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!

 

 

Meet…… SPOT! {Our Class Pet}

 

Spot

Spot

Hi Spot! Look at that fact, those eyes, that nose 🙂

Spot is our first grade pet. He spends all day with us. He reads with us….

Read to self time!

Read to self time!

He works with us…..

Working with Spot

Working with Spot

He sits with us when we listen on the carpet…..

Can you "spot" Spot?

Can you “spot” Spot?

He even stands in line with kids who are ready to walk in the hall!

About to go on a walk!

About to go on a walk!

Walks are Spot’s favorite 🙂

So how does this work? And WHY do we have Spot in the room?

For starters, one day after  recess time, we came back into the room to find a box waiting for us.

What could be inside?

What could be inside?

The kids were so excited. Where did this come from? What could be inside?

The box came with a letter, explaining to the class that since they’d been working so hard on following the rules, there was a special friend inside the box to help us continue to be good characters. The kids guessed all different types of animals, from hamsters and fish to tigers and bunnies.

When we opened the box- we saw our doggy friend!

Ah!

Ah!

He's so cute!

He’s so cute!

We loved him instantly!

We loved him instantly!

Already friends!

Already friends!

The kids loved him instantly. They passed him around, shushing each other because they knew he was just a baby and was probably nervous 🙂

We voted on names, and while Max and Precious were close seconds……. Spot was the name winner!

So why do we have Spot?

Class Pet Pack

Class Pet Pack

Click here to find the above pack at my TpT store

{I created the above pack to help explain and provide all of the things you’d need to have the same class pet experience in your classroom}

The main reason we have Spot in our classroom is to help us learn, remember, and practice being good characters. Spot helps us remember to be responsible, trustworthy, honest, and hard working.

I introduce each one of these traits, as related to Spot. How can we treat Spot responsibly? How can we be trustworthy with Spot? Why do we need to be honest about Spot? How can we show we are hard workers with Spot?

By tying those traits into our interactions with Spot, it gives the kids a real life example. Instead of just talking about it, we model how to be responsible while petting him. We model how to be trustworthy playing with Spot, even if the teacher isn’t looking. We model how to be honest about things we do with Spot. We model how when we work hard, Spot wants to sit with us.

Then the magic happens. Instead of just portraying those traits with Spot, they also portray them with each other.

AND THIS SERIOUSLY WORKS! I’ve never heard my kids same things like, “You need to be a hard worker” to each other before, but now I am. This year it’s common to hear my kids remind each other to be “trustworthy” and “responsible”.

Spot reading!

Spot reading!

They know these rules because we review them every day. Plus, spot moves around the room and only wants to sit with kids who are showing these traits. {THIS IS MOTIVATION AT IT’S BEST MY FRINDS!}

Spot

Spot

And maybe the cutest thing is that as the kids move around the room, you’ll see them stop and give Spot a big hug. Sometimes they kiss his little nose. Sometimes they pet his head. But they always do it responsibly. He’s there when a kid needs some motivation. He’s there when someone needs a friend. And he’s a great addition to our room. He’s helping us be better kids, remember our class expectations, and try our best every day.

Check out my pet pack to get all the worksheets, posters, and more we’ve used to learn these traits with our pet. 

Thanks for checking into our adventure! Spot and our class are so glad you did 🙂

 

 

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!

 

 

iPads {Science Sink & Float}

We are in the swing of things around here, each and every day jam packed with learning, laughing, and lovin’ first grade! My last post was about getting our iPads, so I figured I’d post a follow up on how it’s going.

iPads

iPads

Teaching with 1:1 iPads is such an amazing privilege. I love it and honestly, I can’t imagine not having them at this point. I get asked a lot how we use the iPads throughout the day and in different subject areas. Here’s a quick look into how you can use iPads in a science lesson- in a very SIMPLE, EASY way!

Sink or Float

Sink or Float

In science we are learning about things that sink and things that float.

Well…. really we are learning about how to be scientists and the scientific process {asking questions, making a hypothesis, doing an experiment, looking at results, and sharing with others} But what a fun way to practice these steps/qualities than putting them into action with sink/float experiments!

So, before we tested the above fruits and veggies, we used our iPads to complete a quick worksheet on our questions and hypothesis about which fruits and veggies would sink or float. We used the Handouts app.

Handouts

Handouts

Its a super simple app that allows me to send the kids something, have them work on it on their iPads, send it back to me, and allow me to see there work. Think of it as a digital “worksheet”.

After our predictions, it was time to experiment!

Sink or Float

Sink or Float

Sink or Float

Sink or Float

 

Sink or Float

Sink or Float

Sink or Float

Sink or Float

Sink or Float

Sink or Float

Sink or Float

Sink or Float

The kids loved this experiment! How fun!

