Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Hello First Grade Families!

Can you believe we have so few weeks left of school?  I think the students are amazed, excited, unsure, emotional and happy.  And probably so much more!  This is a time of so many feelings.  Each day we are talking about so many things, what we did this year, how to finish up the work we have planned, interesting things in our lives, cool end of the year projects...  It is understandable for the students to be feeling all these feelings at a time of transition.  Please let me know if there is anything I can do to support you if your child is having extra feelings at this time.

This week has been about celebrating our amazingness!  I know that's not a word, but maybe it should be.  :)  The POL planning and practice has been so special because the students have been able to share things they have learned, to reflect on themselves as learners and express what they are proud of.  This is so beautiful.  

Today, Silas was brave to volunteer to practice in front of the class.  We had watched Joey and Peyton's POL from last semester, last week, but seeing Silas' today showed how much we are trying to add to these,-especially in the introduction area.  The students are each deciding how much to say in order to explain their work, their thinking and their feelings.  After, friends gave feedback about what they were impressed with, and what they suggested he keep working on.  Such rewarding experiences!  

Another exciting thing that's coming along are the descriptive word lists for our setting work.  It can be hard to think up words, but these lists will help us all in the future when we are trying to make a story feel more realistic. 
When you read a story, what makes you feel like you are there?  
What helps you see it in your head?

The students decided that painting would be the media that everyone would try to use for their setting.  These are coming along.  They are using all their adjectives to help them think of what should be in an image to depict this place.  The results are pretty thought-out.  Here are many examples of the steps of the work in progress:  Adjective lists, drawing the painting plan, paintings in progress and finished products.

Soon I will share more work, but I wanted to get a post up today.  Have a nice night!  Love, Jennifer

P.S. Ask your child what is in the first image there at the top of this blog entry.  Hint: it has something to do with one of this month's songs and poems...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Reflection and Honesty.

Hello First Grade Families!

Thank you to the families who are volunteering to help out with typing things up and getting ready to finalize our projects.  This helps a lot!  I can't wait to see them put together.

This week we used a class council to discuss something that I have seen often lately.  I shared two stories in which anonymous students chose to call a person a baby or fat.  In one of these stories, other friends joined in in the name calling.  When I shared each of these two short stories, much of the class had a surprised reaction.  I could see that the students were uncomfortable to think that the people who had called these names were people in our class.  Our next step was to take some time to go around and express how we feel when we call other names.  

This class council was especially poignant because I could feel that each of the students were deeply engaged and listening to the honesty that everyone was sharing.  No one in our class passed- everyone shared about how they were feeling in a time in their life when they had called someone a name.  Such important work,  to be reflecting on where we are coming from when we are doing something we do all agree isn't the goal.  It is especially important for children to feel they can have a safe space to share their feelings where they don't feel punished or in trouble. The idea behind this is to create personal awareness so that we can overcome urges we don't want to give into in the future.  

Before I share the notes from the meeting, I wanted to share my reflections. I noticed a few common themes in the feelings shared.  One theme we saw was that sometimes we are calling a name because of our own anger, sadness, or feeling of upset.  While other times we are calling a name because other people are doing it and you have different reasons at these times, fear that others won't like you, feeling you are not brave enough to speak out against it or a momentary nice feeling of camaraderie.  Another theme was that there is an initial feeling you have, at the time when you are calling someone a name, and then there is a feeling after the fact, later on.  It was interesting to see how many friends identified with each other's comments and how they all agreed that the secondary feeling was a more lasting one.  A friend even commented later at how those secondary feelings are so hard to fix!  It was neat when one student explained that calling names can be our fastest reaction and other choices are not as fast.  Isn't that sometimes the case?

