VU News!

The VU News is now an e-newsletter!

Here are the latest happenings from the VU Room! 


Everyone in the VU Crew earned "Fs" on today's morning journal entries. APRIL FOOL'S! We had a great time creating "wrong" journals to share on this crazy day!

Students have begun the 4th and final quarter of the year by preparing loads of written pieces that will be incorporated into the class' annual almanac, which will be published in May. Students have been compiling "VU Book of Records," Top 10 Lists, and original poems for this special book.

In math, the class began their final study of the year with "number sense."  We've discussed place value to the millions (and beyond!) and addition and subtraction. As soon as students return from break, they'll be learning how to "regroup," that's "carrying" and "borrowing" as we learned it, which is generally one of the most difficult concepts of the year to master. To assist with math problems such as these, students are practicing their facts every day through partner practice, flashcard races, and Holey Card tests. Students are responsible for mastering addition and subtraction facts from 0-18 by the end of the grading period. Dr. VU has suggested that students keep sets of flashcards in two places everyone spends a little bit of time in each day: the car and the potty!

The theme for the 4th quarter is the AVUsement Park. Students are learning all about physics and how and why things move the way they do. We'll be investigating this through a ton of hands-on lessons using Hot Wheels, dominoes, catapults, and roller coasters (Dr. VU's favorite!).

Another huge THANK YOU to all VU families for the kindnesses and generosity shown to Dr. VU and her family during a challenging month of March. We are all grateful that it's spring ... a new season!  Have a wonderful and safe vacation! See you back to school on Monday, April 13th.



This class is sure full of animals ... Beanie Babies, that is!  Students have loved learning all about zoology through "adopting" their special pets each week. They have likewise learned a great deal about the characteristics, behaviors, and habitats of many groups of animals ... mammals, reptiles, arthropods, amphibians, birds, and fish!  Students also produce descriptive writings about their learning in this area each week. They have grown considerably in their skills and are now producing fluent paragraphs using transition words to show the passage of time, "colorful" color words, and varying sentence beginnings and structure. They have loved comparing their first writing sample in January to what they're able to produce now ... they are amazed at their own growth, too.

In reading, students are reading novels, novels, and more novels! This week has been "Roald Dahl" week in our class and we're reading a complete Dahl novel every day! We began with The Enormous Crocodile on Monday and will end with George's Marvelous Medicine on Friday. Students love his wacky characters, vibrant descriptions, and absurd humor!

Students completed their measurement studies last week and are now investigating geometry concepts. They can name and draw many impressive 2-D and 3-D shapes! We will be using both famous and kid-produced artwork to learn about symmtry, congruency, and flips, slides, and turns during this fun unit!

Congratulations to Angela Delucca, Riley Davis, and Savannah James, whose names have been added to our "Fabulous 1st Grader" wall outside of our classroom. And ... lots of X's and O's go out to our families who so generously loaded students' Valentine boxes with goodies, goodies, and more goodies earlier this month! Our class "Hugs and Kisses" fundraiser earned nearly $500. We'll be decidind on how to charitably spend this money later in the school year.


Alrighty! It's been ... a while since this site was updated! However ... no apologies!  The VU Crew has been swamped since '09 began!

The class wrapped up their VU.S.A. Road Trip with each student sharing their home project and favorite U.S.A. destination.  The class mapped their trip on the Activboard ... they traveled to Florida and the Washington D.C. area most often!  Students learned a great deal about our nation's history and geography at the same time!

In reading, the class is on another road trip ... with Dorothy, Toto, and the rest of the Oz gang as we finish up the 24-chapter novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. As with many other VU Crews of the past, the class has absolutely loved the book!  We'll finish it up next week with a great ActivVote quiz and ... a viewing of the class movie, The Wizard of Oz, which was based upon the book.

Students flew through our math units on graphing and fractions ... loving all the visuals these studies included ... and have now begun learning all about measurement. We will be covering linear, weight, and capacity measurements, in both the U.S. standard and metric systems.

Our theme studies for the 3rd quarter began last week with "The VU Zoo!" This will include a thorough study of animal groups and their characteristics, habitats, and behaviors. We will be studying mammals, fish, reptiles, arthropods, amphibians, and birds. Students have loved adopting Beanie Babies each week to learn about and describe a variety of unique animals.

 Be on the lookout for new Rendez-VU business plans soon!   2nd quarter report cards will be distributed on Friday, January 23rd.

Congratulations to Kendall Roehl, Rocket Burns, and Jenna Fisher, who were recognized as "Fabulous First Graders" during the 2nd quarter!

