Monday, November 20, 2017

New Student and Nonfiction Writing

As most of you have probably heard, we have a new student in our class! The kids have been AMAZING at helping her out, showing her how our class works, playing with her at recess, and making her feel at home. Some students even made her cards for her first day!

In writing we have been working on our nonfiction teaching books. Students are being fully immersed in nonfiction by also studying it in reading. We talk about different text features that we see in reading and how they can add them into their own stories. Here are some students hard at work at my table. They have their dictionaries out, nonfiction books to help with some tricky words or illustrations, and lots of writing paper!

This chart we made shows different ways to enhance our nonfiction stories. We talk about using shape, size, and color to add details. Also adding pictures, zoom ins, arrows and comparisons help the reader see and picture what they're writing. Lastly we alway go back and think did we explain when this happens, where it happens, how, and why? Those are questions that a reader is going to be thinking of as they are reading. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

New Books, Nonfiction Units, & Second Step

Hello Families!

Today I wanted to share with you some updates! Every teacher was given $700 from the PTO to order books with. Amazing! I decided to order Fountas and Pinnell leveled books. I knew that we were short of books in many of our levels so we ended up getting 110 new books for levels A-K! Here they are! :)

Level B

Level C

Level D

Level E

Level F

Level G

Level H

Level I

Level J

Level K


In reading and writing we have begun nonfiction. We always keep up our first unit "building good habits" posters because that is something we always want to remember and keep doing throughout all different types of reading!

So far we have learned how to take a sneak peak of nonfiction stories, stop and study each page, and think about what might come next. We practiced these strategies on a nonfiction national geographic kids book about lions. 


By studying nonfiction books in reading we are also learning how to write nonfiction. We always need to have at least 5 facts on our fingers to write a teaching book. If we do not have at least 5 facts then we have to think about something different to teach. Students can teach about animals, sports, games, etc. 

Second Step

During second step we have started to learn a new song. I cannot find it on YouTube. :( At school we listen to it on a CD that comes with the curriculum. Here are the lyrics. It is all about feelings. We are learning how to look at peoples faces and body language to tell how they are feeling. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Scholastic Books & Mystery Doug

Hi Families!

I am so excited to share with you all of the new books from Scholastic that we received because of all the books you are ordering! Every time someone places a Scholastic order our classroom receives points that I can get books with. Also, if we order so many books they sometimes send packages of 10 books for free! This month we got a package of 10 books for free AND tons of books with our points. I worked on trying to get books that were of levels that we do not have many books for. That is why there are more F, G, H, I, and K books. 

Here are a bunch of mentor texts that we also received. These are more of the kinds of books that I would read aloud to the class.

Yesterday we read Madeline Finn and the Library Dog and the kids LOVED it! It's a great story about a girl who does not like to read because it's tricky and hard and sometimes other kids giggle when she reads. Then she meets this dog and builds the confidence to try, try, again and finally succeeds! :) 

Science & IB

Lastly I wanted to share with you these 2 websites that we are working with for science & social studies. We have also found many pieces of it that tie into our IB family unit and our Second Step feelings unit!!

Mystery Doug is a website that has lots of videos where Doug answers questions that students submit to him. There are moments in the video where we stop, talk, and make predictions. You can go to the website: check out what it's about  or look up "Mystery Doug" on YouTube where he has free videos. He only puts up one video a week so we don't get a chance to do it everyday. He also created a website called "Mystery Science" where it has lessons, stories, and activities that go along with the Next Gen science standards. 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Updates 10/2-10/6


We have started incorporating Handwriting Without Tears everyday into our writing routine. Before we start handwriting we get warmed up. Students make sure they're pushed into their desks and sitting with their feet planted on the floor. Then they do a couple stretches. We have learned 2 hand stretches and also shrug our shoulders up and then relax them down so that we have good posture when writing. So far we have finished all of the capitals and are heading into lower cases this coming week.

We have learned "frog jump capitals", "starting corner capitals", and "starting center capitals". I always go over the page with them on the smartboard before they go off on their own. As you notice there is always an example letter with arrows and numbers showing which way to go. Then, there is a box to practice in, and finally there is no box and just the lines. In the Handwriting Without Tears writing program you always start letters at the dot.

In writing this past week we worked on bringing our stories to life! We are still working on our small "seed stories". Different ways of bringing stories to life are making your characters move, talk, feel, and think. We also talked about how important taking tiny small steps in your seed stories are.

 In reading this past week we talked about a few more habits for solving hard words such as doing a double check and trying vowel sounds 2 ways.
 Here you can see a picture of our vowel sounds: long vowels on the left and short vowels on the right. We watched this video a few times to practice our vowel sounds:

Second Step

In Second Step we have now learned all of our skills for learning. This poster shows all of those skills: focus attention, listen, use self-talk, and be assertive. We talked a lot about what being assertive means last week. We did some demonstrations of how to ask someone for help assertively. You start by getting the person's attention, then state your problem, and lastly ask for help. It went like this:

Student: "Excuse me Miss Ferrara. I can't find my lunchbox. Can you please help me find it?" 

We practiced several scenarios and students got act them out.

We talked a lot about kindness and some students wanted to make some signs to hang in our "calm down" area to help anyone feel better who sits there.