After our experiment, we discussed the results together, relating them back to our predictions and initial questions. Then, my little scientists used their iPads to draw what happened in this experiment. Again, another quick and simple use of our iPads! Although simple, it’s also a great way for the kids to process what they just saw and what they just learned. It also allows me to see who understands what happened, who understand what sink means, and who understands what float means.

Drawings can show us so much as to what kids know, understand, and learned!

Drawings

Drawings

Drawings

Drawings

Drawings

Drawings

Drawings

Drawings

Drawings

Drawings

Drawings

Drawings

Drawings

Drawings

This is just ONE way you can use iPads in science to check for understanding and make initial predictions.

Thanks for checking in on our adventure! Be sure to leave your comments, ideas, and questions below! We love to hear from you!

 

And It Begins…. iPads!

Good morning and happy Labor day! 🙂

I hope you are having a relaxing day and had a nice weekend.

 

Birthday girl!

Birthday girl!

 

This weekend was my niece’s first birthday. How cute is she!? I think the picture says it all, she loved her party, presents, and of course her cake 🙂

It’s Monday, which means most teachers out there are gearing up for school tomorrow. As I sit here thinking about the upcoming week, I know a large part of it will be focused on learning how to {safely} use our iPads.

iPads

iPads

My students and myself are lucky enough to be a 1:1 classroom, meaning that each of my students has an iPad to use in class and take home each night. Of course we take this process slowly, and last week we just started learning how to walk with our iPads correctly.

Walking

Walking

One of the rules we follow in class is holding our iPads with care. This means two hands and holding it close. We practice this by walking around the room with our iPads. The kids love it, plus its the first time they actually got their iPad!

Walking

Walking

We also practiced putting our iPads away in the charing cart. This seems simple, right? But just like anything in first grade, you need to practice practice, practice to form a routine! Right now, I help the students put their iPads in the cart, but eventually, the kids will be able to do this with no help at all.

Cart

Cart

You can see that at the top of the cart, there are numbers. This is great because each student has their own slot. But…. I quickly learned last year that a number at the top doesn’t really help my kiddos find the right spot {it is quite tricky to find the right slot below}. So…..

Labels

Labels

Last year I realized labeled the bottom of the slot also helps! This year, I also color coordinated the charging cable to match their number color. Those cords are often tangled and hard to match. I’m hoping the color cord will help this year!

Bar Graphs

Before I sign out for the day, one of the other things I wanted to share that we’ve been doing is bar graphs. Our first math unit covers counting to 120 and graphs/data. We are tackling bar graphs first, making our own to really discover what a bar graph is….

Bar graph

Bar graph

We answered the question: Which food do you like best? Their choices were pizza, ice cream, hot dogs, and tacos. The kids each got a post-it and made their vote.

Graphs

Graphs

The kids loved putting up their post-its. After, we talked about how this information is called “data”. We can use the data to answer questions.

Graphs

Graphs

So what was the winner? Pizza 🙂

 

Have a fabulous rest of your Labor day and I hope you are all rested up and ready for a great week ahead. Thanks for checking into our adventure!

First Day 2015!

 

An Apple A Day!

An Apple A Day!

You know what they say about apples right? One a day keeps the doctor away! Well, does that still count if it’s an apple cookie? 😉

Our first day of 2015 and already come and gone.

 

Here’s what we did on our first day….

 

The Kissing Hand

The Kissing Hand

We spent much of the first day reading the book “The Kissing Hand”. It’s such a sweet book and helps the kids get over their first day jitters. We also used the book to intro a Daily 5 lesson- the 3 ways to read a book. We read the book by reading the words, later by reading the pictures, and at the end of the day, we retold the story.

We also had quite a hard time finding Pete the Cat! That sly little animal ran away from us and we had to go around the school looking for him!

Looking for Pete!

Looking for Pete!

Pete wasn’t in the library….

Looking for Pete!

Looking for Pete!

or in the gym…..

Looking for Pete!

Looking for Pete!

or in their old Kindergarten classroom!

(BY THE WAY- Isn’t it nice that on our search for Pete, we got to tour the school? We are so lucky that Pete ran away, because we got to visit different places in our school) 🙂

So where was Pete?

Wow!

Wow!

That sneaky CAT! He was hiding back in our room the whole time! The kids were so excited to find him!

Pete

Pete

Afterwards, we got to make our own Pete’s. These couldn’t run away 🙂

Wall of Petes

Wall of Petes

Oh- we also were introduced to Circle Maps {we use the Thinking Maps program in our school}. The Circle Map is a way for the kids to write the main idea in the middle and everything they know about that idea on the outside of the circle.

