Welcome to the First Grade

Teacher: Penny Chatzis



Welcome to First Grade!

Room Parent Announcements

  • Mrs. Chatzis and Ms. Hamilton love their Bogg bags!  We also included a little summer cash.  Thank you all for contributing!
  • This Tuesday  is our farewell chapel.  Please try to be at school a few minutes early so the kids can start heading to the chapel at 8:00 a.m. 
  • The kids have prepared a gift for their 8th buddies.  If your child wants to do a little extra something (like a small gift card to ITunes, Jamba juice, books, etc.), please send it on the last day of school.  Remember, the additional gift is not an obligation!
  • The last day of school is a busy day:
    • It’s FREE DRESS!
    • Donuts for Dads starts at 8:00 a.m. and will end around 8:30 a.m.  The kids will  meet in the classroom and then head to the red tables under the trees by the big field.  If a dad can't attend, please do not worry.  Mrs. Chatzis will partner up all the students with a dad who is there and the child will take a donut home for his/her dad.
    • Pre-K graduation at 8:30 a.m.  The first grade class is not going.  If you have a pre-K graduate and would like your child to go, please let Mrs. Chatzis know.
    • We will celebrate the End of the Year Eucharist.
    • School is out at 11:30 a.m.


2016-17 Schedule

FIrst Grade Q&A - 2016-17

Specialty Class Overviews


In science this year, first grade students will be participating in a program called Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Launch.  The goal of this program is to engage young minds in science, technology, engineering, and math  so that they will build confidence, explore interests, and set themselves up for success in middle school, high school, and beyond. PLTW Launch taps into the students’ natural curiosity and enthusiasm to empower them to become problem solvers. Students use structured approaches, like the engineering design process, and employ critical thinking. They apply STEM knowledge, skills, and habits of mind, while learning that it is okay to take risks and make mistakes. As teachers and students learn and discover together, education becomes far more exciting.

The curriculum is broken into modules that explore engineering, biomedical sciences, and computer programming.  During the first part of the year, students in first grade will be working through a module called “Light: Observing the Sun, Moon, and Stars.” In this module, students will begin by observing the sun, moon, and stars. After identifying and describing patterns in their recorded data, the students will apply their knowledge of the sun, moon and stars to a real-world design problem. Students will be tasked with creating a playground structure designed to protect students from ultraviolet radiation. Students utilize their knowledge of light to design, build, and test structures created to solve this problem. Students then evaluate their designs, share their findings, and explore ideas to improve their structures based on the testing data.

For more information on the PLTW program, please visit www.pltw.org, or contact the Lower School Science Specialist, Olivia Graffis.



PE with Mr. Buzzard

In Physical Education, we have the opportunity to meet four times a week (30 minute classes). This year, Mr. Buzzard is going to present a different format. It's going to be all about games. Each week, a game will be presented to the class. They will learn the rules on Mondayand play the game Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Each day there will be variations of the game presented as well as discussions. These discussions will be centered around values within a game including: teamwork, sportsmanship, honesty, integrity, kindness, leadership, etc. The class is divided into four teams with new leaders each week. We focus on our routine which includes running outside and cardio work inside. And, of course, we have a lot of fun.


This year first graders will review the basic components of a computer and adjoining systems. They’ll also use the web-based program Talking Fingers to review their alphabet while reviewing correct finger positioning. When they demonstrate proper finger positioning four class periods in a row, their nameplate baseball will be placed upon the Homerow Homers board. Since the Talking Fingers program is accessible via the internet students are encouraged to also work and complete levels at home, www.talkingfingers.com. After completing Talking Fingers students will improve their typing on the sites Dance Mat Typing and Free Typing Game. Students will also accomplish various block coding tasks on code.org.



First graders go to the library every Friday afternoon for a thematic storytime, an introduction to engaging books, library skills, and checking out books. Stories for storytime are selected to support the unit themes of Imagine It, social studies, holidays, and other curriculum themes.

Visit the St. Michael's Library Website at
Martha Rowland, Librarian

1st Grade Spanish
Mrs. Kearns

In 1st Grade this trimester we’ll study shapes, colors, the spring season, animals, and our families. We’ll study the colors and the spring season in March. Our new songs will include “Mi Conejito” (my easter bunny), and “ Cabeza,Hombros,Piernas,Pies” (head, shoulders, knees,and toes). We’ll play “Simon Dice” as we name parts of the body in Spanish.  In May we’ll study our families and celebrate Cinco de Mayo’s history and family traditions.


Big Fish

For information on the Big Fish, click here.

Homework Guidelines

Homework packets will be given out at the end of the day on Monday and must be handed in on Friday before chapel. The homework packets will be broken down so that the student can review each night what we did in class that day. For example, Monday night’s homework will be a review of what we did in class on Monday. So that your child is not overwhelmed with homework, it is best if they do a little bit of the packet each night and they don't work ahead. Homework is meant to reteach and review.

