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Meet the first grade team

 

picture of grade 1 studentpicture of grade 1 student

First grade gearing up for big project

 

First grade teachers have many learning activities planned for students in February to coincide with such events as the Winter Olympics, Lincoln’s birthday and Chinese New Year.

“There’s a lot happening the week before the winter recess,” said teacher Christine Goodell.

March, however, is an even much busier month for first grade as the young students participate in their most important (and fun!) project of the year when they begin researching different animals as part of their study of living organisms.

First-graders tackle their first research project

For the first research project of their school career, first-graders choose an animal they are interested in learning more about. Each student selects which creature they want to study from a master list of animals that has been divided among the first grade classes. This ensures that no two projects are alike.

“Our library/media specialist Allison Novatarski maintains a collection of animal books that students use for their research,” said teacher Michelle Brown. “We want every student to have their own individual book to reference for the project. If we don’t have it here, Mrs. Novatarksi will gather resources from other school libraries.”

“It got to the point where we had too many students studying one animal,” added teacher Kristyn Brozowski. “Sharing the books got a little crazy.”

Online resources

In addition to the books, first graders learn to use other library resources for their research.

One resource students are introduced to is World Book Kids, an online encyclopedia specifically tailored for students from kindergarten through the early elementary grades. This online resource provides interesting facts about all types of animals – from amphibians, birds, insects, to fish and sea creatures, as well as land and water mammals – that young students can easily understand.

“The World Book Kids offers many pictures and illustrations of different animals, as well as a lot of videos that students can use for research,” said Mrs. Brown.

“With the videos, the students can hear what an animal sounds like and how they move,” teacher Kim Suedkamp added.

The teachers also encourage students to explore the various animal web cams that available via the Internet.

“I use the Cornell Bird Cam a lot,” said teacher Ena Minnick. “There is also an aquarium that has an online camera.”

Through their research, the first graders learn about animal habitats, what an animal’s diet consists of, physical characteristics specific to the animal they have selected, and other fun facts.

“This project combines art, social studies writing, reading and science,” said Mrs. Goodell. “It is a great cross-curricular learning activity that ties into our BOCES science unit on living organisms.” 

Students work on their animal research projects through April when each student creates a slide about the animal they have researched. The slides are combined into a class slideshow that is shared out during Grandparents and Special Persons Night, which will take place on Monday, May 14, this year.

The students really get into their projects,” said Mrs. Brozowski. One of my students who is now in third grade is still crazy about owls the animal she researched in first grade.

Learn more about the First Grade team

Want to know what career first grade teachers dreamed of pursuing when they were in elementary school? To learn the answer to that and a few other questions, click on the staff member’s name to reveal a short Q&A.


picture of first grade teachers

The first grade team, from left: Ena Minnick, Michelle Brown, Christine Goodell, Kim Suedkamp and Kristyn Brozowski.

Ena Minnick

bullet graphicPlain or peanut M&M’s? Plain.

bullet graphicWhat is your favorite thing about teaching first grade? It’s always exciting, in more ways than one.

bullet graphicFavorite book read in the primary grades? It’s OK to be Different by Todd Parr.

bullet graphicCoffee or tea?  Tea.

bullet graphicFavorite color? Purple.

bullet graphicWhen you were in kindergarten, what did you dream of being when you grew up? I dreamed of owning a horse farm.

 

Michelle Brown

bullet graphicPlain or peanut M&M’s? Peanut.

bullet graphicWhat is your favorite thing about teaching first grade? Students are a little more independent than in kindergarten, but still are easily motivated.

bullet graphicFavorite book read in the primary grades? A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon.

bullet graphicCoffee or tea?  Coffee.

bullet graphicFavorite color? Pink.

bullet graphicWhen you were in kindergarten, what did you dream of being when you grew up? A teacher. I always played school as a kid. I was easily swayed, though. For a short time I considered physical therapy.

 

Christine Goodell

bullet graphicPlain or peanut M&M’s? Peanut.

bullet graphicWhat is your favorite thing about teaching first grade?  Watching their (students) reading progress.

bullet graphicFavorite book read in the primary grades? The Napping House by Audrey Wood.

bullet graphicCoffee or tea?  Tea.

bullet graphicFavorite color? Black.

bullet graphicWhen you were in kindergarten, what did you dream of being when you grew up? An elementary teacher.

 

Kim Suedkamp

bullet graphicPlain or peanut M&M’s? Peanut.

bullet graphicWhat is your favorite thing about teaching first grade? I like to see the growth students make throughout the year.

bullet graphicFavorite book read in the primary grades? Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson.

bullet graphicCoffee or tea?  Coffee.

bullet graphicFavorite color? Purple.

bullet graphicWhen you were in kindergarten, what did you dream of being when you grew up? A writer, then a teacher.

 

Kristyn Brozowski

bullet graphicPlain or peanut M&M’s? Neither. Skittles.

bullet graphicWhat is your favorite thing about teaching first grade?  The growth that students make.

bullet graphicFavorite book read in the primary grades? Any of the Pigeon books by Mo Williams (Willem).

bullet graphicCoffee or tea?  Coffee.

bullet graphicFavorite color? Black.

bullet graphicWhen you were in kindergarten, what did you dream of being when you grew up? A teacher.