Dear Families,
I hope you are all having a calm and peaceful weekend.  Yesterday Ron and I celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary.  We spent the afternoon and evening in San Francisco.  We had a lovely dinner at a restaurant with an amazing view of the bay bridge.  Tomorrow the five of us are running in the Hot Chocolate 15K race in Golden Gate Park.  It will be a fun family activity.  
Thank you again for all of your amazing support, as we were dealing with the rat surprises each day!

Sharing topic for the week of  January 13 –  Favorite Book
Monday – We had our first lesson on our new unit of study – “Community.”  Our first lesson was learning about the differences between rural, suburban, and urban communities.  The learners made a collage with pictures in three columns titled “Big City, Rural, and Suburban Communities.”   While half the class had social studies with the parent volunteers in Educare the other half had Slingerland handwriting time with me.  This week we learned/reviewed all of the lowercase letters we have learned this year and I taught them the letter f.  Now that the learners are efficient with the slingerland method, I plan to teach two to three letters per week and then move onto uppercase letters.
Tuesday –  we began our first session of our third round of the K/1 Specials which is the same program that was formerly called seminars.  This year each child will rotate through all seven K-1 Specials.  The K/1 Specials will each last four weeks and we will have seven sessions from now until June.  The topics this year are: Mindfulness, Math in Art, Robotics, Handwork, Earth Science, Take a Part, and Archeology.

After Specials we made our January calendars and ended our morning with free choice.

Wednesday –  we had our letter of the week story.  Our letter for this week was “J.”  The story was about the Jester who loved to jump on a trampoline.  Please ask your learner about the story.  They all had a wonderful time drawing their pictures of the letter “J” story.  After recess we had garden time.  Our garden lesson for this week was observing what a winter garden looks like compared to our fall garden.  We spent the first 5 minutes noticing what looked different in the garden.  Then we discussed what we had observed and noticed.  The second part of the lesson was drawing and writing about what we observed in our garden journals. Their task was to search for the items listed below and then draw and write about each item.

  • An animal
  • A dead plant
  • A living plant
  • A place to get water
  • A nice place to sit
  • The compost
After garden time we had PE and then free choice. 
Thursday – we started our day with writers workshop and spanish.  I had our first lesson on punctuation which is part of our new unit of study for January in writers workshop.  We made a list of the different types of punctuation we can use in our writing.  I was quite impressed with the list we came up with during our very first lesson: 
  • periods
  • commas
  • question marks
  • exclamation points
  • apostrophes
 Then we had spanish, cooking time, slingerland, and PE.  Our cooking project for this week was making homemade butter.  The learners all made their own butter and then spread it on homemade bread.  Needless to say the butter and bread was delicious!

First Grade Language Arts time
This week I began reassessing all of the learners in reading and I plan to have them completed by the end of next week.  I will be forming new guided reading groups when I complete all of the assessments.  We also had our regular phonics lessons, independent writing and reading time in the afternoon. So far this year we have learned the following sounds: M, S, F, B, T, C, R, L, D, G, P and the short vowel sound a, and o.   

 Math in Room 10
Our number talks this week revolved around adding two-digit numbers.  We used base ten blocks which was a wonderful way for the learners to experience addition visually and physically. For example, we built 72 and 6 in blocks using place value.  Then we added the blocks together on the place value board to come up with 78.

Over break I was reading an article on how the state is looking at ways to change the state wide testing to match the newly adopted common core math standards.  The writer was sharing how important it is for children to become critical thinkers, and to learn how to ask important questions. The person also said that many children do not know how to think, and have not been taught the core concepts in mathematics.  The article continued to share that if children are taught the core concepts in the early stages of mathematics, then by the time they reach high school they will have much stronger math skills.    While reading this article I was thinking to myself that this is how we have taught mathematics at CLC for many years.  Over the years I have come to understand that it is very important for children to be taught to develop a deeper understanding of basis math skills.  If children are only taught to memorize math algorithms, and they never develop a deep understanding of how to add, subtract, multiple, and divide then by the time they reach higher levels of math, school can become difficult.