Here are the notes about what the students said they felt when they call names:
(Amy and I shared our feelings, too)

1) I was trying to feel better than that person.
2) I was feeling sad or mad a them.
3)I think it feels fun, but then it feels bad.
4) It made me feel angry.
5) I was happy, then I was sad.
6) I felt better than them.
7) It felt bad after I did it and when I did it, I felt like I was a little better.
8) I felt really scared or sad.  I noticed it wasn't that funny when they were sad.  I was too scared to be the person to stop calling names.
9) I felt kind of nervous.
10) I felt kind of happy at first, because it was funny, but then it felt bad.
11) I felt sad and a little bit made.  They had hurt my feelings.
12) I felt really bad after and I was with big kids and they used bad words.  I wanted to feel like I was part of the group.
13) I was upset at first, because people were bothering me so I got mad and called them names.  I get so mad that I don't know what to do.  Calling names comes faster than other choices.
14)  First, I felt like I was better, but then i didn't like myself as much.
15) I felt sad because I didn't want to and wanted to at the same time.  I was trying to make them as sad as me.
16) At first, it's really funny, but then they look really sad and I feel sad and I wish I didn't do it.
17) I felt kind of sad because it really hurt their feelings.
18) I thought it was funny, so I joined in.  After, I felt mad.
19) At the start, it felt funny, but at the end, I felt bad for the person.
20) At first I felt like I didn't have anything to do, so I called someone a bad name because I was in a bad mood.
21)  Most times, someone had made me feel bad so I called them a mean name to make them feel bad too. I wanted them to feel as bad as I did.
22) It felt not good inside.  I felt happy that I called someone fat, but not good after.
23) I felt kind of good, 'cuz they were doing it to me, but a little bit later, I felt bad.
24) At first, I felt angry, so I called her a name and then she called me a name so I felt even madder.
25) I felt really bad for them.  I felt kind of happy, 'cuz he kept picking on me.

When was the last time you called someone a name?  
What  were your feelings and motivations?

Another awesome moment this week were the "gallery walks" we did,  for friends to share their work from the Interesting Animal Project.  The students shared their information, explained their work and answered questions.  So many students were admiring the effort each child displayed.  There are  many elements of this work that is impressive.  These students are amazing!

The students enjoyed doing some follow-up research about butterflies after the field trip last week.  The were excited to learn more about the butterflies they held.  

Here is a neat website we used:  Click here!

I  wish you a beautiful night together.  Love, Jennifer

Friday, May 11, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day!  You are amazing in so many ways! 

Here are some that your children thought of. I wish you each a very special time!

Love, Jennifer

Joey: What I like about my mom is she's caring. I like my mom because she takes me to the zoo on the weekend usually. We get to see all the animals and she can take pictures of them. She makes my bed and she washes my clothes. I appreciate that she washes them so I can use them.

Ocean: Something that I like about my mom, is that when my daddy has to go to hockey and he can't sing me songs, my mother sings me songs. She also makes me the best scrambled eggs in the morning. It's so good.

Ben: What I like that my mother does, is she always gives me candy bars and oranges and bananas for lunch and recess. She puts me to bed. She gives me a couple pillows and she makes my bed for me so when I come to bed, I can just get inside the bed and feel happy.

Jenna: What my mom does that makes me happy is she lets us build forts and she makes deals a lot. She drives me to school sometimes and we play games.

Jayden: What my mom does for me a lot is she gives me yogurt every night after I eat dinner. I get to chose my own yogurt at Yogurtland. She sings a song and we sing it together and we learn it. It makes me tired and it makes me feel good. She says it to say goodnight to me.

Silas: I like that she plays tag with me.  Almost every night she makes dinner.  She buys me lots of stuff.  I like to go with her to the park.  She reads books with me every night.

Christopher: My mom, I love it when she washes my clothes because she makes it really clean and fresh.  I like just hanging around with her.  Because we can relax and get some peace and quiet.  

Christina: My mom is helpful because she helps me when I'm sick and gives me a special kind of medicine.  I like when she takes me to the park because she always pushes me on the swings and helps me.

Taylor: I love my mom because she takes me places where I want to go.  She helps me wake up 'cuz she bought us a clock.  She cuddles with me.

Rainli: I'm grateful because she helps me make my bed.  I like going to the park with her because she pushes me on the swings.  She makes me artichokes.  She makes a special kind of sauce.  

Bryana: What my mom does is she lets us stay up late and we also get dessert . We play games with my mom and we also draw and color too. I feel good inside when she does those type of things.

Joshua: I like my mom because she lets me play Mindcraft for a very long time. Also she lets me play on her Ipad a lot. She takes me to school sometimes. Sometimes she takes me for ice cream.

