This last trimester of math can be summed up in two words: problem solving!! Students are solving many story problems and are learning the difference between addition and subtraction. Students are also learning that addition and subtraction work together. They are beginning to understand if I know 2+3=5, then I also know 5-2=3.
Students are also learning problem solving strategies. We have made an anchor chart of various things we can do to solve problems. Some of our strategies include: counting on/down, using a hundred's chart, using ten frames, using fingers, using base-10 blocks, drawing a picture, and acting it out. Although all of these strategies can work, we have talked about using more efficient strategies. For example, with larger numbers, drawing a picture is not the most efficient. In addition, students continue to find efficient ways to count large collections of items. Making groups of 10 is one efficient way of counting.
Through problem solving and counting, students are truly developing an understanding of how numbers work together. In essence, they are developing a strong sense of numbers. We are also working to fluently solve addition and subtraction problems within 5. These facts should be automatic by the end of the year. To practice this, students are doing math sprints to gain speed and confidence.
Here are a few things you can do at home to help support what we are learning at school:
have students solve simple story problems (adding and subtracting)
review addition and subtraction facts under 5 (2+3=5, 2+1=3, 5-1=4...)
count by 1's, 5's, 10's to 100 and count by 2's to 20
find the missing number (2+ ____ =5, 3- ____ = 2, 2+____=4, etc.)
Students have been learning more accuracy strategies to help them read words correctly. So far, we have learned to:
find the first part and look through the whole word
cross-check ("Does it look right? Does is sound right?")
flip the vowel sound (try different vowel sounds to make it correct)
get your mouth ready to say the first sound
check the picture
Students have also learned the importance or retelling a story. They are becoming more familiar with story element vocabulary (characters, setting, plot, problem, and solution). I feel like my students have grown a lot in the area of comprehension since the start of the year. In addition, they have learned to think beyond the text. They make connections to stories as they read. They can relate to the stories and characters. This, to me, is the most important aspect of comprehension. Students are constantly telling me, "This book reminds me of..."
Another aspect of reading that we have really focused on has been vowel sounds. Students have been learning about short and long vowel sounds. I would say that most of my students are able to read most simple CVC words (consonant, vowel, consonant words such as hat, hen, pot, etc.). They have learned that readers have to be flexible with vowels, and that sometimes, you might have to try a different sound if one vowel sound doesn't make sense.
My students have learned fluency strategies such as go back and reread to make your reading sound like talking. They have also learned that being a voracious reader will help with fluency. I have noticed a renewed sense of passion and excitement about reading since we began talking about voracious reading. Students have begun to discover that they can read books off most book shelves and read lots of the words. That's a very exciting time for students.
My students have truly become authors!!! I'm sure many of you can tell after reading through their books from 2nd trimester that they have become such wonderful writers. The personal narratives they wrote at the end of 2nd trimester were phenomenal. I would argue that many of their books were better than many of my first grade students' books in the past. We have focused a lot on these stories having a solid beginning, middle, and end. To help tell our stories, students have learned the importance of using sequence words: first, then, next, last, etc. They have also learned the importance of adding extra details in their stories to help the reader picture exactly what happened. Throughout the month of May, students will once again focus on writing personal narratives.
In addition to writing personal narratives, students are currently learning about opinion writing. Students have learned that there people write their opinions to try to solve problems in the world. Students have also learned there are ways in which we share our opinions through different modes of writing: a sign/poster, a book, or a letter. Over the last few weeks, we have focused our attention on writing posters and letters. Students have written persuasive signs and letters with the purpose of convincing others to try to change. Some letters may come home within the next few weeks. These letters are seriously darling. Most of the problems are trivial, involving little brothers or sisters or asking for new toys. These are quite simply the problems they see in their world, which is pretty sweet. I love that their biggest problems involve their brother or sister taking their toys! It means they have pretty amazing lives!
They have also learned why sharing opinions is so effective. Ultimately, the goal of sharing opinions with others is to try to convince other people to change their ways or their beliefs. Students will write several opinion pieces through this trimester. Now that we have written lots of letters and posters, we are now shifting our focus to writing opinion books. One will be shared with you at conferences. You might also see some of our signs/posters in the hallway and classroom as well.
With both the opinion and the personal narrative units, we are focusing on writing conventions. We will continue to work on editing our work so that each sentence begins with a capital and ends with a period. We will also work to include capital/lowercase letters in appropriate places. We will also work on spelling sight words correctly.
We have wrapped up our unit on body parts and their functions and will soon learn all about weather. Students will learn about rain, clouds, temperature, and different kinds of weather. We will do a few experiments involving making a cloud and testing to see if different types of liquids freeze. They will continue to record their findings in their science journals which will come home at the end of the year.
One of the other things we will learn about is weather tools. Students will discover that different tools measure different aspects of weather. One of the tools we will make ourselves will be a rain gauge. We will cut the top off of a bottle and turn that top upside down inside the bottle. Then we will draw lines on the bottle to measure inches. We plan to set the rain gauge outside on a rainy day to measure how much rain comes down. Another aspect we will learn regarding weather is that weather affects how plants grow. Students will learn that most plants grow during the spring because of the warmer temperatures and rainy weather. Students will plant some flower seeds to experiment with this.
Students are also learning from our Flat Stanley project that different types of weather are more prominent in certain areas of the country and world. Students have learned that in some parts of the country, it is warm all year long. In other parts of the country, it is rainy for a lot of the year. We have also learned that some parts of the country (like Iowa) experience all 4 seasons. We are beginning to understand that weather effects the things we wear and the things we do. For example, when it rains for several days in a row, indoor recess is inevitable.
We have continued to learn how people are different. We have also learned how we grow and change over time. For Mother's Day, we are going to work on a special book that will focus on how we have changed over time. Baby pictures will be needed for this special project. Please send these pictures by Thursday, April 13th.