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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 8th year teaching; I taught Kindergarten in Washington, DC before moving to Boulder to teach Kindergarten and now 1st grade at PRA. Outside of the classroom, I spend my time traveling, reading, cooking, cross-stitching, hiking, and salsa dancing.
 
On these pages, you will find updates, reminders, and resources posted weekly on Fridays. Never hesitate to reach out via email if you need anything at all!
 

Posts

Last Day of 2019-2020 Year

I want to say a sincere thank you for sharing your children with me this year. I enjoy being a teacher so much, and each student has been a sweet, hard-working, unique, and valuable addition to our classroom. I'm always humbled by first graders. They surprise me with what they're capable of, what they remember, what they wonder and imagine, and how eagerly they work to show the PRA Way every day. I will sorely miss this class!

I know our year ended so unusually and without the joyous closure we usually have (watch some of our very sweet good-bye videos on Flipgrid). We had such a great year together, though. A huge thank you for being a supportive, generous community of families - especially during Distance Learning. It makes my job infinitely easier when I am shown appreciation, have open communication lines, am gifted time and supplies, and have academic support at home. We did this together!

I hope your children are proud of themselves. Please share this Student Welcome Video from the second grade teachers with them. This letter is for parents from the second grade team.

I hope to see you and your children around next year! And I hope to see you all waving at the drive-by parade tomorrow - look for me in my purple first grade shirt, and feel free to hold signs out windows/decorate cars so we can tell who we're waving at :)

Below are some resources for the summer that may be useful to you. Have a wonderful, well-deserved school break!

First Grade and Kindergarten red words: list

Extension Boards: I put together these optional extensions boards during Distance Learning. They each contain nine fun, learning-aligned activities from across all subject areas, with a mix of digital and tech-free!

PRA Summer Reading Challenge: Info. flyer and link to tracker here

PRA Summer Math Challenge: Prodigy tournament info. flyer here
 
PRA Summer EdTech Resources: various digital learning tools available

Week 36: May 18 - 21 (Last Week!)

For our final few days of the school year, this week's Learning Plan posted Sunday will have some light, fun academics including math games and hands-on activities. Everything is optional and nothing needs to be turned in. There will still be a daily Flipgrid and read alouds Monday-Wednesday, and a link to our traditional last day assembly. Final grades will be posted to Infinite Campus.
 
Last Office Hour / Class Party
To make our last office hour special, this week's social time will span the whole hour from 3-4pm. Drop in for some or all of it! Encourage children to bring a snack to eat (it's not a party without food). I'll read a book, we'll do a little activity together, and there will be share time as usual.
 
Supply Pick-up and Book/Gift Drop-off
Tuesday-Thursday will be our drive-through for families (sign up for a time HERE). You can drop off library books and any other items at this time - you do not have to turn in any work. Please put each item in its own ziploc or paper bag labeled (e.g. "LIBRARY" on a book or "MS. TRAVIS - 1ST GRADE" on other items) and they will be delivered to the correct location!
 
Contents of desks and cubbies will be bagged and given to you (including yearbooks if you ordered one). In your child's materials you will find their first grade portfolio! I've collected a body of work from the year. I hope you enjoy this keepsake - also, note the last page is blank, so please have your child fill it out next week :)
 
Summer Enrichment
We are offering our elementary Summer Enrichment Program (SEP) online this summer. The program will run June 2-12 from 9am-12pm. The cost has been lowered to $150. If your child needs some extra support in reading and math and you are interested in SEP, please fill out the interest form using this link: https://forms.gle/9aHdsoXPvWF8SYwC9 - if you have specific questions please reach out to Melissa Benson mbenson@prospectridgeacademy.org and Leandra Ruby lruby@prospectridgeacademy.org

Week 35: May 11 - 15

Families, a HUGE THANK YOU to each and every one of you for working so hard this week! I know that you were not trained to teach/tutor a first grader for 8 weeks, and especially not to administer new/online assessments. I also know that your energies (and mine) are starting to wane. I truly appreciate your dedication this week and all the effort your children put forth.
 
