FIRST GRADE

Marsha enters her fifth year at The Cooper School. Raised in Charleston, Marsha received her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from The College of Charleston. Marsha has taught for eleven years in both the public and private schools. She delights in fostering a warm classroom environment where children can thrive and express themselves comfortably. Marsha enjoys hula hooping, crafting, relaxing at the beach, and finding treasures at flea markets.

Read Marsha’s Testimonial.

Festive Fun! December 14, 2018

Special Holiday Events  

On Tuesday, December 11th, the entire Cooper School community gathered at the Circular Church in downtown to perform a musical selection of well known and original songs for parents and families. It was a beautiful concert and we are grateful to Mrs. Hazel and Mr. Bob for all their hard work in Choir. Last Friday, December 7th, over thirty Kindergarteners, 1st Graders, and 2nd Graders attended Movie Night. Everyone got cozy with their sleeping bags and blankets to watch The Polar Express, eat pizza, and drink hot cocoa.

 

Amateur Food Critics

In Writing Workshop, we wrapped up our unit on Opinion Writing and have moved into Review Writing. This week, students shared their Opinion Writing pieces with peers and got compliments and constructive feedback. We discussed popular products and services that people often like to review and looked at sample reviews. Students viewed menus from various restaurants around the Charleston area for inspiration for their reviews. They brainstormed descriptive words to enhance and spice up their writing. Finally, students chose something personal to them to review. Can you guess what many 1st Graders chose to write about? Did you say food? You got it! We are salivating reading all about the delicious, salty French fries at McDonald’s, the juicy chicken nuggets at Chick-Fil-A, the creamy, homemade ice cream at Ye Ole Fashioned, and the frozen treats at Pelican’s Snoballs! YUM, YUM!

 

Diving Into a Character Study

We recently introduced a new read aloud text, Gooseberry Park and the Master Plan by Cynthia Rylant. It is a funny romp of a story that features a cast of memorable animals as the main characters, including a maternal squirrel named Stumpy, a hungry bat named Murray, a loyal dog named Kona, a wise hermit crab named Gwendolyn, and many others. Students are enjoying doing a character study to identify unique characteristics and motivations of each character we encounter in this delightful book!

 

Pajama Drive

Next week we’ll be collecting pajama donations for our annual Pajama Drive.  All pajamas will be donated to the Pajama Program and distributed to children in need across the Lowcountry.

Important Dates:

Friday, 12/21- Pajama Day- ½ day

12/22- Winter Break Begins

Excursions and Mystery! December 7, 2018

Mystery Reader

We love inviting parents and family members in to be mystery readers in 1st Grade. This special tradition takes place every Friday morning. Prior to revealing our Mystery Reader, we typically read three clues to the class and allow them to guess who our special visitor will be. Some of the titles we have enjoyed hearing read aloud so far have been: 365 Penguins, The Jewel Box Ballerinas, The Book of Mistakes, The Antlered Ship, and Lost Cat. We recommend checking these books out!

Practicing Our Penmanship

1st Graders practice their handwriting every day. We use a program called Handwriting Without Tears that features developmentally appropriate, multisensory handwriting instruction for Kindergarten-5th Grade students. Research shows that handwriting is an essential skill for both children and adults. Handwriting activates the brain because it involves more complex motor and cognitive skills and contributes to reading fluency because it activates visual perception of letters. We are seeing such positive growth in scholars’ handwriting skills and demonstrations of beautiful handwriting across subject areas.

Study Trip to the Ravenel Bridge

This week in Social Studies, we have been discussing the impact that bridges have to create change in our communities by increasing access to jobs, education, and goods and services. Scholars have been studying Charleston’s very own Ravenel Bridge. We demonstrated how tension and compression work to keep bridges standing under the stress of large loads and significant weather conditions. 1st Graders identified the parts that make up a cable stayed bridge and drew and labeled their own diagrams. Together, we viewed pictures from the bridge construction and a video clip of the old bridge being destroyed. On Thursday, December 6th, we ventured off on our first study trip of the school year, a water taxi ride under and around the magnificent Ravenel Bridge and explored the areas on both the downtown Charleston side and the Mount Pleasant side. The weather was chilly, but bright, sunny, and clear, and a great time was had by all. We even got to see some cheerful dolphins! We are grateful to our parent drivers/chaperones!

Important Dates

Friday, December 7-  K-2nd Grade Movie Night

Tuesday, December 11-  1:30pm Winter Choir Performance at the Circular Church

Friday, December 21-  Pajama Day, half day

Hands On Learning in Grade 1! November 30, 2018

Tree Decorating at Marion Square

On Thursday, November 29th 1st grade and Kindergarten scholars, along with their parents and teachers, headed to Marion Square in downtown Charleston to decorate a tree. This year our theme is “The world is your oyster”.  To celebrate our coastal home and the promise of bright futures, students wrote their hopes and dreams for their future on the inside of gold-dipped oyster shells. Students enjoyed making oyster themed decorations and finger knitting during learning centers. It was a joy to share this special time together!

