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Article posted June 6, 2014 at 11:01 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 3837

Article posted June 6, 2014 at 11:01 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 3837



Article posted June 5, 2014 at 12:01 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 121





Article posted June 5, 2014 at 12:01 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 121



Article posted June 4, 2014 at 01:14 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 223

How to Make a Virtual Safari Guide from Stephanie Moore on Vimeo.

Article posted June 4, 2014 at 01:14 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 223



Article posted June 3, 2014 at 01:24 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 107

Article posted June 3, 2014 at 01:24 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 107



Article posted June 1, 2014 at 07:56 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 114

Article posted June 1, 2014 at 07:56 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 114



Article posted May 21, 2014 at 06:04 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 346

Curled up on a pillow, laying on your belly, rocking away in the birthday chair. There are so many comfy positions to read in. There are few things I adore more in the classroom than the hum of happy, invested readers. Some days the girls are more inclined to read in their head and other days their books include dialogue that calls them to practice their expression. Poetry books that call us to song and fact books that enthrall us so much we have to read it aloud to believe it. The class continues to use post-it notes as one of their several strategies to check in for understanding. Reading is not just decoding but comprehending and relating the content to your life as well as other reading material. The habits of a reader are becoming more deeply embedded in each girl's daily life. They are tackling a variety of genres and knee-deep in animal research as our rigorous programming chugs on right to the very last moment together.





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Article posted May 21, 2014 at 06:04 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 346



Article posted May 13, 2014 at 05:18 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 192

There have been reports of a small herd of African forest elephants found in the Wissahickon woods. They are being referred to as the 1M herd. They were spotted getting a drink at the stream and traveling down the trail! Be on the lookout!





Article posted May 13, 2014 at 05:18 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 192



Article posted May 12, 2014 at 08:52 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 119

We combined our love of art and writing to honor our mothers.



Mother's Day 2014 from Stephanie Moore on Vimeo.

Article posted May 12, 2014 at 08:52 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 119



Article posted May 7, 2014 at 11:05 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 266

Though there has certainly still been a chill in the air, spring has definitely sprung. The majority of the year is behind us. In fact, I believe we only have twenty more days together in 1M. I admit, usually someone tells me but this year I counted. But only because someone asked. ☺

Each spring a strange occurrence takes over classrooms. You will hear teachers all over the nation say, “Haven’t we gone over this ‘a million’ times before?” The spring is a strange time. I always feel as if we are suddenly on warp speed. The days seem to pass by faster and faster. Things are coming to an end and although six and seven year olds’ sense of time still has a lot of growth to be had (any family with a vacation in the future knows this: Are we leaving yet? Are we leaving yet?), their keen senses have picked up on these transitions in their future. Some girls have already been anticipating change for weeks. At the end of this letter I have included some snippets of a blog entry by author and educator Chip Wood. Teachers everywhere shout out, ”Yes! That is what is happening,” after reading his words on many topics, especially this subject.

Mr. Woods articulates what is fairly typical and developmentally appropriate at this time of year. I have been working hard to keep the class in the moment and not get ahead of ourselves - thinking too much about second grade or even summer plans. Discussions around placement also activate anxiety about the change ahead. I often hear many questions, “Will my friends be there?” “Who will my teacher be?” “Will the rules be the same?” “Will I have as much fun?” and on and on. September is very, very far away and it is such a long time for your daughter to be worrying about what will happen. Sometimes even the thought of fun summer plans can cause the anxiety to creep up. Although it seems like tons of summer fun, many of the same questions apply. Although some days it seems that the class cannot remember some of our simple daily routines, the truth is that they know. They know what to expect, they know the rules, they know their teachers, they know where they are going each day, and they know their friends. It is hard for them to realize that you are not going to know. I often compare starting a new grade to an adult starting a new job. Well, your daughter knows there is a “career change” ahead and it may make her nervous. Let’s not let your daughters dwell on it too much. This is a time for reassurance and focus on the day ahead.



It is also a time to focus on doing our best and getting back to the basics that make the class productive and joyful. However much I have this spring disequilibrium in my consciousness, it somehow even takes me by surprise each year. It kind of feels like a train derailing for a moment and then you realize, “Aha, time to get this back on track. Time to let these girls know that expectations are the same and for at least these next twenty days they will be experiencing the comfort of their familiar classroom.”

And, that is where we are. Twenty days together that I plan to be productive, enlightening, joyful and busy. There are so many exciting events to look forward to: Grandparents and Special Friends Day, an African Market, End of Year First Grade Party, and being an audience for the 4th grade move up day. You can always direct your daughter to think of these exciting activities if she is focusing too much on the summer or next school year.

If your daughter is asking questions or having anxiety about the changes ahead or you are wondering if she is, please feel free to speak with me. I am happy to help answer any questions and ease her worry.



A bit from Chip:



Spring transitions call for more structure, not less

As highlighted in my last blog entry, it’s that time of year when there’s more to do then there is time to do it. No one feels the anxiety of this more than the children in our classrooms, and the children who feel it most intensely are those facing the greatest challenges. Whether we are a parent of one of these most needy kids or one of their teachers, we’ll begin to see what I call “summer anxiety” bloom earlier in spring in them than in the other children. As when we see a crocus emerging from the snow or the first daffodil, we’re often surprised to see the behavior of our early harbingers of things to come. Perhaps from a rough start at the beginning of the school year, this child has made significant progress academically and socially, thanks to the combined efforts of teachers, staff, and parents working and communicating together around puzzling academic struggles and the ups and downs of friendship patterns. The child has shown courage in reaching out to a new student who has come into the class and finally seems to have a close classmate.




But not long after spring break, many of these gains, on the surface, seem to disappear. Old patterns of work refusal and anger on the playground surface. When the new friend plays with other classmates, the child refuses to come in from recess.

This is a signal, a red flag if you will. With the keen adaptive sensitivity that so many of our neediest children possess, the child who has benefited so remarkably from the clear structures, supports, and predictability of classroom routines and practices has sensed that the structures are disappearing. Things are beginning to feel different. There’s too much going on. Essentially, the message is that in the last weeks of the school year we need more structure, not less. This is the time to tighten up so that we do not lose all that we’ve gained. We need to make sure we can take time during these final weeks to cherish each of the children we’re about to pass on. So, paradoxically, we must go back to beginnings, help children remember all the basic rules of our classroom, of kindness, of academic rigor, of how to be good school citizens in the halls, on the playground, in the cafeteria

Article posted May 7, 2014 at 11:05 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 266



Article posted May 2, 2014 at 09:55 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 247

We've spent a significant amount of time in math workshop talking about fractions. We use manipulatives such as fraction bars, pattern blocks, cuisenaire rods and counters to support our thinking. We also use songs to remind us about basic fraction skills. Here are a few of our favorites!











Article posted May 2, 2014 at 09:55 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 247



Article posted April 29, 2014 at 06:03 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 582

1M has spent a great deal of time reading this year but with spring fever upon us we buckled down to remember how true readers grow and succeed. One of my favorite lessons about reading is about Petunia the goose. Please read a bit more below!



Article posted April 29, 2014 at 06:03 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 582



Article posted April 23, 2014 at 01:28 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 386

Peer conferencing is a multi-step process that helps enhance each writer's piece. In first grade we practice the routine and language of peer conferencing in an effort to build the habits that will allow us to become fabulous editors and revisers in 2nd grade and beyond. In First we stick to the main ideas of the piece and discuss how to improve the craft of the writing by giving a wish to the author. It could be a wish to add more dialogue, include details about a certain event, use more descriptive words or even add something exciting to the picture to enhance the storytelling. Below you can see the girls practicing peer conferencing as well as explaining the process.







Article posted April 23, 2014 at 01:28 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 386



Article posted April 11, 2014 at 11:06 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 788

We are still working to add magic to our world by doing good. Our acts of kindness board will stay up until the end of next week and we are still working to get to 100 recorded acts of kindness. I'm sure there were many acts that did not make it on a heart so we will work on remembering to capture these special moments.



Article posted April 11, 2014 at 11:06 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 788



Article posted March 18, 2014 at 12:48 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 184

Article posted March 18, 2014 at 12:48 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 184



Article posted March 11, 2014 at 05:41 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 109

Don't let the evening pass without asking your daughter about today's Spirit of Uganda performance. I can't imagine that they would not share about the lively, vibrant assembly. By all reports it was an impressive, intriguing, engaging performance.

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Article posted March 11, 2014 at 05:41 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 109



Article posted March 10, 2014 at 07:34 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 98

Today we investigated the topic of standing up for your true passions and interests.  We enjoyed the story William's Doll by Charlotte Zolotow.  It is about a little boy who wants a doll but his brother and friend tease him about it and his father keeps bringing him other things instead.  Before the book ended we had a great discussion about whether or not William should get the doll.  The girls very animatedly reported that yes, indeed, he should have a doll! They were steadfast in the fact that it did not matter that he was a boy.  It was what he wanted and he was only trying to be good to something.  









We practiced what we would say if someone teased someone we knew about something they liked or did or wanted.  The class agreed that it was not ok to keep quiet.







William's Doll was adapted into a song for the Free to be You and Me soundtrack and then turned into a musical cartoon for the special in the '70s.  We watched it on the Smartboard together.  It is a pretty fun soundtrack and special with many great jumping off points for family conversation.  I have borrowed the DVD and the CD from the public library many times.  Maybe it would be something fun to check out over Spring Break.  







Here are the songs we listened to:







Enjoy!







 














Article posted March 10, 2014 at 07:34 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 98



Article posted March 9, 2014 at 07:14 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 110

 



In January we studied about Martin Luther King, Jr. and we learned that Dr. King had a dream where everyone would be kind, helpful, and respectful of others. Last week, in the spirit of the dream I shared with the girls that for my 35th birthday a few years ago I chose to not go out and celebrate but instead I challenged myself to go into the community and perform 35 Random Acts of Kindness for others. We've recently read a story where a class reach 100 acts of kindness so the girls thought it fitting that we challenge ourselves. Between now and Spring Break we hope to reach that 100 number ourselves. We watched this video of a woman's simple act of kindness and the impact it had on a local school's students.



    Our rule is that you cannot report your own act of kindness; someone else has to report something nice that you did. At school, the girls are going to be watching one another to look for those acts of kindness. If someone helps you find your lost crayon that’s an act of kindness to report. If you fall and someone helps you up and checks to be sure you’re OK, that’s an act of kindness too.

We want to invite parents, grandparents, friends, and neighbors to participate too. For example, if your child helps you fold clothes, carries out the trash without even being asked, or does an especially nice thing for you, please write a heart note and tell us about it. If you as a family recycle, do service projects in our community, or help at the food pantry, write and share that too.

We are looking for those loving things that warm your heart. Share them with us by writing on the hearts provided in the classroom or on a little heart of your own and we will get to 100 in no time!

For the curious: Here are my Birthday Random Acts of Kindness: I left the little notes that said 35 Acts of Kindness for my 35th Enjoy this Act of Kindness with people or with the things.....



Ideas:



Gas Money at Gas Pump [X]

Treats to the Firehouse[ ]

Treats to the Librarians[X]

Treats to the Police Officers[ ]

Flowers to People in a parking lot[ ]

Quarters on a vending machine at Hospital[ ]

Candy Canes on an ATM[X]

Lottery Cards on Gas Pumps[X]

Pay for someone's food behind you in drive thru line[X]

Hide dollar bills in the dollar store toy area[X]

Send Thinking of You Cards to people I know[ ]

Send Happy Cards sick kids via Hugs and Hope[X]

Leave Coupons near products in store[ ]

Mail Coupons to Military Families through Coupon Cabin[X]

Leave Crayons and coloring books for kids in the park[X]

Help a senior citizen find something in a store [X]

Coupons a the mall - Express, Kohls, etc.[ ]

Leave Operation Beautiful Notes on Bathroom Mirrors[X]

Leave happy cards on cars[X]

Feed Meter[ ]

Help put back carts[X]

Buy a supermarket Gift Card and hand it back to the Cashier[X] Food to the Food Cupboard[X]

Send Thank You card to people who have touched me in my life[ ]

Leave diapers in the mall bathroom[ ]

Smile, smile, smile - "Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing." Mother Teresa [X]

Lend money to Kiva[X]

Donated books to library[X]

Coloring Books and Crayons at Hope Gardens[X]

Hold the Door for Someone[X]

Let Someone go in line in front of me[X]

Kindness to the earth - save some recyclables from the trashcan[X]

Text someone I haven't talked to in a while[X]

Thank the Mail Carrier[ ]

Leave a surprise at a friend's house[X]

Write a positive message on a blog I follow[X]

Show up at a friend's house with a treat[ ]

Leave coins at a vending machine in the hotel. [X]

Leave coins in a claw game on Turnpike Rest Stop. [X]

Donate towels to SPCA[X]

Donate soap and shampoo to shelter [X]

Leave a surprise at a friend's house for their child from their elf[ ]

Leave candy canes on the neighbor's doorknobs. [X]

Donate clothes[X]

Feed it Forward on Restaurant.com [X]

Put a Happy Note in the Netflix Envelope [X]

Leave Vitamin Waters in Locker Room at Gym [ ]

Suprise Karen with ice cream from Penn State [X]

Donate to Philabundance [X]

Give scratch off lotto tickets to the cashiers after you buy them [X]

Put tips in the tip jars [X]

Buy a gift card to 2nd Avenue thrift shop, hand it to person behind you.[X]

Leave Operation Beautiful notes on mirrors in changing rooms. [X]

Article posted March 9, 2014 at 07:14 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 110



Article posted March 3, 2014 at 01:35 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 109

Did you know that 1M is ripe with novices, apprentices, practitioners, and experts? This past week the class reviewed the meanings of these terms as we further discussed the critical nature of having a growth mindset. Each day this year it has been clear to me that this is a vital element to success in the classroom and in life. When girls internalize and actualize the approach they become more flexible, hardworking and their growth is sizeable. The growth can be in any area of their life whether it is tackling a frames and arrows challenge, increasing their automaticity of math facts, improving their curling game in the gym or problem solving social hiccups. Often our young ladies believe they should have already mastered everything and when something is hard it is viewed as impossible. This week I continued to reframe that by having them describe tasks and skills that fit into the novice, apprentice, practitioner and expert levels. The definitions are as follows: Novice – I’m just starting to learn this and I don’t really understand it yet. Apprentice – I’m starting to get it, but I still need someone to coach me through it. Practitioner – I can mostly do it myself, but I sometimes mess up or get stuck. Expert – I understand it well and I could thoroughly teach it to someone else. The key to this self-assessment is recognizing the movement between levels. You needn’t remain a novice. An expert can still make errors if they are working too fast. The morning of this conversation we read Tallulah’s Tutu by Marylin Singer. Tallulah desperately wants to earn her tutu but she is crippled with disappointment when it doesn’t come fast enough. We also took a peek at a news story about a 4 year old and her mom who make dresses out of paper. I was pretty sure Penelope was reading my lesson plans because before the lesson during free choice she and Ava crafted a skirt in the maker spot. As we looked at the dresses, we took note of how they changed and improved with practice and experience. The discussion inspired Gretel to create a tux for her beanie boo and I encouraged the girls to try and create something from paper if they had a snow day today. I did say it was ok to email me pictures so we could share them when we returned to school.





























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As your daughter ventures through the daily successes and challenges of being a First Grader, remind her of her ability to change. To grow from a novice to an expert if she believes she can and subsequently positively participates in the steps needed to improve. That was an important part of Tallulah’s learning. She believed she should have a tutu, but it takes hard work to get there. To help us see the power of accepting critique in an effort to improve we watched the story of Austin’s Butterfly, seen below.





The group found the video powerful and many meaningful comments and questions were shared in our discussion. I appreciated Penelope and Cailyn allowing us to critique their Dreamers and Problem Solvers presentations. It is not easy at any age to think about what could have been better. If you haven’t yet listened to Pam Brown’s podcast of her coffee “Academic Challenge and Social Disappointment” it is still available on the parent dashboard and very relevant to this topic. I look forward to continuing to support the girls in developing their growth mindset. We have used these terms and will continue to do so and I hope you can continue the conversation with your daughter at home. If you would like to follow the paper dress making duo on instagram just search for their handle 2sisters_angie. There are many dresses there that we did not get to evaluate during our lesson.

Article posted March 3, 2014 at 01:35 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 109



Article posted February 24, 2014 at 10:33 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 180

These are familiar words for us this winter. Snow came so many days. Sometimes it was an interupption and we are still trying to get on track with a few projects, however, it certainly put us in the spirit of the winter olympics! We took advantage of snow days by interviewing each other upon our return. We tallied and graphed information and evaluated our data. What a festive few weeks we had studying the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Our days together with our SCH sisters were truly memorable. We adored desigining and building our own sleds and then testing them at our all lower school girls sledding event.



