"Purple Mountain Majesty" by Jason DeMarte is part of RedLine's “Playing with Beauty” exhibition
(Photo: Courtesy of RULE Gallery)

A large-scale dragon model from 'Mythic Creatures'
(Photo: Courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History


Dora Moore just finished the PARCC testing (although I think there may be more coming up...)  I really enjoyed reading this from another blog.  Even though I teach 1st grade, testing effects us all.  This is a good article for every teach to read.  There are snippets I can use for my first graders.  

For details, click here.   and here

When Dora Moore teachers were first told they would be serving breakfast in the classroom....well...they (myself included) kind of freaked out. One reason we were concerned was loss of instructional time.  We were also concerned about little critters. DPS is currently serving Breakfast After the Bell to 87 schools.  

The Good
It was a learning experience in the beginning, and everyday brings about a new challenge.  I am grateful for the program, because I am not hearing "I'm hungry", like I used to before this program.  I do have a few complaints, and they have been heard.  Also, I rarely have students falling asleep in class!  This is a huge plus! I do not have data on the effects it has made in academic achievement.  But working in an urban school and knowing my students have food in their belly is comforting.  

The Bad and The Ugly
One day, I decided to count the grams of sugar that the students were taking into their bodies. IF, a child that particular day had breakfast with juice and/or sugar coated raisins and school lunch with chocolate milk, a frozen dessert and fresh fruit (not including afternoon snack and what happens at home), their total sugar intake for the day would have been over 100g (25 teaspoons)! By the end of the day, I was exhausted and many of the students were a bit cranky.  But let me be clear, this DOES NOT happen daily!  The students are served a variety of foods for breakfast through the week. And I am grateful for the Kaiser programs that have come in to teach DPS children the importance of nutrition, exercise, water intake and media time.   

So what does sugar do to your child's body?

More Good
So...families...please help ME, educate your CHILD on making HEALTHY CHOICES. 

The Road to Healthy Eating
Courtesy of:

Sometimes, managing a classroom of 24 six and seven year old students is a lot like herding cats.  

But over the past 10 years, I have learned a few tricks.  Some tricks will work on year, and then the next they don't.  So I always try to be flexible, patient and understanding.  I found this infographic (below) and it has a lot of the practices I use in my classroom.  I do not teach the students to meditate.  But I do teach them many breathing exercises.  

This year, I introduced the Relaxation Station.  Students can ask to go- during independent time. Or, if I know a student needs it, I will send them there.  In the Relaxation Station, I have Play-doh, squishy balls, stretch bands, fabrics with different textures, etc.  This year, it is proving to be very helpful for my students.  

The last item on the infographic is Expect. My expectations are held high for every student, and they all know that.  

Each month, 1st graders get a chance to read with 6th graders.  This month, 1st graders got to see a 6th grade classroom and ask questions before reading!  They learned a lot about International Town (a recent field trip for the older students).  

A slide show of our trip!  Families, please send any pictures you would like posted on the blog!

Today we wrote a friendly letter to Claire.  Please share one sentence from your letter.  Then you can give feedback on someone's comment. 

Not sure what to do with your child over spring break?  Check out these sites for some ideas!  Take pictures!  I will be sure to post them on this blog!

Five things that happened in Ms. Feinman's class this week. 

We went to the Denver Zoo!  We had so much fun!  Thank you to all the parent volunteers!  It was a beautiful spring day here in Colorado! 
We finished reading The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe!  Students will soon be checking out books from the Narnia series! We are only half-way through the movie because Ms. Feinman only lets us watch a few minutes at a time for a brain break.  
In math, we have been studying three addend addition, quarters, math problem solving strategies and patterns in math facts.  That is a lot of learning!
After learning about key details in text, the students read Respecting Others.  Then, they were given an assessment on key details from that text.  97% of students were Proficient or Advanced! Way to go!
We are so excited for Spring Break!  It officially starts at 3:00pm on Friday!  The students do not return until April 6th.  

Thank you to Kacey for this wonderful idea!  Check out her website here: 

Pictures of the zoo!

Share your favorite part of the zoo trip.  My favorite part was when ____________________________________________.

