June Update

Dear First Grade Families,

It is hard to believe that it is June and that the end of the year is upon us!   Our little first graders will soon be moving on and up to the 2nd floor!  Sniffle! But the next few weeks will be action packed in 1-103 & 1-141.

The children are beginning to really build out their structures in architecture.  They have made plans and worked hard to match those plans in the development of their varied structures.   Children have spent a great deal of time learning about the grid system of New York City and the complicated work of planning a city.  They have really taken into consideration the needs and wants of the people in a community.  We are very proud of their progress so far!

Or Non Fiction  Reading Unit is going well.  All of the children are working on researching various animals and insects.  The kids have been coming up with so many questions and wonderings about their research topic.  Each day, they are excited to research, collect and share out the many bits of information they are learning.  We will be focusing on lifting the level of their conversations with their reading buddies within their research book clubs. Specifically, their ability to organize and share what they are learning in an interesting way both in conversation and in their writing.  We hope they will begin to examine their books, perhaps comparing and contrasting book structures, noticing how the author chooses to share different types of information.

The children will soon be transferring all of the important information that they are learning during reading, to writing rich books all about their topics.

In our upcoming Math unit, we will focus on sorting and classifying categorical data.  For example, students might create bar graphs or line plots to track the number of teeth lost in class.  In addition, students will be attempting to push themselves to think, what does the data tell me about the surveyed population?  We hope the children will become well versed in representing data in various formats such as a picture graph and Venn diagrams as well.   Later in the unit, our first graders will have the chance to conduct some data collection and representation on the upper grade students.

We are looking forward to seeing everyone on June 12th for the evening Science Fair and June 21st for our final celebration where we will be unveiling our amazing architecture project!

As always, please feel free to reach out with any questions, comments and/or delights.

All the best,

Sarah & Kristin

May Update

Dear Families,

Happy May!!  It is so nice to see the signs of Spring all around us.  We hope you are all enjoying this beautiful weather.  We wanted to update you on some of the exciting things going on in First Grade.

In reading, we are moving into learning about the world by studying non fiction books.  The children will be learning about how to do the tricky multidimensional work of “integrating sources”-in kid language that means squeezing all the knowledge that they can out of the books that they are reading.   The kids will be encouraged to read as much non fiction as possible, studying the pictures and the words.  Throughout this unit we hope to promote deeper conversations between our reading buddies, showing them that non fiction readers don’t just regurgitate facts, but instead think deeply and talk about the information that they are learning.

In Math, we continue to work on the place value of two digit numbers and operating on those numbers within 100.  Our mathematicians continue to develop their ever growing repertoire of tools by working with number lines, tally marks, tens frames, 100 charts and connecting cubes to help them understand place value.

Architecture is going great!  The children really enjoyed the last few sessions where they had the chance to use white pencils and develop buildings using many of the different types of architectural elements such as cornice, stoops, dormers, arches & sills! Their blueprints are fantastic and so creative!  In the coming weeks we will begin to make our building plans for our neighborhood.  The children will work as architects, builders, and urban planners.  We are looking forward to our next Walking Tour scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday, May 3rd.

Just a reminder, our next publishing party is on May 7th at 8:30am.  The children have been working tirelessly to develop interesting & realistic characters across several books.  They have named their series and really see themselves as authors.  We can’t wait to celebrate!  Looking ahead… our next writing unit will be non fiction research books.

As always, please feel free to reach out with any question, concerns, and/or delights.

All the best,

Kristin and Sarah

April Update

Dear Families,

We hope you all had a wonderful Spring Break!  It was so wonderful to see all of the children’s smiling faces back at school this week.

In Writing Workshop, we are continuing our study of Realistic Fiction.  The students have been creating some very interesting characters for their stories.  We have learned about a story arc.  In each story the students first create their character and then decide where the story will take place.  After that, they work on the action in the story, what is the trouble or problem.  We then have been working hard trying to include two failed attempts to solve the problem before ending with the solution.  Students have been writing many stories.  Recently we have begun to focus on developing as series writers.  They have been writing many adventures that include the same characters and the same setting.  They are working to develop their characters throughout a series of books.  In Book One, the students are introducing their reader to who the character is, where the character lives, what the character likes and dislikes, how the character feels, and who their friends are.  We want our readers to feel like they really know our characters.  We continue to work on bringing our stories to life.  Please mark your calendars for our next Publishing Party scheduled for Monday, May 7th at 8:30!

