Differentiation {A Lesson in Action!}

Hi all! Before our regularly scheduled programming, here’s a little #TBT, Throw Back Thursday!

Chicks!

Chicks!

Chicks!

Chicks!

Chicks!

Chicks!

Chicks!

Chicks!

A few weeks ago, the fourth graders in our school raised chicks. They invited us up one day to spend some time with them and their new arrivals! It was so much fun and the firsties just LOVED it! I haven’t gotten a chance to post about it because it’s been busy with testing, assemblies, meetings, more testing, field trips, activities, class work, more testing, agh!

But in the meantime, I wanted to post about something I am passionate about and something that is a huge part of my classroom. DIFFERENTIATION! Not only is it what I hold my Master’s degree in, but it’s what drives my classroom instruction.

I get asked a lot about how this really works in a classroom, specifically in a first grade classroom. Sometimes the idea of “differentiating” seems like too much “extra” work. In reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Here’s a simple way I differentiate in my classroom to meet the needs of all the learners in my room.

Reading text

Reading text

During our phonics block, we’ve been focusing more on putting our knowledge into play rather than direct instruction (focused solely on learning a new sound or blend). At this point in the year, we are putting that knowledge into action, working on reading fluency and identifying blends or sight words as we read.

To meet the needs of all the learners in my room, students were each given a book titled “Police Officers”, which were informational texts about police.

There were 3 different levels of this book. So while every child in the room was reading the same information, some were more complex than others.

Text

Text

Text

Text

In the above two pictures, you can see how both pages are giving the students similar information. But in the top picture, there is more information, words, and vocabulary. In the bottom picture, it’s presented in a simpler form. However- the content is still the same! Both students are reading AND comprehending at their own levels.

Grouping

Grouping

Grouping

Grouping

So how does this work? To begin, I put students into groups around the room with the kids who were reading the same level book as themselves. They started by just reading their text. Next, they worked on highlighting words with letter sounds we’ve been working on, such as “ch”, “sh”, “ar”, “oi/oy”, etc. They also worked on highlighting all the sight words we’ve learned that are on our word wall.

Highlighting

Highlighting

Highlighting

Highlighting

Highlighting

Highlighting

That was all on day 1. The next day, the students began by rereading their text. By doing this, they are practicing fluency and their comprehension skills. Then, they went back into their groups. Working as sets of partners within their leveled teams, they had to complete a Tree Map (a type of Thinking Map that helps them summarize) to state the topic of the text and supporting details.

What’s great about this is- 1. Students have a partner to support them 2. Not only do they have a partner, but they also have the support of their team sitting around them and 3. Because everyone at their table has the same level book, they can help each other with finding supporting details.

Groups around the room

Groups around the room

Finding details and putting them into a Tree Map

Finding details and putting them into a Tree Map

Finding details and putting them into a Tree Map

Finding details and putting them into a Tree Map

Finding details and putting them into a Tree Map

Finding details and putting them into a Tree Map

You’ll find that the kids are naturally differentiating themselves at this point. The students with the hardest text are going to be making the most complicated and detailed Tree Maps, because they have more text to work with. The students with a simplified text are going to be making a Tree Map using the details from their books, at their own level. Again, THEY ARE ALL LEARNING AND WORKING WITH THE SAME INFORMATION! This is the genius and key to a differentiated room.

Finding details and putting them into a Tree Map

Finding details and putting them into a Tree Map

Finding details and putting them into a Tree Map

Finding details and putting them into a Tree Map

Finding details and putting them into a Tree Map

Finding details and putting them into a Tree Map

Finding details and putting them into a Tree Map

Finding details and putting them into a Tree Map

Finding details and putting them into a Tree Map

Finding details and putting them into a Tree Map

Was this more work for me as a teacher? No.

Was this just giving some kids “more work” and other kids “less work”? No.

Was this hard to plan? No.

This was meaningful and tailored to the individualized needs of my learners. The students all felt accomplished and proud of their work because it was at their level. All of them were successful and completed the mission- to summarize an informational text.

I hope you can see just how simple, easy, and engaging a lesson like this is! The kids work hard and learn so much when they are given materials that meet their unique needs.

It’s not pictured, but the next day students went back with those same partners and used their Tree Maps to turn their ideas into writing. They wrote paragraphs that summarized their texts. Think first graders can’t write detailed and supportive paragraphs? Think again! 🙂

Thanks so much for checking in on our adventure! Be sure to subscribe and keep coming back!

MLK Jr. Research {& some math!}

Our current literacy unit is informational text. The kids are reading about real people, real places, and real things. With all of this, we are summarizing! The kids are turning into real pro’s. They identify the topic of the text and then find details about that topic.

For the past couple of weeks, we have been focusing on Martin Luther King Jr. We’ve been reading, researching and learning all about him.

When we started this topic, the first thing we did was make a Circle Map. A Circle Map is a wonderful way to gather student’s knowledge before you start a topic. It gives the teacher insight into what they already know and what ideas they might not understand. The kiddo’s initial ideas were so great!

They worked in their table teams (teams of 4) to write one fact they already knew about Martin Luther King Jr.