Nathaniel: Stuff that I like to do with my mom is when she puts me to bed she always reads me a few chapters and we listen to music. I like spending time with my mom because it makes me happy.

Aiden: She puts me to bed sometimes. I feel good because sometimes she doesn't do it. When I lay down she puts the blanket over me. At the night she buys donuts after I eat dinner.

Parker: What I like about my mom is we get to do homework together and it makes me feel happy inside. And we also get to do math problems and stuff. What I appreciate to my mom is that sometimes she gets me donuts with milk. And I like that. It tastes sweet and it makes me feel really happy.

Bridget: Happy Mothers day! The things you do for me are you drive me to school everyday and we listen to the radio together and we tell jokes that are so funny and I like that because I like funny jokes. We have family night and everybody in my family plays games. At bedtime my mom always reads me a bedtime story. Sometimes I'm lucky and I get two. And sometimes when I don't get bedtime stories my mom sings me two songs. It feels calm and relaxing.

Hannah Grace: What my mom does with me together is before I go to bed we read scriptures together. And we play some games together and we go to ice cream places a lot.

Henry: Sometimes when my mom is making something, she lets me help her with it. I like picking cherries off our cherry tree that just started blooming with her.

Hannah Eileen: What I like that my mom does is that she misses work and sometimes comes to field trips. She helps me brush my teeth. I like planting flowers with her.

Kaylie: What I like to do with my mom is that we both water our plants and sometimes we draw pictures together. It makes me feel happy. She is caring.

Ryan: What I like about my mom is that she sometimes takes me to the park after school. She sleeps with me in bed at night. She takes me out for dinner sometimes, at restaurants.

Milayna: What my mom does for me is she helps me do my Japanese homework. She tucks me into bed and she says goodnight to me before I go to bed. I like getting groceries with my mom because she lets me carry the bags.

Peyton: I love my mom because she plays board games with me and goes to special places. I feel proud that we get to be together. And I like cooking with her, like cookies and dinner.

Shake It and Eat It!

Today was so fun!  I wonder if your child agrees.  We finished our secret project today and we finished up the week of cooking, too.  YUM!  Everyone tried the bread and most had seconds and thirds.  Our butter came out so creamy- just use heavy cream and shake it up.  It's all in the way you shake it- dancing helps!  It's amazing how the properties of something can change from what you do to it. Agitated cream becomes butter. 

After dancing our butter ready, some of the students set the tables with me for our little feast.  Since we made preserves on Wednesday, baked bread on Thursday and butter today, you could say it was a make, bake and shake week!  

Enjoy your weekend!  Love, Jennifer

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Such a Beautiful Week!

Hello Fabulous First Grade Families!

Thank you so much for all of your teacher appreciation loveliness!  You have gone above and beyond making me feel special.  I truly don't know how many times I have said, "I am so lucky!"  Each day has unfolded new and beautiful delights.  Thank you for all the flowers to make our room so bright, for the thoughtful words and illustrations in the cards, for the tasty treats (baked sweets, tea, wine, chocolate, sushi and kombucha!) and the helpful supplies for the class.  It has been super fun to get packages at home all week and to realize that more goodies have been purchased from the class wish list.  So exciting.  I appreciate all that you do already for me and for us, so this week has been extra special.  Thank you!

This week we finally did some cooking in class.  What fun! I challenged myself to find new recipes we could do in class without an oven.  This week we only used my crock pot!  We took our half days and incorporated a recipe each day.  After reading the bread recipe, Nathaniel explained that cooking is kind of like science with all the mixing and testing.  It is!  The yeast in the bread and the concept of dissolving things was definitely science in action.

We also investigated how recipes are written.  One of the students asked if you had to do a recipe in the order it says.  My answer was to think about other things you learn and how it can be a lot easier to take an expert's advice, when you are first trying a new thing, and then test and try out your own way after you've tried it a couple of times.  I guess it can depend on how the recipe is written, right?  Or how much you know in advance.  This week we did follow the steps in order.  This reminds us of our other many discussions about following directions.  What other areas of life is it important to follow instructions in the set up order?

Here are the recipes we used this week:

Please share if you have favorite family cooking stories and recipes!  Have a nice night, Jennifer

P.S. Remember you can click on the photos to enlarge them and see the series like a slide show!