Week of November 6th


  • Next week we are focusing on short ‘u’ words. Examples: bug, cup, fun, pup, mug, run
  • Our comprehension skill is focusing on determining cause and effect relationships in a text. Example: If we didn’t have the teacher show up for work one day (cause), what would happen (the effect).
  • We have looked at l blend words, r blend words, and s blend words. (plan, trap, stop).
  • This week we will look for words that have ump, nt, mp, nd.
  • We have been writing about people in our family and looking for
    • periods
    • capital letter at the beginning of the sentence
    • spaces between words
    • spelling sight words correctly
    • using details



  • Starting to add three addends. (3+5+5= 13) Be able to recognize that 5 and 5 make 10 and 3 more is 13.
  • One more and one less from any number (45 and 1 more is 46)
  • Know all of the combinations to make 10.

Social Studies/Science

  • We are building our communities this week! These will be on display during Gallery of Arts Night.


  • Food drive goes through the end of November.
  • Make sure to turn in fundraiser packets by Monday morning!

Week of October 30th


This week in reading we are focused on short ‘e’ CVC (consonant vowel consonant) words like pen, wet, ten, web, etc. At the end of first grade, students should be able to read and write short vowel words with ease. That is why we are spending lots of time on short vowels. Lots of practice! We will also learn about the h cluster sounds… sh, wh, th, etc.  We have a “toolbox” of tools that we are using in small reading groups when students get stuck on words they don’t know. Ask your child about the tools and how each one can help them become a better reader.

I can recognize or recall how individuals, events, ideas, and/or pieces of info in a text are similar or different. This is our comprehension goal for this week. Students will be able to read a non-fiction text and within that text be able to spot the similarities and differences between pieces such as animals. If they read a story about bears, they could talk about how polar bears and grizzly bears are the same and different and in what ways.

In writing we are still focusing on writing personal narratives. We will begin talking about transitional words (first, next, then, last, second, etc.) to show that some stories have a structure where order matters. Periods, spaces between words, capital letter at the beginning, end punctuation (.,?,!), and adding details to our stories is super important.


In math we have started to talk about subtraction. We are looking for different strategies that students are using such as direct modeling (drawing a picture and crossing out the objects that are to be taken away), using a counting back strategy (starting at the larger # and counting backwards), and also using derived facts (I know that 10-5 is 5, so 10-4 would be one less…4).  A skill that we have also been practicing is being able to put non-consecutive numbers in order from least to greatest. Check out this fun subitizing video that you can use at home!

Science/Social Studies

We will be planting potatoes this week in science to figure out our focus question: What grows from the nodes of a potato? We will also be adding small animals (worms and bugs) and things we find outside into our terrarium that the groups have worked on the past couple of weeks.

We are making a community necklace to start introducing the parts of a community. So far we have done This is Me and This is My School. This is My City and This is My State are coming up next. We have been reading books about people in our community like teachers and police officers.


  • School Store is this week Monday-Friday. I know they are selling snap bracelets, fuzzy pens, pencils and erasers, emoji key chains, polar paw cups, and much more!
  • Food drive begins this Wednesday Nov. 1st and goes until the end of November. Bring in canned foods, boxed foods, any non-perishable items.



AmeriCorps Program Opportunity

AmeriCorps Program Opportunity:

The Des Moines Public Schools AmeriCorps Program is still hiring 20, 30, and 40 hour a week positions for the 2017-2018 school year. Please share this e-mail with anyone you think might be interested in serving our students in this role. We are looking for AmeriCorps members to serve as either a literacy tutor in an elementary school or a mentor in a middle school.  We currently need 8 tutors and 1 mentor. Several positions in the past have been filled because of your referrals and recommendations. This is a great opportunity not only for those interested in a career in education. This can be a great fit for current college students, recent college graduates, graduate students, retirees, stay at home parents, or anyone interested in having a positive impact on the lives of our students. Several AmeriCorps members have successfully used this experience to help secure various positions (teaching, specialist, and paraprofessional) in the district.

Please have anyone interested go to  https://www.dmschools.org/jobs-dmps/americorps/ to learn more about AmeriCorps and the different opportunities available. Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.

Week of October 9th

I can’t believe it’s conference time already! I am so excited to celebrate the growth that your child has made so far in first grade. I am going to make this a quick post this week as you will hear me repeat most of this same stuff during your conference time on Wednesday or Thursday.