Snow Came Today from Stephanie Moore on Vimeo.

Article posted February 24, 2014 at 10:33 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 180



Article posted February 16, 2014 at 08:34 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 157

There is no doubt that the ladies of 1M are a creative, inventive bunch. There are few things more popular during free choice times than the classroom Maker Spot. AKA – “Beautiful Junk.” What is created in this area is often impressive. One of our first engineers was Josie who crafted a stylish but sturdy carrier for a beloved toy. The girls often work deliberately, searching for the tidbits they need for a particular project. Other times, they rustle through the baskets waiting for a spark of inspiration. As an early childhood teacher, I have always had a “beautiful junk” space in the classroom. It is the magical work of young children to create with what is around them and to see infinite possibilities in paper, tape and string. We were thoughtful in creating a space for this type of work when a team that I was a part of designed the LS Physics and Engineering Lab. The LS has been expanding this vision in our “Maker Space” room. It is a space that is inspired by what we early childhood educators have known for decades coupled with the thriving Maker Movement. Hear more about the global movement below.








When girls build structures and sculptures from beautiful junk they are often met with a series of challenges. Things collapse, don’t stick, won’t fit together as proposed. One of our engineers recently rushed to me proud with a structure but upon lifting it from the table the insides of her structure tipped over the edge and fell to the floor. She was visibly upset. I encouraged her to go inspect her structure and see what she could do so that wouldn’t happen again. After some very intentional adjustments she brought her structure to me again. “Look!” she called while confidently turning her structure upside down. When I asked her how she could turn her structure upside down without worrying she told me, ”Well, I made it stronger. I made it more secure with different tape. I added this (a bottle cap) so the big part wouldn’t wiggle. That’s stable isn’t it?” I definitely agreed and marveled at the language she had absorbed from our conversations in the block area and Physics Lab. Each of your daughters has had a similar but unique experience while building with the found materials or blocks.



For those of you who haven’t discovered our class Maker Spot, it currently lives in the rear of the classroom. We welcome help keeping it stocked with fun, interesting items – paper towel rolls, packaging, tops from laundry soap, stationary, unused Dixie cups, cotton from medicine bottles, stickers, beads from broken necklaces, sparkly gift boxes, pieces of wrapping paper, fabric, ribbon and the like are always in demand. “So,” you may be wondering, “What do I do with the results of all of this fabulous creativity, persistence, and independence?” I will give you seasoned teacher and mother Kristin Trueblood’s well-tested parenting secret regarding junk sculptures. As her two daughters brought item upon item home in lower school she would admire them and leave them on the kitchen table for a few days. Then she would move them to the top of the washing machine. If no one mentioned the out of sight structure again, into the trashcan/recycling bin it slipped. As with the majority of the early learning curriculum, the point is the learning process that comes with creating rather than the object itself.



Speaking of process and creating, it is not uncommon for me to eventually spot a few girls stockpiling items from the MakerSpot in their backpack. The intent is not for them to bring home an untouched waffle box. I’ve spoken to the girls about utilizing the materials in school and bringing home their finished sculpture, project or invention to share with you so feel free to follow up if you find any materials coming home untouched. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next!! They are well on their way to being as innovative as the girls in the below commercial. We love watching this in 1M!!!



Article posted February 16, 2014 at 08:34 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 157



Article posted February 11, 2014 at 08:25 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 252

All I can say is WOW! These 1M girls are bleeding the red, white and blue as they closely follow and cheer for Team USA!



The Olympics weaves into our study of "Dreamers and Problem Solvers" so seamlessly. I couldn't ask for more! Each day we are taking some time to take a closer look at one or more Olympians. We listen to their stories, told in their own word and in many cases the words of their mothers. A majority of our mini-documentaries are compliments of the Raising an Olympian series, part of the P&G Thank You, Mom series. Don't you adore those commercials?! As we hear the stories of each athlete we pull out the non-cognitive skills they demonstrated to be worthy of our "Dreamer and Problem Solver" status.



The girls impress me with their insights and comments. They thought Julie Chu showed such courage to try hockey when there were no girls teams to join. "She tried what she wanted to try and kept going because she loved it." I adored how they picked up the theme of honesty and importance of thinking about the community. "She told the truth to her coach. She wanted the team to win. She couldn't lie about being hurt. An injury is serious." They saw themselves in Julie. "My eyes got watery because she reminded her mom of what her mom had taught her about being a good person. I do that. I do that for my mom."



We of course had to learn more about one of the first Team USA gold medalists, Jamie Anderson. We were so excited for her! The girls were impressed that she won the gold in a new Olympic Event. "She worked hard to get there." "She made it in the one round but then they threw it out. Because of the weather." "She cares about others. She took a time out to help kids. That takes commitment to your neighborhood."



I wish I had been able to capture every single part of these conversations.  They are poignant, touching and relevant to the girls' everyday lives.  Thinking about persistence, resilience, work habits, honesty, cooperation, collaboration, focus, control, changing perspective, responsibility and a host of other skills is critical to the girls' path to success.  Continue the conversations with your daughter at home.... And of course....thank you to all the moms and dads who are helping 1M girls learn the value of persevering after they fall!

Article posted February 11, 2014 at 08:25 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 252



Article posted February 11, 2014 at 06:28 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 127

We have been waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting and yes.....waiting for our Publishing Party. Snow, ice, delays, illness it kept postponing our celebration. Finally we decided that Thursday it was now or never. We had to have it. We were authors trembling with excitement to share our prose, poetry and humor. We held a microphone to highlight the importance of this sharing moment. We placed our spotlight (read Smartboard projection) on each proud writer. For a few of us it was an exercise in courage. To read aloud a piece in front of a large group was not on the bucket list of some 1Mers. Others found it glorious. We learned many lessons: longer does not always mean more powerful, neatness does count when you must reread in front of the group, it can be hard to hold the attention of 14 6 and 7 year olds. What was most important was that this was about celebrating. We each sat attentively and waited for each author to share. The girls shared why they chose their piece. The reasons varied from believing it was their best work, most impressive illustration, longest piece, reminded them of special moments to the simple but mighty reason - "It makes me happy." We gleefully raised our juice glasses to each writer in a lively celebration of our friends. The girls were thrilled to have a special popcorn snack and time to celebrate writing. We cannot wait until our next Publishing Party! Please, snow and ice, let it be sooner rather than later!



Publishing Party Feb from Stephanie Moore on Vimeo.

Article posted February 11, 2014 at 06:28 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 127



Article posted February 9, 2014 at 03:26 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 109

Your daughters have probably mentioned that we have been focusing on “Dreamers and Problem Solvers” for the past few weeks. We began in January after reflecting upon our fall semester and articulating our hopes for 2014. We toasted our class with well wishes and began to think about how to make those wishes come to life. As with most units, we began by reading an awesome book. This book, however, is so awesome that it is titled “An Awesome Book!” The theme of this whimsical picture book is big ideas. The author urges us to think big and find the grit and courage within us to be unique and innovative. It is a lovely gift for a person of any age! You can listen to a reading of the book with your daughter below.





I also enjoyed sharing the author’s story with the girls. He had a big idea but no one wanted to help him! He thought his idea was worth dreaming and creating so he moved forward on his own and in the end found success while maintaining his values.





He is a generous author who has published all of his books online so anyone who can’t afford a printed book can enjoy his stories. You can look at all of his books on the website www.veryawesomeworld.com. These past few weeks, we continued on, learning about many who have taken action, bringing their dreams and big ideas to life. Martin Luther King Jr., Garret Morgan, Nelson Mandela, Coretta Scott King and Rosa Parks included. We also hear stories about SCH students who have brought their ideas to their community through the SCH Venture Incubator and already have a 1M girl working on a proposal to submit to the Incubator. Problem solving is all around us. So are big ideas and amazing people who strive to pursue their dreams. Each 1M girl has chosen a person who has demonstrated the traits of a dreamer and problem solver. They range in gender, age, race and time period but there are common threads that join them – grit, determination, innovation and perseverance. As we continue to evaluate people of historical influence and fictional characters for their problem-solving prowess, we will reflect on our own abilities. Where can we demonstrate more grit and where can we draw upon our leadership skills and be a role model for others? How can we change our behavior to create and wonder rather than feel defeated and frustrated? When have we changed our mindset about ourselves and our abilities in order to succeed? Who has supported her peers in their endeavors and big ideas? What do we do when we feel as if we have failed? Is that the end?



I’m excited for us to continue discussing these themes with the girls for the next few weeks and carry it through in our SEL conversations to the end of the year. As you can see, “Dreamers and Problem Solvers” is more than a biography unit. Though we will enrich our academic selves with research strategies, mathematical timelines, reading for purpose and presentation experience, the undercurrent of non-cognitive skills a powerful presence that I hope bolsters the girls’ sense of self and view of their world. We continue to strengthen their understanding that they have an influence on their communities. These communities include their family, classroom, school, neighborhood and larger world. I shared the below video with them this week to remind them of the power that one child who demonstrates leadership can have on his or her surroundings. I look forward to hearing the girls’ insights in their presentations at the end of the month. I most look forward to them telling their own stories as they march through the halls of SCH.

Article posted February 9, 2014 at 03:26 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 109



Article posted January 29, 2014 at 05:10 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 159

Article posted January 29, 2014 at 05:10 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 159



Article posted January 29, 2014 at 10:12 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 97

As we develop our number sense in a variety of ways, we explore a number of large overarching topics. Recently we began thinking about probability. What is most, least and equally likely to happen? Vocabulary such as unlikely, possibly, probable, chance and impossible immediately began to creep into our vocabulary and have frequently been referenced in coversations outside of math workshop.  Clearly, it is engaging to play probability games, or in Caitlin's words "so cool!"

Article posted January 29, 2014 at 10:12 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 97



Article posted January 16, 2014 at 10:11 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 96

By placing our animal cards in order from most to least we had to pay attention to several details. We needed to recognize our numbers, compare the values, continue to adjust our animal cards as we evaluated if each was more or less than the previous choice and pay attention to whether we were using the correct side of the card! One side specifies inches and one pounds. On this day we were focused on pounds. We then recorded everything in our Math Journal.  A few of us learned that errors can mean a lot of hard work needs to be done to correct our mistakes.  We tried to focus on the fact that it may feel difficult but that doesn't mean it is impossible.  It is important for the girls to realize that mistakes occur and it is important evidence of an attempt.  Our job is to then meet the challenge of problem solving strategies improve our approach.  



math ordering animals from Stephanie Moore on Vimeo.

Article posted January 16, 2014 at 10:11 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 96



Article posted January 14, 2014 at 07:55 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 104

Reading to a partner is a critical element of our First Grade reading program. You may remember the days of “round robin” reading from your childhood where each child read aloud a portion of a text while the rest listened. Think of how little time those children actually spend practicing reading fluently versus how much time they are purely following along, if that! When we are not reading independently you will find 1M girls curled up on pillows or cozying up at a table with a partner by their side. They try to sit close to one another, which we call EEKK. It stands for elbow to elbow, knee to knee. This way, each person can see the pictures and words in the book as one person expressively reads and the other listens. Up until now we have primarily read using an I read – you read method. There are many strategies for us to utilize this year: whisper reading, echo reading, choral reading, expressive reading, and rehearsal reading. We will have some experience with most of these by the last day of First Grade. As girls work with their reading partner of the day they must form a partnership. They learn to manage their time, voice levels and bodies to create a positive, powerful, productive reading interaction.

The girls adore reading to someone. Who wouldn’t want their dear friend’s full attention? Experts in reading agree that this is a powerful engaging methodology to improve reading skills at many age levels. "Reading with someone helps readers, especially developing readers, become more self-sufficient and less reliant on the teacher for assistance. Research shows that taking turns while reading increases reading involvement, attention, and collaboration." (The Daily 5™ p. 60) One of my favorite elements of the read to partner activities is when the girls begin firming up their coaching skills. They begin to utilize strategies they have learned during our individual conferences and mini-lessons to support their friends in tackling a difficult word. As the year continues we will build our partnerships to increase discussions and recommendations around books to add to our already strong reading community. Enjoy these videos of girls partner reading during readers’ workshop and choral reading during free choice time.





Article posted January 14, 2014 at 07:55 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 104



Article posted January 11, 2014 at 01:44 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 109

There are many strategies for reinforcing for math skills that we utilize throughout each week. One of our favorites is a loop game called "I have...Who has..." The brilliance of this activity is that we are practicing both skill knowledge and studentship skills. Listening, participation, following the rules of the game and patience are all important skills when playing "I have...Who Has..." When playing the game, ach girl has a card that contains two bits of info. The info is typically represented in two formats. The version we recently played focuses on time so the cards contain an analog clock and a time written in digital format. We strive to increase our speed by repeating the game several times with the same card. We time ourselves and need to work as a team to make our best time. Calling out someone else's answer or expressing displeasure with delays by other students add a 5 second penalty to our time. We are looking forward to many more versions of "I have...Who has..."









Article posted January 11, 2014 at 01:44 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 109



Article posted January 9, 2014 at 07:40 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 150

In 1M we regularly discuss how our actions impact our classroom, school and neighborhood communities. We focus on the positive impacts we can have and visualize the outcomes that would come from everyone engaging in helpful behavior.





Article posted January 9, 2014 at 07:40 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 150



Article posted January 7, 2014 at 06:43 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 147

Six and seven year olds are often very hard on themselves. This can sometimes be frustrating and perplexing for the adults in their lives. I have found that the girls that often worry about making a "mistake" or those that deflate and unravel when they make a "mistake" have a few things in common. Often, they are great observers. They notice what is in the world around them. They take in the form, function and beauty of their surroundings. Often, they have great ideas. Sometimes they struggle with combining their keen observations, their amazing ideas and their still emerging skills. It can be extremely frustrating when you have a grand imagination and do not yet have the fine motor skills and experience to illustrate your visions. It can be grueling when you have a never-ending story to tell and are doing the hard work of letter-sound correspondence and applying spelling patterns. It can feel defeating when you plan a block building or beautiful junk sculpture and it keeps crumbling to pieces. In 1M we live the SCH mission statement by meeting challenges rather than having the teacher fix them for us. The examples above are academic challenges and we work hard to build independence and persistence in this area. We strive to build up the grit required to keep going, even when something is not working out as we planned. It is then that I witness deep, connected learning and before my eyes see the girls building character. During the challenges and struggles is when we become most creative and I see the beaming proud smiles that radiate from within. Obviously circumstances that require us to meet challenge emerge repeatedly in our day to day life in the classroom. I also plan books and stories that engage us in related conversation during our meeting times. It is then that we can work on the language and strategies that will serve us well when we are in the thick of the emotions that accompany challenge. One of my favorites is "Beautiful Oops." It is a great one to look for in your local library. Check out this fun introduction to it below and let's not forget to encourage our girls to find beauty and opportunity in their mistakes and failures!





Article posted January 7, 2014 at 06:43 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 147



Article posted January 5, 2014 at 03:37 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 110

Article posted January 5, 2014 at 03:37 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 110



Article posted December 15, 2013 at 10:08 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 100

Article posted December 15, 2013 at 10:08 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 100



Article posted December 5, 2013 at 09:33 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 130

Already a fan of card games, 1M applied what they knew about the game Top It with what they had just learned about domino addition to enjoy the new Game "Domino Top It!"



Has a 1M girl taught you how to play?!?



Article posted December 5, 2013 at 09:33 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 130



Article posted December 4, 2013 at 06:56 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 147

Since the first day of school we have worked on developing a sense of ourselves in the role of author and illustrator. We closley pay attention to the craft of our favorite authors and illustrators as we enjoy picture books and read alouds. The girls are now starting to echo my familiar words as we encounter a craft element. "We could use that idea when we are writing or illustrating."



Here is just a tiny bit of our Writer's Workshop:



Article posted December 4, 2013 at 06:56 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 147



Article posted December 2, 2013 at 09:43 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 145

Don't miss us this Friday December 6th!!!



Article posted December 2, 2013 at 09:43 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 145



Article posted November 13, 2013 at 09:00 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 120

Article posted November 13, 2013 at 09:00 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 120



Article posted November 13, 2013 at 09:26 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 118

Sharing Writing in a variety of manners is lower school goal this year.  We were proud to be one of the first to share our writing experiment with the lower school.



 

Article posted November 13, 2013 at 09:26 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 118



Article posted November 9, 2013 at 08:49 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 129



If you ever peek into the LS Girls Physics and Engineering Lab it is evident that students thrive in the environment. 



Recently First Grade met during our flex period in the Physics and Engineering Lab.  In planning with Carie Szalay we knew that that the girls would need some investigation periods in the space before their focused design technology project.  To the untrained eye this is often observed as play.  Educator David Hawkins described it as "Messing About," pulling the phrase from the beloved children's story "The Wind in the Willows." 



