Friday, December 12, 2014

December 15, 2014

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" is an English Christmas carol that enumerates in the manner of a cumulative song a series of increasingly grand gifts given on each of the twelve days of Christmas. The song, first published in England in 1780 without music as a chant or rhyme, is thought to be French in origin.  The tunes of collected versions vary. The standard tune now associated with it is derived from a 1909 arrangement of a traditional folk melody by English composer Frederic Austin, who first introduced the now familiar prolongation of the verse "five gold rings”. The exact origins and the meaning of the song are unknown, but it is highly probable that it originated from children’s memory and forfeit game.
The twelve days in the song are the twelve days starting with Christmas Day, or in some traditions, the day after Christmas (December 26, to the day before Epiphany, or the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6, or the Twelfth Day). Twelfth Night is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "the evening of the fifth of January, preceding Twelfth Day, the eve of the Epiphany, formerly the last day of the Christmas festivities and observed as a time of merrymaking."
The best known English version was first printed in English in 1780 in a little book intended for children, Mirth without Mischief, as a Twelfth Night "memories-and-forfeits" game, in which a leader recited a verse, each of the players repeated the verse, the leader added another verse, and so on until one of the players made a mistake, with the player who erred having to pay a penalty, such as offering up a kiss or a sweet. One hundred years later, Lady Gomme, a collector of folktales and rhymes, described how it used to be played every Twelfth Day night before eating mince pies and twelfth cake.
"Twelve days of Christmas" was adapted from similar New Years' or spring French carols, of which at least three are known, all featuring a partridge, perdriz or perdriole, as the first gift. The pear tree appears in only the English version, but this could also indicate a French origin. According to Iona and Peter Opie, the red-legged (or French) partridge perches in trees more frequently than the native common (or grey) partridge and was not successfully introduced into England until about 1770. Cecil Sharp observed that "from the constancy in English, French, and Languedoc versions of the 'merry little partridge,' I suspect that 'pear-tree' is really perdrix (Old French pertriz) carried into England"; and "juniper tree" in some English versions may have been "joli perdrix," [pretty partridge]. Sharp also suggests the adjective "French" in "three French hens", probably simply means "foreign".
In the northern counties of England, the song was often called the "Ten Days of Christmas", as there were only ten gifts. It was also known in Somerset, Dorset shire, and elsewhere in England. The kinds of gifts vary in a number of the versions, some of them becoming alliterative tongue-twisters. "The Twelve Days of Christmas" was also widely popular in the United States and Canada. 

Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal
Grade 1 Teacher 

Friday, December 5, 2014

December 8-12, 2014

Christmas Facts

Christmas Day is celebrated by millions of Christians around the world, usually on December 25th. It is also a popular holiday celebrated by non-Christians. Christmas Day is an annual celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Although the exact date of Jesus' birth is unknown it is estimated to have been between 7 and 2 B.C. The date of December 25th was chosen in the 4th century. The popular customs of celebrating Christmas include gift-giving, sending holiday cards, Christmas trees and lights, caroling, a feast and church celebrations.
Interesting Christmas Facts:
The word Christmas originates from the words Christ's Mass. In old English (first recorded in 1038) it was referred to as Cristesmæsse, which literally means 'Christian Mass'.
A common figure known throughout the world and associated with Christmas is Santa Claus. Other popular Christmas figures include Christ kind, Saint Nicholas, and Father Christmas.
Anglo-Saxons referred to the holiday as 'midwinter' or 'nativity'.
The word Noel entered the English language in the late 1300s. It originated from the Latin word 'natalis' which means 'day of birth'.
Christmas decorations that are popular today include Christmas trees, Christmas lights, wreaths, garland, holly, mistletoe, and nativity scenes.
Christmas lights were invented in 1882 by Edward Johnson.
The first evidence of a Christmas tree is from a pamphlet that dates back to 1570.
In order for Santa to visit all the homes on Christmas Eve he would have to visit 822 homes each second.
The tradition of hanging stockings comes from a Dutch custom. They would leave shoes full of food for St. Nicolas' donkeys and St. Nicholas would then leave small gifts in return.
12th century nuns left socks full of nuts, fruit and tangerines at the doors of the poor. This is where the tradition of putting tangerines in stockings came from.
The three wise men who visited Mary and Joseph when Jesus was born brought gold, frankincense and myrrh as gifts. Some believe that Jesus was born in a cave and not a stable.
The tradition of Christmas caroling began as an old English custom. It was originally called wassailing and was a toast to long life.
St. Francis of Assisi began the custom of singing Christmas carols in church in the 13th century.
There are approximately 60 million trees grown in Europe each year.
The letter X in Xmas is a Greek abbreviation for Christ.
In 1950 the world's largest Christmas tree was placed in a Washington Mall. It was 221 feet high.
Jingle Bells was originally written by James Pierpont in 1857, for Thanksgiving not Christmas. It was originally called One Horse Open Sleigh.
The traditional Christmas meal in England before turkey was mustard and a pig's head.
The world's biggest snowman was 113 feet tall and was built in Maine.
The Christmas wreath is symbolic of Jesus. The red berries symbolize his blood and the holly represents the crown of thorns.
In Germany they call Santa Kriss Kringle; in Italy they call him Le Befana; in France they call him Pere Noel.
The best-selling Christmas song ever is White Christmas by Bing Crosby. It has sold more than 50 million copies around the world.

