Let’s Eat!

     Although the lunch period is one of the shortest time slots on our schedule, it is the area that I receive the most questions from parents and an area that many children feel anxious about.  Below I explain the lunch procedures, provide links to the school menu, and outline payment options.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions.LUNCH OPTIONS  

  • You may choose the school “hot lunch” with a drink.  All school lunches are free of charge. I will give your child a “hot lunch ticket” to bring to the cafeteria at our lunch time.  Children join the “hot lunch line”, hand the ticket to the cafeteria helper, select a tray,  and choose from the different menu items on display.  The cafeteria staff will assist your child in choosing a well-balanced lunch if needed.  Students are also given the choice of white or chocolate milk.
  • You may choose to pack a lunch and drink at home.  Send the lunch to school in an insulated lunch box labeled with your child’s name.  These boxes are kept in our class cubbies and brought to the cafeteria at our lunch time.
  • You may choose to pack a lunch at home and purchase milk at school.    Upon entering the cafeteria, students join the milk line to retrieve a carton of their choice.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  • Where can I find the school lunch and breakfast menus?    Click the picture below for current menus at the Chartwells site

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  • What time is lunch?  Our class assigned lunch period is 12-12:30. It can be difficult for first graders to settle in and eat lunch in such a short period of time.  Please encourage your child to eat their sandwich first.  I will encourage the children to take home any unfinished food so that you can see just how much is being eaten at school.
  • Will you be in the lunchroom to help my child?  Reassure your child that a friendly adult will be there to help them and answer their questions.  During the first week of school, I try to stay in the lunchroom until all of my students are settled at a table.  However, this is also the only time I have to eat lunch and prepare for afternoon activities too.  We are very lucky to have great cafeteria employees who are happy to help all students!
  • What is Disney Fine Dining? Each week 2 students will be chosen by the lunch-recess monitors to be our classroom “Fine Diners”.  These students will each choose a friend to join them at their specially decorated table to eat lunch.
  • How does our school keep children with food allergies safe?  If your child has a food allergy, please contact the main office to arrange a meeting with the school nurse and support team.  An individualized 504 PLAN will be written stating your child’s allergies, emergency procedures and precautions.  For the safety of all students, we ask that children do not share food with friends.  Special cafeteria seating is available if needed.

 

Reading Together

     Help your child become a lifelong reader.  Research tells us that children learn to read by practicing.  Reading is the primary way a child gains a wide vocabulary and is highly related to success in every academic area.  I recommend that your child read aloud a minimum of 15 minutes per day.  In addition, please read to your child for at least another 10 minutes each day.  Hopefully, the time reading at home will be even more than this minimum.  Included below are some tips on how to make the most of your time reading together.

  • Pick a time when you can devote your full attention to your child.  It may be before dinner, during bath time, or at bedtime; these uninterrupted few minutes are important.
  • Take time to talk about the cover of the book before you start to read.  Point out the author and the illustrator and discuss what those terms mean.  Ask your child to predict what the story is about on the basis of the cover illustration and refer back to those predictions as you read.
  • Be dramatic!  The more enthusiasm you display, the more your child will enjoy the book.
  • Help your child connect print to speech by pointing to words in the text as you read.
  • Encourage your child to ask questions about the story and take time to ask questions as you read.
  • When you finish reading, talk about the story.  Then ask your child to tell the story in his or her own words.
  • Read your child’s favorite books over and over.  Studies show that each time a child listens to the same story, new kinds of learning take place.  When your child knows the book by heart, let him “read” it to you.
  • Most importantly, enjoy this special activity.  Reading together will become a happy, comfortable routine that will open the door to discussions about your child’s thoughts and concerns.

special thanks to CTP; I Can Read!  I Can Write! for these tips

 

Homework Policy

mm8_kids1

Homework is an important part of your child’s school experience.  It provides extra practice and review for topics taught in the classroom.  Completing homework with your child will also provide an opportunity for you to see how your child is learning and what topics we are studying in the classroom. Students will have homework almost every night, sometimes in more than one subject. Good study habits are an important skill for success in school. Please support and encourage your child at home by checking their backpack every night. Homework in the red folder has been assigned by your child’s reading teacher.  Assignments in the blue folder will be from our homeroom subjects (social studies, science, math). Please contact me anytime a homework assignment has been too difficult for your child.

