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First Grade News

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First Grade News

Mrs. Ward’s Class: Sept. 2015

WELCOME! I am thrilled to be back in school, meeting so many new students and families! This year promises to be filled with amazing growth and lots of fun! :
First off, if you have any questions at all, throughout the school year, please don’t hesitate to email me:
In this newsletter I wanted to provide some information about the structure and flow of first grade so families will know what to expect. Newsletters will be distributed monthly, both in students purple folders and posted on my website. So be on the lookout to see what’s happening in Room 236!
First grade FAQ’s:
First grade is a big year for building academic stamina and teaching students to be independent learners. Throughout the first month of school students will be learning a series of routines that will set up the structure of our classroom. These routines will help students know what is expected of them and how to perform independent tasks. Although these routines may seem tedious at times, establishing this structure in the classroom will allow the children to engage in higher-level challenge work in the future and feel confident in their ability to participate.
Students will be learning through a variety of mediums this year. Although first graders benefit from some direct teaching and seatwork, my goal is to make teaching and learning as interactive as possible. This means students will mainly be learning in a small group setting, whether it be centers or rotations. Students will be learning through discussions, the use of manipulatives, whiteboards, and games, and with technology. Much of the students daily written work is kept in the classroom, whether in their math journal, math notebook, writing folders, or reading bag. Other work will be sent home in students purple folder.
At the beginning of the year we are asking that parents spend time each night reading with their child. Later this month, students will be given a weekly log (on Monday mornings) and asked to record the reading they do each day (min. 20 minutes) and have it initialed by a parent. At Open House you will hear more about “WEB Books”, a program that allows students to check out books at their instructional level to read at home. A math and spelling component is added to the homework routine later on (usually in October) that will include a weekly packet that correlates with the unit being taught.

Students are given time each morning to have a light snack. Please pack a snack that will hold your child over until lunchtime, which for first graders is 12:40pm. Students will have recess after lunch. We will head outside for recess each day, weather permitting, so please send your child to school with clothing that allows them to be comfortable outside.

An Introduction to Reading Workshop & Math Rotations:
In reading workshop we follow a literacy framework that blends the “Daily 5” and the “Café Menu”.

The “Daily 5” is a structure for reading workshop that incorporates the following five tasks:

  1. Read to self

  2. Read to someone

  3. Work on writing

  4. Listen to reading

  5. Spelling/word study

Along with the “Daily 5”, we use the “CAFÉ menu” to help students understand and master different strategies used by successful readers. CAFÉ is an acronym for Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, and Expanding Vocabulary. Students are taught and practice a variety of strategies under these components. The teaching of reading in first grade includes goal-setting with students in individual conferences, posting and referencing strategies we have learned, developing small group instruction based on clusters of students with similar goals, and targeting whole class instruction based on student needs.

In terms of math instruction, we will be following the first grade curriculum from Everyday Mathematics, supplemented with activities from the Kathy Richardson series, which focuses on number sense, place value, comparing, patterns, and addition and subtraction. Our math instruction is done in differentiated small group rotations that include the following:

  1. Teacher-led small group instruction

  2. Independent seat work, which can include review and higher-level challenge work

  3. Game/activity that focuses on building number sense/problem solving

I hope this information helps to create a smooth transition into first grade. I am so looking forward to working with your family to make this year a wonderful year for your child! We are definitely going to have some fun!

Lastly, here are a couple of upcoming dates to note:
Wednesday, Sept. 9th: PTO Back to School Picnic
Thurs. Sept. 24th: Open House/Curriculum Night

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