Sunday, September 30, 2012

Global Read Aloud

This year we are participating in the 2012 Global Read Aloud.  During the month of October, classrooms from around the world will be participating in this event.  The book chosen for the Global Read Aloud is Charlotte's Web by E.B. White.  Parents, you may want to pick up a copy of the book and read it along with your child.  The chapters are being read according to the schedule below:

Week 1 Ch. 1-6
Week 2 Ch. 7-11
Week 3 Ch. 12-17
Week 4 Ch. 18-22

We are hoping to connect with other classrooms from around the world who are also taking part in this event.  Our first connection is with Mrs. Nemecek's class in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.  They will begin the event by responding to a question on their Kidblog.  We will stop by their blog and leave some comments for them on Monday.  We are planning to use our classroom Twitter account to tweet our responses to the book and we'll share our responses and information here, on our class blog.   We are very excited to participate in this event which starts on Monday, October 1, 2012.

Happy Reading!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Flashlight Friday Makes Building Stamina a Breeze

Our classroom is working on building our reading stamina.  We are doing read to self for 12 minutes.  Our goal is to reach 30 minutes.  At each 10 minute interval we have a small classroom celebration, like extra recess, a treat, or playing a game in the gym with our teacher.  However, when we reach our 30 minute goal, we are planning to celebrate with a Read-In (bring blankets, wear P.J.'s, enjoy a treat, and READ).

Today was the kickoff of our Flashlight Fridays routine.  During flashlight Friday, Mrs. Ruckes turns out the lights and we read with our flashlights.  It's a lot of fun and it makes building stamina a breeze.  As S.G. exclaimed, "I just love Flashlight Friday."

Some students are reading by flashlight on the rug.

Some students like to read under tables with their flashlights.

Others like to stretch-out as they read.

Some students read at the small table and the writing center with their flashlights.

These students enjoy reading at their tables with their flashlights.

J.M. reads at the small table.

O.G. uses his flashlight to read near the book return area.

G.S. gets up close and personal with her flashlight and book.

What fun things do you do at reading time in your classroom?  Leave a comment, we would love to know!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Exploring Math Materials

In first grade we spend a lot of time in the beginning of the school year exploring math materials.  During math workshop we complete four rotations.  Today our focus is on exploring math materials.  It's important that we use our materials properly.  Mrs. Ruckes often reminds us that our materials are "tools and not toys".  Sometimes our "tools" are so much fun that we can't resist playing with them.  To solve that problem, Mrs. Ruckes gives us time to do some exploring.  We get to use our math materials in any way we choose.  We can stack, build, design, and create with them.  We can be as creative as we want.  By allowing us time to "explore" with our materials first, we are not tempted to "play" with them when we need to use them for our learning.

These students are "playing" with pattern blocks.  Two students decided to work together to create this design.  Can you guess what it is?  Yes, it's a honeycomb.

The students in this group are exploring with the base-10 blocks.  Some students are creating tall structures that resemble skyscrapers.  Amazing!

Take a look at these students as they create designs using the geoboards.

These students are playing math games on the computer.  The site is called cool math.

Children "play" with pattern blocks, base-10 blocks, and geoboards to familiarize themselves with these materials.  They also play math games on the computer.  Exploring Math Materials is engaging and fun!  Do you get to "play" with math materials in your classroom?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Poetry and Fluency

Each week we learn a new poem to help us with our fluency. This week, we learned a poem called Four Red Apples. Mrs. Ruckes introduced the poem on Monday. We read (or sing) the poem together, each day, during our morning meeting and our reading becomes more fluent. On Friday's we illustrate our poems and place them in our Poetry Notebooks. We hope you enjoy our slide show below:

Four Red Apples 
(Sung to:  This Old Man)

Four red apples on the tree,
Two for you and Two for me,
So-o shake that tree and watch them fall.
1, 2, 3, 4-
That is all!

Four Red Cherries...
Four Read Leaves...

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What do you think of our singing?  That's B.T. in the background, reminding everyone what to sing next.

Four Red Apples from Valerie Ruckes on Vimeo.

What are some of the ways you work on fluency in your classroom?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Day one of another school year has come and gone.  With a new school year, there is a lot of frenzy, a lot of anticipation, and a lot of wonder.  As I prepared for my new group of first graders, I couldn't help but wonder what this new school year would have in store for us.  We have a lot of new things things going on this year.  I have new teaching friends that I'm working with, a new student teacher, and new group of first graders that I'm getting to know.

During our morning meeting time we discussed our scheduled for the day, I shared my "About Me" bag, and we talked about some of our classroom routines and procedures.  However, I was anxious to find our what my new students were wondering about first grade.  Below is a list of some of the things they were wondering:
  • Will we have fun?
  • Will we learn to read?
  • Are we going to use the computers?
  • Will our teacher be nice?
  • Who will be in our class?
  • What will we learn this year?
  • Will we play?
  • What will our classroom look like?
These were all really good questions.  We spent a lot of time talking about the answers to these questions and learning more about first grade.  I love the last question (What will our classroom look like?).  I explained to my first graders how much work I had done in order to prepare for them and the new school year.  I'm happy to report that they love the classroom and they thought it looked great!  Take a look at the "after" pictures below and tell us what you think.

The Group Meeting Area

The View of the Front of the Classroom

The View from the Doorway

The Window View
What does your classroom look like this year?  Is it similar to ours or very different?