We used the circle map on the first day by having the kids write their own names in the middle.

Circle Map

Circle Map

Then in the outside, they wrote and a drew things they liked or special things about themselves!

Circle Maps

Circle Maps

It was a really fun way for the kids to learn more about each other!

Wall of Circle Maps

Wall of Circle Maps

So there you have it! Our first day in a nutshell. This group of kids are great and I can’t wait to see what adventures lay ahead of us!

PLEASE SUBSCRIBE ALONG THE TOP OF THE BLOG TO GET EMAILS WHEN I ADD A POST.

Teachers

What things did you do/are you going to do on your first day?

Thanks for checking in on our new adventure!

Summer, Sales, Sneak-Peek…. oh my!

It’s August 3rd! Here’s what my summer’s been like so far….

 

Summer

Summer

Summer

Summer

Summer

Summer

Summer

Summer

Summer

Summer

Summer

Summer

Summer

Summer

Summer

Summer

Summer

Summer

Summer

Summer

But since I’m insane excited, I’m always thinking about the next school year. Which means, I’ve already been in my classroom four times. I like to do things little by little when I have lots of time, instead of trying the mad-dash-school-is-starting-in-two-days route 🙂

I know some people who can do that {and their rooms always look amazing!}, but I am just not one of those people.

For starters, I had the husband help me hang a few more brown banners on the ceiling.

Banners

Banners

I’ve had the two along the back windows up for a couple of years, but wanted to add a couple more to really add a special touch. If you get closer to the two banners along the windows, it looks like this…

Windows

Windows

My student library, my teaching books, the iPad charging cart, and computers run along this back wall.

Calendar/Focus wall

Calendar/Focus wall

Herei s my re-done calendar and focus wall. Towards the end of last year I moved my calendar over to this wall {mainly because I wanted my carpet area over here} and really liked it. I also added my main focus walls to this area. It’s great because it’s the perfect amount of room for anchor charts and a great location for kids to see. These three are for math, grammar, and reading. I have one for writing, science, and social studies on the other side of the room.

I’m not really sure what I’ll put along the bottom of the wall yet…. but it’ll stay empty until school starts. Maybe kids work for each of those subject areas? Time will tell 🙂

Along the top, right under the letters, I’ll have student generated art that matches the letter above it. As we begin the year, the kids will review all the letters and as part of this, draw pictures to make a class “art alphabet”.

 

Objectives

Objectives

Do you post daily objectives for subject areas? One of the best decisions I’ve ever made is to have these pre-written on my board. I’ve seen really cute things on Pinterest for objective walls, but they require you to change them/re-write them as you change subjects.

Big deal! How long can it possibly take to write a new objective, 45 seconds? Hmm… well have you been in a first grade classroom when the teacher has their back to the room for 45 seconds? I’m sure you have no idea what I’m talking about because your class would have three kids throwing pencils, someone standing on a chair, five kids asking to go to the bathroom, someone coloring inside their desk, screaming voices, and at least two children crawling somewhere along the floor to deliver a note to a friend  be sitting silently in their seats the whole time 🙂 🙂 🙂

ANYWAYS- that’s my way to say that having all of my objectives written ahead of time IS A LIFE SAVER. I use the blue paw-print magnet to indicate what we are currently working on. So, if we are doing math, the magnet is next to the math objective. It’s great, plus the kids learn the schedule/routine quickly AND learn to read the objectives themselves to see what we’re doing that day.

Rules

Rules

The other side of my board is where I have my MAPS posted and rules. We’ll make an anchor chart with rules/pledges when school starts, but this is where it’ll go.

iPad

iPad

If you’re new to this blog, a HUGE part of my classroom is technology. I’ve fortunate enough to be a 1:1 classroom, meaning all my kids have their own iPad. Here you’ll see the SAMR model shown for the kids, along with the apps we use in my room and where they fit on that continuum {btw- some of these apps fit into more than one level, plus you can use them in different ways to fit multiple places}

Word wall

Word wall

And here’s my word wall. I need to get around to taking down these words from last year, but I LOVED how well this Word Wall worked for me. Last year I did this and won’t be changing it. I just used gold tape strung across my cabinets and attached the letters. Then, I used mini wooden clips to attach the words to the tape. Voila!

AND HERE….. THE MAIN EVENT…. IS MY NEW PROJECT/OBSESSION……

Burlap border

Burlap border

Burlap border

Burlap border

I’ve been looking all over Pinterest at classroom pictures and the one I keep pinning over and over is burlap borders. I’m slightly obsessed with burlap {cue wedding picture……}

Wedding!

Wedding!

