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University School


Homework Letter

July 22, 2019

 Dear First Grade parents,

          Welcome to Homework and Planners!  Tonight your student has our very first homework assignment for the year.  It is one page of math.  You will find the assignment written by your student in the planner on today’s date.  You will find the math page in the “Return to School” side of the folder.  This is where homework materials will always be.  We are learning very specific procedures for packing our folders and writing in our planners. 

Your student should feel confident and be able to complete this work because it is based on the skill we practiced in class this morning.  If it does not come easily, then together you can refer back to today’s completed classwork which is in the “Keep At Home” pocket of your child’s folder.  Once your child has completed the page, please initial the appropriate box in the planner.  Tonight you will initial in the yellow Monday box.  Tomorrow you will initial the purple Tuesday box., etc.  There is no homework on the weekend, but folders will go home and need to come back empty on Monday.   

          Please empty and look through the “Keep at Home” side of the folder nightly.  The amount of paper varies from day to day but it can pile up fast and make folder-management an issue for your student. 

          I hope that homework is a way for you and your child to spend quality time together as well as a vehicle to practice developing skills.  There is a place in the planner for parent-teacher communication and you can jot any homework questions or concerns you have in there and I will answer them.

Here is a little trick I have learned…if you need to let me know about something you do not necessarily want your first grader to worry about, write me a note in cursive!  They can’t read it, but I can! 


Happy Monday!



Spelling Letter

August 5, 2019

Dear First Grade Families,

        Our super spellers have been practicing CVC words (consonant-vowel-consonant patterns) and adding the endings –s, -ed, -er, and –ing to CVC words.  This is a little tricky because we have to double the last consonant when the ending starts with a vowel. 

nap          naps        napped    napper     napping


        We will keep practicing those endings all year long, but we are ready to begin the weekly spelling test.  This week’s words follow the CVC pattern and check our knowledge of consonant and short vowel sounds.  The first graders will have a traditional spelling test on Friday where I will say the word and use it in a sentence and they will have to spell it on their own.  Additionally, there will be 2 bonus questions where they choose the correct spelling of CVC words with endings.  An example might sound like this:

“The rabbit hopped into the bushes.  Circle the correct spelling of hopped.”  The choices would be hoped or hopped. 

Since we are learning that we have to double the final consonant when we add –ed to a CVC word, the correct spelling is hopped.  These will be bonus questions for now as this is still a developing skill. 

You can help your child by practicing our words at home each night.  We write them in our best handwriting in our planners each Monday and you can always find our weekly list there.  Writing the words on paper with crayons, markers, or fun pens is a great way to practice at home.  You can also use magnetic letters, sidewalk chalk, or play doh to form the words.  Be creative and have fun with the practice!  There are lots of great ideas online, too.  Shaving cream, sand, dirt, and sticks are also great tools for practicing spelling words. 

Please spend a few minutes each evening reviewing the words and the test on Friday will be easy peasy lemon squeezey and most importantly, they will know the words and be ready to move on to the next big spelling skill – 2 and 3 letter consonant blends.  


Happy Monday!



What in the World is a Share Day?

What in the world is a share day?

Today your child is bringing home a share calendar.  In first grade, we have one share day per month.  On this day, your child brings something from home to stand up in front of the class and tell about.  It should be something meaningful to your child, like a souvenir from a trip, a picture of a pet, a family photo, sports trophy, etc.  In the past, we have had videos of dance recitals and fishing trips.  Just e-mail those to me the night before

Sharing is a way we meet speaking and listening standards of taking turns in conversation, asking and answering questions, and speaking in front of a group.   In addition to helping us get to know one another better, it also gives us valuable academic experiences. 

Please mark your child’s share day for August on your calendar at home and help them choose something that they will enjoy talking to the class about. 