 

Post it's

Post it’s

 

Post it's

Post it’s

Post it's

Post it’s

{As a first grade teacher, this is easy for me to read. But for others, let me translate- Martin wanted everyone to be together} 🙂

Aren’t these the best? We put them together on a Circle Map.

Pre Knowledge Circle Map

Pre Knowledge Circle Map

The cool thing about doing it on post-it’s is that as our unit progressed, we kept adding more post-it’s. We used different colors each time we added more, so that by the end of the unit, we had a wonderful map that showed everything we’d learned!

Another fun way that we learned more about MLK Jr. was by researching him using the kid-safe search engine KidRex. If you haven’t heard of it, you should really check it out!

KidRex

KidRex

Just go to www.kidrex.org. It’s a filtered search engine for kids. KEEP IN MIND- You should always monitor kids searching anything on-line, but I’ve only had great experiences using this with my kids.

KidRex

KidRex

KidRex

KidRex

KidRex

KidRex

I love allowing my kids to learn more by researching and reading things themselves. The more we do this type of research, the better my kids get at it.

The first times you have first graders search something, they are mostly just clicking pages and looking at pictures. But by now, my kids are really reading some of the facts they see and sharing what they find with the others around them. It’s really awesome to see them start this journey in their education, it’s such a skill they will need as they get older!

And going back to the Circle Map, as they found new facts, we wrote them on post-it’s to add to our knowledge!

Subtraction Games

I just wanted to mention a SIMPLE, QUICK game to practice subtraction. I’m always looking for fun and simple ways for my kids to have hands-on ways to practice the skills we are learning. Sometimes you just don’t have the time to get together a bunch of materials when you only have 20 minutes to play something.

I was looking at the materials I had ready and came up with an easy game that helped reinforce the idea that subtraction means to take something away. After six years of teaching first grade, I’ve always found that some of my kids still struggle with the difference between addition and subtraction. I wanted them to really understand that when we subtract, we take things away.

Subtraction Game

Subtraction Game

All you need for this game is a cup with counters inside and dice. My kids worked in partners, each pair getting a cup with 20 counters and a die.

To start the game, each kid takes 10 counters {this number could be adjusted up to as high as you’d like}. They take turns rolling the die. Whatever number they roll, they have to put that many back inside the cup.

Subtraction Game

Subtraction Game

In essence, each roll is a “subtraction”. They have to take away from their own counters and put them in the cup. Their pile is getting smaller- the main idea of what it means to subtract.

The kids play until one of them runs out of counters. Then, they start over.

And do you want to know something? THEY. LOVED. THIS. GAME.

We played it for 3 days in a row {using larger amounts of counter chips} because they were BEGGING to play.

Subtraction Game

Subtraction Game

Subtraction Game

Subtraction Game

We only played in small time segments, but a great way to kick this game up a notch would be to have them write the subtraction sentence each time they roll. So if they start with 10 counters and roll a 3, they could write 10 – 3 = 7.

Subtraction Game

Subtraction Game

Subtraction Game

Subtraction Game

I just wanted to share because it was an amazing game. Not only was it simple to set up, but the kids loved it and it truly enforced the idea of subtraction!

Thanks for checking into our adventure! Be sure to come back soon!

Text Features

Smiles!

Smiles!

I have such a wonderful group of kids this year, and really by extension, such a wonderful group of families! Earlier this week, a boy gave me this awesome present. It was so sweet of him and I just loved it. His explanation was perfect too-

Student: “Do you know why I gave this to you today and not a few days ago?”

Me: “No, tell me why.”

Student: “Because it took a really long time to make.”

🙂 Well that explains it!

Honestly, getting something like this just makes me remember why I do what I do. Being shown this kind of sweet appreciation is just so kind and made me smile all day!

Text Features

We are reading informational/non-fiction text and working on summarizing. This means, we are learning how to find the topic of the text, as well as supporting details. All of this ties into the idea of text features, those special parts that informational text have.

When planning this unit, we came across this organizer for a text feature hunt.

Organizer

Organizer

We knew that text features were something we totally needed to cover for this unit.

But…. it’s also REALLY hard and LOTS, LOTS, LOTS of information for our little kiddlets. There are so many aspects to text features, not to mention all the various ways the kids see them. Take for example a table of contents. Sometimes in a book it’s called “Table of Contents”, sometimes just “contents”, and sometimes there isn’t a title to it or there isn’t one at all. That alone takes lots of explanation!

Well, the only way to tackle all of this new information is to do little by little.

So, we took one of our Scholastic New magazines….

Scholastic

Scholastic

and began the hunt!

Searching for text features

Searching for text features

Searching

Searching

Searching

Searching

First, we talked about some of the features informational text has, such as bold words, headings, titles, and captions. After going over all of this, we looked for examples in the Scholastic Magazine.

Searching for text features

Searching for text features

Searching for text features

Searching for text features

Searching for text features

Searching for text features

I think this was a great way for the kids to see text features in a real way. Sometimes we talk about things, but they don’t get to see them in a practical example. But, this was a super fun way for the kids to explore and discover! Plus, it helped clear misconceptions about what makes titles and headings different, as well as captions.

