First Grade!

Home of Mrs. Balsley’s Brain-bots!

Lowell Elementary School

“Get In Gear for a Great Year!”


Morning Meeting

The purpose of morning meeting is to build community and social skills. The four components are:






Consists of:

-Word Study

-1 on 1 Conferencing

-Independent Stations

-Book Clubs

-Junior Great Books

-’Reading Is Thinking’ block

Writer’s Workshop

Consists of…

-Practice and assessment on Narrative, Informative, and Persuasive pieces

-Exploring Poetry and Letter Writing

-Editing and revising, using high frequency words, grammar, capitalization, and punctuation

Lunch and Recess

-Please have your child dress appropriately with his/her name on snow gear.

-If it is too cold or raining, the kids stay in the classroom for recess.

-Lunch is at 11:00.

-Please let me know if you are planning on having lunch with your first grader. Adult lunch is $4.10.

You will need exact change.

-Recess is after lunch.


-Gym - Mr.Marohn - 5 days

-Music - Mrs.Pfannenstein - 4 days

-Library/Media - Mrs. Larson - 1 day

Please return your library book by MONDAY mornings.

Social Skills

Project Adventure and Team Time are unique to AGATE. Focus is on social-emotional health and coping skills.

We follow Second Step curriculum. This curriculum teaches...

-How to be assertive

-How to have empathy

-Use and read body and facial expressions

-How to calm ourselves down

We also use character building books in other subjects.


-We will be using 2nd grade Math Expressions.

-Math is taught 5 days a week 60 minutes a day.

-Math homework will be as needed.


We use FOSS curriculum. At the end of the unit, projects may be suggested for the kids to do.

-Our units of study are:

-Pebbles, Sand and Silt

-Balance and Motion


Social Studies

Social Studies standards are fulfilled by participating in Junior Achievement and Scholastic News along with an invention unit.


-Homework: Reading at least 20 minutes, 5 days a week is highly suggested. We do read for at least 25 minutes in class during our ‘Reading Is Thinking’ block.

-Book Clubs: Your child may have an at home reading assignment. Comprehension guides might come home also. Everything will be kept in their KIWI pack .

It is extremely important your child keep up with their Book Club reading assignments. There will be time during independent stations to read. The time spent with me at the reading table is a discussion format. I do expect full participation. I will let you know when these start.

-Junior Great Books and Jacobs Ladder: We will work everyday with some aspect of JGB. It is an inquiry based curriculum. Students will need to support their answers with evidence from the story.

Behavior - Gotchas and Major/Minors

A GOTCHA is a positive reward system that is used school wide. Any adult in the school building can give a student a GOTCHA. They can be given for following direction, being a helper to others, practicing honesty, etc.

In addition to the above, we have a GOTCHA system just for our classroom also. The students put their name on a GOTCHA slip then on Friday’s three names are drawn to choose a treasure from the prize cart.

Your child will be be reminded of the exhibited behavior. If it continues they will be asked to “Cool Off” at the “Cool Off” caddy. Inside they will find calming tools and breathing exercises they have practiced. Additionally they will fill out a behavior form. Together we will discuss appropriate behavior. Then after I sign it your child will bring it home for you to talk about and sign. The behavior form will need to be returned to school.

The Behavior Intervention Room, Minors and Majors are

part of a school wide plan. The details for these can

found in the student handbook.


We have a class snack everyday.

I will let you know when you need to send a snack for our class. There are 23 students in our class. Individually wrapped snacks are the best!

Students who have paid for milk get milk with their snack. If you child has chosen to not get milk they can bring a water bottle. Water only please.

Milk costs: $39.00 for half a year $78.00 for a full year

BIRTHDAY’S!: Please feel free to send a special birthday treat snack for the class if you choose to.


-Classroom website: www.mrsbalsleys1stgradebrainbots.shutterfly.com

-Remind app: Instant feedback, reminders, messages and pictures on your mobile device.

-I will send home a monthly calendar with important events as well as a newsletter about new learnings and announcements.

Any important notes, book order money, milk/lunch money, forms need to be sent in your child’s folder. I will do the same.

-The easiest way for me to get in contact with you is through email.

-If there is concern or problem, please let me know right away.


-Please pick up your child outside on the playground.

-Pick a meeting spot if you choose for quicker pick up. There is also the option of picking up in the gym. I just need to know where to send your child.

-I M

I MUST have a note if your child is to go home other than what you have specified on the transportation form.

Other Things We Do in AGATE 1st Grade

-Project Adventure - social skill activities with all AGATE classrooms.

-Team Time - STEM challenges, Escape Room challenges, team building with all AGATE students.

-Jacob’s Ladder - a reading curriculum designed for higher level thinkers

-Lego Engineering

-Animal Research Project - a research project

-Publishing Party - celebration of our small moment narratives

-STEAM bins and Problem Solving puzzles

-Duolingo - second language site

Thank You!

Again, if you have any questions or concerns don’t hesitate to stop by or email me. I have high expectations for a great year with your child!

jessica.balsley@isd181.org 454-6559


Informational Slide Show - Google Slides