First Grade with Jennifer and Matt

Week of October 23rd with 1JM

Dear Families of 1JM,

We hope you enjoyed your weekend and any Halloween festivities.  We would like to thank you for your participation in Tuesday’s La Marqueta with a Mission, organized by our friend and colleague Gloria Foti.  In addition, we are very grateful for the donations you have been making in support of the relief effort for victims Hurricane Maria — your contributions are greatly appreciated.

Our next Family Visiting will be this coming Friday, November 3rd, from 8:25-8:55am.  We hope to see you!


This week, the children of 1JM learned two new reading roles, the Creative Connector and the Super Summarizer, comprehension strategies that allow students to interact with the text while deepening their understanding.  In Tuesday’s lesson, we read “Dragons and Giants” from Frog and Toad Together and practiced being Creative Connectors to make text-to-self connections based on the story’s themes of being afraid and being brave.  Millie wrote that she sometimes feels afraid on Halloween, but she feels very brave when riding rollercoasters.  After writing their connections, the students drew pictures that represented their writing.  The next day, we introduced the Super Summarizer reading role, a long with the “5-Finger Retell” method of retelling a story.  We read “Cookies,” and in pairs, the children wrote their summaries using their new strategy.

In half groups, some students worked on additional reading strategies to use when decoding texts.  First, we reviewed “Eagle Eye, Picture Walk, Lips the Fish, and we introduced Skippy Frog,which helps children use context clues to figure out tricky words.  We read Stick and Stone  and Spoon (a class favorite) to model how good readers use these strategies when they read.  The children then practiced these strategies when they read in small groups and on their own.  Other students learned about the “silent e” rule for long vowel words.  The children practiced transforming short vowel words into long vowel words by adding the silent e.  Then, they brainstormed additional words that follow this rule.  Jana offered “chaperone”!  After this, the children went on a scavenger hunt around Room 20 in search of items whose names use a silent e.  The children shared their results with the rest of the group and worked on the “Silent e” chapter of Explode the Code.


Susan Schwartz, our Reading Specialist, visited Room 20 this week and taught a lesson on the “5-Finger Retell” method of summarizing, a strategy to use when reading and writing.  The children practiced this strategy when writing in their journals about their favorite memories of their week in 1JM.


This week, we continued to work on symmetry.  We read the book Symmetry that shows all things symmetrical in life, nature, language, and in objects all around us.  The children created their own symmetrical designs out of pattern blocks and replicated them on the other side of a line of symmetry.  Then, they drew and colored their designs.  In math with Monica, the children worked on a Halloween-themed activity that challenged the students to create as many Jack-o-Lantern faces as they could, using different combinations of features, such as noses, smiles, and google eyes.

Social Studies

The week, Kelly and Jaja worked with 1JM on two lessons from their “Glitch, Bummer, Disaster” curriculum designed to help children name their emotions, recognize emotions in others, de-escalate tense situations before they become “disasters.”  These lessons also show children how to “take the temperature” of their own emotions, bring clarity to the moment, and move on.  Jaja read When Sally Gets Mad, and she and Kelly facilitated a discussion on the variety of emotions Sally feels at different parts of the story.  The children brainstormed a list of of feelings and matched them to corresponding parts of the story.  Then, Kelly read the The Big Orange Splot, by Daniel Manus Pinkwater, which reminds us to embrace the individuality and uniqueness that exists in ourselves and in others, as well.


In the second robot lesson, Judith read the storybook Boy + Bot to the class. It’s a chance for children to think about and discuss how different robots and children can be. What do robots need to survive? How are the needs of a robot different from the needs of a little boy or girl? After pondering these questions through this sweet story, students explored the idea of making a code like one for a robot easy to understand. They wrote the same commands that make a Bee-Bot robot go but instead of commanding the robot, they commanded each another with the instructions. One lesson that they seemed to be learning was that both robots and people need their instructions to be clear!