Christmas is one of the most profitable times of year for many businesses.

Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal
G1 Teacher

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Dec. 1-5, 2014

The Art of Appreciation

Gratitude is one of the trickiest concepts to teach toddlers and preschoolers -- who are by nature self-centered -- but one of the most important. Sure, thankful children are more polite and pleasant to be around, but there's more to it than that. By learning gratitude, they become sensitive to the feelings of others, developing empathy and other life skills along the way, says Barbara Lewis, author of What Do You Stand For? For Kids (Free Spirit Publishing, 2005). Grateful kids look outside their one-person universe and understand that their parents and other people do things for them -- prepare dinner, dole out hugs, buy toys. "On the flip side, kids who aren't taught to be grateful end up feeling entitled and perpetually disappointed," says Lewis.
Indeed, instilling grateful feelings now will benefit your child later in life. A 2003 study at the University of California at Davis showed that grateful people report higher levels of happiness and optimism -- along with lower levels of depression and stress. The catch? "No one is born grateful," says life coach Mary Jane Ryan, author of Attitudes of Gratitude (Conari, 1999). "Recognizing that someone has gone out of the way for you is not a natural behavior for children -- it's learned."
Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal

Grade 1 Teacher

Friday, November 14, 2014

Hands-On Science for Young Children

In early childhood it is equally important that science activities be hands-on, child-driven, authentic, and active. Developmentally, young children learn and understand best from what they can see, touch, feel, and manipulate. Providing safe, readily available materials that children can experiment with is one of the most important steps towards effective hands-on science investigations.
Effective educators use a child’s own natural curiosity and questions to fuel science investigations. Another way to explore science concepts is with informational books and stories infused with science concepts like weather, water, animals, etc. Science activities and investigations are also a great way to build oral vocabulary, develop reading readiness, and fuel literacy development.
Before educators can embark on designing an effective hands-on science program for young children, it’s important to know a bit about how a child’s brain works. The brain is a pattern-seeking machine, and science is the quest to recognize and classify naturally occurring patterns.
Children are naturally equipped to learn through observation and investigations. Every experience, every word, every toy deeply impacts her understanding of her world and the connections she makes. Every time a child learns something new, the brain rewires itself based on the child’s understanding. Every time the child repeats a task or a skill that particular neural pathway is reinforced and strengthened. “Learning changes the brain because it can rewire itself with each new stimulation, experience, and behavior”.  Providing varied and multiple opportunities for a child to use what she has just learned are important ways to help build efficient connections in the brain. It may be as simple as providing blocks to drop and knock over once you’ve noticed that the child is dropping a cup from the highchair. The more a neural pathway in a child’s brain is used, the stronger it becomes; conversely, if it is not used, the pathway can be lost.
Ms. Nora Sierra

EC Assistant Principal 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Word Analysis to Expand Vocabulary Development

