Tuesday, September 30, 2008


We've been working hard on handwriting. We have daily lessons using the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum along with daily exercises to help reinforce proper placement of strokes within the lines. Three phrases we use all the time you might want to use at home are:
  • "touch the sky" - letters that touch the top line (ex.- all uppercase letters, all numbers, lowercase b, d, f, h, k, l, t)
  • "short" - letters that touch the middle dotted line (ex.- a,c,e,i,m,n,o,r,s,u,v,w,x,z)
  • "go underground" - letters that go below the bottom line (ex.- g, j, p, q, y)

Favor to Ask...

The 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th grade parent coffee with Mrs. Dauber is on Friday, October 3rd at 8:00am. I have a daughter in 4th grade and would like to be included if someone could watch my class during journal 8-8:30 and then possibly read a "Help Me Be Good" book afterwards! Please let me know if this is something you can do for me. Thank you in advance!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Newsflash: Class Party!!!

I've been told that our class party will be held on the school basketball pavilion on Tuesday, October 7th from 5:30 - 7 pm ish. Be on the lookout for a sign-up sheet asking for supplies, side dishes, drinks, etc. Anne Godinich is our class party coordinator. She will put a class party insert in the red folders tomorrow and send an evite to Mrs. Phillips' class. Thanks Anne!

Give a Dog a Bone

We learned a new computer game online today called Give a Dog a Bone that was one of our jobs during reading groups. It's a great game to help your child be more familiar with place value and the hundred's chart. I have it posted on the bottom of our classroom blog so that your child can play it as much as they want at home...hint, hint!

Pencil Sharpener

Here are the sad facts...our pencils are of terrible quality and our classroom electric sharpener doesn't sharpen very well. Next time you are at Walgreens, Target or even the grocery store...I am BEGGING you to buy a little plastic pencil sharpener with a lid (or else shavings are everywhere) for your child to put in their box for personal use. Thank you for your continued support!

School Pictures

Sorry for the late notice...individual school pictures will be taken Thursday, October 2nd! A information note and money collection envelope will be in your red Tuesday folder tomorrow. If you want pictures be sure to bring the money no later than Thursday morning.

Reading Groups are back!

We are finally back on track after the storm! I will be sending home reading levels home on Tuesday folders. This information is just for you...not your child or other classroom parents. I give it to you so you can monitor your child's progress. Look for homework tonight. Here are the stories we read in groups today...ask your child about which story they read:
  • Pigs at Home
  • Todd and Matt
  • The Tapping Tale
  • Rip's Secret Spot
  • Carmen's Star

Friday, September 26, 2008

Attn: class of 2008

Remember the 100 year-old Saguaro tree we read about! Look how small Nate and Sophie look standing in front of one!
Remember Nate? I know you do...we all miss him and his wonderful family! I recently received a sweet care package of letters, photos, poems and pictures all the way from Arizona! It sounds like he is doing well. He misses Mark Twain and his friends but loves his new school, library and spray park near his home. His sister Sophie started kindergarten and he helps her with her school work.
Nate in front of his new school!


Haven tells me she lost a tooth at lunch today when she bit into the corn on the cob. Problem...she doesn't know where it went! :-)

Fantastic Friday

The kids had a great week...no problems transitioning into school from the long unexpected break. Well done, guys! We are writing in big journals now. Next week we will be starting reading groups and jobs!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Rolling for 50

We played a Everyday Math game called Rolling for 50. It's purpose was to provide practice navigating along a number grid. The rules were simple...and a lot of fun!

Pennies Update

It appears that the children found time to devote to our Pennies for Peace mission over the unexpected break. They came to school with their backpacks heavy with pennies! FYI...we will be collecting until Thanksgiving.

Scholastic News

I subscribed to a publication called Scholastic News. We will be getting 4 issues each month. Each one comes with an additional activity to do. They are great at incorporating social studies, science and current events into our busy day. It would help me tremendously if you would please consider contributing $5 to this cause. I mentioned it during at Open House but after the whole hurrication, I understand if you have forgotten. :-)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

We didn't like Hurricane Ike

Everyone got a chance to share their hurricane stories with the class. It was interesting how grown-up they sounded. The children asked questions after each child spoke. It was clear to see their questions were a reflection of what they have been hearing all week... "Was there any roof damage?" "Did you stay out past curfew?" "Did your transformer blow out?" "We got power last night." "Did you have a generator?" We got it all out of our system and proceeded to have a great day! Surprisingly, only 4 of us still don't have power!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Here's What I Know...