Community Period

This week, our buddies in 4H visited Room 20.  We had a brief group discussion about the situation in Puerto Rico and the mission of Tuesday’s La Marqueta.  We then watched and listened to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Almost Like Praying.”   After this, the children spent the rest of the period at play with their buddies.

A number of friends from 1JM were in attendance Friends’ Lower School Halloween party and in full costume!  We wish you a safe and fun Halloween, and a terrific week ahead.


Friday, Nov. 3 — Family Visiting AND Book Fair

Thursday and Friday, Nov, 16 and 17 — Parent Teacher Conferences



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Week of October 16th with 1JM

Dear Families of 1JM,

We hope you’re enjoying the weekend, so far, and today’s beautiful weather.  We were very fortunate to have similar weather on the day of our trip to the Tenafly Nature Center.  Thank you, again, to those who chaperoned, and to all who volunteered to do so.

Our next Family Visiting will be on Friday, November 3rd.  We look forward to seeing all of you.  You’ll find additional important dates at the end of this post.



The students have been learning a number of new strategies that will help them grow as readers.  In small groups,  some students continued to focus on using picture clues (“Eagle Eye”, “picture walk”) and learned to use “just the first letter of the word” to help decode the text and read “tricky” words.  The children then practiced these strategies when they read Catch Me if You Can and What Can I Be?, in addition to other texts that they’ve stored in their cubbies, so that they can reread them for further practice.  We have also been adding to our collection of sight words.  With other students, we introduced the reading role of “Discussion Director”, a strategy students use to develop questions that will help others (and themselves) deepen their comprehension of texts.  The students read “Monday Morning” in Fox All Week, stopping here and there to practice their new strategy.  Then, the students wrote down their questions, shared them with their partners, and delivered their favorite questions to the group.  Several wanted to know, “Why did Fox feel that he had to fib?” and “How did he feel when he saw his class on a trip while he was stuck at home?”

The class has also been practicing how to find “Just Right Reading” books that they can read on their own, to a friend, and to an adult.  They use their “Good Readers” bookmarks to save their place in their books.

This week in “Book Talk with Kelly”, Kelly read the final chapters of Ruth Stiles Gannett’s My Father’s Dragon, much to the children’s disappointment — the book now has a new following, with several students adding it to their list of favorites!  Kelly began the lesson by holding the book alongside Have You Seen My Dragon?, by Steve Light, to illustrate how to make text-to-text connections.  Noah noticed, “They both have maps!”  Chloe made a connection about the texts’ protagonists:  “Both are little boys.”  As a follow-up treat, Kelly gave the children lollipops, a connection to the “lollipop bridge” from My Father’s Dragon.

During “Story Time”, Wendy visited 1JM as our guest reader and read I Wish You More, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, to the group.  As a pre-reading activity, Wendy and the students had a discussion about wishes they have made that have come true and wishes they have made for other people.  After the read-aloud, the students were asked to close their eyes and think of wishes they could make for someone else.  Here are some examples of the wishes your children made for others:

  • “I wish everyone in this school has good health.” — Zoe
  • “I wish you more happy than sad.” — Ellis
  • “I wish my sister a happy birthday.” — Esme
  • “I wish you more life than tears.” — Chloe
  • “I wish there’s no violence.” — Akhil


The students reflected on their trip to the Tenafly Nature Center through discussion. Then, they wrote and drew about their experiences and memories from the trip, what they saw and learned. The children continue to write in their journals, using them to document the week’s most memorable events, and drawing pictures that correspond to their work.  Journal writing also offers the children the opportunity to practice writing sight words they are learning or have mastered.


In “Monica Math”, Monica reviewed shapes, sides, and corners (angles) and introduced the concept of symmetry.    Next, she showed the group a number of images on the Smartboard and asked the children to see if they could find something special about these shapes and images, like the Batman insignia, as she drew lines to show how there is symmetry in them.  Monica then had the children stand up and lie down sideways  to illustrate “vertical” and “horizontal” lines of symmetry.  For their “Symmetry Challenge,” the children were given grids and were asked to shade in squares to make designs that had both vertical and horizontal lines of symmetry.  A quick observation made by several members of the class was that the first letter of Harper’s name is symmetrical both vertically and horizontally!