Ah our wedding! A little over a year ago 🙂

It’s only fitting it should sneak into my classroom too 🙂

Burlap

Burlap

I got a giant roll of burlap from Uline and then cut strips. I just bunched and twisted, then glued. I used hot glue {which peels off clean} This area took me about an hour :/ Which wasn’t so much fun- but I think it turned out great! I’m going to keep doing this around the room in different places.

TpT Back to School Sale!

If anyone else is starting to think about back to school, today and tomorrow are the perfect days to cruise TpT to get extra savings. Take a look at some of the packs I’ve uploaded lately….

Fairy Tale Pack

Fairy Tale Pack

This fairy tale pack has everything you’d need for passages, organizers, and more for Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Goldilocks

First Day Pack

First Day Pack

My first day of school pack is full of games, activities, and worksheets that help you get to know your kids!

Class Pet Pack

Class Pet Pack

Do you have a class “pet”? {ours is a stuffed animal dog!}

This pack takes you through your pets arrival, has journals, behavior help, and much more.

CLICK ON ANY OF THE LINKS ABOVE TO GO RIGHT TO THAT PRODUCT.

These are just three things that are great to help you start off the year right! Click on this link to go right to my TpT store to see it all!

Remember, it’s the big sale only for the next two days. Use the code BTW15 for additional savings. My store is ALL 20% already, the code will give you even more savings 🙂

Thanks for much for reading and I hope your summer adventure is bright, sunny, and fun!

 

Using iPads for Writing {and AirPlay!}

Hello!

Hello!

Ariel wanted to pop in to say hello! Or really, she’s trying to convince me to play fetch with her. She’s such a sweetie and this is the face I often look at as I’m trying to get work down on my computer. She can be quite persuasive 🙂

iPads with Writing

I hear the question a lot “You can’t use iPads for everything, right?”, as well as the comment “I don’t think my kids could handle that”.

After a full year of being 1:1 with iPads in my first grade room, I can honestly say I’ve learned so much about management, ideas, creativity, etc… probably learned more this year than my kiddos!

It’s been such an incredible journey. I started slowly…. incorporating them more and more, until now the iPads are integrated seamlessly all day long.

At the same time, there is a natural balance that happens.

For instance, we use the iPads during writing time.

But, OF COURSE, I believe that my students need to know how to use a pencil, they need to know how to write on paper, and my kids have plenty of opportunities to use both paper/pencil and iPads for writing time. I usually switch off weeks- 1 week we write on the iPads and one week we write with paper.

There are also times when I let them pick which way they want to write.

What’s interesting is this- since my kids have the opportunity to use an iPad everyday, they are just as happy to use paper and pencil too. I think it’s the ability to choose their own choice, the variety, and knowing their strengths that makes them excited.

One of the ways I’ve been using the iPads during paper writing time is this…

Writing

Writing

 

As you can see, on the desk is the writing piece we spent the week completing {Our week of writing is spent with a teacher model, student writing, student’s adding more, editing, and sharing}

Then, I had the kids use the app ChatterPix to take a picture of themselves and read their writing pieces.

Chatter Pix Kids

Chatter Pix Kids

The app records the kids voices and makes it look like their mouth is moving.

Writing

Writing

Then, I had the kids leave their own iPads at their desks. They got to walk around to the other iPads around the room and listen to their friends writing pieces.

Writing

Writing

Writing

Writing

Writing

Writing

Writing

Writing

It’s a simple, easy way for the kids to share their writing with multiple people. The kids also love it because 1.) It’s fun to walk around the room, 2.) It’s a silly app, and 3.) iPads are fun plain fun!

Another big accomplishment this year has been my students learning how to AirPlay, or reflect what is on their own iPads onto my computer {which is then projected} so everyone can see.

AirPlay

AirPlay

It’s been amazing and something I definitely want to start earlier in the year next year.

I mentioned earlier in this post the comment I hear a lot that “My kids can’t do that” related to technology. I can honestly say- my first graders amaze me daily with what they can accomplish. This can be no more true than when related to tech.

I intro’ed AirPlay one day and that’s really all it took. They love any chance I give them to share through AirPlay and it’s a great way for me to see what they’ve accomplished.

So, have I come across anything on the iPads they can’t handle? Nope, not yet 🙂

Thanks for seeing this quick way we use our iPads during writing time. I hope you can use it on your adventure!

Room Walk-Through, Desk Re-Do, and 3-D Marshmallow Shapes

Hello party people!  It’s Thursday around here, a Thursday afternoon with 9 days left of school! A lot has been going on, in and out of school. For starters, here has been my latest project.

Plain Desk

Plain Desk

I found this old desk at a local thrift store. It was not looking great. But, it was $9.00. Which is seriously the price of my Starbucks in the morning. A whole desk for nine dollars? Yes please.

