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Hello, families! I am thrilled about our year learning together in first grade! I do my best to instill a love of learning and sense of community in children while combining rich literature with technology and hands-on exploration. First graders are capable of incredible academic, socio-emotional, and physical growth. It fascinates me every year!
I received my Bachelor's in Psychology and my Master's in Reading Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Virginia (UVA). This is my seventh year teaching; I taught Kindergarten in Washington, DC before moving to Boulder and teaching Kindergarten and now first grade at PRA. Outside of the classroom, I spend my time reading, traveling, and salsa dancing.
On these pages, you will find updates, reminders, and resources posted weekly. Do not hesitate to reach out via email if you need anything at all from me!
This year is also special because I will be serving as a 2018 Grosvenor Teacher Fellow for National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions. I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to go on a short field expedition in September and connect my real-world exploration to our classroom learning in science and social studies. I'm very excited to share this with our class! You can follow along with my biweekly blog posts on the Galapagos for Kids page.

Recent Posts

Week 20: Jan. 22-25

K/1/ Red Word Spelling - please practice games!
I assessed all students on their spelling of Kindergarten and first grade red words to date. Many students grew in their knowledge of both, but there are gaps. I cannot express how important it is to practice the reading and spelling of all words taught in K and 1. Most students said they do not practice them at home. I will be sending home rings with the specific words that your child needs next week. Please use the list of games I sent home before break to do those for at least 3 times a week!
Math Workbooks - please finish!
We finished Math Workbook version A and are now moving on to our new workbook for the rest of the year! The workbook will come home on Tuesday. All pages are NOT complete - please use this as extra math practice by having your child finish the entire thing over the semester or summer! Version B will come home in May!
Important Dates:
  • Monday, Jan. 21 - No School for MLK Day
  • Tuesday, Jan. 22 - paper math facts due for those who did not complete Freckle assignment
  • Friday, Jan. 25 - today's Freckle assignment due
  • Friday, Jan. 25 - $1 Student Council Spirit Day - dress up for your favorite 1900s decade! 

Week 19: Jan. 14-18

We had a wonderful first week back, families! Students worked hard on reading assessments and were rested and ready to review expectations and routines. We'll pick right back up where we left off with new units in each subject on Monday!
Wonderful work on the planet projects - look out for awesome photos to go up on the grade Shutterfly page.
Homework - Let's Get Ready for Second Grade!
  • Reading: Students should still read 15 minutes, 4 times a week. We will also start sending home 1 weekly paper "good fit" book in Thursday folders. The book should be read 3 times and sound fluent by the third read: smooth, no mistakes, no assistance. Books are for you to keep and build up a leveled home library. The included comprehension question sheets may be completed and returned.
  • Spelling: Please practice all taught red words and green sounds! Don't forget to check COPS as we begin grading it on the spelling test now too.
  • Math Facts: Please make sure you complete the Freckle assignment each week (and feel free to play in other areas too). If your child is not able to do the practice by Friday, we will send home a paper math fact sheet to be done over the weekend and returned Monday.
Important Dates:
  • Thursday, Jan. 17 - Core Knowledge Science/Social Studies Night 
    • Around the school from 5-7pm
    • This is a SUPER fun family event with tons of booths and hands-on activities!
  • Friday, Jan. 18 - Field Trip to Denver Museum of Nature and Science
    • Wear purple shirts and jeans/uniform bottoms
    • Bring a sack lunch, water bottle, and two snacks
  • Monday, Jan. 21 - No School (MLK Day)

Week 18: Jan. 7 - 11

Have a fabulous winter break, families! I will miss your fun kiddos these two weeks. Thank you for your generosity this week and all through the year - I appreciate having a supportive, kind parent community! I will be returning to school and responding to emails starting Jan. 7. 
Please sign up for an Assessment Day slot (use link below) if you haven't!
Important Dates:
  • Tuesday, Jan. 8 - Assessment Day 1
  • Wednesday, Jan. 9 - Assessment Day 2
    • Make sure you are signed up for one slot on either Day 1 OR 2
    • Have your child read good-fit books and practice first grade red words over the break in preparation for this!
    • Please wear dress code
  • Thursday, Jan. 10 - Planet Projects due
    • Please allow your child to guide most of the idea and creation of their 3D model of a planet other than Earth
    • They need to be able to carry it in and out of school independently.
    • Remember to help them research and write down 3 facts to bring with their project and present independently.
  • Friday, Jan. 11 - PRA/Black and Yellow/College Spirit Day
  • Friday., Jan. 11 - Winter Reading BINGO due
    • Sheets are in Thursday Folders - additional sheets can be found on PRA website or miner mail
  • Friday, Jan. 11 - Freckle assignments due
    • I've added three math fact assignments for the next three weeks. Encourage your child to work on other games within the ELA and Math sections of this fun, free, educational app over break!