We continued to work with shapes in class, and used pattern blocks to fill in different designs.  With the same designs, students were asked to complete the same task several times, each time using a different number of pattern blocks and recording their results … challenging at first.  After a couple of rounds, all of the students wanted to keep going and challenge themselves even further!

Friday marked our 30th day of school, providing the perfect opportunity to practice skip-counting by 10s and 5s during Morning Meeting.  We also use this time to practice “Calendar Math” where the children answer questions like  “in how many days will it be Halloween?” and “how many days ago was October 16th?,” for example.

Social Studies

As an introduction to our Social Studies curriculum, Matt (self-proclaimed lover of maps), led the children in an enthusiastic discussion that answered, “Why are maps useful? What are they good for?”  Responses included: “If you’re lost, [a map] could help you!” and “Tourists use maps!  Tourists use maps!” and “I used a map in Rome! Well, my family did.”  Matt then projected a Google Map of Friends Seminary and it’s surrounding area onto the Smartboard and zoomed out to show Manhattan, New York, and the earth, to illustrate how we don’t belong to just one, small community, but that we are also citizens of our school, our surroundings, and our world.  The students then had turns at  “Google Mapping” their favorite New York City sites (Yankee Stadium was at the top of the list for Teddy) and their homes.  Matt also showed north, east, south, and west on the maps and taught the students never eat soggy waffles, a mnemonic device to remember the directions.


The entire first grade went on a field trip to the Tenafly Nature Center! In preparation for this, the students have been learning about leaves and trees.  After a read-aloud of A Gift of a Tree, the group was asked, “What’s one gift a tree gives to our planet?”  The children then wrote about and drew the gifts that trees give to the earth.  Ari wrote and drew that, “Trees give us food.”  In Lala Jane’s response, she noted that trees give us “…paper and oxygen and food and maple syrup and chocolate and homes and wood.”  On our trip to the Tenafly Nature Center, the children were guided on a hike through the woods by a nature expert, and they searched for the leaves that they had found in Stuyvesant Park and studied in class.  Most of the leaves the students found on our Tenafly nature walk were from the Maple, Red Oak, White Oak trees, and the class favorite, the Sweet Gum tree.

Artist of the Month

In this week’s installment of our unit on Frida Kahlo, the children were shown slides of several of the artist’s portraits and while doing so, were asked to use their “eagle eyes” to study the paintings for common features.  The students’ initial observations included, “She doesn’t smile!” and “She has a mustache! She always has a mustache!”  As the list of common features grew, the children were asked to turn and talk to a friend and come up with the three features they saw the most frequently.  Our list was narrowed down to: animals, plants, roots, and flags.  Then, armed with this list of traits, the students went on a scavenger hunt in search of common features in Kahlo’s paintings, copies of which were posted around Room 20.  Next, the children counted the number of each common attribute found in each painting and recorded their data in graphs.   When we regrouped on the rug, the children shared their findings and shared responses to questions like, “Which painting has the most animals?” “Which painting has the fewest animals?” “How many more plants are there in painting one than in painting three?”  The children were then asked to circle their favorite Frida Kahlo portrait and write their answers to the question: What do you think Frida Kahlo is thinking about?  Some students responded, “T think Frida Kahlo is thinking about animals,” and  “I think Frida Kahlo is thinking about her own death.”

Community Period

This week’s first-grade-wide Community Period was held in Room 20.  Jaja of 1JJ led a presentation on the practice of vocal ministry to help the children (and the adults!) discern how and to whom we share messages that come out of silent reflection in Meetings for Worship and Morning Meetings.   The children were shown several examples of messages and were asked to decide, is this a message for myself, message for someone else, or a message for the group?  When Jaja held up “I played soccer so well today.  I’m really proud of myself,” a number of children decided that this was a message for myself.  Then Pierce raised his hand and shared, “It could be a message for others and the group because it could make other people want to play soccer also and be good at it, too.”

