PS/IS 686 | Brooklyn, NY

Grade 1, Class 101

Hello Families!

I cannot believe it’s the first week of May! Time is flying at BSI, and the warm weather has added an extra “buzz” to our classroom. Students are sharing fun stories during morning meeting, including hopeful vacation plans for the Summer, and really opening up about what is going on in their lives outside of BSI. I love to hear about their gymnastics, swimming and sibling adventures!


Social/Emotional Learning:

We have spent our morning meeting time this week talking about many of the social/emotional needs that arise (every year) at this time of year: friendship and sharing issues, how to use our words/voices to advocate HOW we FEEL and WHAT we NEED.

I want children to be able to speak up for themselves and begin to solve their own, everyday challenges of being in 1st grade!

Today, we reviewed my favorite Tribes tool – the “I Statement Mat”. It allows (and empowers) each child to acknowledge how they feel. It also reminds them that our feelings are OK. (Today we read “Sometimes, I Get Angry.”) We talked about how you’re allowed to be upset, or even angry, but it’s how we respond to those emotions that can be hard.  The “I Statement Mat” also gives each child a chance to listen to, and understand how, their classmates may be feeling. We are using sentence starters like:

  • I feel…(sad when you don’t share.)”
  • I need… (you to let me have a turn.)”
  • Will you (please let me go next?)”

I’ve encouraged students to use these statements with friends, siblings, teachers, and even… parents! In my experience, it helps clear up confusion and allows the child to process what is going on in his/her life. (I already heard students using this language at snack: “I need you to not talk so loudly in my ear.” “I need you to put the paper down so that Mrs.Cintula knows our table is ready.”) Little details that make life MUCH easier!!

We also spent two days thinking about our (PERSONAL, SOCIAL and ACADEMIC) GOALS and STRENGTHS.

We discussed that EVERYONE has things we are working on. (That’s OK!) And, we all have skills and things that we are good at. (That’s OK to admit to!) We talked about how acknowledging both our strengths (without bragging) and goals (while realizing the fact that having goals does NOT make us “less” intelligent) makes us stronger!

Ask your child what his or her goals/strengths are!! Encourage them to talk about BOTH.


Reading/Writing: Poetry continues!

New poetry forms we are writing:

  • Haiku – 3 lines: (Line 1) 5 syllables, (Line 2) 7 syllables, (Line 3) 5 syllables
    • These poems are often about nature, animals, weather and seasons, but can be about anything!!
  • Free Verse – anything goes! The child can decide how many stanzas (new word alert!) to use, and how many lines can be in each stanza.

New tools for our Poet’s Toolbox:

  • White Space (How do we decide where to use white space? How do we decide where to use line breaks?)
  • Repetition
  • Imagery (A poet sees/hears/feels/tastes/smells an ordinary object in an extraordinary way!)
  • Alliteration (My big brother Brendan and I shared bunk beds!)


Social Studies:

On Tuesday, we took our first (of hopefully a few!) community walks. This is part of our Bensonhurst project. Thank you to the moms who dedicated their time! It was a perfect day to be outside, noticing our school’s neighborhood and sketching/writing down our observations.

HELP NEEDED!!! If anyone is available ANYTIME on Wednesday mornings (between 8:40 and 11:30), or on Monday afternoons (1:30 to 2:15), please let me know. I would like to schedule at least 2 more community walks in the VERY near future. You can e-mail me at:  I will then confirm with you which dates/times we will be going. It is solely based on parent availability.

Here are some pictures of our first walk…



Our mathematicians have been playing Just Right Math games in partnerships, regularly meeting with me or Ms.Rachel in small groups (various skills are being targeted), problem solving and working on responding to feedback. This is all in ADDITION to our “regular” unit on measurement.

During our measurement unit, students have continued to work with models (bead string, rekenrek, cubes) and think about 5 or 10 structures of numbers. We are using landmark numbers to move along the open number line, and yesterday, students used this open number line model to show their thinking when moving from one number to another. For example, ask your child to SHOW using the OPEN NUMBER LINE, how they thought about moving from 35 to 66. (Or choose any two numbers and see their thinking!)

Here’s what the open number line *might* look like… (We do NOT use the “+” sign to show the jump because this model can be used for addition OR subtraction.)