it!

Friday, August 31, 2007

This week we have read several books by Norman Bridwell about Clifford the Big Red Dog. Next week will start a new month and a new author of the month. We will be doing many activities with the books written by Eric Carle. He is one of my favorite authors and the children always enjoy rereading familiar stories and hearing new ones.

We have been busy working learning the names of coins this week in math. In science we talked more about what a scientist is. Many students were surprised to find out that they are scientists. We are making a book in social studies all about our classmates. We are still learning about each other's special talents and abilities. This book will also help the substitute teacher learn about us when I go on maternity leave.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Computer Lab

We have been going to the computer lab last week and this week. Students have learned how to login and open up student applications. We have also explored a couple of software programs: Balanced Literacy and 10th Planet Literacy. These are both reading programs. On Thursday we will be working in a math program. Tuesday and Thursday are our regularly scheduled times for the lab.

Just a reminder that you may send in a daily snack for your child. Please follow the guidelines sent home in the summer packer. Your child should not be bringing a soda for his or her snack. If you need a copy of suggested snacks, please let me know and I will send a new one home.
Also, students now have P.E. on Mondays and Thursdays. Be sure that they wear gym shoes on those days.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Today we read the book ish! and talked about perfectionism. The little boy in the book was frustrated he couldn't draw perfectly. However his drawing kinda looked like what he wanted them to be, they were vase-ish, sun-ish, and happy-ish. We decided that we can do ish things too. It's okay if we make mistakes or our work isn't quite perfect. We just do the best we can.
We also played a game in math to practice addition. We rolled two dice and added them up. Whatever number we got as the answer we colored on our paper. We had a lot of fun coloring in our stars.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Today we practiced our spelling words on dry erase boards. All of our words this week have the short "a" sound. Students will be tested each Friday on their words.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Today we made glyphs in class. Glyphs teach children to consult a legend, follow direections, and convey information about themselves. Today's glyph tells about each child's favorite subject, birthday, name, family, and home.

We also read Giraffes Can't Dance and talked about perfectionism. This trait is very common in gifted students and we will spend a lot of time talking about it this year. Today we focused on how sometimes we can't do something well (like Gerald the Giraffe dancing) the first time we try it. We have to practice over and over. Students generated examples of things they had to practice in order to do them well like reading, playing the violin, playing basketball, or taking a timed test.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Writing Journals

We have been writing in our journals for the last week. I am pleased to see how much the children know already. Today we read The Crayon Box that Talked in class and reread Hooway for Wodney Wat. It is already a classroom favorite, and typically is every year.

We also worked on the -at family today and made a long list of words that belong in it. Working with patterns in words will help students become better readers and writers. Two of our spelling words this week are in the -at family: at and that.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Happy Friday

We got through the first week of school. Today we took our spelling test, and everyone passed! Congratulations! We also read the sequel to the Kissing Hand book we read on Wednesday. It is called A Pocketful of Kisses. The students learned today that I went to China a few years ago. Several teachers and principals went on this trip. Mrs. Irwin, our principal, and I were roommates. I shared some of my pictures with them and we talked about the different places I had visited that were also mentioned in the Day of the Dragon King book we are currently reading. Next week I will share the special object that Mrs. Irwin brought back for the school.

  • This is a reminder that P.E. is on Monday and your child will need to wear gym shoes that day in order to participate.

  • Please send in lunch money for the whole week on Monday if possible. If your child brings his or her lunch, please include a napkin and silverware.

  • Students should practice their lunch code over the week. We will need it to log in to the computers next week. All students need to know how to spell their legal first and last name to log in to the computer also.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Who is a Scientist?

Did you know that even a first grader can be a scientist? Today we did things that scientists do. We asked questions, we measured, we talked about experiments, and we used our senses. Hopefully we can do some experiments soon in class.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Today we took our stuffed animals and lined them up by size. It was a lot harder to do than we thought it would be. We grouped them by small, medium, and large, and then put them beside each other to figure out which one was the tallest. We changed our minds several times before reaching a consensus that it was finally right. Some animals would not sit up or they fell over and we had to decide if they were really in the right place. Other questions we had were:

Should the lion's hair count as part of his height?

Should the hats count?

What if the bunny's ears weren't sticking up?