Homework Expectations:

  • Homework will be assigned every night – with some exceptions
  • Homework should be completed by the student, in their own handwriting.
  • Homework should be completed neatly.
  • Homework should be completed to the best of your child’s ability.
  • Homework will be collected every day and credit will be given for completion and general accuracy.

Thank you for supporting our classroom learning.

 Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions regarding homework.

MATH IN OUR CLASSROOM

Parents-   I know you have been hearing a great deal about the Common Core State Standards and the changes we are making to meet these new challenging expectations.  The following is an excerpt from an article published by the Harvard Graduate School of Education that nicely explains the changes you will see in Mathematics teaching as we switch from the Illinois State Standards to the Common Core State Standards.  Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.  – Kate

Harvard Education Letter
Volume 28, Number 4
July/August 2012

Nine Ways the Common Core Will Change Classroom Practice

By ROBERT ROTHMAN

While the Common Core State Standards share many features and concepts with existing standards, the new standards also represent a substantial departure from current practice in a number of respects. Here are..important differences:

In Mathematics
1. Greater Focus. The Standards are notable not just for what they include but also for what they don’t include. Unlike many state standards, which include long lists of topics (often too many for teachers to address in a single year), the Common Core Standards are intended to focus on fewer topics and address them in greater depth. This is particularly true in elementary school mathematics, where the standards concentrate more on arithmetic and less on geometry. Some popular topics (like the calendar) are not included at all, and there are no standards for data and statistics until sixth grade—a controversial change. The reasoning is that teachers should concentrate on the most important topics, like number sense, in-depth so that students develop a real understanding of them and are able to move on to more advanced topics.

2. Coherence. One of the major criticisms of state standards is that they tend to include the same topics year after year. The Common Core Standards, by contrast, are designed to build on students’ understanding by introducing new topics from grade to grade. Students are expected to learn content and skills and move to more advanced topics. The Standards simultaneously build coherence within grades—that is, they suggest relationships between Standards. For example, in seventh grade, the Standards show that students’ understanding of ratio and proportion—used in applications such as calculating interest—is related to their understanding of equations.

3. Skills, Understanding, and Application. The Standards end one of the fiercest debates in mathematics education—the question of which aspect of mathematics knowledge is most important—by concluding that they all are equally central. Students will need to know procedures fluently, develop a deep conceptual understanding, and be able to apply their knowledge to solve problems.

4. Emphasis on Practices. The Standards have eight criteria for mathematical practices. These include making sense of problems and persevering to solve them, reasoning abstractly and quantitatively, using appropriate tools strategically, and constructing viable arguments and critiquing the reasoning of others. These practices are intended to be integrated with the standards for mathematical content. To provide students opportunities to demonstrate the standards of practice, then, teachers might allow students more time to work on problems rather than expect them to come up with solutions instantaneously. Or they might provide students with a variety of tools—rulers and calculators, for example—and ask them to choose the one that best fits the problem rather than requiring them to choose a tool in advance.

Click the picture above to read the full article from the Harvard Education Letter.

HOW CAN I HELP MY CHILD WITH MATH AT HOME?

The following is an article from familyeducation.com

Top 10 Ways to Help Your Kids Do Well in Math

by Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.

Mastering Math
Mastering mathematics is absolutely essential for future opportunities in school and careers. Your children will need to reach a certain level of competency in math to take many advanced high-school courses, to be admitted to college, and to have a wide variety of career choices. Here’s how you can help them maximize their math-smarts.