Dismissal Letter

July, 2019

Dear Elementary Families,

As our school year begins we thought it would be a great time to go over some things that make our dismissal run smoothly and safely at the end of the day. You will pick up your child in the side parking lot car line. Kindergarten and 1st graders will be waiting in their classroom for you and we will call them out and load them into your car. 2nd- 5th graders will be waiting in the cafeteria to be called and loaded. Students being picked up by older siblings can be found in those locations. We would like to ask the following of you so that we can run dismissal as efficiently and as safely as possible. We apologize in advance for the lengthy list, but we felt it important to include our rationale so you can understand the thoughts behind the requests.

• Please use your car tag with your car number on it at all times. We know most of you pretty well, but we rotate outside duties daily, sometimes the sun’s glare on the windshield block faces, cars look similar, and to be honest sometimes our minds go blank at the end of the school day. This makes it SO MUCH EASIER on everyone. If you need a new car tag or an extra one for a second car please let your child’s teacher know.

• Please don’t arrive early for dismissal and block cars from leaving our parking lot. This is a request from ETSU Public Safety. We also get a lot of complaints about this from other faculty on campus who also use our lot and need to get in and out.

• Please pull up as far as possible in the dismissal line and don’t wave your child to come on to your car before the adult loading sends them to your car. The line moves quicker when cars move all the way up. We are trying to gauge how long it will be before the cars pull out and sometimes if we think we have time we will send your child to your car pretty far back into the loading area. Sometimes if the line is about to move forward we will hold your child up even if you are within loading range. We’ve gotten pretty good at predicting how long each family takes and we are making decisions in the moment that we think will move the line forward quickest. We put safety first and if students are trained to listen to the person loading for direction they are safest.

• Try not to exit your car in the pickup line unless it is absolutely necessary. Many of our K-kids will start the year needing help buckling up and this we definitely understand. Most of them master it themselves at some point throughout the kindergarten year. We encourage you to practice getting into the car and buckling up independently with your child. Eventually they will be able to do it. Older students should be able to do this. Parents of older students exiting to help their child into the car and buckle them in slows down the line so please work on them doing this for themselves as you find it appropriate for your child.

• Please try to avoid in depth conversations with a teacher during dismissal. We want to talk with you, but it is impossible to do that and continue with our dismissal duty. If you need to talk with us please aim for the end of dismissal or contact us ahead to set up a
time so we can get alternate coverage for our assigned dismissal duty. We can give you better attention and keep our dismissal safely moving that way. • If you have an older sibling coming into the cafeteria to pick up student in 2nd- 5th grade please ask them to enter the cafeteria alone, quickly get their sibling, and exit the cafeteria without blocking the pathways. We’ve had some trouble with older siblings bringing friends with them and hanging around awhile and it just gets very crowded in there. We will be redirecting them this year away from this habit, but if you can give them a heads up that would be helpful.

• If you are walking up to pick up your child make sure the adult calling sees you and calls your child and then wait away from the doorway. This will get your child to you quickly and leaves a path for us to dismiss other children safely and quickly.

• If you have high school or middle school students you are picking up we recommend you aim for the later side of dismissal rather than the beginning. Older students don’t leave their classrooms until the 3:00 bell, then they have to go to their lockers. It’s crowded in our upper hallways and this takes a little while- even for the fast ones. Many also like to talk to their friends and tend to linger. If you arrive at 3:00 for them we will have to ask you to circle the lot so that we can pull more cars up into the dismissal line and this just blocks up the lot. Around 3:10 is usually the perfect arrival time for those with siblings in middle and high school.

• Be attentive to those around you and patient in the car line. We have a lot of older students who attempt to walk through the car line and although we are working on training them not to do that, sometimes they get through. It’s a hectic time so please be attentive. We want everyone safe, even those that carelessly step out in front of you. We also ask for patience. Sometimes things are going on behind the scenes that you might not know about. Sometimes we have technical difficulties, or one of our classes is running a little late, or a student has gotten sick, or…the possibilities are endless and they’ve all happened at some point.

Thank you for taking the time to read and reflect on this list. We are looking forward to a great year with your children!


K-5 Elementary Faculty

Hopes and Dreams


First Grade 2019 - 2020


Alexander hopes to learn to eat all of his lunch.