“Inevitably, not all vocal ministry will be equally meaningful to all present. Remember, ministry that does not speak to you may nevertheless be valuable to others” (…/spirit-led-vocal-ministry).

We end most days with a moment of silence and a discussion of the day’s events.  It’s a time for the children to share reflections on their favorite experiences of the day, and for some, this meeting is the highlight.  With every week that passes, we are reminded of how fortunate we are to have as our students this group of very special, thoughtful, kind, and brilliant children who make us laugh, think, and learn, too.

We hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend and the week ahead.

Jennifer and Matt

Important Dates to Remember

Tuesday, October 23rd: La Marqueta with a Mission (3:30pm – 5:00pm)

Wednesday, October 25th: Meeting for Worship led by Jason Craig Harris

Friday, November 3rd: Family Visiting (8:25am-8:55am);   Book Fair (9:15-9:40)

Thursday, November 16th and Friday, November 17th:  Parent/Teacher Conferences


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Week of October 10 – 13

Hello again parents of 1JM!

We hope everyone had a relaxing three day weekend and an even better four day week! This week flew by in 1JM and we have so much to share with you.

We began our “Literacy Block” work this week with our learning specialist Salvi Muzio leading our very first session. During Literacy Block, the children work that  connects reading and writing strategies and handwriting. Each lesson we introduce a new set of letters. First we pronounce each letter and it’s sound, and then practice writing it on a magnetic writing strip.  Then we put the letters together to make cvc (consonant-vowel-consonant) words before moving on to our handwriting books, where we practice each letter. Finally, the children take dictation from their teachers, working on properly writing down these cvc words. First, they listen to the word; next, they repeat the word; then, they write the word.We look over these dictation sheets with Salvi to monitor our students’ progress after each lesson.

Salvi’s first lesson was focused on short “a,” and the letters “c, d, g.” Talk to your children about the “Magic C” when writing these letters. These letters are all built around writing the letter “c” when being written in lower case.

Salvi leads 1JM in Literacy Block. The kids are tracing the letter “c” in the air.

Jennifer goes over the letters “o,r,n,m” during Literacy Block.

Kelly, as you may know, has been reading to our class every day. She’s halfway though My Father’s Dragon, and she’s using the map in the back of the book to help our students visualize where in the adventure our protagonist is. My Father’s Dragon is a favorite book of Kelly’s since childhood and will continue to read books that she loves to the students of Room 20.  It also just happened to be a childhood favorite of Matt’s, as well, and the book that got him excited about maps – a passion he’ll be bringing to the classroom soon! (Stay tuned.)

Cooper Browning, our Metacognitive Reading Consultant, worked with our half groups this Friday and gave a lesson on Just Right Reading, reinforced what Salvi had taught about finding for ourselves books that are “just right” for us to read during quiet book times.  The children looked through books and made their selections using the strategies Cooper and Salvi had taught them. Salvi gave the class a set of new books and helped us set up a classroom library of “just right books.”  Once the children found their books, they used their “Good Readers” bookmarks to save their page.  

This week, Cooper introduced the concept of reading roles to our young readers. The first role they are learning is the illustrator role where the children use their imaginations to illustrate the story. Cooper read them Me, Frida, a heavily descriptive book about our Artist of the Month, Frida Kahlo, without showing them the pictures. After each page, Cooper asked the students to share what they were able to illustrate in their minds, and then they went off on their own to illustrate a specific page from the book.

Cooper reads Me, Frida to 1JM. Jana explains the illustration she created in her mind.

Finally, the whole class shared their illustrations while we re-read the book, and the group compared 1JM’s illustrations with those in the book.

In math, we continue to work in geometry and with shapes.  We read When a Line Becomes a Shape, by Rhonda Gowler Greene, and used wiki-sticks to make our favorite shapes. Next, we found six different shapes in Room 20.  On Thursday, we read Shapes That Roll and went to Stuyvesant park to find shapes that live in our backyard.  Teddy said: “The world is made of shapes!” and Thompson added:  “We live in a shape!”

