December News

Hello Again!

It’s so nice to be back after a couple of unexpected days off! This is a busy week, and hopefully we will be here ALL five days.

The annual Willamette Gift Drive is underway and this is the final week we have to contribute. Right after Thanksgiving break you should have received a letter in your child’s backpack explaining the gift drive and what is needed to give our sponsored family a holiday season to remember. It’s not too late to send items (unwrapped) and/or gift cards! We are sponsoring a family of 6 with three boys aged 5 mos., 5, and 9 years old, and a girl, age 2. Items have been trickling in but our days off have slowed things down a bit. We are needing everything by Thurs., but if you are planning to donate, sending it in by Wed. would be helpful in case we end up having the snow that is forecast and miss another day of school.

On Friday we will have a party to celebrate the holidays. Our room parents have organized a fun morning for the children and you are all welcome to come. We will start around 8:15 and will be finished up by recess at 9:30. We are also having a pajama day, where pajamas are encouraged but not required! Your child may bring a small blanket and/or a stuffed animal as well. Both should be able to fit inside his/her backpack

Important dates for your calendar:

Wed., Dec. 14: Report Cards sent home

Fri., Dec.16: Pajama Day and party 8:15-9:30

Mon., Dec. 19-Mon., Jan. 2: Winter break, no school

Tues., Jan. 3: First day back from break

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday!

November Notes

November and December are months that I love in first grade. The children are settled in, and have increased stamina and perseverance. We have come along way in working together as a community of learners and friends!

Thanks for your support with home reading! I am adding a twist this week – a reading log. I am asking that your child write the title of the book, how many minutes he/she read, and get your initials. Some of the children are still working on being responsible for bringing the books back each day, and here are a few tips and reminders you can use to help him/her with consistency in this year-long routine.

  • The folder comes home each day, Monday through Thursday. (Look for other papers and/or announcements and finished work that may be in the folder. Only send back what’s in the “Return to School” pocket in the folder).
  • There will be a new poem to read together, along with a book from the classroom that he/she has chosen.
  • The folder comes back to school the next morning, and if the previous day’s book is returned, he/she is allowed to choose and take home another.
  • To keep track of the book, remind your child to return it to the folder when he/she is not reading it, and to keep the folder in the backpack.

Please send a healthy snack to school with your child each day. Please also chat with your child about not asking for a snack unless they truly do not have one. There is an increasing number of children asking for a snack each day, and often they ask because they may like my snack better, or they just don’t want to eat what has been sent. I understand that there are times where a snack may be forgotten for whatever reason, and once in awhile it is fine to ask me for a snack. And speaking of snacks, we are quite low so if you wouldn’t mind donating a box of crackers for kids who forget, it would be greatly appreciated!

Last week we started a new Math unit, Comparing and Combining Shapes. This is a study in 2-D Geometry. There is a parent letter in Monday’s folder explaining the concepts, and you can always go on my blog with your child to play some of the games in the unit. Going back to Unit 1 games once in awhile is a great way to keep their skills sharp with addition and subtraction! In class we are also still working with numbers, telling time and money.

In Writing we will continue to write personal narratives this month, choosing one piece to edit and publish. Next month we will start informational writing.

Starting our leveled reading groups is taking a bit longer than I had anticipated, but we will get going over this next couple of weeks. It takes a good deal of independence and stamina from the children to allow me to meet with small groups of children during Reading Workshop. I think we are just about there!

Here are some important dates to add to your calendars:

Thursday, Nov. 10: Scholastic Book orders due

Friday, Nov. 11: Veteran’s Day – no school

Monday, Nov. 21 – Friday, Nov. 25: Thanksgiving break – no school

Monday, Nov. 28 – Friday, Dec. 2: Willamette Book Fair

Home Reading, and This ‘n That

Today marks day one of our Home Reading Program, although you’ve been reading the poetry books for some time now. Your child picked out a take-home book that is just right for his/her current reading level, meaning he/she should be able to read it to you with minimal support. The poetry books are different in that they consist of poems we have been reading as a group and are at different reading levels. Between the two, your child should spend at least 20 min. reading per night.

Nestle in with your child and observe his/her habits, and what strategies he/she is using to figure out unknown words. Is he/she using their finger for one-to-one correspondence? If not, it is easy for him/her to lose their place or not read each word carefully. Are they reading fluently or word by word? Please refer to the sheet I gave out during conferences for tips to try while reading with your child.  If the books seem a bit too easy OR too challenging, be sure to let me know and we can adjust.

