Thursday, December 19, 2013


We shared some of our math writing and choice writing this afternoon.

J. - There were 11 dots.  4 went away.  How many are in all? 

K. - I had 12 brown cats. I got one more. I have 13 cats.

S. - There were 8 girls and 12 more came to play. Now there are 20 girls.

C. - I made a pattern. There are 3 reds. There are 6 things altogether. How many green? 

M. - I like Rudolph and Dancer and Prancer and Cupid and Dancer and Vixen and Donner and Blitzen.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Time Song!

This is a fun Christmas song.  It is really funny and it gets stuck in our heads.  Some of us have been singing it at home at night and we wanted our parents to see the video.  Here's the link:

Friday, December 13, 2013

Snowmen at Night Art

We read "Snowmen at Night" by Caralyn Buehner and used our imaginations to think of all different things that snowmen might do at night if they came alive.  (Some of my grade 1 scientists pointed out that it was not factual that snow would come alive and we discussed that too!)  Once we had brainstormed a big list of things snowmen might do at night, each student chose one idea to illustrate for an art project.  Using white crayon or pencil crayon on black paper, students drew their favorite snowmen at night scene!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Procedural Writing

We have been working on a text-type study focusing on procedural texts.  One of our tasks was to write our own procedural texts.  The grade 1s chose their topics, used a graphic organizer to plan their writing, wrote rough copies, had editing conferences with me, then typed their good copies (using one of my favorite kid-friendly programs called Pixie).  I am really proud of their work! 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Microsoft Partners in Learning Hot Topics Blog

I was really pleased to receive this nice certificate for my guest blogging contributions.  Educators, administrators and other education stakeholders, you can check out the Microsoft Partners in Learning Hot Topics Blogs at

Topics include:
Project Based Learning
Professional Learning Communities
Change Management & Culture of Innovation
Building Teacher Capacity
1:1 Learning
Workforce Skills Development
Games Based Learning
Student Voice
Virtual Learning Environments
Personalized Learning
Leadership & Strategic Innovation

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Farmer Appreciation Day

The big day finally arrived!  We finished setting up yesterday morning and then farmers started arriving!  We dressed up in farmer clothes.  We had our art and posters displayed on our hallway bulletin boards and in our classroom.  We had a guest book table, complete with a guest book designed by some of the Grade 1s.  Our partners from Mrs. Caldwell's Oak Lake Kindergarten even joined us for the event! 

As our guests arrived, we took each farmer into our classroom and offered them coffee, tea and cookies. Farmers had the chance to relax, visit and enjoy a nice coffee break.  Once everyone had arrived, the students gathered in the classroom with the farmers.  We showed them our video, which we made especially for the farmers.  Then we watched a really funny video (which was suggested by a student for Farmer Appreciation Day.)  The video is called "What Does the Farmer Say?" and it's a lot like the Grade 1 favorite "What Does the Fox Say?"  Our guests had a big laugh watching the farmer version! 

I had some special farmer guests in the crowd today too.  One of my students invited my parents, who are both farmers.  They brought a special surprise for all of the students involved in planning and executing Farmer Appreciation Day.  Through the Ag More Than Ever program, they were able to get each student a t-shirt and some fun items like stickers, magnets and pens! 

It was a very successful day in my mind.  Our farmer guests said many thanks for the time and effort put into our event.  They were pleased that we'd taken the time to show our appreciation.   It makes me so proud to support young learners in their efforts to make a difference in the world and watching kids tackle a big project like this makes me feel especially lucky to be a teacher!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Farmer Appreciation Day: Poster Making & Set Up!

Students wanted to create special posters for decorating our classroom on Farmer Appreciation Day.  We brainstormed messages together and students decided whether they'd like to work with others on big banner posters or individually on smaller posters.  Students worked really hard to do their best printing, drawing, designing and coloring.

 Yesterday afternoon, we started setting up for the event.  We moved the furniture around in our room to get ready for our farmer guests and we started putting up our posters.  It sure looks great in our classroom and I'm so proud of the students for their amazing learning, teamwork and passion! 

Whether it was lifting tables, stacking chairs, setting out cookies or last minute poster-coloring, everyone pitched in to get ready!  We even had a student photographer take pictures to show our setup day.  I helped out with counting chairs, "directing traffic" and reaching some hard-to-reach spots for posters.  Otherwise, the students did most of the work.  They are really engaged in their learning and excited about their project!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

November News

 Our schools put together a monthly newsletter for families.  This month, the Grade 1s worked hard to write their very own news!  This was another great opportunity for students to write for a real purpose and for a real audience, so I really enjoyed the time we spent on this shared writing activity.  We learned about putting sentences together in paragraphs and I introduced the idea of topic sentences.  We also practiced using letter sounds, blends and letter combinations to spell words.  I was very proud of my students' work!

We hope you enjoy reading our November update!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How to Make a Chalky Snowman

We have been learning about procedural texts.  Last week, we read about making chalky snowmen and did the craft by following the instructions.  This week, we wrote our own procedural text called "How to Make a Chalky Snowman".  You can read it to find out how to make your own!

We used this to organize our ideas before we started. 

This is what we know about procedural texts:

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Reading for a Purpose: Procedural Texts & Chalky Snowman Art

Our current text-type study focuses on procedural texts, which fit in well with our preparations for Farmer Appreciation Day because students needed to read recipes to bake cookies for the event.  However, once we'd finished baking cookies and no longer had an authentic purpose for reading recipes, I still wanted to explore other types of procedural texts with students.

We had learned that procedural texts give instructions or explain how to do something, so I was searching for books in my school and personal collection that would be good examples.  My Scholastic book order arrived with the book "50 Christmas Things to Make and Do" and I had an idea!  What if students could study procedural texts that explained how to do Christmas crafts/art and then we could actually use that reading for the purpose of selecting and completing our art activities?

I explained my idea to my students, and they were enthusiastic to start!  As a part of  our reading this week, we read instructions for three different crafts.  It was really important for students to be engaged in these reading lessons, because they would actually have to be able to follow the instructions to complete the art at the end of the week.  After reading, we discussed our ideas and opinions as a class.  Comments such as "this one seems too hard" or "I really like that idea" or "I've already done a craft like that" came up.

After the discussion, students asked if they could vote for a favorite to make this week.   The Chalky Snowman was most popular, so we reread those directions to make a list of supplies we'd need.  With a list from the students, I could get supplies ready for our art time.

We completed our art at the end of the week and the snowmen turned out beautifully!  We also started working on shared writing titled "How to Make a Chalky Snowman" which we will complete next week and share with all of you, so that you can also make yourself a "Chalky Snowman"!