  • school starts tomorrow...Tuesday, September 23rd
  • we will not have early dismissal on Wednesday
  • relaxed dress code
  • extended day program will resume tomorrow
  • free breakfast and lunch for all children for 2 weeks - no to the teachers!
  • no homework

I know many of us still have no power, myself included. Mrs. Dauber knows and understands that many are living in different living situations, have no laundry facilities, eating on the run, difficult traffic challenges, etc. Two-thirds of the district will not be returning tomorrow... we are one of the "lucky" ones. It is not clear yet whether we will be getting any Galveston refugees...we'll just have to wait and see. I know we are all tired and didn't have a restful hurrication. I am looking forward to seeing all the children and hearing their stories...I know there will be many!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What a Ride!

Our classroom did well during the storm! I am seeking refuge at Twain for a couple of hours during the day because they have power...A/C, TV, phone, Internet, Disney, Webkinz, etc...all of which we don't have at home right now! As far as I know officially, we don't have school all week. I've heard rumors that we will be out longer...please don't quote me on that! There are other schools that have not done as well and so many are still without power. I hope everyone is safe and using their unofficial "home vacation" time wisely! I shudder to think how the district will want to make up the days!

Friday, September 12, 2008


As a parent, we received our questionnaire in the mail at home today regarding past and current observations of our school, staff, faculty, facilities and administration. I strongly urge you to take this seriously and answer the questions as honestly as you can. It will only take a moment. You input is anonymous and a self-addressed stamped envelope is provided. Thank you.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I didn't mention 911 but I was prepared to if someone in the class did. Nobody said a word. Even still, we made flags. The whole lesson about the number of red and white stripes, stars, etc. went way over their heads...it was evident when we got 22 DIFFERENT looking flags! A few got it. I'll post pictures when we get back to school next week after the hurricane. They're cute...all in their own way. A few had time to make these snazzy pins...left over from a girl scout project left over from my daughter's troop! Waste not, want not.

We're Millionaires!

Half of the kids in our class turned in their reading list and participated in the HISD reading program...well done! When everyone left today...everything and everyone was crazy. Someone stripped their shirt off and left it on the floor. Other than RHM who was absent, let me know if your millionaire made it home without their shirt! :-)

School Cancelled

UPDATE : Due to Hurricane Ike, all HISD schools and offices will be closed Friday, September 12th. The district will be operating under Emergency Plan A where all schools and administrative offices are closed.

I told the students we would not have the spelling test until Monday. EB happily said, "GREAT! We can study all weekend!" Some looked at her like she lost her mind! :-)

Please be safe.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

1st installment

I know I asked the kids to use a collection container at home...but some just couldn't help bringing in a few to dump into our big penny jar at school! Do whatever works for you! :-)

Favor to ask & misc. info.

  1. Sometimes it is hard to be both a parent AND a teacher at the same school...sometimes events conflict with one another. This Friday, there will be a 4th grade parent coffee at 8:00. Would anyone like to VOLUNTEER to watch the class during journal time and read a Help Me Be Good story while I attend? If you are nervous about being alone in the class, bring another parent! Let me know if you can help. Thanks in advance!
  2. Thank you to Mr. and Mrs. Lang for coming to school this morning to read Little Drop and the Healing Place to help the kids better understand Ethan's juvenile diabetes.
  3. Thank you to Oliver Bogler for quickly putting together our classroom contact page (and photo's, too) for us. There are a few missing pieces... the parents of EL, MM, EB, RHM, and HM please contact Oliver as soon as possible so that we can have a complete list.
  4. BINGO night on Friday has been cancelled due to possible hurricane problems. I'm sure it will be rescheduled in the near future!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Grandparent's Day

Don't panic...Mark Twain has a BIG Grandparent's Day in the Spring. The food service had their own Grandparent's Day and Evan got to eat with his Grandfather today!

My Inspiration

Over the summer parent from my class last year suggested I read 3 Cups of Tea. What a wonderfully inspirational book! I knew immediately that Pennies for Peace would be a great program to implement in my classroom and a nice addition to our current PYP planner. After meeting with my team, it was decided that all 1st grade classrooms would participate also! Many of the children wanted to share the idea with their older siblings and their classes, with grandparents, neighbors, etc. We've been talking about how kindness can be contagious...it was apparent they really wanted to spread their hope to everyone they knew! The kids loved hearing the story and watching the DVD of Greg Mortenson's mission to promote peace one school at a time...one penny at a time. I think they could see how it could be possible for children working together to make a difference for children halfway around the world! In class, SK impulsively yelled out, "I'm SO doing this!" The others unanimously agreed.
My daughter started her own collection at our house...
I'm wondering how many pennies fit in a water bottle!

