Update 3/4/2016

I hope this weekend allows for some rest and relaxation for you and our students! As you may have noticed from experience or heard from your child, we’ve been battling some germs. We’re getting some deep cleaning done in our room this weekend and will continue to encourage healthy choices in the classroom (and some extra squirts of hand sanitizer).


Students learned about some incredible plants and animals through a fact vs. fiction activity. As they listened to a short description of several plants and animals, they decided whether it was fact (nonfiction) or fiction. Although some seemed too crazy to believe, every single plant and animal was real. The students were amazed by these new facts, which was our transition into nonfiction writing.

Students will have a good amount of choice in their topics, so I enjoy using this activity to reveal to students the exciting possibilities for what they could learn and what they could write. Some of these plants and animals seemed beyond our imagination, but really do exist.

After choosing to walk on one side of the room or the other to choose fact or fiction for these introductory plants/animals, students received a list of some more! They chose one and drew what they imagined it would look like. In the end, I revealed a photograph of each plant and animal for the students to compare their guesses to the real thing. Here are the plants and animals students got to choose from for their drawings:

Hooded Seal – The male hooded seal shows it is angry by inflating a hood on his snout or by forcing what looks like a red “balloon” through either one of his nostrils.

Jack-o-Lantern Mushroom – This fungus is bright orange like a pumpkin with gills underneath that glow in the dark. It is poisonous.

Kangaroo Rat – This mammal gets all the water it needs to survive from the seeds it eats.

Matamata – A bizarre-looking turtle that perfectly blends into river bottoms where it lives.

Poison Dart Frog – This amphibian has bright skin colors that warn predators that it is poisonous.

Starnose Mole – This mammal has a bizarre-looking nose that is divided into many tentacles.

Welwitchia – This plant has only two leaves and may live to be more than 1,000 years old!

European Water Spider – This spider creates an underwater, air-filled space to rest. It can swim under water with an air bubble attached to its stomach.

Bottle Tree – This plant has swollen trunks that are used to store water for a long time when there is no rain.

Basilisk Lizard – This reptile can run across water on its back legs.

Student-Led Conferences
Students are also using some writing time to prepare for their student-led conferences. They are working hard and have already told me how excited they are to share their portfolios with you! These conferences mean a lot to the students and end with a portfolio they are proud to take home. I am thrilled to share in this process with them.

Three groups have officially started the next round of spelling. They have chosen new group names, as some of the groups have shifted a bit.  If your child has started spelling homework, they have written in their assignment notebook about it (the day they received the homework and the day it is due). The due date is also listed by group name on the Homework Calendar.
Ask your child about whether they are in the following spelling groups:
If not, they will be receiving their first homework packet on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week! The homework packets are the same, but some of the sorts will look different. The sorts without words (only pictures) are focused solely on the sound of the vowels (for example, one sort is meant for students to practice distinguishing between short or long -a sounds. I worked with this group today.)

Students have been waiting patiently for our insects to change…and I’ve officially announced to the class that we are observing silkworms! They have drawn and written observations twice. Monday they will make more observations, as they are changing in appearance.

Green Challenge
This month’s green challenge is conserving water. Students were great detectives using what they know to discover the connection between saving water and our gardens. At PCCS, we use rain water collected in rain barrels around campus to water our class gardens. Students knew that plants need water to grow, but instead of using more water from the faucet, we can use what nature is already giving us! Afterwards, students drew and wrote about how these rain barrels work and how they are helping the school be green.
Students will also continue to brainstorm ways they can use less water. We’ve already had a great conversation about how sometimes it’s okay to use water – drinking a lot of water is very good for our bodies! However, there are other times when we can really cut back on excess water used. The 1st graders will work with their table groups next week to consider this both in the classroom and at home.

Solo Spots
The weather has been quite mild this winter, but we still had a great opportunity to experience a nice blanket of snow out at solo spots on Thursday. The class was working hard on their drawings and written observations, so for a unique brain break and team-building time out in nature, I asked the class to come in from solo spots by helping me with a snow man. Seeing the class working together, problem-solving, enjoying nature, and getting some much-needed movement time was memorable for me, and I hope memorable for the students. Photos will be posted in the gallery.

Important Dates:
Thursday, March 10th – (ER) Student-Led Conferences (Unless you received a reminder email today,  you are signed up!)
Friday, March 11th – Early Release
Monday, March 14th – Morning Field Trip to Ryerson Woods
March 21st – March 25th – NO SCHOOL Spring Break

Mrs. Buesking