Searching for text features

Searching for text features

They turned out really cute and the kids loved them!

Text feature hunt

Text feature hunt

Text feature hunt

Text feature hunt

Text feature hunt

Text feature hunt

Thanks for checking in to our adventure! We are also on the hunt for text features and so happy to see you here looking at our “hunts”!

The Itsy Bitsy……

Our past literacy unit was Nursery Rhymes. We’ve been knee deep in spiders, tuffets, pails of water, and fleece!

One of my favorite activities we did was during the week of “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”. We spent the week reading the rhyme, practicing the letters in the poem, and retelling it to each other. At the end of the week, we got to make an adorable project.

 

Craft

Craft

The kiddlets got a purple pieces of paper and traced a circle.

They used the same piece of paper to cut out 8 legs.

Legs

Legs

There wasn’t a template for the legs. I showed the kids how to cut out four long strips, and then cut each strip in half. They “fan-folded” the legs to make them extra fun!

Folding the legs

Folding the legs

Folding legs

Folding legs

Project

Project

You can see in the above picture the spider web the kids made too! We did this by folding a white piece of paper in half two times {that way when you open it, it was split into four parts}. First, we used a black marker to trace those four lines. Then, they split each one of those boxes in half with a diagonal line {for those with math minds, the paper was split into 8th’s} To finish it off, the kids drew tiny lines between the dividing lines to finish the web effect.

Finished project

Finished project

Here is the art part of the project all finished! The face on the spider is just TOO cute!

Here is another….

All done!

All done!

You can kind of see the writing part above the project. We’ve also been working on the reading skill of “predicting“, so the students finished the writing stem: “Along came a spider and Miss Muffet went….”. The kids had awesome answers- some predicted Miss Muffet ran up a tree, went home, but my favorite was the student who thought she went sky diving 😉

This was such a fun project and a good way to wrap up with nursery rhyme. I hope you enjoyed looking into our adventure!

 

 

iPads {Nursery Rhymes & Chatterpix App}

 

My Heart :)

My Heart 🙂

Last week was my birthday. The love the kids showed me was overwhelming. This is such an amazing bunch of kiddos and they make me smile everyday. The above paper is a song some of the kids write themselves, practiced at recess, and performed for me. I can’t even begin to say how cute this was- totally melted my heart!

In other news, we are also working on nursery rhymes during shared reading time. Each week we’ve been focusing on a different nursery rhyme, working hard on our literacy skill of the month: predicting. Of course we do a lot of other things too, like vocabulary, thinking maps, writing, etc.

One of the fun things we did the past week was with our iPads and the Chatterpix app.

Chatter Pix Kids

Chatter Pix Kids

This is probably one of my favorite apps and the possibilities of ways to use it are endless. Basically the app brings a picture to life. The kids can take a photo, record themselves, and the app makes the mouth of the picture you took move with your recording.

Here’s how we used it in reading.

We were working on the rhyme Humpty Dumpty. After a couple days working with the rhyme, we were ready to use this special app of record ourselves reciting it.

It started by me projecting a picture of Humpty Dumpty.

Taking a picture

Taking a picture

The kids used their iPads to take a picture of the photo I had projected.

Taking a picture

Taking a picture

Taking a picture

Taking a picture

This in itself is a big skill. As adults, we think taking a picture is simple- something we do all the time. For kids, it can be a little tricky. The iPad is big, holding it can be hard, and doing all this while focusing on a picture is tough. It’s a skill we need to practice and develop.

Taking a picture

Taking a picture

Taking a picture

Taking a picture

After the kids had this picture on their iPads, we were ready to use the Chatterpix app. The first thing we did was import the picture we had just taken.

Finding the picture

Finding the picture

Then, the kids used their fingers to draw a line on the mouth of Humpty (This tells the app where to make the “mouth” move later on)

Recording

Making the mouth line

Making the Mouth Line

Making the Mouth Line

Next, the kids recorded themselves reciting the familiar rhyme.

 

Recording

Recording

Recording

Recording

The results are SOOOOOO amazing. I wish I could show you how awesome their videos turned out. After the kids record, it takes the picture of Humpty, make the mouth of the picture move, and it moves to the kids recording of the rhymes. It’s awesome! The kids love it and it’s such a fun way to remember the rhyme, practicing our speaking skills, and use technology.

We shared our projects with each other.

Sharing

Sharing

Sharing

Sharing

Sharing

Sharing

These kids are already using technology is some pretty amazing ways! Thanks for checking in on our adventure. Be sure to leave your comments, ideas, and questions below!

 

 

Fairy Tales: Jack and the Beanstalk

Jack and the Beanstalk

Jack and the Beanstalk

We are smack dab in the middle of our fairy tales unit. Each week we’re focusing on a new fairy tale, summarizing the story elements.

Last week, we were all about Jack and the Beanstalk.

Conveniently, we just finished our unit on Macaque Monkeys (the type of monkey featured in Disney’s Monkey Kingdom movie, which our whole school studied and saw together). For this unit, I had made a paper tree outside my room. How is this convenient? Well, it’s funny how easily a tree can be turned into a beanstalk with just a little more green added….