Newsletter #2

As we continue our new planner, “What the World Needs Now” we are learning how to problem solve conflicts that come up over the course of our day and why good attitudes are essential to getting along with others and being a good friend. We are especially enjoying a series of books called “Help Me Be Good.” For whatever reason our class is obsessed with them…luckily there are at least a couple of dozen in the series!

We have a great class…usually even in the girl/boy ratio! We are focusing on LISTENING to each other and responding to directions the first time they are given. I’ve seen a huge improvement in this area for many of our kiddo’s.

I am proud to say we started our Guided Reading/job rotations the first week of school so our daily routine is very established as we start our 3rd week! Because we’ve been in LDC, we will go back to our reading groups next week...the kids have been asking about them! I have 6 reading groups and I seem to be changing them a little bit each day according to each child’s needs! Regardless of level, I read with every child every day (except Friday). Our first grade reading goal is that each child leave in May at a level 16-18 or higher. I feel that this is private information and I will not tell the children what level they are on (although some children may know to look, and figure it out by my private records, book labels, etc.) I will let you know from time to time what level your child is on. My goal is individual progression, no matter where they are on the spectrum. Learning to read is a developmental process and differs from child to child.

*** I subscribed to a weekly Scholastic News magazine for each child. They do a great job supplementing to our social studies, science and current events currently in our world. They are a lot of fun and the kids really enjoy reading them. It would be hugely helpful and appreciated by me if you could contribute $5.00 to help me cover the cost.

It’s that time again! Keep a look out for and start saving General Mills Box Tops. At the end of the year we collect them and our school gets money for equipment and supplies! Our collection jar is next to our friendly listening frog, Prince.

We are about one third through our chapter book, Trumpet of the Swan. Does anyone have this movie? I want to show the movie after we finish the book! The kids are really enjoying the story and really do want me to read more than a chapter each day…unfortunately, we just don’t have that kind of time! Or, if you see it at one of the local movie rental stores, let me know!

I know you know this…Open House is tonight at 7:00pm. Mrs. Norris (GT) will meet in her room half an hour before at 6:30pm.

Thank you for your continued support!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Pennies for Peace

To go along with our current planner, 1st graders will be raising money to help build schools and provide community-based education for children in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We will be collecting pennies using a non-profit program called Pennies for Peace through the Central Asia Institute (CAI). Our hope is that this will be a memorable “feel good” experience and will broaden our cultural awareness by making a positive impact on a global scale…one penny at a time! Be on the lookout for your penny collection containers (recycled water bottles). Spread the word, be creative and start collecting…make it a family project!

Open House

Our "Manner Gardens" have been planted...now watch them grow!

Plan for a babysitter and attend Open House tomorrow... Tuesday, September 9th from 7-8 pm so that I may explain how my classroom works in more detail and give you the opportunity to ask questions. I will be attending my own 4th grade daughter's GT meeting and Open House 5:30-7. The schedule will be very tight. Please understand that I will be unavailable before our scheduled meeting.

Mrs. Norris is inviting all GT parents to her room (adjoining the library) 6:30-7 to go over her curriculum and expectations in her class.

I look forward to seeing everyone tomorrow night!

Friday, September 5, 2008


Thank you for the great response to our 1st week of homework...99% participation...well done! Remember that yellow homework folders go home every Monday and come back on FRIDAY. The reading logs, "math is everywhere" project and spelling looked great. The children are remembering for the most part when things need to be returned or not…some are bringing them to school but not taking them out of their backpacks. They will learn. I hate to sound like the Grinch...just a reminder that on the 1st grade report card there is a grade given for turning in all finished homework.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Roll, Write & Add

Today we played a game that involved adding 3 numbers together to equal a sum. At this point in the year, it is still OK to use manipulatives to count to help with this task.

Writing Numbers

We've started to learn the correct formation of numbers...I am seeing all kinds of creations!

Kindness Quilt

As we begin our new planner, “What the World Needs Now” we are learning how to problem solve conflicts that come up over the course of our day and why good attitudes are essential to getting along with others. Check out our “Kindness Quilt” displayed on the gigantic bulletin board between the 1st grade and kindergarten hallways. As each class adds their piece, it keeps growing and growing...just like the quilt in the book, The Kindness Quilt!

ER's kind words

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Golden Rule

We read a book that the kids LOVED...Kindness is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler! A quote from the book that we really enjoyed was "a slice of nice makes a mile of smile."

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tally Fun

Today we played an Everyday Math game to learn about writing tallies. In 1st grade 5 tally marks are called a "gate" and 2 gates are circled to make a "corral." This helps to count the tallies and reinforces counting by 5's and 10's. What are some ways you can tally at home?