  • Homework must be on the paper provided by the teacher and written in pencil.
  • Homework must be neat and in the student's best handwriting.
  • In case of illness or absence, the parent should telephone the school to request homework and books. These can be picked up at the end of the day.  1) If the student is absent on the day that work is due, he/she will turn in the work upon return to school.  2) If the student is absent when work is assigned, he/she will be given two days to complete the assignment.
  • Homework must have the student's first name written in the upper right hand corner of the paper.
  • Please don't forget to read with your child for at least 20 minutes each night.

Above and Beyond Homework

Per our discussion in class please remember to go above and beyond on your homework.  As part of your differentiation you are encouraged to work at your level.  Like we discussed in class together, please write/spell the words rather than just writing the letter, add an extra sentence when and wherever you can, add a number sentence on your math problem even when the directions don’t require you to.  Also, don’t forget to visit the Enrichment section of our class page for more enrichment opportunities.   Mrs. Chatzis loves receiving book reports or other extra credit work.  You will get to present your enrichment activity to the class.  Intrinsic motivation is key!  Always do your best!  Homework will be returned for a (do over/ please correct and return), if not done in your
best handwriting.

Book Reports

The Santa Holiday Book Report is due: December 9
The Snowman Biography Book Report due: February 10

Reading Fluency

What is Reading Fluency?

Fluency is often defined as the rate (words per minute) and accuracy (number of words correctly identified) with which students perform reading tasks.

An additional dimension to fluency is known as prosody, or the rhythms and tones of spoken language. Where text is being read silently or aloud, much of its meaning comes from the way it sounds. Students who read with expression are able to segment text into meaningful units, marking phrase and sentence boundaries with pauses, vowel lengthening and changes in pitch and emphasis.

When students have learned to decode and automatically recognize many words by sight, they begin to read simple text aloud in a way that sounds like natural speech. By second grade, fluent reading is generally expected, yet a great deal of foundation building must occur in order to make it happen. Students in the upper grades who read aloud word by word or with little attention to commas or periods require intervention.

High Frequency Words

Why are decodable books so important for beginning readers? When a child is expected to read books that are not decodable, he/she often becomes frustrated and starts http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/break-the-word-guessing-habit/&;source=gmail&ust=1480559949379000&usg=AFQjCNHi8tsROjJavVgLQdyMgkUL8EJKRQ">guessing at words, thereby developing poor reading strategies. In the process, the child loses the direct connection between the phonics and word analysis skills he/she is learning and the actual text he/she is expected to read.  On the other hand, when a child reads a fully decodable book, he/she can use his knowledge of phonics and his/her word analysis skills to decode unfamiliar words. Since the child can figure out every word in the book, he/she feels successful, which in turn helps him/her build fluency and develop good reading strategies.

These short books were written with a heavy focus on the letter sounds introduced throughout the Imagine It! units. They are especially useful for children who need extra practice reading sight words in context. They also can provide extra practice in "sounding out" words. They are great for emergent readers!  They are great for reading and rereading and rereading!!

Scholastic Book Orders

Scholastic Book Orders Due: Friday, Oct. 16, 2015

Shop Online: scholastic.com/readingclub

One­Time Class Activation Code: M9DQ8 Teacher: Mrs. Chatzis

  • Remember, for every book you order, our class earns FREE Books and supplies...and we have our eye on some new additions.
  • Books make wonderful gifts! Please let me know if your order includes a gift, and Mrs. Chatzis will contact you when it arrives.

Ordering online is fast and easy:

  • VISIT scholastic.com/readingclub
  • ENTER the one­time Class Activation Code (top of this letter)
  • SHOP from a carefully curated selection of the best books and value packs
  • SUBMIT your order and earn FREE Books for our classroom
  • All book orders will be shipped to our classroom so we can celebrate the joy of reading together!


Key Dates

First Grade Chapel Dates:

  • Jan. 17 and Jan. 19
  • March 14 and March 16
  • Farewell to 8th grade buddies on June 6th

Service Project

Like Linus of ''Peanuts,” most children have a special blanket that makes them feel safe, secure, protected and loved.  In first grade we have been learning about sharing and what it means to share.  This year our class will be making blankets for children in shelters and hospitals. We have chosen Project Linus as our service learning project.  Our security blanket has always made us feel cozy, warm, snuggly and comfortable. We want to share these warm feelings with these children.  We want them to feel safe, warm and loved. 

For more information, click this link.  


If you are driving a field trip, please be sure you have turned in the Volunteer Driver form below to the office and have read the first grade field trip policy.