In Reading, we continue to build on strategies for word solving. As readers move into higher level texts this work is especially important.  Our readers will be encountering more multisyllabic words, a higher number of words with complex spelling patterns, and a wider range of vocabulary.  In addition, readers are expected to be able to solve words “on the run” with minimal interruptions to fluency.  We know that figuring out the words is only one of our jobs as readers!  Our readers will be learning that readers must always-every time they read work hard to understand their books.  We hope that students will be moving towards doing independent “quick checks” for comprehension & recap what they know so far.  Our readers will learn that just like when they run into trouble on a word, they can stop and do something, such as rereading to clarify, when comprehension becomes a problem.  Finally, we will be incorporating some technology by investigating an audiobook reading to discover what an “audiobook reading star” does to make their reading sound so great!

In Math, we are entering our unit titled “How Many Stickers? How Many Cents?”  This unit, focuses on the place value of 2-digit numbers and operating on those numbers within 100. We hope that students will come to see 100 as 10 tens and multiples of 100 as being made up by some number of hundreds.  They will be solving a host of story problems, including but not limited to: put together/take apart with one or both addends unknown (12 + b = 64 or 53- c = 25), add to and take from with the result unknown, problems with an unknown change or an unknown start.  It’s important to note that students will also be identifying, reading and writing numbers to 500, and adding and subtracting 10 in that range.

Our Architecture Study has gotten off to a great start!  We have just completed our work with Heidi from the Friends of the Upper Eastside Historic District.  We have learned how buildings speak to us.  We are developing a very extensive architectural vocabulary.  Our neighborhood walk was very exciting and educational.  It is amazing how many interesting architectural details we can find on the buildings surrounding our school.  We will begin our work next with an educator from the Center for Architecture.  The program is Learning by Design.  This will build on what we have already learned.  We will learn about building/drawing to scale, what a blueprint is, sustainable building, and urban planning… just to name a few areas of focus.  Each of the children will have the opportunity to design and build their own building for our neighborhood.

Our Pajama and Bedtime Story Drive is well underway!  Donations can be made anytime this week.  The Drive runs from April 9th– 13th.  Thank you to all who have made donations already!

Thank you all for your continued support.  As always, please feel free to reach out with any questions, comments and/or delights.

All the best,

Kristin and Sarah

March Update

Dear Families,

We hope this letter finds you all well.  Things have been very busy in First Grade!

We have just wrapped up our writing unit on persuasive writing and reviews.  The children have spent the last week revising, editing and fancying up their reviews to share with you all next week.  We are all looking forward to seeing many of you at our Publishing Party this coming Monday, March 12th at 8:30.  Our next writing unit will be Realistic Fiction.  The students will be creating characters and taking them on adventures in the stories that they will be writing.  They will be working towards creating their own series of books.  They will learn how writers create a series of books and develop their characters throughout the series.  This unit ties in nicely to our last unit of study in reading that focused on studying characters and learning about character traits.  The students will use some of this information to help them as they create the characters for their stories.  This is a very fun and exciting unit!

This month our reading unit is all about the reading process!  It’s about the level of processing that our kids are doing in their reading and their mind-set when reading can feel like really hard work.  The children will be learning to be the bosses of their own reading, balancing their energies between word solving and meaning making so that their experiences with texts are well rounded, thoughtful, efficient and meaningful.  Throughout this unit we will attempt to cultivate a real curiosity about words.  The children will feel empowered with a “bag” full of strategies to self monitor, making sure their reading looks right, sounds right and make sense. Reading partners will also be working together to support the development of meaning in their books by retelling, predicting, and asking questions about their texts.  We look forward to all of these exciting conversations about the books inside and outside the classroom!

The focus of our Math unit is on observing and describing defining attributes of 2-D and 3-D shapes.  This math unit also develops ideas about equal parts of a whole, focusing specifically on partitioning and describing halves, fourths and thirds of one whole.  Students will also be working to understand that the same equal parts of a whole can be different shapes.  For example, a square could be broken in fourths using 4 triangles or 4 smaller squares!  We will also continue to work on the fluency of our doubles facts within 20 & adding and subtracting within 20 with ease.

