Class Picture

Class Picture

Sunday, February 18, 2018

New Blog Site

Please see this site to access Ms. Closter's New BlogSite.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Welcome Back

What a fun way to catch up with friends after more than a week of not seeing each other.  Children enjoyed playing a game of "find a friend who..." all while catching up on each other's vacations!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Day in the Dark

Day in the Dark

On Thursday, December 21st all first grade classes will have a “Day in the Dark” to reinforce learning about day and night, including solstice - the shortest day and longest night of the year! If you have anything at home that would light up in the dark we would appreciate it if you could send it to school. Here are some suggestions:

Lite Brites
Black Lights
Glow in the dark markers/paint
Lava Lamps
Glow Sticks
Glow in the dark stickers/beads
Disco Balls

We will return your items that day. Please label all items sent to school. If you have any questions, just let us know.


In 2018 we are going to increase our communication with you about PBIS in our school. PBIS is an acronym for Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports. On their website, PBIS Vermont explains that….

Vermont Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (VTPBiS) is a state-wide effort designed to help school teams form a proactive, school-wide, systems approach to improving social and academic competence for all students. Schools in Vermont are engaged in using a formal system of positive behavioral supports in their schools. Involved schools who implement PBIS with fidelity and integrity see a dramatic decrease in the number of behavior problems experienced in their schools. Additionally, students in these schools enjoy greater levels of support and inclusion than those in comparative schools who do not use a system of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports.

Features of PBIS at UES are:
The development and teaching of behavioral expectations
Acknowledging students for meeting these expectations and for engaging in positive behaviors
Celebrations when goals are met to further acknowledge positive behaviors and to build school community
Procedures for responding to unexpected behaviors and to re-teach expected behaviors
Check In/Check Out system for students who need some extra support in meeting the behavioral expectations

In the past, we used C.A.R.E.S. (Cooperation, Assertive, Respect, Empathy and Safety) but we wanted to transition to something a bit more simple and kid friendly. We have shifted our school expectations and community building to:

Be Kind
Be Responsible
Be Safe

We are using those three guidelines to build our expectations in all areas of our school. When students demonstrate these expectations, they can earn gems which are collected to go towards earning classroom and schoolwide celebrations.

We already had one school wide celebration on October 31st; students earned a 30 minute vacation from class and had free time in their classrooms. On Wednesday December 20th, we will have our second celebration! We will have two showings, in our auditorium, of the Wallace and Gromit short film, A Grand Day Out. If for some reason you would prefer that your child not watch the movie, we will have an alternative activity for them. Please let your child’s teacher know before Wednesday if this is the case.


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Police Station

Corporal Kniseley graciously toured us around the Montpelier Police Station this morning. Students learned about the holding cells, fingerprinting, locked entries, dispatch, the cruisers and so much more! We learned all about how police officers help our community and keep us safe. Police officers ensure that all people follow rules and help community members that have a hard time doing so. We heard from many children about the times their parents were pulled over for speeding after learning about how police can track how fast cars are traveling! Students loved hearing about how the police used to have a dog who helped them in the evenings - but he has since retired! INQUIRE with your child what they enjoyed at the police station! How do police officers help them, their families and their community?

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Community project

Check out this model of Hubbard Park!  For November's home school connection (optional for families) students had an opportunity to learn more about a place in our community.  We loved learning how this student used materials from Hubbard Park to create the model  - and how this place is special to his family.  We are also learning about the fire station this week from another friend!  If you would still like to participate in this project, feel free - you can have your child bring it it whenever works for you! 

Word Detectives

Word Detectives have been voraciously tackling new and challenging words in their just right books. Students have learned a variety of strategies, from looking at beginning and endings to learning about vowel teams in words. As they add new strategies to their toolbox, students are able to tackle more challenging text and make improvements in their accuracy and fluency. I am so proud of our first graders and the progress they are making. Thank you so much for continuing to support your child at home. Take a closer look at these strategies your child has used (click on pictures) and watch them use them as they read to you at home. Hope you are having as much fun as I am watching them progress into readers!

Have you heard about the "Super Secret Detective Agency?"  If not, be sure to inquire with your readers what the confidential envelope is all about that appeared in our room!  What has this agency challenged first grade readers to do?   It has been so fun learning how to be a word detective in first grade! 