By: Judy Zorfass

When students engage in "word analysis" or "word study," they break words down into their smallest units of meaning — morphemes. Each morpheme has a meaning that contributes to our understanding of the whole word. As such, students’ knowledge of morphemes helps them to identify the meaning of words and build their vocabulary. The Institute for Educational Science (IES) Practice Guide strongly recommends providing explicit vocabulary instruction, which includes providing students with strategies for acquiring new vocabulary. The ability to analyze words is a critical foundational reading skill and is essential for vocabulary development as students become college and career ready.
Teaching word analysis skills satisfies several of the Common Core State Standards for literacy, including:
·         CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.
·         CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.
·         CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
 Teaching word analysis
As you create your plan for teaching word analysis strategies, think about the tools and methods that can support students’ understanding, and provide students with opportunities to practice using these tools and methods. Think, too, about how you could differentiate instruction and take advantage of technology tools to engage the diverse students in your classroom.
You can effectively differentiate word analysis techniques by providing clear and varied models, keeping in mind the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Model how to analyze a new word by breaking it down into its sub-parts, studying each part separately, and then putting the parts back together in order to understand the whole word
It also helps to demonstrate that when you are studying vocabulary in a specific content area (e.g., science), you can find patterns in the prefixes that will help you understand what the words mean in that context. For example:
·         Science: biology, biodegradable, biome, biosphere
·         Mathematics: quadruple, quadrant, quadrilateral, quadratic
·         Geography: disassemble, disarmament, disband, disadvantage
Students should also learn to track both the words and the word parts they learn through these strategies. Show students how to use offline and online visual diagrams, worksheets, and graphic organizers to visualize the relationship between words and store new vocabulary.
Word analysis in practice
If you provide students with opportunities to repeatedly practice analyzing unfamiliar vocabulary, their word analysis skills will continue to develop. Engage students individually, in pairs, or in small groups in a variety of games and activities, based on their individual abilities and needs. Consider ways in which you could modify the following games and activities to benefit struggling students:
·         The mix-and-match game using roots, prefixes, and suffixes
·         A word search in social studies, science, and mathematics texts to find words with prefixes and suffixes
·         Using Scrabble or Boggle tiles to form and re-form words
·         Movement activities that involve students holding up cards with root words, prefixes, and suffixes and reordering themselves to make words
·         Inventing a word by creating and defining nonsense words with prefixes and suffixes
Build word study into your classroom reading routine by pre-teaching words, introducing new vocabulary words weekly, and reviewing new words. Motivate students to practice using their word analysis skills by having them create glossaries of words with prefixes and suffixes from self-selected, high-interest texts.

Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal
Grade 1 Teacher

Friday, October 24, 2014

November 3 , 2014

10 Ways You Can Help Your Children Succeed in School
By: Colorín Colorado (2008)

As a parent, you are your child's first and most important teacher. When parents and families are involved in their children's schools, the children do better and have better feelings about going to school. In fact, many studies show that what the family does is more important to a child's school success than how much money the family makes or how much education the parents have. There are many ways that parents can support their children's learning at home and throughout the school year. Here are some ideas to get you started!
Develop a partnership with your child's teachers and school staff
1.    Meet your child's teacher.
2.    Get to know who's who at your child's school. There are many people at your child's school who are there to help your child learn, grow socially and emotionally, and navigate the school environment.
3.    Attend parent-teacher conferences and keep in touch with your child's teacher. Support your child academically.
4.    Find out how your child is doing. Ask the teacher how well your child is doing in class compared to other students.
5.   Make sure that your child gets homework done.
6.   Help your child prepare for tests. Tests play an important role in determining a student’s grade.
7.   Get involved with your child's school.
8.   Volunteer at your child's school and/or join your school's parent-teacher group.
9.   Ask questions. If something concerns you about your child's learning or behavior, ask the teacher or principal about it and seek their advice.
10.                Let the school know your concerns. Is your child doing well in school? Is he or she having trouble learning, behaving, or studying?