MA's story of The 3 Little Puppies
Today we went to LDC for the first time. Miss Webster is now Mrs. Diaz and has a new classroom across the hall! We will be going this week and next week...remember, no reading groups/jobs during these days. The children usually listen to a story, have a class discussion, work on a writing project, go to various centers and participate in writer's theater every single day of LDC!

Red Tuesday folders

Here are a few helpful tidbits about the red Tuesday folders;
  • sent home every Tuesday
  • contain fliers from the office and PTO
  • contain all work done in class from previous week except assignments that go in their portfolios or on bulletin boards for display
  • PLEASE go over work with your child as part of their homework assignment...great way for you to informed on what is going on in class as well as a sense of accomplishment for your child
  • bring empty folders back on Wednesday

Yellow homework folders

Here are a few helpful tidbits about the yellow homework folders:
  • handed out every Monday (or Tuesday if there was no school on Monday)

  • the entire assignment for the week is in the folder...including spelling, reading log and/or project

  • to differentiate spelling levels, the circled list was decided after a pretest

  • use the spelling list to complete spelling portion of homework

  • Monday's spelling homework page is optional if we did not come to school on Monday

  • it is helpful to me if spelling sentences are numbered for easy reading

  • everything due on Friday

  • I check for completion and neatness

  • FYI...concerning "math is everywhere" assignment...picture below shows a sample of what I am looking for. Look for at least 5 examples of math in your life. Have fun!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Newsletter #1

We had a wonderful 1st week of school. It was nice to see familiar faces as well as our 3 new friends to Mark Twain! We spent last week adjusting to new routines/rules/schedules while getting to know each other. The kids have done well while settling in and learning new procedures/expectations. We wrote and signed our “Essential Agreements” titled with an Olympic theme “One Class, One Dream.” We expect to have a fantastic year!

Or 1st PYP planner begins this week. It’s called “What the World Needs Now.” The central idea is…positive attitudes make the world a better place to live in. We will focus on manners and our PYP attitudes/profiles. More to come later…

We will start our LDC (Literacy Development) rotation with Mrs. Diaz this week…she works closely with our planners. We will go for 2 weeks every 4 weeks. During this time we will not have reading groups/jobs. We will also start going to library with our librarian, Mr. Deering next week. We will keep school library books in the classroom to read during class.

Gifted and Talented will also start this week. We are scheduled to go every Friday 8:30am-10:15am. This week will be a little different as she is testing incoming MT students. Mrs. Norris is very excited and eagerly waiting to meet her new GT kids!

Our homework routine will start this week. I will send home a homework packet at the start of each week in their yellow homework folders. Homework is due Friday and will be checked for completion and neatness. Red information folders with work from the previous week and papers from the office/PTO go home every Tuesday. Newsletter will be online on the classroom blog.

Spelling starts this week. A pretest will be given every Monday so I can see what spelling list to assign each child. The list goes home stapled onto the homework packet…with the list circled indicating which one is assigned to your child. Regardless of what list your child is given, bonus words are the same and will be optional. The choice is yours. We will have daily spelling lessons as well as daily homework. Keep the spelling homework (and all homework) at home until Friday as I know they will be needed to study for Friday’s spelling test.

Reading logs will also go out this week. I’ve explained in great detail to the children…they are the ones reading…not parents. All I ask is that they read aloud to you for a minimum of 15 minutes M-Th. You may use books from home or public library books. They have an excellent selection of beginning readers and chapter books. Parents may also come by my class before or after class to borrow some of mine…I have a bunch! Please fill out the reading log with completed book titles and your signature acknowledging the reading has been done. These will also be checked for completion each Friday.

Thank you for quickly returning all the paperwork from the office. I still need a few more to complete our class. FYI…the “code of conduct” sheet is found in the middle of the Code of Student Conduct book handed out on the first day of school. In addition to the papers, there are 2 things that need to be filled out online on the Mark Twain PTO website:
1. PTO membership form – this is free AND you get a student directory…VERY handy to have!
2. directory form – update all information you want available for the directory…also VERY handy for everyone else!

There is a sign-up sheet outside my door for anyone that would like to be a room parent. There’s still some openings!

If your child read at least 5 books this summer, please fill out the “Millionaire” form in your red folder. I think there is a free t-shirt for those that turn their completed form! I’ve already received a few, thank you!

Concerning the blog…I update it almost daily…I’m crazy that way! I will always post a “newsletter” (like what you are reading right now) once a week on Tuesday for important information, dates, what’s coming up, etc. If you are not an “every day checker” then I suggest checking it once a week when the newsletter comes out. I will not send home a hard copy (only this time) unless you do not have online access. If this is the case, PLEASE let me know!

Thanks again for a great 1st week!