 Hope your new year began in a terrific way! :>)


WHEW!!! The VU Crew, along with their teacher, are absolutely exhausted ... but invigorated! ... from the last month!  We loved feasting with everyone to begin the holiday season and thank Elizabeth Pool for coordinating all of the volunteer efforts from our class for this grand event. Students learned a great deal about the Wampanoag Indian tribe and a new appreciation for one of our national holidays, as well.

All 21 students in our class gave their best effort yesterday in competing in V.E.S.' annual Science Fair. We are proud of the teams from five of our projects that earned blue ribbons, as well as proud of those who did not win for being gracious in their congratulations to their classmates. This massive effort in our class could not have been possible without the hard work of brave parent scientists Dr. Azima Khan, Kathy James, Stephanie Fisher, Danielle and Tom Nutten, Stacie Valery, Elizabeth Pool, and Kati Burns. THANKS THANKS THANKS!!!

Students learned about graphing during their Science Fair Projects and are completing this math unit next week. We will spin into fractions after that!  The love of reading is clearly evident in our class as students find great joy in frantically going through the millions of volumes in our classroom, as well as sharing their discoveries with students each week during Book Projects.

With our major events "out of the way" for '08, we hope to resume a more normal schedule during the next two weeks before vacation, if that's possible. We have Rendez-VUs on every Friday left in '08 and will also be doing lots of holiday economics lessons in the days before break. 


Happy November! November marks one of the most hectic ... and learning-filled! ... months in The VU Room with three mega-events ... Veteran's Day ... the authentic Thanksgiving Feast ... and the Science Fair ... all falling within three weeks of each other!  The VU Crew has been a bustlin' hive of activity with preparations for each of these events.

A big THANK YOU to all who came to V.E.S.' special Veteran's Day celebration on Friday, November 7th.  The VU Crew played an important role by creating a "WE LOVE OUR AMERICAN VETERANS" human poster for the audience.  That evening, many families helped our class raise over $400 on our infamous Money Tree fundraiser. That, coupled with the $300 raised from our Tampa Bay Buccaneers silent auction basket will help fund our spring almanac publication. Hip hip hooray for Stephanie Cettei for coordinating both of these initiatives.

The gifted program's Thanksgiving Feast will be on Friday, November 21st. Our class reenacts the important contributions of the Wampanoag Indian family at this time. We hope to see members of every VU family at the Feast, along the beautiful Intracoastal Waterway, beginning at 11:30 a.m. that day. Bring your appetites and be ready to sample an unbelievable amount of food fare as it would have been prepared and served back in 1621.

Finally, students are working in teams of three to complete their Science Fair projects by December 4th. We have seven different projects  happening within our four walls, led by parent volunteers Kathy James, Stacie Valery, Stephanie Fisher, Danielle and Tom Nutten, Kati Burns, Dr. Azima Khan, and Elizabeth Pool.  Students will begin executing their experiments, which have been researched and practiced, next week.

In the midst of all this, we continue to read, read, read every day. Students are loving the eight Florida Reading Association Books-of-the-Year nominees; we are working our way through each one and learning about the election process along the way. Students will be voting on their favorites at the end of the week.

Another note of thanks for all families' generous contributions towards my extraordinary birthday celebration on Halloween!  It was certainly a grand way to ring in a grand decade!

Congratulations go out to  Liam Williams and Kendall Roehl, whose kind deeds have earned them a place on our "Fabulous First Graders" wall outside of our classroom.


VU.S.A.! VU.S.A.! Students in the VU Room are learning all about the United States and its symbols and landmarks. Students will be taking a VU "Road Trip" soon to discover its geography as well! 

Students are also learning all about the election process by participating in the Florida Reading Association's Children Book Award voting. Eight books are nominated by teachers throughout the state and students get the opportunity to vote for a winner and a runner-up this month. We have used the books to learn about being an informed voter and -- pardon the pun -- not the judge a book by its cover!

Calendar math began last week with students identifying weekdays, their abbreviations, and how to easily count days and weeks on the calendar. We were happy to finally celebrate the first VU Crew birthday of the year -- Rocket! -- who turned 7 on October 26th!

Students evaluated their first Rendez-VU business and will be making plans for their new one shortly. Please look for new business plans soon, as well as first quarter report cards in homework folders on Wednesday, October 29th.


Here comes the VUniverse! Students shared their planet posters this week and are busy building the VUniverse in our classroom. They are currently constructing original dodecahedron planets. How cool!

Our "Magic School Bus" field trip is next Wednesday, October 15th. We will be journeying to Riverview High School's planetarium and picnicking afterwards at Bee Ridge Park on Wilkinson Road. Parents are welcome to join us for lunch around 12:10 there. We will be staying for about 40 minutes before we head back to V.E.S.