 

Opinion Writing and Collection Museum

1st Graders bravely and excitedly jumped into their new Writing Workshop unit, opinion writing. Students brought in collections of items such as art supplies, bracelets, hair accessories, and toy airplanes, as prompts to inspire their writing. They used the following steps to help them judge their items fairly and award one with a “best in show” ribbon: putting them in a line, comparing the same things, deciding which is best and then giving reasons why using the word “because”.

Bridges, Bridges Everywhere!

In Social Studies, we launched our bridge study. We started by reading The Three Billy Goats Gruff as a fun introduction to a simple beam bridge and talked about why bridges are important. As a class, we came up with a definition of a bridge. Students reflected on how bridges play a part in their everyday lives in Charleston, connecting them to school, friends, and stores. We learned the main types of bridges: beam, arch, suspension, cable-stayed, and cantilever. Then we looked at pictures of bridges, and watched several short video clips about bridges around the world. Students were challenged to build beam bridges from cardboard and wooden blocks that would be strong enough to support their water bottles and to build arch bridges out of Legos. Next week, we will discuss what makes bridges so strong, learn what civil engineers do, and continue building bridges from different materials in small groups. We will also take a water taxi ride from downtown Charleston to Mount Pleasant and walk part of the Ravenel Bridge. Finally, students will each choose a unique bridge to research independently.

Important Dates

Thursday, December 6th-  1st Grade Study Trip-Water Taxi Ride/Walking the Ravenel Bridge

Friday, December 7-  K-2nd Grade Movie Night

Tuesday, December 11-  1:30pm Winter Choir Performance at the Circular Church

Friday, December 21-  Pajama Day, half day

 

Gratitude Abounds! November 16, 2018

Learning from Peers  

1st Graders had a very special visit from 5th Grade researchers who shared their findings and taught us all about various topics from pandas, to the history of Nintendo, to the rock band Queen. We loved learning from our older buddies and especially enjoyed filling their buckets with kind words and compliments!

Gratitude Books & Veterans Day Cards

Students explored the theme of gratitude this week in honor of Thanksgiving. Each scholar at The Cooper School created a gratitude book of things they are thankful for. The front and back covers were cut from special paper the Kindergarteners painted with natural dyes. 1st Graders also wrote thank you cards to veterans in their lives and cards that will be delivered to veterans at the VA Hospital to brighten their days!

Bread, Bread, A Tasty Treat!

As one of our Centers this week, 1st Graders sampled breads from around the world: baguette, naan, pita, challah, and tortilla. Prior to tasting, we read two books about bread: Bread Around the World by Cynthia Rothman and Tony’s Bread by Tomie dePaola and learned that bread is one of the most popular foods in the world. We talked about how the Pilgrims brought with them things that reminded them of home when they came to America, and that food is often something that connects us to our culture. Students looked at the world map to identify the countries each type of bread they tasted comes from and wrote short reviews with their comments. Finally, they each selected their favorite and we graphed the data as a class.

Important Dates:

Tuesday, November 20th   Harvest Feast (11:30 dismissal)

November 21st-25th            Thanksgiving Break

Brave Risk Takers November 9, 2018

Insect Museum Presentation

On Tuesday, 1st Grade Entomologists presented their Insect Museum to parents and family members. This was the culmination of a study that began about six weeks ago. In that time, scholars collected insect specimens, observed mealworms, observed ants inside an ant farm, raised and released monarch butterflies, researched an insect of their choosing using books and internet sources, wrote small moment stories about insects, learned about and labeled the body parts of ant and the parts of an art hill, and created watercolor paintings of insects. Many of these works, and more, were displayed in the museum. It was such a proud day for our scholars.

Preparing to Present and Reflecting on our Hard Work

Public speaking is one of the most important forms of communication and a skill that most adults use often. We know that speaking in front of a group can be nerve wracking and anxiety producing, especially for children. The Cooper School values public speaking and we are always looking for ways to build it into our learning in ways that feel seamless and organic for students. This often happens during Morning Meeting. To get ready for our Insect Museum Presentation, 1st Graders practiced reading their research to 4th Grade scholars. The 4th Graders listened and encouraged them, and also offered some wonderful feedback and tips! We are so grateful to our upper-class buddies! Following our presentation, scholars reflected on what they had learned and what they were most proud of.