Have a great week,
Ms. Nora Sierra
Early Childhood Assistant principal
Grade 1 teacher

Friday, October 17, 2014

October 20-24, 2014

Student-Led Conferences: A Growing Trend

For years parent-teacher conferences have been the primary means of parent-teacher communication. But now, many schools are trying something new -- student-led conferences that communicate not only how a student's doing but also why.
Parent-teacher conferences -- we all know how they go. Parents troop into classrooms to talk with teachers about their children's progress in school. Often, the process feels rushed, and parents leave feeling vaguely dissatisfied, as if they didn't really get what they came for.
For years that process has been the norm, but now it is changing. In more and more schools, students are leading conferences, and, overall, the word is that they're doing a fine job.
Many teachers themselves speak enthusiastically of the advantages of student-led conferences over teacher-led ones. "We found the [student-led] conferences most beneficial," said Keith Eddinger of the Marcus Whitman Middle School in Rushville, New York. "From a teacher's perspective, we were able to get a better picture of each child. It forced us to sit down with each student and review strengths and weaknesses. This conversation often told us the students learned more than perhaps we had measured through conventional assessments."
Eddinger added, "Our post-conference reviews with parents and students were overwhelmingly positive."
John Osgood, of C. L. Jones Middle School in Minden, Nebraska, found that "comments [about student-led conferences] from parents and board members were very positive."
Another staff member, Dick Philips, said, "Most parents listened to their child. It was interesting listening to [children] explain low grades to their parents. It did open the lines of communication."
"Several parents really liked it because it gave them an opportunity to see their child's work," said Sue Yant, another staff member. Yet "some [parents] said they hoped we [would hold] the traditional conference once a year."
Ms. Nora Sierra
Early Childhood Assistant Principal

Grade 1 teacher

Sunday, October 5, 2014

October 6, 2014

Math Centers provide an opportunity for students to practice and apply skills and strategies taught within the classroom. While students are engaged in purposeful centers, teachers have the opportunity to work individually or with small, flexible groups to meet the individual needs of students.

Centers should be designed to:
  •  be an integral part of daily instruction for all children;
  • provide meaningful, independent practice based on the Standards, curriculum objectives and students’ needs;
  •  include a variety of activities differentiated to meet the needs of students;
  •  change regularly according to the needs of students;
  •  hold students accountable for the work in which they are engaged;
  • allow teachers to assess students’ math skills, strategies and understandings.

It is important to build a community of learners so that students will be able to work independently at centers since you will be engaged with other students during this time. When introducing Centers for the first time it is important to:
  1.   communicate clear, explicit, high expectations and develop a few non-negotiable rules established jointly by both you and your students;
  2. be available to assist students during center time and reinforce appropriate behaviors;
  3.  instruct, model and provide guided practice opportunities before placing new tasks in centers;
  4. hold very brief ‘mini lessons’ every day prior to children going to centers focusing on how to use the equipment and materials, how to share materials, how to take turns, put things away etc. During this time you might have two students role-play the use of the materials while others critique their efforts or model how to solve a problem without teacher assistance.

Whenever possible center activities should be open-ended, allowing for multiple responses to allow students to learn in their zone of proximal development, and provide for a mixture of independent as well as paired tasks. In order to encourage students to talk with one another, problem -solve together, and assist one another in their learning a center should generally have between two and six students.


Ms. Nora Sierra
Discovery School
Early Childhood Assistant Principal
Grade 1 Teacher

Friday, September 26, 2014

September 29, 2014

The Nature of Reading Difficulties

The foundations of good reading are the same for all children. All readers, regardless of their age, gender, or aptitude, need to develop fluency, comprehension, and the motivation to read in order to become successful readers. Children who experience reading difficulties are no exception. They too must develop the basic foundations for reading, and they require the same types of learning experiences to do so.

Most young children with reading difficulties have problems developing fluency. For these children, identifying words takes a lot of effort. Their reading rate is slow, their word identification is hesitant, and they over rely on contextual cues for word identification. Because most of their cognitive or mental effort is spent trying to identify words, their comprehension suffers. The main prevention and early intervention strategies for these children are effective preparation for literacy and effective classroom instruction.

In order for children to become fluent readers they need to develop various decoding strategies.  Decoding is the ability to use knowledge of letter-sound relationships, words in context and prior knowledge to correctly pronounce written words.  Using these strategies gives children the ability to recognize familiar words quickly and to figure out words they haven't seen before. Although children may sometimes figure out some of these relationships on their own, most children benefit from explicit instruction in this area. Have your children try this great resource.

Ms. Nora Sierra
Grade 1 Teacher
Early Childhood Assistant Principal 

Friday, September 19, 2014

September 22, 2014

Why take standardized tests?