Week 17: Dec. 17 - 20

Due to a strange turn of events (involving some unfortunate food poisoning), I'm done with jury duty early and was back today! I will be at school Monday and Tuesday of next week. I'm so glad to be back to wrap up the semester, and I was so happy to welcomed back with excitement by your children :) I only heard great reports from Mrs. Wade!
January Museum Field Trip
There are a few clarifications for the field trip permission slip that went home. If you have not submitted payment yet and are paying cash, note you may pay $10 to make it easier but will not be given change.
  • Date: Friday, January 18, 2019
  • To wear: Purple 1st grade shirts and uniform bottoms or jeans
Important Dates
  • Monday, Dec. 17 - all library books due back
  • Monday, Dec. 17 - please send all World Religions party supplies by this day - thank you for your donations!
  • Thursday, Dec. 20 - Cozy PJ day for K-5 and holiday sing-a-long
  • Thursday, Dec. 20 - Three World Religions party
  • Friday, Dec. 21 - This week's new Freckle math fact practice is due, and 3 new assignments will be posted for the break
  • Friday, Dec. 21 - No school, teacher PD day - winter break starts!

Week 16: Dec. 10 - 14

Math Update
Please remember to practice math facts (memorizing numbers that add up to 10 or less) weekly either on paper, flash cards, and/or using Freckle. It's made a huge difference in students' fluency on difficult concepts such as the double-digit addition and subtraction we are now working on.
Watch my videos to see how we teach the strategy "Find 10"(also on my Math resources page):
Part 1 - Addition with regrouping
Part 2 - Addition without regrouping
Part 3 - Subtraction without regrouping
Part 4 - Subtraction with regrouping 
World Religions Unit
As part of our study of World History and Geography, we'll be teaching students about three world religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In the Core Knowledge Curriculum, religion is viewed as a shaping force in the history of civilization and thus should be part of what students learn. The upcoming unit is a very brief introduction to the history of the religions - we will focus on major symbols, figures, and stories. Our goal is to be descriptive, not prescriptive, and to maintain a sense of respect and balance. All questions that arise for students regarding personal faith and beliefs will be directed home for parent/family discussions.
Important Dates:
  • Wed., Dec. 12 - December Scholastic book order due
  • Fri., Dec. 14 - $1 student council spirit day
    • Theme: Ugly Sweaters and/or Festive Hats

Week 15: Dec. 3 - 7

THANK YOU for the beautiful parent Sunshine Committee basket of teacher organization goodies :) as well as all your support and kind words. It really did brighten this tough week. Your students were resilient and hard-working.
Freckle Math Fact Practice
YAY for all who have begun using Freckle on the computer or tablet! Students are excited and I've seen great progress on my teacher dashboard. A new assignment will show up today and every Friday. Please see your child's planner or Glows & Grows email for log-in and class code.
Ch. 8Double Digit Math Addition/Subtraction
We're moving into a new strategy called Find 10 or Make 10 to add/subtract up to 20. If you're confused about this, please read the "Parent Letter" on Math Resources and watch my short video tutorial on addition part 1 and part 2 before doing "Extra Practice" pages. Subtraction videos will be up next week (we haven't gotten to that in class yet)!
December Scholastic - ONE WEEK ORDER PERIOD
Flyers will be in Thursday folders and our order will be submitted the following week on Wed., Dec. 12 so that books arrive before leaving for Winter Break. Books make great holiday gifts! Students will be assessed on reading level the first two days we return, and Scholastic has lots of good fit books.
Important Dates:
  • Tue., Dec. 4 - KidSight vision screening
  • Fri., Dec. 7 - PRA spirit day / college gear
  • Fri., Dec. 7 - Sock donation drive starts

