Leaf Prints with Catherine!

Thank you so much to Catherine, our first Workshop Volunteer this year.  She helped students make beautiful fall leaf prints during our Workshop Time. During this time, I was able to work with small reading and writing groups. If you are interested and available to help during Workshop Time, please sign up! Volunteers enable me meet with small groups with focused lessons that best meet students’ individual needs.




Helping Your Student Choose Books

Hello Families,

I culled this from a couple of different sources and wanted to make it available to you.


Ms. Camille


I PICK good-fit books



source: https://www.tacomaschools.org/larchmont/Pages/ipick.aspx


Reading “Good Fit” books is extremely important for students to progress as readers.  Current research has found that children must spend the majority of their independent reading time with books they can comprehend at very high levels and they should already know nearly all the words in the book.  In fact, reading books which are too difficult actually hinders students’ development as readers.

Here’s how we teach children to find that just-right book for their level:

I I select a book and look it over, inside & out.

P Purpose: Why might I want to read it? (to learn, to build schema, to be entertained)

I Interest: Does it interest me? Children, like adults, need to be interested in what they are reading.

C Comprehend: Do I understand what I am reading? The purpose and interest may line up, but the book needs to be readable or it isn’t a good fit for me.

K Know: Do I know most of the words? Our standard is 99% accuracy.

Selecting Books for Your Child: Finding ‘Just Right’ Books

By: Kathleen Rogers http://www.readingrockets.org/article/selecting-books-your-child-finding-just-right-books

  How can parents help their children find books that are not “too hard” and not “too easy” but instead are “just right”? Here’s some advice.                            

Five finger rule

  1. Choose a book that you think you will enjoy.
  2. Read the second page.
  3. Hold up a finger for each word you are not sure of, or do not know.
  4. If there are five or more words you did not know, you should choose an easier book.


Choose a book that is a good fit for you!

  Read two or three pages and ask yourself these questions. If most of your answers are “yes”, this will be an easy book to read independently by yourself.

  • Do I understand what I am reading?
  • Do I know almost every word?
  • When I read it aloud, can I read it smoothly?
  • Do I think the topic will interest me?                                                                

Will this book be too hard for me?If most of your answers are “yes,” this book is too hard. You should wait awhile before you read this book. Give the book another try later, or ask an adult to read the book to you.

  • Are there five or more words on a page that I don’t know, or am unsure of?
  • Is this book confusing and hard to understand by myself?
  • When I read it aloud, does it sound choppy and slow?                                                             Tips on reading with your child                                            When they can’t read the word, say…
    • Can you sound it out?
    • Put your finger under the word as you say it.
    • What is the first sound?
    • What is the last sound?
    • What word would make sense?/What word would make sense that would start with these sounds?/You said_______. Does that make sense?
    • Does it have a pattern that you have seen in other words? (ex-an, ack)                                            


  •                                                                                                                                                          When they want to read a book that is too hard, say…


  • Let’s read it together
  • This is a book you will enjoy more if you save it until you are older — or later in the year.
  • [Be honest!] When people read books that are too hard for them, they often skip important parts. You will have more fun with this book if you wait until you can read it easily.

Rogers, K. (2008). Selecting Books for Your Child: Finding ‘Just Right’ Books. Retrieved November 7, 2008, from http://www.readingtogether.org.


Library Dragons!

Today our friend, the  Library Dragon visited our class with a challenge.  She listened as we described some of the important work we have been doing for reading time. She was extremely impressed with how much Room 5 kids love to read!  Also, she proposed a new classroom job: Library Dragons!  Her question for us was, “Are you up for the challenge of taking care of the library and helping others find “Good Fit Books?” This was a fun way for me to assess students with a game. Small groups  wore Library Dragon Badges. They worked together to identify and sort books by genres and authors. All students demonstrated readiness to take on the important job of Library Dragon.


Sharing our Book Reviews


The wall by our library will display book recommendations or “Dragon Picks.” Your student brought home their first weekly reading log today which includes a book review section. When these are returned each Monday, we will use them to support Accountable Talk about our reading. Routines like these help us get to know our friends better, provide authentic opportunities for exploration and strengthen our reading community. What a joy it is to see the excitement in Room 5!


Library Dragons share their “Dragon Picks.”

ramonadragonpicks    Atticusdragonpicks


We Are All Readers!


3 Ways to Read

We have been learning about 3 ways to read:

  • Read the Pictures
  • Read the Words
  • Retell a Familiar Book

At the beginning of the year, it’s not unusual for first graders to say, “I don’t know how to read.” Usually what they mean is that they haven’t yet gotten comfortable with blending sounds to read a word. But phonics skills are just a small part of what we do as readers. The most important thing that readers do is make meaning. This is a multi faceted process that draws on many skills. A big part of our work at the beginning of the year is to notice all of the reading skills that are already in place. These skills support us in figuring out the words!

Reading the Pictures

We use sentence starters

  • I notice/see_____
  • I think/wonder if_____because_____

Reading the pictures is a vital skill for readers to have. We try to pull as much meaning as we can from the illustrations before, during and after reading the words. When reading the pictures, we observe and infer, ask questions,  predict and confirm.

readwithpartner.3Much of this  process is unconscious to us even as adult readers, but it is important that students become accustomed to “thinking about their thinking” or meta-cognition.  While Reading the Pictures is sometimes referred to as  “pre-reading” , it is actually a vital building block that will continue to support reading comprehension throughout life.When reading with your child at home, encourage them to show you how to read the pictures by pointing with their finger and using some of our classroom sentence starters. One challenge they enjoy is to try to tell the whole story this way before hearing the words. Then we double back and check to see how our observations, predictions and inferences matched or differed from the words.