Beanstalk

Beanstalk

We always start the week by reading the book and going over some of the vocab words.

Vocab

Vocab

By picking words from the story, the kids have something to make a connection too. Plus, the pictures help the kids understand and remember.

We did so many other fun things with this book that I just had to share a few!

Planting Beanstalks

One of the fun things we did after we read the story was plant our own “magic” beans. The kids all got a small cup of soil and put in two bean seeds pea seeds {I know, I know- it should have been bean seeds, but there were none when I went *gulp* last minute to Wal-Mart on my way to work…. so pea seeds it was!} 🙂

Any which way, the seeds were planted and to make this even cuter, the kids made “castles” on sticks to put in the cups. That way when the plants started growing, they looked like the bean stalks growing up to the sky.

Bean Cups

Bean Cups

Seeds

Seeds

Seeds

Seeds

Seeds

Seeds

STEM Activity: Create a Parachute

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. We’ve never tried a STEM like activity in our room, but the first grade team of teachers saw an idea to use for this unit and knew we had to give it a try!

The first step was posing a question to the students:

STEM Question

STEM Question

I gave the students this question. Then, I told them it was up to them to design something that would help Jack get down slowly from the beanstalk if he were to jump. The kids were put into groups, allowed to pick the supplies they wanted from this pile….

Supplies

Supplies

Supplies

Supplies

… and they were off!

Designing

Designing

Designing

Designing

Designing

Designing

Designing

Designing

Designing

Designing

Designing

Designing

Now one of the hardest things about this {for ME} is not answering all of their questions. The point of this is to let them design something, try it out, and then make adjustments. It’s very hard when all you want to do is run over to a group and say “Now what if you just do this….”. It’s the first grade teacher in me 🙂

Before long though, the groups were dropping their “Jack’s” and “parachutes” by standing on chairs, to test it out- which I thought was a great idea. Some groups saw their designs worked, while others knew they had to try something else.

The next day, we headed outside and the kiddos got to drop their designs off the playground. The groups climbed to the top of a structure and dropped it. The rest of us watched from below.

Testing our Designs

Testing our Designs

Testing our Designs

Testing our Designs

Testing our Designs

Testing our Designs

Testing our Designs

Testing our Designs

Testing our Designs

Testing our Designs

Testing our Designs

Testing our Designs

After all the teams had a chance to go, we let the two teams whose designs had slowed down “Jack” the most to go against each other. Then, we talked about these two groups designs and why we think they were the most successful. {They didn’t have a lot of weight on them, they looked like a parachute, they had a big pieces of material to catch the wind} The kids had so much fun and it was great to see them design something, test it out, and be able to evaluate the results.

Testing our Designs

Testing our Designs

If I Climbed a Beanstalk

We ended the week with a writing prompt: If I climbed a beanstalk, I would find….

The kids had some great ideas about this. My personal favorite was “If I climbed a beanstalk, I would find my dog. And I would be so surprised to find my dog up there” Yea, I would be too! 🙂

We had to make these even cuter by attaching the kids pictures and having them add a “Jack” inspired green hat.

Jack Writing

Jack Writing

Jack Writing

Jack Writing

Jack Writing

Jack Writing

So, those are a few fun ways to incorporate reading, writing, and science into this unit. We had a blast and are still learning about other fairy tales. Thanks for checking in to our adventure!

Fables

 

Fables

Fables

 

Our new literacy unit started a few weeks ago and our genre is FABLES! Each day before we begin our read aloud and shared reading time, we review the characteristics of fables. The kids are getting really good at understanding what makes a fable special.

Vocab

Vocab

Then, we always go over the rich vocabulary words from the fable of the day. There are so many amazing words in these stories! Not only do these words build our vocabulary, but they also are important for us to understand so we understand the story.

Can you tell that the words above are from the fable The Fox and the Grapes?

After this review, we get into our fable.

Fable

Fable

We’ve been using our iPads a lot to send out the fable through the Handouts app. It’s great because the students can annotate directly on the iPad. You can see in the picture above that we highlighted all the special vocabulary words on their iPads before we read.

After we read the fable a few times, we used an organizer to summarize the story.

Fables

Fables

Fables

Fables

I love how the kids can go back and forth between the iPads and the paper. They are getting so good at look for “text evidence” from the passages we read to find answers. The iPads are a engaging way for the kids to look back at the text to find supporting evidence.

Extension

Extension

On this day, we also completed a worksheet about what the fox in the fable should have done instead of giving up. The kids ideas were so wonderful and showed how creative they can think! Check out their ideas of what the fox in the story should have done to keep going and get the grapes!

Extension

Extension

The fox could have tried…..

Extension

Extension

….to shake the tree…..

Extension

Extension

…..to put books under the tree to make a ladder….

Extension

Extension

…..tried jumping higher….

Extension

Extension

…..or shaken the tree (again) 🙂

This unit is off to a great start!

Each week we read 2 fables, summarize the fables, and then compare/contrast the two. The kids are learning reading skills, comparing skills, and reviewing our summarizing skills. It’s been wonderful so far!

