Sept. 10, 2017

September 10, 2017

Dear Parents,
All the children are  adjusting beautifully to first grade. They  are learning to work independently and to organize their things. Sometimes I feel as if I should just record directions and keep on playing it over and over again since I do feel a bit redundant saying the same thing twenty times. But if the end result is accomplished and the children finally “get what to do”, it is all worth it. First grade is so different from kindergarten and sometimes “it takes a village” to help the children transition. As a testimony to the “children getting it”,  during the past nine days, they have written one Weekend News (we will do that every Monday) and six times in their journals. Way to go first graders!
This week I will start my reading groups. I will have four different groups in the class. The children will meet with me each day to work on skills and read books at their particular levels. These groups are not made in stone. I will change the groups as I see changes in the children's reading levels. During our reading and writing block which is most of the morning, the children who are not at my reading table, work on their journals or Weekend News and then read independently. Since the children are still getting used to working without my constant help, I will probably see only one group a day this week until we become better independent workers. I am amazed at how well they are able to express their creative thoughts in their journals. One day last week I played a song called “The Purple People Eater: which went with a poster of the words that I had hanging up. The children all got up and danced to the music and then wrote a story which began “One day I met a Purple People Eater”. I was so happy when I went around the room and read their journal. They all were able to express themselves.  Again way to go first graders!
This Friday your child will receive take home books in a special Dr. Seuss plastic bag. I select books each week for your child to read at home according to his/her reading level. I would like the books brought back the following Wednesday so that I have time to fill the bags again. If your child is not done with the books, just have him/her let me know that he/she would like to keep the books an extra week. I would encourage you to have your child read aloud to you some parts of the books that have been brought home. Encourage fluency and expression during the read alouds.  Please have your child keep a record of the books he/she has read on the sheet in the bag. I hope that each child will spend  at least 20 minutes a night reading and being read to by a parent. 
I will talk at length about our math program at Curriculum Night, but I would like to take the time now to tell you about Math Sprints.  Each Wednesday the children will take a one minute math sprint. The Singapore Math curriculum stresses the use of mental math. Children need to have automatic recall of math facts. When a child takes a sprint, he/she has one minute to finish as many problems that he/she can on a page. After the minute is up, I go over the answers and the children put check marks next to their correct answers. They then write their score on the top of the page. After that process has been completed, the children turn the page over and once again try to answer as many problems as possible. (the problems are different) The goal is that each child will improve their score from the first page to the second page. In other words the child is competing only with himself. I do not record these scores. They are only for your child and you to look at. I would encourage you to have your child complete the problems on the sprint that is brought home each Wednesday, whether the process is timed or not. If you have any questions about this, I will answer them on Monday night. I will also be talking about number bonds which Singapore Math keeps on coming back to throughout the year. Number bonds are a visual way to represent the addends in an addition problem. For example, if the target number is 7 and one of the circles in the number bond has a 3, the children have to come up with the other number of 4 to complete the number bond. 
If you would like to order Scholastic books for your child, please try to get the order in by tomorrow so that we get the books in the next few weeks.
I hope to see all of you at Curriculum Night which is tomorrow at 7:15  I will give you a overview of first grade and there will be time for questions. We will be spending time talking about volunteering in the classroom.  I am very project oriented and  cannot complete all these projects without volunteers. I will have a sign up sheet for volunteering  on my reading table and will be sending out a google doc that enables you to sign up on line. Thank you Zach Legein, Harper’s dad for making this document for me. If you are coming to Curriculum Night,  please take a look at the wall right besides my classroom. I’m sure that you will enjoy learning about your child’s favorites as well as the favorites of the other children in the class. Thank you for helping to make the transition from kindergarten to first grade go so smoothly. 
On a personal note, I would like to tell you about  an event that I am really looking forward to this evening. My synagogue, Beth El in St. Louis Park, has a remarkable Speaker’s Program. Many famous people have come to the synagogue to speak. Tonight Michelle Obama will be there. Lucky for us, my daughter bought tickets for this event the minute the tickets went on sale because they sold out immediately. I know that it will be an evening that I will never forget. 
Have a wonderful week. Enjoy this glorious weather.
(Such a good feeling to finish my second chapter in my “Letters to My Parents” novel.)
Reminder...The children are walking to the beach during at 12:45 on Monday and Thursday as part of a special gym activity.
Keep on sending box tops!