I convinced the husband to go to the store with me and help me get it home. He was less than impressed with it’s condition. I promised him that I could change it! Thanks to Pinterest (of course) I’ve been wanting to re-do some furniture, because I keep seeing amazing trash to treasure examples!

We also went by Menards and visited the section in the paint department where they have extra or left-over paint for cheap. I picked up a quart sized can of gray paint for $10.00.

It was so expensive still because it was chalk board paint I think, but still the perfect price for this project. We also got white primer (mostly because we also needed it for another house project)

Primed White

Primed White

Step one was to paint the desk white with the primer. I did two coats of this, letting it dry fully between each coat. I didn’t sand it at all before this. Let me say again, I DIDN’T SAND IT AT ALL. Why? Mostly because the girl’s blog I read who also did this didn’t sand it either. Once you put the sealant on it, there isn’t really a need. Also, this won’t be an item in a “high traffic” area of the house (like a kitchen cabinet for example) so I’m not too worried about scratches or knicks.

Started to be Painted

Started to be Painted

The gray paint came next. It was looking better already! I also did 2 coats of this and followed up with any last minute touch-ups as I looked it over the next day.

Finally, I used a matte finish Polyurethane sealant. I did 3 coats of this over the course of a week (following the directions on the can) This provided a clear finish!

Final Product!

Final Product!

Here it is in the end! I changed out the hardware as well. I put on those three glass handles and a new silver pull handle along the top. I think it turned out great and adds so much to our guest bedroom!

3-D Solid Shapes

Last week we were learning all about 3-D, solid shapes. As part of this unit, the kids learned words like “face” and “vertex”. They also learned about the names of specific solid shapes, like cylinder, sphere, etc.

On one of the days, the kids got to make the 3-D shapes we’ve been learning about. How better to do this than with marshmallows!

The kids used tooth picks and mini marshmallows to make the shapes of the unit. They loved it- and who wouldn’t, a project that uses marshmallows screams fun!

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

I was worried the kids wouldn’t be able to make these shapes without seeing an example, but boy was I wrong! They were instant pro’s.

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

The one thing I didn’t account for was how many tooth picks we’d need! {Darn my math skills!}

I thought- foolishly- that 500 tooth picks would be plenty! I didn’t think about how many toothpicks each student would need for each shape. So basically, after everyone made a cube, there weren’t many tooth picks left to make a rectangular prism.

It worked out fine because the kids just took apart their shapes and used the tooth picks again for a new shape. But in the future, or to other teachers out there, BUY MORE tooth picks than you think! 😉

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

It turned out great and was a fun, fun way to practice our 3-D shapes. Thanks so much for checking in to our adventure. I hope you are having a wonderful end to your school year as well!

 

 

 

iPad Shape Hunts

Shape Hunt

Shape Hunt

When the weather gets warmer, the kids get ….. let’s say…..more active 🙂

So in the last few weeks of school, I’m always looking for fun ways to keep our learning going, but also make it fun and active. We are in our unit about geometric shapes, including 2-D and 3-D.

Since the weather has provided some nice days for us here, we took our iPads outside with us and spent some time “hunting” for shapes.

We did this on two different days, one day looking for 2-D shapes, and the other for 3-D.

Shapes

Shapes

Shapes

Shapes

Shapes

Shapes

Shapes

Shapes

On the day we looked for 2-D shapes, the students used the Doceri app and drew pictures of what they found.

Doceri

Doceri

My love for Doceri is strong…. here is just one post I’ve made about it. It’s basically an interactive white board.

Shapes

Shapes

Shapes

Shapes

On the day we looked for 3-D shapes, the kids took pictures of the shapes they found, simply using the camera on their iPads.

Shapes

Shapes

Shapes

Shapes

Shapes

Shapes

Shapes

Shapes

Shapes

Shapes

While we were outside, one student was SO EXCITED because she’d found a piece of paper that had a QR code on it! I was pretty excited too 🙂

After we worked each time, we sat in a circle and shared some of the shapes we had found.

Shapes

Shapes

Shapes

Shapes

On this particular day, the weather was just perfect. So was the sky. Which of course meant that after we shared what was on our iPads, we laid back and looked for shapes in the clouds. See? There are shapes everywhere! 🙂

 

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

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!

QR Code to Differentiation

It’s been an embarrassing amount of time since I’ve posted last…. I don’t really have any excuses for this, except I’ve been busy with this….

Hello!

Hello!

and busy with this…

Monkeys!

Monkeys!

and busy with this….

Movie!

Movie!

and in general, busy with this….

Math

Math

Math

Math

Writing

Writing

SOOOOOOOOOOOOO…..

We are just going to jump back in and get into one of the special things we’ve been doing lately in first grade: QR Codes to differentiate.