Standardized tests are nationally normed. This means that thousands of students take the test and are ranked based on their performance on this test. When your child takes the test, the results indicate where your child is in relation to the thousands of students who were in the norm group. If your child is in the 85th percentile, this means that your child scored higher than 84% of the students in the norm group. This score gives the parents an accurate picture of where their child is in relation to other children of the same age and grade group.
Standardized tests can also be used to track student growth. The MAP test utilizes a RIT score. When your child takes the test in the fall, he receives a RIT score. The goal then is to improve the RIT score by 5 points when taking the test in the spring. Parents who keep the achievement test scores and compare them from test to test will see a legitimate record of student progress.

The MAP results share specifically which concept in each subject area were mastered and shows the level of mastery. This allows the parent and the teacher to focus specifically on areas of weakness.
How should I have my child prepare for this test?

You should not have your child study for this test. This test is not a part of the child’s grades and should simply be used to indicate where the child is academically at a given point in time. Spending time in preparation may skew the results and prevent the parent and the school from seeing an accurate picture of the child’s academic progress. The student who over-studies in the fall but does not put forth the same effort in the spring may appear to lose ground by scoring lower on the second test. The most accurate picture of where your child ranks against the norm group is taken when the child does not study for the test. The best way to prepare your child for the test is to monitor their schoolwork year round and ensure that they are reaching out for help when their understanding is not certain.
You should also ensure that your child get a good night’s rest. The night(s) prior to taking the MAP test should be pleasant evenings for the child. They should eat a healthy meal, enjoy their evening, and go to bed early. It is essential that a student be fully rested in order to perform at a maximum level when taking the test. Students should eat a healthy breakfast on the day of the test. When taking the test, the student should take a minimum of a fifteen minute break between sections of the test.

Ms. Nora Sierra
Early Childhood Assistant Principal
Grade 1 Teacher

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sept. 17-19, 2014

What is MAP?
Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) is a state-aligned computerized adaptive assessment program that provides  educators with the information they need to improve teaching and learning and make student-focused, data-driven decisions.
Students are tested twice or three times per year in math, reading, and language usage. Educators use the growth and achievement data from MAP to develop targeted instructional strategies and to plan school improvement.

Student MAP testing results are reported in RIT scores. A RIT score is an estimation of a student’s instructional level and also measures student progress or growth in school. You may have a chart in your home on which you mark your child’s height at certain times, such as on his or her birthday. This is a growth chart to show how much he or she has grown from one year to the next. MAP assessments do the same sort of thing, except they measure your student’s growth in mathematics, reading, and language usage. The RIT scale is an equal-interval scale much like feet and inches on a yardstick. It is used to chart your child’s academic growth from year to year. This type of score increases the value of the tests as a tool to improve student learning because it enables teachers to pinpoint what students have learned and what students are ready to learn.

Understanding the RIT Score
The charts on the inside of this brochure show national median RIT scores for grades 1-9 in a typical school district. You may use these charts to help determine if your student is performing at, above, or below grade level compared to students across the nation. It is important to understand that the MAP test is one test at one point in time. It does not measure intelligence or a student’s capacity for learning. When making important decisions about students, school staff will consider the MAP test results along with other data such as classroom performance, other test scores, and input from parents and teachers.

Growth Over Time
We expect RIT scores to increase over time. Typically, younger students show more growth in one year than older students. Students who test above grade level often show less growth. Sometimes RIT scores may decline from one test to the next. One low test score is not cause for immediate concern. Like adults, students have good and bad days and their test results do not always indicate what they know. Students’ attitudes toward the test can also affect their score. Therefore, growth over time is a better measure of student learning. Parents and guardians should become comfortable with the understanding that individuals will grow at different rates. Anticipated growth rates for each student are based on national norms and should be viewed as “typical” growth, not expected growth. Teachers and principals have participated in training to learn what the MAP test results mean and how to best utilize the results. Our goal is for teachers to use the data to differentiate and adjust instruction so that all students grow at levels appropriate for each individual.

Nora Sierra
Grade 1 teacher
Early Childhood Assistant Principal

Friday, September 5, 2014

September 8, 2014

Four Block Framework
The Four Blocks—Guided Reading, Self-Selected Reading, Writing, and Working with Words—represent four different approaches to teaching children to read. Daily instruction in all Four Blocks provides numerous and varied opportunities for all children to learn to read and write. Doing all Four Blocks acknowledges that children do not all learn in the same way and provides substantial instruction to support whatever learning personality a child has.