Week 14: Nov. 26 - 30

Have a wonderful break and we'll see everyone on Nov. 26! I emailed each of you individually with a detailed Glows and Grows progress report for your child (Glows = areas of strength, Grows = areas for growth).
See below for a new home-and-school math program and a slight change in our first grade character system.
Freckle: Math (and ELA)
Please log onto our online platform Freckle and practice reading and math via the computer website or download the free app for tablets. I emailed your log-in and class code in my Glows & Grows. We will also start using this in class occasionally after the break. It's a ton of fun, kids can do it mostly independently, and the questions adapt to your child's level.
This is especially great as math fact practice homework. Our end-of-first grade expectation is facts to 10 are fluent, with a push goal of facts to 20. Please have your child complete the "From Your Teacher" section each week (the button with the chicken). For now I will add one short assignment every Friday. After this is done, your child is free to complete any other content areas games within Freckle.
Character Cubes
First grade has found a need for a more concrete, consistent, and visible system than Thinking Tickets. So for small behavior reminders (e.g. talking at inappropriate times, calling out), all 4 classes are starting Character Cubes instead of Thinking Tickets.
Each student will start the day with 3 cubes on their desk. They lose a cube when given a small reminder. If a student loses all 3 cubes for the day, there will be a brief note in the Parent Comment box in their planner about what happened. If they do not lose all 3 cubes, you will not see anything in their planner :)
We hope this helps both students and teachers be more accountable for keeping those small reminders in mind, working toward the self-control and independence needed for second grade. It will give students a chance to notice a mistake and give them plenty of chances to fix it. We will still be using reflection sheets that go home for more serious offenses.
Important Dates:
  • Mon. Nov. 16 - Fri., Nov. 23 - Thanksgiving Break
  • Fri., Nov. 30 - Father/Daughter Dance, 6-8pm (pre-registration ends Monday)

Week 13: Nov. 12 - 15

Wow! We're one week from Thanksgiving Break Your students have been working hard to show the PRA Way in first grade: Prepared (to learn), Respectful (to self, school, teachers, and peers), and Accountable (for their actions). A lot of growth has been happening and a lot more will happen! Thank you for practicing important skills at home.
Student Progress: "Glows and Grows"
I'll be sending short individual emails this week with a couple points of strength (Glows) and a few areas to work on (Grows) for your child. I've seen lots of academic and behavior progress since Parent Teacher Conferences. Please feel free to respond to that email with questions or concerns, or email me anytime! Our next round of Conferences are student-led in February.
Miner Mania
We had a successful school service day today! Ask your child about their 7th grade buddy, the whole school K-12 assembly, and putting together hygiene kits for A Precious Child! Once again, thank you for your donations.
Want to know what your child does in Specials?
  • Ms. Cutshall's first grade technology page to subscribe to is HERE
  • Ms. Morse's overall PE page and her first grade page to subscribe to is HERE (take note of monthly shoe checks)
  • Ms. Nelson's first grade art page to subscribe to is HERE
Important Dates:
  • Mon. Nov. 12 - A Precious Child winter coat drive
    • Please donate lightly used winter jackets through Friday.
  • Wed., Nov. 14 - Free Dress Day won at Miner Mania
  • Wed., Nov. 14 - "PRA GIVES" Day
    • Please contribute during this 24 hour period! Every little bit helps our school to serve your children.
  • Thur., Nov. 15$1 Student Council Spirit Day
    • Crazy Hair and/or Crazy Socks - students wear regular PRA spirit wear with their crazy hair/socks
    • Color hair spray available at morning recess for an extra $1
  • Fri., Nov. 16 - No School
  • Mon., Nov. 19 - Fri., Nov. 23 - Thanksgiving Break
    • School resumes Mon. Nov. 26

