FIRST GRADE

Noah Balazs is in his fourth year as a first grade teacher. Noah comes to us from The International School of Dakar in Senegal, West Africa. Originally from Massachusetts, Noah graduated from Colby College with a Bachelor of Arts in American Studies and from Salem State University with an M.Ed in Elementary Education. Before teaching at The Cooper School,Noah taught at The International School of Dakar in Senegal and Shore Country Day School in Beverly, Massachusettes. Noah enjoys riding his bicycle to work, working in the garden, reading, and spending time in nature.

Read Noah’s Testimonial.

Hands-On Learning May 28, 2017

Science
Our newest science unit is a big hit! We are exploring solids and liquids and getting lots of hands-on learning opportunities. This week students explored the properties of solids and attempted to build towers out of simple materials. They made discoveries about which properties were most useful for tower building: strong, flexible, straight, and tall. At the end of the week we got a chance to explore some mystery liquids and discuss their properties. Which ones were viscous? Which were translucent? These scientists are growing their vocabularies every day!

Responsibility
We have been engaged in a fascinating conversation about responsibility for the past two weeks in Grade One. During our Close of Day meeting, we have been reading scenarios together and discussing how we would react if we were in that situation. Would we do the responsible thing? Would we be tempted not to? Some scenarios have been so rich that we broke into groups to role-play and act them out in front of the group in order to see differences in how groups would behave. It has been an enlightening conversation that students have continued at the lunch table and on the playground!

Author Expert Project
Students were in the home stretch of their Author Expert project this week. They put the finishing touches on their mentor-author-inspired books and on their colorful presentation boards. It has been a pleasure to see them working independently to complete this challenging work. This is the perfect project to have at the very end of the year because it truly showcases all the ways students have grown as first graders: in their writing, penmanship, research skills, fine motor skills, independence, and presentation skills. We can’t wait for our presentation on Tuesday!

Important Dates
•   Monday, May 29 – No School, Memorial Day
•   Tuesday, May 30 – 1st Grade Author Expert Presentation, 8:00am-8:30am, TCS Library
•   Thursday, June 1 – 5th Grade Graduation (Half Day, 11:30am dismissal)
•   Friday, June 2 – Field Day! (Half Day, 11:30am dismissal)

Weather EXPO! May 19, 2017

Weather EXPO
This week, for the first time ever, TCS students invited parents, students, and special guests to the Weather EXPO. This brand new project gave students background knowledge about weather and then allowed them to pursue their personal weather interests. They crafted a research question, researched using text and digital resources, and set to work creating a way to teach others about their topic. The variety of projects was incredible. There was a board game created to teach people how snowflakes form. There was a scale model of a weather balloon that rose and fell on a student-designed pulley system. There was a narrated e-book about why tornadoes are so prevalent in Tornado Alley. We had posters teaching people about what makes seasons hot or cold, how hailstones form, how the sun helps and harms us, and so much more. Students presented with poise and confidence.

Indigo Choir
This week the First Graders were invited to Indigo Choir, which is usually reserved for grades 3-5. We are engaged in an ongoing conversation about how younger people can be leaders to older people, and the First Graders demonstrated exactly that. Even though they were among the youngest in the room, Miss Hazel reported that they were role models to all of the older students. First Graders were focused and enthusiastic singers for this special opportunity. We are so proud of all of them!

Author Expert Project
Our Author Expert project keeps getting better! This week, First Graders got to start researching their mentor authors and gathering as much interesting biographical information as they could. Even I learned things I didn’t know about these amazing authors and illustrators! Watching them independently locate the best information, record it in their own words, and share it with others is a testament to The Cooper School’s focus on the learning process rather than the product.

Important Dates
•   Monday, May 29 – No School, Memorial Day
•   Tuesday, May 30 – 1st Grade Author Expert Presentation, 8:00am-8:30am, TCS Library
•   Thursday, June 1 – 5th Grade Graduation (Half Day, 11:30am dismissal)
•   Friday, June 2 – Field Day! (Half Day, 11:30am dismissal)

Working Hard… and Smart! May 12, 2017

Project Work
Students worked harder than ever this week to complete their projects in time for our Weather EXPO next week. Students put finishing touches on posters, paintings, clay models, science experiments, board games, books, brochures, e-books, and interpretive signs. It was a flurry of activity that might have looked chaotic to some, but upon closer inspection every single student was focused and engaged with their work and knew exactly what to do when they finished. These 18 scholars were a well-oiled machine! We can’t wait to show off all of our knowledge at the Weather EXPO!