Reading and Writing: Our main focus is going back and reviewing short ‘a’ words. We took a short vowel test last week and that helped me gauge who still needs more practice with writing their short ‘a’ words. Even if your student got a 100% it is still beneficial to practice breaking apart sounds in words so they are able to transfer the sounds they hear (for larger words) into their writing.

We are still focusing on the basic for writing: making sure the beginning of each sentence starts with a capital letter, there are spaces between all of our words, our sight words are spelled correctly, words we don’t know how to spell reflect what sounds we hear, and making sure we have some sort of end punctuation at the ends of our sentences. Our writing piece this week is I love _____ because _____. Students get to choose an animal they love and explain why they love that animal (showing students about adding details and make more complex sentences).

Math: We are still focusing on fluently adding up to 10 using an efficient high level strategy (counting on from the bigger number, using doubles facts, etc.) We practiced writing our addition sentences vertically and horizontally and talked about how they are the same thing, they just look different.

Social Studies: We are focusing on School Rules and the why they are important.

Science: We were able to gather enough stems for each student so we could investigate how  a new plant can grow from an old one. Students worked with a partner to use the supplies they were given to create an environment where their plant would grow from a stem. We are eager to see if our creations will help grow a new plant.

We also will have the animal rescue dog coming to visit us this Friday! Something came up last Friday and they were unable to come.



Conferences are this week either on Wednesday or Thursday! Please feel free to bring your child to these. I love for students to be able to talk about their own work.

Picture Day is tomorrow (Wednesday Oct. 11th)!

We are also having a toy day party on Wednesday because Tesla earned our class a party! Your child may bring one toy that is safe to come to school. (Last week Lilly earned the class an art painting party and Sophia earned a Nature Dress up day for the class).


Miss Walker


Week of Oct. 2nd

Next week in…


Reading and Writing

We will be reviewing everything that we have learned so far this year, which includes all of the short vowel sounds (a,e,i,o,u). The students will be taking a spelling test in small groups this week to see which vowels they still need practice on. I will share these scores with you at conferences. A fun video that we have watched to practice vowels is below (check it out with your child!).

We are moving on to asking and answering questions as our comprehension focus in reading. We talk about question words, such as who, what, where, when, why, and how. We work to ask questions that are meaningful and not simple questions that do not help us understand the stories we read better. (Example of a non-meaningful question: What is the characters favorite color? Example of a meaningful question: Who do you think the most important character in the story was?)


In math, we are continuing to work on our number sense skills. This includes working on CGI (cognitively guided instruction) type problems that allow students to use strategies that they come up with to solve problems. We share and discuss the strategies that students used to spread the wealth of knowledge.  We have been using ten-frames quite a bit to build our number concepts to 10.

Science and Social Studies

We are continuing our unit on Why it is important to learn from each other in social studies.

In science this week, we are going to do some observations outside and collect different types of plants that we see.


  • Animal Rescue League visit is Friday October 6th!
  • School Store opens Mon. Oct. 2nd- Friday Oct. 6th. It will be in the morning from 8:30am-8:45am. Student Leadership Council will be selling lots of fun things, such as slap bracelets, mini highlighters, smiley stamps, food shaped erasers, and much much more! Items range from about $0.25 to $3.00.
  • Picture Day is on October 11th.
  • Conferences are the week of Oct. 9th. I have morning and afternoon slots available.


Miss Walker

Week of September 25th

Reading and Writing:

The first graders have been very responsible in remembering to bring back their homework books and choosing new ones every day! We talk about how it is good to read a book more than once in order to practice fluency (reading at the correct speed, reading it the way the author intended by changing their voices and inflections to match the characters and punctuation marks, and making the words sound smooth, not like a robot).

This week we are focusing on short ‘u’ words such as: tub, mug, nut, mud, gum, etc. We still practice short a, i, and e words.

We are finally starting reading groups! Most of the big testing for the beginning of the year is finished. This means your child will get 20 minutes of small group time (5 or less students) every day with me during Daily 5 stations where we get to practices reading strategies, reading books, comprehending books (talking about a specific skill such as describing characters), writing about their books, and using magnetic letters and whiteboards to practice making words (sight words and word work words). I group your child according to how they did on the benchmark reading test, so they are with students at a similar ability level.


We finished MAP testing last week, so I recently looked up the results to see where each student is at academically in mathematics in order to meet every child’s individual needs. I love the MAP test because it really allows for me to differentiate my instruction. It meets the students where they are at currently, so if they are above or below first grade standards I can be sure to challenge them appropriately. We will talk more about how your child did at conferences in October!