Thanks for checking in on our adventure. Be sure to check back soon!

B is for Biography

 

Biography

Biography

Do you know who invented the traffic signal? You don’t? Well my first graders do- Garrett Morgan! We read all about Mr. Morgan and how he solved the traffic problem where he lived. He was a problem solver- he saw people getting into accidents and knew something had to be done. His invention helped cars, horses/buggies, and people cross the street and get places safely.

The above book is from Reading A-Z (Reading A-Z Website) and was filled with lots of great information. For example, not only did Garrett Morgan invent the stop light, but he also invented the mask that firefighters wear to help them breathe. What an important person!

After reading his biography, we used a simple biography organizer to summarize our learning. I found this great one on TpT from the store of “The Third Wheel”. You can find it by going TO THIS LINK! And… it’s free! You can’t really get better than that! 🙂

Biography Organizer

Biography Organizer

Biography Organizer

Biography Organizer

I love flip organizers because I think it helps the kids visually split up their thinking. I also love that this organizer has question words on the front- which was our last reading unit!

Biography Organizer

Biography Organizer

Biography Organizer

Biography Organizer

We filled out the inside together and then the kids got to draw pictures to match.

Biography Organizer

Biography Organizer

Biography Organizer

Biography Organizer

Biography Organizer

Biography Organizer

Biography Organizer

Biography Organizer

I love their pictures and ideas! This was a great way to summarize our knowledge on Garrett Morgan. Tomorrow, we’ll read the biography of Sarah E. Goode, another inventor. On Friday, we’ll be using our Double Bubble thinking map to compare and contrast the two person (just like explained HERE!!!!!)

Have a wonderful day and thanks for checking in to our adventure!

 

Double Bubbles: Compare/Contrast

 

Before our regular scheduled programming, here are a few quick shots of the kiddlets working with their learning partners. I assign kids with partners that last for an entire quarter of school. I’ve found that for keeping consistent partners, the kids learn how to work well together, how to help each other, and build solid team work skills. Here they are working on a math activity.

Learning Partners

Learning Partners

Learning Partners

Learning Partners

Learning Partners

Learning Partners

Learning Partners

Learning Partners

Learning Partners

Learning Partners

Back to the topic of this post- thinking maps! Our school is a thinking maps school. To learn more about thinking maps, check out their website here: THINKING MAPS!

One of my kids favorite thinking maps is the Double Bubble map. It’s a way for students to compare and contrast. This month, comparing and contrasting is our current reading strategy.

The reading genre we are currently working on is biographies. So, each week we read two different biographies and then compare/contrast them using the Double Bubble thinking map.

Biography

Biography

Biography

Biography

The two biographies we read this week was Ruby Bridges and Helen Keller. The kids got to listen to these stories, read other versions of the biographies, and watch video clips of these two women. Then on Friday, we began to think of ways that Ruby and Helen are the same, and ways that they are different.

Double Bubble

Double Bubble

Double Bubble

Double Bubble

You begin by writing the two names and circling them. Then, we thought of ways that the two women are similar. We did this as a team and wrote the same comparisons. The kids came up with these ideas, figuring out that they both were brave, strong, tried hard, and helped people.

You’ll notice that the bubbles in the middle connect to both women’s names. This helps the kids see that these traits are the same about both people.

Then, we thought of ways Helen Keller and Ruby Bridges were different. These bubbles connect to only the person that they pertain to. (Ideally, these outside bubbles should be point/counter-point. Meaning, if on one side we wrote “born in 1955”, on the other side we should have written “born in 1880”. This didn’t happen for this assignment, but that’s always the goal for this map!) 🙂

Using this thinking map is an excellent way for the kids to connect to the material and visually see the similarities and differences between two things. In this case, the kids got to see how the two biographies we read are the same and how they are different.

Double Bubble

Double Bubble

Double Bubble

Double Bubble

It’s been a great unit so far. Last week we read the biographies of Neil Armstrong and Amelia Earhart. The kids loved learning about both of these extraordinary people. Plus, since we’re also learning about the moon in science, it’s been a great connection. The kids are so excited when they see pictures of astronauts and immediately think they are all Neil Armstrong 🙂

Thanks for checking in on our adventure! Be sure to check back soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commas in a Series and BINGO!

BINGO

Do you know what a first grader looks like when you tell them they are about to play BINGO? It’s a lot like their face looks WHILE they are playing BINGO…

BINGO!

BINGO!

BINGO is like a sport for my kiddlets! To say they love it would be an understatement 🙂

I love it too because it’s a great way to review skills or words. We have number BINGO that we’ve played before during math time. Here, we are playing Sight Word BINGO.

BINGO

BINGO

BINGO

BINGO

BINGO

BINGO

It’s a great way to review the sight words we are working so hard to learn. The kids think it’s so much fun and love looking for the words on their cards. It’s a great practice tool!

BINGO

BINGO

Commas in a Series

This year, the first grade teacher team broke down our Common Core language standards into a month-by-month language schedule. It’s been a great way for us to make sure we’re hitting all of our language standards and I personally love it because it’s a logical flow that builds on the skills we’ve been learning.

