Special Integrated Arts Classes

Because Wednesdays are half days, we usually do not have an IA (Integrated Arts) class. This year, however, the IA teachers are teaching some special activities on Wednesdays for each grade level a few times each trimester. So far we have had a special PE class about recess games, a special Music class about audience behavior during an assembly and the students who are new to Renaissance had a special Art class to make their drum. Today we had a special Chinese class. We learned about a type of Chinese toy and sang some Chinese songs. It is difficult to explain the toy we learned about today but you can see it in the slide show below.

New Ideas for Chinese Practice

Ms. Ivory uses short movies with the students in class to introduce the new lesson. She showed me where these can be found on her site. From the main page, click on “Podcasts click here” and then simply choose the lesson you want to watch (in .wmv format). These movies have pictures, words, characters and Ms. Ivory’s voice  speaking the new words so they are probably the best way for first graders to practice. We are currently working on lesson 4. Here is the direct link to the page with the movies:

Lesson Practice Files

Chinese Lessons

I just visited Ms. Ivory’s website to learn how to use her practice materials. (My own daughter is in third grade at Renaissance and needs to practice, too.) I thought I would share with you what I learned in case you needed some help with all of this. On the right hand side of her website is a section called “e-lesson practice presentation” and under this are all of the lessons. You do not click on the words “lesson 1” but instead you click to the right of that on “pdf” for a written out copy of that lesson and you click on “mp3” to listen to an audio version of the lesson. I would recommend looking at the pdf while listening to the mp3. It will be easier to follow. On the mp3 the Chinese word comes first and the English translation follows which is why looking at the pdf makes it easier to follow. In class today we worked on Lesson 3, so you could have your child practice Lessons 1, 2 or 3. I think I will load the mp3 onto our iPod for our daughter to listen to on the way to and from school each day but you can also just listen to them on your computer. Ms. Ivory is not collecting the sheets where the students can check off when they practice each day. She said that she will look at them at the end of the semester if any students have one to show her. You can find links to all of the Chinese practice sites on the right hand side of this page.

Ms. Ivory has taught us two songs and one of them is on her website. To find it, click on the link that says “Songs Click here” that is under the blue message bar on the main page. Then use the drop down menu to choose the song called My Friends. It is a counting song.

I also looked at the Chinese flashcards website because a parent asked if I could translate them for her. I actually could do it although I will concede that the pictures did give it away most of the time. Here is a list of what each card means in English:

1. person, people

2. China

3. England

4. home

5. Beijing

6. Shanghai

7. Hong Kong

8. Father

9. Mother

10. Older Brother

11. Older Sister

12. cat

13. dog

14. one

15. two

16. three

17. four

18. five

19. six

20. house

I have not had time to look at any more but this will be a great start for all of us.

A Day in the Life of Ms. Jill’s Crew

Our day started with a morning meeting where we greeted each other with a simple greeting practicing eye contact and clear, easy to understand voices. We then sang Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes making it all the way through multiple verses including humming some words rather than singing them. This was tricky but fun and then we were all relaxed and ready to start our day.

Next came Independent Learning Activities or ILAs. ILAs are just what they sound like – activities that the students do independently while I meet with small reading groups. There are activities like making words with wikki sticks or magnetic letters, listening to a book on CD, doing an activity on the computer, playing a math game, practicing handwriting, reading books, etc. Here is a slide show of photos of us during our ILA time. (Note: If you subscribe to this blog by email, you will need to go to the blog to view the slide show.)

After ILAs, Ms. Ivory came in for Chinese class. Today we learned how to write two Chinese characters. We learned the character for people and the character for children. We used special paper with small boxes and lines to help us write them. Learning Chinese (Mandarin) is exciting and very different from English. Ms. Ivory is very funny and helps us all feel comfortable trying new things.

Because of the rainy weather, after lunch we had indoor recess in the library. There are many games and activities to choose from during that time.

Math was right after lunch and we first answered math questions by writing the answers on our whiteboards and holding them up to show. This lets all of us have the chance to tell the answer and keeps all of us engaged in the thinking. Then we played “Bunny Hop”. This is a number line game that we played with a partner. We each had a number line and a bunny marker. We took turns with our partner rolling a number cube to tell us how far the bunny should hop. The first bunny to hop all the way to the carrot (the number 20) and back home (the number zero) was the winner. This game helps us learn to use a number line to add numbers. Then we played the “Penny-Dice” game. We also played this game with our partner. We took turns rolling the number cube to tell us how many pennies we should take for that turn. When the pile of pennies was gone the player with the most pennies was the winner.

Next we read a big book about a bear who did not want to share his birthday cake. Ask your child about the bear’s plan to avoid sharing his cake and how the story turned out.

During Expedition we had a discussion about some of the ways that our families are alike and different. We wrote our ideas on chart paper to save and add to as we continue the Expedition. The family questionnaire that you are working on with your child is one part of our fieldwork. Fieldwork involves gathering information from sources outside of school to use at school to gain a deeper understanding of what we are studying. It is how we act like experts in the field interviewing others, making observations and gathering information. Next week the students will be bringing home a small family tree to ask for your help in filling out. Please feel free to use that time to discuss interesting family history and stories with your child that they can share with the crew. We are working on books about our families to share with each other.

After all of that thinking, it was time for snack and recess. We had to stay indoors again because of the rain. Luckily, we had PE this week so we were still able to get some exercise. We did some activities with the parachute while we were in PE. We all had a great time.

When we returned from PE we were all ready to settle in for our Writer’s Workshop. We all love to write and have amazing stories to tell. We are writing about going swimming, traveling in an RV, cutting open an oyster, our little brothers and sisters, going horseback riding, riding our bikes and many other topics.

We ended our day with a closing circle. During closing circle we talked about the things that were different between kindergarten and first grade. Here is a sample of things that were mentioned:

  • We are in the part of the building with all of the big kids.
  • Our cubbies are in the hall instead of in the classroom.
  • We have desks instead of tables.
  • We don’t have a grownup teacher’s helper.
  • We get to be a teacher’s assistant for the day instead of having a job chart.
  • We are making new friends.
  • We have a Crew News notebook.
  • We aren’t the littlest kids in the school anymore.

We are learning a lot and are having some great days. This post was just intended to give you a glimpse of what a day at school is like for your child. Of course, there were many other little things that we did (Pledge of Allegiance, listening to stories being read aloud, doing quick little activities to move our bodies, etc.) in between each of the big things I wrote about in this post. I hope this serves as a springboard for some discussions at home.