Fog Willow Pumpkin Patch (October 18 at 9:45am)

  • Julie A
  • Jessica T
  • Alan H
  • Dan G
  • Rachel G
  • Geoff S
  • Sarah S
  • Ann P
  • Angie M
  • Rebecca C
  • Max G
  • Alex and Sam T
  • Michael S
  • Susan S

Nimbus Fish Hatchery - November 29 at noon

  • Sarah S (4)
  • Bita R (4)
  • Dyan C
  • Wendy Y
  • Andrew H (6)
  • Jiri N
  • Julie B (4)

Alternates: Rachel G (4) and Dan G

Crest Theater - May 2 at 9:30am

  • Sam T (4)
  • Merrili F (4)
  • Jessica G
  • Ditta R (4)
  • Allison S (4)
  • Missy M (3)
  • Jen S (2)

Alternates: Kirsten S and Noemi E

Class Parties

Christmas Party

  • Chair: Jen S
  • Wendy W
  • Angie M
  • Rachel G
  • Wendy Y
  • Ning H
  • Julie A

Valentine Party

  • Chair: Jen S
  • Julie B
  • MIssy M
  • Dyan C
  • Sarah S
  • Kirsten S
  • Jessica T

Alternate: Rachel G and Bita R

End of Year Party - June 6th or 7th

  • Chair: Rachel
  • Sam T
  • Jessica G
  • Ditta R
  • Merrili F
  • Margaret C


Lunch Room and Volunteers


October 10-14

  • Monday, Oct. 10: Rachel G and Ann P
  • Tuesday, Oct. 11: Julie B
  • Wednesday, Oct. 12: Natalia E
  • Thursday, Oct. 13: Margaret H and Natalia E
  • Friday, Oct. 14: Adavan A and Wendy Y

January 17-20

  • Tuesday, Jan. 17: Ditta and Marty R
  • Wednesday, Jan. 18: Julie A and Rachel G
  • Thursday, Jan. 19: Margaret H and Scatena
  • Friday, Jan. 20: Natalia E and Bita R (alt: Ning)

March 27-31

  • Monday, March 27: Dan G and Ann P
  • Tuesday, March 28: Rachel G and Jessica T
  • Wednesday, March 29: Sarah S and Merrili F
  • Thursday, March 30: Margaret H and Scatena
  • Friday, March 31: Ardavan A and Matt R

May 30 - June 2

  • Tuesday, May 30: Marty R and Rachel G
  • Wednesday, May 31: Scatena and Noemi E
  • Thursday, June 1: Noemi
  • Friday, June 2: Wendy W and Jennifer S

Fall Carnival

  • Cupcakes (1 dozen) - Amy P and Jen S
  • Water (1 flat of water): Jiri N and Sarah S

Game 1

  • 5:15-6:30: David B
  • 6:30-7:30: Allison S
  • 7:30-8:30: Jen S

Game 2

  • 5:15-6:30: Tate
  • 6:30-7:30: Missy M
  • 7:30-8:30: Jiri N

Community Service Project

  • Susan S
  • Colin S
  • Jennifer S
  • Rachel G
  • Jessica T


  • Natalia E
  • Kirsten S
  • Sarah S
  • Sam and Alex T
  • Merrili F and Joel K
  • Ning H
  • Colin S
  • Jen S
  • Rachel G
  • Susan S

Garden Dates

Helpful Websites

Imagine It:

Children's Progress Academic Assessment

cp-header logo


Children's Progress is computer-delivered formative assessments, with tailored reports and recommended activities are the ULTIMATE TEACHING TOOL – simplifying the process of learning advancement for every one of the students.

Children's Progress was founded with the mission of bringing leading technology and assessment tools to your classrooms. Our company grew out of decades of academic research at Columbia University and our patented software was developed in collaboration with MIT.

Today, Children's Progress Academic Assessment products are used by public and independent schools in 39 states.

The Children's Progress Academic Assessment (CPAA) is an early childhood assessment system that helps teachers focus classroom instruction to achieve the greatest learning gains for each child. The software is linked to immediately generated reports and helps teachers and administrators gain essential insights about each child's understanding of Language Arts and Mathematics concepts.

For students in Pre-K through Grade 2, the reports help teachers individualize instruction to maximize learning for each child. In designing the Independent School version of the assessments, CPAA consulted with the Educational Records Bureau (ERB) to establish Language Arts and Mathematics benchmarks which ensure that students reach high levels of achievement. CPAA worked closely with independent school teachers and administrators to design appropriate and targeted questions. Each item has been rigorously evaluated through an analysis of student responses and performance data.

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First Grade Teachers

Mrs. Penny Chatzis
First Grade Teacher
(916) 485-3418 x111

Ms. Anne Hamilton
Associate First Grade Teacher

Mr. Jeremy Bolt

Mr. Steve Buzzard

Ms. Kami Davis

Mrs. Jessica Drissi

Ms. Olivia Graffis

Mr. Rick Hauch

Mrs. Geri Kearns

Mrs. Heidi Landis

Mrs. Cindy Martin

Ms. Martha Rowland

Accreditations and Memberships