Update 3/18/2016

Although it’s hard to believe it’s now Spring Break, I welcome the chance for students (and teachers!) to have a relaxing week to recharge before coming back to school! The last couple of weeks have been a blast. I’m excited to share some of the projects and experiences we’ve had in the classroom and outside.


Students have been getting repeated practice on organizing nonfiction writing with various topics. The class had their first opportunity to explore this type of writing with our green challenge. We had discussed how we can conserve water, listing ideas both for in the classroom and for at home. Afterwards, they wrote these ideas down with an introduction, examples, and conclusion, slightly reflective of the structure they had seen with opinion writing. They were asked to give two or three examples of how someone could save water in their writing. Students were absolutely loving the warmer weather that day, so I couldn’t resist giving them this assignment outside. Having that setting out in nature is a nice background for writing about how we can live in a way that takes care of the earth. Students who wanted an extra challenge added in details for each example about how those ideas save water and why it should be done.

Our next writing opportunity for nonfiction incorporated technology. Since our environmental exchange partners are in Atlanta, I showed students a photo I took in front of the very TALL trees I came across while visiting my brother in Atlanta. Students were immediately curious about what kind of trees they were. So, we decided to find out! My brother, Michael, was able to do some research on plants common in the area, sent pictures with some fun exploration questions, and then agreed to Skype into the classroom. Students learned about the tree I had stood in front of, asked questions, and learned new facts (such as how bamboo can grow there). Afterwards, they used a graphic organizer titled “All About Georgia” to write about three facts they learned and add pictures for each. The class was so excited to be hearing from someone in Atlanta and see the environment in the background. They asked great questions, including asking what kind of invasive species are seen there!

As you have heard, we are now working on publishing our own class book! The class can’t wait to see the finished product, but until then they are working hard to create something they will surely be proud of. I’m looking forward to sharing it with you! Please turn in the form sent home signed by Monday, March 28th, whether you order a book or not. This allows our class to receive a free copy for the students to enjoy at school.


Students have decided on new names for their groups! They have all shown growth in their understanding of spelling patterns and are right on track to meet or exceed our goal for the end of 1st grade. Please check your student’s homework packets for their new group name. The homework due dates are listed on the Homework Calendar using these group names.


The class is enjoying our quickly growing silkworms! Each day they seem to be getting a little bigger, allowing students to make more specific observations about their appearance. Using a new document camera, we can document these changes through videos and notes. While it is projected up on the screen for the class to see, I am able to use the document camera’s software on my computer to zoom in, take pictures, show students videos from previous days of the same habitat, and even draw on the image to highlight specific parts of the silkworms. It has been a great educational tool! Take a look at our two video clips from this week (and please forgive my first label – it was indeed 2016, not 2006! Thanks to our students who noticed the mistake!)

Green Challenge

This month’s Green Challenge was to conserve water. Students discovered an interesting connection between this challenge and our gardens. They knew that gardens have plants, and that plants need water. Students realized that plants would need a certain amount of water, so how could our green challenge possibly be addressed in this area?

I asked students if they knew how we water the plants in our garden, and introduced the idea of rain barrels. They learned the process taken between the time it rains to the use of it on our campus. After they could communicate back to the class the steps made to keep our gardens watered, even if there is little to no rain when the plants need a drink, I asked students how this helps us save water. Aren’t we still using water? A student shared that instead of using more water from the faucet, we could use rain from nature. We can use the water that is already there naturally, even stored for times when it becomes very dry.

To communicate what they  had learned and dive more into nonfiction writing as they transitioned between the second and third trimester, students drew a picture of the process and wrote about how we use rain barrels with our gardens to save water.

Class Dojo Update

In the second trimester, we focused on the clip chart and hawk tickets instead of Class Dojo. This trimester, we are jumping back into it. We have also made some changes to align the points that can be awarded or lost directly with the behavior scores seen on your child’s report card. This will give you a clearer picture of how your child is doing along the way in being respectful, responsible, and safe – and what behavior specifically they can grow in. If you have not been connected with this tool, I encourage you to email me. I am able to re-send the invitations to our room’s Class Dojo page, and your child’s report. If you would like a reminder of how Class Dojo works, please click here to see the post made explaining the program. As stated previously, the categories have been updated. Make sure to check out Class Dojo to see these changes!

Important Dates

March 21st – 25th: Spring Break
March 28th: Book Form Due
March 30th: Scholastic Orders Due
March 30th – April 1st: Mrs. Buesking out for Green Schools National Conference
April 4th: Earth Week Shirt Orders Due
April 6th: Early Release

Have a wonderful break!

Mrs. Buesking