Back to School Night Info aka What Goes on in First Grade?
Back to School Night Info aka What Goes on in First Grade?

Welcome!!!

This is an overview of what happens in that mysterious block of time that your child is here at school.

MORNING WORK 
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When your child comes in in the morning there is a routine for putting their items away, changing the book that was taken home from my library, checking attendance, and collecting lunch money. Then your child gets to work on morning work. In the beginning of the year, the children are putting name stories together and writing in their journals. About the middle of October, we begin centers where the children follow a task board, ot to-do list, of various reading, writing, math, art, and word games activities. Utilizing centers promotes independence, responsibility, time management, and hands-on engagement in learning. I feel that centers are are a crucial part of First Grade and for a child’s development.

CALENDAR  Image result for calendar gif

Every morning, after your child completes the morning work (in the beginning of the year, putting the name stories together and then center work where there is reading, writing, math, art, and poetry activities) we gather on the rug for calendar. The following activities involve math, writing, spelling, and speaking.

Identifying calendar elements

Doing a tally

Reading a monthly chant

Weather Graph

Counting days been school- hundreds, tens, ones

Making date and how many days been in school in money

Morning News- writing together

Writing in response to a picture prompt

READING  Image result for reading gif

There are four components to the reading program in this class.

Guided Reading- We read big books, stories in the reader, poems, etc. together while learning about reading comprehension, how to read a word you are not sure of, predicting story events, decoding skills, main ideas, settings, character development, and basic understanding of how stories function. The children listen to stories, read in partners, read chorally as a group, act out parts of the stories, and read in small groups. We read the story in the reader three days a week and then work in Guided Reading groups two days a week. Guided Reading groups allow me the unique opportunity to work with children in small groups that have a particular need in their reading. The other children are engaged in strictly reading based centers that promote comprehension, word skills, and interaction with stories. These groups are flexible and adapt to accommodate the individual needs of the children. This is a special time for me and the children.

Writing- The children write in response to stories in a special journal, on any topic they would like, to me in a special journal in which I write back to them, freely without correcting spelling, and on a topic related to a story. The children are encouraged to use inventive spelling, look around the room for words, and use dictionaries to look up words. I will rarely give the spelling of a word to a child. By allowing them to look up words they are isolating sounds that they hear and then finding that sound. The learning becomes theirs and they become more independent. By allowing them the freedom to spell words they way they hear them, the children are practicing spelling patterns and letting their ideas flow. This helps to make writing less tedious and a chore and more an expression of ideas. The children are encouraged to draw first if they are having trouble thinking of an idea to write about. The children write every day. If a piece of writing is going to be displayed and in some journal cases, the children sit with me and we correct their “first grade spelling” . I conference with each child and help to work on individual needs. This allows the children to go through the writing process as many authors do. I also model writing to them so they learn about capitals and punctuation. What the children write and draw is their own work.

Working With Words- During this time we work with the sight words that we are added to the Word Wall Words. This is my spelling and phonics program. We study 5 new words a week. While practicing these 5 words each day, we also practice the words that have already been added to the wall. We have repetitive activities that are done to reinforce these words. The children will have “spelling” homework with these words and a test on Fridays. Through these high frequency words, children learn the common spelling patterns and how to rhyme words in order to make new words. Rhyming is a very important skill that opens up a whole new world of words to a child. If you can spell “cat” , then you can spell “fat, mat, sat, that, hat, rat, bat” etc. We add them to the Word Wall on Friday where the children can look when writing to spell a word. Since children develop at different rates, there will be some children that look at the Word Wall all year and some that become comfortable enough that they only look at the Wall to rhyme and then others that do not need the Word Wall at all. We play games and sing chants and do other high energy activities with these words that discuss the sounds that are in the words and the spelling patterns that occur in order to have many opportunities where a child can really learn the words instead of a one time test at the end of the week. We use a lot of poems to see these words in context. Right now we are working with the children’s names, because what is more important that your name!!!!!