Week 12: Nov. 5 - 9

I know many of you celebrate Halloween and your child may have a candy stash at home. If you choose to allow your child to bring candy/chocolate to school, please remind them it is a treat, not their snack. Sugar, especially in the morning, can disrupt learning (and has this week)! Our class's policy is students may eat one small piece a day. If it contains nuts, they must eat it with their lunch (since nut-free snacks is always our policy). Those without nuts may be eaten at afternoon recess combined with a snack. Thank you for your support!
Parent Volunteering
Thank you to all parents who donated supplies for our very successful Egypt Day and those who came in to help out! We could not run events without you.
Remember, if you wish to come in to volunteer at Daily 5 or Math on Thursdays, or special days and field trips, you need to complete the PRA online volunteer training first. Thank you to parents who have given time to support our class. I love Thursday volunteers because there is only one me and I can get more done with another adult supervising! A few things to keep in mind if you come in:
  • During math and especially Daily 5, I'm meeting with small groups to give targeted instruction. This is really sacred time and the other kids know they should be focused on their own work, not talking or playing, and not interrupting my group.
  • So, it is a HUGE HELP when you come act as an extra pair of eyes/ears! Your role as helper and classroom manager means circulating around the room, giving gentle reminders to stay on task, and answering questions from raised hands.
  • Your child (and others) will want your special attention. The class has been told volunteers are there to support all 25 students and not read with or talk to one child. Of course, you know best whether your presence may be more of a distraction to your child's learning. Ideally, it should be "business as usual" - not running up to you, working beside you, or calling you over to show you their work.
Important Dates:
  • Fri., Nov. 9 - Rock Research Due
    • You should've seen a sheet in your child's Thursday folder titled "Rock Research" - this is to be completed at home and sent back to school on Friday, when rocks and papers will be shared.
  • Fri., Nov. 9 - Miner Mania K-12 Spirit/Service Day
    • First graders should wear their PURPLE "Class of 2030" shirts with jeans, athletic bottoms, or dress code bottoms.
    • No hot lunches will be served this day.
  • Fri., Nov. 9 & Sat., Nov. 10 - Middle School Musical
    • Does your child love to sing and dance or enjoy plays? Come support the middle school production of Once Upon a Mattress - more info here

Week 11: Oct. 29 - Nov. 2

We had a fun field trip! Look out for photos on the grade level Shutterfly page. Students watched a production of Seussical, asked actors behind-the-scenes questions, and put on their own silly skit.
Phonics and Spelling Tests
I tried my own hand at some bad acting and filmed a brief Phonics/Spelling overview video that is on my Language Arts Resources. It's me repeating descriptions from conferences about green words, red words, and COPS. I know visually being walked through can help parents know how to practice at home. Please review both past words and the current words every week (all on my What We're Learning page)!
THANK YOU for Miner Mania donations. I have a good feeling about our class winning for first grade... but more importantly, your students are so excited about contributing to our K-12 service day!
We are also all set with cardboard tubes for Egypt Day at this point. Remember to send in other food and party supplies on Monday.
Important Dates:
  • Sat., Oct. 27 - Spooktacular family volunteer opportunity
    • Sign up here to earn service hours and participate - almost full!
  • Wed., Oct. 31 - Egypt Day
    • Students may come to school in an Egypt-themed costume only or dress code, with regular dress code shoes please for safety. Ideas: black cat, pharaoh, archaeologist, mummy, Egyptian god.
    • If your student has allergies, please double check the food list although we make sure to serve allergen-free food.
  • Fri., Nov. 2 - PRA Spirit Day / College Gear

Week 10: Oct. 22 - 26

When you hit the store this weekend, please remember we need donations for our Miner Mania service project day! Please send in new travel or hotel-sized toiletries (preferred over full size): shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, body soap, combs/brushes. Thank you!
A big THANK YOU to those of you who donated a book from the Book Fair to our classroom library :) I truly appreciate your generosity!
Big THANK YOU #2 to Adelyn's mom Nurse Heather, for being our first guest speaker and wrapping for our Science human body unit. Students were excited and had many questions! If you or a family member has a connection to Geology/History of the Earth in Science or Ancient Egypt in Social Studies, please fill this out!
Important Dates:
  • Thursday, Oct. 25  - October Scholastic book order will be submitted.
  • Friday, Oct. 26 - Field Trip to the Arvada Center
    • Students should wear new purple grade level shirts, jeans/uniform bottoms, and comfy shoes. 
    • Please pack a sack lunch (brown bag) with disposable water bottle to bring on the trip. 2 extra snacks to eat at school can also be sent.
  • Friday, Oct. 26 - last day for Miner Mania toiletry/hygiene donations!