"Nice? It's the only thing," said the Water Rat solemnly, as he leant forward for his stroke. "Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing-absolutely nothing-half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing," he went on dreamily, "messing-about-in-boats-messing-" Kenneth Grahame The Wind in the Willows



 Messing about is a piece of a total mindset in early childhood education.  While the teacher is not leading the investigation she is still present, in a subtle manner.  Hawkins viewed early learning in phases including this messing about phase working in combination with a differentiated work period and a discussion of ideas phase.  These phases were not necessarily always observed in that particular order.  Our observations of work in the Physics and Engineering Lab mirror Hawkin’s.  Every 1M girl has experienced the Lab whether in prior years via our rich curriculum or in a recent admissions experience.   Whatever the experience, each girl benefits from revisiting this exploratory time again and again.  This critical time devoted to choice in learning leads to new and deeper discoveries regarding the possibilities that the space offers.  We are looking forward to many more Aha moments in the Lab!





























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Article posted November 9, 2013 at 08:49 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 129



Article posted October 27, 2013 at 12:54 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 142

We have been talking a lot about money in Math Workshop lately. Identifying coins, counting coins, adding and comparing amounts and more. This week I will send home a packet of materials to maintain and extend our money counting skills.



The concept of money, however, is so much larger than adding change together. Here are some resources to support your conversations regarding earning, saving, spending, donating, entrepreneurship and responsible money management for children:



There are a few "piggy banks" you can buy that visually support your child's understanding of dividing money between saving, spending, donating and even investing. The Money Savvy Pig and The Moon Jar are two available commercial products. You could also create your own money system with items in your home as this family did.



The National Geographic Kids Website has a series of music videos regarding these themes. The Cha-Ching Kids sing about saving, entrepreneurs, earning and where money comes from.



This Wall Street Journal article shares some online and app options for families.



You can prompt conversations about money using fiction and non-fiction children's books.





In the classroom we enjoy listening to some of these fun songs as Brain Breaks.











Article posted October 27, 2013 at 12:54 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 142



Article posted October 20, 2013 at 03:23 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 135

Observations from the caterpillars we fostered, scientific videos, non-fiction books were coupled with brilliant imaginations to create an epic butterfly adventure that the 1M girls performed this past week.







We also enjoyed performing several songs with 1Mc



Article posted October 20, 2013 at 03:23 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 135



Article posted October 17, 2013 at 08:57 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 153

Through the organization Monarch Watch we are participating in a program with schools across North America and Mexico. Each girl created a small life-sized monarch using sharpie, cray-pas and glitter watercolor. In addition, they decorated a large butterfly with items that were important to them. Horses, flowers, friends and rainbow hearts were among some inclusions though American flags and TV seemed to top the list! This large butterfly is now virutally migrating all the way to Mexico where we hope the real life Monarchs we fostered are wintering. In the spring we will receive another classroom's life-sized monarchs! The girls are excited to participate in this global partnership as they continue to become butterfly experts.



Virtual Migration from Stephanie Moore on Vimeo.

Article posted October 17, 2013 at 08:57 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 153



Article posted October 16, 2013 at 06:07 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 114

An important part of our math program is the work of being partners. We have spent a good amount of time recently working with our work partners. This means have increased our patience, negotiating skills, cooperation, discovery and fun! Some familiar tasks suddenly change when you are working with a partner. They can become silly, joyful, engaging but also challenging, cryptic and even a little messy. Working together means communicating, agreeing on the goal, negotiating how the goal will be reached and maintaining your attention to your partner and the task at hand. When there is a bump in the road we must focus on how to make the problem smaller rather than larger or our task will never reach completion. No life is without complications so it is wonderful that the girls have the safe space of their classrooms to experiment with strategies that build these skills. Asking about how your daughter's partnership is going is a fabulous way to find out more about her learning and approach to problem solving. If she feels as if it is going well ask her why it is going well. Ask her how she can continue to demonstrate and grow those skills. If she has experienced some bumps it is the perfect opportunity to support her increasing her reslilience. Guide her in how to solve the dilemma if it arises again. She can practice using certain words and phrases with you so they are familiar and ready when the time comes!



Math Partners from Stephanie Moore on Vimeo.

Article posted October 16, 2013 at 06:07 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 114



Article posted October 4, 2013 at 05:30 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 120

We adored showing our guests as many items as we could on the list we compiled yesterday.

First Friday is about ownership of learning so the 1M girls create the agenda for the morning. Thanks to Ms. Sanchez for allowing us to be a little tardy this morning. Hopefully one First Friday everyone can visit her classroom for a few minutes! Thanks to First Grader guest photographer Ava Detweiler for taking over the camera and capturing many moments.



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Article posted October 4, 2013 at 05:30 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 120



Article posted October 4, 2013 at 05:28 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 108

First Grade has been learning about bees in science. We buzzed on up to Dr. Wang's classroom for a guest speaker. We learned even more about honeybees, how they produce honey and how they differ from bumblebees. We were able to look closely at a hive, try on some official beekeeper's gear and taste honey that was made from local bees!



Bee Keeper from Stephanie Moore on Vimeo.

Article posted October 4, 2013 at 05:28 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 108



Article posted September 27, 2013 at 08:06 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 102

Article posted September 27, 2013 at 08:06 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 102



Article posted September 27, 2013 at 08:04 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 121

Ask your daughter how we know if our monarchs are male or female.



Article posted September 27, 2013 at 08:04 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 121



Article posted September 24, 2013 at 06:21 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 107

Article posted September 24, 2013 at 06:21 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 107



Article posted September 17, 2013 at 09:02 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 147

One side of the coin…

1M Sweetheart #1: “When are we going to have math, Ms. Moore?” Me: “We already had math today.”

1M Sweetheart #1: “I want First Grade math to start.”

Me: “We’ve had math workshop everyday since the very first day of school!”

1M Sweetheart #1: “No, no, no. I don’t mean that. I mean REAL math?!”

Me: “But we have been doing very important real math.”

1M Sweetheart #1 (a bit exasperated): “But when do we get paper math?! I really want paper math. I love math. Paper math.”



Later that day on the playground the coin flips…

1M Sweetheart #2: “What are we doing for math tomorrow? Is it fun math or math math?”

Me: “What do you mean?”

1M Sweetheart #2: You know…

Me: “Well, I may, but I think your friend may have a different definition of each of those things so tell me more about what you are asking.”

1M Sweetheart #2: “Are we doing games and slates or writing down math problems? Paper math.”



For each personality in the class there will be parts of programming that they are drawn to and parts that they find challenging. Knowing that, we make sure to build a very well balanced program that includes problem solving, critical thinking, application, as well as straightforward computation. A mathematician needs all those pieces to be truly successful. At times the math program may feel different from what you remember about math in elementary school.



What do you remember about your First Grade math time? Do you remember playing games? Do you remember collaborating with a team? Do you remember solving problems on a SMARTboard? Do you remember having your own personal tool kit of math materials that you are responsible for? Do you remember singing songs? Do you remember reading beautifully illustrated picture books? Do you remember laughing and feeling proud?



Whatever your memories of math, these are just some of the memories your daughter will take away with her from the First Grade Math program.



We have been spending the past 10 days in math workshop as we have in our writing and reading workshops…building rituals and routines. The girls are adjusting to the routine a little each day. Today we discussed how math lessons may begin quite differently than they did in Kindergarten because a lot of the time we are sitting in our work spots at tables to hear a whole group lesson. These lessons closely follow the Everyday Math Program and then we add in additional literature, games and activities that support and enhance each unit of study.



Unit 1 has been a review of familiar skills and vocabulary that allows us to focus closely on the rituals, responsibilities, expectations and routines of math workshop. The girls are working hard at establishing supportive, encouraging, productive and positive partnerships. While engaging in group lessons, individual work and partnership activities we are consistently utilizing the language that produces a learning environment where each girl’s abilities and knowledge are respected. These important life skills will be critical as we move forward in the program and tackle more challenging content. Additionally they are conversations that cross the curriculum as we discuss ourselves as learners who are each growing at our own pace and each have individual goals.



Get ready to learn some exciting math games! Your daughters have math homework each night and often it will be to teach you a game! Keep those family game nights going as well. The social and mathematical skills fostered by board games will support your daughter in school.





Math Routines from Stephanie Moore on Vimeo.

Article posted September 17, 2013 at 09:02 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 147



Article posted September 16, 2013 at 02:01 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 117

We have begun our study of butterflies, particularly emphasizing the Monarch butterfly. As with many studies, we began with a collaborative reflection. We thought about what we already believe we know about butterflies and then shared our wondering.



We know….



They are fragile

They lay their eggs on leaves

Fairies paint their wings

Butterflies hibernate

They fly to Mexico and babies travel back – that is their huge journey

Their wings are made of dust

They are delicate

Special dust helps them fly

They are made of elements

Moths don’t hibernate

Fly fast to stay in the air

They have no teeth

Caterpillars turn into butterflies

They drink nectar from flowers



What we want to know…



How do they lay their eggs?

How do they make a chrysalis?

Do moths hibernate?

What do the eggs look like?

How do you tell a male from a female?

What do they eat?

Why do moths wings move fast?

How do they hatch from an egg?

How do they hibernate?

Are they related, moths and butterflies?

Herbivore, Carnivore or Omnivore?

How do they make a chrysalis?

How do the eggs get inside them?



We are thrilled to be observing caterpillars and butterflies in their habitat as well as in our classroom laboratory. On Friday we used our scientist eyes to find many monarch caterpillars in our school garden.



Finding Caterpillars from Stephanie Moore on Vimeo.

Article posted September 16, 2013 at 02:01 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 117



Article posted September 11, 2013 at 06:38 PM GMT-5 • comment (2) • Reads 110

ec3303cd-4239-4140-a27b-b309c2c20327wallpaper

 



In the past six days we have been building in time to explore the important realm of reading. Reading is more than just decoding words. For me it is about building a community of respectful, engaged, enthusiastic, supportive and reflective readers. We need to reflect on our own reading identities in order to relate to our classmates' and teachers' reading identities. In 1M we each have a book basket, Ms. Moore included! We have been focusing on the habits that will lay the groundwork for tons of independent, engaged reading. You learn to read by reading so it is important to create an environment and community where the girls can have a great deal of time with their books.



As the year progresses we will grow our sense of ourselves as readers, increase our repertoire of reading strategies, develop the habits of reflective readers and just learn to LOVE reading!! We have begun the year with the girls choosing three "Look Books." Look books are books that you have chosen because the topic of the book interests you. The book may be a little too easy or a little too hard or it could in fact be a "just right" book. We discussed the three ways to read so that should the book not be a just right book there would always be a way to interact and learn from it. Over the next few weeks we will work to establish each girl's independent and instructional reading levels and the books in her basket will mostly be "Just Right" books. I think when a book interests you, it motivates you so we will continue to have different look books now and then as well. You know, being readers yourselves, that some days you have the stamina and drive for a William Faulkner classic and some days you just need a People Magazine. I believe the girls need that flexibility as well.



Yesterday I asked the girls how the classroom should feel during reading time. Gretel said, "It should feel relaxing and calm so it warms your heart." I agree. My hope for the girls is that reading does warm each of their hearts.

Article posted September 11, 2013 at 06:38 PM GMT-5 • comment (2) • Reads 110



Article posted September 9, 2013 at 08:17 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 119

If you need to learn a bit about how to design a book basket label for someone, just ask a 1M girl!!!



We used elements from Stanford's Design Thinking model to create a name tag for our work partner.



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Article posted September 9, 2013 at 08:17 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 119



Article posted September 5, 2013 at 09:27 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 123

We began the year as writers, writing together. We call it writing collaboratively. On the first day of school I asked the girls what kind of teacher they wanted. They brainstormed their ideas and collaboratively it became a list poem. The next day the entire First Grade worked together to create a list poem describing First Graders. They have a lovely early vision of what the year will encompass.



The Teacher We Want….

by 1M 2013-14



She is really awesome

She gives hugs

She is really nice

She is really great

She likes games

She picks fun topics to talk about

She is really fun

She is sweet

She is really silly – the silliest

She gives lots of books

She let’s us read

She let’s us make stuff

She is crafty – with crafts

She can be tricky crafty too

She loves butterflies

She is helpful

When we are learning – she is serious

She is really smart

She gives me a lot of math

She helps

She lets us have popsicles on hot days

She sometimes lets us watch movies

She is honest

She let’s us have recess

She teaches science

She is made of candy! (she can tape it on at least)

She is not mean

She is smiley



First Graders can…

by First Grade 2013-2014



We sit quietly and listen

We run through the grass to catch butterflies

We read books

We run through the wind

We draw pictures together

We read together

We write together

We eat lots of good food

We listen to our teachers

We write in our writing books

We play outside on the playground

We work together

We are one unique family

We respect and are kind to our teachers and friends and others We play hide and seek together

We eat in the cafeteria together

Our teachers are very kind

We help each other

We love our teachers

We have fun together

We take care of each other

We do so much in First Grade!

Article posted September 5, 2013 at 09:27 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 123



Article posted September 3, 2013 at 08:18 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 113

 



Our First day of First Grade is finished!  The girls were stellar problem-solvers and we worked hard to support one-another, as First Grade is new to all of us.  We began crafting our Class Promise today.  As we finish it we will share it and its story with you.  We had an engaging class discussion about how each day we are growing more capable and independent and what new responsibilities occur in First Grade to reflect this. Look for more details about our discussion on the class website in the next few days.   




Before we know it we will all feel as if we have been together for weeks, not days because we will be rooted deep in the routines, rituals and relationships of our community. Each child is different and some will take to our new rituals quickly, while others will need a few weeks to adjust.  Please keep me updated on how your daughter is feeling. 




Last year my dear friend’s son began first grade.  We spoke about having a little “FaceTime” via iphone to talk about his first day.  He had crashed into bed before I could speak to him but I received the sad report that he found the first day, “long and boring.”  This was not encouraging news for Mom, an experienced First Grade teacher!  A few days later though his mom and I were able to translate his 6 year old comment.  We uncovered that in fact he was indeed finding it a bit long and was quite tired as he adjusted from ½ day Kindergarten and summer fun.  We also heard more about how astounded he was at learning so many new things.  “There are so many things to remember.  How to do things and where things go and when to do things and the order of things.”  In this case “boring” really meant, “There is a lot to learn and I am getting to know my new teacher and I am worried I won’t do the right thing.” 




I like to think of getting to know a new classroom as similar to starting a new job.  You could be a seasoned professional in your field and even be familiar with many of your new colleagues, but there is often that bit of discomfort and unease as you learn the new culture of the group and position.  It is hard not to know!  Before we know it these 16 girls will be expert First Graders and leaders in the school. 





I look forward to our journey together this year!



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Article posted September 3, 2013 at 08:18 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 113



Article posted June 10, 2013 at 06:42 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 148

We adored closely researching an animal that lives in Kenya. Each girl shared what they knew in many ways. One writing experiment we engaged in was creating an acrostic using our animal's name. We recorded ourselves reading them using ShowMe. You can hear us by going to Ms. Moore's ShowMe page here:



[LINK]



We also had fun adding silly quotes to our 'Sunset at the Waterhole' mural. The girls found it great fun to record the thoughts using the voice memo feature on my phone. Enjoy!



Article posted June 10, 2013 at 06:42 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 148



Article posted June 3, 2013 at 10:30 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 90

One thing is for sure! 1M girls LOVE to read!!! We love to read with our neighbors





and we love to read to ourselves! Your daughter has probably shared that since Homework folders have stopped their homework is to read 30 minutes each night. They can read books, magazines, sports scores or recipe books. As long as they are reading! Maddie and Madison highly recommend a timer. It is hard to keep track of the time when you are fully engrossed in a book. Of course we highly encourage reading all summer long. There are summer reading assignments for each grade.



They and a wealth of other information is posted on the library Haiku page.



www.schacademy.haikulearning.com/rdeberardinis/lsgirls-summerreading



You can also check out books from the SCH libraries. Here is a message from the librarians about how to go about it:



Summer is fast approaching, and, hopefully, is a time for your schedules to be a little more relaxed - with more time to read, enjoy and discuss books! To support your "book-filled" summer, the SCH Academy Libraries on both campuses encourages you to borrow one, two or a whole stack of books for the summer. Come and browse, then scan/check the books out with a librarian. Borrow books for you, your partner or kid(s)!



To return the books, you can: drop them off at the receptionist station on either campus



OR keep them ALL summer and return them when you get back to school



OR email Rene at: rdeberardinis@sch.org -- to arrange for a time to meet at a SCH Library over the summer to swap books AND borrow more! If you would like your daughter to choose h er own books to borrow for the summer, please send in a note or email authorizing your child(ren) to borrow SCH Library books for the summer: Rene at: rdeberardinis@sch.org OR feel free to stop in with your child(ren)! Thanks - and happy reading!