We have started working on cognitively guided instruction (CGI) problems, which allow for students to come up with their own strategies in solving word problems. One of the problems we worked on last week to introduce CGI was…

Lily had 10 apples in her basket.

She picked 6 more apples.

How many apples does she have in her basket now?

Questions I ask for these types of problems are: (1) who is the story about? (2) what is happening in the story? and (3) what is the problem asking you to find?   These questions help students unpack the problem before solving it on their own.

Science and Social Studies:

We planted our wheat last week, so we are going to observe and discuss what we see happening this week. We are also paying attention to our lawns to observe what happens to them after we mowed them.

Our theme in Social Studies is still learning why it is important to learn from each other.


  • ARL is visiting again on October 6th. We are practicing the dog talk skills we learned on a real dog named Spirit!
  • Conferences are the week of October 9th-13th. Times for you to sign up will go out on Friday. Translators are available, if needed, on Thursday from 4pm-8pm.
  • Book fair is going on Wednesday Oct. 11th and Thursday Oct. 12th. PTA is looking for volunteers to help with the book fair. Let me know if you are interested!
  • Smile! Picture Day is October 11th.


Week of September 18


This week in reading we have really been focusing on describing the major events in the stories we read. At first, we look for a major event at the beginning, middle and end (this also helps with retelling and sequencing the story in order). Eventually the students will be reading books with more detail and depth, which means they will most likely have more than 3 major events. We still talk about characters and setting as well! Ask your child what actions we use to describe characters, settings and major events in a story!!

Our words this week have short e in them. Some examples: met, peg, den. We talk about how short e and short i sound similar so when breaking the word apart we are careful to listen to the sound we hear ( e-elephant or i-igloo).

We are going to start looking at verbs (action words like run, jump, and skip).


We are still focusing on counting objects and looking more closely at how students are sorting and organizing their work to help them count. Look at some great work going on in our room!!

Science and Social Studies

We started a new social studies concept of why it is important to learn from each other. The students will get to interview their classmates to discover that everyone is different and that’s a good thing! We learn new things from others because we each have our own ideas and experiences.

In science, we got to mow our lawn that has been growing for  about a week in our rooms! It really needed a trim. We also are going to plant some wheat seeds this week and discover that not all plants need soil to grow. Quiz your child and see if they know the structures of a plant (roots, stem, and leaves) and each structures function (roots bring up the water for the plant, the stem keeps the plant upright in order to get sunlight, and leaves make the food for the plant).


We read the book All By Myself by Mercer Mayer to help us start writing our I can stories. We are focusing on slowing down taking apart our words so we can hear all of the sounds. One interesting thing that I noticed is that we need to spend some time looking at the difference between letters, words and sentences. That would be something easy you can practice at home too!


We took our MAP math test yesterday morning and we are also working on FAST testing (reading tests). Make sure your child is getting enough sleep and getting a healthy breakfast!



Make sure your child is reading the homework book they bring home every night! Practice, practice, practice!

The school store opens the first week of October and student leadership council members will be selling lots of fun gadgets, such as pencils, erasers, note pads, and much more! Usually everything is under $1. 😊


Week of September 11th

Good morning!

Boy, have we been busy in first grade this past week! We learned a lot when our friend Rose, from the Animal Rescue League, came to visit on Friday. She taught us about how to be safe around animals and to look for signs of animal talk before approaching an animal. She said we were so awesome that if we would like to have a second session, she would come back and bring animals in our classroom so we can actually practice what we learned! I will keep you posted on dates for that fun adventure.


Keep practicing those short ‘a’ and short ‘i’ words. Our new focus this week is on short ‘o’ words (log, dot, top, hot, lot, ox).

  • Make the words in play-doh or with pipe cleaners.
  • Find the short ‘o’ words in the books you read at night.
  • Write short ‘o’ words in a sentence.

Our comprehension focus this week is focusing on describing characters and describing settings in the stories we read. For example:

  • Nemo (character in Finding Nemo movie): he is a fish, he has a small fin, he is orange, he is adventurous and brave, etc.
  • Fish tank (setting in Finding Nemo Movie; depending on the scene you choose, the setting will change): the tank is clean and then gets dirty, there are bubbles, the tank is sitting in the dentist office, sunny, etc.

With writing we have been focusing on capital letters at the beginning of the sentence, spaces between our words, periods at the end of our sentences, spelling our sight words correctly (I, we, me, and, etc.) and using lower case letters and upper case letters when appropriate.


In math we are still working on counting jars. It is so exciting to see how students are organizing their objects in their jars and using what they know to group objects to make it easier for them to count.


