Hello from a First Grade Classroom! - Mrs. Wills Kindergarten

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Look inside a first grade classroom. Tim's passion for teaching is clear with his thoughtful letter. Kindergarten activities are easily differentiated to meet his students' needs.

Hello from a First Grade Classroom!

August 15 Deedee 4 min read

Last year I was presenting at the New Jersey Kindergarten Association.  I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Chappelear at that conference.  Tim is a first grade teacher (and he became my tech support for the day he was designated volunteer).


I could not have been more thrilled than when I received this  hello from first-grade email  from him last week.

Look inside a first grade classroom. Tim's passion for teaching is clear with his thoughtful letter. Kindergarten activities are easily differentiated to meet his students' needs.

With Tim’s permission, I would like to share his words. (I have linked images with resources where appropriate)

What another crazy year in first grade. I thought of you constantly and was grateful to use your amazing resources yet again.

I was fortunate this year to have an ESL teacher in my classroom. Her desk was in my room, but the extra person to bounce ideas off of was a huge help!

Students at the writing center. Perfect for kindergarten or first grade!
Writing Station

Our numbers are growing even more this year as we open up more sections in each grade. Another article was published about our district as we now rank #2 for most economically disadvantaged district in the nation. That designation was bestowed by the Education Law Center at Rutgers University, which regularly evaluates the fairness of state school funding by looking at the distribution of resources relative to student poverty levels.

first grade photo booth

Amanda Litvinov summed up the article beautifully stating, “Reading’s problems go far beyond shabby facilities, with leaky pipes and cracked tiles and classroom trailers that have been in service for more than a decade. Far worse is how few Reading students have access to academic and counseling supports that are shown to counter the effects of deep poverty, a rich curriculum, or AP classes.”

Our governor was fighting to raise the dollar amount allocated to school districts. During the time he was pushing, he visited my elementary school and sat with my as I was teaching science! I guess my superintendent and governor heard that we are fighting so hard to give our students an equitable education! I was privileged, honored, humbled, etc.  The teachers here are so #RSDProud in the difference they make everyday.

governor wolf
Mr. Chappelear with Governor Wolf
Governor wolf 2
Mr. Chappelear with Governor Wolf

This summer I have been going nonstop trying to organize and utilize all of your amazing resources. I have aligned the grammar from your Guiding Readers to our current reading series “Reading Street.” Our principal loves that we supplement and offer so many opportunities to our young learners. She asks us to align what we can.

Writers workshop for kindergarten and first grade. Scripted lessons that support the teacher. Students love learning to write!
Writing Through the Years-Writer’s Workshop Curriculum.

The biggest struggle for me each year is the difference in levels my students are on. I have usually have 2 students who have not attended kindergarten (which is not required in PA) placed on my roster. I normally have a group of below level learners (early blending AA), a good chunk of benchmark students (level B-C), and a handful of advanced (level D-F).

With the lack of support the kids need, it’s a slower gain especially for the students who were not in kindergarten. One thing that I loved this past year was the poetry. My kids loved singing and it was powerful to see them “perform” the poem at the end of the week! I gave each student the opportunity to stand up front and read the poem to practice fluency and our presenting skills. They love the spotlight!

Kindergarten and first grade Poetry Units build fluency as students practice reading in a shared reading setting.
Poetry Units

The other amazing resource was the word work provided in the Guiding Readers. With 80% of our district being ESL, I cannot tell you how great it was to have the pictures with the word work. That piece was a huge help to the large number of kids in my room who were just learning English! It gave them confidence during centers to read the “I can” cards you included with your monthly bundles etc. The ESL resource teacher complimented me for using these resources after the first month of school ! I had no idea I was helping in anyway but am so grateful for the support.

Poetry Station with I can card support student independence. Poetry fun for kindergarten and first grade
Poetry Units

As we are getting ready to start school and I am sending things to the copy center downtown I couldn’t help but think how great this year is going to be and how much I appreciate all of the things you are making to support my kids. I am so looking forward to the First Grade Math program and have been aligning it to our current “Go Math” curriculum. The monthly centers are being organized, the listening center pages from you and Kali are being Xeroxed, and I am currently making the example projects for my Guiding Readers! The new monthly poetry bundles were purchased along with the music so I can mix it up a little this year! The leveled readers from you and Deanna are printed and I even spiral bound the books!

Look inside a first grade classroom. Leveled texts that allow you to differentiate activities and meet the students needs in guided reading
Guided Reading Leveled Texts

Deanna’s Chit Chat is being made along with your Story Sequence bundles!

First Grade reading museum

My partner (Doug) used to constantly ask me if I ever stopped with school stuff and relaxed. HA! After coming in for career day this year he realizes why I love it so much. He actually kept coming back to visit because my kids loved seeing him in his police uniform!

Officer Doug

Alright, I have to get back to answering questions for a biography. We are at the last stage of the adoption process and are so excited to be starting a family. He reminds me often that I won’t be able to spend money on TPT much anymore or buy things for my classroom! He’s right, and I don’t admit that often!

Tim and Doug

Keep in touch and I hope to update you sooner then this next time!

Sigh!  My heart is full!  Thank you! Tim!  I wish you BOTH the best of luck as your start your family journey!

Look inside a first grade classroom. Tim's passion for teaching is clear with his thoughtful letter. Kindergarten activities are easily differentiated to meet his students' needs.


  • Amber Osterman August 15 at 3:33 pm

    How sweet is this!?! Loved reading this post! Happy new school year! Amber ~ Kindergarten Rocks Blog

    • Deedee August 15 at 3:40 pm

      I know! I just melted when I got his letter! I hope you ladies have a FANTASTIC year!!!!

      • Amber Osterman August 15 at 7:07 pm

        It has started out with a “BANG” or should I say “TEARING IT UP”! I was helping LuAnn put up her “welcome sign” outside of her classroom. Well…let’s just say it says “W”..because coming off the ladder I tore my calf muscle. The best part is I called for LuAnn for help and she said…”If I walk up these stairs and your just joking I am going to hurt you!” Bahahaha! But you know I would give anything to help her out!

        • Deedee August 16 at 7:05 am

          OH! MY! GOSH! Are you okay? That is horrible!

  • Linda Refling August 16 at 10:04 am

    Timothy I am so proud of you and the great job you are doing with your students.

    Linda Refling

  • Leave a Reply

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    My teaching career allowed me to experience teaching to different age groups and in different classroom environments. My heart belongs to early childhood education and I love working with other teachers who share this same love as me. Read More


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