Article posted June 3, 2013 at 10:30 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 90



Article posted May 28, 2013 at 08:57 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 126

photo (15) Here are some of the talking points we remember Gigi sharing: • Rhinos horns are being hunted also for beauty products and medicine • Palm Oil is in lots of things like skittles and Oreos. They plant it and cut down rainforests where the orangutans live • Taking animals and using them in commercials and TV shows isn’t nice • Elephants stay alive a long time, like 60 years • 40,00 muscles in an elephant trunk • An elephant that was captured from its mom and put in the circus and made to ride a bicycle and they rescued it. His name was Nicholas and he was rescued. He was an orphan elephant. • At the orphanage they treat the baby elephants like the mommy would. • The trainer that pretends to be the elephant’s mom sleeps with them. On the ground! • The trainer does basically everything with them and sometimes gets days off • They have the elephants meet every trainer so they won’t be too attached to one person. They would be too sad if the person wasn’t there one day. • When the Orangutans sleep in the trees they may be ready to go back in the wild and they pick two to put in the wild together • The dad elephants leave the group for a bit • The adult animals are killed for their tusks and the babies are orphans and the rescued orphans go to the orphanage.

Article posted May 28, 2013 at 08:57 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 126



Article posted May 23, 2013 at 07:10 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 110

Chicks 2013 from Stephanie Moore on Vimeo.

Article posted May 23, 2013 at 07:10 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 110



Article posted May 22, 2013 at 08:36 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 128

A belated Thank You to everyone who conspired to surprise me. It is quite hard to do so I was rather impressed!



























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Article posted May 22, 2013 at 08:36 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 128



Article posted May 21, 2013 at 09:21 AM GMT-5 • comment (1) • Reads 129

The entire First Grade engaged in a design thinking project over the past few weeks. We saw how many children in Kenya make toys from found materials. We worked to design a toy for another First Grader!





Design Toy from Stephanie Moore on Vimeo.

Article posted May 21, 2013 at 09:21 AM GMT-5 • comment (1) • Reads 129



Article posted May 20, 2013 at 08:33 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 82

There have been reports of a small herd of African forest elephants found in the Wissahickon woods. They are being referred to as the 1M herd. They were spotted getting a drink at the stream and traveling down the trail! Be on the lookout!



Article posted May 20, 2013 at 08:33 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 82



Article posted May 17, 2013 at 07:54 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 93

Grandparents and Special Friends from Stephanie Moore on Vimeo.

Article posted May 17, 2013 at 07:54 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 93



Article posted May 16, 2013 at 05:28 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 84

first grades red giant concert from Stephanie Moore on Vimeo.

Article posted May 16, 2013 at 05:28 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 84



Article posted May 14, 2013 at 01:42 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 136

Can you find our lines of symmetry?



Symmetry from Stephanie Moore on Vimeo.

Article posted May 14, 2013 at 01:42 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 136



Article posted May 12, 2013 at 10:13 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 132

1M hopes you had a wonderful Mother's Day! We love our fabulous mothers!



Mother's Day from Stephanie Moore on Vimeo.

Article posted May 12, 2013 at 10:13 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 132



Article posted May 8, 2013 at 12:43 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 108

Though the rain has been pouring down on us, spring has definitely sprung. The majority of the year is behind us. In fact, I believe we only have twenty more days together in 1M. I admit, usually someone tells me but this year I counted. But only because someone asked. ☺ Each spring a strange occurrence takes over classrooms. You will hear teachers all over the nation say, “Haven’t we gone over this ‘a million’ times before?” The spring is a strange time. I always feel as if we are suddenly on warp speed. The days seem to pass by faster and faster. Things are coming to an end and although six and seven year olds’ sense of time still has a lot of growth to be had (any family with a vacation in the future knows this: Are we leaving yet? Are we leaving yet?), their keen senses have picked up on these transitions in their future.



Some girls have already been anticipating change for weeks. At the end of this letter I have included some snippets of a blog entry by author and educator Chip Wood. Teachers everywhere shout out, ”Yes! That is what is happening,” after reading his words on many topics, especially this subject. Mr. Woods articulates what is fairly typical and developmentally appropriate at this time of year. I have been working hard to keep the class in the moment and not get ahead of ourselves - thinking about second grade or even summer plans. Discussions around placement also activate anxiety about the change ahead. I often hear many questions, “Will my friends be there?” “Who will my teacher be?” “Will the rules be the same?” “Will I have as much fun?” and on and on. September is very, very far away and it is such a long time for your daughter to be worrying about what will happen. Sometimes even the thought of fun summer plans can cause the anxiety to creep up. Although it seems like tons of summer fun, many of the same questions apply. Although some days it seems that the class cannot remember some of our simple daily routines, the truth is that they know. They know what to expect, they know the rules, they know their teachers, they know where they are going each day, and they know their friends. It is hard for them to realize that you are not going to know.



I often compare starting a new grade to an adult starting a new job. Well, your daughter knows there is a “career change” ahead and it may make her nervous. Let’s not let your daughters dwell on it too much. This is a time for reassurance and focus on the day ahead. It is also a time to focus on doing our best and getting back to the basics that make the class productive and joyful. However much I have this spring disequilibrium in my consciousness, it somehow even takes me by surprise each year. It kind of feels like a train derailing for a moment and then you realize, “Aha, time to get this back on track. Time to let these girls know that expectations are the same and for at least these next twenty days they will be experiencing the comfort of their familiar classroom.”



And, that is where we are. twenty days together that I plan to be productive, enlightening, joyful and busy. There are so many exciting events to look forward to: May Day, Grandparents and Special Friends Day, an African Market, End of Year First Grade Party, and a concert for the families. You can always direct your daughter to think of these exciting activities if she is focusing too much on the summer or next school year. If your daughter is asking questions or having anxiety about the changes ahead or you are wondering if she is, please feel free to speak with me. I am happy to help answer any questions and ease her worry.



 



A bit from Chip: Spring transitions call for more structure, not less As highlighted in my last blog entry, it’s that time of year when there’s more to do then there is time to do it. No one feels the anxiety of this more than the children in our classrooms, and the children who feel it most intensely are those facing the greatest challenges. Whether we are a parent of one of these most needy kids or one of their teachers, we’ll begin to see what I call “summer anxiety” bloom earlier in spring in them than in the other children. As when we see a crocus emerging from the snow or the first daffodil, we’re often surprised to see the behavior of our early harbingers of things to come. Perhaps from a rough start at the beginning of the school year, this child has made significant progress academically and socially, thanks to the combined efforts of teachers, staff, and parents working and communicating together around puzzling academic struggles and the ups and downs of friendship patterns. The child has shown courage in reaching out to a new student who has come into the class and finally seems to have a close classmate.
 But not long after spring break, many of these gains, on the surface, seem to disappear. Old patterns of work refusal and anger on the playground surface. When the new friend plays with other classmates, the child refuses to come in from recess.

This is a signal, a red flag if you will. With the keen adaptive sensitivity that so many of our neediest children possess, the child who has benefited so remarkably from the clear structures, supports, and predictability of classroom routines and practices has sensed that the structures are disappearing. Things are beginning to feel different. There’s too much going on. Essentially, the message is that in the last weeks of the school year we need more structure, not less. This is the time to tighten up so that we do not lose all that we’ve gained. We need to make sure we can take time during these final weeks to cherish each of the children we’re about to pass on. So, paradoxically, we must go back to beginnings, help children remember all the basic rules of our classroom, of kindness, of academic rigor, of how to be good school citizens in the halls, on the playground, in the cafeteria

Article posted May 8, 2013 at 12:43 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 108



Article posted May 7, 2013 at 02:28 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 105









Article posted May 7, 2013 at 02:28 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 105



Article posted May 3, 2013 at 12:52 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 128

1M girls spent two days in the garden this week. Harambee! They pulled together to plant asters and milkweed to create a monarch way station to provide host and nectar plants. In addition, they formed a mound to grow a Three Sister Garden. The corn has been planted but we will wait to plant squash and pole beans until the corn has germinated.





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Article posted May 3, 2013 at 12:52 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 128



Article posted April 28, 2013 at 05:32 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 108

What a sunny weekend - It feels as if Spring has finally truly arrived. We have been shivering a bit since Spring Break as far as the weather goes, but that hasn't stopped us from pulling together in many ways. In Kenya there is a motto - Harambee. It means pulling togehter in Swahili. See how the First Grade has pulled together in Harambee recently: helping our woods, delivering supplies to the SPCA form the Animal Cupboard, spreading the word about Turn Over Your Trashcan Tuesdays and singing together for everyone's enjoyment.









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Article posted April 28, 2013 at 05:32 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 108



Article posted April 21, 2013 at 05:17 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 96

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Article posted April 21, 2013 at 05:17 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 96



Article posted April 7, 2013 at 08:31 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 111

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Our little scientists have been hard at work with Mrs. Szalay! Before Spring Break the girls explored the power of electricity. Did your daughter tell you about powering a lightbulb!? With little instruction, 1M girls made light by connecting a bulb, battery and wire. Upon their return the girls were astute observers outside. They made observations and careful drawings of their tulips that have emerged but not bloomed. They also made predictions of what will happen next and recorded what they are wondering about. Many schools from all around the country have planted bulbs and are tracking when spring occurs based on when the tulips bloom.

Article posted April 7, 2013 at 08:31 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 111



Article posted March 6, 2013 at 05:13 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 117

We were sooooo busy learning, creating and making memories!!



 



100th Day!!





100th day from Stephanie Moore on Vimeo.



Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Chinese New Year Celebration!!!!



























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Article posted March 6, 2013 at 05:13 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 117



Article posted February 25, 2013 at 07:02 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 103

Doubles, Numbers Plus 1, Double +1, The Zeros, Turn Arounds......these are all terms you will hear us use as we develop our



FACT POWER



Look for a variety of tools and games to be coming home to help your daughter with this special power!!



























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Article posted February 25, 2013 at 07:02 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 103



Article posted February 19, 2013 at 05:10 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 129

Winter is here and we are digging into Unit 6 this week! On Friday each girl brough home her final pages of her fist Math Journal. I send these packets home for a few reasons. First of all, it gives you additional insight to the spiraling math curriculum. These packets of your daughter’s work coupled with the daily math home-links provides you a bounty of information regarding what we have been covering. The home-links are particularly important for your understanding because, as you have seen over the last several months, each one has an important piece of information for your to read and review, helping you gain understanding of where we have been and where we are going. The journal pages that come home with your daughter give you insight into how she is working at in independent level in the classroom. She does receive instructional support as needed from me as well as her peers, but the goal is to build fluency through repeated independent practice after large or small group instruction and review. As you can see from the work in First Grade, content is to be explored multiple times in small increments. The girls are starting to see how all of the tiny pieces fit together. “We learned about counting by 5s and we need that for counting nickels!” “We also need it for counting the time on the clock!” “Using the number grid helps us add and subtract.” “We can also use it to find answers quickly if we know tricks like down one space is +10.” “Base ten blocks are kind of like money. You have to trade them.” Last week when the girls were cutting out their animal cards for a weight comparison activity one girl commented, “Hey – we could play Top-It with these.” After playing Card Top-It, Dice Top-It and Domino Top-It they have noticed that comparing numbers lends itself well to this game.



What you may be wondering as you sift through all of this work that comes home is, “But what does she need to master?” or “How can I provide her with extra review and practice?” Definitely use the homelinks and journal packets as a guide for how to engage in any extra practice. Important additional resources are right at your fingertips to the left of this post. Charlie Grogan’s math website provides resources and an important breakdown of what skills are covered in First Grade. He notes which are expected to be known at a beginning level, developing level or secure level. You will note that few need to actually be “secure.” Though many girls are finding themselves secure in many skills, the joy of a spiraling program is that they will be reintroduced to these skills many times, providing both review and challenge. The girls are excited to start their fresh new Math Journals today. We continue to build our number sense learning about “turn-arounds” and “doubles.”



Ask your daughter about her growing “FACT POWER!” and enjoy the below photos of us engaging in math lessons and activities!



























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Article posted February 19, 2013 at 05:10 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 129



Article posted February 14, 2013 at 09:46 PM GMT-5 • comment (1) • Reads 91

We trying hard to get everyone in 1M into the shoe tying club...







Article posted February 14, 2013 at 09:46 PM GMT-5 • comment (1) • Reads 91



Article posted February 10, 2013 at 08:13 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 93

Reading is a sizeable part of 1M's classroom culture. The girls experience read alouds, large group instruction, small group instruction, individual reading confrencing, time to read to self, time to read with partners and listening to reading on our ipods each week. Even with all of this instructional reading time, the individualized program allows girls to be continually invested and excited about reading. So much so that during free choice time the girls often continue to read. Recently three girls were perusing our classroom library and found three copies of a favorite fun read aloud. Together they worked as a team to negotiate how they could read aloud to the class. When the asked me they emphasized that they were intending to "read with expression." As they presented to the girls they explained that they would do their best not to skip words or pages but if they made a mistake they would show the page at the end. It was obviously that they had deeply discussed their plan of action. Please enjoy their joyful learning....

Article posted February 10, 2013 at 08:13 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 93



Article posted January 31, 2013 at 02:15 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 105

Marley (and her mom) were nice enough to give each girl a balloon to celebrate Marley's birthday. The class loved playing with and reading to Tyler and seeing Jordan when the balloons were dropped off.

What a treat!!

The girls also showed their caring and thoughfulness as they problem-solved how to get Gianna and Amelia their balloons.





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Article posted January 31, 2013 at 02:15 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 105



Article posted January 23, 2013 at 08:33 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 89

My shutterbug tendencies were definitely cut short by our electrical issues but the many hands we had with us meant we found a way to meet our goal! Thank you again to everyone who came, I am sorry I did not manage to catch everyone in the moment of that challenging day!





Article posted January 23, 2013 at 08:33 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 89



Article posted January 23, 2013 at 09:28 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 102

The 1M girls were hard at work being bubble scientists yesterday. It was certainly a fine example of joyful learning. They talked about it all day long! After they become experts in bubblology they will present their findings in a special bubble assembly. Stay tuned for more details!





Article posted January 23, 2013 at 09:28 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 102



Article posted January 18, 2013 at 04:45 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 104

Here are some of the books we have been reading to encourage conversations surrounding random acts of kindness and positive behavior in general:





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Here is our little presentation from our assembly:

Article posted January 18, 2013 at 04:45 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 104



Article posted January 16, 2013 at 09:46 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 94

While acts of kindness abound and we are constantly re-engaging in conversation about our lower school theme of “Strength,” each girl and teacher always has something to improve upon. Sometimes we strive for an academic improvement, sometimes a physical agility improvement. The goal may be risk taking or segmenting sounds, responding thoughtfully or remembering to sign in. While we are each striving for individual development, as a class we equally strive for team development and improvement. There are several, if not many, facets of our day that depends on the collective studentship of the class. We have been working to become more efficient in our day. More time to engineer structures, investigate stories, draw freely, chat and laugh with a friend or build creative accessories for the fairy house are each always in high demand by the girls. I also continually strive for more time for certain activities. In our first full week back from winter break we found ourselves unraveling a bit by Friday. Time to revisit the hopes, dreams, promises and expectations we established early in the year. All of this is very common in classrooms. It is also common in life. We get off track or have a little slip back. How many of us have recently reaffirmed our commitment to: ‘go to the gym,’ ‘read more,’ ‘keep those closets organized,’ ‘call friends and family more,’ etc.



I felt that one of the areas a majority of the class needed support with was tightening up some of our large group times. 1M girls are sure of many things and sure individuals yearn to share. As participants in a group (class, family, Senate, construction crew, book club) we all need to learn the intricacies of group dynamics. Knowing when you share without delay, when you wait for your turn and when you sacrifice your chance to share in the immediate moment for the good of the group is critical – but no easy task! I regularly layer upon the girls understanding of how we are building these skills and relate them to both the classroom and the larger world. I give examples of me practicing these skills in faculty meeting, at a conference, in line at the supermarket, at the dinner table, in the airport. Beyond studentship, these are life skills.



And so, I shared with the girls that I was going to collect some data (we have been using this word lately) using tally marks to record ‘call outs’ and ‘side conversations’ that were hurting our learning times. The collecting, I shared, was not punitive but to build even more awareness regarding our actual behaviors. We have spoken all year about self-control and have discussed it in a very truthful and accurate manner. I describe it as one of MANY skills they are learning. It is just like identifying shapes, rhyming words, writing lowercase letters or crossing the middle on the rings. It is a skill that we are all working on but not all of us have mastered. We all master things at different points, but that certainly does not mean we shouldn’t work hard toward the goal of mastering. My intent was to quietly confer with girls every few days, or more often if needed, to discuss their individual data, building awareness. The girls had another plan. They wanted me to leave the clipboard out so they could quietly check throughout the day on how they were doing so the could “change what they were doing if they were having trouble.” Being that this was more immediate feedback that came from taking individual responsibility of one’s owns actions, I agreed. While I was somewhat wary of a “public viewing” of the tallies, it was really no more “public” then the verbal support I had been providing girls working on the skill. Actually, it is less so! We went over ground rules regarding the process. I loved when one girl asked, “If we notice someone else is doing really well, is it ok to say we are proud of them?”