1JM finds shapes in the park

As mentioned, we continue to study the life and work of our Artist of the Month, Frida Kahlo.  We reviewed what we know about Frida Kahlo.  The children generated their own questions about the artist.   Queries included: “What inspired her to be an artist?”  and “Why does she paint herself sad?”  In search for answers, the children took picture walks through several books about Kahlo’s life and art.   Next, we read Frida Kahlo, by Isabel Sanchez Vegara, which tells the story of Kahlo’s experiences in life and art, and we found a number of answers to the children questions.

1JM had a very productive week, and as a reward, Matt joined them as a student in PE on Thursday! Jennifer and Matt were impressed with what strong athletes we have – Matt thought he’d dominate dodgeball, but spent most of the class getting hit. He was a big target! Jennifer picked up the class and was amazed by Esme’s beautiful evasive spin moves, and Thomas’ smart strategy of holding on to two balls at once. Matt will definitely be going to PE again this year!

Judith Seidel will be in Room 20 every cycle day 8.  The children will learn early coding and programming with bee-bots (robots) this year.  In her first lesson, Judith shared images of different types of robots that serve a variety of purposes.  For instance, some robots bring us information, like the Mars rover; others do the work we can’t do.  She also explained that robots are smart, but that it’s people who make robots smart.  In pairs, the children took turns programming and operating the Bee-Bots.  Zoe was able to make her Bee-Bot go almost five feet and land directly where she wanted it!

Chloe and Teddy program their Bee-Bot

During choice time, our young entrepreneurs are creating a mock McDonald’s franchise, our young artists are creating beautiful pieces in the art studio, and our young architects are putting together yet another mega-building in the block area!

Young Manager Millie!

Future City Planners

Next week, 1JM will be joining the Friends community in an effort to provide much-needed supplies for hurricane relief efforts. This is a good chance for our kids to learn about giving and charity. We will be collecting donations in Room 20, which will then be delivered to the Puerto Rican Family Institute located at 145 West 15th Street.  The PRFI has been working to organize donation drives, raise funds, recruit volunteers, and deliver donations to Puerto Rico.  The PRFI is accepting:

Personal hygiene products

Mosquito repellent

First aid supplies

Canned and dried food

Diapers for infants and toddlers

Baby food and liquid baby formula

Baby bottles

Batteries and solar chargers

Any donations are greatly appreciated.

Lastly, Jennifer and Matt wanted to thank you for offering to chaperone our field trip to Tenafly on Wednesday, October 18th.  The Tenafly field trip is an all day out door affair, so please be sure that your child wears closed-toed shoes, pants, and long-sleeved shirts with short-sleeved shirts underneath, in case it gets warm.



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Happy October from 1JM!

Hello again parents of 1JM!

We hope you had a fun – but more importantly – informative time at Back to School Night! Your kids were so thrilled to see your notes in their cubbies first thing in the morning. Jennifer and Matt were mobbed to help read them as soon as the door opened.

“This part is definitely from my dad!” said Esme halfway through reading hers.

“I knew my parents would draw my dog!” said Eva.

Over the past two weeks we’ve settled into our routine,  and established the beginning of our first Science unit about trees. We discussed how to be a good friend to trees, and why trees are such valuable friends to us.

“Trees breath out oxygen, and we breath it in!” said Teddy.

While talking about how Matt recycles at home, the students asked “do you live with someone?” Jesse said: “ he lives with husband… OR his wife!” Jennifer and Matt couldn’t help but laugh.

We revisited the book, It’s Back to School We Go — First Day Stories From Around the World, and discussed what we learned about a day in the life Thomas, a seven-year-old boy from the Amazon in Peru.  The students learned that children from this region learn to hunt, fish and farm at a very young age, and that many of them have their own canoes.  The students then wrote and drew about the information about Thomas that they found the most interesting.

As a follow-up to our science lesson on trees, Kelly used her read aloud session to talk to the students about how we formulate questions, and asked, “What do you want to know about trees?” Before this, she asked the children to provide words they could use to start a question and charted their responses.  Then, she had the class ask everything they wanted to know about trees.  Eighteen children generated 27 questions!  Kelly wrapped up the session by reading Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree.