Week 9: Oct. 16 - 19

THANK YOU for participating in conferences! It was wonderful to get to chat with all of you and create some plans on what we will both work on together. I appreciate your commitment to help at home and do best by your child's learning growth! 
Please email me any questions or let me know if you are still confused about how to practice green words, red words, check COPS in writing, or math facts/addition and subtraction.
Important Dates:
  • Mon., Oct. 15 - No School
  • Thur., Oct. 18 - Student Council Sponsored $1 Spirit Day
    • If students want to participate, they bring in $1 to donate to the student council - otherwise, normal dress code
    • Theme is school-appropriate pink! Proceeds will go to breast cancer research.
  • Fri., Oct. 19 - Last day to bring in BOX TOPS!
  • Sat., Oct. 20 - Miner Grounds Clean Up, 9am-12nn

Week 8: Oct. 8 - 10

iReady Reports
It came to my attention that the iReady math reports that were sent home this week were incorrectly filed into Thursday folders. Please return the math report you received if you haven't already so I can match the correct report to the correct student. Thank you for your patience!
School Picture Retakes
Students who didn't take a school picture at the Check-In Fair in August will take photos on Monday - even if you do not wish to order (the school uses the photos for IDs). If you wish to retake your child's picture and order, you can do that online here. Please send your child in dress code or dressier if they are participating.
Parent-Teacher Conferences
Thank you for signing up to chat with me on Thursday! Please see last week's post for more details about conferences. If you have detailed questions that you want me to address, please send the forms that went home in folders by Monday so that I can prepare those and maximize our time.
Important Dates:
  • Mon., Oct. 8 - Picture Retake Day
  • Thurs., Oct. 11 - No School - Parent-Teacher Conferences (sign-up here)
  • Fri., Oct. 12 - No School - Teacher Professional Development
  • Mon., Oct. 15 - No School

Week 7: Oct 1 - 5

Hello, wonderful families! I apologize for not sticking to my Friday afternoon posting schedule recently, since I have traveled pretty much every weekend for the month of September, including this past one. October will be all about normalcy and settling into some excellent routines, for both myself and the students!
Weather Changes
Now that we are into the fall season, please remember to send in labeled jackets, sweaters, hats, and gloves as needed. Arrival recess lasts from 7:45-8:10 and that can be a chilly, extended outdoor time. Indoor recess occurs in the case of heavy rain/snow or below 20-degree weather.
Parent-Teacher Conferences
On Thursday, Oct. 11 we will have no school for conferences. We'll discuss your child's beginning of year assessments and progress in class, as well as any concerns or questions. Look out for a paper this week in Thursday folders where you can write and return questions beforehand so that I can better prepare.
Please plan to meet in our classroom right at your scheduled start. Meeting times are back-to-back and I try my best to respect everyone's allotted 20 minutes. Students should not plan to attend these meetings, but they do participate in spring conferences. To maximize our time, any children who accompany will wait in the hall. Please sign up HERE if you haven't yet!
Important Dates:
  • Wed., Oct. 3 - PRA Skate Night at Skate City, 6-8pm
  • Fri., Oct. 5 - Spirit Day: PRA wear, solid black/yellow, or college gear

Week 6: Sep. 24 - 28

Hi families! I had a wonderful expedition that gave me so many connections to our science and social studies curriculum. Despite being exhausted from travel, I'm also renewed with energy to instill the Explorer Spirit in your children this year.
You will hear so much more soon - I plan to post a blog post on my Galapagos for Kids page every other Friday. Thank you for being patient when I was gone - all the hugs I got this morning warmed my heart. I also got a great report back from our sub Mrs. Wade, despite curveballs such as internet issues and our first lockdown drill.
Important Dates:
  • Thursday, Sep. 27 - Scholastic book orders due for this month. Please use our class code: QHKY2. I will submit the last Thursday of every month.
  • Friday, Sep. 28 - Miner Gold Rush pledges due and packet pick up
  • Saturday, Sep. 29 - Miner Gold Rush Fall Fest