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First Grade Curriculum & Classroom Overview

Language Arts
Our Language Arts program is called, Reading Street by Scott Foresman Addison Wesley publications. It consists of daily reading, writing, and phonics instruction with work in grammar, oral language, and listening. It focuses on developing your childs reading and writing skills using meaningful literary experiences. A large portion of the reading block will consist of small-group instruction. These guided reading groups will meet every day for additional instruction and literary work. During small group instruction, students will also participate in Literacy Workstations. Stations will provide students with multiple forms of literary experiences that will support your childs literary success and continued progress.

Classroom Read Alouds

All students benefit from listening to a fluent reader read. They are able to hear a readers voice inflections, be exposed to greater vocabulary, and enjoy a story for its theme. As our reading program flourishes, I will be asking for volunteers to join us in the classroom to read a story aloud to our class. In the meantime, continue reading to your child at home and ask your child to be reading to you as well!

DEAR Drop Everything And Read! Time

This year will be dedicated to helping each child develop the stamina, skills, and strategies necessary to read independently. Each child will receive a classroom browsing box that contains books that are reading-level appropriate for him or her. Over time, students will learn how to choose books that are a good fit for him or her.

Word Work-Spelling/Phonics
Every Monday, students will take a spelling pre-test consisting of 12 words. Based on the students score and application of the spelling pattern, the student will either receive List A or List B spelling words. List A is the same set of words given on the pre-test. List B is considered a challenge list as it contains more difficult words while still focusing on the weeks spelling pattern. Students have the opportunity to practice their spelling words in a variety of modalities during the school day, however, students are most successful when they spend time studying outside of class time. The final spelling test will be administered every Friday.

Writers Workshop
Your child will have the opportunity to write for a variety of purposes in a workshop setting. He or she will learn how to organize stories in a foursquare format that includes a topic sentence, at least four supporting sentences, and a feeling sentence that provides a satisfying ending. Students will also apply four of the six traits of writing, including: *Focus/Ideas writing with a clear focus or topic *Organization organizing their ideas in a sequence that make sense *Voice using descriptive language or juicy words that express their own viewpoint *Conventions using correct grammar and mechanics. Foursquare writing pieces will be evaluated on a rubric scale with a value of 20 points or five points possible for each trait. During our workshop, students will also be free writing without the use of a four square template. Writers will be taught to zoom in on small moments from their life to create personal narratives. During workshop time, I will be individually conferencing with writers to work on their unique pieces. Following the workshop, writing will be shared, and, of course, celebrated!

Our math curriculum was written by Scott Foresman Addison Wesley publications. We will have many opportunities to use math tools, play skills games, and problem-solve in real-life applications. Before a new chapter is introduced, the students will take a pre-test to measure their readiness level for that particular skill set. Based on the results, students are grouped according to needs levels. I will have the opportunity to work with each small group daily on activities that re- teach and reinforce the daily objective or enrich the lesson with higher-level thinking and application.

Unit Studies
One of the unique features of first grade is our departmentalization of unit studies. Unit studies consist of art, science, health and social studies. Your child will have an opportunity to visit each first grade teachers classroom on a weekly basis to study each of these subjects in a manner that allows for more in-depth instruction and handson learning.

Approximately ten minutes worth of homework will be sent home on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. Students should complete the homework in pencil, bring it to an adult to sign his/her initials in the top right-hand corner to verify its review, and place it back in their take-home folder (and backpack) for return the next day.

Parent Partners
Parent volunteers are a vital part of our classroom! Whatever your comfort level, your daily schedule or outside commitments, I will make every effort to open our classroom to you. Volunteers can work with students one-on-one or in small groups, complete teacher tasks like stapling packets, organize classroom parties, attend field trips, read a story aloud to the class, speak about their profession or on a topic of studyyou name it! We also offer Parent Partner Days every quarter for you to visit our classroom, work on a project with your child, and see the progress your child is making first-hand! Your weekly newsletter and monthly calendar will notify you of these special events and invitations for you to become more involved in your childs academic life.

Healthy Snack
Students are invited to bring a healthy snack to school. We will be having a snack every day (excluding Wednesdays) in the afternoon. Students may bring in crackers, pretzels, a granola bar, cereal, etc. to enjoy during the afternoon. Please be cognizant of portion size (one snack should be plenty) and snacks should be easy to dispose of (please refrain from sending juice and plastic storage containers).

Keeping Hydrated
Students are allowed to bring in a water bottle to keep at school. Please make sure the water bottle is filled with only water (no juice or pop please). As long as the water bottles do not become a distraction, this will be permitted the entire year. The water bottle will be sent home daily so they can be washed and returned to school. This will help prevent illness and the spread of germs.

We will celebrate the great things that happen in our classroom everyday! I think it is important that when students exhibit appropriate classroom/school behaviors that they are acknowledged! I strive to ensure that every student is successful, both socially and academically, challenged, nurtured, praised, and part of a caring community in a safe learning environment. Each week, one student will be randomly selected as our Rookie of the Week. He or she will bring home our Team Bag on Friday, complete its contents, and bring it back on Monday to share with the class. Students may also bring photographs of themselves at various ages, family portraits, sports, vacation photos, or a beloved pet! Students who wish to celebrate their birthdays at school may bring treats on their special day. These treats should be easy to share and eat in school. We will recognize summer birthdays on students half-birthdays.

Classroom Expectations
It is important to note that having a clear set of expectations helps everyone be successful in the classroom. Our classrooms behavior expectations are outlined by the following rules: Be Safe, Be Respectful, Be Responsibleand most importantlyBE KIND! To allow the children to monitor their behavior, we have a card system in place. Although most of the children maintain their green cards for good behavior, occasionally a student may require redirection. When a child is having difficulty maintaining a class expectation a private warning will be given. If the child is unable to redirect and correct the behavior, they will be asked to flip their card to yellow. If the behavior still continues, the child will be asked to flip to a red card. At this time, the child will be asked to go to their classrooms buddy room to reflect on their choices. They will fill out a Red Card Report. The Red Card Report will allow Be Safe the child to write and reflect on the appropriate behavior and how s/he can exhibit that behavior and rejoin the group. At Be that time, we will discuss the natural consequences such as loss Respectful of a privilege, calling home to explain his/her behavior, or visiting the principal to review the school handbook. The Red Card Report will be sent home, should be Be reviewed and signed by a parent, and returned to school the Be Responsible following day. Students always have the opportunity to move Kind back to a green card once they have processed and corrected the behavior.

I will communicate your childs progress and classroom events as much as possible through our weekly newsletter, quarterly report cards, progress reports, Parent-Teacher conferences, Parent Partner Days, and notes or e-mails. I have recently started a classroom blog to share your childs experiences in first grade. I will post links to important information for you and your child. I plan to update this blog weekly. Please check it out: http://firstgradebubblesandkisses.blogspot.com/ If you should have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at anytime. Your partnership is important to me, and to your child.

I am looking forward to a FANTASTIC year!

Please feel free to contact me at 402-715-7100 or at osspence@mpsomaha.org if you should have any questions.