QR Code Differentiation

QR Code Differentiation

Ok, we all know what QR codes are. If you still haven’t made a QR code or are nervous about making one, please take my advice and START! It couldn’t be easier and the possibilities are endless {Some of my favorite ways to use QR codes are Vocaroo, for kids to record their own voices and turn into QR codes. Also, I love making QR codes linking QRVoice for directions}

A few months ago, I attended the ICE conference, a technology conference in the Midwest for teachers. I learned a lot, but my favorite thing was using colored QR codes to help students differentiate their learning.

On some QR code making websites, you can easily change the color of the QR code. After you link the website, picture, or voice recording you want to make into the QR code, you have the option to change the color of the code itself.

Here’s how I used this technique in my room to differentiate. 

We were learning about light waves, the basic idea being that light moves in a straight line. This was the central idea that I wanted all the students to understand. We were also beginning to learn that light will only change directions if it’s reflected.

As it often is in a first grade room, there are ability levels across the board. And as it more often is, it can be very difficult to teach to all these different levels at the same time.

After a few days into the unit, I wanted to design an activity where some students were able to focus on the basic idea of the unit, where some students were able to move on to how light is reflected, and where some students were able to apply that knowledge to a new situation. In doing so, I would be able to  tackle the challenge of how to target specific ability levels by controlling the type of question and responses I wanted the students to have.

QR Codes

QR Codes

I grouped the kids into 3 different levels: beginning, middle, and accelerating. In this particular activity, we were differentiating based the content. The topic was all the same (light), but the specific ideas or content was altered to meet the kids levels. The kids names were under a specific colored QR code, with each group having a different worksheet.

QR Codes

QR Codes

The kids came up and scanned the specific QR code with their name on it. They sat with the other students who also had the same color as them.

The students who were at the basic level (and whose focus was on how light moves) saw this picture when they scanned their QR code, which helped enforce the idea that light moves in straight lines.

Level 1

Level 1

The students were were at a middle level and beginning to understand the idea that light can change direction by being reflected saw this when they scanned, which enforced the idea that light can change directions when it’s reflected.

Reflection

Reflection

And the accelerated group, who were posed the question “How can light help us solve problems?” were shown this, light being reflected multiple times to light a plant on the ground.

Reflection

Reflection

The students worksheets corresponded to their pictures. The kids worked with their color teams to answer the question they were asked, which related to their pictures.

Worksheets

Worksheets

Worksheets

Worksheets

Worksheets

Worksheets

Worksheets

Worksheets

In the same activity, there were three different things happening, but all the kids were still learning about light. Some students were re-learning, some students were practicing a new idea, and some students were being challenged to apply their knowledge and explain a new situation.

In all, it was a great activity! It was simple enough to plan and this concept can be applied to any subject. You just need to pick the idea and change it for the students who need to relearn it, the students who need to practice it, and the students who have mastered it and can move on.

What’s also great is that it allows each level of student to feel confident in their own learning. My students working on the basic level had pride in their work because they were able to share their own ideas to the class. Because they were working at their own levels, they were able to understand the material and had ownership of the information. The same goes for the other groups. The kids were able to share with kids from different color groups and learn from each other.

Having fun!

Having fun!

I love using QR codes (just search QR Codes on this blog and you’ll find TONS of other posts I’ve made about my obsession with them) and I hope you can try this idea in your class as well!

Thanks for checking in on our adventure! Be sure to check back soon- and I’ll try to post again this week! 🙂

 

 

SAMR Model: iPads to Modify Writing

 

Puppy

Puppy

Good morning, good morning! The puppy (old dog) wanted to drop by and say hello to you too! He’s busy having some doggie play time and we’ve been busy in our first grade classroom too 🙂

You know we are 1:1 this year with iPads. When the year started, I was really using the iPads as a substitution for paper. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing- and it’s definitely a place to start!

But as the year has gone on, I’ve tried hard to find ways to use the iPad to modify and redefine our learning in ways that wouldn’t have been possible before.

(***This words- Substitute, Augment, Modify, Redefine– are based on the technology continuum called the SAMR MODEL***)

 

SAMR

SAMR

This picture is from the source linked above. If you click the link and log into Thinglink, you can touch each one of those apps and learn more about it. It should also be noted that most of those apps can really fit into different categories, depending on how you are using it.

The goal of this model is to help educators- and ultimately students- use technology in ways that allow them to create and share things that wouldn’t have been possible before.

iPads to Redefine Writing Time

We follow the “Be A Writer” writing program in our school. It’s a weekly writing program based on a anchor text each week. The story we read relates to the writing idea of the week.

I love it and love the books we read through the program.

This week, we read the story “Down The Road”.