Pass It On Fundraiser
Cooper School kids invited a representative from the Charleston Animal Society to campus this week to present a check for the proceeds from sales of Pass It On. We had no idea that she would bring a special guest: her dog! After hearing even more about what the Animal Society does for local pets and where our money would go, we were thrilled to present a check for $490.00! That money can go a long way to help the animals that we love.

Author Expert Project
This week students began an exciting writing project: to create an original piece of writing in the style of their mentor author! First graders did not flinch at the challenge… they dove right in with so much enthusiasm! We have learned to look closely at the work of mentor authors and use “craft moves” without copying or repeating plot lines. We cannot wait to see how these beautiful books develop!

Important Dates
•   Monday, May 15 – 1st Grade Weather EXPO, 2:00pm, TCS Library and Backyard
•   Monday, May 29 – No School, Memorial Day
•   Tuesday, May 30 – 1st Grade Author Expert Presentation, 8:00am-8:30am, TCS Library
•   Thursday, June 1 – 5th Grade Graduation (Half Day, 11:30am dismissal)
•   Friday, June 2 – Field Day! (Half Day, 11:30am dismissal)

A Very Busy Week! May 6, 2017

Storm Team 2
On Wednesday of this week, First Graders got a behind-the-scenes tour of the Weather Center at Storm Team 2 by none other than meteorologist Rob Fowler! It was amazing to learn about how meteorologists forecast the weather using satellites, balloons, computers, and other tools. Our students even got to test their personal “wind speed” by blowing into an anemometer. Students even got to try their hand at reporting in front of a green screen in the TV studio. It was not as easy as the professionals make it look! All in all, we had a wonderful time and learned a lot about what it looks like to be a meteorologist in the lowcountry!

Grandparent’s Day
We welcomed lots of grandparents and special friends into our classroom on Friday to show them what it is like to be in First Grade at TCS. After a brief Morning Meeting, students and their guests were free to do a number of different activities together, including performing an interview, working on an art project, reading a book in a cozy spot, and playing a math game. Grandparent’s Day concluded with a special choir concert in which TCS students performed a selection of favorite songs. It was a wonderful morning of fun and laughter!

Pass It On
Our annual tradition of poetry performance continued this week at The Charleston Museum. On Friday night, students gathered with parents, siblings, grandparents, and guests to celebrate the original poetry of our amazing writers. Each child read one poem to a crowd of over two hundred people! Some poems were funny and others were so touching that more than one parent was seen crying joy-tears. All proceeds from the sale of the Pass It On publication will go to The Charleston Animal Society this year. Bravo, student poets!

Important Dates
•   Sunday, May 7 – TCS Family Picnic, 3:30-5:00pm, Magnolia Plantation
•   Monday, May 15 – 1st Grade Weather EXPO, 2:00pm, TCS Library and Backyard
•   Monday, May 29 – No School, Memorial Day
•   Tuesday, May 30 – 1st Grade Author Expert Presentation, 8:00am-8:30am, TCS Library
•   Thursday, June 1 – 5th Grade Graduation (Half Day, 11:30am dismissal)
•   Friday, June 2 – Field Day! (Half Day, 11:30am dismissal)

Swimming, Projects, and More! April 28, 2017

Reading Workshop
Our young readers have delved deep into the work of Ezra Jack Keats. We have made lots of discoveries along the way, including that his characters grow and age from picture book to picture book in noticeable ways! We don’t know many other authors who do that in picture books! Also, we discovered that he loves to use mixed media to create illustrations. As we explore more and more of his books, we love them more and more.

Swimming Lessons
This week marked the second of four swim lessons for the First Graders. They are an impressive bunch of swimmers! This week, with our two lifeguard instructors, we practiced floating and kicking on our backs, kicking hard with our legs and feet, and being comfortable with our heads underwater. For obvious reasons, this is a big highlight of our week.

Leadership
We started a great conversation about leaders and leadership this week at TCS. We started by discussing what leaders do and by making a word cloud about how to identify a good leader. Students generated phrases like “role model,”“does the right thing,”and “cooperates with others.” Then we brainstormed a list of people who were leaders to us. The list was fascinating. Students identified peers, teachers, parents, movie and book characters, and presidents of the United States going all the way back to George Washington! It was the perfect way to start an ongoing conversation about what it means to be a leader in our community.