Snap Words

Each week, four new words are introduced to first graders. On Monday, students begin practicing to read and write these high frequency words - that sometimes are "trick words". These high frequency words range from decodable to non-decodable. All of the words appear frequently in student's independent reading books. Your child is expected to know how to read and spell ALL of these words (and more to come) by the end of the year. INQUIRE with your child what some of these words are - you'll be surprised - most know them ALL! YAAAY ! You can help your child be word detectives while they read at home - have them point out these words in the books that come home in the ziplock bag.   Reading them is easy - but how about writing them?  A task that certainly takes more practice!

Nonfiction Writing

Since the introduction of our new writing unit - nonfiction writing - I am amazed at the eagerness of this group of students.  Not just during writing time are these kids taking out their writing folders - but they are choosing to do it during any free moment of their day.  Students have been immersed in learning how to write teaching books and have been LOVING it.  They are studying nonfiction texts to learn what other authors do to teach their readers.  They then go and try these techniques out in their own books.  Students are learning to elaborate and add "twin sentences" are learning strategies to spell domain specific words, and are learning how to teach someone using pictures, labels, captions, and close ups!  INQUIRE with your child what their most recent nonfiction teaching book is all about - I can't wait to share these with all of you! 

November Math Update - Fractions, Clocks, and Number Sense!

During number corner (calendar) time this month, we have been learning about time and fractions.  Children are learning how to break something into parts - or a fraction of the whole.  They are identifying 1 whole, 1/2, and 1/4.  First graders have even been introduced to adding fractions - as their enthusiasm for learning is always going above and beyond. I am amazed with the questions these kids come up with - that are often extending our learning each day.  
We are also learning about clocks- and how to tell time to the hour. We will move on to half hours later in the year. We are also trying to understand 24 hours a day, am/pm, and what time of day we do certain activities. 

We continue to count each day in school. We are so excited there are less than 50 days until day 100!  Today marks the 59th day!  Students are learning about groups of ten and ones in double digit numbers, and learning to add these together as we approach the 100th day!  We are also exploring numbers in the hundreds as we learn more about place value.  

Each day, we continue practicing ways to add and subtract.  In particular, we explore ways to add  more automatically - looking for "friendly 10's" when adding bigger numbers. This strategy has helped us mentally add numbers of increasing value.  Looking at patterns and strategies to develop fluency, without using manipulatives is a focus of 1st grade math!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Sock Sale?

Are you going to the Cabot Sock Sale in Northfield this weekend? Please consider purchasing an extra pair of wool socks for our ECO program. We are in need of warm wool socks for winter months. Bulk army surplus socks work well too! Thanks for your help in keeping young naturalists warm at ECO this winter.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Tulip Planting

This past week the first grade launched a science and beautification project here at UES.

Through the Journey North Citizen Science Tulip Test Garden Project ( every first grader will plant a tulip bulb, and track its growth this Spring. Students will report when their tulips emerge, track and record the rate of growth and date of blossoming to the national Journey North database. There scientists will compile data from all international test tulip garden sites to report the progression of Spring globally, and identify trends.

Classes will plant in the Park Ave. gardens in front of the school and at the UES welcome sign, as well as in the Loomis St. gardens. The 80 bulbs needed for this project were graciously donated by Montpelier Agway - thank you! First graders will be learning about what scientists do - from asking questions, to collecting data, experimenting and making observations throughout the year.  Before planting, we  looked closely at the tulip bulbs. We used our 5 senses to explore the bulb and document what we smell, feel, and see. The children also made wonder questions about the bulb - such as I wonder if it will survive the winter, I wonder what the outer covering does for the bulb.  In addition, students will looked at the cross-section of a tulip bulb and made a diagram of the inside.

INQUIRE with your child what they have learned about bulbs, where they planted their bulb, and when they think it will bloom in Vermont!  

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Veterans Day Parade

On Friday, first graders will join others in our school community at the Montpelier Veterans Day Parade.  We will walk for a PORTION of the parade before returning to school.  The weather is supposed to be VERY cold, so please help your child dress appropriately for an extended time outside.  If you want to watch or even join us in our walk, please let me know!

Gary Home

Students in first grade will travel once a month or so to the Gary Home to spread kindness.  Residents of the Gary Home listened to the first graders share songs they have been learning.  As we continue to learn about our community of Montpelier, first graders are being mindful of how to spread kindness and smiles around town. INQUIRE with your first grader about their experience at the Gary Home on Tuesday.  