Ms. Julie's Videos

Ms. Julie is from Radiant Beginnings Yoga
She came from Colorado where she started incorporating mindfulness to help students relax and calm down. Our school has the amazing chance to work with Ms. Julie and have access to her videos. Everyday after recess we do a Ms. Julie video. Each video we watch begins with a different breathing technique, followed by a mindful listening activity, movement piece, and finally a beautiful picture where she speaks about calming yourself down. Each video is anywhere from 4-7 minutes long so it is quick and very useful! The kids created this anchor chart to show the different ways that her videos help us everyday.

 Squirrel Visitor

We've had a squirrel that has visited the garden almost everyday! It loves to sit on the sunflower and eat the seeds.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Reading, Writing, Second Step & Family

Hello Families!

We have been up to a lot in first grade since the beginning of the year! We are adding SO many new and awesome tools to our tool boxes. 


In reading we have learned to build good reading habits. We fill our book boxes with new books every Monday and empty them on Fridays. 

Every time we start independent reading students make a pile with their books. They decide which one they are excited to read first, what they might read next, and so on. This helps us get organized so that once we begin reading we don't have to think about what book to grab next. After putting them in a pile they take the one from the top and do a sneak peek! This means they look at the front cover, back cover, and even the first page before the book begins and start to notice who the characters are, and what might happen in the story. This is the time to make predictions. As they read they check their sneak peek to see if what they thought would happen actually did. 

At the end of the story students have to do SOMETHING at the end. This helps us reflect and process what happened. They can either: reread a favorite part, reread the entire book, think back over the parts, or retell it to themselves/partner.

There are many other good habits to practice on that first anchor chart I posted. These good habits are also important during buddy reading.

In writing we have been practicing writing a "small moment story" or a "seed story".

We have talked about how you can start with a big watermelon story such as going on a vacation to see you grandparents and then breaking it down into all of the small seed stories inside. This could be going out to dinner one night with them, playing a fun game with your grandparents, or remembering a story they read to you before bed. There are TONS of seed stories inside a watermelon story!

This is the writing process we got through: think of an idea (seed story), plan it out by touching the page with your finger and reading what you may put there before even picking up your pencil, then writing and lastly illustrating. "When you think you're done you've just begun" we like to say :) So when students say that they are finished with a story we like to go to the revising part. We think about if we have everyone who was there included, the setting, the time, etc. in our story.

We have also practiced a few strategies for different ways to spell words. 

Second Step
In second step we have learned a lot about listening rules and focusing to learn. This is called "The Learner Song". We have hand movements that go along with the words as well! Students have been doing an amazing job singing and doing the hand movements. You can listen to the song in the link below...the song starts 12 seconds in.

Families (IB)

We have been talking a lot about families and what makes them the same or different. Students came up with this amazing chart about what is a family all on their own!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A New School Year! 2017-2018

Welcome to our classroom blog!! I am so excited to share with you all that we are learning in 1st grade this year. This blog shows pictures of the classroom, anchor charts, what our calendar looks like, and so much more. I hope to post weekly to show things we are learning and fun things we have done. 

Here are the classroom rules that we came up with as a class! They guided the entire process and came up with amazing ideas!

We have also talked about how to recognize how we're feeling. At OAES we use the Zones of Regulation. Different zones show different emotions. We talked about different ways to get back to green zones from other zones. 

One of the ways to calm down in our classroom when someone is very frustrated, mad, or upset, is to go to our "calm down" space. In this space there are feeling cards that help recognize how we're feeling, and strategies to calm down. In the basket there are different tools to help such as play doh, a squishy stress ball, crayons to color, and a stuffed animal to give some comfort.

Not only do we practice using strategies to regulate our feelings but we also learn how to avoid getting very upset, frustrated, mad, or sad by solving problems. To do this we use a curriculum called "Second Step". We do Second Step every morning. This program has videos, posters, puppets, and stories to learn about different situations children may find themselves in. Whether it be getting in a fight with a friend during a game, learning to be patient while waiting in line, or learning how to be focused during class, Second Step teaches us lots of strategies! Here are Puppy and Snail who are Second Step puppets helping us learn all about solving problems. We also learned our listening rules for the carpet: voice quiet, body still, eyes watching, and ears listening.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Running the Classroom & Becoming Independent

I have seen so much growth in independence these last few weeks! I have been handing over more and more control to the kids so that they can run the classroom together. Now every morning I choose a different student to be the "morning meeting teacher". They sit in front of the class, read the morning message, call on students to fix mistakes in the message, and read the daily schedule. I have been so impressed with their engagement as they sit and watch their peers. 

Helping each other change the calendar in the morning :) I love their collaboration!!
In math we have been learning about measuring. Today's lesson involved using cubes to measure objects around the room. For those of you who don't know, we use a math card based station system. Students get a math card each week that has 10 stations on it that they must complete in a full week. They get the power to choose what 2 stations they want to do every day. Usually their math textbook station is their least favorite, but today everyone chose to do it and more than a few decided to do it for 2 full stations! I just had to capture their teamwork, collaboration, and excitement. There was so much smiling, laughing, and enjoyment!