Philosophy and Goals of the Four Block Framework:
The Four-Blocks® Literacy Model is a multilevel, balanced literacy framework that incorporates four different approaches each day to teach children how to become better readers, writers, and spellers. Developed by Drs. Patricia Cunningham and Dorothy Hall, this model acknowledges that not all children learn in the same way and provides substantial instruction to support the learning personalities of all students.

Program Components:

The program consists of four teaching models, each presented daily at a time scheduled by the teacher according to classroom needs:

*Guided Reading:  In Guided Reading, teachers choose material for children to read and a purpose for reading, and then guide them to use reading strategies needed for that material and that purpose. Teachers provide guidance in a variety of whole class, small group, and partner formats.
Guided Reading is always focused on comprehension. Children learn to predict what might happen or what they might learn. They learn about the story elements of characters, setting, and plot, and they learn how to organize and compare information learned from informational text.

*Working With Words:  The purpose of this block is to ensure that children read, spell, and use high-frequency words correctly, and that they learn the patterns necessary for decoding and spelling. Students are introduced to five new words each week.  Teachers can assess, monitor, and plan for the needs of the entire group, as well as the individual students. This ensures students learn the high-frequency words and engage in activities to learn how words work through strategies such as Making Words, Guess the Covered Word, Word Wall, and more.

*Self-Selected Reading:  This block usually begins with the teacher conducting a read-aloud.  After the read-aloud, students are sent to read to themselves from boxes full of familiar books.  Self-Selected Reading is that part of a balanced literacy program during which children get to choose what they want to read and to what parts of their reading they want to respond. Opportunities are provided for children to share and respond to what is read. Teachers hold individual conferences with children about their books.

*Writing:  The Writing Block includes a mini-lesson (called Writer's Workshop) that provides children with a model of what writers do. During the block, children engage in various writing activities from starting a new piece, finishing a piece, revising, editing, or illustrating. Another component includes conferences that lead to a final published piece.  During this time, students are introduced to writing folders and the Six Traits of Writing.   In the Author's Chair, children share their writing and respond to each other's writing at various stages in its development.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Importance of Hands-on Manipulative in Math

Math manipulative range from simple counting blocks to geoboards and tangram puzzles. Manipulative work well to solve problems, as a way to introduce new math skills and during free play to explore math concepts. The use of manipulative varies based on the teacher's philosophy of math instruction, but these math materials offer several benefits to students.
Manipulative give the math students a concrete object to represent the concept they are learning. Instead of reading about a math concept or working out a problem on paper, students work with a physical object to better understand what they are learning. Diagrams in math textbooks often fall short because the student can't physically interact with them. The concrete representation is useful at all levels of math, from a preschooler using blocks to strengthen counting skills to an older student using fraction models to understand equivalent fractions.
A worksheet or textbook assignment is limited in the senses it engages. The student only moves slightly to use his pencil. Manipulative give student more freedom to move and get physically involved in solving the math problems. Manipulative reach a wider range of learners, such as those who don't perform well on paper-and-pencil tasks. Manipulative engage the sense of sight and touch. Discussions about manipulative -- either with the class or with a partner -- builds communication skills. You can also use these math tools to write about the concepts. Students can draw pictures and describe what they did with manipulative in a math journal.
Manipulative make math more enjoyable for most students. Completing paper-and-pencil assignments is often boring and tedious. Students lose interest quickly or struggle to get through the assignment. Manipulative feel more like playing than learning, particularly when the students are allowed to experiment and explore with the tools outside of assignments. Even when a worksheet or written assignment are required, manipulative can make the problems easier and more interesting to solve.

Enjoy and have a super week!
Ms. Nora Sierra
Assistant Principal

Grade 1-A teacher

Friday, August 15, 2014

Every Child a Reader

"Every child a reader" has been the goal of instruction, education research, for at least three decades. We now know more than ever about how to accomplish this goal.