Reading the Words

When students decode words, they use multiple strategies including prior experience, picture clues, and predictable text/patterns.  At the beginning of the year, as we increase our Independent Reading Stamina, we also have whole group phonics and sight word lessons. Once we have achieved 15 minutes of independent reading stamina, I begin to lead differentiated reading groups. We will have a guest teacher sometime over the next week and I will assess all students for reading  levels.

Retelling a Familiar Book

New readers love to retell familiar books. One of the tools we use are our sequence words posted over our visual schedule. Throughout our day, whenever we check our schedule we use “green, yellow, and red” words (beginning, middle and ending words) to read our schedule. First  graders get very comfortable with these words and I refer to words (such as first, then, also, meanwhile, finally, and last) as we retell stories and later when we are writing our narratives.  We now have a Familiar Book Shelf. This shelf displays books that we have read together so students can practice retelling them during Independent Reading Time.


Reading at Home Logs

Dear Families,

The most important homework you can help with at home this year is to read daily with your child. I know that you are already enjoying books together because this class loves to read!  Thank you so much for giving this gift to your student!

Here’s an example of the reading log I will send home each Monday.  This is a writing routine that we will be doing at school also. At this time, we are practicing this in a modified form with teacher support. Please help your student remember to turn it in on the following Monday morning. On Mondays, our writing is focused on Weekend News. You will notice that there is a space on the back for your student to write 3 Weekend News Ideas. Feel free to help with the writing part especially if the mechanical aspects of writing are a struggle at this point in the year. I want this “Homework” to be enjoyable! It is a way of connecting the family and classroom communities and sharing our learning. Please let me know if you have questions.

Thank you,

Ms. Camille


Weekly Reading Log and Book Review  Please read with your student for 10-20  minutes each day. This can be either your student reading to you or you reading to them. Please have your student put this log in the Finished Work Bin each Monday.Thank you!

Day Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Number of minutes read

Please help your student write and/or draw about one book that you read together this week.

Book Title______________________________________________________





Draw one thing from the book


I liked/disliked (circle one) this book.

This book was fiction/non fiction (circle one)

(This part is optional) I liked/disliked this book because_______________




(The Back Page will look like this…)

Weekend News Ideas:

Please help your first grader write a list of 3 things that happened over the weekend that could be ideas for a Weekend News Story on Monday.

Write a list of 3 things that happened over the weekend.

(examples: making pancakes, bike ride, helping mom in the yard etc.)







First Grade Work

Room Five kids have been working hard this month. Our focus has been on setting the tone for our year together. This has involved lots of caring, cooperation and practice! I wish I could tell about so many things but I’ll start here!

The Library Dragon

This year I have been intentionally rolling our class library out gradually. Each new box is opportunity for excitement and learning about important reading concepts. We are also working on developing our Independent Reading Stamina. Ask your student to show you our Stamina Graph.

Important Questions that guide our work:

  • Why do we read?
  • What kinds of books are there to read?
  • How can I find the right books for me?

Our class read Carmen Agra’s book, The Library Dragon. The story is about  a librarian who is a “real dragon” about protecting the books! By the end of the story, she has had a change of heart and realizes that the library belongs to everybody. Everybody should be free to enjoy the books and everybody must be responsible for caring for the books.

On Thursday,  we received an exciting letter! The Library Dragon has asked us if she can  visit our classroom. The Library Dragon’s upcoming visit provides us with the opportunity to demonstrate not only how we take care of our library but also what we are learning about books and reading.

  • I can use what I know about authors and types of books to choose my own books for independent reading.
  • I can independently read books for fun or to find out information.

Room 5 kids have a lot to be proud of!







Our First Day!

Hello Families,

What a super day we had! A huge thanks to all of you for your help getting students to school rested, on time and settled in with their morning work. Also, I want to thank Jesus, Montse’s dad, for taking photos of families! If you have additional pictures that you’d like to bring of family or extended family, please feel free to do so. I will be posting pictures and will need your help in labeling them with names over the next few weeks.

I am really delighted with this class! We took it slow and easy today. The first few weeks of school are focused on the basics. We practice taking care of ourselves, getting back into school routines and getting familiar with how to do things, “First Grade Style.” We sang, played a  name game,  did an literacy connected art activity and and began getting familiar with the new environment.  It is not unusual for kids to be pretty exhausted during the first part of the year until they get accustomed to being back in school.  They are working hard! I teach lessons on how to care for all of our classroom materials and we practice routines  such as transitions until we can do them smoothly. Smooth routines and transitions provide a powerful framework for the academic work that we will do over the rest of the year. It is always exciting to see the high level of pride and ownership that the kids develop for their first grade work. They are so capable! It is a privilege to be a part of this process.

Specials begin tomorrow:

Monday: Art

Tuesday: Counseling and P. E.

Wednesday: Music

Thursday: Library

Friday P. E.

Please tell your child how proud I am of their effort today. Each of them contributes something unique to our community.


Ms. Camille