So, we have tallied for two days. It takes many more than two days to create a behavior, especially when coordinating the behavior of 13 (I include myself in the count)! And so, we will continue to work hard. We will not tally for long, just until we get over that hump. I respect the girls so much for their interest in self-monitoring to improve more quickly and independently. They have been completely accepting and without contradiction or complaint. I think that is the power of a “non-punitive” system. This is not about getting “in trouble,” this is about getting more free choice (in their minds, for me it is about getting more learning time). But really, they all just want to be doing a great job. It is truly hard to reflect on your own behavior at any age and this is a clear cut easy to interpret tool that they have helped design. Feel free to ask your daughter about it if you like, but please remember, we are building skills by awareness, not punishment so their should be no negative reaction to wherever each girl is. Just as there is a “just right book” for readers’ workshop and “just right paper” for writers’ workshop and some girls fly across the rings and others are timid, each girl is growing in her own way…but all are growing and moving toward a common goal.



If you have any questions, I am here!

Article posted January 16, 2013 at 09:46 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 94



Article posted January 15, 2013 at 09:04 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 86

 





Our writing curriculum, social studies curriculum and character education curriculum yet again intertwine as we have been concentrating quite a bit on thinking about others.  In December we began a writing unit focused on letter writing.  We  have primarily focused on the friendly letter but will be venturing into advice letters and persuasive letters as well.  If time, we will think about post cards and thank you notes.  We spent December writing notes to people in our community including Mrs. Stout, Mrs. Jacoby and our Pre-K and Kindergarten friends.  Girls have also written letters to parents, classmates, teachers and even fantasy letters to fairies and the new year!  Encouraging a note that shows you are thinking about someone fits well into our reflection on kindness.  With the help of their teachers the First Grade girls have organized an assembly that celebrates Kindess and the messages shared by Martin Luther King, Jr.  We will present on Wednesday at 8:10.  We hope you can make it!





Here is a song we have been singing along with that reminds of of the importance of kindness!



Article posted January 15, 2013 at 09:04 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 86



Article posted January 3, 2013 at 01:15 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 112

We had an amazing time at Kapama River Lodge going on several Game Drives. Kapama is a private reserve but the animals are completely wild just as if we were driving around Kruger. They have all of the "Big Five" but the pesky Leopard eluded us. They have recently introduced 4 cheetah to the reserve who were living in an area with no competition (lions, leopards) so for a few more weeks they will wear collars so they can keep track of if they are doing alright. We were so lucky to see a cheetah chase! We watched the cheetah stalk the impala and then wildebeest. The other animals knew they were in danger. Then they were off. Our ranger said she had been working their a year and hadn't witnessed that yet so we were feeling very lucky.



























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Article posted January 3, 2013 at 01:15 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 112



Article posted December 27, 2012 at 12:39 AM GMT-5 • comment (1) • Reads 99

I spent Christmas Day exploring South Africa this year!!   We rented a mini cooper convertable and drove around the Cape Peninsula.  We drove along a beautiful winding high road that is called Chapman's Peak Drive.  The say it is one of the most beautiful marine drives in the world.  You can see cliffs and ocean and beaches and Hout Bay.  



Then we kept driving and went all the way to Cape Point to see the lighthouse and The Cape of Good Hope.  We kept our eye out for Baboons the whole drive and when we were at each of our stopping points.  We didn't see any the whole time.  We were a little disappointed but also a little relieved.  Baboons can be very aggressive if they think you have food.  We did see wild ostrich though!! 




From there we drove some more up to Boulders Beach where we did a little climbing over some huge rocks to get to a quieter part of the beach where there so many penguins.  We were able to lay on the beach and watch them and wander around to see what they were up to in their little cove.  Dinner in Simons Town on the wharf and then a long winding ride home to Sea Point!  



It is the first time I ever got a little sunburnt on Christmas Day! 






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Article posted December 27, 2012 at 12:39 AM GMT-5 • comment (1) • Reads 99



Article posted December 11, 2012 at 09:09 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 125

Measuring objects with our ................bodies! We measured objects by digits, cubits, hands, yards, feet, paces, yards, fathoms and hand-spans. We also compared heights. We found things that were taller, shorter and about the same height as ourselves!



























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Article posted December 11, 2012 at 09:09 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 125



Article posted December 9, 2012 at 12:00 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 110



We continue or theme of looking closely by observing the Paperwhite bulbs we planted in science.



12 unique girls all use their scientist eyes to look closely and draw their bulb. They compared their first observations and the new growth in their writing.



Article posted December 9, 2012 at 12:00 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 110



Article posted November 27, 2012 at 10:51 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 102

It is very important to me that we spend time growing our sense of the world and exercising our skills of compassion, empathy, kindness and forgiveness, among many others. Whether our personalities are gregarious, timid, energetic, reflective, rigid or flexible, we can each actively engage in activities that impact these interpersonal skills.



One of my favorite activities is for the girls to engage in Random Acts of Kindness. It may be delivering a pumpkin bread to the First Grade teachers, giving stickers to a Pre-K girl or helping a friend clean up without being asked.



Before the Thanksgiving break our little artists and writers penned and illustrated friendly Thanksgiving cards and we left them on the windshields of cars in the parking lot. We are hoping they made many people smile!



Thanksgiving cards from Stephanie Moore on Vimeo.

Article posted November 27, 2012 at 10:51 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 102



Article posted November 17, 2012 at 12:32 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 113

Between morning work and morning meeting the girls are able to have Free Choice. There are also opportunities for free choice when girls are finished up with independent work. There are "always choices" such as reading or drawing and "sometimes choices" like hallway blocks or painting. Whatever the choice, the expectations are to whisper, avoid distracting friends who are still working, clean up after yourself and ENJOY!! The important thing about free choice is that the girls have access to explore their individual interests. It is also an important time to practice the habits we discuss in our character education lessons. What seems like play is a very important time of our day for girls to regroup, recharge, investigate and connect to their friends. Here are some of our free choice moments...



Article posted November 17, 2012 at 12:32 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 113



Article posted November 15, 2012 at 05:44 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 119

There are innumerable ways that your daughter will have technology woven into her SCH experience. Two recent experiences are the reading podcasts done with ipads and using a Flip camera to record an explanation of a simple pattern. Both videos are on each girl's blog. In science the girls used an app called Seed Cycle to explore honeybees part in the cycle. Many were hoping to be able to play it at home!  The link is:



https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/seed-cycle/id440030386?mt=8



























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Article posted November 15, 2012 at 05:44 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 119



Article posted November 14, 2012 at 04:45 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 128

Things I heard from the girls today while they were blogging:



"How do you make a period? I have a sentence."



"Can you help me?"



"I am going to write something surprising. It is going to be silly."



"I made an ending."



"This is a spelling word."



"I want to make a question mark."

"How do you make this go away?"

"Look on the word wall. We learned that word."

"Time for a new article."

"Good one!"

"I tapped out the sounds, Ms. Moore."



"Can I get my book to spell a word?"



Article posted November 14, 2012 at 04:45 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 128



Article posted November 11, 2012 at 09:33 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 120

Thank you to Aanika's family for helping us learn about and celebrate Diwali! Ms. Gherwada led us in enjoying the story of Diwali, exploring making a traditional rangoli and cooked us a delicious meal!





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Article posted November 11, 2012 at 09:33 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 120



Article posted November 1, 2012 at 05:59 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 89

Community is a critical piece of our life at SCH. Being a part of a community means you work hard so that the community can thrive and grow. Being a part of a team means that you coordinate with each other, cooperate and support your classmates and collaborate with people of all ages! See just a few of the ways we have been building a strong community below:



We have two Flex Times in First Grade.



One flex time is for thematic focused work. During this time the girls are split into three groups and spread out amongst the three First Grade teachers. For the past few weeks they have been working on creating a butterfly animation in the V2, a collaborative mural and sewing butterflies onto burlap. Here is a peek at us sewing away:





The second flex time focuses on Social Emotional Learning and our Second Step Program. We have discussed identifying feelings, how our words and actions become a part of our friends forever and how our emotional states and feelings can change.



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We adore meeting up with our SCH Sisters. We are paired up with Mrs. O'Neill's 3rd Grade Class:



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We had the pleasure of reading with Mrs. McRae's class one afternoon:



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It was very exciting to be a part of the French Honor Students' design thinking project. They came down to interview us about reading. We shared what and how we liked to read. They created a book for us in French and recently shared the prototype with us. Then we gave them some feedback on their work. Keep checking in for the many ways we build community!



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Article posted November 1, 2012 at 05:59 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 89



Article posted October 27, 2012 at 10:16 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 89

We have been talking a lot about money in Math Workshop lately. Identifying coins, counting coins, adding and comparing amounts and more. On Friday I sent home a packet of materials to maintain and extend our money counting skills.



The concept of money, however, is so much larger than adding change together. Here are some resources to support your conversations regarding earning, saving, spending, donating, entrepreneurship and responsible money management for children:



There are a few "piggy banks" you can buy that visually support your child's understanding of dividing money between saving, spending, donating and even investing. The Money Savvy Pig and The Moon Jar are two available commercial products. You could also create your own money system with items in your home as this family did.



The National Geographic Kids Website has a series of music videos regarding these themes. The Cha-Ching Kids sing about saving, entrepreneurs, earning and where money comes from.



This Wall Street Journal article shares some online and app options for families.



You can prompt conversations about money using fiction and non-fiction children's books.

Article posted October 27, 2012 at 10:16 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 89



Article posted October 24, 2012 at 02:52 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 106

In Writer’s Workshop we have been following a theme of sketching with the intent of looking very closely at an object, a picture or a moment. We began with a discussion of what sketching is. The girls had heard of sketching before in terms of “drawing without color,” “quickly drawing,” “sketching something out” and “drawing a plan.” Many remembered sketching a picture for their story to help them remember what they were going to write about from Kindergarten. Together we practiced sketching on dry erase boards. We focused on drawing the whole time and adding details.



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Next, we moved on to studying one object very closely. We spread out around the room and each girl chose something in the classroom to sketch. We sketched with pencils both in drawing the object and sketching out descriptions with words. I modeled by doing the same assignment with an object, my sunglasses! The girls worked for the entire writing time continuing to add words that described their object. For some the object began to inspire observations or questions. It was fabulous to see the variety of thinking that took place while concentrating for an extended period of time on one object.

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After coming back to the same piece of writing a few times the girls were able to practice the skill again with a second object.





Using a variety of mentor texts we explored how authors and illustrators often use labels to add detail and explain further what they described in their text. We reviewed what and how to label by labeling….me! The girls then went back to their past two pieces of writing and added labels to their drawings.

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It has been a wonderful unfolding as we purposefully move through the unit. Tomorrow, weather permitting we will move outdoors and practice sketching something outside. At home you can encourage your daughter to draw and write about what she sees in her world. She can add details with descriptive words and with labels. She is quickly becoming an expert in looking closely!

Article posted October 24, 2012 at 02:52 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 106



Article posted October 23, 2012 at 08:49 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 97

Throughout unit two we continue to introduce and explore a variety of math tools. The other day we explored rulers. We utilized them in a comparison exploration and as a tool for drawing straight lines.



Here we are, hard at work!



 



 



Article posted October 23, 2012 at 08:49 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 97



Article posted October 18, 2012 at 06:00 PM GMT-5 • comment (1) • Reads 132

The First Grade Everyday Math program has many elements that provide a comprehensive, challenging and supportive experience for the girls. One element that I find particularly critical is the partner and group work. These first few weeks we have been working closely with familiar games that involve dice, pennies, counting, cards and an updated favorite from Kindergarten – Monster (Number Line) Squeeze! As we work in partners and teams we spend a good amount of time practicing team building and group etiquette.



Although group and partner work is no stranger to these girls, it has been very important that we take time to continue to build upon their current skill set in this area. As we all know, it is life long work! When we are young we are working hard to find the balance of enjoying the “fun” of the game and not losing focus that we are engaged in an important learning experience. I regularly reiterate to the girls that every part of what we are doing is important and we are learning bits and pieces that we will need later on. The Math Program has three basic principles for partner and group interaction: Guide, Check and Praise. We have routinely reviewed these expectations and have agreed that they indicate the following (in 1M language):





  • Help and show without bossing or doing everything yourself.Don’t tell the answer!


  • Take turns.


  • You can get the teacher if you need her. It is ok to get help with a math problem or a team problem.


  • Pay attention to your friends. They are teaching you when they talk.


  • Pay attention to your friends. They are teaching you when they are having their turn.


  • Don’t say, “You’re Wrong!” Say, “Look again” or “Let’s try again” or “Close.”


  • Let people know they are working hard.


  • Thank people for being good partners.




In addition to these specifics, all of our “Class Promise” agreement holds true. It is a challenging request of young girls! This was very evident during one math workshop when we had switched from partners to groups for the first time. The task was to perform straightforward counting activity that they had done several times individually and then again with partners. Now there were three or four participants. Several girls commented during clean up time, “That was the hardest math time!”



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We had a discussion at the closing circle that day about why it was hard. The conclusions were that the more people you work with the harder it may be. We concluded the discussion agreeing that it was important to practice with our groups and partners. The more we practice the better we will become. And the more prepared to take on the mathematical challenges that await us in the Everyday Math Program.

Article posted October 18, 2012 at 06:00 PM GMT-5 • comment (1) • Reads 132



Article posted October 16, 2012 at 08:29 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 120

Knowing about compound words helps us both with our word attack skills while reading and as writers in writer's workshop!!



Article posted October 16, 2012 at 08:29 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 120



Article posted October 13, 2012 at 07:42 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 103

Blue and Gold 2012 from Stephanie Moore on Vimeo.

Article posted October 13, 2012 at 07:42 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 103



Article posted October 12, 2012 at 09:17 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 87

Bee Hive from Stephanie Moore on Vimeo.

Article posted October 12, 2012 at 09:17 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 87



Article posted October 9, 2012 at 08:35 PM GMT-5 • comment (1) • Reads 88

Article posted October 9, 2012 at 08:35 PM GMT-5 • comment (1) • Reads 88



Article posted October 8, 2012 at 04:35 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 89

What a time we had making our way to the Wissahickon on Thursday. We hiked through the woods for an hour making some stops along the way to learn about some invasive species of plants. When we reached the water everyone "pulled up a rock" and we happily ate our lunches. Then it was time to make our way back to school where we contentedly collapesed for some quiet downtime in our classroom. The day was certainly memorable!





Article posted October 8, 2012 at 04:35 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 89



Article posted October 2, 2012 at 04:33 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 111

After a fabulous first blogging session. I asked the girls why they think we blog:



-To get to be better writers



-To learn new words



-To practice typing



-Because we are good at it



-To tell people news



-To be better readers



-To share a story



-To tell the world things



-Because we are important



-Because we have good ideas



-Because it is what we do



-To practice our spelling words



-Because people around the world can read it. That's cool.



-So Mrs. Jacoby knows what we are doing



-Because Ms. Moore blogs



-Because we are learning to be better writers and writers type and write on paper



-Because blogging is fun



-Because we have a class page and we are a class



-Because we are smart

Article posted October 2, 2012 at 04:33 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 111



Article posted September 28, 2012 at 03:43 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 92

We adore exploring the world around us with Ms. Szalay. She teaches us to look carefully.



 



Article posted September 28, 2012 at 03:43 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 92



Article posted September 27, 2012 at 09:30 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 115

Social-Emotional learning is a critical and integral portion of the First Grade program. It is weaved into conversations throughout the day on an emergent, organic basis as challenges, kindnesses and observations occur. It is present in our opening and closing circles where we set the tone for each day, review goals, solve problems and explore vibrant intriguing literature related to our character education themes. Expectations for group behavior and teamwork weaves its way through the Everyday math program and our individualized reading and writing curriculums highlight responsibility, independence, integrity, self-control, self-reflection and respect. In addition to all of these powerful learning opportunities First Grade utilizes one of its Flex Times to come together as an entire grade and engage in the important work of Social-Emotional learning. We weave teacher created activities into our formal program, Second Step. Tuesday we came together to practice skills surrounding empathy. We focused on identifying feelings in other people, reflected on what are acts that would make us feel happy and then we drew pictures of us playing with a new friend that was not in our homeroom class. We are looking forward to many more of these special moments together.