Self-Selected Reading - During this time the children read from a bag of books that is individually leveled for that child. There are books that are below, on, and above reading level. The children read the books over and over until it is their turn to read with me again. This allows for fluency development, which enhances comprehension and makes the reading sound smooth. When a child sits with me they pick a new book from their updated selection and as the child reads individual reading needs are addressed. These can range from decoding words, developing new strategies to figure out a word, to how to read non-fiction books where you learn something. I usually read with two kids a day. This is my favorite time of the day because I get to be with each child alone and see i individual development. I learn a lot about each child and can find strengths and weaknesses. The way to learn to read is to read as much as possible and as often as possible. That is the reasoning for this whole time of the day.

MATH  Image result for math gif

We have a math book and mostly follow the sequence of the book. Each morning as part of the morning routine, the children have to enter their information on the graph of the day. This is a way to emphasize the importance of organizing data and making comparisons. Each day before we tackle the topic for the day, we do a math problem. The children are shown how to read, draw, and then solve the problem. We talk a lot about how to solve problems. In talking about how to solve word problems, we are also talking about how to solve life problems. We will cover addition and subtraction to 20, geometry, measurement, place value, word problems, and different methods to solving addition and subtraction problems. There will be math homework every night. There are tests at the end of each chapter and more open-ended tests that go in their portfolios.

SCIENCE  Image result for science gif

We study living things, weather, and sound and light. We study ladybugs and other insects as a way to investigate living things. after we explore the world of insects, then we move on to sound and light where the children participate in some really neat experiments and learn a lot of really fancy words. In the spring, we talk about different types of weather and conduct experiments to see how weather works.

SOCIAL STUDIES

We study the holidays, families, and communities. We also study various units throughout the year that connect with the stories that we read.

SPELLING

See the Word Wall description.

There are reading tests, math tests, and Word Wall tests. The tests are to be signed and returned so I know that you have seen them. Each child also has a portfolio that has rough copies of writing, performance assessments from math, and other samples of work. These are to show their progress over the year. You may look at them at anytime. Report cards go out 4 times a year. We have changed our report card to be more developmentally appropriate. There are also more specific categories under each subject to really pinpoint how your child is doing.

BEHAVIOR MANAGEMENT  Image result for happy gif

It is my goal to encourage your child as much as possible while maintaining high expectations for behavior and responsibility. In order to achieve this I have developed a system based on several books that I have read and graduate classes that I have attended, that focuses on the positive with the child. Traditionally, myself included, the system of “changing the card” was used to establish consequences. If a child changed their card that might that they made a mistake in their behavior or forgot their homework. After many years of using that system I grew frustrated that I was only focusing on the negative. I have started a system where you want to change your card and the reward that you earn you get to keep no matter what. If a child brings in her homework, then she flips her card and can go to recess. If I get the child doing other great things during the day and following the rules that we have established in our class, then they can continue to change their card for other rewards such as a piece of candy, tickets to be redeemed for various prizes, and a good note home. This way more emotion and a bigger reaction comes when the child makes a good choice instead of only getting a reaction when there is a negative behavior. If the child does not follow a rule, then she is asked to have a timeout that is monitored by a timer. Any work that the child does not complete during this time because they are in a timeout goes home for homework. If a child has 5 timeouts a day then she has to stay after school. 10 timeouts or very serious behavior results in a call home.

The other key to this system is that once a reward is given then it is not taken away. If you are five minutes late to work or forget to hand in a report odds are you are not going to get docked any pay. A reward is a reward and that has been earned so I cannot impose a return of that reward. Each success or mistake is its own incident and there is no carry over. Each day the child starts fresh again. I feel that this system, along with stern comments and high expectations for behavior, provides a balance and creates an environment where children can thrive and grow.

My goal is to make the children as independent as possible and to have all of them learn to read. We will have lots of fun and laughs together. I am available after school for conferences. This is the most important year in your child’s education and as a team we should have a great year!!!!

Thanks-

Mrs. Bedford