Welcome back! Our second year together has had an amazing start and the students and I are excited to share our learning and experiences with you. Feel free to comment and share your thoughts with us as well. Enjoy exploring!

Monday, January 17, 2011

2011 Begins!

It's a bit belated, but Happy New Year! I hope that everyone had a wonderful break and a fun time ringing in 2011.

We have been busy and back at it here in first grade. Upon returning from vacation we began a new morning responsibility called Daily Language Review (DLR), which was the colorful language packet you saw in last week's Friday Folders. This is something the students work on each morning when they come in, check it with me, and then make their ease-in choice. They have been doing a great job adding this new step into their routine and really enjoy it as well! It is just another thing that reminds me that this group of students love to learn!

There are many new and exciting things that have begun already this year and this week we will be adding a couple more. First of all, I hope that your children have been talking about our new Social Studies Unit called World Wide Research. We are all very excited about it on Synergy because it is a team research project on different countries around the world. The students in our class are partnered up with a second grader from Ms. Rogers' class and will be working together to learn about the culture, history, and lifestyles of different places. The students will be getting most of their information from a great electronic resource through our library called Culturegrams. Unfortunately, it is a licensed program, so the kids can only access the site while at school, but some even chose to look at it during their ease-in time! It was interesting to see which countries were of interest, Japan and China were big, and the final list of countries that our class is studying is quite diverse. They are really diving in and learning many new things, so don't be afraid to ask them about their country of choice!

Another new and exciting unit that will begin tomorrow is in math. We just wrapped up this past unit with a whale chart, similar to the crab and sea star charts we had made, that is helping us count by 2's for the two flukes on each whale. The students had the option of tracing or creating their own whale and I was quite impressed with their colorful sea creatures and all that they had already known about them. For this next unit, we are embarking on a journey to Antartica (tying in nicely with our study of the world) and will be learning about the many different penguins that live there. Through the study of these amazing creatures, we will be investigating with measurement, weight, and size. The students will be receiving an Antartica passport with their height and weight that will help them understand the height and weight of different penguins. As we dive into the many lessons and fun activities encorporated with this month-long study, your child will not only be becoming a stronger mathematician, but a penguin expert as well! Stay tuned for pictures as we begin our trip to the coldest continent and learn about one of the most resilient animals.

Also this week, we will be participating in a "Kindness and Justice Challenge" to practice and live by the words that Martin Luther King Jr. worked so hard for. The students will be learning more about what these words mean and what it looks and sounds like to act them out. It will not only be my responsibility, but the students' as well, to recognize a peer when they see or hear them being kind or acting justly. We will be keeping a basket of tickets to collect these acts and count them up at the end of the week. I encourage you to "catch" these acts at home as well!

After the K&J Challenge, we will resume our work on C.A.R.E.S. This is another new goal of ours that came with the new year. Along with our Opportunity and Success sticks, the students are working together to earn all the letters in the word cares that stand for Cooperation, Assertive, Respect, Empathy, and Self-Control. Currently, every time I witness a student(s) cooperating they earn a check and after each student has earned 3, that means we are a classroom that uses cooperation and we will have a special celenbration. The goal is to spell the word and hang it in our classroom by the end of the year. The students have been doing a great job showing cooperation, so I am feeling that a celebration is not too far away before we move onto our next letter!

Have a great week!