Cameron dreams of building a robot.


Eleanor hopes to learn to be a doctor who loves kids.


Ezra dreams of building a castle.


Finnean hopes to learn about firefighters.


Harper dreams of being a doctor, mom, and scientist.


Hudson hopes to get stronger.


Humza dreams of learning about ninjas.


Jakob hopes to do math.


Jon dreams of learning to be a doctor.


Karen hopes to do math.


Kyle dreams of eating his whole lunch.


Lennox hopes to work in the gym.


Liam dreams of getting his heart pumping.


Madalyn hopes to learn about horses.


Maddix dreams of helping the school fundraiser.


Maxwell hopes to get stronger.


Ozzy dreams of getting stronger. 


Parker hopes to decorate the classroom for Halloween.


Sawyer H. dreams of making robots.


Sawyer S. hopes we can pretend to be monsters.


Sophia dreams of learning math.


Class Rules

First Grade Class Rules

1. Follow directions quickly!

2. Raise your hand for permission to talk.

3. Raise your hand for permission to leave your seat.

4. Make smart choices!

5. Keep your class happy!

Daily Schedule

First Grade Daily Schedule

Monday through Thursday

Morning Work
7:50 – 8:10

Morning Meeting
8:15 – 8:30

Focus Time Science/Social Studies/Literacy integration
8:30 – 9:00

9:05 – 9:30

9:30 – 10:30

10:30 – 10:55

 Monday Music
 Tuesday Library
 Wednesday Counseling
 Thursday Music
11:00 – 11:30

Quiet Work Time (RTI)
11:30 – 12:00

12:00 – 1:30

1:30 – 2:00


Science/Social Studies
2:00 – 2:45

Planners and Closing
2:45 – 3:00

Friday Schedule

First Grade Daily Schedule

Morning Work
7:50 – 8:10

Morning Meeting
8:15 – 8:30

Focus Time Science/Social Studies/Literacy integration
8:30 – 9:00

Tech Time
9:05 – 9:30

9:30 – 10:30

10:30 – 10:55

11:00 – 11:30

Quiet Work Time (RTI)
11:30 – 12:00

12:00 – 1:00

1:00 – 1:30

1:30 – 2:45

Planners and Closing
2:45 – 3:00

Units of Study

First Grade Units of Study




  • Rules and Laws Keep Me Safe
  • We Are All Alike
  • Who Works in Government?
  • Our Money


  • Where Are We?
  • Our Planet Earth
  • Space
  • Why Do We Have Seasons?


  • Then and Now


  • Plants
  • Plant Environments
Bloomz Invitation
Supply List

First Grade Supply List

  • 1 package of index cards
  • 1 dozen (or more) pre-sharpened yellow pencils. The Ticonderoga brand are worth the extra money.  The best gift you can give a teacher with a loud, cranky old electric sharpener is to pre-sharpen the pencils. 
  • 2 glue sticks
  • 4 boxes of tissues
  • 2 containers of Clorox wipes
  • 1 package of washable markers (basic colors)
  • 2 packages of Expo dry erase markers (1 fat pack, 1 thin pack)
  • 1 box of Band Aids to share with special area teachers.

Other Needs

  • Backpack or bookbag. Your child will carry a homework folder, planner, and library books back and forth from home daily.
  • It is not a bad idea to tuck an emergency change of underwear and clothes in a plastic baggie in the backpack. Sometimes accidents happen and we can take care of it much more discretely if a change is easily available.
  • Lunch box if your child will not be buying hot lunch in the cafeteria
  • Small water bottle to keep at their seat.
  • Daily snack. We eat lunch at 10:30.  We do not serve a group snack in the afternoon, but students who require a snack are allowed to have one during their free time. 


