1st Grade - Tennant

Update: 1/12/18


Happy New Year, Parents! First, I want to say thanks to all of those who sent sweet treats, school supplies, cute craft project gifts, cards, gift cards, etc… to me for Christmas.  Getting a gift is always so fun. Most importantly though, thank you for being such an understanding, supportive, and encouraging group of parents to work with. Knowing we’re on the same team means so much.  Working with your children is such an honor. They bring me so many smiles each day! Thanks for sharing them with me. As we move forward into our second half of the year we have much to be excited about. Check out this academic update when you have a moment. Hopefully, it will be helpful to you as you have conversations with your kiddos about what they’re learning at school.

Math Facts:

We have been diligently working on our math facts and some scholars have made huge strides forward.  As a reminder, our goal is that by the end of the year every scholar can do 50 mixed addition facts in 5 minutes and 50 mixed subtraction facts in 6 minutes. When working with just one type of fact (+2s only for example instead of a combination of all sorts of numbers), we want them to be able to do 50 in just 2 minutes.

By this point in the year, I would hope to see all scholars able to pass off through +5s.  Please look for an update on where your scholar is currently performing on the upcoming report cards (in the comments section).  If your scholar has not passed off through +3s, please consider helping them practice these drills nightly at home if that is not already a habit. In these cases, so often they are behind because 1) they’re handwriting (actual number formation) slows them down, 2) they struggle to train their brain to focus intently for those two minutes, OR 3) they stress under the pressure of a timer and actually perform slower than they otherwise would.  If your scholar is below +3s and you work with him/her at home and feel like you can tell which combination of these three factors (or perhaps something I haven’t thought of at all) is the issue, please let me know.


We are still working with life science and studying life cycles, habitats, food chains, etc… by reading books about all different types of animals. We do have a special project coming up which will require some support at home. We would like each of our first graders to be able to present on an animal (almost third grade wax museum style- if you’re familiar with that NWA tradition).  If you know you won’t be able to work with your scholar to do research on an animal and help them prepare to present, let me know and I will make special arrangements to help them prepare at school.  However, if possible, we would like this to be prepared primarily at home. I will give you more details as soon as our first grade team has decided on the expectations. It will most likely look like having your scholar memorize a written paragraph (short and to the point 5 sentences is fine) and preparing some visuals. Additional effort to learn fun facts is of course always welcome and will make their presentation more interesting.  Again- more details coming on this.

Language Arts:


In December we began working on our journals. We work on three major writing projects each year and they all serve their academic purpose in terms of teaching different types of writing (informative, opinion, and narrative).  However as important as those “official” projects may or may not be, journals are my favorite component of first grade writing. Journals are where kids learn to LOVE writing and gain confidence in their self-perception as a writer.  I am always nervous when I first hand out those notebooks. We spend so much time at the beginning of the year working on handwriting, phonograms, and understanding the required parts of a complete sentence. Then one day I hand them a book full of empty pages and tell them they have to just write. They can write anything, but they have to keep writing for the whole time and they can’t ask for help with spelling because they have to use their best-guess spelling and the word wall.

It feels like a trainwreck at first as they panic over how to spell things or feel at a loss of what to put down. However, after a couple of weeks, one by one the joy and power of knowing you can take a thought out of your head and put it in someone else’s simply by writing it down begins to take over.  Now we have a class that loves to write independently and can do so for extended periods of time! We celebrate their hard work by sharing their journal entries with the class, working on editing together, and even occasionally looking up some of the things they wonder about online to get more information (I require them to say one thing they wonder about before going on to the free-write portion of their journal).

Informative Paragraph Project:

As you have probably noticed from the dlp, we have been working on writing informative paragraphs for a long time. This is because it takes a while to teach the format and then I sit with small groups and individually help each child write a quality paragraph.  The end result is a combination of independent ideas and a lot of teacher guidance.  The idea is that each child gets a guided experience with writing an informative paragraph rather than each child demonstrates the ability to write one independently.  We have about 7 more scholars to go and we will finally be able to close down the informative paragraph unit and move on to opinion writing.

Social Studies:

We will begin our mapping/geography unit soon.  It is always a fun time to talk about where we live (like how we live in Orem AND Utah AND the United States all at the same time- confusing to some kiddos) and how our place on the globe compares to so many others out there.

That is all for now. Thanks so much for reading through this and helping your scholar succeed in first grade!

I hope your 2018 has already gotten off to a great start and I know the best is yet to come (always).

-Ashley Tennant