Could we lean them against the wall?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Welcome to First Grade

We had a great first day here in first grade, getting to know all our new classmates and seeing familiar faces from kindergarten. Students brought their stuffed animals from home and shared them with the class. We talked a lot about procedures and rules today. Our Mary Castle Expectations are

Be Respectful
Be Responsible
Be Safe
Be Caring
Be a Peaceful Problem Solver

Students are learning more about these expectations in their special area class times this week. We will start regular specials on Thursday, which will be library day. Please have your child wear gym shoes on Mondays for physical education.

Today we read the book Chrysanthemum. We also started a chapter book for read aloud from the Magic Tree House series, The Day of the Dragon King. This book is very relevant to our school, as well as our teacher and principal. We will find out later why Ms. Smelser chose it to read first. We also read lots of poems and sing songs during read aloud time.

This afternoon we had math centers and were able to play with lots of different types of manipulatives and games. Here is a picture of one activity we could have chosen to do.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Have a great summer and see you in the fall!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Chalk Spelling

Today we practiced our spelling words outside. It was such a beautiful day. The children wrote their words in chalk on the blacktop three times. This may be the last week for new words. I am debating whether or not to have lists next week. However, we will still have dictation sentences even if we do not do lists.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Weekly Update

We had a very full and exciting week. The firefighters came to visit, we had our annual Walk-a-Thon, Ms. Wright came to see us, end of year assessments, etc. We have been studying poetry in writing workshop, finishing geometry and measurement in math, and learning about the ducks and other birds in science. We also looked inside a bee's nest this week that Emma brought in for us to examine. Next week's spelling will be individualized lists for the children. You will not be able to use Spelling Time for this as all words will be different.

Books we read this week:
Miss Nelson is Missing
Haiku Hike
Sophie's Masterpiece
A Nest Full of Eggs
and The New Kid on the Block for Read Aloud time

Please take a look at the calendar for many activities in the month of May. Our first grade year is coming to an end! I need volunteers to read to the children on Friday, May 18th for our First Grade Read In. Students will also be able to dress like their favorite book character that day. So be thinking about what your child might dress up as. Next week is Art and Education Night. I hope to see you there!

Thursday, May 03, 2007


Today the class was surprised with a visit from Ms. Wright. She has just finished her student teaching in Pike Township. Everyone was very excited to see her. Ms. Wright stayed and visited this morning thru lunch and recess. We wish her the best as she searches for a teaching position either here in Indiana or back home in Texas.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Today was the annual Mary Castle Walk-a-Thon. 100% of the money raised goes directly to the school to pay for field trips, classroom needs, playground equipment, etc. Students walked in the neighborhood next door and showed their school spirit. All children received a t-shirt to wear during their walk as well as pom-poms.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Firefighter Visit

Today the Lawrence Township Fire Department visited our first grade classes at Mary Castle. Firefighter Joy taught us about smoke detectors and what to do if your house catches on fire. We learned to stay low and get outside to a meeting place. If you can't get outside, you should go to a window and open it to get someone's attention.

Big Joe explained the special clothing he gets to wear. It protects him from the fire and the smoke. Some of it looked a little scary, but we knew that underneath it was still him. We learned we should never hide when there is a fire.

We also got to see the fire truck and sit in the driver's seat. The truck was filled with tools and even had a big "bathtub" inside to hold all the water for fires.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Photo Gallery

In computer lab this week the children have been working on adding captions to the picture on the Photo Gallery. These pictures highlight activities from this school year and are updated frequently. Please visit the site to see what we have been up to lately.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


In Math Workshop we are finishing up our geometry unit by learning about tessellations. The word 'tessera' in latin means a small stone cube. They were used to make up 'tessellata' - the mosaic pictures forming floors and tilings in Roman buildings. One artist we have learned about who used tessellations in his work was M. C. Escher. Our class is working on basic tessellations beginning with a simple square. Some students have also moved on to rotations using a triangle. The artwork they have created is beautiful.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Courtyard Project Update

The students are very excited about the changes that have occurred in the courtyard. Mrs. Han and Mrs. Deno have been helping us with this project. Last week the students examined different plants brought in and planned out where they thought they should be planted outside. We also came up with ideas for items that could be purchased with our money, and learned about a budget. Using this data, students completed a survey that decided that we would make a butterfly garden and try to attract those insects to the courtyard. We will be planting a butterfly bush as well as milkweed.

Other students have brought in items from home such as new plants and decorations. Some students contributed money to help buy items we still need. One student built a birdhouse with his dad to put out in the courtyard.

