Monthly Archives: December 2012

17 Down, 21 To Go


Well, I’ve had another episode of accidental copyright infringement. I searched for a nice picture of the Paramount Theatre for my post and didn’t realize it was copyrighted. So, I’m giving up posting pictures at the beginning of my blog 😦 because I’m tired of breaking the rules by accident and getting a stern letter.


This week, we did very little.  We had 3 half-days while the upper school was taking finals, and I ended taking grades last Friday. So, we mostly practiced for our standardized test–the ITBS– and had fun.  One of my students’ mom came to do a craft with us on Monday, and on Wednesday we had an end-of-the-semester party complete with juice, chips, cookies, and candy.  It will not be a great surprise to you to find out that after about 15 minutes of indoor partying, we thought it best to let the munchkins outside to run off their excitement.


I got some fabulous Christmas gifts from my kids including: a snowman candle holder, a snow man/Santa salt and pepper shaker set, a winter owl mug, a big box of candy (you got it right, kid!), and a bracelet from Pakistan (very neat!).  I’m not much of a “things” person (except from chocolate and jewelry from foreign lands), but the cards and notes that came with the gifts really brightened my heart.


16 Down, 19 To Go



This was our final full week of school before winter break. The kids were still a bit hyper from me being gone last week, so Monday I had to lay down the law and become “mean teacher.”

I gave the munchkins plenty of warning. I told them that we could do things the way they know how, or “mean 1st grade teacher” could come and we would just work. They didn’t listen. So, mean Andrea came and wrote “PARTY ON THE LAST DAY” up on the board. I told them that if they could keep the letters, they could keep the party.

Tuesday was remarkably calm.

At our worst, we were at “PARTY ON TH” and we got so far as “PARTY ON THE LAST DA”, but the kids are still going to have to behave next week in order to keep letters safe.

In language arts, we had plenty to learn as we introduced comparing and contrasting. Most of the kids understood the concept right away, and struggled only with the terms: compare, contrast, similar, different, alike etc.

In math, we finished up our ninth topic on number patterns. Skip counting by 5s and 10s is pretty easy because the kids see the pattern immediately. However, only about 1/3 of my kids saw the pattern in counting 2s right away. The rest of the munchkins just looked baffled as we rattled off….2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16 etc.

In science, we finished up learning about soil and the kids did an AWESOME job on their tests. Every person made a good grade and I was so impressed with how much they knew. They could list 3 of the 4 components of soil (rocks & minerals, water, air, and decayed plants & animals), they could identify soil as sandy, loam, or clay soil. They listed animals that made their homes in soil, things that grew in soil, and how soil was useful to humans.

In social studies, we finished up our unit on authority figures. Again, the kids did well on those and I was very pleased the the grades. They identified authority figures at home, in school, and in the community, matched authority figures to the places they govern (mayors to cities, presidents to nations etc.) and matched famous authority figures to their biographies.

15 Down, 23 To Go


This week was exciting because we got to go on a field trip to the Paramount Theatre to see a play based on the books “Guess How Much I Love You” and “I Love My Little Storybook.” It was a great experience for the students. They got to attend a theatre and practice their social behavior, but with a performance that was meant to excite them, surrounded by students their age. The play was even called a “No Shhhing” play because they wanted students to feel comfortable clapping and laughing, and want to let the teachers know that the performers understood who their audience is.

After the play, we trooped onto the buses and headed to the park for a picnic and some play time to get the wiggles out. We went to Bartholomew Park in Northeast Austin. There were several covered pavilions in which to sit and eat and several playgrounds  to explore. Afterwards we went back home and did a whole lot of nothing because all the munchkins were wired from the field trip and the last thing they were going to be able to do was learn. So, they wrote a paragraph about their field trip and illustrated their paragraph.

We also did learning the rest of the week. But it wasn’t that interesting.

14 Down, 24 To Go



We’re entering the final stretch! The kids were bouncing off the walls all this week, because their keen sense of when holidays are coming rivals that of a bloodhounds sense of smell. So, they’ve decided, without consulting me, that they are just biding their time until winter break.

Consequently, I am having to create many fun activities that I can exclude the naughty ones from. We have several games, including “sparkle” and “around the world” that I can use as a carrot for good behavior. And,  this week we had a lab involving…toy cars. So, that definitely got the kids to prick up their ears and start paying attention for a good 8 minutes. 🙂

Other than that, things have been business as usual. We learning about sequencing and inference this week, and many of my students learned the value of going back and rereading a passage before answering questions on it. They learned this fact the hard way–by missing a detail question on the test. Thank goodness it’s ok to make mistakes in first grade.

In math we finished up shape and color patterns, which I was sad to see go. Not only do I love patterns, but the kids are really good at them, and like them, making patterns all the more enjoyable to teach.

In science and social studies, we’ve been talking about force & motion, and map skills respectively. Students need to learn how to identify Texas on a map (easy), as well as Austin (easy), and write their address (possibly the hardest task some of them have encountered). First graders are not detail-oriented, and it is surprising how many details are involved in adresses. I don’t care about spelling or commas or anything like that. But, I do require that they know that information goes on what line. The fact that there are certain lines for certain pieces of information is incomprehensible to the munchkins, and they act as if I am the silliest person in the world when I say, “Copy it EXACTLY the way I showed you on your card. You can’t have your name and address on the same line.”