All Around Town

All Over Town
Optional Independent Project

As a class, we enjoyed learning about new insects and hearing friends share their learning through the insect projects you completed at home!  There was so much creativity and effort put into each project.  Thank you for your support!

We have launched a new social studies unit about community. Students have been discussing class community, school community, and have begun to visit various places in our Montpelier community.  Throughout this year long unit, students will be exploring who lives and works in their community, how people take care of themselves, and what people need to meet their needs in a community.  

We have started to travel to different places in our community and throughout the year will visit a few more.  This home connection project will give students an opportunity to explore their own special place in the community.  This project is also optional and can be done as a family or individual.

Here is what we would like to have included in the final project.  Your child can present it any way they would like, but we would like to see students demonstrate these components:

1.) Choose a place in Montpelier (State House, Sarducci’s, Hubbard Park, etc.)
2.) Make a model of the place (clay, playdough, legos, paper, cloth, foam, etc.).
3.) Label the place (name).
4.) Have at least one real photograph of the place (magazine, internet, own photograph).
5.) What happens at the place?
7.) Where is the place?
8.) Include some interesting facts about your special place in the community.  
9.) Use your imagination and have fun!

If you have any questions about this project, please send us an email!  

Have Fun!

The First Grade Team
**Please note that projects are due by November 30th, but if finished sooner, please send it in.

Scholastic Book Fair

Scholastic Book Fair

Our class will visit the Scholastic Book Fair on Thursday, November 9th.  Your child may browse or shop at this time.  If you would like your child to buy an item, please send in a labeled envelope with your child’s name and a note saying if there are any planned purchases or if they may choose what to buy.  In addition to books, there are also posters, pencils, and misc. toys available to purchase.  Students in our class will be encouraged to just purchase books UNLESS I HEAR FROM YOU OTHERWISE.  If I don’t hear from you that they CAN buy trinkets, I will encourage the purchase of books.   

Families can join us at our scheduled shopping time (8:45) or visit the book fair before or after school on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  Our classroom will have a wish list available at the book fair with books that would enrich our curriculum.  Please consider helping out our classroom library and donating a book.

Thank you!

Jill Closter

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Sing-A-Long October

One of my favorite events each month is when all first graders convene as a community to sing all the songs they've learned in their classrooms (and music room too!)  Check out this video of part of song, "All Around the World."  INQUIRE with your child whether they can sing, "Something Beautiful" "The Leaves are Falling,"  "We are One" or "We Do."  Perhaps they'll sing you to sleep tonight!

Rainy ECO

A little rain did not stop first graders from having "forest workshop."  Despite being a little wet, students explored the forest making insect hotels, identifying leaves, making leaf structures and designs, and learning to make whistles with an acorn.  It was amazing to hear all that children were thankful for at the end of the day - being outside exploring nature is a favorite with this class!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Fire Station

We visited with Firefighters at the Montpelier Fire Department today.  We learned about fire safety and how the firefighters/EMT's go about helping our community and making it a safe place to live. Students explored both the ambulance and firetrucks and asked many important questions regarding their positions. INQUIRE with your child what would happen if there were a fire at the fire station? Thanks to all the firefighters for their time and willingness to teach our younger community members about one of many essential community jobs. AND, thank you for sharing your fire hats with all of us!  Throughout the year, we will be traveling each month to learn about how different places in our community help us as citizens of Montpelier.  

Before we traveled we explored firefighter books and thought about what we were wondering.  Students came up with so many thoughtful questions to ask the firefighters!

Message from Ms. Hannah - our ELL teacher

Dear Parents,

As you may know, I spend time each week in your child’s classroom, both during instructional times and at morning meeting.  As English Language Learner (ELL) teacher, I work to build students’ proficiency in the four language domains: speaking, listening, reading, and writing.  In addition, I hope to help all students understand and appreciate the linguistic and cultural diversity of our classrooms.  

In the coming weeks, I will begin to use morning meeting time one day each week to teach a greeting in a language that is important to our students and their families.  We also like to learn about the different parts of the world where students and their families have connections and experiences.  We hope you will share some of your experiences with us!

  • Does your family use or know a greeting in another language?
  • Does your family have relatives or connections to another part of the world that we may want to learn about?

   If so, I’d love to talk to you!  You can reach me at:


Please feel free to reach me if you have any questions or ideas!


Hannah Barden
English Language Learner teacher

Union Elementary School