I know there was some frustration, confusion, and technical difficulties. Hopefully these tasks were informative for you, to see what your child can do, and also I know this data will help the second grade teachers know where to begin. On top of that, the results gave me some nice closure on progress for the year, when compared to the beginning and mid-year windows. Even though we've missed the whole last quarter at school together, I am so proud of your kiddos. I saw growth and hard work across the board. I really do miss seeing them each day and working with them. Being a teacher at this time is just not the same.
 
This Sunday afternoon, the last full Weekly Learning Plan will be posted and emailed. It really reflects the culture of excellence at our school that you and your children are so committed to Distance Learning. I hope you are also balancing time to grow together as a family, work on life skills and home projects, play, and be outside. After next week, for the last week of school (May 18-21) there will be a lighter, fun-focused Learning Plan with no assignments to turn in.
 
Looking ahead, the following tools will remain available to your child for most or all of the summer:
  • RAZ Kids
  • Freckle
  • Epic!
  • Typing.com
  • Code.org
  • Prodigy
Have a well-deserved weekend and Happy Mother's Day!

Week 34: May 4 - 8 (Assessment Days)

If you haven't already, check out the PRA Virtual Scholastic Book Fair - workbooks for summer, leveled readers, picture books and chapter books can all shipped to your home! And don't forget to order your school supplies for next year!
 
Assessment Days
Next week there will only be three days of Distance Learning at the top of the Weekly Learning Plan. Instead of an Extensions Choice Board linked this week, there will be just a few optional activities listed for some of the subjects. On the second page of the Plan, there will be detailed directions for completing three at-home assessment tasks. Feel free to complete these on your own schedule and plan to finish all by next Sunday, May 10 at 5pm. Below is a brief version of the directions from the Plan so you can begin to process and prepare. Please do your best to complete all - we truly appreciate your help.
 
Students should complete tests by themselves. Please do not assist your child with any work or answer clarifying questions; if parents help, then these assessments will not be useful. We'd like results to be as accurate as possible so your child's 2nd grade teacher can plan how to meet their academic needs. If your child asks for help, encourage them to "try their best" or "give their best guess." Feel free to take breaks if frustration sets in. Thanks again!
 

iReady (Math section only for first grade, no Reading)

  • Time: Takes about 2-2.5 hours total, should be split into 30-45 minute chunks with breaks
  • Materials: Blank scratch paper, pencil, headphones to hear questions
  • Keep in mind: This test is adaptive, so students may get questions about skills we haven't taught. Remind them before they begin to just give their best guess if this happens.
  • Window: The testing window will be open Thurs. through Sun. night
  • Username: Uppercase initials + Student ID (e.g. AT1234567)
  • Password: ! + birthday (e.g. !01012013)
Opinion Paragraph Writing Sample
  • Time: 30 minutes total, split into a 10 min. planning session and then 20 min. writing/editing/drawing session
  • Materials: On the plan will be: prompt, video explanation, blank opinion plan, and lined paper. No reference materials should be out.
  • Turn in: Email a photo or scan of both (1) the plan and (2) the full paragraph hand-written - not typed
RAZ Reading Assessment
  • Time: 5-10 minutes total
  • Log-in: log into RAZ Kids (teacher username: atravis14 / student password: read) and the assignment will pop up when first logging in starting Monday
  • Keep in mind: There are three parts to be completed in one sitting: record the first reading of a new passage, record a retell of the passage, then answer comprehension questions

Week 33: April 27 - May 1

Reading Leveled Books
We had so many students on RAZ Kids this week (20 read and 10 recorded)! Thanks for keeping those skills sharp and I personally really miss getting to hear students read. See my Edlio post from last week for a detailed explanation on how to work toward mastery on one book across a few days/a week.
 
Keeping Connections Strong
We want to keep connections as strong as we can and I hope that the emails, office hours, and Flipgrid are helping with that. However, staff also understand that those platforms may be difficult for some students to access for various reasons. Please reach out via email if your child would prefer/benefit from a 10 minute one-on-one Meet check-in with me next week.
 
Social Studies Project
Next week instead of a lesson and learning activity, Social Studies will be a creative research/art project and a short presentation. Friday's Flipgrid will be dedicated for the presentation, although you will have until Monday since some families may need the weekend. If your child does not feel comfortable presenting to the class on Flipgrid, please email me a video so I can still give a grade for Speaking.
 