1. Make sure your children understand mathematical concepts.
Otherwise, math becomes a meaningless mental exercise of just memorizing rules and doing rote drills. Have your children manipulate objects to figure out basic concepts. For addition, they could add one, two, or more blocks to a pile of blocks and then tell you how many blocks are in the pile.

2. Help them master the basic facts.
Mastery of a basic fact means that children can give an answer in less than three seconds. Considerable drill is required for children to give quick responses. Use flash cards to help your children learn the basic facts. When they don’t know an answer, have them lay out objects to solve the problem.

3. Teach them to write their numbers neatly.
Twenty-five percent of all errors in solving math problems can be traced back to sloppy number writing. Improve your children’s number-writing skills by having them trace over numbers that you have written. Suggest they use graph paper to keep the numbers in problems neatly aligned.

4. Provide help immediately when your children need it.
Math is one subject in which everything builds upon what has been previously learned. For example, a failure to understand the concept of percent leads to problems with decimals. If a teacher is unable to help your children, provide the help yourself or use a tutor or learning center.

5. Show them how to handle their math homework.
Doing math homework reinforces the skills your children are learning in class. Teach them to begin every assignment by studying the textbook or worksheet examples. Then have them redo the examples before beginning the assignment to make sure they understand the lesson.

6. Encourage your children to do more than the assigned
problems.

Considerable practice is necessary for your children to hone their math skills. If the teacher only assigns the even problems, having them do some of the odd ones will strengthen their skills. The more time your children spend practicing their skills, the sooner they will develop confidence in their abilities.

7. Explain how to solve word problems.
Mathematicians have an expression: To learn to solve problems, you must solve problems. Teach your children to read a word problem several times. Also, have them draw a picture or diagram to describe it. Make it easier for them to understand the steps in a problem by teaching them to substitute smaller numbers for larger ones.

8. Help your children learn the vocabulary of mathematics.
They will never get a real feeling for math or learn more advanced concepts without an understanding of its vocabulary. Check that your children can define new terms. If not, have them use models and simple problems to show you they understand how the term is used.

9.Teach them how to do math “in their head.”
One of the major ways to solve problems is by using mental math. Kids should use this method frequently instead of using pencil and paper or a calculator. When helping your children with a problem, help them determine when it would be appropriate to use mental math.

10. Make mathematics part of your children’s daily life.
Mathematics will become more meaningful when your kids see how important it is in so many real-life situations. Encourage them to use math in practical ways. For example, ask them to space new plants a certain distance apart, double a recipe, and pay bills in stores.

Behavior Expectations

Our Classroom Rules

BE KIND

BE NEAT

BE SAFE

BE READY TO LEARN

     These four simple rules cover just about everything that can happen during a typical day of first grade!  During the first week of school, I will introduce these rules and ask the children to help me brainstorm other rules that they feel are necessary to create a safe, happy place of learning.

     After determining our rules I will introduce our “Clip Chart”.  The “Clip Chart” serves as a visual reminder to make good choices during the day.  Each child will have a clothespin labeled with their name.  The clothespins begin each day clipped to the middle, green section and then travel up or down the chart based on student behavior.  If a student makes a good choice, the clothespin moves up the colored ladder.  Make poor choices and the clothespin moves down the ladder.  The yellow area serves as a warning.  Students that move to the orange area receive a consequence appropriate to their actions.  For example, a student who is disrupting a lesson by talking with a classmate will be moved away from the group for the remainder of the class period.  The final step on the chart is the red area.  Students who need to move to this level will be sent home with a note to be signed by a guardian and returned

    What I love about the “Clip Chart” is that it rewards the students that are working hard and gives students that have made poor choices a chance to ‘turn around’ their day.  A student who needed to move their clip down for talking during a math lesson will later move their clip up the chart for following directions during science.  After all, we are learning how to be a good friend and student in first grade.  Everyone makes mistakes.  The important thing for my students to learn is how to accept those mistakes and make good choices in the future.

picture from Queen of the First Grade Jungle Blog

 

     In addition to the “Clip Chart” students will also earn Class Dojo points for demonstrating positive learning behavior in the classroom. These points will be exchanged for raffle tickets at the end of each day.Two raffle tickets will be chosen from the raffle bucket each Friday.  Winners will select from a variety of classroom prizes.