Right now, the skill we’re working on is using commas in a series, or in a list. (For example: We are learning how to read, write, and spell)

We are talking about how we can use commas to separate our ideas. This is a really tough first grade skill! But we have “can do” attitudes and never give up in our room!  In my last post, I talked about how we used our Handouts app to practice this skill.

And, we’ve also used cut-out cards to practice!

Commas

Commas

Commas

Commas

 

First, the kiddlets cut out the cards. I downloaded these from Teachers Pay Teachers. Each page was a mixed-up sentence with two commas.

Commas

Commas

Commas

Commas

As the kids cut out the words, they tried to put together the sentence on their own first.

Then, we worked like a team to put together the sentence using the commas.

Commas

Commas

Commas

Commas

Commas

Commas

Commas

Commas

It can be really tough! But, we did it by working together 🙂

Helping

Helping

Commas

Commas

Now, the kids are comma crazy! They love pointing them out in the all the books, stories, and texts we read. It’s a great skill and we’re trying our best to incorporate this into our writing.

Thanks so much for checking out our adventure! Make sure to check back soon! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

iPads = iLearning

Good morning all! It’s a gray, chilly morning and I’m sitting here sipping my coffee and thinking about my past week at school. It’s been exciting, stressful, wonderful, crazy, frustrating, joyous, and about any other emotion you can think of. Why is this you ask? Well, our first grade class has been lucky enough to pilot being 1:1 this school year. If you aren’t sure what that is, it means that each student in my room has their own device, in our case- iPads.

In this past week, I’ve already learned things that go REALLY well with my kiddlets and also things that DON’T go really well 🙂

It’s been a learning experience for sure, both for the students and myself. But it’s already been great and I am looking forward to practicing, working, and moving towards more enhanced learning with our devices! Our ultimate goal is not to use our iPads to simply substitute paper and pencil for the exact same thing electronically (See SAMR MODEL EXPLAINED for more information), but instead to allow for opportunities that students can create and design things that extend their knowledge.

But, you have to start with the basics and the majority of our week was spent on RULES! We’ve been practicing walking around our room safely, the parts of our iPads, and listening to directions even though we have these super cool iPads on our desks 🙂 Which, is a hard thing for adults to do and equally as hard for six year olds 😉 But hey, we’re trying!

Friday, we started using our iPads in some different ways, beginning with getting familiar with the Doceri app.

Doceri

Doceri

There is lots to do with this app, but at it’s core, it can be used as a type of white board. I began by allowing the students to click on the app and told them to explore it for 5 minutes. Immediately, the kids were already figuring out all of the different functions with no assistance from me. After the time, I asked them what this app did and they all said it was a drawing app. For the purpose of our activities that day, they were exactly right.

We started in grammar, where the students are learning the difference between proper nouns and common nouns. I found a great flip chart on Promethean Planet.

Flipchart

Flipchart

I loved it because it asked for examples and non-examples. I showed the question and the student used the Doceri app to write the answer.

Using our iPads

Using our iPads

Using our iPads

Using our iPads

Using our iPads

Using our iPads

Yes, this is a very basic task to use with iPads (as example of the substitution stage of the SAMR model), but a great intro for first graders. It was the perfect activity to talk about iPad safety, focusing on the teacher while still using your iPad, and getting them used to using them. The kids really had a great time using them for this task and it was a fun first activity!

Later that morning during shared reading, we were wrapping up our Tall Tale story on John Henry. Each day that week, we’d been reading different texts about him and summarizing/retelling the story (which is our Common Core focus for this unit). We began by writing a WAS, HAD, COULD paragraph about him together.

Writing

Writing

As the students finished their writing, I told them their job was to go into the same app as earlier, Doceri, and use their knowledge of John Henry to draw a picture of him and the setting of the story.

Drawing with Doceri

Drawing with Doceri

Do you want to see a first grader motivated to write? Tell them they get to use their iPad to draw when they finish! I don’t know if I’d ever seen them so focused!

Drawing with Doceri

Drawing with Doceri

Drawing with Doceri

Drawing with Doceri

Drawing with Doceri

Drawing with Doceri

Again, a simple beginning activity for us to get started with our iPads. However, this was also a great formative assessment for me as well! Did the students know this character? Did they know the setting of the story? Could they remember details about the text? From their drawings, I could tell all of this! And since they were using the iPads, the kids were super engaged, adding lots of details, and really excited to talk about their drawings.

Drawing with Doceri

Drawing with Doceri

Drawing with Doceri

Drawing with Doceri

Drawing with Doceri

Drawing with Doceri

As I sit here reflecting on how it went and how I can improve on these types of lessons, I’m thinking this might be a wonderful activity to do backwards. Meaning, I might have the students start with the drawing. They were so excited and provided so many details. From there, they could write about their drawing. Since they have it in front of them, they could use the picture to help them write details about the character.

Woooooo. It was a busy week, full of trying, trying again, and not giving up. I hope the students are as excited as I am about their iPads. It’s going to be a long journey, but one we’re all excited to take! 🙂

Thank you for checking into our adventure- check back soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re BaaaaaAAAAACK!