Please be sure to help your child keep track of the books and to treat them with care! It’s a good idea to keep them in the poetry book where they can easily be found, and to not allow your child to eat or drink while reading. We want our books to be in great shape so they can be enjoyed all year!

Here are some helpful hints to make your reading time together fun, relaxing, and productive:

  • Pick a comfortable spot to read in – one with plenty of light.
  • Make it a routine – whether it’s right before the breakfast, or right before bed, set aside a special time every day.
  • Give lots of encouragement! Your child is developing an arsenal of strategies for figuring out unknown words, such as picture clues, context clues, covering up part of an unknown word and slowly stretching out the sounds. Skipping the word, then re-reading the sentence helps your child figure out a word that would make sense.
  • The fun continues after the last page! When you finish a story, ask your child about his/her favorite passages, characters, and illustrations. Ask him/her to retell the story from beginning to middle to end.

When a home reading book is returned, your child will be able to choose a new one to bring home the next day! Thanks for your support!

For our field trip on Wednesday, please send your child in boots and a rain jacket. The forecast calls for more rain so it will be plenty wet and muddy. Please also send an extra pair of shoes he/she can change into once we get back to school. And don’t forget to pack a snack and lunch! Parent helpers, please be here by 8:00 since we are loading up to leave right at 8:15.

On Friday our class is scheduled to run from 11:45-12:05. Come on down to run with us and/or cheer us on! I hope those pledges are pouring in!

Math News!

I am so excited to let you know about an opportunity for you and your child to practice our Investigations Math games at home. Just go to “Math Resources”, click on “Investigations Math Games”, and there you will see all of the Math Games in our current unit for your child to play. Nestle in and let them show you how the game works. The doors will open for some great Math talk.

Some of the games will feel easy for your child, some of the others a challenge, and this in itself will give you some GREAT insight as to where your child is at in his/her thinking. Please note that if something seems totally foreign, it could very well mean that we haven’t played that particular game in class. (We are starting the subtraction games next week.) Please keep in mind that we will circle back over the course of the year on these concepts, so your child will be able to build on and solidify their understanding of the Unit One concepts.

Over this nice long weekend, it may be a great time to explore!

It was so nice visiting with you during our conference time. Each piece of the puzzle is critical, and this one was a big one. Looking forward to the rest of the year.

And by the way, apologies for your email saying that this is Ms. Oliver’s Second Grade Blog. Working on a couple of bugs, you might say. :-)

October News

Well September came and went with a rush of excitement and we have settled in nicely as a community of learners and friends. It has been fun getting to know one another! Here are a few highlights of what will be coming up this month:

We will continue to work on building stamina as independent readers by staying in one spot and reading the whole time. A big area of focus will be choosing “just right” books, as those are the books that will keep a reader engaged. I will be sending leveled readers home after conferences. These will be books that are just right for your child in terms of difficulty. Your child should be able to read these books with only minimal support. We will be working in leveled groups, and the strategies we develop in small groups should be transferred to your child’s reading at home.

We have begun writing stories from our lives, focusing on small moments rather than big ideas. Zooming in on small moments enables children to write with detail, showing a character’s actions, dialogue and internal thinking. The children are writing in booklets, sketching a story across the pages independently after choosing an idea and planning a clear beginning, middle and end. Our lives are full of small moment stories and I can’t wait to read them all!

Our work in our first unit, which will be carried on through the month, involves four main Math ideas.

Understanding and extending the counting sequence
Understanding, representing, and solving addition problems
Understanding, representing, and solving subtraction problems
Describing, identifying, and comparing attributes of 2-D shapes

The games in the unit help students solidify their understanding of counting on and counting back, comparing quantities, writing numbers, addition, and subtraction.

Fall presents all kinds of opportunities to wonder and explore! We will be studying the life cycles of apples and pumpkins. We will be traveling to French Prairie Gardens on the 19th. Watch for a permission slip in your child’s folder and please return ASAP. We are looking for volunteers, so please indicate on the permission slip if you can make it.

Important Dates-
Mon., Oct. 10: Evening conferences
Tues., Oct. 11: Evening conferences
Wed., Oct. 12: Conferences – no school
Thurs., Oct. 13: Conferences – no school
Fri., Oct. 14: Statewide Inservice – no school
Wed., Oct. 19: Field Trip to French Prairie Gardens, 8:15-12:45
Fri., Oct. 21: Fun Run
Wed., Oct. 26: Early Release – students dismissed at 12:10
Thurs., Oct. 27: Picture re-takes

If you haven’t signed up for conferences, please do so! I’m looking forward to partnering with you!