First Grade Reading Week of 9/16 — Hink Pinks

This week, the reading groups worked on some more “unjournaling” — we tried writing a paragraph where each word began with the reverse letters of the alphabet, from Z to A.  We were moderately successful on Monday — our sentence started with the word “Z-bar,” and, well, that tends to limit one’s options.  

We then learned about “hink pinks” which are pairs of words that rhyme.  We looked at some clues and tried to come up with the hink pinks that go with them (A cozy place to read?  A book nook!  A large hog?  A big pig!)  Homework this week is the sheet that says “The Stinky Pinky Game” on the front (they don’t need to do the back; we did that in class).  Some of the hink pinks include one-syllable words and some are more than one-syllable.  Some of them might be challenging for your first grader.   That’s okay!  They should spend some time thinking of synonyms for each half of the clue (Comical Rabbit?  Well, rabbit could be bunny or hare.  What rhymes with bunny or hare that means “comical?”).  If they can’t come up with the answer, they should leave it blank.  Blanks are okay!  Frustration and crying (from your child, you, or me!) is not.  I just want them to spend some time thinking about the words and how they go together.  

First Grade Math Groups Begin

This week, I started meeting with first grade math groups. As I told the students, these groups are fluid and are subject to change based on classroom data and assessments.

For now, I have first grade math groups on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. All of the students who see me for reading or math will receive green enrichment folders. These folders will stay in the classroom with the students, so don’t be anxiously awaiting their appearance in your child’s backpack. They contain stand-alone activities for the students to do when they are finished with other class work or when they have already mastered the concepts being taught or reviewed. I will check the work when it is finished and send it home. I will also put new activities in the folder as needed. You are welcome to send things in from home for your child to do as well.

I introduced the enrichment folders to the students during our math class time this week — of course, those who see me for reading already have a folder in their desks, but I needed to introduce the math materials that will go in the folder.  One of the packets inside includes an advanced unit having to do with attribute blocks, there is a packet of word problems, and then a collection of “problem[s] of the day.”

In class, we explored calculators.  We worked on a “calculator story” where we did math problems to fill in missing words — the answers to the problems, when read off the calculator’s upside down display, all spelled words from the story.  We didn’t finish in class and the students put the stories in their enrichment folders to finish later.

I had a lot more calculator work and tricks planned but we didn’t get to any of it because they were too involved in the calculator story — a good problem to have!  We will save the rest of it for next week.  There is no homework for this week.  The homework for next week requires a calculator with an old-school, squared-off display.  The calculator app for your iPhone or iPad probably won’t work because the numbers are rounded and don’t look like letters.  There is “an app for that”: Calculator+, which has a squared-off display.

I’m looking forward to working with your children this year!  Please feel free to comment here or to email or call me with any questions.

First Whole Class Lessons Complete

As of today, I have officially been in every kindergarten and first grade classroom.  What a fantastic group of students we have here at Mount Daniel!  

In kindergarten, I taught a lesson based on the book Hunter’s Best Friend at School by Laura Malone Elliott.  I love this book about a raccoon whose best friend doesn’t quite know how to behave at school.  The message — to help friends make the right choices, we should be our best selves and let our friends imitate our behavior — is perfect for the first few weeks of school.  You may want to ask your kindergarten student how s/he felt about the book.  What happened to Hunter’s frog?  How did Hunter feel about it?  How did Hunter help Stripe act like his best self?

In first grade, we read If Everybody Did by Jo Ann Stover.  This book uses exaggerated black and white illustrations to show the horrifying consequences that would befall us if everyone made a series of bad choices — spilling tacks, slamming the door, and squeezing the cat, for example.  The first graders then created their own exaggerated illustrations of what would happen if everyone broke a school rule (running in the hall, climbing up the slide, etc.).  They loved receiving praise for the terrible, awful, devastating nature of their pictures.  The book is a nice reminder that our own choices may seen small and inconsequential but that we have to be mindful of the fact that there are others around us also making choices. 

Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend!

First Grade Reading Groups Begin

This week, I started meeting with first grade reading groups. As I told the students, these groups are fluid and are subject to change based on DRA results and other classroom data and assessments.  I will start seeing first grade math groups next week.

For now, I have first grade reading groups on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. All of the students who see me for reading or math will receive green enrichment folders. These folders will stay in the classroom with the students. They contain stand-alone activities for the students to do when they are finished with other class work or when they have already mastered the concepts being taught or reviewed. I will check the work when it is finished and send it home. I will also put new activities in the folder as needed. You are welcome to send things in from home for your child to do as well.

I introduced the enrichment folders to the students during our class time this week.  One of the packets inside includes some writing prompts that they found intriguing.  For example, one prompt asks the students to write a sentence where each word begins with the letters from the word “sentence,” in order.  The Wednesday group came up with the following sentence:  “Snakes eat nothing ‘til everyone naps crazily everyday.”  I thought that was pretty darn funny.  Next, they wrote a sentence where the first word contained one letter, the second word contained two letters, etc.  Their sentence was “I go cry when Elena shouts ‘Charlie!'”  Clever, yes?

This week the students also have a “Word of the Week” assignment. They need to look up the definition of this week’s word (constrict), write the definition on their paper, and illustrate it. Then they need to come up with their own invented definition of the word.  Their definition should sound like it really could be a meaning of the word; funny, as always, is okay (encouraged even).  I sent home a sample.

I’m looking forward to working with your children this year!  Please feel free to comment here or to email or call me with any questions.

Welcome to ACE!

Welcome to the Academic and Creative Endeavors (ACE) program at Mount Daniel and TJ! ACE takes the place (see how I did that there?) of the program formerly known as TAAP.  We’re like Prince without the symbol (but if you’ve met me you know we aren’t without platform shoes and purple pants… just not together).

This blog covers activities ACE students are doing in grades K-2 with me, Beth Green, Mount Daniel and TJ’s K-2 Enrichment Coordinator.  I see kindergarten and first grade students at Mount Daniel on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and also on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.  I spend my Tuesday and Thursday mornings with second graders at TJ.

To follow the blog and receive updates via email, just click the “follow blog via email” button on the right hand side of the screen.

We are just finalizing our initial ACE groups for first and second grade.  I started seeing first graders this week and will be able to see second graders soon I hope.  Kindergarten students won’t come for pull-out groups for another few weeks, but I will see all kindergarten students in their classrooms for whole group lessons.

If you are curious about the ACE program, how it will be run, and how it differs from TAAP, there will be a Parent Information Night on October 16th at 6:30 PM in the MEH cafetorium.  I will also give a general overview of the K-1 program at both Mount Daniel Back to School Nights.

Thanks and welcome!

Beth Green