Cultivating Beautiful Relationships

We love seeing our young students socialize with their classmates and with friends in other classes during snack, lunch, recess and during Afterschool. We see them being interested in and asking questions about other friends’ interests and family lives, joining in group games that encourage friendly competition, and engaging in elaborate dramatic play. This social time is so important. Not only does it allow children to move and nourish their bodies, get fresh air, and take brain breaks, but it also helps teachers plan assignments that will be engaging and challenging for them, anticipate books they may enjoy, and understand their social and emotional needs.

Important Dates:

November 12th & 13th         Conferences (11:30 dismissal)  

November 16th                      Picture Day

November 20th                     Harvest Feast (11:30 dismissal)

November 21st-25th            Thanksgiving Break  

 

A Spooky, Spectacular Week! November 2, 2018

TCS Halloween Carnival 

We had a magical Halloween at TCS! On the 31st, the entire Cooper School community enjoyed a fantastic Halloween carnival in our backyard organized by the 5th Graders. The carnival is a longstanding, beloved tradition at TCS. The 5th Graders and their families worked tirelessly to transform our backyard into a haunted Halloween forest by creating unique and creative carnival booths and games for younger students to enjoy. Some of the attractions included pumpkin golf, pumpkin bowling, witch hat ring toss, and spooky face painting. It was such a success and we are so grateful to Miss Erica, our wonderful 5th grade buddies, and their sweet families for giving us something that we will remember for years to come!

 

Preparing for our Insect Presentation

First Graders have been so hard at work putting the finishing touches on everything they want to include in their Insect Museum next week. They have been research, writing, painting, taking photographs, and working on their presentation skills. We are so very proud of them and we know you will be too!

 

Curiosity Abounds! 

One of the things we love most about 1st Graders is how observant and curious they are about their expanding world. We cherish the opportunities for independent and collaborative exploration that happen each and every day and we love creating invitations for them to ask questions.  Many 1st Graders’ discoveries have come out of the nonfiction books they are reading. Ask your children to share some of the exciting facts they have learned and what they’re still wondering about! Cooper School teachers are eager learners as well! We engage and connect with colleagues to share helpful ideas, tidbits, and advice through our morning meetings each and every day, weekly faculty meetings, and monthly grade level planning meetings.  

 

Important Dates:

Tuesday, November 6th       Insect Museum, 8:15-9:15am in the Library

November 12th & 13th         Conferences (11:30 dismissal)  

Tuesday, November 20th    Harvest Festival (11:30 dismissal)

 

A Magical Week October 26, 2018

Parent Morning Meeting

On Tuesday, we welcomed families into our classroom for Morning Meeting! We start every day in this way. Morning Meeting includes a greeting that allows students and teachers to greet one another by name and is followed by a share, usually in pairs. Often, we will also do a brief group activity to foster classroom cohesion, and then students read and interact with the Morning Message that has been written on the board by the teachers. This message is crafted to help students focus on the work they’ll do during school that day. As part of our social emotional curriculum we highlight two different themes each trimester. This month we have been focusing on curiosity. Tuesday’s morning message asked students (and their parents) to choose a nonfiction topic they were especially curious to learn more about. Parents and students then wrote their wonder on a post-it note. We then added these wonders to our class Wonder Wall.

1st Grade Experts

1st Grade Writers have been learning about and writing their own teaching texts. We started by brainstorming answers to the question, “How can I teach my readers?” Students were encouraged to think about the How, What, Why, Where, and When of the topic they selected. They were introduced to the concept of twin sentences, how we can use arrows to enhance our non-fiction writing, and encouraged to create zoomed in illustrations to add detail and provide visuals for their readers. Scholars are writing about everything from knitting to sharks!

Looking Ahead to Next Week’s Halloween Carnival!

We are excited for next week’s Halloween Carnival at The Cooper School! Our Halloween Carnival is an old-fashioned, fun-filled day organized by the oldest students for the younger children’s enjoyment. We invite students to wear costumes to school, but we ask that they are not too scary; no gore, guts, or weapons, please! Dismissal is at 11:30am on Halloween. Please feel free to join your First Grader for some festive fun starting at 10:00am on Wednesday, October 31st.

 

 

Important Dates:

Wednesday, October 31st                                                         Halloween Carnival (11:30 dismissal)

Tuesday, November 6th                                                           Insect Museum, 8:15-9:15am in the Library

Monday, November 12th & Tuesday, November 13th       Conferences (11:30 dismissal)  

Tuesday, November 20th                                                         Harvest Festival (11:30 dismissal)

Discovery is Alive in 1st Grade! October 19, 2018

Delving Deeper into Entomology

Centers this week have been focused on Science and our ongoing insect study. Students have rotated through visiting the following centers: insect research, an insect art center using natural materials such as leaves and sticks, insect small moment stories, and insect number stories. They have also been creating insect self-portraits in Art in the style of famous artists.