In Social Studies, we are wrapping up our unit on getting along in school. Ask you child how they can get along in school (talking, sharing, taking turns, and listen are all things we do to cooperate!).

In Science, we observed the lawn we planted last week and it has grown a lot! We have alfalfa seed and ryegrass seed in order to make our mini lawn. The students need to know all of the basic needs of plants (water, space, sunlight, air, nutrients/soil, food).



Wright Elementary t-shirt orders are due this Friday the 15th  if you still want to purchase one.

Students will be MAP testing (math assessment) next week, so make sure they are getting their zzz’s and eating breakfast!

PTA meeting is tonight at 6:00pm in the library. The focus will be on Growth Mindset!

Homework books will start going home next week. Please make sure that your child reads the story they choose a couple of times (once to themselves, once to you you, once to someone else) and ask them to tell you what happened in the story, who the characters are (describe them), what the setting it (describe it), and anything else you can think of. They need to bring back their homework book before they can choose a new one to bring home. I have a reading calendar that I will send home in Monday folders next week that you can document whether or not the students read each night (mark the book they read and initial) and if they return it on Friday or Monday of the following week they will get a reward!


Week of September 5th

Hello All,

We had a great full week of learning and assessing last week! I have started to assess students in order to find out what they already know. This will help me meet them where they are at academically, so we can start chugging along. I have noticed while giving the writing numbers to 120 assessment, that we need to practice writing numbers past 100 and making sure our numbers are going the correct way. Make sure to continue reading with your child every night. I will soon be having students take home a book that they can practice reading at their level when I finish assessing everyone (about half way done). Students did a great job on the short ‘a’ sound! Keep it up!

This week we are moving on to words that have short ‘i’ in them (if, is, him, rip, fit, pin). Have students find short ‘a’ and ‘i’ words in the books you are reading together. Also have them practice writing these words or making them in play-doh.

We are still working on nouns (person, place, and things). Below is the noun song we have watched. Check it out!


We will start looking at our Artful Learning concept of Structure this week. Our masterwork is the Kate Shelley Bridge (picture below).

In this unit we will talk about how plants have different structures that help them live and work. I am sending home a letter that explains more in depth about the plant unit we are starting in science. In Social Studies we are focusing on how we get along in school (how that relates to the structure of school).  In health we are talking about conflict resolution strategies and practicing by acting out what to do with our friends.

Looking forward to:

Animal Rescue League is coming Friday to talk to us about how to take care of our animals! Can’t wait!

Thank you,

Miss Walker

First Week a Success!

Wow! What a busy four days we have had in our first grade room. Last week was such fun getting to know each other by sharing our All About Me Bags, creating puzzle pieces that displayed our favorite things, and brainstorming our classroom beliefs about what kind of classroom we want to be in, including how to be a good friend (if you want to check out our work, it’s hanging up outside our classroom and on our lockers!). We also read a book called Wemberly Worried and talked about the things we might be worried about at the beginning of the school year. This turned into a cool watercolors project with coffee filters!

We have been really focusing on writing our letters and making sure that we know the difference between capitals and lowercase. This would be something fun to practice at home (you could make a BINGO board and play letter BINGO)!


Our focus this week in reading is understanding characters, settings, and major events in stories. By the end of first grade we want to be able to identify AND describe all three of the items listed above. For example, if Wemberly was a character that your child identified, they would also have to tell me things that describe her, such as she worried a lot, she is a mouse, and she has a special doll she takes with her everywhere.

We will be learning about nouns this week and talking about people, places, and things that are nouns.

Our word work station started today. Our words for this week focus on the short ‘a’ sound. Here are a list of our words: am, at, sat, dad, man, mat. At the end of the week, we will have a “spelling test” over our words to assess wether or not we can write short ‘a’ words. Please help your child “word hunt” for short ‘a’ words in the books you read at night!


In math we have been working on counting objects in our counting jars. Students make estimates of how many objects they think are in the jar, come up with a question they want to find out about the contents of their jar, and then they count to find out! In first grade students need to be able to count to 120. They also need to be able to count up to 120 from any given number, such as 56 (instead of always starting at 1).

Social Studies

We started our first unit called We Get Along in School. We are focusing on how to get along with others at school, as well as, learning our responsibility to others and why rules are so important.


So far in writing, we have been focusing on labeling our pictures. A fun way we have done this is by labeling the things around our room!

The students have been working so hard and earning lots of tickets that will help them earn class parties! Please feel free to contact me at any time with questions, concerns or comments.

Thank you,

Ms. Walker