Monday, April 23, 2007


We have new arrivals in our center courtyard...13 baby ducklings! The mama duck is proud of her little group, and they eagerly follow her around outside. Ms. Shelli, our science teacher, has supplied them with plenty of food and a new swimming pool to play in.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


In Writing Workshop we have been learning about poems. All year we have read poetry and sung songs during read aloud, and now the students have the opportunity to make their own poetry books. So far we have done sensory poems and acrostics. Next week we will be learning about the language of poets and how to create other kinds of poetry.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Friday Clubs

Friday Clubs are here at Mary Castle. Students voted earlier this week on which club they would like to particpiate in on Fridays. Each student will participate in the same club for the next 4 weeks. Examples include collage, student council, legos, card games, and dance. Clubs take place from 2:50-3:25 so that all students may participate. Students from several classes and grade levels may be combined into one club based on interest. Here is a picture of my club Outdoor Games. Today we did relays.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Computer Lab

Today in computer lab we continued to work on Mathfacts. The students have made a lot of progress this year. My expectation is for students to have completed both addition and subtraction by the end of the year. Many students are very close to being done.

We also worked in Microsoft Word today and learned how to change the color of our font. This went along with learning the color words for spelling this week. We also reviewed automatic numbering and underlining.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Spelling Colors

This week's spelling words are color words. Today we practiced writing the words in pencil and then traced over the letters with the color the word spelled. Students used pastels, crayons, markers, and colored pencils. I've never seen such beautiful writing!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Weekly Update

Books read this week:

Weather: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Pickles to Pittsburgh, June 29, 1999

What Do You Do with a Tail Llike This?- differences in animals' tails, mouths, eyes, ears, etc.

We have been working on using commas in our writing and also started literacy groups this week with all of first grade. Thank you to Mrs. Han who has been working so hard on the courtyard this week. The students will be helping her plant after break. I hope everyone ejoys their time off!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


In math we have been learning about geometry. Students are becoming familiar with different shapes and patterns through hands on materials like pattern blocks, pentaminoes, and tanagrams. Menu math games allow the children to practice concepts previously learned in class.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Logic Links

As part of our curriculum we practice doing Thinking Skills several times a week. One game we have been playing recently is called Logic Links. This game increases our logical thinking and is made up of a series of puzzles that instruct the children where to place colored chips and solve the puzzle. Logic Links makes you think sideways, backwards, right to left and up and down as you solve the puzzles.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Weekly Update

Books read this week:
  • Bartholomew and the Oobleck-experiemented with our own oobleck and discussed solids and liquids
  • The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins- biography about the first person to make life size models of the dinosaurs. Discussed how ideas change over time.
  • Amazing Grace- diversity and acceptance
  • Among the Odds and Evens- review of odd and even numbers and patterns
  • Twizzler Shapes- geometry introduction to new shapes

We have also begun doing 45 second timed tests on the basic addition and subtraction facts to ensure fluency.

Please continue to send in items for the cafeteria baskets. The children are enjoying them very much. We especially are looking for Mad Libs, word searches, cards, card games, crayons, magna doodles, dry erase markers, finger puppets, books, etc.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Ooey, Gooey, Oobleck

We made oobleck in class after we read the book by Dr. Seuss: Bartholomew and the Oobleck. It was about a king who wanted a different type of weather to come down from the sky. Oobleck came down and got stuck on everything. When the students first saw the oobleck in class, they thought it would be a liquid, but then they were surprised when they touched it and it seemed like a solid. We debated about which form of matter it really was. It is actually neither a solid or liquid but has properties from both stages of matter. Formally it is known as a non-Newtonian subtance. This means that when a small amount of force is used, it acts like a liquid, but when more force is applied, it acts like a solid.

Oobleck Recipe

2 cups of corn starch, 3 drops of green food coloring, enough water to make a thick mixture (about the texture of pancake batter) I usually measure equal amounts of water and corn starch, but mix water in slowly.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Hold and Fold

Teaching geometry is one of my favorite things in math. Today we talked about different shapes using a square piece of paper that we folded into different forms. Students created these shapes and traced them onto a piece of paper. Emphasis was placed on the concept that shapes can be rotated or turned, and might even be different sizes- but they will still be the same shape.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Weekly Update

Here are a list of the books wew have studied this week in class:

Grandfather Tang's Story- used to learn about tanagrams and shapes for math

Tomorrow's Alphabet-making predictions, higher level thinking. We also wrote our own version.

Biggest, Strongest, Fastest- interesting text about animal facts. Very intriguing to the class.

