Author Archive

Writing Workshop!

Written by ErikaV. Posted in 1st Grade

At this point in the year, students have spent several months strengthening their writing skills in narrative and nonfiction genres. They are now primed to work in the third genre of writing: Persuasive!

This unit places new demands on the writer. Illustrations will no longer have a huge emphasis. Instead, students will be asked to write with more volume and sophistication. During the first part of the unit, students are expected to introduce the topic they are writing about, supply reasons for their opinion, and provide some sense of closure.

The first part of the unit began with students thinking about making judgments and considering reasons for their judgments. After judging collections and after ranking, comparing and declaring their best object, students are now moving on to writing REVIEWS! They can transfer and apply their new found knowledge of how to judge to rating restaurants, hotels, books, movies, parks, cities, etc…

In the last part of the unit, students will be supported in transferring and applying all of the work they have done with persuasion to other forms of persuasive writing which exist in the world. Students will listen to stories that model persuasive writing and together think about the qualities of good persuasive pieces.  Students will begin to construct their own persuasive texts, which will involve them in transferring and applying not only skills gained in persuasive writing, but also skills gained in earlier units in narrative and informational writing.

In addition, opinion writing lays the foundation for learning to write arguments, so this unit puts students on a pathway toward academic and professional success.

Reading Workshop

Written by ErikaV. Posted in 1st Grade

Over the course of the year, we will be teaching and monitoring students reading to ensure they are reading with meaning. It is paramount that students understand what they read.  Even though many students primary focus is on decoding, students cannot sacrifice comprehension.  Because comprehension is the end goal of reading, we will spend a good chunk of this year modeling and teaching both literal and inferential comprehension strategies.

We will be focusing on four main strategies: retelling, making and confirming predictions, making connections, and inferencing.  Each of these strategies require students to activate their prior knowledge and build relationships with their books to understand them more deeply.  We teach this thinking work by modeling how readers stop and think about what they are reading and reflect. Soon students will be going beyond what is literally stated. We will push students to ground their thinking in reasoning drawing upon text evidence.

During the durations of the unit your child will be invited to have thoughtful, rich, and authentic conversations with partners.  Sharing our understanding orally with others will help solidify what we know, will help us fix any misconceptions we might have, and will strengthen our oral English skills. Thank you for continuing to read to your child and to have rich conversations about reading at home.

Our Daily Morning Meeting!

Written by ErikaV. Posted in 1st Grade


Dear Parents,

As you have seen, during the first fifteen minutes every morning our class is busy developing into a caring learning community.  As mentioned during our Open House, each day we begin by having a Morning Meeting.  During this time, students practice the academic skills we’re working on as well

as important social and emotional skills such as listening, speaking, problem-solving, self-control, waiting patiently for our turn, and group participation!

There are four main components to our Morning Meeting:

Today’s News: Teachers announces everything that will happen during the day including changes in our schedule, assemblies, birthdays, etc…  This allows students to navigate the day with confidence and understand exactly what will be expected from them! It’s critical that your child gets to school on time as we begin Today’s News very first thing in the morning!

Morning Message: As soon as students walk in our classroom they read the teachers’ morning message and answer a daily question.  By having students read our Morning message we intent for students to practice their reading, writing, spelling, and math  skills. Our morning message also helps build community through shared written information.

Morning Greeting: Next we continue by greeting each other by name in a friendly and cheerful way.  Here, students learn the importance of eye contact, of waiting patiently, and being gentle and sensitive towards each other. Most importantly our daily greeting provides two universal human needs: the need of being recognized by others and the need to feel that we belong in any given community.

Share: During our meeting we also invite students to be part of a “Share” session. The topic of our Share sessions might be related to our morning meeting topic, to a class problem we would like to solve together,  or to any topic we might be learning that week. Sharing allows students to work on their speaking and listening skills, to problem solve together, to get to know each other, and to help students continue to understand that our opinions and ideas are valued in our community.

Activity– Several times a week students are part of a three to four minute activity. Activities include signing a song, chanting a poem with body movements, playing a math game, etc… Our Activities could also be related to the morning meeting message or our greeting!!  Our morning meeting Activities encourages cooperation and inclusion and it fosters active and engaged participation. In addition it contributes to the sense of community culture by building-a class repertoire of common material- songs, games, chants, and poems.

The Morning Meeting is a great way to build community, increase excitement about learning, and improve our academic and social and emotional skills! Morning Meeting sets a positive tone to our day and is a wonderful part of our daily morning routine!

The First Grade Team

The Morning Meeting

Reading Aloud to your Child

Written by ErikaV. Posted in 1st Grade

Reading Aloud to your Child

Children learn to read through a variety of experiences with different types of texts.  One of the most powerful ways for children to learn to read is being able to share a text with others. Sharing a text provides support and builds confidence for developing readers and it is a great way for adults to model the enjoyment of reading a great book.