8 Tips for Leading a Small Group
  1. You are in charge of someone’s precious child!  Treat them like gold!
  2. Your job at the beginning of the day is to know how you’re going to get them to the end of the day.
  3. Assign students partners.  They feel a sense of responsibility too.
  4. Always count them, every step of the way.  If you start with 5 kids, you want to end the day with them!
  5. Learn your students names.  For safety reasons, students should not wear name tags with their names on them.  They may wear tags that have the school’s phone number on them.
  6. Always – Safety First!
  7. Never leave your students unattended.  Find another chaperone to partner with for the day.
  8. Bring an empty backpack – you may end up carrying all of the lunches.
5 Questions to Ask Before You Leave
  1. Schedule for the day (stick to it and make sure you meet the bus on time).
  2. Teacher’s Cell Phone Number
  3. Plan for taking opposite sex children to the bathroom.
  4. What to do if someone misbehaves or there is a medical emergency.
  5. Will the teacher be walking around or stay in one central location?
Top 10 Tips for Successful Chaperoning
  1. Take 2 Tylenol before you begin.
  2. Drive separately if you can or want to.
  3. Do not ask about or plan on bringing a sibling.
  4. Talk to your own child about appropriate behavior (sometimes they’re the worst – sorry to say!)
  5. Treat your small group like a team.  Say:  Sticking together + great behavior = a great day!  Set high expectations for them!
  6. Adhere to cell phone guidelines.  Only use the phone to contact the teacher or other chaperons, do not use it for personal calls during the day.
  7. Avoid the gift shop!  Do not purchase things just for kids in your group, your child, or any food related items.
  8. If you've never been to the location, do some prep ahead of time.  Look at a map on-line or get a book from the library.
  9. Check their photography rules.  Some children are not allowed to have pictures taken of them.
  10. Watch the clock!
You can do it!  Do not be afraid to ask for help!

This week's homework.  

Today the students were given a pretest to determine which spelling group they would be in.  Then they practiced their words, by writing them on a white board.  Some students had fun testing themselves with the words.  Remember, your student can go to to practice their words!

Today we read Respecting Others.  We talked about how we respect others at home and at school.  We took a test on key details. 

The first graders are crazy about these guys!  They will be playing at the Vans Warped Tour (not exactly kid-friendly) on August 2nd.  

In DPS, we are currently testing students on high stakes exams.  I came across this article and couldn't agree more.  It stemmed from the question of What is the purpose of education? 

I love working at Dora Moore where it is so diverse.  I love bringing in that diversity to my classroom.  I love learning and teaching new words from different languages.  

We are a global society.  I feel it is important to prepare my students for this global society. Do I still teach to the standards?  Yes.  But I also show them how it connects to the real world.  Do I have to teach how to take a test? Yes.  Because if I don't, I'm not preparing them for global society, which ranks things such as education.  Do I enjoy teaching how to take a test? No.  But it has to be done.  Do I spend all day doing it?  Of course not.  There clearly has to be a balance. (I will say, that I had one student say to me, "I can't wait to take the PARCC". He has an older brother who is currently testing, and doing well. Developing a culture of tenacity and GRIT can help us get of the "testing" hurdle.)

It excites me to see that there is a shift happening.  For instance, in Maryland, a superintendent called for a three year moratorium on standardized testing.  In Washington, schools have started to boycott certain tests.  In Texas, a senator filed a bill that would bring tests from 15 to five in reading, writing, biology, Algebra I and U.S. history in order to graduate.  

I hope the shift continues.  Time will tell.  

Today is the first day of spring!  Share with Ms. Feinman's class what you love about spring!  (Click on the hyperlink directly to the right of this sentence that says "comments".)

Today we wrote a friendly letter to Jayden, to practice the parts of a friendly letter.  

Share one sentence from your letter.

You can give feedback to someone else's comment. 

"I like how ______ used ______."

I like how Ms. Feinman used a period at the end of her sentence. 

To help students better understand what they are learning, why they are learning it, and what connections they can make, I have implemented the Light Bulb Idea.  

This picture is a sample of how the class used it for math.  Students should always know what they are learning and why, or how it connects to the bigger idea.  I have explained to students, they if they do not understand- they need to ask!!!

In first grade, students are learning to identify their emotions and how to deal with them.  Anger, frustration, anxiety are a few that are very hard for first graders to understand. To help students calm down, I have introduced the Relaxation Station.  Students can ask to go there, as long as I am not in the middle of direct instruction.  There are many items at the station (play-doh, legos, candles to smell, textured items, stress balls, etc.)  The students really just wanted to explore today.  

Rules for the Relaxation Station: 
You can only use it, when you really need to calm down (not to get out of doing work, or to play).
One person at a time. 
A limit of 3 minutes.
You cannot go while I am giving direct instruction or there is testing.  

There is an interesting article, "How to Break Free From Life's Irritations".    I am not sure this would work in three days for first graders, but it is very interesting.  

Talk to your child about times they might need to use the relaxation station.  

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I wish I would have found this at the beginning of the year!

Click here for homework help pages. 

I found this great resource at Tracy Pippin's TeachersPayTeachers Store

Students were given a spelling test today.  Based on their performance, they are either in Group 1, Group 2, or Group 2 Challenge words.  You can find this information on the homework calendar.  

Please go to and search for Feinman.  You will find the same words from last week, are the words for this week.   

A reading log was also sent home.  Please make sure your child reads for 20 minutes everyday. The reading log is due next Monday. 

Today we wrote a friendly letter to Levi, after we read The Jolly Postman.  The students loved the book and the real letters!!!!

Today we had an assembly. The students learned about how junk food is bad for the body. They also learned about the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables!