Classroom of the Week: Allendale first-graders work together to build their skills

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PITTSFIELD — Just as they were lining up, about to head outside to recess on Thursday morning, Allendale Elementary School Principal Brenda Kelley politely asked Brittany Giambrone's students to go back to their seats. Without disorder or disappointed looks, the children, in a quite orderly fashion, did as they were told.

Their calmness, openness, and good nature is one of several reasons why parent Anne Marie Krzynowek nominated the class, and teacher Giambrone, as a "Classroom of the Week."

The students and teacher instantly lit up with surprise when Kelley made the announcement, but they were even more so surprised when the principal offered them a few extra minutes of recess time in exchange for a few minutes of their time to be interviewed.

The principal called Giambrone "an amazing teacher," on the school's first-grade team.

The students say their teacher helps make their classroom "beautiful," "nice" and "fun."

"She teaches us a lot of things, and she's sweet," said first grader Jackson Schneider of Giambrone.

Prior to teaching at Allendale, Giambrone taught kindergarten at St. Mary's School in Lee.

"Anyone who knows Mrs. Giambrone will tell you that she is an A+ Teacher and has a passion for teaching," Krzynowek wrote in her nomination letter.

Giambrone said she enjoys the classroom environment and greeting her students each day.

She said of her current class, "They work so hard every day to be their very best. They share a lot, and help each other learn."

Together, they track their readiness to learn using a star chart arranged on their blackboard. Instead of yelling to get students' attention, Giambrone simply moves stars in and out of the classroom's goal range to indicate whether their focus and effort is on or waning.

One of their favorite ways to learn and practice their English language arts and reading skills, the students said, is their "Walk to Read" program, in which the read together and study vocabulary in small groups. They also enjoy learning math, particularly addition and subtraction, through movement.

Giambrone explained how the children are learning how to add and subtract to 10 through a stand up and sit down exercise. In this activity, students get to stand up and arrange themselves in groups that can be combined in different ways to get to 10, like 6 plus 4 or 12 minus 2.

"I think it's important at their age to get up and move," Giambrone said.

The teacher shares with her students' families, the kids' progress and classroom highlights through an app called Class Dojo. She also sends home a weekly newsletter and quickly responds to any emails with parent questions, according to Krzynowek.

Said the parent of the teacher, "She truly understands that each child has unique needs and does her very best to ensure she is doing everything possible to match these needs with the best learning method. She truly loves her kids!"


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