In their research center, under the supervision of a teacher, they are practicing using nonfiction books and educational websites for research. They have been using the index pages of books to locate information and think critically about what to type into the search engine on the Insect Identifier website. While researching, they are looking for insect information that they will then process, synthesize, and evaluate in order to answer the questions; What does my insect eat? Where does my insect live? and What are some interesting facts about my insect?  

 

Hula Hoopin’ Kiddos

In Monday’s Whole School Morning Meeting, we introduced a new toy that will be available to students on our playground- hula hoops! We discussed different ways we like to play with hula hoops- from traditional hula hooping with the hoop around our waist, twirling the hula hoop around our arm or neck, 4 corners tag, horsey, and lots more. Ask your child about their favorite hula hoop games and activities. Students are definitely enjoying this new addition to our recess time!

Proud Authors and Illustrators

On Wednesday, we took our edited and bound small moment stories through the final writing phase—publishing and sharing! Proud authors and illustrators had the opportunity to own the spotlight and share their story with the class. They have been working so hard on these stories and we were delighted to celebrate them and their wonderful achievements! On Thursday, we began brainstorming ideas for our five page “how-to” pieces! This will be an opportunity for our experts to teach others something they are passionate about and know a lot about.

 

Important Dates:

Tuesday, October 23rd        1st Grade Parent Morning Meeting, 8:00am

Wednesday, October 31st   Halloween Carnival (early release at 11:30am)

Tuesday, November 6         Insect Museum, 8:15-9:15am in the Library

Reading, Writing, and Research…oh my! October 12, 2018

Author! Author!

Earlier this week, each student selected an original, personal small moment story to publish. 1st Grade Authors used editing checklists to put the final touches on their stories. We also had a visit from inspiring 2nd Grade Authors who published their stories to us. 1st Graders loved being an audience for older friends who were in their shoes not too long ago!

   

Fiction to Facts  

In Reading Workshop, we launched our non-fiction unit. We talked about how this genre is different from fiction and students have been reading an assortment of books at their “just right” level around topics ranging from animals, to sports, to history. During Wednesday’s Morning Meeting, students selected specific subjects they are particularly interested in. Some of their individual interests included cooking, crafting, gems and minerals, whales, pandas, snakes, football, NASA, and tornadoes.   

A-Z Researchers

1st Grade Scientists have been brainstorming insects that they want to research. Each student will choose a unique insect that is native to South Carolina to research using nonfiction texts and iPad minis. Some of the insects students came up with included June bugs, green beetles, ladybugs, cicadas, cockroaches, honeybees, praying mantises, moths, wasps, flies, mosquitos, grasshoppers, termites, and various species of butterflies.

Important Dates:

Monday, October 15th            Make-Up School Day

Tuesday, October 23rd           1st Grade Parent Morning Meeting, 8:00 am

Wednesday, October 31st      Halloween Carnival (early release at 11:30am)

Learning is so much fun! October 5, 2018

Math Makes “Cents”

In Math, we launched our addition and subtraction unit and scholars are using hands on materials such as coins and cubes and long blocks to show their thinking. We are extending that learning and practicing those skills through partner math games in Centers.

Ant Experts

First Grade ant experts have been observing ants and their behavior and recording their observations, questions, and wonders about ants in their ant journals. We learned that ants have three body parts: head, thorax, and abdomen. They also have antennae. Their antennae have an important function. Ants use them to smell, touch, feel and communicate with other ants. On Tuesday, students answered with a tally to show what food they thought ants would enjoy most: a potato chip, a grape, or a piece of lettuce. Students guessed that the ants would prefer the grape over the chip and the lettuce. Then we left these snacks out in our backyard  to see if our prediction was correct. Ask your scholar about the results of our science experiment! We have also started mapping our backyard to show all the places ants may live. Our bug museum is growing and we are also so excited and so appreciative that so many friends have been bringing in bug specimens! Keep them coming! We are super curious about the tunnels the ants in our ant farm have been industriously digging and we are eager to research this behavior.

  

Grammar Matters!

In Writing Workshop, our authors have begun editing their work. They are paying special attention to making sure that the first word of each sentence and proper nouns are capitalized, and that sentences have appropriate punctuation at the end: a period, exclamation point, or a question mark. This is an essential part of the writing process that will make their stories better and more interesting to their readers.

 

Important Dates:

Friday, October 12th                                    11:30 Dismissal

Monday, October 15th                                 Make-Up School Day

 

SCHOOL NEWS

Annual Fund Update

Thank you so much to all of you who have so generously donated to the Annual Fund. This year, to my delight, the Silent Auction raised more money than ever before. I wanted to take a moment to let you know exactly where your Silent Auction donation dollars are going…

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