Our final Rendez-VU of the 1st quarter will be on Friday, October 10th. A big "thank you!" to all VU family members who have patronized students' businesses ... they LOVE it!  Students will be evaluating their businesses next week and will have the chance, if they wish to join or form a new business for the second quarter. Look for new business plans and second quarter Rendez-VU dates soon!

Mark your calendars for Friday, November 21st, for our annual gifted program's "authentic" Thanksgiving Feast. All family members in our class are strongly encouraged to join us for lunch at 11:30 that day -- outside, alongside the Intracoastal Waterway, for a very grand event. It is an experience  you will not want to miss!  More information about this will be sent your way soon.

Lots of people contributed to our classroom "doings" (or, is that "VUings?!") this week. Nurse Mary Pillsbury taught a lesson on germs and handwashing habits. Stacie Valery and Michelle Andrews assisted with our Junior Great Books program (and will continue to do so throughout this semester). Taylor Johnson, a senior at Venice High School, helps with secretarial and other housekeeping work (which Dr. VU strongly dislikes...!) on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings through Venice High School's peer mentoring program. Kevin Clipse, whose sister Megan was in the VU Crew from 1998-2000 at Taylor Ranch School, will be volunteering to earn hours for his Bright Futures Scholarship each afternoon. He is going to be teaching students all about probability, statistics, and other math applications through professional sporting seasons.  First up ... the end of major league baseball this year ... GO RAYS! Danielle Nutten joins the class every Friday morning to organize Friday Folders ... a huge load off of Dr. VU's plate ... and Amber Davis and Kathy James are our "official" Rendez-VU moms for the first semester!  Kathy also donated two much-needed bookshelves to our room ... we NEVER have enough space for allllllll of our reading resources! Thanks to all of these amazing volunteers who help make our classroom sparkle!

Next week marks the end of the 1st quarter already ... WOW!  Students' spelling lists will jump from 10 to 12 beginning with unit 9. There is no school for students on Friday, October 17th, and Dr. VU will not be in school the morning of Wednesday, October 22nd, as she is reading and scoring grants for the Education Foundation. As the second quarter begins think ... VU.S.A.!

Student Council is collecting nonperishable food items and "used" Mardi Gras beads with which you may wish to part.  Any donations of these items are greatly appreciated and will be coordinated by our class representatives Rory Cole and Waseh Khan. Three cheers for Savannah James who brought in the first contributions for this effort.

Josh Cettei was selected to read his award-winning response to V.E.S.' "Community of Caring" program, coordinated by guidance counselor George Drummond, on TiPi TV last week. Faith Kern, Nicholas Jurczyk, and Lucy Zahnd earned the first three "Fabulous First Grader" awards in our class.  These designations are given weekly to students to prove to be caring, respectful, responsible, trustworthy, and/or a good friend through the first grade team's "Community of Caring" effort.  Stroll down the red hall and read all about our "FABULOUS" first graders!

Thank you to all families who have contributed to our class PowWow fundraisers and a big hoo-ha to Stephanie Cettei for coordinating this mania. The PowWow will be held on Friday, October 24th from 4:30-7:30 p.m.  See you there!


Scorpius. Satellites. The Milky Way. Jupiter. WOW! The VU Crew and their families who attended our annual beach stargaze sure got an eyefull on our beautiful, starry evening together! Special thanks to all the families who made the sandy trek out to join us ... most will agree that it was well-worth the effort. An extra-special thanks goes not only to Mr. Chap Percival, who always lends us his most gracious expertise, but also to the Davis family for lending their Hubble-sized telescope to the many on-lookers that evening.

The VU Crew's first Rendez-VU was a huge hit!  100s showed up to support our 17 newest businesses. Students have worked very hard for three weeks to prepare their stores ... and seemed to love every minute of it! We will be counting our profit$ on Monday the 29th. Thank you to the many families who patronized our grand event, and also to Amber Davis and Kathy James, our "official" Rendez-VU volunteers for the first semester.

Students completed their first class novel ... Midnight on the Moon ... this week and learned all about how the moon affects planet Earth. This upcoming week we will be investigating gravity and learning about our Magic School Bus field trip coming up on October 15th! Be on the lookout for information about this adventure in next week's Friday Folder.

The VU Crew will be sharing their planet posters ... due on Tuesday the 30th ... next week. We're excited to see everyone's first home project efforts!


Due to a firedrill, an impromptu science lab opportunity, and other interruptions today, several students who require teacher guidance on Reading Counts test were not able to take their tests today. Each will take her/his on Monday. Thank you for your patience and understanding with this matter!

Several students still owe signed Rendez-VU business forms. Please check your child's Friday Folder for notes concerning this issue. Students will not be able to participate in Rendez-VU preparations until these forms are returned. Thank you!