Welcome to First Grade

Welcome to First Grade!
May 24, 2019

Dear Future First Grade families,

Welcome! I am excited to begin my 15th year of teaching first grade at University School and I hope you are excited to be a part of this classroom family. First grade is undergoing some exciting changes and next year will be filled with some wonderful new classroom resources and experiences. I have had opportunities for some really good professional development during this school year and I’m excited to roll out some new things I have been reading and learning about, especially in the areas of technology and the integration of literacy with science and social studies.

Please take time to send me an e-mail ( so that I may add you to our class e-mail list. This is one way I communicate information about what is happening in our classroom. I’m looking at several other options for parent communication next year. I want to utilize the increased availability of technology to students and allow your child and me to share their work and progress in first grade. As soon as a decision on a format is made, I will e-mail with information for signing up. It is my intention that we will have some form of an online community to communicate both privately and as a group and to celebrate student learning and share their work.

Parents are expected to read the University School student handbook. While it is primarily focused on middle and high school students, there is some information essential to elementary as well. In the handbook you will find the attendance policy, school dress code, and weather closure procedures.

First graders have homework on Monday through Thursday night. Each student will be issued a student planner and a homework folder in the first week or two of school. We will learn to use the planner to record our weekly spelling words and our daily homework assignments. We will have a weekly phonics focus that guides our spelling instruction and students will have a test on the weekly pattern each Friday. Homework typically consists of spelling word practice and math skill practice. I also encourage 10 -15 minutes per night of reading at home. I have found that most students prefer to choose their own book to read at home, but some years I send home a reading book in the homework folder. If you have strong feelings about one approach or the other, please e-mail me as I am happy to accommodate either way.

The school uses Power School as our online grading program. First graders are assigned quarterly marks of E,S, or N in the areas of Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies. Although I do not assign letter grades, I do score some student work, record the scores, and send it home in the folder in order that parents see occasional documentation of their child’s independent performance level in class. For example, if we have 12 spelling words and your child misses two, you will receive the paper with a score of 10/12. The raw scores, along with other formal and informal assessments, help guide instruction and determine the quarterly marks for each subject area. I am always happy to meet with you to go over student assessments and scores if you have questions or concerns about your child’s performance.

Our elementary team uses the Responsive Classroom model for managing classroom behavior. My goal is to create an environment that enables student choice and academic freedom while promoting positive interactions among the members of the classroom community. We will create our class rules together in the beginning of first grade. Once we all agree upon and understand our rules, we will sign a formal agreement to do our best to follow them at all times. When a student makes a choice that is out of line with our class rules, an opportunity will be given for that child to “take a break” in a separate area of the classroom to regain self control and reflect on making a better choice next time. It is natural and expected for most children to need a break from time to time. The idea behind a break is to redirect and learn from mistakes. In the event that a student has multiple breaks in the same day, a behavior note will be sent home in the folder with specific behavior goals to work on for the next day. The student and parent are expected to sign the note and return it the next day. More serious or violent behaviors, should they occur, will be communicated by a phone call from the school.

We love to celebrate birthdays in first grade! We have a birthday celebration for each student on their birthday or the school day closest to their actual birthday. During our Morning Meeting, the student having a birthday comes to the center of the carpet. The students sitting on the carpet form the shape of a birthday cake and the birthday child selects friends to be the candles on their cake. Students turning 6 will select 6 friends, students turning 7 will select 7 friends. The birthday child “lights” the candles and those of us in the cake sing the happy birthday song. In the end, the birthday child “blows out the candles” and we go back to our seats. Some families also like to send in a special birthday snack or treat. This is welcome but not required. I will let you know about allergies or dietary restrictions once I have that information.

We have a 15 minute daily snack break in first grade. Traditionally, students have brought their own individual snacks. Some years, parents express a preference for creating a snack calendar to take turns providing a class snack. Please e-mail me and let me know your feelings on individual vs community snacks and I have no personal preference and will make that decision based on parent feedback.

I hope I have given you a helpful glimpse into the world of first grade. Please do take the time to introduce yourself via email ( and let me know your feelings on take home reading books and the snack policy. I’m also interested in any information you think I need to know about your student before the first day.

Happy Summer!
Mrs.Noell Howe

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