George Wahington Carver- biography to learn about this famous American

Jamie O'Rourke and the Pooka/Potato- two St/ Patrick's Day books written by Tomie dePaola who was featured in this week's Scholastic News

We will continue our study next week in geometry; illustrating our fairy tales; pebbles, sand, and silt; and thinking skills.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Last weekend I added some new fish that we adopted from the aquarium that used to be in the front entranceway. Two of those fish have since died. One was called "broken tail fish" because he was slightly deformed when I added him to the tank. I couldn't bring myself to flush him, even though I felt like he would problably die soon. So yesterday he received a proper burial after passing away. The other fish was nicknamed "pogo stick" because he kept jumping vertically up and down- which was not normal for a fish. He died today too.

It has been interesting to observe the children's reactions to the fish this week. They have been very interested in the strange behaviour of the fish, but were not outwardly upset when they died, just scientifically curious about the changes occurring.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Jingle, Jingle

Students have eagerly been bringing in money to school for the Walk-a-Thon. This week we raised over $70 and completely filled up our container. We had to put the extra coins in a ziplock baggie. Each day we have been counting the money in our container by grouping one dollar's worth of coins together.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Jump Rope for Heart

Students had a lot of fun exercising their heart today in P.E. class. It was the perfect timefor this activity, since we have been cooped up inside for the last couple weeks due to the snow. All students participated in the annual Jump for for Heart program and jumped for their class time today. Many students have already brought in donation forms, but if you still would like to send one ine you have until Friday. Mr. Beattie, our p.e. teacher, thanks you for your support.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Pajama Day

Today we had a pajama party to celebrate our 20th Castle Coin. This morning was business as usual, but after specials we settled down to watch The Wizard of Oz. We finished reading an unabridged copy earlier today, and the students were anxious to compare the two versions. Did you know that the ruby slippers were not actually red in the book version? They were silver. Also, Glinda was the witch of the south, not of the north like in the film.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Fairy Tale Writing

Students are working to create their own fractured fairy tale after listening to many different versions of The Three Little Pigs, and other stories. One way the students have changed their stories is by using different animals or settings. We have many versions of Cinderella in the works, as well as some 3 Bear, 3 Pig, and Jack and the Beanstalk variants. We will be publishing these books like we did with the Eric Carle classbook. Each student will be writing his or her own story this time.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

We're Geologists

Today we started a new unit in science using our FOSS kits. This will teach our class about pebbles, sand, and silt. We examined six rocks today and decided that there were three groups. We also looked at them with magnifying glasses and rubbed them together to see what would happen. Some rocks could be seen better on black paper, and some could be seen better on white paper. We are keeping a Word Bank of words we use when talking about rocks, and also recorded what we learned today on chart paper.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Welcome Back!

I hope everyone made it through the snow okay. I'm glad to have everyone back today. Even though it was a shortened day, we still did a lot of learning. We went to the computer lab and practiced our math facts, took a Reading Counts quiz, and played math games. For specials we had library. In math, we learned about subtracting 2 digit numbers without regrouping. We still had time for reading and writing workshop today- just a shortened version. Tomorrow is our Friendship Day party. I hope to see many of you then!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

To Sum it Up

We have been learning about double digit addition and playing lots of games to practice this concept. One of the games we play is called "To Sum it Up". In order to play you need a deck of cards with only the numbers 1-9 used. The cards are placed face down on the table, and each child takes turns picking a card. That number is written in a 2X2 grid until all four spaces are filled. Students then add the numbers and compare sums (answers). Whoever has the highest number wins. Students are not only practicing addition, but have to strategize to try to get the biggest answer. It has definately been interesting to see how the children play this game.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Group Solutions

We have been using the Group Solutions kit from IUPUI the last couple weeks. I particularly like this kit because it encouages cooperation and teamwork, as well as promoting thinking skills and logic. We have also been learning about maps in social studies, and the kit has several mapping exercises that the children love to do. Another activity uses coins which ties in nicely with our unit on money that we finished up recently.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Happy 100th Day!

Today is the 100th day of school! All students created special t-shirts for this day with 100 items on them. We have t-shirts with safety pins, stars, band-aids, googly eyes, dots, snowflakes, and others. Several students are showing their support for the Colts and have footballs or horseshoes on their shirts.

