PS/IS 686 | Brooklyn, NY

What’s new in First Grade!


We are using Math Workshop as a platform to introduce the “Habits of Mind” to students. Habits of Mind are sixteen cognitive strategies that research has shown all efficient thinkers utilize when faced with a problem that does not have a readily apparent answer.  The idea behind Habits of Mind is that thinking itself becomes the core of student endeavor. The Habits of Mind we are currently working on are:

  • perseverance (not giving up)
  • thinking flexibly
  • managing impulses (using self-control)
  • working together

Students are practicing these habits by playing math games and are involved in solving problems. We spoke about how we can take care of our partner and learned a new math game: How Many Am I Hiding.  Ask your children to teach you this game, we used unifix cubes to play but  you can use anything (coins, sticks, beans).  We will continue playing math games as the weeks progress.  

In reading we are building are stamina by reading for longer and longer stretches of time.  On some days we even take a mini “brain break” by getting up and stretching and shaking out some of our wiggles so we can read for a few more minutes.  We have also begun doing individual reading assessments with each child.  Once we know what books will be best for your child he/she will begin bringing home books to practice at home.  


This week students began writing their personal narratives! As we mentioned earlier a big goal of this unit is writing with a focus.  Instead of writing about everything that happened during a day we want students to focus their writing on one or two important events and then elaborate these events by including details.  Students began doing this work by thinking about where their story begins and where it should end.  We also talked about how writers plan the beginning, middle and end of their stories across three fingers before they write.  

At home you can have your child practice telling stories across three fingers, making sure they are focusing on one or two important events and elaborating on those events.

One of the biggest challenges for students is coming up with story ideas.  We brainstormed a list of what we can think about, however if something happened at home that could then turn into a story idea, have your child jot it down on a post-it or a piece of paper and bring it to school.  They could then use this idea to write their stories.  Anything can be turned into a story, encourage your children to see this by pointing it out to them throughout the day.


We launched our first science unit titled solids, liquids and gases.  We began this unit by exploring our 5 senses.  We popped popcorn in the classroom and talked about how it sounded, smelled, what it tasted, felt and looked like.  Students had a wonderful time!  This will help them when we begin identifying the attributes of matter.  

Field Trip

If you haven’t already done so please send in the trip slip and $5 for our field trip on October 25.