Reading aloud to your child is one of the most effective ways to cultivate a child’s reading development. We read to children for the same reasons we talk with children: to reassure, to entertain, to bond, to inform or explain, to arouse curiosity, to inspire. But in reading aloud, we also:

  • Condition the child’s brain to associate reading with pleasure.
  • Create background knowledge.
  • Build vocabulary
  • Provide a reading role model.

Reading aloud also serves to promote imaginative thinking, and significantly increases reading comprehension. It also develops listening skills and allows children to have access to new and interesting experiences through literature. Simply, reading aloud opens an entirely new world to your child.

 During our daily reading homework students will choose if they want to read by themselves, to someone, or if they want to be read to. During either of these interactive sessions with your child, the focus should be on enjoying the experience. Young children might choose to “read” by talking about the pictures or putting the story in their own words. As your child’s reading abilities develop, support them by praising and by using books that are not too hard, not too easy but are Just Right.  Please remember to keep these activities fun and non-threatening as we want children to have very positive associations while reading at home.

When is your child ready to read independently?  Right now!!!  All children can benefit from quiet time spent with a book. While beginning readers might not yet know all of the words in a text, independent reading gives a child the chance to look at the pictures, interpret the author’s story, or continue developing his/her imaginative thinking.

Whether you read to your child or your child reads to you, please keep in mind that these 10 minute a day activity is critical in helping your child develop reading knowledge and a love for reading. Please know that you may stop by our school’s library from 8:30 to 4:30 to check out one, two, three or as many books you and your child want.  We also encourage you to read to your child in his/her native language. Strengthening your child’s first language will greatly impact your child’s English skills.

Thanks you so much for your support and very HAPPY READING!!!

The Do’s and Dont’s of Reading Aloud to your Child




  • Read to your child daily. Ten, fifteen or twenty minutes…as long as your child wants.
  • To encourage involvement, invite your child to turn pages for you when it’s time.
  • Before you begin to read, always say the name of the book, the author, and the illustrator-no matter how many times you have read the book.
  • The first time you read a book, discuss the illustrations on the cover. “Ask: What do you think this is going to be about?” or “Let’s get our minds ready to read. Have your child take a Picture Walk (explore the pictures inside book)
  • Use plenty of expression when reading. If possible, change your tone of voice to fit the dialogue.
  • Read slowly enough for your child to build mental pictures of what he just heard you read. Slow down enough for your child to see the pictures in the book without feeling hurried. Reading quickly allows no time for the reader to use vocal expression.
  • As you read, keep your child involved by occasionally asking “What do you think is going to happen next?” or “What would you do if you were the character?”
  • Avoid long descriptive passages until the child’s imagination and attention span are capable of handling them. There is nothing wrong with shortening or eliminating them. Pre reading helps to locate such passages.
  • Allow your child a few minutes to settle down and adjust their feet and minds to the story.
  • Mood is an important factor in listening. An authoritarian “Now stop that and settle down! Sit up straight. Pay attention” does not  create a receptive atmoshpere.
  • It’s ok if you begin a book one day and continue it the next day!
  • Don’t read stories that you don’t enjoy yourself.
  • Don’t overwhelm your child. Consider the intellectual, social, and emotional level of your child in making a read-aloud selection.
  • Don’t use the book as a threat (“If you don’t pick up your room, no story tonight”) As soon as your child sees that you’ve turned the book into a weapon, they’ll change their attitude about books from positive to negative.
  • Don’t tell your child to go read, while you watch television.  Model the joy of reading.

The Read Aloud-Aloud Handbook, Jim Trelease


The First Grade Team

Writing Workshop

Written by ErikaV. Posted in 1st Grade

During our Writing Workshop we have been establishing the necessary structures and routines for all students to succeed. All students have now a solid understanding of what it means to navigate our workshop with independence. This means that all students are ready to begin to take risks and to invest their thinking and energies in more challenging thinking tasks that will enable them to become stronger and independent writers!

We have just began our first Writing Workshop Unit!!!  During the next seven to eight weeks students will be diving deep into  the world of Personal Narratives. In First Grade we call them Personal Stories or Small Moments! In First Grade a Small Moment is a true even that already happened in your child´s life. For example, a sleep over, a birthday party, a visit to the doctor, etc…. Students will be invited to zoom in the moment and write a sequential story that includes a beginning, middle, and end.

Children will be encouraged to write about Small Moments that have happened in their lives. They will be invited to show their character’s actions, their dialogue, and their feelings. Throughout the unit children will produce lots and lots of small moment stories in the form of books and move with independence through the writing process. They will choose their ideas and will plan their writing by sketching stories across the pages of booklets. In addition, they will repeatedly share their story with others until the story feels just right. They will revise and add details to bring their stories to life. Children will have ample opportunities to share their stories with others, to revise their thinking and writing and to make choices about their books.

Because we value the idea that each child brings different understandings of how writing works we will be modifying our students’ writing goals depending on where each child is in the writing and language continua.
Most or all of your child’s written work will live in our classroom as students will use them to self reflect throughout the unit and throughout the year!
We are very much looking forward to reading all your child’s stories where they will be the main characters, the authors and the owners of their writing craft!