Helping Your Reader

  Help your child unlock the mystery of reading with these helpful tips:

  • Select reading material that is of interest to your child.  A book about a favorite hobby will not only be good reading practice but be entertaining as well.
  • Choose a book where most of the words are known.  Many publishers print leveled reading books in a wide variety of popular interests.  A librarian can also help you select appropriate materials.

FOCUS ON WHAT YOUR CHILD IS DOING WELL….

  • Say, “Good for you.  I like the way you tried to work that out.”
  • Say, “That was a good try.  Yes, that word makes sense there.”
  • Say, “I like the way you looked at the picture to help yourself.”
  • Say, “I like the way you went back to the beginning of the sentence and tried that again.  That’s what good readers do.”
  • Say, “You are becoming a good reader!  I’m proud of you.”

WHEN YOUR CHILD IS STUCK…

  • Wait and see if they work it out.
  • Say, “Try that again.”
  • Say, “Look at the picture.”
  • Say, “Think about what would make sense”
  • Read the sentence again and start the tricky word.
  • After 5 seconds tell the word.

WHEN YOUR CHILD MAKES A MISTAKE…

  • If the mistakes make sense, don’t worry about it for now.
  • If the mistake does not make sense, wait and see if your child will fix it.
  • Say, “Try that again”
  • Say, “Did that make sense?”
  • Say, ” Did what you read look right and sound right?”
  • Tell the correct response.

Special Thanks to Regie Routman

Invitations Changing as Teachers and Learners K-12

 

Supporting Your Future Scientist

Parents-

llinois is among the 26 lead states that have worked collaboratively to update science standards, called Next Generation Science Standards, under the guidance of Achieve, Inc.  (source: ISBE) These internationally-benchmarked standards provide a new vision for K-12 science and engineering education and set the stage for a significant shift in how those subjects may be viewed and taught in Illinois and across the nation. The following is an excerpt from Scientific American blog explaining these changes that I thought you may find helpful. Click on the blue title to read the full article.

Why America’s Kids Need New Standards for Science Education

By Anna Kuchment | January 8, 2013 |

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are a comprehensive set of K-12 student “performance expectations” for the areas of Earth and space science, life science, and physical science. They integrate concepts of engineering and technology and develop ties to the math and English “Common Core” standards.

Simply put, the NGSS will revolutionize science education for most of the country, at least for the states that choose to adopt them. Though they contain the latest and most up-to-date findings of science, their strength lies in incorporating the latest and most up-to-date advances in pedagogy and educational research. The NGSS move away from presenting science as a list of facts to be memorized and present science as a set of practices to be done. In fact, every grade-appropriate performance expectation, each sentence, ties together a particular science content with a science practice; you cannot pull the content out into a list of factoids.

The aim of NGSS is to identify what students can do, not what they know. After all, if you want to know how many planets there are, you can always look that up on the web. If you want to understand why they are important and how they function as part of a system, the solar system, then there are a set of practices you should do, which the NGSS identify as (1) Asking Questions and Defining Problems, (2) Developing and Using Models, (3) Planning and Carrying Out Investigations, (4) Analyzing and Interpreting Data, (5) Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking, (6) Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, (7) Engaging in Argument from Evidence, and (8) Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information.

HOW CAN I HELP MY CHILD AT HOME?

The following is an excerpt from the National Science Teachers Association Parent Resource:

Set High Expectations

What you say to your child is important. But what may be even more important is what you don’t say.

Parents often convey their attitudes and expectations in indirect ways. If you tell your children, “I never liked science in school” or “I got my worst grades in science,” you convey the expectation that science classes will be boring or difficult, or worse, that you would accept low performance in science. On the other hand, if you say, “I wish I could do that experiment with you” or “I’m so glad that you are having opportunities that I missed,” you will open doors for your children.