Each student also brought in 100 items in a bag today. We measured them by length and weight. We wrote about what we would do with 100 legs, pencils, dollars, eyes, etc. Students chose their favorite sentence and wrote a story about it. We have read several stories about the number 100 also. For math we tried to write equations that equaled 100 after we read the book 100 Ways to Make 100 by Jerry Pallota. Students also clapped, snapped, jumped, hula hooped, and tossed a ball 100 times.

Friday, January 19, 2007

1/19 Weekly Update

Reading Workshop- response sheets, finding facts, biographies
Writing Workshop- using a dictionary, editing and revising with partners, classbook story
Math Workshop- adding without regrouping, regrouping with manipulatives, menu math games
Social Studies- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., map skills
Project- money, ordering pennies by date and mint stamps
Computer Lab- map software, LT Online: journal prompt, Dr. King quiz, weekly poll, thinking skill games
Thinking Skills: word analogies, group solutions kit
We read the following books this week:

Meet Martin Luther King Jr. by Johnny Ray Moore
Martin's Big Words by Doreen Rappaport
What is Martin Luther King, Jr., Day? by Margot Parker
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
100th Day Worries by Margery Cuyler

Questions to Ask Your Child This Week
  1. Do you consider Martin Luther King Jr. a hero? Why or why not? What makes a person a hero?
  2. How would you feel if you lived when Martin was a boy? How might your life be different?
  3. What have you done to make progress on your classroom goal? What can you do next week to accomplish it?

Thursday, January 18, 2007


In math workshop this week we have started a new unit with regrouping when adding double digit numbers. Many of you parents learned this as carrying. We call it regrouping because the children learn the reason behind why they have to "carry the one"- when your number adds up to more than 10, you have to separate it into tens and ones. For example 14 becomes 1 ten and 4 ones. You regrouped 10 of the ones as 1 ten. That 1 ten is the 1 that you carry.

We practice regrouping using rods and cubes today and will move on to paper pencil addition next week. It is important for your child to understand why you solve a problem a certain way, and not just memorize a formula or method.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Yesterday was Martin Luther King Day, and students were out of school. We talked today about why exactly we celebrate this holiday. Students learned that Dr. King believed in using words not violence, and that he believed everyone to be equals. We learned about a new genre of books today- the biography- when we read about Dr. King. We also watched the movie Our Friend Martin. Tomorrow for social studies, we will read another biography about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and write about our dreams for our school and world.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Dictionary Skills

We have learning about the dictionary this week and how to look up words. Students practiced finding words in the text based on the guide words at the top of the page. It was important to figure out whether to open the book to the beginning, middle, or end section to start your search, because you don't want to flip through pages forever. They were excited as they combed through the dictionary to find a picture of Hedgie too! We will be continuing to use the dictionary as the year progresses, especially to look up how to spell words, and for learning new vocabulary.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Semester Goals and Resolutions

Students have committed themselves to making their own goals and resolutions for the new semester. Some of their goals include:

  • writing a chapter book
  • getting better at math/passing a timed test
  • reading a variety of books
  • becoming a better artist
  • adding details to their writing
  • improving their handwriting
  • being able to count money correctly

Each student has a plan in place, and even came up with obstacles he or she might face and how to overcome them. Each goal had to be worthwhile, measureable, and appropriate for that child. Ask your child what he or she would like to accomplish this year.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Computer Lab

Today in computer lab the students discovered that when they went on LT Online, they had an assignment. From now on when they log in, they will need to read their assignment on the class homepage, and complete it before doing the "fun" activity at the end. I am writing up the steps they must complete for each time we go to the lab twice a week to teach them to be more self-directed in their learning. It also reinforces the standard of following written directions. Have you child show you what is on LT Online if you have not already looked at it.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Happy New Year!

I hope you all are having a great winter break and are enjoying our warmer weather. I wonder if it will ever snow? I am having a wonderful time relaxing and getting organized for the coming year, both at home and at school. I am spending today in the classroom getting ready for the students' return next Monday. We will be spending some time next week reviewing the Mary Castle Expectations, setting personal goals, and working on small group interaction. Here are other lessons for the week:

  • Reading Workshop: Jan Brett author study, personal books, reading logs
  • Writing Workshop: writing goals, dictionary skills
  • Math Workshop: money review
  • Science: understanding the science fair
  • Social Studies: expectations, teamwork, map skills
  • Thinking Skills: more analogies
  • Computers: Harcourt Math, speech bubbles, inserting pictures in Microsoft Word
  • Project: types of money
  • Spelling: 00 vowel patterns

See you all soon!


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