Article posted September 27, 2012 at 09:30 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 115



Article posted September 24, 2012 at 01:10 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 111

Today the girls will bring home their first spelling words list.  Are you looking for some engaging and fun ways to practice those words? Here are some ways to practice writing and spelling these and any words that we have to memorize. These are also great tools for building words.



Write on a magna doodle Unknown



Write on a dry erase board



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Ipads and Itouches You can use sight word or word building apps but many of the apps are pretty limited. Most sight word apps are just glorified flash cards, but they can have their place if it is a fit for your daughter. My favorite thing to do with ipads and itouches is use fun doodle apps such as Glow Coloring to write the words or create sentences.....



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Use sidewalk chalk



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Aquadoodle



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Put a bit of sand or salt in a shallow tray. Write with your finger.



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Use shaving cream on a kitchen table or tray



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Bath Crayons



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Scrabble Tiles



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magnetic letters



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roll out letters from playdough



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letter stamps



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letter stickers - look for them at the dollar store!



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Crayola Glow Station



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Cheez it Scrabble Crackers



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Alphabit Cereal



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Place some paint in a large plastic bag and seal and tape shut. Write letters by pressing with finger or Q-tip



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Choose a fun font and type on the computer



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PE style!! Spread out felt squares with the letters written in sharpie around an area. Throw a bean bag to spell words. DSCN0497

Article posted September 24, 2012 at 01:10 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 111



Article posted September 22, 2012 at 01:43 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 80

What do you remember about your First Grade math time? Do you remember playing games? Do you remember collaborating with a team? Do you remember solving problems on a SMARTboard? Do you remember having your own personal tool kit of math materials that you are responsible for? Do you remember singing songs? Do you remember reading beautifully illustrated picture books? Do you remember laughing and feeling proud?



Whatever your memories of math, these are just some of the memories your daughter will take away with her from the First Grade Math program.



We have been spending the past 12 days in math as we have in our writing and reading workshops…building rituals and routines. The girls are adjusting to the routine quite nicely. We have math explorations every day. We closely follow the Everyday Math Program and then add in additional literature, games and activities that support and enhance each unit of study.



Unit 1 has been a review of familiar skills and vocabulary that allows us to focus closely on the rituals and routines of math workshop. The girls are working hard at establishing supportive, encouraging, productive and positive partnerships. While engaging in group lessons, individual work and partnership activities we are consistently utilizing the language that produces a learning environment where each girl’s abilities and knowledge are respected. These important life skills will be critical as we move forward in the program and tackle more challenging content. Additionally they are conversations that cross the curriculum as we discuss ourselves as learners who are each growing at our own pace and each have individual goals.



Get ready to learn some exciting math games! Your daughters have math homework each night and often it will be to teach you a game! Keep those family game nights going as well. The social and mathematical skills fostered by board games will support your daughter in school.



























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Article posted September 22, 2012 at 01:43 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 80



Article posted September 14, 2012 at 05:08 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 95

In the past eight days we have been building in time to explore the important realm of reading. Reading is more than just decoding words. For me it is about building a community of respectful, engaged, enthusiastic, supportive and reflective readers. We need to reflect on our own reading identities in order to relate to our classmates' and teachers' reading identities.



In 1M we each have a book basket, Ms. Moore included! We have been focusing on the habits that will lay the groundwork for tons of independent, engaged reading. You learn to read by reading so it is important to create an environment and community where the girls can have a great deal of time with their books.



As the year progresses we will grow our sense of ourselves as readers, increase our repertoire of reading strategies, develop the habits of reflective readers and just learn to LOVE reading!! Today the girls said that the classroom was so relaxed that they felt like they were at the beach! Thus the beach theme below.... Enjoy!





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Article posted September 14, 2012 at 05:08 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 95



Article posted September 7, 2012 at 04:13 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 102

We have begun to practice the behaviors that will create a productive and peaceful and exciting writer's workshop.



 



 





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Article posted September 7, 2012 at 04:13 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 102



Article posted September 5, 2012 at 01:45 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 64





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Dear Families, Our First day of First Grade is finished! The girls were stellar problem-solvers and we worked hard to support one-another, as First Grade is new to all of us. We began crafting our Class Promise today. As we finish it we will share it and its story with you. We had an engaging class discussion about how each day we are growing more capable and independent and what new responsibilities occur in First Grade to reflect this. Look for more details about our discussion on the class website in the next few days. Before we know it we will all feel as if we have been together for weeks, not days because we will be rooted deep in the routines, rituals and relationships of our community. Each child is different and some will take to our new rituals quickly, while others will need a few weeks to adjust. Please keep me updated on how your daughter is feeling. My dear friend from college’s son began First Grade last week. We spoke about having a little “FaceTime” via iphone to talk about his first day. He had crashed into bed before I could speak to him but I received the sad report that he found the first day, “long and boring.” This was not encouraging news for Mom, an experienced First Grade teacher! A few days later though his mom and I were able to translate his 6 year old comment. We uncovered that in fact he was indeed finding it a bit long and was quite tired as he adjusted from ½ day Kindergarten and summer fun. We also heard more about how astounded he was at learning so many new things. “There are so many things to remember. How to do things and where things go and when to do things and the order of things.” In this case “boring” really meant, “There is a lot to learn and I am getting to know my new teacher and I am worried I won’t do the right thing.” Many of you have heard me refer to getting to know a new classroom as similar to starting a new job. You could be a seasoned professional in your field and even be familiar with many of your new colleagues, but there is often that bit of discomfort and unease as you learn the new culture of the group and position. It is hard not to know! Before we know it these 12 girls will be expert First Graders and leaders in the school. I look forward to our journey together this year!

Article posted September 5, 2012 at 01:45 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 64



Article posted June 7, 2012 at 02:22 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 75

Final Assembly 2012 from Stephanie Moore on Vimeo.

Article posted June 7, 2012 at 02:22 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 75



Article posted June 5, 2012 at 02:48 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 95

Dear Families,



Summer is here. In the last week, I have thought a whole lot about letting the girls go. The time that we spent together in the crowded confines of our classroom was special. May sound a bit trite but oh how true it is. Together a community of friends, advocates, problem solvers, learners and teachers was built. It did not come easy. There were peaceful days and rigorous days. Days full of smiles and yes sometimes, some tears. Massaging a group of 15 powerful girls into self-confident, outspoken, hard working learners means introducing a lot of challenges and sometimes pushing ourselves to our limits of comfort. The girls have done that regularly. Pretty impressive for 5 and 6!



When school is first over and summer is just beginning children can feel a loss, a vacuum. They have been immersed in the culture of their peers and each day they knew where they were going and what was going to happen. They had each other and time to figure out things for themselves and there was always another child to talk to and play with. Michael Thompson says that the reason a child comes to school is to look into another child’s eyes and be seen. First Grade is really on our minds now that we have visited the cafeteria. Some may be dealing with the idea of the transition by thinking about having me as a teacher again next year. I very much encourage you to be conscious of not using that as a transition piece. Sectioning is not finalized until the end of the summer and though we listen to parent input and weigh that with our own knowledge of the girls, nothing is for sure until that final list is sent out.



What supported us in our busy days in K was our quiet times. Even with our busy, busy days, we had down time: white space in our lives. I have read a lot about the idea of including white space in your life. For me white space is that margin you leave in your life between working hard, being productive and reaching your outer limits, becoming overwhelmed. You create it by building simplicity, contentment, balance and rest into your life. That is what the summer is for and that is what will support your daughter is re-energizing and refocusing herself for First Grade. With white space on your calendars and in your lives the summer can be for learning new things, getting better at talents, finding comfort in alone time and joy in being with friends. We had a meeting in KM about this today. We started formulating a working list of what we could do in the summer that was NOT watching TV.



Your daughters have spent a tremendous amount of time and effort getting better at things this year. This summer I hope they have time to just be.

Article posted June 5, 2012 at 02:48 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 95



Article posted May 29, 2012 at 10:59 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 96

Have you been wondering why those Friday folders are so skinny?!? We have definitely been as busy as always. Our Navajo folders are brimming with written work reflecting our growing knowledge. We have been addressing many of our other skills and goals in ways that are not currently being reflected in papers going home. Here is a quick rundown on what we have been tackling for the last few weeks:



Reading Workshop:

- The “tools” of good readers - strategies for the girls to use when tackling unfamiliar words in new books

- Continuing to build stamina in reading independently

- Talking about books – comprehension

- Building fluency by practicing our familiar books

- Identifying books that are good for us – not too hard, not to easy

- Connecting texts to ourselves and other texts

- Vowel work



Writer’s Workshop

- Vowel work

- Using lowercase letters

- Creating stories with a beginning, middle, and end

- Using capitals and periods and exclamation marks

- Using speech bubbles

- Writing with non-fiction elements

- Neatness, letter formation, using spaces

- Answering the question, What do good writiers do?



Math Workshop

- Addition

- Subtraction

- Time to the Hour

- Coins

- Two-Dimensional Shapes

- Symmetry

- Number words



Character Education

- Feelings Change

- What to do when you disagree

- Respecting the speaker, being a good listener

- Working as a team

- Working with a partner

- How to deal with a “bad” day

- What does a good friend look like, sound like and feel like?

- Family

I promised myself I would only send you one page, so I will stop. ☺

Article posted May 29, 2012 at 10:59 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 96



Article posted May 26, 2012 at 10:45 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 105

Article posted May 26, 2012 at 10:45 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 105



Article posted May 24, 2012 at 07:22 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 147

In our first days together KM read the book "This School Year Will be the BEST!" by Kay Winters.



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We set out to think about what we wanted to make happen in Kindergarten this year. Each of your daughters thought of at least one goal they wanted to set for Kindergarten.



We definitely worked hard and I think most of the girls reached their personal goals. Well, I couldn't swing a trip to Outer Space, budget and all, but otherwise I feel as we are in pretty good shape.



Enjoy!



Article posted May 24, 2012 at 07:22 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 147



Article posted May 22, 2012 at 09:52 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 154



As we began morning meeting on Monday suddenly one girl called out, “Ms. Moore!  I heard you were going to teach First Grade!” I realized if the girls knew of this change we definitely needed to speak about it.  As I shared in one of my last letters, I prefer that the girls not worry all summer about sectioning, and certainly not in our last few days of Kindergarten. We had an unplanned class meeting about changes. 



 



I shared with the girls that I would indeed be teaching First Grade next year and I am sure some of them are wondering if I would be their teacher again.  KM girls know that learning is a balance of what is good for the team and what each individual needs.  We each have different strategies that we may or may not need to apply to be the best learner.  I explained to the girls that ALL the teachers put a whole lot of thought into how to make the best class for each girl.   Just like we worked hard to figure out how to make the best class of friends and make the best teacher fit for Kindergarten, we would do the same for First Grade.  I told the girls that even though I may have been the perfect Kindergarten teacher for them, together we will figure out who is the best group of friends and teacher for them for First Grade!  They will get a chance to be in class with KC girls and we have to make room for seven new First Grade friends!



 



Some families may not realize all of the thought and time that goes into sectioning.  It is not a quick process by any means.  We think deeply about the girls’ academic, physical, social, emotional, intellectual and behavioral strengths and areas of challenge.  The teachers think about who are the best friends to be together in the classroom learning and who are work best together seeing each other on the playground. We strive to create balanced classes so that each has strong artists, writers, problem solvers, mathematicians and public speakers to mentor the rest of the class team.  We think about where families live so that playdates may be more likely and close friendships could be fostered and we consider how personalities will enhance each other in the class and which girls will stretch one another’s thinking and resolve when placed together.  We also take into consideration the teacher’s personal style, however SCH Lower School teachers are an amazing group of educators and the girls would blossom in any one of their classes.  



 



By the end of the meeting we had come to the agreement that we all had a big job ahead of us to get ready for First Grade, even Ms. Moore!  I told them to trust their teachers who love them to make the best class for them and to know that in the end they would be very, very happy.  I even asked the former Pre-K girls to think back to last year and that some of them probably had hoped they may get Ms. Culbert, but look what a great year they had!  The same would be true in First Grade.  Sometimes you don’t feel like it can be any better than you have it now.  I know that feeling well.  Today was the day the new Kindergarten girls came to visit and normally I would be meeting with them.  It is an exciting day but I am never really ready to start thinking about next year’s class when they come.  It is unthinkable at this point to consider saying goodbye to the current girls.  I am sure many of you are feeling that way too.  But, rest assured we are all going to be fine!  Change is hard but it is the only way we all can grow or learn. 



 



The girls know they have changed so much from the beginning of the year and they have learned so much.  I let them know that it was only fair that we had girls go to every First Grade so that they could teach other girls all that they now know about being a powerful strong learner, a gentle and forgiving friend, a problem solving peacemaker, a passionate and cooperative teammate and a thoughtful and mindful citizen.  They have a lot to share with the world!



 



So, now the girls know not to be worried and hopefully you now know as well.  We have had an unforgettable year together but it is not over yet!  You won’t even believe what we have left to do together.  I can’t wait to enjoy these last few days with your girls.  They are a special group of ladies that I would love to keep with me for years and years and years but I can’t be that selfish.  So before we move onward and upward, let’s just think about the next few days!  Keep a look out for lots of news about what we have been working on and what we have to do the last few days of school. 







You and Me be Genevieve cote 11-12

Article posted May 22, 2012 at 09:52 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 154



Article posted May 20, 2012 at 07:15 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 119

We made Navajo Cradleboards. After Creating them we had a cradleboard ceremony to put our dolls in them for the first time while listening to Sharon Burch sing The Cradleboard Song.





 



We read "When Clay Sings" and then formed our own pinch pots. We will fill the pots with cornmeal so the girls can perform our "I will live well today" blessing at home each morning as well as at school.



 



A few of the girls had fun showing off their SCHindig shirts on Friday. They are a cheery, silly, group of ladies.

Article posted May 20, 2012 at 07:15 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 119



Article posted May 19, 2012 at 03:06 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 125

Wow! What an afternoon we had on Thursday. The girls were thrilled to give a thorough tour of their classroom...and beyond!! They were so on the move that I actually seemed to miss snapping a few pictures of people. Though a few may be missing from the slideshow, one thing that was not missing was the pride the girls were feeling. They were empowered and knowledgeable. They explained what everything was and I heard girls describing how they created projects, what was hard and what where they felt most successful. They were overjoyed to have this special day and I am sure our visitors were too. Thank you soooo much for taking time to come to visit us.



























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Article posted May 19, 2012 at 03:06 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 125



Article posted May 16, 2012 at 03:41 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 140

Though the rain has been pouring down on us, spring has definitely sprung. The majority of the year is behind us. In fact, I believe we only have fifteen more days together in KM. And by the way, someone told me this fact, I swear I am not counting. ☺





Each spring a strange occurrence takes over classrooms. You will hear teachers all over the nation say, “Haven’t we gone over this ‘a million’ times before?” The spring is a strange time. I always feel as if we are suddenly on warp speed. The days seem to pass by faster and faster. Things are coming to an end and although five and six year olds’ sense of time still has a lot of growth to be had (any family with a vacation in the future knows this: Are we leaving yet? Are we leaving yet?), their keen senses have picked up on these transitions in their future. Some girls have already been anticipating change for weeks. At the end of this letter I have included some snippets of a blog entry by author and educator Chip Wood. Teachers everywhere shout out, ”Yes! That is what is happening,” after reading his words on many topics, especially this subject.





Mr. Woods articulates what is fairly typical and developmentally appropriate at this time of year. I have been working hard to keep the class in the moment and not get ahead of ourselves - thinking about first grade or even summer plans. Discussions around placement also activate anxiety about the change ahead. I have heard many questions, “Will my friends be there?” “Will we get to go to music?” “Who will my teacher be?” “Do they have art cubbies in first grade?” and on and on. September is very, very far away and it is such a long time for your daughter to be worrying about what will happen. I would even refrain from discussing summer camp plans right now. Although it seems like tons of summer fun, many of the same questions apply. Although some days it seems that the class cannot remember some of our simple daily routines, the truth is that they know. They know what to expect, they know the rules, they know their teachers, they know where they are going each day, and they know their friends. It is hard for them to realize that you are not going to know. Remember way back when, that seems like yesterday, when I compared your child starting Kindergarten to you starting a new job? Well, she knows there is a “career change” ahead and it may make her nervous. Let’s not let your daughters dwell on it too much. This is a time for reassurance and focus on the day ahead.





It is also a time to focus on doing our best and getting back to the basics that make the class productive and joyful. However much I have this spring disequilibrium in my consciousness, it somehow even takes me by surprise each year. It kind of feels like a train derailing for a moment and then you realize, “Aha, time to get this back on track. Time to let these girls know that expectations are the same and for at least these next fifteen days they will be experiencing the comfort of their familiar classroom.” Our class team challenge regarding our group work was one outcome of this Aha moment this year. I am sure you have heard about those bags of chips. I didn’t get to collect a single one today!