Upcoming Important Dates:

Week 32: April 20 - 24

I hope you are all well and beginning to adjust to Distance Learning. Thank you for working so hard! I appreciate everyone submitting the spelling test, math problem photo, and learning log. Any tasks marked bold in green on the plan should be turned in and will be graded. Everything else (including Specials) is optional but encouraged. Participating in Flipgrid is highly encouraged (at least a couple times a week) to keep our connections strong!
 
RAZ Kids
Thank you all who used RAZ Kids this week. There is a "record" button within each book (watch how-to here). Here are some guidelines that may help build reading skills across the week, similar to what we do in class:
 
For students at Levels D-I:

Day 1
  • Select one book from the Level Up library.
  • Have your child read once, stopping on unknown words and using these strategies. This first read should be slow and focus on word-solving and not recorded.
  • Try to resist telling them words they struggle on. Instead, encourage them to pick and try animal buddy strategies.
  • Have your child read that same book 1 or 2 more times in that sitting.
  • Then, have your child take the comprehension quiz.
Day 2/3
  • Come back to the same book. Have your child read it 2-3 times in a row.
  • Discuss the book and any new vocabulary.
Day 4/5
  • Come back and read the same book 1-2 more times. By now, they should sound very fluent (smooth and expressive).
  • Now, record the final read. I'll listen and comment (to read these, when they first log in before clicking Reading or Headsprout, scroll down to Messages).
Your child shouldn't be working through more than 2 books per week (unless they want to read other books for fun below their level).
 
For students at/above Level J:
 
Day 1
  • Select one book from the Level Up Library
  • Have your child read it out loud slowly so you can teach them new vocab words they don't know the meaning of. 
  • If the book is long, have them read a few chapters/pages today.
Day 2/3
  • Read a few chapters/pages at a time until they've read the whole book out loud once, with you helping on new vocab. 
  • Take the comprehension quiz.
Day 4/5
  • Read the whole book 1 or 2 more times silently.
  • They do not have to record the whole book. Instead, start reading from the beginning and then record the last 3-4 pages. You have to click through the whole book for it to send, so you can't record only the first pages.
  • I'll listen and comment (to read these, when they first log in before clicking Reading or Headsprout, scroll down to Messages).
Code Break by code.org
Has your child been enjoying using code.org to practice basic computer programming skills? Tune in to Code Break every Wednesday at 11am for a live CS activity and lesson. This week the special guest is Bill Gates! You can watch past episodes and activities there, too.
 
Earth Day
Next week on April 22 is Earth Day! The read aloud books will be themed, and for more fun themed activities check out the Optional Extensions Board, which changes weekly and is always linked at the bottom of the plan. 

Week 31: April 13 - 17

Parents, thank you for your hard work and feedback! I hope this week went more smoothly - leave your week 2 thoughts here. Here are important updates based on what we heard:

What is due each week and how do we turn it in?

This week, only the new, more first grader-friendly Learning Log was due. Thank you to those who have been saving papers and sending photos. You no longer need to do that. Moving forward, anything due will be marked clearly in green on the plan. Three things should be turned in every Friday by 3:45:

  • Learning log (submit via Google Form)
  • Spelling test (submit via Google Form, open Friday 8:15-3:45 only)
    • Please put away reference materials. A video will be embedded in the form that reads the words. Students type the words into the form as they listen and then submit.
  • Photo of one specific math problem, listed on the plan (email to teacher)

Can I get the Weekly Learning Plan before Monday?

YES! We heard this from so many parents that elementary staff decided plans will now go up Sundays by 5pm. You should get an Edlio reminder or can go to my page. I’ll also send a copy directly to your child’s PRA email. I apologize if you continue to get emails from Edlio during the week. Sometimes I make small tweaks and it alerts you every time! All you need to worry about is my Friday evening post and the Sunday evening Plan!

I don’t have a printer / I’m trying to save printer ink!

