Wednesday, September 30, 2015

September 30


The Topic 2 math assessment (addition strategies) went home with kids today.  Attached to the test is the form showing how your child did on each part of the test.  I also asked each child to orally explain how to do two strategies that we've been working on in topic 2.  If "no" is circled on either of those statements, here's an explanation of the strategies so you can try to help them learn them at home:

Near Doubles:  Use a known doubles fact to help you figure out a near double fact.  For example, if the near double is 6 + 7, use 6 + 6 = 12 then add 1 more because 7 is 1 more than 6.  Of course, first the student has to know their doubles!

Make a Ten:  This strategy is a bit more confusing, but it works well for facts that have a digit close to 10, like 6 + 9.  You would need 1 more to make the 9 a 10, so take 1 from the 6, making it a 5. Then add 10 + 5.  We like tens because they are pretty easy to add!  To make this a quick strategy, they have to know how many are needed to make a 10, as well as keep track of taking away that number from the other digit.  It's a good strategy, but can be confusing for some.  We practice showing it with tens frames and counters, which can be sent home if you let me know you'd like to use them!

I want the kids to learn strategies like these for figuring out basic facts instead of just memorization, but if they already have them memorized, that's great!  Whatever works for quick recall of the basic facts!

When we were learning all the ways to make a ten, we watched a snappy little You Tube video that the kids really liked.  Here's the link if you'd like to watch it with them at home:

Standards Based Grading

Recently you received information on your child's beginning of the year testing data.  I know it's hard to wade through all the information...I'm still learning a lot myself!  My fellow teacher, Anna Upah, shared her blog post where she explained it to her first grade parents and gave them some graphics to help with understanding.  With her permission, I'm sharing her post with you:


Old habits die hard and I still feel the need to send home an old fashioned paper copy of my monthly newsletter that I've been doing for 26 years (hopefully I'll have it ready by Friday).  Attached will be a book order from Scholastic Books.  Please order online or send a check, as I cannot accept cash payment.  Scholastic is a great resource for children's books, and with your order I get bonus points to use to help me stock my classroom library!  Let me know if you love or hate the monthly paper-copy newsletter...I'd like to hear your feedback!

Dates on Deck:

Friday, October 2  Breakfast Buddies (7:30) and Bloomsbury Farm field trip
Wednesday, October 7  1:00 dismiss - Professional Development
Monday, October 12  Picture Retakes
Monday, October 19  No School - Professional Development
Wednesday, October 28  1:00 dismiss - Professional Development
Friday, October 20  Fall Festival class party - more info about treats, games, and decorations will be sent home soon!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

September 23

We've been keeping very busy at school with last week's Homecoming activities, Dot Day, collecting coins for the Alzheimer's Walk, and going on the walk yesterday!  Keystone students brought in over $600 in coins to donate to finding a cure for Alzheimer's, and unlike last Friday's rain that cancelled the parade, we had beautiful weather today for taking the Keystone Care Center residents out for a stroll. I hope to have other opportunities to interact with the care center residents this year.

Two important notes came home yesterday:  one about Bloomsbury Farm field trip and one about Breakfast Buddies, both events happening next Friday, October 2. The Breakfast Buddies note needs to be returned by THIS Friday, September 25, so we will know how much food will be needed for breakfast.  Just one guest per student, please!


We've been learning about Balance and Motion with some science activities. Ask your child to tell you about words like stable, counterweight, balance point. Here are some pictures of our latest experiment:


We're moving right along in math and nearing the end of topic 2, addition strategies.  Learning these strategies is vital to student's success in future math lessons.  Every day we also discuss strategies for Sticky Math, the white half sheets that have been coming home lately.  It's a daily 1 minute timing to see if they understand and can apply the strategy listed at the top of the sheet.  Next week we will take the topic 2 assessment, and I will send it home with a note attached showing the objectives they got wrong, if any.  Please make corrections (if any) with your child and return it to school so I know we've communicated about their math progress!

Dates on Deck:

October 2  Breakfast Buddies and Bloomsbury field trip
October 7   1:00 dismiss
October 19  No School (teacher professional development)
October 28  1:00 dismiss

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Thursday, September 10, 2015

We had a nice turn-out of about 60 parents for our Parent Partnership Night on Wednesday, September 9.  If you didn't make it and would like more information on any of the sessions, let me know!

Buddy Reading

Your child has been partnered with a buddy from another grade level to share books during Bobcat Time this week!  The kids have enjoyed going into other classrooms and being a partner with someone from another class.  Bobcat Time is from 11:00-11:20 each day when everyone in every classroom will be assigned to a group for some kind of literacy or math lesson.  The groups will be determined by the needs we identify for each student, and groups will vary throughout the year. We are utilizing almost every adult in the building (teachers and associates) to work with students for this 20 minute period.  We are beginning the procedure with Buddy Reading to have the kids get used to moving to another place in the building and working with a different teacher and students from other grades.  Here are a few pictures of Buddy Reading:


Benton Homecoming is next week, and we've decided on some fun dress up days.  Of course, it's always optional!  A note will be coming home about this, and here is a link to the same note:

On Friday, Sept. 18, we will travel to Van Horne to watch the Homecoming Parade and go to the high school gym for the Pep Rally.  We will leave Keystone at 1:00 for the 1:30 parade, and after that walk to the gym.  We'll return to Keystone in time for regular dismissal at 3:15.

Memory Walk

A tradition we have always had at Keystone Elementary is involvement with the Keystone Care Center conducting a fundraiser for the Alzheimer's Association and a Memory Walk.  Next week we will be asking kids to bring coins to donate to the cause and we'll present the money raised and go on the Memory Walk on Tuesday, September 22 at 2:00.  We will join residents from the Keystone Care Center who can walk or be pushed in a wheelchair for a walk around Keystone to raise awareness of the disease.  The residents love the interaction with kids and we feel very lucky to be in such close proximity to them!

Dates on Deck:

Wednesday, September 16  1:00 dismiss
Monday, September 21  No School - teachers have Professional Development
Saturday, September 26 - Bobcat DASH
Friday, October 2  Field trip to Bloomsbury Farm

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

September 2, 2015

And we're off!  I'm extremely happy with how my class has adjusted to a new school, new classmates, and a new teacher!  They have been excellent listeners as we've discussed all sorts of things like expectations and procedures for recess, lunchroom, hallways, bathrooms, classroom, etc. The beginning of the year is also a time for getting baseline data on each student's skill strengths and weaknesses.  It's a lot of assessments, but we also do some fun stuff like team building games, science investigations (Balance and Motion is our first topic), and many reading and writing activities.

One team building activity we did was called "Saving Sam".  Sam was a gummy worm whose boat had capsized.  Groups of 3 students had to work together to get Sam into his life jacket (a gummy lifesaver), get his boat (plastic cup) turned back over, and get him back into the boat...sounds easy, right?  But here's the catch:  they couldn't use their hands to touch Sam...they could only use two paper clips!  It was fun to watch them work together to problem-solve!  Here are some pictures of them "Saving Sam"!

I sent my September Newsletter home on Tuesday of this week.  It's another attempt I make to keep you informed of the things your child does at school all day!  I'll try to post on this blog at least once a week, giving you more updates and reminders of things on the calendar.  One important date coming up is our Parent Partnership Night next Wednesday, September 9 at 6:30.  It's your chance to come and hear about things we think are important about your child's school experience.  We will have 6 breakout sessions for you to choose 3 of, as well as a session with your child's grade level teachers.  We'll have some high school kids here to babysit kids if you need to bring them along!

Have a great Labor Day weekend!