Not every child, of course, is destined to seek a career in science. But every child should be able to become a scientifically literate adult, and all children should know that if they choose science as a career, they can succeed. Parental expectations can encourage positive attitudes and personal best.

Don’t forget, too, that girls are every bit as curious as boys are about science. Buy your daughter that tool kit. And remember that science is often “messy.” Recognize the difference between clutter that comes from enthusiastic activity and the sloppy piles that result from neglect.

Other Helpful Tips

  • Encourage your child to take things apart! Old toys, clocks, and household appliances are great lessons—and don’t worry about putting them back together!
  • Don’t forget about safety. Supervise young children as needed.
  • Discuss science and technology careers. When you encounter people in science-related careers, encourage your children to ask questions about these jobs and the training needed for them.
  • Explore informal education sites. Science centers, museums, and natural science institutions give children the chance to make independent discoveries and participate in scientific processes while having fun.
  • Check out science-related library books and read them together. NSTA publishes a list of outstanding children’s science trade books for kindergarten through 12th-grade students selected by a book review panel appointed by NSTA and assembled in cooperation with the Children’s Book Council (CBC).
  • Encourage children to explore awards programs and competitions that bolster science learning in the classroom.

Click the picture above to visit the NSTA website and to read more about helping your future scientist.

 

 

 

 

Encouraging Writers

     I’ve compiled a list of activities your child will enjoy doing at home to encourage writing and reinforce lessons taught at school.  Before beginning you may consider giving your child a special gift, a writing box.  A writing box is a container filled with writing supplies that capture the interest of a first grader.  Choose a container big enough to hold a lot of goodies, but small enough for your child to carry easily. Decorate an old suitcase, briefcase, 16 qt plastic box, tackle box, or large shoe box.  The contents of the writing box might include: paper (various sizes and colors), notebook, colored pencils, markers, whiteboard & dry erase markers, stickers, blank books, envelopes, post its, list of family & friends names.

     Treat any attempt at writing as special!  Don’t worry if all words are not spelled correctly.  You will see your child’s writing improve as we learn new words and print conventions during first grade.  If necessary, use a post-it note to translate your child’s message and stick it on the back of letters to family.  Most importantly, have fun together!

Writing Activities for Home

  • Write a note to our child and put it in a place it will be seen.  Surprise them with a note under their pillow or taped to the bathroom mirror!  Ask for a written reply.
  • Write a letter to a friend or relative in a different city.  This will be especially exciting if your child receives a letter in response.
  • Hang a family message board where children will see the importance of giving and receiving messages.
  • Make birthday cards to give to friends and family.
  • Glue a 4X6 photo to an index card to make your own personal postcard.  Have your child write a caption and address of family or friend.  Send U.S. mail using the less expensive post card stamp.
  • Encourage you child to create labels for toy bins and shelves at home.
  • Check out the links on the sidebar for sites to make your own comics & post cards
  • Write thank you cards for birthday and holiday gifts.
  • Write secret messages using invisible ink.  Click the picture below to see recipes.

 

 

Celebrate Your First Grader

First grade is hard work!  We use every minute of our time together to challenge our minds.  It is important to take a few minutes each day to praise your child for their effort and celebrate their successes as a learner.  Below are some ideas I’ve used with my own family.  I would love to add your good ideas to the list- just leave a comment below to share!