Before your normally scheduled blog post, I have to interrupt to say…

I AM SO, SO, SO HAPPY WE ARE BACK AT SCHOOL!

After a month off, the strike is over and it’s amazing to see the kids again! The first day back was such a wonderful moment- you really appreciate what it means to be in your classroom everyday, doing what you love when you aren’t able to do that for so long. With balloons, smiles, and hugs, our first day back was amazing and I am so excited to get back at it. 🙂

Ok, from there, let’s get into what I’m loving right now (besides being back at school, of course)

Coffee mugs

Coffee mugs

1. I’ve been drinking so much tea this fall. One day, I was perusing the aisles at Target (typical), on an end cap, I spotted this adorable mug. I snagged it and it’s already been used several times. I love the gold and cream colors- I’m loving gold this year! Plus, it’s always fun to buy things with my new last name 🙂

Fall walks

Fall walks

2. The fall weather has been amazing this year. Fun fact: It’s my favorite season! Going on walks and runs have been extra fun because of the crispy, crunchy leaves in my path. I feel like I get an extra workout in because I’m always going out of my way to stretch out and land right on a leaf. It’s so satisfying, isn’t it?

Daisy

Daisy

3. Our class pet is a porcupine named Daisy. I fell in love with the adorable animal and my family has jumped on the bandwagon. The other day, my mom gave me this super cute stamp! She knew I would love it my kiddlets would love it and I couldn’t wait to use it on their papers. The kids smiled and giggled when they saw the stamp! Btw- they were very concerned about how Daisy was over the strike break. I assured them that Daisy was comfortable and happy the whole time 🙂

Tall Tales

Tall Tales

Tall Tales

Back at school, we picked up right where we left off, which means- our new literacy unit!

We have finished our nursery rhymes unit and moved on to our tall tales unit. Up first- Paul Bunyan.

Tall Tales

Tall Tales

Tall tales are a lot of fun to teach and read. It brings up the conversation of “exaggerating”, something first graders always do never do 😉

Combined with this unit is the Common Core standard of summarizing. We will be practicing retelling a story using the characters, setting, and beginning/middle/end of the story.

Along with this, we got a new reading friend- Jabber! Jabber loves to talk, especially about books! As we do our read-alouds, Jabber helps us retell a story.

Retelling

Retelling

After reading this book two days in a row, we used a cute organizer to draw the beginning, middle, and end of Paul Bunyan.

Organizer

Organizer

Look at our cute their pictures turned out…

B, M, E

B, M, E

Summarizing

Summarizing

We’ll be doing more with this tall tale throughout the week. Each week for this unit, we’ll use a new tall tale story to practice our summarizing skills on. It’s a fun adventure we’re on and I appreciate you stopping by to see it!

 

 

T.C.N.T.S. {Too Cute Not To Share}

I just made up a new acronym.

Yes, yes I did 🙂

And I’m not sorry about it at all!

I’ve decided to start sharing some of the adorable ideas/pictures/thing-a-ma-bob’s that happen around here that don’t really elicit a full post, but are really, too cute not to share!

The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz

Everyday after lunch, we read a chapter from a book. Right now, it’s The Wizard of Oz. We picked this book because it is on the Common Core exemplar read aloud text list for first graders. At first, we adults thought- “This seems a little too much for first graders” and now, on my third year using this book, I couldn’t pick a better first book to use.

It’s a great combination of imagination and realism that the kids can connect to. The characters are silly, the monsters are scary, and it’s a thrilling adventure that keeps the kid’s attention.

Adorbs!

Adorbs!

Last year at some point, I was at Hallmark with my mom and sisters. We saw this collection there- called Itty Bitty’s- that come in all different Disney characters. When I saw the Wizard of Oz ones, I knew I had to have them!

Now each afternoon, we bring out these friends as we read our chapter. Initially, I brought them out one at a time, when they were introduced in the book. Now, we use them to help us summarize what’s happening, what each character wants, and what we think will happen. Bottom line- the kids love them.

This brings us the the T.C.N.T.S part of this post…

Picture

Picture

This morning, one of my little friends came into the room and handed my this picture. She told me she drew the characters from the Wizard of Oz for me.

Agh! My heart is melting! {Wicked witch reference anyone} 😉

Everything is so adorable about this picture. I love it so much and needed to share it because…. well… it’s just too cute not to.  🙂

Have a lovely rest of your day!

 

Diving into Daily 5 {Read to Self}

It was the fifth day of school today! 🙂

That means we’ve had five days of smiles, five days of reading, five days of working hard! Every year, I’m always amazed at how quickly we fall into classroom routines and how it feels like we’ve been together for so much longer than just a week.

Firsties!

Firsties!

We took our annual first week of school picture on the front steps this morning. It’s been so rainy, but today the sun was bright!

Daily 5

One of the things I’m passionate about is Daily 5 and the positive effects it has on a classroom. Compared to a traditional “centers” classroom, I’ve found Daily 5 to be a management system that promotes independence, is differentiated, and helps develop successful readers!

