Sunday, November 8, 2015

November News

Hello families!
I hope you all had a nice weekend.  Today's weather was beautiful, in my opinion!
I wanted to let you know about a few things coming up in first grade.

1.  There is no school on Wednesday, November 11th, in honor of Veterans' Day. The students have learned about what a veteran is and about the 5 branches of the military.  We even made paper poppies last Friday to represent the Day of Remembrance for the soldiers who have died as they have fought for our country.

2.  The first quarter of school comes to a close on Thursday.  I have my first parent conference starting on that day.  I think that I have scheduled just about everyone for a conference.  I will send home reminder slips at least one week before your conference.  If you did not schedule a conference yet, please contact me.

A note about parent conferences. My primary focus is to communicate to you how your child in doing in academic subjects:  reading, writing, language, speaking and listening, mathematics, science, and social studies.  We will also briefly discuss learner qualities.  Each conference will last about 20 minutes.  If you feel that you need more time after we have spoken for 20 minutes, we can schedule another meeting.
I will have a draft of your child's report card with me so that we can use it to guide our conversation.
When report cards are officially "released," you will receive a message via email from our school's automated system.  You will then be able to view the report card online.
For most of  you, you will be able to see your child's report card before we have our conference.

3.  We will have our 2nd math assessment this week.  I feel confident that the students have a solid understanding of how to model and solve word problems.  They have also "discovered" the commutative property of addition.  I will send the assessments home when they are scored.

4.  I have sent home the first volume of our Read-Aloud Junior Great Books.  Please keep these at home.  We have been discussing the stories and poems, using the students' questions as a guide.  We usually act out the stories as well as do an art piece.
Our next story is Rumpelstiltskin by the Brothers Grimm.

I am very proud of this fabulous group of kids.  It is so nice to come to school each day and see their bright, smiling faces.

Leanne Turenne

Monday, October 12, 2015

This week...

Hello, families!
This week is a short one, but with no absence of fun and cool, learning stuff!

I wanted to let you know what this week will bring for me and the students.  For me, I will be attending one of many professional development days at school.  We will be reviewing the changes to the teacher evaluation system, attend a training about the online component to our new "Go Math" resource, and researching articles related to "Growth Mindset" and "Blended Learning."  It will be a day packed with information!

The next day, Wednesday, I will be in school, but not in the classroom.  First and second grade teachers will be working with an expert on Common Core State Standards in ELA (English Language Arts).  There will be a substitute teacher that day.  

I will be back in the classroom on Thursday (yay!)  but on Friday, I will not be in school.  A while back, I asked to take a personal day to be with my family as we travel to New Hampshire for a long weekend.  When I scheduled this day, I did not know about Wednesday's training ��.  Rest assured, the students will be fine and they know the routines SO well!

I remember a while back when I attended a teacher conference, the presenter said, "When you choose a doctor, would you want to choose one that has attended recent conferences with his/her peers and learned about the latest information in the field?  OR would you choose a doctor who has been practicing every day without taking the opportunity to do such things?"  
I think about this all the time when I attend professional development meetings and conferences.  We all do this with the hopes of becoming better teachers for our students.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

October update

Hello families!
Autumn is most certainly being felt in Jamestown this weekend!  The squirrels in by backyard are fighting over the black walnuts.  It's fun to watch them. 

I wanted to send you an email to keep you up to date on what's going on in our class.

1.  I have sent home your child's math assessment from our first unit.  I score the assessments by using a point system. Kids get points for showing their work correctly.  The first 2 pages of the assessment packet is the "scoring guide."  I have to tell you that it was very difficult for me to correct #4 (I think it was #4 anyway).  The question that asked who has more balls.  Circle the name of the person who has more.  Draw AND write how you know that they number is more.  Well that is easy enough to understand, I suppose.  But, for me, it was not so easy.  Some kids wrote "Bob has 3 tens and Bill has 1 ten."  According to the scoring guide, I am supposed to look for words like, "Bob has 3 tens.  Bill has only 1 ten. I know that Bob has more balls because 3 tens is greater than 1 ten."  Also, on the scoring guide, it says that the students could use a drawing OR words.  All in all, I guess I didn't really like the way that #4 was worded and scored.  I did my best!

2.  It was so great to see so many of you at Open House last week!  The kids had a blast correcting your scavenger hunt papers, so check them out!  I sent them home as well.  Also, the kids loved the notes that you wrote for them.  Thank you! 
I am looking over the volunteer forms and will be in touch soon.  I try to be very organized, so if I "over-organize you" into volunteering, let me know!  I am very flexible, too (as long as I can get re-organized!  ;)  )
At Open House, many of you were able to sign up for parent/teacher conferences.  If you were not able to do so, I will send home or email a note with available dates and times from which to choose.

3. This week we will start unit 2 in math.  I will send home the Unit 2 Newsletter on Monday so you can better understand the concepts of the unit.  The unit is 4 weeks long, which will take us into November!

4.  Our phonics program, called SIPPS  (Systematic Instruction in Phonological Awareness, Phonics, and Sight Words), will begin this week.  We have been working hard on assessing all the first graders to see if they can benefit from starting at a "beginning level," "extension level," or the "challenge level."  We teach SIPPS  in 1/2 hour lessons, 4 days a week.

