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

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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.

 

Warmly,

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

Parent Teacher Conferences

Parent Teacher Conferences are scheduled for Thursday, November 16th.  An email went out today with information regarding how to sign up for a conference time.  Please let me know if you have any questions.  Have a great weekend!

All the best,

Kristin

October Update

Dear First Grade Families,

We are having a great time in First Grade!! We wanted to update everyone on some of the exciting things that have been going on in First Grade.

Book Shopping is officially up and running.  All of the children have an assigned shopping day and a book bin to keep their books in. The children are really excited about this new routine!

Our Personal Narrative/ Small Moment stories are coming along!  Many of the children have multiple stories in their writing folders.  We will soon begin the process of revising, editing, and fancying up our stories as we start the publishing process.   Mark your calendars for our First Publishing Party on Wednesday, October 18th at 8:30 in our classrooms!

Our classrooms are a buzz with interesting mathematical conversations.  We have been playing many math games.  We have also been working with the bead string and investigating numbers and their systems in our number talks.  We are presently focusing on story problems which include both addition and subtraction. We are looking for efficient strategies for solving these problems (doubles, near doubles, making tens, counting on, etc).

Next week we will officially begin homework.  Our focus for homework for this month will be Reading.  The children will be bringing their book baggies home to read each night. Each week’s homework will highlight our reading focus from our daily lessons.  For example: students might be asked to share 3 good reading habits that they are practicing, students may teach you about what it means to be a good reading partner, what makes a good retell, etc.…   Children should be reading for at least 15 minutes per night.  Stay tuned for more information as the month progresses.

Last week we had our first Mystery Reader visit!  Both classes enjoyed the surprise and loved hearing the stories that each family read to us.  We are looking forward to our next Mystery Reader visit!

Just a quick reminder…we have snack every afternoon.  Please send your child with a healthy snack labeled with his or her name.

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

All the best,

Kristin and Sarah

First Grade is Off to a Great Start!!

Dear First Grade Families,

First Grade has gotten off to a great start!!  We wanted to update everyone on some of the exciting things that have been going on in First Grade.

Classroom community building is very important.  Each morning we begin with a morning meeting where we greet each other and often have time to share “important news” from our lives.  We are learning to be respectful of others, as well as our surroundings.  We are becoming a tightly knit community of learners and teachers.  The children teach Sarah and myself all new things everyday.  It is very exciting to be part of such a wonderful group!

Our current writing unit is Personal Narrative: Writing Small Moment Stories.  We have been learning to tell the stories of our lives.  The children are thinking about ways to help the reader feel as if they are experiencing the moment.  They are working on bringing their stories to life using talking, moving, feeling, and thinking.  Details help to paint a picture in the reader’s mind.  Each child is learning to “zoom in” on important events that have occurred to him or her.  The stories are amazing! As we discussed at the open school night, you can support this work by continuing to model excellent story telling for your kids every day at home!  In addition, please help the children continue to see their lives as the lives of a writer…there are stories just waiting to be told at every corner.

Our current unit in reading is Building Good Reading Habits.  We have been reviewing familiar reading habits and strengthening them.  We have also learned new reading habits for reading long and strong.  We have been taking time to “do something at the end of each book”, for example retelling the story to ourselves, retelling a favorite part, rereading the book…just to name a few.  We have been also learning new habits for tacking hard or tricky words.  We are thinking about (when we get to a tricky word): What looks right? What sounds right?, and What makes sense?  The running start is one of our favorite strategies.  Readers should always reread as they are tackling a hard word.  We have also begun working with reading partners to practice good reading habits and also to develop strong book talk.

In math we are making great discoveries about numbers.  Some of the children have begun to discover shortcuts or “rules’ for the rest of us to use when solving math problems. Many of these concepts are helping us to solve more complicated multi step math problems.  We have been working on decomposing numbers and part/whole relationships.  We are beginning to work with doubles and near doubles.

Our first Mystery Reader will be Friday, September 29th. Please try to keep the “Mystery” in mystery reader, it really adds to the excitement.  Please let us know if you still need to sign up for a Mystery Reader date.

Other notes of importance:

  •  Birthday Snack – We love celebrations!  Keep in mind the celebration should be 10-15 minutes. For our birthday celebrations this year, we invite you to join our class and share a special treat of your child’s choice during snack time. Please give us a week’s notice to plan a celebration, and remember, goodie bags are not permitted during school celebrations.
  • Changes to dismissal need to be given in writing.  Please send a note either weekly or the morning of a dismissal change.
  • Please be sure to label your child’s belongings such as jackets, sweaters, water bottles, lunch boxes, and snacks.  This is very helpful when something goes missing.

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

Writing Folder Project

Today you will find in your child’s folder information about our first homework project.  We had a little mix up with backpacking, I had meant to speak about the project tonight before sending home the official instructions.  Sorry for any confusion.  This is meant to be a fun and interactive project.  I will be speaking more about the project tonight at Back to School Night.  Looking forward to seeing you all tonight!