  • Put a smile on your child’s face by hiding a note inside their lunchbox.  Surprise your pre-reader by including a simple drawing with many X’s & O’s or challenge readers with easy riddles and knock-knock jokes.
  • Celebrate progress reports and report cards with a special meal or outing.  Focus on the effort put forth, not the letter grade.  Remember, every child learns at their own pace.
  • Brag about your child!  Call a family member and tell them about your child’s progress and good deeds.  Hearing you say something positive to others will fill your child with pride!
  • Display their work!  Sure it may not be Picasso and that worksheet has eraser smudges, but it is evidence of your first grader’s success.  Designate a place to display these proud artifacts for all to enjoy.
  • Save the really special pieces.  Each of my children have a hanging file box to keep treasured work from their school years.  One file per grade filled with important class work papers and photos of oversize projects.  I glue a school picture to the front and have them write their name/age/grade on an index card to label each file.  Periodically, we will look through the file boxes together.  The kids love remembering their younger school years and the files are a good reminder that with patience and hard work they can meet the challenges of the classroom.
  • 101 WAYS TO SAY YOU’RE GREAT:  Wow…Way to go…Super…You’re Special…Outstanding…Excellent…Great…Good…Neat O…Remarkable…I Knew You Could Do It…I’m Proud of You…Fantastic…Bravo…Superstar…Nice Work…You’re on Top of It…Beautiful…Now You’re Flying…You’re Catching On…Dynamite…That’s Incredible…How Extraordinary…Far Out…Outstanding Performance…I can’t get over it…Phenomenal…You’ve Got It…Superb…Cool…Your work is out of sight…Your project is first rate…You’ve outdone yourself…Thumbs Up…You’re a good friend…You came through…Terrific…You tried hard…Your help counts…You made it happen…It couldn’t be better…You’re a real trooper…Fabulous…Bravo…Exceptional..You’re unique…Awesome…Breathtaking..The time you put in really shows…You’re a great example to others…Keep up the good work…I knew you had it in you…It’s everything I hoped for…You should be proud of yourself..What an imagination…You made the difference..Well Done…You’re sensational…Very Good…A+ Work…Super Job…Take a bow…You figured it out…How artistic.. Hooray for you…You’re a joy…You are so thoughtful…You’re amazing…You’re getting there…What a great idea…You deserve a hug…Thanks for trying…You’ve made great progress…You’re a big help…You’re neat…You’ve got what it takes…You’re #1…You’re a shining star…You can be trusted…Very impressive…You’re sharp…You’re a winner…Hot Dog…Spectacular…You’re so kind…You’ve really grown up…What a great listener…Great discovery…You’ve earned my respect…You’re A-Okay…You’re a great kid…How original…You’re a champ…You’re a pleasure to know…What a genius…You’re very talented..You’re the greatest…You’re super…Right on target…You’re a keeper…I LOVE YOU! 

Follow the Yellow Brick Road…..

TO A SUCCESSFUL SCHOOL YEAR

  • Take time to talk about school and everyday events with your child.  Ask your child to tell you their “high/low” (best and worst part) of the school day.
  • Get to know your child’s friends.  Ask about who they played with at recess or sat with at lunch.  Arrange for play time with classmates at your home or meet at the playground.
  • Check assignments nightly.  Show genuine interest in the homework.  This sends the message that education is important and encourages your child to do well.
  • Provide a quiet study area with needed supplies.  (pencils, glue sticks, markers, scissors, pencil sharpener)
  • Set a routine for completing homework in the early evening.
  • Provide learning experiences outside of school.  Visit nature preserves, museums, libraries, zoos, and theaters.  Check out the links on the sidebar for activities happening around Chicago this month.
  • Monitor the TV programs your child watches.  TV can be educational and relaxing in the right amounts and at the right time.  Turn off the TV at meal times to facilitate conversations and healthy eating.
  • Help your child obtain a library card and visit the library often.  Listen to your child read and read to your child.
  • Encourage your child to write letters or send emails to friends and family.
  • Play board games together.  Games teach your child how to take turns, listen to others, be a good sport, and encourage critical thinking skills.
  • Be a good role model.  Let your child see you reading a variety of materials for different purposes.  Point out the many reasons you write in daily life.  Demonstrate friendship skills such as cooperation, sharing, listening to others, and talking about a problem.  When playing games be a gracious winner and a courteous loser.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if your child is unhappy at school.  I want everyone to love coming to first grade as much as I do and will try my best to help solve any problems that arise.