And, that is where we are. Fifteen days together that I plan to be productive, enlightening, joyful and busy. There are so many exciting events to look forward to:Grandparents and Special Friends Day, Navajo Trading Post, End of Year Kindergarten Party, and a concert for the families. You can always direct your daughter to think of these exciting activities if she is focusing too much on the summer or next school year. If your daughter is asking questions or having anxiety about the changes ahead or you are wondering if she is, please feel free to speak with me. I am happy to help answer any questions and ease her worry.





A bit from Chip: Spring transitions call for more structure, not less As highlighted in my last blog entry, it’s that time of year when there’s more to do then there is time to do it. No one feels the anxiety of this more than the children in our classrooms, and the children who feel it most intensely are those facing the greatest challenges. Whether we are a parent of one of these most needy kids or one of their teachers, we’ll begin to see what I call “summer anxiety” bloom earlier in spring in them than in the other children. As when we see a crocus emerging from the snow or the first daffodil, we’re often surprised to see the behavior of our early harbingers of things to come. Perhaps from a rough start at the beginning of the school year, this child has made significant progress academically and socially, thanks to the combined efforts of teachers, staff, and parents working and communicating together around puzzling academic struggles and the ups and downs of friendship patterns. The child has shown courage in reaching out to a new student who has come into the class and finally seems to have a close classmate.
 But not long after spring break, many of these gains, on the surface, seem to disappear. Old patterns of work refusal and anger on the playground surface. When the new friend plays with other classmates, the child refuses to come in from recess.

This is a signal, a red flag if you will. With the keen adaptive sensitivity that so many of our neediest children possess, the child who has benefited so remarkably from the clear structures, supports, and predictability of classroom routines and practices has sensed that the structures are disappearing. Things are beginning to feel different. There’s too much going on. Essentially, the message is that in the last weeks of the school year we need more structure, not less. This is the time to tighten up so that we do not lose all that we’ve gained. We need to make sure we can take time during these final weeks to cherish each of the children we’re about to pass on. So, paradoxically, we must go back to beginnings, help children remember all the basic rules of our classroom, of kindness, of academic rigor, of how to be good school citizens in the halls, on the playground, in the cafeteria

Article posted May 16, 2012 at 03:41 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 140



Article posted May 15, 2012 at 05:47 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 94

We have been very busy. Here are some pictures from two special moments: We were able to set up our classroom composter so we can more easily compost our food scraps and keep our waste way down. We became experts in creating a no waste lunch in April and we want to continue on the path! Thanks to Laura for her help!!!



Mrs. LaSorda was kind enough to take some time to bring a beautiful chick to visit us. We adored spending time with this cheeping little cutie.

Article posted May 15, 2012 at 05:47 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 94



Article posted May 9, 2012 at 09:12 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 108

We have been thinking a lot about Time. We have been thinking about days, weeks, months and how to read the clock to the hour. Here are some of the clock songs we have been listening to!



Article posted May 9, 2012 at 09:12 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 108



Article posted May 8, 2012 at 01:26 PM GMT-5 • comment (1) • Reads 106

Have you walked the Kindergarten through the Kindergarten Halls lately? We have stories and songs for you to listen to! Just scan the QR codes with your Smart phone, itouch or ipad scanner.



Coming soon, Listen to us read our amazing Navajo Inspired Chants and Poems.



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Article posted May 8, 2012 at 01:26 PM GMT-5 • comment (1) • Reads 106



Article posted May 6, 2012 at 09:23 AM GMT-5 • comment (1) • Reads 127

Article posted May 6, 2012 at 09:23 AM GMT-5 • comment (1) • Reads 127



Article posted April 30, 2012 at 06:52 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 98

Our trip to the Southwest has led us through the desert, over mountains, and into canyons. Exploring the animals of the desert created a familiar and exciting bridge between our Animals in Winter study and our final focus. In studying the geography of our trip we continue to assess plausible modes of transportation that could help us reach the Southwest and help us explore the area. I have enjoyed sharing photos from my trip to Arizona I took several years ago, revealing a few at a time as they relate to our studies. Our discussions of the people of the Southwest began with us reflecting upon what we have heard about or knew about Native Americans. Every girl shared things they knew about American Indians or Native Americans as they shared I typed away to keep track of their ideas. Much confusion and many generalizations and false information was evident in these ideas. “They wear saris,” “They lived long ago before us” or “they all live in teepees” “are evidence of the media images young children may regularly be exposed to. I attached the document of what we think we know to along with this letter. When we looked at pictures of the Navajo they were able to start processing this false perception. “They have beautiful jewelry.” “They are riding horses.” “She is eating an ice cream sandwich!” “She is riding a Hello Kitty Bike!” “He is wearing a Spiderman T-shirt!” “They have a classroom like ours!” There is much to learn. We will spend the remainder of the year exploring the true life and traditions of the Navajo, bringing light to the way they weave native traditions and modern life together.



 



I can’t even seem to keep up with some of the girls’ desire to change their books in their book baskets these days. They are continuing to learn to “shop” for books independently and trying to choose “good fit” books that are just right for them. While some enjoy a constant cycle of books, others find it hard to let go of the familiar stories. These girls I encourage to try something new.



 



As these spring weeks will surely fly by, I reiterate my invitation for you to come spend some time with us – reading with your daughter in the morning or joining us for lunch are great options. Mystery readers are always welcome just let me know what morning (any but Wednesdays b/c of assembly) or afternoon you would like to pop in and “surprise” us.



 



What we “know” about American Indians



 



They don’t just wear clothes they wear a special kind of clothes. They make most of stuff out of animal fur. They don’t believe in the same stuff as we do. They have a dot on their foreheads. They don’t have real houses they live in teepees. They make drums and they make stuff out of clam shells. They go fishing a lot. They make purses out of candy wrappers. They kill lots of animals. They make fires a lot. They live near water. I think they might make their houses out of rocks. They eat hot peppers and the houses are made out of grass or hay. Their houses can be made out of sticks. Their houses can be made out of straw. Some houses are out of wood. They wear saris. They don’t have things like we do. They have special holidays that we don’t celebrate that much. They make a lot of things with their hands. It’s called handmade. They lived a long time ago. They carry their babies on little sack things on their backs. They like having lots of Indian parties. They came here a long time ago. They don’t really have animals. Like pets. There’s not a lot of stores near them. In fact, they don’t have any stores. Most of them live in apartments because theres not many houses. They still speak English. They wear boots. There’s not a lot of water where they live. They do speak English but they say lots of different words. There is an Indian called Crazy Horse. They tell lots of stories. Sometimes they have jewels on their face. They wear pants. They like to smoke. They don’t have a lot of clothes. Some wear don’t wear shirts at all. They ride horses where they are going. They have boats and their clothes are mostly white. They lived a long time ago and still live today. They don’t have a lot jobs. They don’t have much food. They make food like smashing up leaves.

Article posted April 30, 2012 at 06:52 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 98



Article posted April 27, 2012 at 07:26 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 123

good fit

Article posted April 27, 2012 at 07:26 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 123



Article posted April 24, 2012 at 05:00 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 91

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Article posted April 24, 2012 at 05:00 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 91



Article posted April 23, 2012 at 09:28 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 86

Article posted April 23, 2012 at 09:28 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 86



Article posted April 20, 2012 at 08:58 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 121

The occasional warm weather certainly has helped us transition our thinking from animals adapting to the winter to the Southwest. Here’s to many more warm days ahead. Coming back from Spring Break we all shared a US city we had traveled to (it didn’t have to be over spring break) and I marked it on a SMARTboard map. I then shared about my trip - a great trip to the Southwest that started in Phoenix, Arizona that I took several years ago. I was able to share some of my photos with the girls and we noticed how the landscape was very different from that outside our windows. I would really like to go back to the area someday and after studying the map the girls decided on and illustrated some possible modes of transportation I could try. A boat was definitely not a viable solution. We voted on which of the three common modes we would choose. Voting is a frequent occurrence that encourages us to think mathematically when we analyze our results. Each KM girl drew a picture of how I could travel and will write a story about me going back to Arizona. They have thought about their own travels too and each have made a map to their favorite place. Have you scanned the QR code by their maps in the hallway to hear all the details?



We have already learned a great deal about the Southwest’s landscape, climate and wildlife. The girls were able to help me repack my suitcase properly for the trip. I forgot that fancy silver sandals or yellow flip flops are not very practical when hiking in the desert. “Snakes or scorpions could get you, Ms. Moore!” As always, the girls were very supportive of my ignorance and happy to share with me what they knew about the desert. The Southwest is just brimming with animals to learn about and we each drew a portrait of one that we may see if we visited the desert. The girls’ close observations of landscape photography are evident in their watercolor portraits in the hallway.



Next week we will continue to explore the landscape and wildlife before moving on to the Southwest’s native people.

Article posted April 20, 2012 at 08:58 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 121



Article posted April 19, 2012 at 10:42 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 92



We certainly have been busy the last few weeks since returning from Spring Break.  Our math, reading, writing and social studies programs have been moving right along here in KM.  Equally (if not more) important is our character education work.  I am constantly spiraling back to themes in this part of our world and one of the threads that we have been thinking about a lot lately is how to cope with and move on from strong emotions.  We have often discussed this in conjunction with the ideas that everyone feels these emotions, they are not wrong and most importantly they do not last forever. 



 



We have been using some language from a beloved early childhood educator, Mr. Rogers, for the last few weeks.  After watching two episodes of the show that focused on our theme we asked the question, “What do you do with the mad that you feel?”  The girls were enthralled with the episodes, enchanted with the land of make believe and focused on the words of Fred Rogers.  One girl articulated what made Fred Rogers special as an educator and TV personality.  As he shared some important closing words she reflectively and seriously said, “He is talking right to me.”  The episodes, like the picture books we read, offer situations that are accessible, familiar and powerful for the KM girls to discuss analytically, free of the emotion and defensiveness that comes with their personal experiences.  This way we can practice the language and strategies I expect the girls to utilize when they are independently solving problems. 



 



Independently is a key word here.  Of course young children need support and intervention at times but I do believe Michael Thompson has it right when he says that children must learn to solve their issues without the intervention of an adult as much as possible.  As difficult as it is to see our girls struggle it is critical that we not shelter them from the tasks that are meant to build character and independence and friendship.  "There is no normal life that is free of pain. It's the very wrestling with our problems that can be the impetus for our growth." – Fred Rogers



 



The girls created an extensive list of strategies in response to our guiding question.  What powerful ideas they had: “Say, I won’t do it again,” “ask for a hug,” “change your mood.”  Some of my favorites were “do one of your talents,” “eat protein,” and “have a little bit of tea.”  They had informal homework to go home and ask their family about how they dissipate their anger/frustration.  If your daughter did not ask you it is a fabulous conversation to have.  Modeling and articulating when you are having a strong reaction to something and you are making a choice to go in a certain direction is powerful for our girls.  I do it often.  It is critical to their understanding that everyone has these feelings and needs to make choices about what to do.  They surely know I do!



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With this kind of mentoring they can know that they can love and respect me as a person who sometimes gets mad, sad, frustrated or confused and makes mistakes.  Knowing this creates some comfort that they will receive the same from their classmates and me.



 




“Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people.”

  - Fred Rogers
 



So, what do you do with the mad that you feel?



 



Among the many educators and innovators that I closely follow are the founders of The Blue School in NYC.  Recently The New York Times published this article that certainly reflects the thinking behind the importance of charactar education and social-emotional learning in KM.  



 



To learn more about the school check out this recent coverage on CNN's The Next List.  Great show by the way!

Article posted April 19, 2012 at 10:42 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 92



Article posted April 15, 2012 at 09:13 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 97

Important Dates



April 18th, ALL SCHOOL ART SHOW opening reception. The Art Show is ongoing. Your daughter will know where her piece is displayed and she would love to show you. If you can’t attend this week, any morning or afternoon when you drop her off or pick her up, she can take you and proudly show you her work. Don’t miss it.



April 18th, Spring Coat Drive Donate your gently used spring coats, sweaters and hoodies that the kiddos have outgrown or you find yourself not using. Think about those spring transitional pieces that others would be in need of at this time of year.



April 20, Friday NO WASTE LUNCH DAY Let’s see if we can pack our whole lunches in reusable containers and reduce the amount of trash lunch produces. There is more information for you on Friday’s VMB.



April 24, Tuesday WORK IN THE WISSAHICKON We need two parent/adult volunteers to help in the woods. We will be doing woods maintenance and planting. We need you from about 11:00-11:45. Come prepared to work. The girls should wear clothes they can get muddy.



May 4, Friday First Friday Can you believe we only have TWO more First Fridays!?!?!



May 4, Friday, MAY DAY May Day is a spectator sport for PreK, TK and Kindergarten. We will watch the older grades and picnic outside. You are welcome to join us around 11:30 for lunch BUT you do not need to come. With summer approaching, you will need all the days off you can save. So come if you can, and if you want to, but don’t worry otherwise.



May 17, Thursday, GRANDPARENTS AND SPECIAL FRIENDS DAY Grandparents Day starts after lunch and goes to the end of the day. The girls are free to leave with their grandparents or special friends when the afternoon is over, around 2:30. While you can skip May Day, you want to make sure your daughter has someone here for this day. Usually all K girls have someone here, and for the girls who do not have a special grown up here, it can feel lonely.



May 28, Monday, MEMORIAL DAY No school



May 31, Thursday Kindergarten CLASS PICNIC Our class picnic will be hosted by the Zogas and the class parents are organizing it. If you would like to volunteer to help or come have lunch with us, just let a class parent know.



AND THEN THE LAST DAY…



June 7, Thursday FINAL ASSEMBLY We will have our final assembly at 8:30, and it should last about 40 minutes. After the assembly, the girls are dismissed for the summer. There is no school or care for them during the day on June 7.

Article posted April 15, 2012 at 09:13 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 97



Article posted April 13, 2012 at 10:36 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 91

Dear Families,



With the return from Spring Break and the start of April we have been thinking a lot about taking care of the earth. April is Earth Month, next week is Earth Week, and the 21st is Earth Day but we know in KM that at SCH EVERYDAY is Earth Day!!



The first week of April we really concentrated on how to conserve paper resources. This is a challenging task for our KM group this year who adores few things more than a fresh stack of paper to draw, draw, draw or write, write, write. As supplies in the art area and writing area became low I encouraged the girls to think creatively about how they could create and what they could utilize. Our beautiful junk bin is typically an option during choice time and what happens during the course of working with this alleged “junk” is often amazing. One of our first junk engineers this year was Cate. She worked deliberately to create a metal detector. She led the girls in the challenge of creating with fewer resources. When girls build structures and sculptures from beautiful junk they are often met with a series of challenges. Things collapse, don’t stick, won’t fit together as proposed. One of our engineers recently rushed to me proud with a structure but upon lifting it from the table the insides of her structure tipped over the edge and fell to the floor. She was visibly upset. I encouraged her to go inspect her structure and see what she could do so that wouldn’t happen again. After some very intentional adjustments she brought her structure to me again. “Look!” she called while confidently turning her structure upside down. When I asked her how she could turn her structure upside down without worrying she told me, ”Well I made it stronger. I made it more secure with different tape. I added this (a bottle cap) so the big part wouldn’t wiggle. That’s stable isn’t it?” I definitely agreed and marveled at the language she had absorbed from our conversations in the block area and Physics Lab. Each of your daughters has had a similar but unique experience while building with the junk or blocks. The first week back a group of girls built a robot convention. Now a group of girls is thinking about how they could use the contents of the beautiful junk basket to create outfits and accessories for their stuffies. There were dresses, bandanas, purses, and flip flops to name a few. We’ve also had a doll made from a toothpaste box, a purse, a treasure box, and more.



For those of you who haven’t discovered our junk basket, it currently lives near the art shelf. Thank you for helping to keep it well stocked with items – paper towel rolls, packaging, tops from laundry soap, unused Dixie cups, cotton from medicine bottles, beads from broken necklaces, pieces of wrapping paper, fabric, ribbon and the like are always welcome



“So,” you may be wondering, “What do I do with the results of all of this fabulous creativity, persistence, and independence?” I will give you Kristin Trueblood’s well-tested parenting secret regarding junk sculptures. As her two daughters brought item upon item home in lower school she would admire them and leave them on the kitchen table for a few days. Then she would move them to the top of the washing machine. If no one mentioned the structure again, into the trashcan it slipped. As with the majority of the pre-k curriculum, the point is the learning process that comes with creating not the object itself. Speaking of process and creating, it is not uncommon for me to eventually spot a few girls stockpiling items from the junk basket in their backpack. The intent is not for them to bring home an untouched waffle box. I’ve spoken to the girls about utilizing the materials in school and bringing home their finished sculpture to share with you so feel free to follow up if you find any junk coming home untouched.