Six Elements for Every Child
Here are  six elements of instruction that every child should experience every day
1. Every child reads something he or she chooses.
The research base on student-selected reading is robust and conclusive: Students read more, understand more, and are more likely to continue reading when they have the opportunity to choose what they read.
The experience of choosing in itself boosts motivation. In addition, offering choice makes it more likely that every reader will be matched to a text that he or she can read well.
2. Every child reads accurately.
Good readers read with accuracy almost all the time. Although the idea that students read better when they read more has been supported by studies for the last 70 years, policies that simply increase the amount of time allocated for students to read often find mixed results (National Reading Panel, 2000). The reason is simple: It's not just the time spent with a book in hand, but rather the intensity and volume of high-success reading, that determines a student's progress in learning to read (Allington, 2009; Kuhn et al., 2006).
3. Every child reads something he or she understands.
Understanding what you've read is the goal of reading. But too often, struggling readers get interventions that focus on basic skills in isolation, rather than on reading connected text for meaning. This common misuse of intervention time often arises from a grave misinterpretation of what we know about reading difficulties.
4. Every child writes about something personally meaningful.
The opportunity to compose continuous text about something meaningful is not just something nice to have when there's free time after a test or at the end of the school year. Writing provides a different modality within which to practice the skills and strategies of reading for an authentic purpose.
When students write about something they care about, they use conventions of spelling and grammar because it matters to them that their ideas are communicated the correct way.
5. Every child talks with peers about reading and writing.
Research has demonstrated that conversation with peers improves comprehension and engagement with texts in a variety of settings (Cazden, 1988). Such literary conversation does not focus on recalling or retelling what students read. Rather, it asks students to analyze, comment, and compare—in short, to think about what they've read.
6. Every child listens to a fluent adult read aloud.
Listening to an adult model fluent reading increases students' own fluency and comprehension skills (Trelease, 2001), as well as expanding their vocabulary, background knowledge, sense of story, awareness of genre and text structure, and comprehension of the texts read (Wu & Samuels, 2004).

Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal
Grade 1A Teacher

Monday, August 11, 2014

What is looping?

                                                                                Nowadays in many schools, looping has been integrated as a regular procedure. It has become normal for students to spend more than one year with the same teachers. This year to enhance learning in first grade, we decided to implement looping, or teaching our kids from last year.
Benefits of Looping
1) Relationships with students
Teachers and students can look back and laugh at shared experiences from previous years, and also look ahead to what things can be done this year. There is a level of trust that can only be built up over time. Students feel comfortable talking to the teacher as a trusted mentor, and will often even share stories that most students would not typically share with their new teacher.   A high level of caring and respect is developed in the classroom.
2) Relationships with parents and families
 Knowing the parents of my students very well makes it easier to work as a team. Parents know the way the teacher works, as well as what to generally expect during the year. They feel comfortable talking with the teacher or send him/her questions about assignments or grades, which can make things much less complicated than when parents need to adjust to completely different ways of working each year.
3) Understanding student needs
Knowing the students’ strengths and general weaknesses right from the first day of school changes expectations for the year. It is very easy for teachers to remember where students started from, the progressions they have made, and what goals he/she still need to work on. I can remember the skills that each student struggled with the year before, as well as what tasks they usually excel at. There are no wasted days at the beginning of the year – coming back from summer vacation is like coming back after a long holiday. We catch up on what everyone did, and then pick up where we left off, with new skills and projects to work on.
4) Promotes teacher innovation
You just can’t teach the same thing every year when you have the same students! Teachers need to use new skills and competencies to develop according to the education programs the school has and follows. Every year teachers need to think of new projects, new texts to read, new activities to do, and new units to cover. It really prevents them from reusing the same materials over and over for years on end. One of the biggest challenges as a teacher is being up to date with new technologies and ideas in education and be able to incorporate into the classroom.
5) Benefits classroom management
When you start teaching the students in your class, you establish routines and procedures for almost everything. There are rules to follow, and consequences for not following them.  Every year, teachers have a new class with new procedures to learn. In my class, the students come in September already aware of what I will tolerate, as well as what I expect from them. New students pick things up quickly as they integrate into our well-established group.
Ms. Nora Sierra
1 A Teacher
Early Childhood Assistant Principal

April 20, 2018

Wrapping Up the School Year The end of the school year brings the expected joy at finishing another year, and perhaps some sadne...