First Grade with Jennifer and Matt

September 7 – September 14, 2017

Greetings Families of 1JM,

We have had an excellent time getting to know your children as people and learners, and we can say confidently that we have the type of group that is going to flourish both individually and collectively, and we couldn’t be happier to be here to help nurture that process!

This is our first blog post of the year.  We hope to be updating the blog every other Friday near the end of the school day.

We have finally been to every subject that 1JM will be taking this year. This week’s post will describe what a typical cycle will look like – each class we take, and who we meet throughout the day as we our students continue to grow into little scholars.


We start every day with a short arrival period to finish up old work and generally get comfortable. Then we get into morning meeting where we have a moment of silence during which students think of responses to a query, and they take turns sharing insights with their friends. Next, our morning meeting person leads the group in reading the date, the day’s schedule, and keeping track of the number of school days.  We also use this time practice what we are calling “calendar math”. Often, we use morning meeting to share things we are proud of, like books we’ve read, or even block structures we worked on:


On our first day together, we read First Day Jitters, and the teachers shared with the group that the adults feel nervous, too.  The group generated a list of feelings we might experience on our first day of school.   Some ideas included:  nervous, shy, scared, excited.  Ava volunteered that she really missed her sister.  Zoe shared, “I feel ok because I have friends.”

Salvi Muzio is our new Lower School Reading Specialist and she has been in our classroom frequently as we begin to assess our students in their reading and writing landmarks. During one of our first classes, Salvi asked our students, “what is reading?” and challenged our learners to think about reading as more than just reading works and texts. She showed 1JM sseveral wordless books and let them help guide and interpret the stories.

Salvi has also been especially helpful in our individual reading and writing assessments that we have done with each student this week.

We read from the book It’s Back to School We Go! First Day Stories From Around the World about students from around the world and what makes school different – and more importantly, the same – for each of us. The students wrote about several ways that students in Kenya are similar to students at Friends. Matt was pleased to see how many of our students concluded that kids all over the world play soccer!


The children have begun writing in their journals.


Monica Witt is our Lower School Math specialist, and on her first day with the class, she introduced the concept of graphs.  Monica had our students determine the number of letters in each of our names and then split off into a human graph!  The children are learning that we use graphs to show and organize data.

Monica read Crysanthemum to our class, where one character ended up on the wrong end of karmic justice: “That’s karma!” offered Teddy, which sparked an interesting discussion about what karma is.  Per Teddy: “Karma is when you are mean to someone, and then later, the world be’s mean to you!”

In the next step of the lesson, the children created their own graphs and answered a number of questions about our classmates who have shorter and longer names than our own.

We reinforced this concept in class by reading a book about bar graphs.  We watched a short Brain Pop Jr video about graphs and the children created graphs based on 1JM’s favorite colors.  The students interviewed each other and recorded the data on their charts.  We discovered that more people in the class like blue than the other colors, the same number of people like purple and pink best, and one person’s favorite color is yellow.


Melanie is our Spanish teacher. She visits us three times a cycle and has been teaching greetings and some early Spanish songs. As some parents might know, we have a very multilingual classroom already!

Students are reviewing how to greet one another in addition to what they know about expressing their emotions in Spanish as they transition back to school. Clothing vocabulary and short story writing are the jumping off points for 1JM’s Spanish journey!


Derek Reid is 1JM’s physical education teacher, and we see him four times a cycle. We are focusing on the different ways we move through space, and hand-eye and foot coordination. Derek will be stressing sportsmanship, honesty, and safety.


Barry is our dance teacher, and we see him once a cycle.  In their first class with Barry, the children practiced using their bodies to make different shapes, patterns, and structures.  Millie and her partners made a bridge.


Shayna Strype is our drama teacher and we see her once a cycle, in half groups. In First Grade Drama, students will create unique characters, act out classic fairytales, and work collaboratively to write and perform their own original short plays. Students will gain performance skills, learn theatrical vocabulary, and have a space for guided, creative expression.


Science is with Jeneen, and together we are introducing the kids to the scientific method and what scientists do.  As a friendly reminder, the children’s soil bags should be returned by September 27th.

On Thursday, we took the class on a nature walk in Stuyvesant Park to observe and collect data about leaves. The children talked to each about what leaves tell us.  Pierce, along with several other members of the group, shared that leaves tell time (seasons!).  We read from Autumn Leaves, a book about the different types of leaves; then, in groups and with their magnifying glasses, the children studied, drew, and wrote short descriptions of leaves we had collected.


We visit Paula the librarian in half groups twice a cycle, and she is teaching us the fundamentals of how to use our beautiful library: our class LOVES books and everyone is eager to share the books they check out with Paula each week.


Maddie is our music teacher and we see her twice a cycle.  In music class, students will be reinforcing rhythmic and melodic concepts through singing, dancing, and playing instruments.  Notes and rhythms that first graders used to call “high/low” and “short/long” will soon have new names and notation!


Isabel is our Shop teacher.  The children are being re-introduced to the safety guidelines students must follow in Shop since they will very soon begin use different tools to create their masterpieces.

Madeleine is our Art teacher.  The students in her class have painted animals on scrolls and will continue to create amazing works of art.

Thank you for sending your wonderful children to us!

All the best,

Your Friends in Room 20


Looking ahead:

Thursday, 9/21/17    Rosh Hashanah, No School

Monday, 9/25/17     Picture Day

Wednesday, 9/27/17     Soil bags are due back to Jeneen






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