I’ve written a lot about Daily 5 and Read to Self already { LIKE HERE! } but here’s the update on what we’ve done so far…

Modeling

Modeling

On the left in that picture, on the white board, you’ll see the I-Chart we made together. The students come up with rules for Read to Self time, noting how they should be acting during this special time. They also come up with rules about what I should be doing during this time- which is pretty cool. It gives them a sense that they are in charge and responsible for this reading time.

After deciding how we will sound and act, we start the modeling process. This is one of the essential steps to building independence!

A student comes up to the front of the room and shows the class the correct way to Read to Self, making sure to follow the rules we just created together.

Then, the student models the WRONG way to do Read to Self. This always brings lots of giggles and laughs. (The best “wrong” model was when one student stood up at said “Hey friends! Let’s rock and roll!”) Ha!

Wrong way

Wrong way

The student shows the class what they should never do during Read to Self, they walk around, they make silly noises, they stare at the ceiling. 🙂

But, you always end the student modeling by having that student show the correct way one more time. By having the student model this behavior, you are giving them ownership over this time and process. It helps them learn from each other and visually see examples of what they should be doing.

After this- it’s time to jump right in!

Read to Self

Read to Self

The first day you help the students find good spots to read, places that are spread out around the room.

Read to Self

Read to Self

You can see all the students have a book bin with them, with five books placed inside {one of the mini lessons you teach before this is the 3 ways to read a book. So even if students aren’t reading, they know they can be “reading” the pictures}

Read to Self

Read to Self

At first, we only read for 3 minutes. Then, I ring the bell to signal clean up. We gather on the carpet and reflect on how we did. We go over each of the rules we created and give ourselves a thumbs up if we think we did well or  a thumbs to the side if we think we need to do better next time.

Then, we repeat the process! Review rules, student models, practice and stamina building!

Read to Self

Read to Self

Read to Self

Read to Self

We have now done this 3 days and we are reading to ourselves for five minutes! Yay! 😀

This is an amazing process and helps the students build the stamina that’s needed to read independently! We are off to a great start!

Keep checking back in to see how we are moving forward in our Daily 5 journey and all the other things we’re up to on our first grade adventure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer School Recap #1: Sight Word Practice- How to Make it Fun!

Good morning all! I hope you are off to a fantastic start to your day, even if it’s gray and cloudy like it is around these parts! 🙂

I’ve been snapping some pictures of what we’ve been doing these past few days at summer school and wanted to share some of the fun activities, projects, and games we’ve been doing.

Sight Word Activities 

I view summer school like this- We are here to learn and practice. We are here to get ready for the next school year. We are here to support the students skills to help them improve. AND- to remember that it is summer. And some teachers students have a harder time focusing in the summer. So what can you do?

Well, I try to make learning into games and projects that excite the kids and help them learn without really knowing they are learning.

For example, since my group is a mix of Kinders going into 1st, and a few 1st going into 2nd, we are really trying to work on sight word recognition. Some of my kids know a lot of sight words, while some of my kiddlets are still working on this skill. So, we’ve been doing some really fun things to help us!

Here is a student coloring in his sight word watch.

Sight word watch

Sight word watch

I purchased the pack of pre-primer words from TpT and the kids love wearing the “watches” that have a sight word on them. All day we ask each other “What time is it?” and they are so excited to tell you “the time” (which is really the word) 🙂

Here’s how I make it differentiated for the kids. I always use a variety of words with the watches. My students practicing basic sight words use pre-primer words, while my other students who need more of a challenge are being introduced to a harder set of sight words.

Sight word watches

Sight word watches

Sight word watches

Sight word watches

This also really works out, because even though the individual kids have a word at their level, they are still seeing and hearing a lot of other sight words from the other kids. When they ask another kid what time it is, they are hearing and seeing another word. It’s fun and the kids love it!

Sight word musical chairs

Sight word musical chairs

Another game we’ve played is Sight Word Musical Chairs, which I found on no other place but Pinterest (of course!) 🙂

I saw the idea and immediately knew I could use this in my class to help letter practice and sight word practice. On the orange pieces of paper, I have letters written on one and sight words on another. My kiddos who needed the most help on letters used the letter paper and my kiddos doing more sight words used the other paper. Then, just like musical chairs, I put on some tunes. When the music was playing, the kids walked in a circle around the desks. When the music stopped, they had to stop and write the letter or word that was in front of them on the paper.

Sight word musical chairs

Sight word musical chairs

Sight word musical chairs

Sight word musical chairs

Sight word musical chairs

Sight word musical chairs

It’s a great way to differentiate because the kids are practicing the skill that’s most beneficial to them. It also helps them recognize the letter, sound, or sight word. As they were playing, I heard them saying the letter or word over and over as they wrote.

Plus, it was just plain fun! 🙂

Sight word musical chairs

Sight word musical chairs

Sight word musical chairs

Sight word musical chairs

Those are just two of the fun things we’ve been practicing in class! Be sure to check back with us for more fun ideas and see what other activities we’re doing! Have a wonderful, wonderful day!