Kelly Reads The Giving Tree to 1JM


“Who planted the first ever tree? They’ve been around since before dinosaurs!” Jesse wanted to know. The beauty of this question model is the students’ queries often go so much further than we anticipate teaching, and we adjust our future lessons accordingly to answer them.  One question from Eva, “Why do leaves change color?”, led to a read-aloud of a book of that same title.  And Teddy wanted to know, “Why is bark called bark?!?”

On Day 7, Kelly visited room 20 again, this time to launch our October Author of the Month unit on Eric Carle.  In this lesson, Kelly discussed with the children the content of many of Carle’s books and use of nature to tell stories and share important lessons.  Part of the discussion focused on the the illustrations in Carle’s works and his preference for collage.  She then read Little Cloud to the group, focusing on the book’s artwork and its connection to the story.  After, the children worked on their own Eric Carle-inspired collages, using elements found in the writer’s work.  Other books we have read as part of this unit include Do You Want to Be My Friend? and The Greedy Python.

Paula, the lower school librarian, has been visiting our room to start up our “Artist of the Month” unit. October’s artist is Frida Kahlo – Ava and Jana were very excited to talk about Kahlo’s work, and Ava gave us a brief biography of her life during our very first lesson.

Paula introduces 1JM to Frida Kahlo

Paula introduced looking at artwork with our eyes, our hearts, and our brains.

In Math with Monica, we constructed “houses” using cubes. The kids were instructed to make houses for seven people, with two rooms on the bottom floor, and make as many variations on this as they could find. We’ve also begun to dip our toes in the geometry unit, and on Wednesday we read a book called “The Greedy Triangle” with the kids, about a triangle who is never satisfied and continues to shift shapes.  Then, the class studied the different shapes and chose their favorite.  This data was tallied and included in a graph that charted “Room 20’s Favorite Shapes.” We also continued calendar math with the students this week, and they have brought home their October calendars to share with you!

Ava and Akhil working together during our early geometry unit.

A new routine we’re introducing is a Friday journal session centered around recapping what we did that week. We start with a discussion where we touch on everything we’ve covered over the week, and then the students write about their favorite activity or lesson from the week. This helps both the students (and teachers) take stock of our progress. We’re also hoping this will help give those students who don’t talk much about school at home something they can say at dinner!  We’ve also added a daily dismissal routine where every afternoon, we go back through the schedule and talk about what we did in each class.

Friday Journals!


Cooper Browning, who taught First Grade the last three years with Matt Schlee, is back this Fall as a reading Consultant. She and Salvi Muzio have been teaching and sitting in on our half groups and conducting lessons around the strategies that good readers use. The reinforcement of vowels, both long and short, has been a focus this week. We are also continuing to talk about reading habits – feel free to talk to your kids at home about your own readings habits. Hopefully your kids showed you their bookmarks Friday morning!

Salvi introduced the concept of a “picture walk” to our half groups. A picture walk is like a warm up before reading a book. The instructor covers the words of the book and asks the students to try and put together the story based on the pictures alone. Using our “eagle eye” during the picture walk is an important strategy for burgeoning readers – especially when navigating tricky words and challenging material.

Salvi takes one half group on a picture walk!

We loved seeing the parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, and siblings at parent visiting and during the potluck. The kids are so thrilled whenever their families can come into the classroom, and we hope it makes room 20 feel like more of a home for them.

Learning to play Racing Dice and perusing a Reading folder

We also wanted to extend a huge thank you to the Haymes family for hosting the potluck – Matt and his roommates are particularly grateful for the gourmet leftovers we’ve been eating the last few nights. It was great to meet the families — it gives us more context for getting to know our students!

Have a wonderful three-day weekend!


Your friends in Room 20


Looking ahead:

Monday, October 9th — No School

Tuesday, October 10th — All-School Photo

Wednesday, October 18th — Class Field Trip to the Tenafly Nature Center

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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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