I can’t wait to see what they come up with next!!





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Article posted April 13, 2012 at 10:36 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 91



Article posted April 8, 2012 at 12:11 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 89

Article posted April 8, 2012 at 12:11 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 89



Article posted March 21, 2012 at 01:03 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 100

Many girls were excited to wear a fun dress, a princess outfit or something sparkly today for the royal fruit feast. We started the morning meeting discussing how each girl had chosen something that was right for them and how important it is to respect others choices. I am happy to say that this was just a reinforcement of everyone's behavior in the morning. No one questioned why one person would wear a princess dress and another pants. We were just together. We feasted on so many different kinds of fruit and we did it with our hands! KC told us that is how they would have a royal feast long ago.



Before our feast we enjoyed the story William's Doll by Charlotte Zolotow. It is about a little boy who wants a doll but his brother and friend tease him about it and his father keeps bringing him other things instead. Before the book ended we had a great discussion about whether or not William should get the doll.

"Yes, it is what he wants."

"He should get it because it is fun and he will like it."

"He can try what it feels like to be in charge because your parents are in charge of you and and you feel like that."

"He should be himself."

"Stand up for yourself."

"Stand up for your friend."

"He should have that and the other things."

"My brother likes to tell stories to his toys and put them to bed and pretend."



We practiced what we would say if someone teased someone we knew about something they liked or did or wanted. The class agreed that it was not ok to keep quiet.



William's Doll was adapted into a song for the Free to be You and Me soundtrack and then turned into a musical cartoon for the special in the '70s. We watched it on the Smartboard together. It is a pretty fun soundtrack and special with many great jumping off points for family conversation. I have borrowed the DVD and the CD from the public library many times. Maybe it would be something fun to check out over Spring Break.



Here are the songs we listened to:



Enjoy!











Article posted March 21, 2012 at 01:03 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 100



Article posted March 20, 2012 at 04:37 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 96

The delicious Cheddar Chowder was delivered to St. Vincent's this past Friday. Thank you so much to Stephanie, Alex and Nadine for helping the girls make it. Julia and Cate, thank you so much for bagging it up so we could pop it in the freezer so St. Vincent's could distribute individual portions.









Here is the recipe! - Spring Break project, anyone?

It makes a massive amount and you need a giant pot to combine it properly. I have made a 1/2 batch and 3/4 batch at home with no problems...



Chowder Ingredients

6 cups water

6 cups diced potatoes

1 1/2 cups diced carrots

1 1/2 cups diced celery

3/4 cup chopped onions

salt & pepper to taste



3/4 cup butter

3/4 cup flour

6 cups milk

6 cups cheddar (I always add more)

3 cups ham (can be more)



Directions

- put all veggies in pot and add the water. It is enough. Don’t add more or the soup will be too watery!

- cook until tender



In a separate pot:

- melt butter

- whisk in flour, milk, cheddar



- pour milk mixture into veggie pot (do not drain!)

- add ham







Article posted March 20, 2012 at 04:37 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 96



Article posted March 2, 2012 at 05:42 PM GMT-5 • comment (1) • Reads 116

A very special First Friday....... Share and Do.....



  



Article posted March 2, 2012 at 05:42 PM GMT-5 • comment (1) • Reads 116



Article posted March 1, 2012 at 09:20 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 107

We look may look like girls but we are not quite what we seem....



 



Article posted March 1, 2012 at 09:20 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 107



Article posted February 27, 2012 at 07:59 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 99

We had some special visitors in Kindergarten today.

Article posted February 27, 2012 at 07:59 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 99



Article posted February 24, 2012 at 07:44 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 98

Cereal for snack, graphing when our animals come out, interviewing each other about nocturnal habits, drawing our animals at night, AND (the highlight for many) making necklaces that glow in the dark!!  It all makes for a very busy Nocturnal Day.  





 



 



 

Article posted February 24, 2012 at 07:44 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 98



Article posted February 23, 2012 at 05:15 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 111



 



                        What do good readers do?





Stay focused and not get distracted by friends. – Maddie



 



Help a friend who needs help. – Ella



 



Be very quiet.  – Agharese



 



Sound the words out. – Ava



 



Treat your book basket books very nicely. – Aanika



 



To be a good reader is to try your hardest.  – Madison



 



Don’t bend the pages to bookmark your page.  Just use a bookmark.  – Cecelia



 



Never give up.  – Ariyahn



 



If you don’t know the word, tap it out.  – Grace



 



No stopping reading, keep reading.  Sound out and know some words. – Helena



 



Sit properly and treat your book basket very nice.  – Amelia



 



Pick a spot quietly. – Lexi



 



Read your books and never stop.  –Cate



 



Build stamina! – Aanika



 



Treat your books like they are your best friend – Cecelia



 



Don’t yell when you read.  Use a quiet voice.  –Maddie



 



Get started right away. – Elizabeth



 



Treat your reading partner nicely. Help them.  – Ariyahn



 



Be a good partner by listening to your partner.  – Cecelia



 



When it is your turn, read.  Just try and sound out.  – Kylie



 



Sit EEKK!  - Maddie



 



If you partner needs help with a word and you know the word you should help them. – Elizabeth



 



You should be taking turns and building stamina with your partner – Grace



 



The book should be in the middle of the partners. –Helena



 



Get your book baskets quietly.  - Lexi



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



Article posted February 23, 2012 at 05:15 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 111



Article posted February 15, 2012 at 07:45 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 89

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Article posted February 15, 2012 at 07:45 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 89



Article posted February 10, 2012 at 07:33 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 87

Valentine’s Day Fruit Fest

Article posted February 10, 2012 at 07:33 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 87



Article posted February 10, 2012 at 07:25 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 71

Article posted February 10, 2012 at 07:25 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 71



Article posted February 10, 2012 at 05:14 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 96

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Article posted February 10, 2012 at 05:14 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 96



Article posted February 8, 2012 at 04:05 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 87

A few moments from yesterday. Sorry for the delay. Log in issues but all seems to be resolved.



Some girls were waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay across the field engaged in important work - building houses for ants. I didn't make it over there to capture it unfortunately.







Article posted February 8, 2012 at 04:05 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 87



Article posted February 1, 2012 at 10:02 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 96

Are you looking for some engaging and fun ways to practice those sight words? Here are some ways to practice writing and spelling those words that we have to memorize. These are also great tools for building words.





Write on a magna doodle

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Write on a dry erase board

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Ipads and Itouches



You can use sight word or word building apps but many of the apps are pretty limited. Most sight word apps are just glorified flash cards, but they can have their place if it is a fit for your daughter.



My favorite thing to do with ipads and itouches is use fun doodle apps such as Glow Coloring to write the words or create sentences.....



photo



Use sidewalk chalk

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Aquadoodle

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Put a bit of sand or salt in a shallow tray. Write with your finger.

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Use shaving cream on a kitchen table or tray

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Bath Crayons

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Scrabble Tiles

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magnetic letters

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roll out letters from playdough

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letter stamps

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letter stickers - look for them at the dollar store!

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Crayola Glow Station

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Cheez it Scrabble Crackers

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Alphabit Cereal

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Place some paint in a large plastic bag and seal and tape shut. Write letters by pressing with finger or Q-tip

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Choose a fun font and type on the computer

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PE style!! Spread out felt squares with the letters written in sharpie around an area. Throw a bean bag to spell words.



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Article posted February 1, 2012 at 10:02 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 96



Article posted February 1, 2012 at 07:00 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 93

Today was.... 



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Digital Learning Day is a nationwide celebration of innovative teaching and learning through digital media and technology that engages students and provides them with a rich, personalized educational experience. On Digital Learning Day, a majority of states, hundreds of school districts, thousands of teachers, and nearly 2 million students will encourage the innovative use of technology by trying something new, showcasing success, kicking off project-based learning, or focusing on how digital tools can help improve student outcomes.



Blogging, Digital photos, Kid Pix, animation, Flipping, emailing, google earth, itunes, photobooth, itouches, laptops, ipods, Smartboard.......We are a hotbed of digital learning in KM.  I asked some girls why we use these things:



It is fun and helps us learn.  



Blogging helps us learn to write.  We write and people read it.




We get good at what we practice and it helps us practice to use itouches and listen to reading at the listening center and play Smartboard games



If we use the camera we can show our favorite things in our room.  We can talk about them.



I like interviewing people with the camera.



I like drawing on Kidpix.  If you add details it is better.



We are thinking.



We have fun and it is nice.



Because we can take care of it because we are big kids.



Sometimes you want to write and sometimes you want to type.  Sometimes you want to paint and sometimes you want to doodle on the ipad.  Sometimes you want to play with real cards and sometimes you want to play a computer game.



                                                                                      ...great insights, girls!



 



I have an evergrowing list of "things to try or add" that multiplies in my Evernote.  I decided to use this day to focus on one that has been on my list for quite awhile.



We are no stranger to ipads in KM.  We know how to find and use apps and are comfortable exploring and taking a picture.  As with other tools, my pedagogical focus for the ipads is to find ways to be producing and collaborating rather than purely consuming digital content.  



Today the girls engaged in a special treasure hunt.  Aanika and AJ do a fine job of describing it:





I love how each team created their own strategies for working out the division of labor.  That task was up to them and there were a variety of approaches.  Here Madison and Cecelia are working together to record the Fry Phrase they found:





We do not live on technology alone, however.  Today was full of math as we completed our February calendars, reading as we tried new books with our partners, scientific art as we carefully painted our winter animal, mathematical art as we joyfully painted symmetrical hearts, nature on an exciting walk with Mrs. Szalay, and so much more!  



 










 

Article posted February 1, 2012 at 07:00 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 93



Article posted January 28, 2012 at 06:50 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 90

We have been hard at work at a special project. Two other Kindergartens are doing the project at the same time - the Willow Grove Campus boys along with The Year One class at The Wellington International School in Dubai. When I shared with the girls that we would be doing a project with a school in Dubai I showed them where it was on the Globe and on Google Earth on the Smartboard. When presented with the question, "How could we ever do a project with this school!??!"  they quickly (not exaggerating that it was about 30 seconds) suggested the following: IMG_1167



We watched some slideshows about Dubai and shared what we had observed and noticed in the photos, trying to gather insight on the new friends we were making across the world. We are following the Stanford Approach to Design Thinking.  The very first critical step, and one that draws me so strongly to the Stanford Approach, is empathy. We had to empathize with those we were going to help. This process is considered human centered. Our first step in empathizing was to gather together and brainstorm our existing background knowledge on our subjects. The subjects in this challenge were princesses, princes and frogs. We used thinking maps, specifically "tree maps," to organize our information.



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I particularly liked that princesses, while beautiful, are brave, smart and clever. :) Next we read a portion of the book The Frog Prince, Cont. The girls' job was to closely "observe" the characters in the story so as to gain insight and understand their dilemma. As we could not actually interview the characters and immerse ourselves in their world, we utilized what we had discovered in our initial brainstorming with what we noticed in the book. The girls each took a turn in the "hot seat" portraying one of the characters.  They took on the role to be interviewed.  They ALL wanted to do it, which was not in the original plan, but the more people you interview in a design challenge, the more information you can gather! The girls did a fabulous job empathizing with each character's point of view.



Our next task was to develop a point of view statement to focus our thinking. We had to define the needs of the characters. Defining is the 2nd step in Design Thinking.



The brainstormed ideas were:



A Princess needs to be treated respectfully.



A Frog Prince needs to live with a human family before he gets married.



The Frog Prince needs to be with his frog friends.



The Princess needs the Prince to ask what she wants to do and what is bothering her and for him to say what is bothering him.



A Frog Prince needs water in the castle.



A Frog prince needs a place to have everything a frog needs and everything royalty needs.



We decided to use the last one as our POV statement. As we continued to define the problem we began to ideate (third step in DT) how we might solve this problem. We had to think....how might we.......



Ava said, "How might we make our own version to help them?"



Grace said, "How might we move a pond near a castle?"



We will continue to move forward with this fun, exciting and challenging work. We regularly post on our project blog and have loved commenting on the other class posts.



Stay tuned!!

Article posted January 28, 2012 at 06:50 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 90



Article posted January 28, 2012 at 08:27 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 106

We are becoming experts on the animals in the Pennsylvania Woods.  Each KM girl is focusing in on one animal:








We will use a variety of strategies to learn about our animal:










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And we will interview each other along the way:











Article posted January 28, 2012 at 08:27 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 106



Article posted January 25, 2012 at 09:53 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 86

Tours of our structures and ideas.







Article posted January 25, 2012 at 09:53 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 86



Article posted January 21, 2012 at 02:00 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 90









By now I am sure most of you have heard the bad news from your daughter.  Apparently, I need to think through my ideas more carefully.  Friday we read a captivating book, Stranger in the Woods.  It is a fun story with beautiful photographs I could read over and over again, and children seem to love hearing many times as well. 







Later we read a lovely, dreamy story, Winter Harvest by Jane Chelsea Aragon.  I commented that the story of a family gathering some food for a deer family was wonderful and the illustrations were fantastic, but that it had me a bit worried about the animals in our woods.  I heard it was going to snow tonight and I was very “worried” but I knew just what to do!  I would just gather all the extra food in my refrigerator and cabinets and leave it on my dining room table.  If I left the doors and windows open while I slept, the animals could come in, get warm and be able to eat.  The conversation that followed was full of disbelief, dismay, and delight.   For quite awhile the biggest concern was that I would get bit.  After some discussion Ella started to make me feel a little better, “But they have fur!”  Cecelia and Aanika assured me that animals could hunt for food.  And Ella added that some could cover themselves with leaves to keep warm.  Helena grabbed a book from her book basket to look up what bears eat because she was sure cereal and lasagna were not a fit. How could their teacher not know these things!!??!!  It is clear that I need some help. The girls have each chosen an animal that lives in the Pennsylvania woods and have promised to research that animal and teach me about it.  In the next few days, we will discuss how and where to get information.  We will also brainstorm a list of questions that we would like to know the answers to.  







The ultimate result of this information gathering will be that each girl will come in and teach the class about her animal.  She will be the expert.  This study of Animals in Winter is intended to be the girls first large scale research project.  The intent is that they will learn that when they don’t know an answer to a question, there are different ways to seek information and they have the capacity to do so.  Future letters will explain in more detail the timeline of the project, appropriate kindergarten level resources, and discuss how each girl will teach the class.







In math, we have continued working with large numbers.  You can practice reading and writing numbers 0-100.  Practice what comes next and before and comparing numbers.  We are counting by 2s, 5s and 10s.  Practice on the car ride home each day!  Grouping small objects by 2s, 5s, and 10s will elevate your daughters understanding of skip counting beyond rote number recitation.  In math we are also working on writing simple addition equations.  We are thinking about what the + sign and = sign really mean.  In reading, the girls are gaining much practice reading independently, reading to a partner, reading with a teacher, reading with a reading mom.  We are reading, reading, reading.  We love playing sight word bingo and a fun cyclical game called “Who Has?” 







It is an exciting and busy time in Kindergarten!  At the end of the day we had a talk about the exciting and challenging work ahead of us.  We have quite a bit on our plate!  We have started Charlotte’s Web and will be doing activities connected to the book leading up to our exciting all lower school week-long literature study event.  We also began a discussion about a very special design-thinking project that we will be participating in, in partnership with a Willow Grove Campus Kindergarten and a First Year Class at the Wellington School in Dubai.  More info to come!  Check out my twitter page for a list of answers to our first question!







So, make sure your girls are well rested each night and ready for tons of collaboration, cooperation, participation and deep thinking!  There will be no shortage of it in the weeks and months ahead.


 

Article posted January 21, 2012 at 02:00 PM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 90



Article posted January 19, 2012 at 10:49 AM GMT-5 • comment • Reads 130

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We studied about Martin Luther King, Jr. and we learned that Dr. King had a dream where everyone would be kind, helpful, and respectful of others. We have begun a special project to celebrate his birthday, which was January 15th. I shared with the girls that for my 35th birthday this December I chose to not go out and celebrate but instead I challenged myself to go into the community and perform 35 Random Acts of Kindness for others. From Dr. King’s Birthday until Valentine’s Day, we are going to see if KM can do 100 acts of kindness.



Our rule is that you cannot report your own act of kindness; someone else has to report something nice that you did. At school, the girls are going to be watching one another to look for those acts of kindness. If someone helps you find your lost crayon that’s an act of kindness to report. If you fall and someone helps you up and checks to be sure you’re OK, that’s an act of kindness too.



We want to invite parents, grandparents, friends, and neighbors to participate too. For example, if your child helps you fold clothes, carries out the trash without even being asked, or does an especially nice thin