We will be beginning our study of Architecture this month.  We will begin by working with an educator from the Friends of the Upper Eastside Historic Districts. Students will be introduced to the idea that buildings can talk, telling us their use, material, age, and purpose. We will study historic neighborhood photographs and maps.  They will learn architectural vocabulary words, perform a block survey and play detective during a walking tour. The students will then act as architects as they design their own buildings, making creative decisions about the building’s use, material and architectural elements.

We are looking forward to seeing you all next week for Parent Teacher Conferences.  Just a reminder that Thursday, March 15th will be a half day of school, dismissal is at 11:25.  We also will be shopping the book fair next week as well.  Both classes will be shopping on Friday, March 16th.  As always, please feel free to reach out with any questions, comments, and/or delights.

All the best,

Sarah and Kristin

January Update

Dear First Grade Families,

We hope this letter finds you all well.  The students have been working very hard in First Grade.  2018 is off to a great start! We have begun new units of study in reading, writing, and math.

In Writing Workshop, the class has been focusing on persuasive writing.  In this unit we will be exploring both opinion writing and reviews.  We have been learning about what an opinion is.  We have begun with judging fairly and ranking collection of objects in our classroom.  We are beginning to discuss different types of opinions and what it means to persuade someone.  The students are working on writing focused and organized pieces that clearly state their opinion along with reasons to support it.  They will be keeping their audience in mind as they write with an eye on influencing the reader’s attitude or opinion.  Through this study each writer will learn to categorize, rank, compare, and justify opinions about a variety of things.  Writers will develop opinions with reasons and examples to support their opinions.  We will also continue to sharpen our editing skills by looking over and rereading what we have written. Some editing areas of focus are: proper formation of lower case letters, appropriate use of upper and lower case letters, consistent spacing, and making sure our writing is easy to read.

In Reading Workshop, we have begun focusing on how readers take adventures as they read.  We have been looking closely at where and when the story takes place, as well as strengthening our retelling skills.  The next bend of our unit will focus on the characters in the books that we read.  The children will be taking time to “stop and jot” as they read to identify the character’s feelings and traits.  They will be starting to think about what type of person the character is and what evidence they find in the text to support their ideas.  The children will be working on rereading to look even more closely at the text, not only noticing what characters do, but how they feel and the lessons that they may be learning.  The students will learn to organize their thoughts on post its, character maps, and Venn Diagrams to further their understanding of these characters.  We will pay particular attention to the internal and external characteristics these characters have.  In the coming weeks, you may want to ask your child to describe the characters in their books.  They should be able to tell you the inner and outer traits, as well as provide the proof from the text.  The practice of providing text evidence to support their thinking will improve their comprehension by leaps and bounds.

In Math, the classes will continue to advance our understanding of addition and subtraction through our study of the Double Decker Bus.  Throughout this unit students will gain flexibility in composing and decomposing numbers, and begin to generalize about the way in which parts are related to the whole.  The students will be given several scenarios involving a double decker bus driver and his passengers. At times the driver will know the total number of passengers on the bus, but can only see the passengers sitting on the bottom deck. By understanding the part to whole relationship, students solve for the unknown number of passengers that are sitting on the top deck.  Problems become more advanced when the amount of passengers riding the bus changes, as well as the number of passengers sitting on the bottom deck.  Students need to read each question carefully and keep track of their work from the previous question as many problems are multi step. Throughout each math problem students determine which strategy to use before they attempt to solve it.  A few strategies they know are (counting on/ counting back, using doubles/near doubles, making ten, and landmark numbers).  Through the study the students will become more comfortable with composing and decomposing numbers.

Students are really enjoying our “Mystery Readers”.  Each Friday the classes are full of excitement predicting who the reader will be!

As always please feel free to reach out with any questions, comments, and/or delights.

All the best,

Kristin and Sarah

Zumba Kids at PS 77


Dear families,

We have some exciting news! For the third straight year, our students will have the opportunity to participate in free Zumba classes at recess. The classes will be run by certified Zumba instructors from Training Concepts LLC. Classes will be held on Monday’s and Friday’s in the auditorium from 10:05 AM to 10:25 AM and 11:00 AM to 11:25 AM.

Zumba Kids will run on the following dates:

January 8, 12, 26, 29

February 2, 5

If your child is interested in signing up for Zumba, please fill out the school permission slip and Zumba release forms below. Both forms should be turned in to your classroom teacher.