All worksheets can be copied onto plain paper. Math problems can be written and solved on paper or a whiteboard. You can hand-draw a table for the writing plans and then write on plain or notebook paper. Whatever works for you!

Are teachers going to do live lessons?

As a staff, we decided to use asynchronous videos to accommodate the most families. Please continue to use Flipgrid! Our only live sessions will be optional office hours on Wednesdays (Q&A 3-3.30, social time 3.30-4). The link to the office hours Meet will now be at the top of the Learning Plan and in a recurring calendar invite. The link will not go live until the Meet time. Download the Meet Grid View chrome extension so kids can see everyone on the screen at the same time! Please help your child to sit in one relatively quiet spot, take turns speaking, and mute themself.

I need more books!

Please log into RAZ Kids to practice reading daily. 14 families have already begun! I set a good-fit library at your child’s current level and if they record their reading, I can listen to it. If you’d like paper books, Scholastic has a pop-up shop for you to order books to your home. Use class code QHKY2 when you order!

Week 30: April 6 - 10

Kudos to you all for tackling distance learning during this unique and stressful time. I'm so sad to hear that we won't be together for the remainder of the year. Please continue to get through as much as you are able and reach out if you need support.
 
The first grade team is determined to continue adjusting and making this the best possible Distance Learning Plan for teachers, students, and parents for the next seven weeks. Please fill out this super short feedback form by Monday at 9am (when next week's Plan goes up on my page).
 
Weekly Learning Log, Turning in Work, and Grades
It is very important that you let students type these sentences on their own using their red words/green word sounds. I know this can feel time-consuming, but it is essential spelling and typing practice. If you feel all 5 boxes are too challenging, aim for at least 2 boxes - and they can be short!
 
This week, the only formal grade will be the Weekly Learning Log. We will explore adding on a little in coming weeks. Feel free to email me videos or photos of completed work!
 
Social Opportunities: For our class
Optional Office Hours this week ended up being very social as I know kids wanted to see others. Moving forward, I'm reserving 3:00-3:30 for specific Q&A only. Please try to join only if parents have questions best answered live or if students need more in-depth explanations from me, and then exit the call so I can help other families. And, continue to email me throughout the week!
 
Please plan to join only from 3:30-4:00 if your child is looking for a more open social time with peers. And don't forget another great daily asynchronous way to connect: Flipgrid! 16 students posted at least once this week! Log-in info. and a how-to video are under EdTech Log-ins on my Distance Learning page. I love seeing the smiling faces and hearing from kids. Even if your child does not want to record, check back and watch friends' responses from past days (click on the arrow by the date for a drop-down). Each week's Flipgrid topics will be deleted on Friday evenings and start fresh on Monday.
 
Social Opportunities: On your own
We highly encourage families to schedule "virtual play-dates" with 1 or 2 friends on their own, or even have students "work together" during the school day. You can use your personal email (not student PRA emails, please) and platforms such as Facetime, Zoom, or Google Hangouts. Email me if you'd like me to pass your contact info. along to a specific parent in our class. Or, you can reach out to each other on the Class of 2031 Facebook group.
 
Celebrations
  • All 24 students in our class read on Epic over break or this week! Wonderful! I'm glad this huge library is a resource to you.
  • 7 students used Freckle to practice this week!
  • I got some wonderful, insightful questions via email - thank you for working SO hard with your children as we tackle this new format. Remember, you can also reach out to other parents on the PRA Class of 2031 Facebook Group.
  • I was sent photos and videos of hard work being completed throughout the week - keep it up!

Distance Learning Plan - Week of April 1-3, 2020

If you haven't already, please FIRST look at from my Distance Learning page:
Please just get through as much as you are able by Friday.
 
Help! I have questions!
 
1. Try the PRA Class of 2031 Facebook page
 
2. Email me from M-F from 8:15am-3:15pm
 
3. For questions best answered live, click the "Join Hangouts Meet" link in the calendar invite sent to your child's PRA email from 3-4pm on Wednesdays
 
We understand your need to be flexible and how it can be difficult to work with your child at home. Please just do your best to get through as much as you can and know that you have our support! This is not meant to replace the level of in-school learning that would be happening, but instead keep the most essential skills and content knowledge practiced and fresh in brains until we return. We believe the non-school work of being a child also yields essential learning. Through unstructured play, kids practice important socio-emotional skills and problem solving. This is also a great opportunity to work on executive functioning (shoe-tying, household chores, helping with cooking).
 