5.  Also starting up this week will be our Junior Great Books Read-Aloud program.  This program uses original folktales, fairy-tales, and poems which are read aloud to the students.  The program involves inquiry and discussion in order for students to become more knowledgeable, reflective, and engaged citizens.  Students will take their story books home and listen to the story again and think of a question that they have about it.  The next day we collect all the questions and try to answer them in our discussion group.  

6.  I have scheduled our class to use the Makerspace every week on Wednesday afternoons.  Each week, I will give them a problem to solve by using the materials provided.  I've noticed that I need to set clear time restrictions so that we can reflect at the end of our time together.

I think that is all for now!

Enjoy the weekend!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Open House in 2 days!

Hello families!

Happy autumn!  

Open House is Wednesday, September 30th at 7:00pm!  I hope to see you there. Everyone will meet in the multipurpose room for a few messages from Ms. Petersen and then break off into classrooms.
If you can not make it, please let me know and I will send home any handouts that you will have missed.  The students helped me with some ideas for an Open House Scavenger Hunt for you's sure to be interactive! 
Also during Open House, I will have sign-ups for Parent/teacher conferences, so bring your date book (or your phone!).

We are plugging along in school and the kids are doing great!
I gave a math assessment today for our first unit and will send home copies for you soon.
The rest of this week will include a lot of assessing.  I am required to assess all the students in math, phonics, and reading. The assessment is called "Easy CBM (curriculum-based measurement)."  It takes time but gives good baseline data for me.
Having said that, we will continue one with unit 2 in math next week as well as our writing program.

As always, please email me with any questions or concerns.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

What's going on

Hi families!
We have had a busy week at school!  I must tell you that I think that I have the best class in the whole world!  I might say that every year, but I mean it!

First, I wanted you all to know that yesterday we had our first "lock down" drill of the year.  The students were in art class at the time.  When we returned to class after art, we discussed it and I told them that we would practice in the classroom as well.

In reading, we have really increased our stamina!  Every day this week, we have been able to increase the minutes that we "read to self."  I am so please with the students' ability to "shop" for good fit books, find a spot where they won't be tempted to talk to their classmates, and read the whole time!  We have increased our reading time from 5 minutes to 15 minutes (and that is ALL 17 students)!!!  

In science we have grown "lawns."  Our lawns consist of rye grass and alfalfa.  It only took 3 days to see sprouts!  We are logging our observations in the form of drawings and words.  We are also keeping track of the changes on a calendar.
When our lawns grow tall, we will mow them (with scissors).

In mathematics, students  have done a fabulous job in showing me that they understand the meaning of 10s and 1s.  I have introduced the word "digit" and we have been creating 2-digit numbers with base 10 blocks.  We have counted by 10s starting at ANY number on our number grid.  This standard (numbers and operations in base 10) is a critical area in first grade.  I am confident that these kiddos have a solid base for understanding more complex mathematical concepts.

New to our school is a room designated as a "Makerspace."
This concept is new to me, but it is an are where teachers can take classes or groups of kids.  There are materials in this room for building and problem solving.  Most surfaces are covered in a white board paint on which kids can use dry-erase markers to record their ideas and thinking.  I plan to take my class there next week to use the materials.  Stay tuned!

Finally, our fall enrichment after-school program will begin soon!  There is a packet in your child's folder with all the information.  If your child would like to sign up for one or more of these classes, please be sure to fill out the necessary forms and return them to school on Monday!  Classes fill up quickly and they are all "first come, first served."

Thank you and enjoy this beautiful weekend!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Digging in!

Hello, families!
Today we dug into our brand new science kit, Plants and Animals.  We looked at all the materials included and tried to figure out how they would fit in.  We came up with some interesting ideas!  For more information, see:  and also the Gems-Net link on the right side of the page.

We also started our first lesson in our writing program (called Being a Writer).  We listened to a story and talked about all the things that we like to do.  Then we wrote one sentence which started with "I like to...."  The kids filled in the blank and illustrated their sentence.  We will turn this into a class book!

Another thing we did was pick out a silent reading book.  We used the I PICK method:  "I" will pick out a book.  I know the "P"urpose of this book for me (why did you pick this book?).  I am "i"nterested in this book.  I can "c"omprehend what I am reading.  Finally, I "k"now most of the words in the book.

Did you know that there are 3 ways to read a book?  Ask your child to tell you about them!

Stay tuned for more!

Leanne Turenne

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

First Day!

Hello, families!
Today was a great day!
Besides the steamy, sticky weather, we had a seamless day.  These kids have impressed me so much already!
I hope that you all have taken a look at your child's "home to school" folder.  It contains a few pages in page protectors which include the school's yearly calendar, a schedule of our specials, and the hot lunch menu.
Friday is SCHOOL PICTURE DAY!  Every child gets their picture taken for the yearbook, but if you want to purchase pictures, please fill out the form that was in your child's folder and return it to school by Friday.
Please don't hesitate to email or call me with anything that is on your mind.  I really feel that teacher-parent communication is key to a great school year!