Sunday, January 31, 2010

Procedural Text Celebration

To celebrate the end of our Procedural/Instructional Writing unit, we made our own ice cream on Friday. We followed the directions from the Big Book, Making Ice Cream, from Literacy Place. We had to reach a consensus in our tribes about which flavour we wanted to make. Most of us chose chocolate! We wore our mittens to keep our hands warm while rolling the bag of ice and salt. Most of kept out mittens on to eat our ice cream, too!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Retelling Helps Comprehension

This Friday, the children will be bringing home their "story-bit bags" and retelling the Robert Munsch classic, 50 Below Zero. We have been discussing how identifying story elements (setting, characters, problem, and solution) and retelling the story helps us understand what we read. Please help your child by prompting him/her to identify these story elements once s/he has retold the story to you. Ask about the significance of the 'story-bit' or souvenir from the story. If you would like to hear the story told/read by Robert Munsch himself, check out his fantastic website. We have been listening to him read his stories while at the Listen to Reading Work Station.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Just so you know...

-Take Home Reading bags are going home this Monday, instead of Tuesday.
-Pasta orders are due this Tuesday - pasta is served on Friday during the 2nd nutrition break
-Wednesday is Family Literacy Day - we are "kicking off" the Olympics with a rally in the morning. We are invited to wear red and/or white to show our Canadian Olympic spirit! Families are also invited to join us at 2:30 in our classroom for Literacy Work Stations!
-our new tutor from Brock University, Miss Basit, has started to work with small groups of students on Wednesdays during our Literacy block

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Family Literacy Day

On January 27, parents are invited to join us for the last period of the day (2:30 - 3:20) to see the children engaged in Literacy. We will be practicing the Daily 5 (Read to Self, Read to Someone, Listen to Reading, Work on Writing, and Word Work) during Literacy Work Stations. We hope that you can come and visit Room 55!

Monday, January 11, 2010

My Mathematics Programme

Get Ready to Mathematize!

If you would like to read the Grade One Mathematics curriculum, copies can be borrowed from our school office or you view it on-line at and print your own copy to keep. My approach to teaching mathematics is outlined below to give you an idea of what your child will be doing during our daily Mathematics block.

I model my Grade One mathematics program on our school board’s Math Matrix initiative as well as the work of Cathy Fosnot and Marian Small. I provide problem solving experiences from which children develop essential skills in mathematics. I am also very fortunate to be a participant in a professional learning group known as, S.U.M. which is an acronym for Supporting Understanding in Mathematics.

There are five strands of Mathematics – Number Sense and Numeration, Patterning and Algebra, Measurement, Geometry, and Data Management and Probability. Number Sense and Numeration is the strand of mathematics which I teach and review every day. An understanding of numbers and our numerical system are of great importance. Children generally have difficulty understanding the other strands of Mathematics if they are struggling with Number Sense. A variety of concepts and understandings will be explored and evaluated for report cards twice during Grade One. Number Sense and Numeration will be evaluated and reported every term.

Assessment and Evaluation
I use a variety of ways to assess children’s abilities to problem solve as well as their knowledge of basic math skills. A portfolio of your child’s pencil and paper activities is maintained throughout the year. This collection of your child’s work will be shared with you at each teacher/parent conference. More importantly, I make anecdotal records (observations) of your child in which I document the strategies and approaches your child is using to solve problems. A great deal of our work in mathematics is demonstrated through hands-on activities with a variety of manipulatives or tools. Therefore, whenever possible, I try to include photographs of your child’s demonstration. Problem solving is rarely done in isolation or individually. Children are encouraged or required to work with a partner; this is another reason that I often rely on my observations of the process your child is using to ‘mathematize” to document his/her progress. I also use exemplars (samples of students’ work at each level) to assess and evaluate your child’s progress in mathematics.

My Literacy Programme

If you would like to read the Grade One Language curriculum, copies can be borrowed from our school office or you view it on-line at and print your own copy to keep. Learning to read is one of the greatest achievements your child will accomplish in Grade One. I have outlined my literacy program to give you an idea of what your child will be doing on a daily basis.

I model my Grade One literacy program on our school board’s early literacy initiative, Windows of Opportunity as well as Gail Boushey and Joan Moser’s Literacy CAFÉ model. This framework provides a variety of reading and writing experiences from which children develop literacy skills.

Each day your child will be Working With Words, have Supported Reading, Supported Writing, and Teacher Read-Aloud and Self-Selected Reading time.

During Working With Words, your child will be participating in activities that will introduce and/or reinforce concepts of print, phonemic awareness, letter recognition, letter formation, sound/symbol connections, sight words, decoding, and spelling.

As the year progresses, we will have portions of our literacy block devoted to Teacher Read-Alouds, Shared Reading, Guided Reading, and Self-Selected Reading. During Teacher Read-Alouds, I introduce and model the reading strategies that the children will be learning. I “think aloud” during these lessons so I can teach the children how to “think as they read.” As reading strategies are introduced, we add them to our “CAFÉ menu” that is posted in our classroom. A list of the ‘star reading’ strategies that we will be learning about are listed at the end of this post.
Shared Reading is a strategy in which the children “share” in the reading with my guidance. We read chart stories, poems, ‘morning message’, and “Big Books” together during this time.
Small group instruction at your child’s level occurs during Guided Reading. We practice the strategies taught during Read-Alouds and Shared Reading together. It is during this time with your child, that I can monitor how well s/he is applying the strategies and coach her/him to use what s/he knows. The children practice literacy skills at Literacy Work Stations in small groups, with a partner, or independently while I work with small groups and conference with individual students.

Our Supported Writing block involves the children in writing activities during Interactive Writing in addition to Focused Writing and Writer’s Workshop. Listening and speaking plays an extremely important role in acquiring literacy. I do have a “show and tell” time in my Grade One program. However, we regularly have “buzz groups” in which the children are involved in structured listening and speaking activities. These activities are frequently excellent precursors to writing pieces. Your child will be asked to share oral retelling of our favourite stories this year with you. Look for the ‘story bit bag’ that will be send home periodically throughout Grade One. The monthly calendar denotes when this will be visiting your home and when it should be returned to school. Our class mascot will also visit your home this year for one week.

Poetry is another important genre that I use in my literacy program. I use poetry to encourage your child to reread and develop fluency. We look forward to seeing you at our Poetry Café in Term 3!

Assessment and Evaluation
I use a variety of ways to assess children’s reading and writing abilities. Your child will be keeping a reading and writing portfolio this year. These important collections of your child’s work will be shared with you at each teacher/parent conference. I also make anecdotal records (observations) of your child, take running records of your child’s reading, use rubrics based on the Grade One Reading and Writing curriculum expectations, and use exemplars (samples of students’ work at each level) to assess and evaluate your child’s progress.