Course Syllabus


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SHARING DAYS:  This year students will have the opportunity to share items/ information with the whole class every Monday morning.  Students can share favorite books, educational toys, something found in nature, projects made at home, photos, items from a vacation/trip, and/or unique items or special gifts.  With this way of sharing, your child will have many opportunities to share with the class throughout the school year instead of only one week with Star of the Week.

HOMEWORK:  Your child will have homework daily during the week.  First grade homework is given for review of daily lessons, to establish a homework time, and for practice of skills.  If your child is absent, I will send home activities that he/she missed.  This can be completed at your convenience.  If you feel that your child is spending too much time on homework, please let me know!  It may be that they need less homework or that they need to alter their homework time or place to have fewer distractions.

BIRTHDAYS:  Birthday treats are always welcomed.  Make sure that you bring enough for the entire class.  Please write me a note ahead of time so that I know what day you’ll be sending in the treat.  If your child has a summer birthday, you may send in a treat on their half birthday or wait until the end of the year.  We are a nut free classroom!

SNACK:  In order to keep our tummies from growling and feed our brains we will be taking a few minutes during the day for snack.  Snack will take place during read aloud, silent reading, or another quiet activity.  Because I would like for the kids to continue working while munching, I ask that you please send only HEALTHY dry foods (that don’t require eating utensils) for snacks.   Breakfast cereals, crackers, pretzels, dry vegetables, etc. are all acceptable.  This will keep our books and papers from getting sticky and gooey while reading and munching.  We have a drinking fountain in the room so drinks are not necessary.  We are a nut free classroom this year.  Please check all snack labels!  Thanks!

ZERO THE HERO:  Zero the Hero is a voluntary sign up.  In our morning meeting we count the number of days that we have been in school.  This helps the children put a symbol with the word.  It also helps with place value and counting by ten’s and five’s.  We also study patterns within the numbers.  On every tenth day Zero the Hero comes out and helps us count.  The child who brings in the item puts it into the mystery bag.  The children then play twenty questions to guess what is inside.  This helps with questioning strategies.  Feel free to be creative!  The treat can be food, a toy, stickers, or some other creative way to express the number zero.  Whatever you decide, it should be in the shape of a zero, circle, or ball and be enough for every student.  Please let me know ahead of time what you plan to send in. 

ARRIVAL/DEPARTURE TIMES:  Children may arrive at school between 8:25-8:35.  Please do not send your child early because they will have to wait outside until 8:25.  If your child arrives later than 8:35 she/he will be marked tardy.  This is school policy.  Our morning ends at 11:40.  School begins again at 12:30.  If your child goes home for lunch please make sure you have them back at 12:40 and not before.  Any student that returns from lunch early must wait in the lobby until the bell rings.  This is school policy.  The end of the school day is 3:10.  If you need to pick your child up early, you must sign them out in the office.

LANGUAGE ARTS:  Ohio’s Language Arts Common Core State Standards (CCSS) provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn and they are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers.  The areas of focus include the following sections:

  • Reading Literature
  • Reading Informational Text
  • Reading Foundational Skills
  • Writing
  • Speaking and Listening
  • Langauge

 We will incorporate the standards throughout our reading and writing workshops.  As I teach the skills in each domain, the students will have time to practice them within their own reading and writing.

DAILY 5/READING WORKSHOP:  The Daily Five is a way of structuring the reading block so every student is independently engaged in meaningful literacy tasks. These research based tasks are ones that will have the biggest impact on student reading and writing achievement, as well as help foster children who love to read and write. Students receive explicit whole group instruction and then are given practice time to read and write independently while I provide focused, intense instruction to individuals and small groups of students.

When it is up and running smoothly, students will be engaged in all parts of the Daily Five:

  • Read to Self
  • Work on Writing
  • Read to Someone
  • Listen to Reading
  • Word Work

There are very specific behavior expectations that go with each Daily 5 component.  We will spend our first weeks working intensely on building our reading and writing stamina, learning the behaviors of the Daily 5 and fostering our classroom community.  I have begun and will continue to spend time learning about your child’s strengths and greatest needs as a reader in order to best plan for each student’s instruction.

One thing you may notice is your child will not bring home lots of worksheets from this part of our day.  While worksheets keep students busy, they don’t really result in the high level of learning I want for your child.  Instead, your child is working on learning about “Good Fit Books” or books they can read, understand and are interested in, which they will read during Daily 5.  They will be spending most of their time actually reading, which research supports as the number one way to improve reading.  I anticipate the motivation and enjoyment of reading will skyrocket when this gift of choosing their own books is accompanied by extended practice and specific reading instruction for each individual child. 

GUIDED READING INSTRUCTION:  The district reading program is called Guided Reading.  It encompasses many different components of learning to read and write including phonemic awareness, high frequency words, word families, comprehension, reading strategies, inventive and conventional spelling, writing and reading for meaning, and modeling. 

The children will engage in daily reading and writing activities.  I will also be meeting with children in small groups where they will read with me 2-3 times a week.  Children who receive special reading instruction from Ms. Appel will not read with me until they are discontinued from her program.  We will work on specific reading strategies in the individual texts and then they will bring books home to read with you.  They will then be required to return those books the following reading day so that they can get new books.  If for some reason the child forgets his/her book, I will hold the new books until the old books are returned.  If the book is lost, you will be required to pay for it. 