Good luck, families, and thank you!

Spring Break - Mar. 16 - 27

Dear families, we had a super fun 120th day of school! Old people costumes were hilarious and adorable, root beer floats were yummy and educational (thank you so much to all parents who contributed time/supplies), and we learned about pi and made pi bracelets. We also dreamed about our goals before we hit 120 years old.

There is a paper packet of review materials coming home that should be in your child's planner. The first grade team assembled this packet of resources and activities for current units. There is no new information inside it that hasn’t been taught in class. You can complete this with your student while school is closed - it is up to you whether and how much you want to work on  this. It is optional, but recommended to help keep topics and skills fresh in students’ brains!

Please also remember that Freckle, code.org, typing.com, and the spelling links from Week 23 are wonderful online resources. Look out for further information from the school via email. I will be reachable on and off via email next week.

The following book resources are shared by our librarian Ms. Delaney:

Scribd: $8.99 a month subscription gives unlimited access to over 1 million books, audiobooks, documents, magazines and comics. Try Scribd free for a 14-day free trial.  

Audible with Amazon: $15 a month subscription gives access to over a million audio books. The books can be downloaded on an Alexa device or smartphone. There is a one month free trial offer. 

Overdrive: A free resource for a ton of great books! Available for download on a smart phone or Kindle. Overdrive is used by libraries and users have access to the library’s collection of ebooks and audio. 

Google Books: There are books that are free as well as for purchase. To see what books are available, users simply put in the book title as if completing a typical Google search.

Have a safe, enjoyable spring break!

Week 27: Mar. 9 - 13

Thank you to all parents who have already begun incorporating a little bit of keyboarding practice at home. We started using typing.com in class too this week, and kids are loving the fun game-like introduction to essential typing skills for older grades. All log-ins were taped to the inside of Thursday folders.
 
States of Matter
We will be enjoying rootbeer floats in class to wrap up our States of Matter science unit on Friday (root beer = liquid, vanilla ice cream = solid, foam and bubbles = gas). If your child cannot participate in this edible treat, please send an alternative portion to school (e.g. a scoop of dairy-free ice cream or a different type of soda) or just an alternative snack for them to enjoy (try to incorporate at least two of the states in it).
 
This week we learned about how matter can change states. If you have time at home, try this easy science experiment in your kitchen to demonstrate how water can change depending on heat and temperature:
Liquid >> Solid - take a cup/bottle of water in the freezer, check on it until it freezes into ice
Solid >> Liquid - take an ice cube (or the cup/bottle) out of the freezer, let it sit out and watch it melt
Liquid >> Gas - put water on the stove in a pot and watch it boil, form bubbles, and turn into steam escaping
Gas >> Liquid - turn the pot off and put the lid on, and watch the steam cool and turn into water droplets on the lid
 
Friday, March 13
There's a lot of fun happening in class this Friday!
  • 120th day of School - we will do themed activities in class. First graders are encouraged to dress up as if they were 120 years old.
  • Pi Day - this is a school-wide celebration. We will do some themed activities. All students may dress up as a mathematician/Albert Einstein if they wish.
  • Root Beer Floats - to wrap up our current science unit. Thank you to those parents who are sending in materials on Friday morning or volunteering!
Parent Volunteering in Class
I've decided to continue parent volunteering in class! If you are interested in coming in multiple times before the end of the year, please sign up for a maximum of 5 of the 14 total slots for March/April to start. Then, you can check the sign up next week if you still are freely available and would like to come in more than 5 times, just so that all parents who would like to come help have a chance. As a reminder, all volunteers must have gone through the PRA online training. If you volunteer from 8:45-9:15 during math, you will be supporting students working independently/in small groups or pairs around the classroom while I pull small groups. If you volunteer from 10:00-11:00 during Daily 5, you will be leading a few small groups focusing on writing and spelling - instructions will be provided :)  Thanks for helping all of my students to be successful!

