September 3, 2017

September 3 ,2017

 

Dear Parents,

 

Every year, for as long as I’ve been teaching, the night before school begins I go through the “what ifs” in my mind. What if my children are not ready to learn? What if my parents don’t like project work and are not willing to help? What if I can’t create a family atmosphere in my classroom? These are just some of the notions that circulate through my brain. Thankfully, since I’ve started teaching at Burroughs these “what Ifs” have never come true. This year is no exception. It’s hard to believe that my first graders have only had five days of school. They “really get it” in just such a short time. They are learning to be independent, organized workers and all of them are becoming members of my “235 family”. It feels so good.  When they come into the room in the morning, they know what to do with their take home folders and they sit down and do their morning work. It’s all about routines and consistency. Thank you for doing such a wonderful job preparing your child to be a successful and happy first grader.

 

Since I believe that the development of good writing skills goes hand in hand with the development of good reading skills, writing is an integral part of my curriculum. Each Monday we will be writing “Weekend News”. The children will have an opportunity to first verbally tell the class a highlight of their weekend and then write about it as well as illustrate it. There are always some children who get stuck in recalling the highlights of their weekend. Since this is the first week of this kind of writing (I haven’t even told the children about it) I would appreciate it if Monday evening you tell your child that he/she will be writing “Weekend News” tomorrow and have a discussion about what he/she will be writing. I always encourage inventive spelling, but in the beginning, they all want me to spell words for them. Each child has a portable paper word wall in their writing folder which they use to help with their spelling. I also have a word wall at the back of the room which they are expected to refer to when writing. We put words on our word wall each week. I expect that when a child writes a word that is on the word wall, that it will be spelled correctly. For example two of the words that are already up are “are” and “friend”, words that they always use in their writing.  The word wall does not become a crutch to the children. By repeated use in their writing, they eventually learn how to spell these frequently used words without looking up at the wall. We also write in our journals every day except Monday. Children become writers by writing and you will be amazed at the progress your child will make in a short period of time. In the next few weeks  I will be giving them another journal which is called a Reading Response Journal. Just as the name says, the children will be responding to literature that I have shared with them. Their first task will be learning how to write a summary.  This process is difficult in the beginning, but with repitition, they are ready to spread their wings and fly. 

 

I will be discussing differentiation in curriculum when we meet at Curriculum Night, on Monday evening, September 11th at 7:15,  but I do want to address a few things right now. From day one, I realized that I have a wide range of reading abilities in my class and so, even though I usually don’t differentiate right away, I knew that it was necessary to begin the process. If you come into my class any day and see a morning worksheet on your child’s desk, you will notice that he/she might have a different sheet than his/her neighbor. I do not believe in busy work  and that is why I differentiate. I want all children to be challenged according to their abilities.  

 

Last year one of my dads teased me each week that on Sundays he always sat down to read the Lasser novel. I know I write a lot, but I want you to be informed. (trust me, there’s much more that I could write) But because of my reputation, I’ll only write about  a few more things. Please make sure that your child brings his/her take home folder to school every day. The folder needs to be emptied each night. On Tuesday your child will be bringing home a book flyer from Scholastic with a letter that explains the ordering process. If you would like to order books, you can order on line or send back the order form and check to school and I will send it in. The orders should be in by September 11th. If your child has not completed his/her puzzle piece, please try to send it back to school this week so that I am able to assemble the puzzle. If you need a new piece, just let me know and I will send home one with your child. The school is having a “box top collection” contest for all the classes, so keep on clipping and send the box tops to school.  Lastly, if you have any questions or concerns, please e-mail me. I take pride in my communication skills and will absolutely get back to you as soon as I have a free minute and certainly on that day. 

 

I know that it’s going to be a wonderful year in Room 235. We’re a family and  we are already working and playing together as caring family members.

 

Have a wonderful week.

Sincerely,

Joyce

 

Oh one more thing. One day last week the children wrote in their journals   “The best part of first grade this week was         “. It warmed my heart more than I could say when many of them wrote “Having Mrs. Lasser as a teacher”. Some of them wrote “getting hard work from my teacher”. They sure are ready to “reach for the stars”. (Okay in the interest of full disclosure, some wrote “recess” or “lunch”.  It’s a work in progress!)