Saturday, September 5, 2020

September News #1

 One of my goals for the upcoming school year is to communicate with you through a classroom newsletter about what is happening in our 1st grade classroom. Every two weeks, I will update the newsletter with classroom news and send a paper copy to those who requested that. My newsletter will highlight some of the interesting things that have happened in our classroom, and inform you of upcoming events.

To start, I'd like to tell you a little about myself. This is my 31st year of teaching and my 29th year teaching first grade at Fairview. Before teaching in Carroll, I taught 2 years in Spencer. I am also a graduate of Carroll High School. I thoroughly enjoy the teaching profession, and I look forward to working with your child. Besides teaching, I enjoy spending time with my family. My husband Mike and I live on a farm north of Carroll, he is a grain and livestock farmer. We have 3 boys: Brett, who just turned 26, he graduated from ISU with a degree in Ag Studies and Agronomy, and has joined the family farm operation. He and his wife Anna live in Carroll. Garrett is 23 and graduated from Kirkwood College with degrees in Ag GPS and Ag Business, and has also joined the family farm operation, and Adam, who is 18 and a senior at CHS. Besides teaching and being a mom, I enjoy early morning runs or walks and reading. 

I'd like to extend a big thanks to all of you, for getting your child organized for first grade and returning required forms promptly. Thanks!!! During the first 9 days, the kids have adjusted to getting back into a routine, and having to sit more than they've been used to. We have learned classroom rules, as well as expectations for the lunchroom, bathroom, hallway, playground, and locker area. PBIS (positive behavior in school) is implemented in all classrooms at Fairview and all students have the same expectations for all areas listed above. The students can earn an individual ticket for making good choices and their ticket is placed in a bucket. At the end of the week, I will draw three names for a prize or incentive. We are also working on a class ticket challenge. Our goal is to earn 20 class tickets for a special treat. The class challenges will change as they are earned. 

 Reading: We've been busy jumping right into the "Journeys" reading series. Last week, our learning goals were to read and spell words with the short a sound, our comprehension skill was to identify the main idea, our grammar skill was identifying nouns and our writing focus was to write a complete sentence. This week, our goals will be to read and spell words with short i, our comprehension skill is to identify characters in stories, our grammar skill is possessive nouns and we will continue working on writing complete sentences. Each week, we will also have a set of "Words to Know". Check to see if your child can read the following "Words to Know": and, be, help, you, play, with, for, he, what, have, he, look, too. We have done most of the written activities together to start the year. I will start to have them become more independent with these activities soon, so I can see what they can do. I wanted to start the year doing most together, so they get used to what the expectations may be.

 Math: The first grade team decided to start with the geometry modules for math. We are implementing a new math program this school year called "Into Math". We felt these concepts would be more familiar to the kids and a good way to start the year with something they are somewhat familiar with. We have completed module 14, which focused on "Two-Dimensional Shapes". Last week, we started module 15 which focused on "Three-Dimensional Shapes". The goal of these two modules is to identify the shapes and their attributes. Your child is expected to know the following 2-D and 3-D shapres: circle, triangle, rectangle, square, hexagon, trapezoid, sphere, cylinder, rectangular prism, cube, and cone. During our math time, we also have daily practice with identifying the shapes, telling time, counting sequences, identifying coins and counting money, problem solving, and place value. This is done using projected slides. These are our essential first grade skills and ones on the first grade report card. Number Work is also part of math. During the past two weeks, we have worked on addition facts using the counting on strategy of adding 1 and 2 more. This week, we will focus on adding zero. The students use whiteboards for this portion of math. The goal for addition in first grade is to be fluent with facts to 10, although we will be working on facts to 20 this school year and learning a variety of strategies, and will work especially hard on being fluent with our addition and subtraction facts to 10. 

Writing: The students received a journal, which will be written in almost daily. A sentence starter is written on the board and their job is to complete it with their own ideas. We have also started a quick handwriting review and will review each letter and proper formation on lines. Handwriting is on the first grade report card. Printing letters and numbers correctly will be encouraged on all classroom work.

Guided Reading: We have not added this to our daily routine yet and my hope is to implement small groups at the end of this week. This will be a time when your child is placed into a small group at their instructional level. I have done some assessments to help with placement and this week on Wednesday, I will be administering the FAST reading assessment, which will give me more information about your child's reading skills. You may remember this assessment from kindergarten. In first grade, we assess the following skills: segmenting, nonsense word fluency (decoding), sight words, and fluency (words per minute). Once scores are available, I will send the results home with your child. 

We have designated the "green" folder as our take-home folder. Please have your child return this folder daily. A big "Shout-Out" for encouraging your child to complete their "Making Words" homework. I have been impressed with their dedication. When returning the homework, you do not need to return the letters. Having your child use a marker or pen is acceptable too. After every 10 returned "Making Words" homework, your child will get to pick a prize. Once guided reading begins, please make sure your child returns their reading ziploc daily, so they have their book for the reread part of group. Reading Ziplocs will start coming home later this week. I realize how busy families are and how little time you may have after school and in the evening, so if you do not have time to read the book, still have them return it. THANKS! I will send home a class list and classroom schedule sometime next week. To close, I would like to express how impressed I have been with the kids and their attitude about wearing masks/shields. They have been troopers and I have not heard any complaints. We have also been doing more sanitizing and I give them frequent squirts throughout the day of hand sanitizer. If you ever have a question or concern, please send me an email at