Be A Writer

Be A Writer

It’s the story of a young girl named Hetty, who wants to walk down the road all by herself to get eggs for breakfast. It’s a theme my firsties can really relate too- this is the age where they want to do EVERYTHING by themselves AND want to be a “big kid”.

So, our writing theme this week was writing about themselves and something they can do by themselves. Also, we’ve been working on writing stories with a beginning, middle, and end. That meant, this week the kids were suppose to think of something they can do by themselves and write a story about that with a B, M, and E.

Typically, we spend Monday brainstorming ideas. The kids work with their learning partners and orally tell their stories. Then the next day, the kids begin writing. I like this format….

…..but the trouble always is, some of the kids forget what they want to write about or lose the focus from the day before.

The other problem of most first graders in writing is, it’s very hard to get their ideas from their brains down onto the paper. And for my ELL class, it’s hard for them to write complete sentences, without leaving out words that help make the story make sense. (For example, they might write shorter sentences like “Play sister” instead of “I play with my sister”).

Using iPads in writing

Using iPads in writing

Enter the iPads. After we had brainstormed ideas and talked with partners on Monday, the kids got their iPads and recorded videos of themselves saying their idea.

We shared these videos and talked about how some students added details in their videos. For example, some students simply said in their video “I can ride my bike”, but some kids said “I can ride my bike. I ride my bike fast and I ride my bike slow”. After seeing these great examples, some kids went back and changed their videos to add more.

Using iPads in writing

Using iPads in writing

The next day, there was no kid who forgot their idea because they could instantly watch their video and remember!

After shared writing (doing an example like a team together), the kids were ready to write their own story!

We started by having students find a spot in the room. They brought with their iPads and writing papers.

Using iPads in writing

Using iPads in writing

They were told to watch their videos as much as they needed. Around the room you’d hear lots of videos playing, but the kids were totally focused and working.

Using iPads in writing

Using iPads in writing

Each time they watched their video, they better remembered and thought about their idea. And for my English language learners, the more they listened, the more they remembered all those little words to make their sentence make sense!

Using iPads in writing

Using iPads in writing

Using iPads in writing

Using iPads in writing

We started with drawing the pictures first this time, three pictures for beginning, middle, and end describing the special thing they can do by themselves.

Using iPads in writing

Using iPads in writing

After their pictures were drawn, they were able to write sentences about each part.

Using iPads in writing

Using iPads in writing

Using iPads in writing

Using iPads in writing

Using iPads in writing

Using iPads in writing

Using iPads in writing

Using iPads in writing

I am telling you, I had students writing and working in a way I haven’t seen them do before. Writing time is always quiet, but has never been this focused. I had students who seriously struggle with writing and putting down their ideas that were now EXCELLING! It was such a motivation for all the students, and a wonderful support for my kids who struggle with putting their ideas into words. By being able to watch their video again and again, they never lost sight of the main idea.

Using iPads in writing

Using iPads in writing

Using iPads in writing

Using iPads in writing

Also, they were able to hear all the words they needed to write. And, at times, they were able to hear themselves making oral speaking mistakes. I had one student who said, “Oh, I didn’t say that right”. They were able to hear their mistakes and fix it in their writing.

This was such an amazing beginning to our writing this week! Be sure to check back as I update this post to include additional steps to enhance this project- APP SMASHING!

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

 

 

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!

Genius Hour {The Who’s, What’s, When’s, Where’s, and Why’s}

It’s that time of year. Can you smell it in the air? It’s the spring testing season!

During this crazy special time of the year, the kids are busy, busy, busy bees taking tons of assessments. This means a lot of things, one of which being that we don’t have computer/library time. It can be hard to fill this time slot in our schedule. It’s also hard for the kids to not have a break in their day. I’ve tried lots of different ways to both give the kids that slight break they need, but still keep them engaged and behaving.

It’s tough!

A few weeks ago I went to the ICE Conference (a technology conference in the region) and spent one session on “Genius Hour”. I’d heard about it before from other teachers in my school and district implementing this idea, but hadn’t really tried it myself. When I saw this teacher showing the projects her students had created, I knew I had to give it a try!

So what is Genius Hour?

The website  GENIUS HOUR.COM defines Genius Hour as:

“… a movement in schools that allows students to explore their own passions and encourages creativity in the classroom. It provides students a choice in what they learn during a set period of time during school.”

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Basically, it’s a time for students to ask a question, explore an answer, and create a presentation/project to show what they’ve discovered. Ideally, they should share these projects with each other. The idea they explore should be one that is interesting to that particular student.

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Genius Hour can look very different in different places and different grade levels.