Important Dates
•   Tuesday, May 2 – Parent Coffee, TCS Backyard, 8:00am
•   Wednesday, May 3 – 1st Grade Field Trip to Storm Team 2!
•   Friday, May 5 – Grandparents Day, 9:00am-11:00am
•   Friday, May 5 – Pass It On, Charleston Museum, 5:00pm
•   Sunday, May 7 – TCS Family Picnic, Magnolia Plantation, 3:30pm-5:00pm

And We’re Back! April 21, 2017

Project Work
Students were hard at work this week planning and executing their independent weather projects. On Tuesday, students made a visual plan of how they wanted their poster or book or presentation or experiment or diorama to look. Armed with this plan, they were well-equipped to begin working on their own with a variety of materials to bring their vision to life. This is a long process that requires perseverance, responsibility, patience, focus, resilience, self-monitoring, and careful planning. In the end, students will find they learned more from this amazing process than they did about weather!

Math 
Before the month of April, many of us thought of fractions as being scary, big-kid work. Well, not anymore! After learning about halves, thirds, quarters and more before Spring Break, our young mathematicians were poised this week to learn all about dividing groups into equal shares. We practiced sharing groups of pennies, plastic counters, and even imaginary cookies, crackers, and pizzas. Fractions aren’t scary… it turns out that they’re really fun!

Handwriting 
Throughout the year, First Graders practice the correct formation of all their letters and numbers. Slowly and carefully, they learn which letters “slide,”“kick out,”go “up like a helicopter,”and “bump the line.” This week we focused on several lowercase letters that were present in a lot of students’ first names! It is incredible how much care and attention these students give to everything that they do, from performing calculations in math to practicing the letter j!

Important Dates
•   Friday, April 28 – Swimming Lesson #2 (please send swim bag with students)
•   Tuesday, May 2 – Parent Coffee, TCS Backyard, 8:00am
•   Wednesday, May 3 – 1st Grade Field Trip to Storm Team 2!
•   Friday, May 5 – Grandparents Day, 9:00am-11:00am
•   Friday, May 5 – Pass It On, Charleston Museum, 5:00pm

New Units of Study! April 7, 2017

Reading
It is a week of fresh starts! First Graders began a new reading unit studying the work of beloved author Ezra Jack Keats. His award-winning book, The Snowy Day was one that almost all students were familiar with, but Keats was a prolific author! We had so much fun exploring his lesser-known works, all of which are TCS favorites. Have you heard of Jennie’s Hat? Or Pet Show? Or Goggles? We can’t wait to discover much more about these magical books during this author study!

Writing
We transitioned out of poetry writing this week, and fell right into fiction writing! Students have been eagerly awaiting the fiction unit all year, because they have so many imaginative stories to tell! We begin this unit with realistic fiction. This week, our young writers learned how to create characters, give them names and backgrounds, choose a setting, and create a problem for their character(s) to encounter. The youngest character someone created was six years old, and the oldest? Twenty-seven years old! I can’t wait to see what kind of trouble our first grade author creates for that character!

Movement + Empathy
It was a return to an old favorite this week in Movement: Castle Ball! First Graders adore this fast-paced, competitive game and it has become a school-wide phenomenon. However, something interesting happened this week at the intersection of Movement and our empathy study. Our students used what they had learned about empathy to celebrate with the winning team and console the defeated team. It was beautiful to watch them use the empathy tools they have learned in the classroom and apply them to a new situation. It made our game more fun than ever.

Important Dates
•   Monday, April 10 – Monday, April 17 – Spring Break, No School
•   Tuesday, April 18 – School Resumes
•   Thursday, April 20 – TCS Silent Auction, Stars Rooftop, 5:30pm (Buy Tickets Here)

A Rich Week of Learning and Fun March 31, 2017

Project Work
This week our young scientists learned about the water cycle. Water’s journey through the water cycle is amazing, and our students could not have agreed more. Long after the lesson was over, many were heard on the playground chanting and shouting “precipita…TION!” Their newfound knowledge will serve them well as they embark on the next stage of our project: independent research. Understanding the water cycle will help them understand clouds, rain, flooding, hurricanes, hail, and more!

Math
After completing an exciting unit on geometry, we returned this week to place value and counting money. Part of our study was introducing an activity called “The Broken Calculator.” Students are given a number that needs to be displayed on the calculator screen, but also that a number of keys are broken and unusable. How will they display the number? By using creative thinking and “fact power!” For example, how would you display the number 20 if the 1 and the 0 keys were broken? Two ingenious student responses were 22-2=20 and 5+5+5+5=20.