Week 26: Mar. 2 - 6

Typing Skills

PRA is increasing our focus on keyboarding skills. Ten-finger typing is an important 21st century skill from third grade onward (especially on CMAS). In first grade, students need to work on using more than one hand to find letters, and starting to learn their locations on the keyboard. Please try to incorporate some typing time (just 5-10 minutes, a few times a week) into your homework with your typing.com log-in! This went home in Thursday folders back in September from Mrs. Cutshall. If you did not save this, I will send another copy of your log-in home in Thursday folders next week! Thank you for support your student’s academic success!


Important Dates:

  • Mon., Mar. 2 - Dr. Seuss Day / Read Across America Day
    • On this day, your child may choose to dress in a Dr. Seuss character costume. They can also bring one favorite Dr. Seuss book from home that they will have a chance to read and share during the day!
  • Wed., Mar. 4 - Skate City Night
  • Fri., Mar. 6 - PRA/College Spirit Day

Week 25: Feb. 24 - 28

Hi families! Ask your child to compare and contrast the real story of Pocahontas from social studies with the Disney movie version from today! We had a great week back from the long weekend. Don't forget to check out the February photo album.
 
As a reminder to all families, the ABC Logistics document that was shared at Back to School Night lives on my website homepage. It's a great resource for FAQ like birthday celebrations, our Scholastic class code, and pre-arranged absences. The parent Facebook page is also great place to pose questions!
 
Spelling Past Tense Verbs with +ed suffix
Please review +ed chunk with your students - we are teaching +ed suffix in Phonics for three weeks to really focus on how to add a suffix to a base word - you take a verb, spell out the verb, then add the +ed chunk to the end of make it past tense. See "What We're Learning" for another description. You can watch the following videos from class with them to refresh yourself and review!
 
Dr. Seuss/National Read Across America Day (3/2)
We will celebrate on Monday, March 2. On this day, your child may choose to dress in a Dr. Seuss character costume. They can also bring one favorite Dr. Seuss book from home that they will have a chance to read and share during the day!
 
120th Day of School (3/13)
We will celebrate this day (aligned to the first grade math standard to read, write, and count up to 120) on Friday, March 13. On this day, your child may choose to dress up "as if they are 120 years old" - we get a playground full of cute seniors this day! We will do themed activities in class. 
 
Important Dates: 
  • Fri., Feb. 21 - MUN Kids Nite Out event at PRA, 6-8:30pm
  • Thur., Feb. 27 - Scholastic book order will be submitted

Week 24: Feb. 18 - 21

I hope everyone is enjoying the start of their long weekend. It was so wonderful to get to speak with you at conferences! Thank you for making the time to come in and for being committed to strengthening our home-school connections.  I'm super proud of how they shared their growth and progress this year with you (I know many students were nervous)... and there has been so much growth and progress!
 
As always, please reach out via email if you ever have questions or concerns. We do not have conferences at the end of the year, but I'll be sure to send out one of my "Glows and Grows" update emails mid-Quarter 4 (around Spring Break time) with any comments, observations, celebrations, or things to focus on for April and May as we wrap up the last 7 weeks of school at that point!
 
I am also super grateful for all contributions to our Staff Appreciation Week and all gifts/treats for Valentines Day. I truly feel seen and appreciated by the excellent, involved families of PRA  :)
 
Feb. Character Trait: Kindness
We are focusing on kindness this month, which to us means "treating others nicely and showing that we care." If you'd like to support this, you can talk to your child and work on the optional Kindness Bingo challenge sheet from Ms. Skattum, our counselor. Please sign or initial in the box for acts of kindness performed if returning to school.
 
Important Dates:
  • Mon., Feb. 17 - No School, President's Day
  • Fri., Feb. 21 - Screening Pocahontas in class for our settlers/early colonies unit in Social Studies, please return movie permission slip (went home on Wednesday, check "yes" or "no") by Thursday!
  • Fri., Feb. 21 - Student Council Spirit Day (look out for more info. in planners)
  • Fri., Feb. 21 - Parent Survey due
    • PRA takes its staff and parent feedback seriously. Make sure your voice is heard!