Zumba Kids Waiver

ZUMBA KIDS school permission slip 2017

If you have further questions, please email Mr. Goodman at mgoodman@lowerlab.org

December Update

Dear Parents,

We hope that everyone had a restful holiday weekend!  It was wonderful to get to chat about the students during parent teacher conferences.  We can hardly believe that the next holiday break is right around the corner!  We would just like to fill you in on some academic information and house keeping for the upcoming month of December.

In Reading, we are diving deeper into comprehension.  Ensuring that children are interacting with the books they are reading.  Using post-its to track their understanding.  Asking themselves important questions like: Who is my story about?  Where is it taking place?  What important stuff is happening? How did that chapter end? 

In addition, we are beginning to talk about character traits and feelings.  Feel free to support your children at home by reading with them, talking about each chapter, making predictions, taking a sneak peek, discussing a vocabulary and practicing a strong retell.

In Math, we are beginning a new unit called Comparing and Combining Shapes.  In this unit we focus on geometry and the relationship between two dimensional shapes.  Throughout this unit we will be observing, describing, naming, comparing & representing 2-D shapes.  Our goal is for students to begin to use geometric language and look at shapes in terms of classification-sorting based on various features.

We have had some great conversations around our Lower Lab value of tolerance.  The students are extremely dedicated and excited to practice and internalize this value.  We will carry on talking about this important value throughout the month of December.

Finally, in Writing Workshop we are wrapping up our informational writing unit and entering the publishing process. Hopefully you are hearing all about their interesting and rich topics at home.  Children are working hard to organize their information, provide tons of facts and include an introduction and conclusion.  We look forward to sharing these wonderful books on December 20th at 8:30am during our end of year celebration.

Please feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns.  We look forward to seeing everyone again in a few weeks.



Kristin and Sarah

November Update


Dear First Grade Families,

We are all having a great time in First Grade!  We wanted to update you on some of the exciting things that we are learning in First Grade.

In reading, we have been doing the exciting work of becoming “Word Detectives.” This unit is all about supporting your children’s word solving skills in a way that feels joyful and fun.  Children are being asked to be on the alert for difficult words, using what they know to solve those words, and checking their attempts to make sure their reading “makes sense.”  Some strategies you may overhear your children discussing: looking slowly and closely, studying words from the beginning all the way to the end, searching for snap words and scooping up words to make reading sound smoother, among many others.  In addition, children are working to be supportive and collaborative peers as reading buddies.  This unit strengthens their partnerships, asking them to monitor each other and encourage one another to solve tricky words, using the strategies we are currently teaching.

In Writer’s Workshop we have been studying Expository Writing.  The children have begun to write many “Expert Books”.  We have learned that we are all experts and we can write well about these topics to teach others. We are all teachers!  Each of the children are choosing topics that they know a great deal about and breaking their topics down into at least 5 important sections.  They will begin to include headings, introductions and conclusions.  In this unit, students will learn about elements used in writing a non-fiction text such as, a table of contents, chapters, bold words, diagrams with labels, headings & subheadings, etc… Students will be experimenting with various forms of paper used when writing non-fiction-all about books.

In Math, we have begun our doubling/pairing unit.  The final activity in this unit involves the necklace investigation.  This investigation explores the concepts of unitizing, early algebraic thinking, and multiplication.  The children will work to develop mathematical conjectures and theories.  Students are focusing on carefully representing their work and providing evidence for their theories and conjectures. Within the unit the children will learn the importance of gaining information from what “works” as well as “what doesn’t work” when solving problems and working towards conjectures.  The classroom is full of such rich mathematical conversations.

We are all really enjoying our Mystery Readers.  The children continue to discuss all of the books read to us long after the reader has left.  Please try to keep it a surprise, it really adds to the excitement if the children don’t know who is coming!  Please let us know if you still need to sign up for a Mystery Reader date.

We are really looking forward to seeing everyone at parent teacher conferences.  If you are in Ms. Sarah’s class, be on the look out for the conference schedule that is out this week.  If you are in Ms. Kristin’s class, please be sure to sign up online.  The information regarding signing up online was sent home last Friday, October 27th.

As always thank you so much for all of your support!  Please feel free to reach out with any questions, comments, and our delights.

All the best,

Kristin and Sarah