As we read together I will model, explain, and enforce good reading strategies.  (Look for the tips for good reading towards the back of this handout.)  We will also discuss grammar, phonemic awareness, punctuation, comprehension, fluency, rhyming and patterns.  If they are a beginning reader I ask them to point to the words.  It helps keep them on track and stresses that each word belongs in a particular order.  It also helps them realize that words have spaces between them and do not run together.  As they become better readers we will focus our lessons more on comprehension, fluency, different genres, and word attack skills.

MORNING MEETING:  Each morning we will gather on the carpet for morning meeting.  Students will greet each other, share news and information, do a group activity, and look forward to the day ahead.  The morning message will help us revisit spelling of our high frequency words, use conventions properly, and review what we learn during word work.  Calendar also takes place during morning meeting.  We use this time to work on several math skills such as skip counting, money, place value, addition/subtraction, tally marks, patterns, and graphing. This daily routine builds community, creates a positive climate for learning, and gives children practice in a wide range of academic and social skills.

WORD WORK:  Activities are done to teach/practice rhyming, word patterns, high frequency words, vowels, segmenting, blending, and much more.  Throughout the year we will be studying “chunks” that are found in different words through the phonics dance.  This includes roots, blends, and diagraphs.  For example, we started with at and learned that we could make cat, sat, bat, etc.  We have recently worked on th.  The phonics dance is a quick and easy way to teach phonics skills, phonemic awareness, and increase the reading and writing skills of every student.  The phonics dance incorporates fun and motivating rhymes, movement and chants. As our class builds on phonemic awareness, students become confident, successful writers. In the process they develop strong decoding skills through the use of “hunking and chunking” to build poise and fluency in reading.

SPELLING:  Our district uses the program Sitton Spelling and Word Skills.  Children will work on spelling techniques throughout the year.  We will concentrate on high-frequency words and inventive spelling.  We have a spelling book that we will work through.  It correlates to our spelling program.  First grade does not “grade” spelling until the second half of the school year.  This gives children the time to learn how words work and how to spell some high frequency words.  You may notice your child’s spelling may not be perfect.  At this state we will use inventive spelling.  This developmental theory explains that children will develop spelling as they are able to pick up sounds in their words.  We do however, have a running list of NO EXCUSE WORDS.  These words they must spell correctly, thus moving them to the conventional spelling of words.  The no excuse words are words that we have worked on and the children know them quite well.  We also have a word wall of high frequency words that the children use in their writing.  I have included a list of the priority and core words for first grade.  If your child is able, you may start working on spelling these words correctly. 

WRITER’S WORKSHOP:  Learning to write is like a puzzle.  Just because students have the pieces, does not mean they know where each piece should go.  Writing is a means to communicate thoughts, share ideas, and express feelings and experiences. Primary students need explicit feedback, specific teacher language and focused instruction in order to develop into successful and confident writers.  The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University has created units of study that provide both teachers and students with a common language for discussing and improving writing. The units of study also provide teachers with specific lesson objectives, supported and modeled with children’s literature.  The first grade units are narratives, informational, and opinions.

HANDWRITING:  Our district uses the program Handwriting Without Tears to teach handwriting skills to our students.  In this program, we work on correctly printing uppercase and lowercase letters and writing of the numbers.  The goals for first graders are to become fluent with their handwriting, use correct printing skills, and make their writing legible.  In first grade, reversals of some letters (for example b and d) and numbers are very common.  However, my goal will be to help point out to students the mistake and help them to practice to write their letters and numbers correctly.  A copy of the letters and numbers is provided in the curriculum packet.

UNIT/THEME:  We will dive into the new school year with an author we know and love, Dr. Seuss.  He is known for his intriguing writing that draws us into his magical world filled with repetitive rhyming words.  His illustrations bring to life his fictional characters that we can relate to through their experiences in the stories.  This year we will also thoroughly read…

  • Clifford – books by Norman Bridwell
  • Ezra Jack Keats
  • Many, many more!

In social studies, our first graders will learn the importance of being strong citizens within their community.  They will learn how to be responsible and helpful within their neighborhood to make a positive difference.  We will also discuss…

  • Citizenship, Rights, and Government
  • People Now and Long Ago
  • Economics, Needs and Wants, Money
  • Our Community and the World

Through experiments, readings, and discussions, first graders will get answers to important questions about how, why, where, and what causes things to occur.  Science is all around us and we will answer questions about…

  • 5 Senses
  • Forces and Motion
  • Changes – States of Matter
  • Sun, Weather, and Energy
  • Living Things

MATH:  Ohio’s Math Common Core State Standards (CCSS) ensure that students will learn the skills and knowledge of concepts on a deeper level and with more meaningful understanding.  There are four main domains of the CCSS:

  • Operations and Algebraic Thinking
  • Numbers and Operations in Base Ten
  • Measurement and Data
  • Geometry

Included with the learning of these domains comes the mathematical practices:

  1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
  2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
  3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
  4. Model with mathematics.
  5. Use appropriate tools strategically.
  6. Attend to precision.
  7. Look for and make use of structure.
  8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.

 In order to achieve these goals, we will use the math program called My Math.  It correlates well with the Common Core State Standards.  It is a problem-based interactive program that develops problem solving strategies.  It is a highly visual program including both a text book and digital animation.  Skills are enriched with plenty of practice.  The program is researched based. 

**This syllabus is subject to change at any time. 
If this occurs, you will be informed of the change immediately.

Course Summary:

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