What's in 15/20 minutes of daily 1st grade homework? (11-03-16)

A  list of High Frequency Words will also come home weekly for those students needing this grade level component.  You can cut these into flashcards. Your child needs to be able to read these words w/o the slow down of sounding out.  See the sidebar for details on how to help your child at home with these words. 

I also will send home "Take-Home Books" that focus on the phonics skill of the week for the children who need this practice to build fluency.  These readers are for the child to read and reread aloud, building fluency and expression.  YOur child can use these as titles to write in the Dragon Reading Log.  They can be kept in a cut-off cereal box or empty ice cream bucket as your child accumulates them this year. If you are not receiving these, your child does not need these at this time.     

As spelling begins, I will send home the list on Monday. The spelling words differ from the High Frequency words because they focus on the acquisition of a specific phonic skill or skills i.e. "th" digraph.  During the course of the week, the students should spell these at home and other words that you want to include that use the phonics skill. The focus is on writing the words, not just spelling them aloud. The test will be on Friday.  I use a collection of markings and hand signs to teach phonics.  You may see your child using these devices to help recall a word.  More on spelling when it begins.

Dragon Reading Log - These logs come home at the beginning of the month starting with September.   Every night or morning your child should read to you.  Some days it may be 5 mins., others 10. The monthly log is where you or your child record/s the books read.  You can also include in the log what you are reading to your child.  It is due the last Wed. of the month. On the back your child is to write three reflections of three different selections.  Don't wait until the last week for these!  There are too few opportunities for you to sit with your child while he/she writes at this age.  For some parents, this will be an enjoyable time to reflect on your child's growth as a writer.  For others, this may be a much more rigorous experience.  It is okay for you to record what your child says in the beginning of the year and then ease back around midyear, so your child can learn to do the writing with your feedback/encouragement.  First, focus on the content.  Then, you can go back - at another time - and focus on the spelling.  Doing both at one setting can discourage your child, so take your lead from them.

Continue including time to read your child picture books.  It's such an important time together.  To this day, if one of my own children is upset, he/she will ask for time to "snuggle" and be read to. Many of life's lessons can be talked about using`a picture book.  The library, the monthly book order, Wild Rumpus are all wonderful ways to include new and classic literature in your child's life. Enjoy :)  Even if your child is reading chapter books on their own, you can take over the book and read a few chapters.  You can record these times on the Dragon Reading Log, too.

DreamBox  This program is an excellent way to meet your child's differentiated math needs.  We use it daily during math groups as well.  I sent home how to set this up for use at home earlier.  It's never too late to ask for the sign up information from me again.

Doubles Flash Cards  These spider-themed flash cards were sent home in October.  When your child knows these automatically, he/she will be able to easily master all of the rest of the math facts.  That's how important practicing these are.  She/he then knows the doubles +1 and doubles -1 facts.  

Time Management You'll want to set up a routine for homework, so that the daily 15-20 mins., over the course of the week, incorporates all of the above parts.  If you find there is too much to do because your child is also busy after school with other commitments, many parents have found that using a morning time of 5 mins. to focus on just one area helps with the balance.  Others consider the weekends to be prime time for the work that can wait. 

Research Questions - These questions "pop" up in the course of our many conversations.  If no one knows the answer, I then assign it as a challenge to see who can come in with evidence to answer the question. The student can not just verbally share.  These are fun and inquisitive times and are not an assignment that I will e-mail home about. The child who brings in the answer receives an award.  Some examples of past questions: What animal is Arthur and other characters in the books by Marc Brown?  Where do flies come from? Who invented the first clock? I never know where our discussions will lead us, but I don't want to just tell them the answers!  I am teaching children to be inquisitive...and to see how exciting digging for knowledge can be.