Handwriting! As a group, this year's VU Crew has the biggest challenges in handwriting ... by far ... of any other group of 1st graders to date. Reasons for this, certainly, are many ... however, legible manuscript handwriting is part of the 2nd grade language arts curriculum as well as a lifelong skill necessary for school. 

Beginning next week, handwriting will be formally assessed on spelling tests, and graded with effort grades that will match the 1st grade report card: "E" for "excellent;" "G" for "good;" "S" for "satisfactory;" "N" for "Needs Improvement;" and "U" for "Unsatisfactory." 

Additionally, letter reversals on spelling tests will be have a 1/2 point deduction per word. Practicing spelling words correctly is part of good study habits that will be important throughout grade school. Students who have prominent issues with handwriting in our class have been working on proper skills since day one of school; as midterm is upon us, it is necessary for students to begin self-monitoring their work. Each student has an alphabet strip attached to her/his desk, and several others are posted in the classroom to assist each in doing so. Thank you for supporting these handwriting skills at home as well.

SAVE THE DATE!  V.E.S. Family Science Fair Night ... Tuesday, September 23rd, 6-7 p.m. in the Media Center. Interested in conjuring up a project for V.E.S.' Science Fair in December? Come on out to learn what you have to do to make it SPECTACULAR!  All students in the VU Crew will be completing team projects in our class during the month of November ... no parent work required! 

SAVE THE DATE!  The VU Crew's annual nighttime stargaze is scheduled for Friday, September 26th, from 8-9 p.m. at Venice Municipal Beach (wayyyy at the end of Venice Avenue). Join Dr. VU and Mr. Chap Percival, a local astronomy expert, to learn about the fabulous autumn heavens.  Bring your own telescope, bug spray, and glow sticks for an unforgettable evening!  Younger siblings are welcome but MUST be able to listen attentively to the presentation.

SAVE THE DATE!  V.E.S.' fall Open House ... Thursday, October 16th, from 6-7 p.m. See you in the VU Room then!

SAVE THE DATE!  V.E.S.' annual PowWow ... Friday, October 24th ... visit the VU Crew's ca$h cow Money Tree to help us earn our $pending money this year!


The VU Crew's first three weeks of school has flown by!  Students began their earth and space science studies and are learning all about their home planet and its composition. Students especially loved going on a "rock hound" hunt around V.E.S.' campus to discover all the limestone, granite, and fossils that comprise its foundation.

Students will be completing their money mathematics unit next week and taking their first official math test. We are also reading, reading, reading!  Students in our class are on many different levels and a lot of individualized instruction is taking place at this time. Families who were specifically contacted about deficits in their child's reading abilities need to be incorporating read alouds and modeling at home every day. This is essential!

Dr. VU's presentation at the Florida Reading Assocation's annual conference in Orlando went spectacularly, as usual. The VU Crew helped her "practice" last week by learning all about Florida paleontology and handling and identifying many fossils that she has collected locally over the years. Class favorites included fossilized alligator scutes, turtle shells, whale vertebrae, and, of course, those completely awesome megalodon shark teeth!

 Information about the class' famous economics simulation, RENDEZ-VU will come home on Friday, 9/12 ... be on the lookout for it! First quarter Rendez-VU dates are tentatively scheduled for Fridays, from 2:15-2:45, on September 26th, October 3rd, and October 10th. Families are welcome to attend Rendez-VUs on these dates -- mark your calendars! Students will be busily preparing for their businesses during the next three weeks in class.

Everyone's watching Hurricane Ike this week. The students track this ... and all of the other storms! ... each morning through our electronic journal work.  Wink

 ***IMPORTANT NOTEMany, many students in our class cannot tie shoelaces. At V.E.S., this is considered a kindergarten skill. It is critical to teach your child to tie their own shoes as this is a safety issue in our well-waxxed hallways, on the playground, at 150 minutes of P.E. each week, and in the stairways. If you cannot imminently commit to teaching your child this lifelong skill, please purchase sneakers that fasten with Velcro to ensure their safety.


A great big THANK YOU! goes to Ray, Kathy, and Savannah James for hosting the VU Crew's back-to-school Splash Blast on Friday, August 22nd. Dr. VU sends her sincerest apologies for not attending due to a last minute personal obligation. Students seemed to have a terrific first week of school and will be starting their "VUniverse" earth and space science studies next week! Laughing 


Tropical Storm Fay certainly punctuated the beginning of the 2008-09 school year for the new VU Crew!  Our 20 students relished their first day of school on August 18th ... and were disappointed when the second day of school was canceled for our first hurricane day this year.

Families are thanked, in advanced, for their flexibility during the first weeks of school. Students will be learning all about our special class and their brains ... and began it all by getting the chance to observe and hold a real sheep brain ... a sign of the excitement and learning that's to come during their 1st grade year! How very cool! Cool