First Grade Classroom News March 23

Dear Families,

We have had another fantastic week here in the first grade! We practiced our first job for our upcoming book clubs, continued practicing phonics skills through literacy center and workbook activities, continued our Person of the Week project by writing more newspaper articles, introduced our new science unit on sound, and discussed the nuances of “tattle-telling” using a fun book and interactive discussion.

The students will soon be ready to engage in book clubs, where they will work in small groups to read and discuss the same book. In these clubs, each student will have a specific job to do, and this week we practiced doing the illustrator job. The illustrator draws a picture that is somehow connected to the text and facilitates a discussion about the text using the picture as an anchor. We practiced the illustrator job with a full group read aloud using the book “Rosie Revere, Engineer.” The students loved hearing this wonderful story and enjoyed illustrating various aspects of the book.

Other book club jobs will include the story connector, the real life connector, the discussion leader, the summarizer, the word wizard, and more. We will introduce these jobs over the next couple of weeks, and the students will form book clubs and start reading on their own after the break. Book clubs are a terrific way to differentiate instruction and engage students of all skill levels in reading with their peers.

Moreover, we have continued practicing our phonics skills using a variety of methods, including phonics workbooks and literacy centers. The students receive phonics instruction in small groups based on their specific needs, and all students are making tremendous gains in their literacy skills. After the break, we will keep learning new phonics patterns and reviewing old ones while also learning various independent reading strategies that will help us as we engage in book clubs and read more and more independently. The students possess an incredible amount of intrinsic motivation in learning to read, inspiring them to develop a love of literacy and to pursue literature at their own pace.

Over the break, please keep reading as much as possible with your children, bringing their attention to various phonics patterns and guiding them toward reading as independently as possible. While you are reading with your children, engage them in conversations about literature, discussing aspects of favorite books, especially characters and character traits.

We kept working on our Person of the Week project by writing newspaper articles. Please continue to heighten your children’s awareness of news articles and their functions by discussing the content, format, and structure of varying types of news articles. Just as the students mastered the genre of letter writing, they will soon become expert journalists!

In science this week, we introduced our unit on sound by playing a fun, interactive guessing game called “Jars of What?” We noticed that certain sounds invariably come from specific objects (such as the slushy sound that liquids make), while other sounds are harder to pinpoint. We also discussed the different meanings that different sounds have. For example, we know that hearing a siren while driving means to pull over, or that hearing the chime in the classroom means to go into silent signal.

To heighten your children’s awareness and appreciation of sound and its functions, please discuss the following ideas with your children over the break: What objects were in the jars? How could you tell? What different sounds do different objects make? Can you categorize certain objects by the sounds they make? What kinds of sounds have special meanings in our lives? What are your favorite kinds of sounds, and why?

We will be continuing our construction and experimentation work in this unit by building home-made instruments and communication devices. The devices must make sound that serves the function either of making music or communicating across distances. Please take some time over the break to discuss this project with your children, brainstorming ideas for devices and materials, and please start collecting materials as needed. We will build our devices in class using materials from home.

Finally, we ended our week with a read-aloud about the nuances of tattle-telling called “Don’t Squeal Unless It’s a Big Deal.” The students enjoyed this humorous story and engaged with its content, which encourages students to differentiate between small problems that children can solve on their own and “big deal” problems, or emergencies, which require adult intervention. I introduced several hypothetical situations, and the students discussed how they might react in the given circumstance. Please further your children’s thinking on this complex topic by engaging in the following conversations over the break: What does it mean to “not squeal unless it’s a big deal?” What is the difference between a kid-sized problem and one that needs an adult to help? Give hypothetical examples of conflicts and discuss possible responses to them.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments. I hope everyone has a wonderful spring break, and I look forward to jumping back into all of our exciting projects and activities in April!

All my very best,

Noam