Empathy
To continue our study of empathy, we enjoyed two special read-aloud picture books this week. Odd Velvet tells the story of a girl who has different interests, a different attitude, and a different “look” than her friends. Eventually they come to appreciate her. We realized that we all have a little Odd Velvet in us too! Another book we enjoyed was Jacob’s New Dress, about a boy who feels comfortable wearing dresses to school. At first, his friends and family don’t understand, but a caring teacher helps the class realize that “there is more than one way to be a boy.” Jacob’s New Dress sparked a fascinating discussion about gender, empathy, and the bystander effect in our class. Quality children’s literature is a great way to start meaningful discussions in the classroom and at home!

Important Dates
•   Wednesday, April 5 – Make-Up Picture Day
•   Monday, April 10 – Monday, April 17 – Spring Break, No School
•   Tuesday, April 18 – School Resumes
•   Thursday, April 20 – TCS Silent Auction, Stars Rooftop, 5:30pm

Two Guest Experts! March 24, 2017

Whole School Writing Workshop
Cooper School students got a special treat on Tuesday. A Whole-School Writing Workshop! This annual event is one that is eagerly awaited by students and teachers alike. In the library and 5th grade classroom, with the sliding doors open, the entire school engages in a poetry writing lesson led by Ms. Franci. Our goal was to write Tribute Poems about our chosen Pass It On charity, The Charleston Animal Society. Students from all grades sat together and helped each other to create some excellent poems. It was a beautiful example of collaboration and love of learning!

Guest Experts
This week, for our weather project, we welcomed two guest experts into our school. Dr. Gabe Williams Ph.D, a professor of physics and meteorology at The College of Charleston, came to share information about hurricanes. He taught us about the strength of these amazing storms, answered a lot of our questions, and showed us videos of the incredible aircrafts that fly into hurricanes to measure and study them. Our students were transfixed! The very next day, Andrea Serrano (The Charleston Shop Curator) came to talk to the First Graders about clothing and weather. She brought lots of examples for us to look at and touch! We had lots of questions about which fabrics worked best for different weather and temperature. We are so grateful to have such helpful experts in our community!

Empathy
Our new Social-Emotional Learning strand is empathy. Empathy is an important skill to nurture in children. It helps people understand others better, it builds mindfulness and selflessness, and hones listening skills. Luckily for us, there are some excellent examples of children’s literature that seem tailor-made for teaching empathy. As we explore these books, our students will build a clearer picture of what empathy is and what it looks like at school and at home. Be on the lookout for empathy at home and discuss it with your child. They already have a lot to say on the subject!

Important Dates
•   Saturday, March 25 – Planting Party, TCS Backyard 9:00am
•   Thursday, March 30 – Parent Forum, TCS Library, 5:45-6:45pm
•   Monday, April 10 – Monday, April 17 – Spring Break, No School
•   Tuesday, April 18 – School Resumes

Polar Presentation March 17, 2017

Polar Presentation
On Monday our brave First Graders presented their knowledge of the polar regions to moms, dads, grandparents, and special guests. Artwork adorned the walls and student research and writing filled the room. First Graders each chose an area of expertise, and proclaimed it on a special name tag for the occasion. We had a bowhead whale expert, an Inuit clothing expert, a polar bear expert, and a tundra biome expert just to name a few. Visitors to the Polar Presentation were impressed with the breadth and depth of student knowledge and work, and enjoyed reading about polar animals and elements of Inuit culture. The afternoon was a big success and our students felt proud of all their hard work.

Movement
Each week in Movement we either learn a new game or play an old favorite. This week’s game was new to the students, but I’m sure it is an old favorite to many parents out there: SPUD. If enthusiasm for a game could be measured in gleeful shrieking and ear-to-ear smiles, then SPUD may be a new First Grade favorite. Everyone was engaged, gave 100%, and had a lot of fun. We did not let the chilly, drippy weather stop us from getting outside for games!

Charity Work
It is the time of year to choose a Pass It On charity! Every year, the money we earn from sales of Pass It On go to a charity that TCS students choose. This week in Whole School Morning Meeting students learned about three local charities having to do with animals: Charleston Animal Society, Pet Helpers, and The Center for Birds of Prey. They got to discuss their options during the week and, after a Thursday vote, the results are in! The funds raised from the sale of our Pass It On publication will go to Charleston Animal Society !

Important Dates
•   Friday, March 24 – Stingrays Family Sun Night, 7:00-9:30pm
•   Saturday, March 25 – Planting Party, TCS Backyard 9:00am
•   Thursday, March 30 – Parent Forum, TCS Library, 5:45-6:45pm

SCHOOL NEWS

Back to School Night!

We can’t wait to see everyone at Back to School Night on Friday, August 18th from 5:30 to 6:30!  New Parent Orientation will begin at 5:00pm in the Library.

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