In my classroom, since we are 1:1 and all my kids have iPads, we did this project entirely on our devices. But, this doesn’t have to be the case. Students could make posters, pictures, diagrams, visual aides, anything to show their answers. Also, students should be able to pick the way they want to present their information…. in our case, eventually this is the goal. To begin, we’ve all been using the same app to show our work. Goals people! 🙂

Setting Expectations

Setting Expectations

We began our FIRST Genius Hour by talking about what the word “genius” even means. I said that during this time, we would be creating something that was interesting to us.

I told them that they would be given a question and have to create a presentation to show others the answers. (We also had to go over what a presentation is. Sometimes we think kids know all these words, but you really need to break it down).

In my first grade room, I started by giving my students a Genius question to investigate. The questions have been some-what simple and relate to their favorite things. For my little ones just starting out, our first Genius Question was:

Question

Question

This is a question that kids love to talk about and have lots of answers for! While it doesn’t take researching, it does give them an opportunity to create something that is important and interesting to them that they can share with others.

Then, I introduced the app Haiku Deck

Haiku Deck

Haiku Deck

It’s an easy to navigate/use app that is similar to a PowerPoint presentation. The kids create slides by pressing the white plus sign down in the right corner.

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

When they add a slide, they can choose how they want to layout (the text) to look.

Layout

Layout

Then, they can search pictures WITHIN THE APP. This is probably my favorite aspect of this app.

Pictures

Pictures

I’ve noticed that the pictures are generally very kid-friendly- of course if they are searching kid-friendly words. 🙂

The kids click on the picture they want and it appears to the right as a preview. The kids can resize the image by using two fingers. They click save and it appears on their slide.

Along the bottom of the screen is their total presentation. They can scroll through all the slides, move the order of the slides, or delete a slide if they need to.

Here is a student’s final presentation that gives you a good idea of what it looks like when they are finished and scroll through all their slides:

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

How cool is that? This was made by a student ALL ON THEIR OWN. They had to create a slide, write the word, search a picture, pick the layout, and put it all together.

So why is this important? Why should you do this in your room?

1. It differentiates instantly based on level and interest. You students are working on their own projects, instantly at their own level. They are based on their interest, which engages them and helps them want to focus.

2. It allows them to practice creating a presentation. Making presentations to show their learning is something they will HAVE to be able to do as adults. This also helps them get excited about doing things like this in the future!

3. It practices speaking and listening skills. When the kids present, they are working on expressing themselves to others and listening as people present.

4. They are still learning about your curriculum. While I began Genius Hour with a question about their favorite food, you can make them pick a question based on your unit. If you’re learning about stars, have them come up with a Genius Question about stars they want to know more about. There is no loss of instructional time. Only engaged, active thinking, research time!

5. They are focusing on technology skills. Researching, importing pictures, typing on a device. These are all skills that students need. Doing Genius Hour with iPads, computers, etc allow students to practice all of these skills.

 

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

 

 

Whew, it’s a lot of information. But here are some tips when trying this with your kids:

Before you begin, set clear expectations! This is no different than any other time of the day and the kids need to know that if they are misusing materials, they will lose them. This is a time they are having fun, but they still need to be held accountable for their work. How can they be held accountable? In my first grade room, I stopped them about every 10 minutes and had them hold up their iPads as a “quick check”. I needed to see progress being made. If they were holding up an iPad that showed no work, I knew the students who needed more focus.

Pick a spot for you to sit and let the students know your role during this time. I told my students that during Genius Hour, I would be sitting at our back table (which is called the technology table).

My spot

My spot

I told them I was there to help them as they were searching for pictures and putting together their presentation. I was there for technical help.  I was NOT there to do things like help them spell words. Your role during Genius Hour is a facilitator, you are there to monitor. You are there to help them clarify their thinking or help lead them to different ideas. You are not there to give them their idea, to tell them what to do, or to find things for them.

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

If a student had a question, they would bring their iPad over to me and we’d solve it together.

Give students a choice of where they work. I allowed my students to pick their own spots around the room. You can see that even though they are all spread out, they are all on-task.

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Genius Hour with Haiku Deck

Let students know the consequences for off-task behavior. Again, this is no different than any other part of your day. But since this is a much more student-centered time, the kids need to know that they are still required to work and follow rules. Before my kids started, I went over our MAPS (what Materials they needed, their Attitudes, where their sitting Placement would be, and what their Speaking voice should be)

In all, Genius Hour is an amazing time for you and your students. We’ve done it twice now. My kids love it and it’s a way to fill that computer time when we don’t have a special. I love it and so do the kiddlets. They ask me when we are doing “smart time” again 🙂

Check it out in your own room and see how it goes. Are you able to let your kids pick their own questions?

Thanks for checking in on our adventure- be sure to come back soon!