Don’t Let The Pigeon!

 

Don't Let the Pigeon!

Don’t Let the Pigeon!

 

Hello first grade party people! I’m so glad that you decided to stop by today and see what we’ve been busy with in first grade. As the weather warms up and the school year winds down, we always have lots of  fun things to share. Here’s what’s been keeping us busy…

1

By Mo Willems

During our writing block, we follow the “Be A Writer” program. It’s a scripted series that typically focuses on one anchor book each week. The anchor book is read several times, teacher models, and students independently write. The theme of the writing week is based on some aspect of the book.

At this point in the year, we always finish this program, but haven’t yet finished school! So, we try to follow the same format using books of our choosing.

This week, we’ve been reading the Mo Willem’s books about the Pigeon. We’ve laughed and giggled about the Pigeon trying to drive a bus, stay up late, and eat a hotdog.

Don't Let The Pigeon!

Don’t Let The Pigeon!

Then, the students created their own “don’t let the pigeon” stories. We told them to pick something the Pigeon wanted to ride or drive.

Don't Let The Pigeon!

Don’t Let The Pigeon!

There were lots of great ideas. For example, that poor Pigeon wasn’t allowed to ride a unicorn, fly a plane, drive a monster truck, or even ride a monkey!

Don't Let The Pigeon!

Don’t Let The Pigeon!

Don't Let The Pigeon!

Don’t Let The Pigeon!

What I really loved is how the kids used some of the phrases from the book. We talked a lot about why the author choose certain words and why some things were written IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS! The kids incorporated that into their stories as well!

Don't Let The Pigeon!

Don’t Let The Pigeon!

Don't Let The Pigeon!

Don’t Let The Pigeon!

Don't Let The Pigeon!

Don’t Let The Pigeon!

We also studied the illustrations. Most of the year we’ve worked really hard on adding details to our pictures. This meant, drawing appropriate backgrounds and details to match our stories. But we looked closely at Mo Willems’ pictures. These were different. There was only the Pigeon in almost all the pictures. The details were different. For example, we needed details to show how the Pigeon was feeling or what he was thinking, rather than a background picture.

Don't Let The Pigeon!

Don’t Let The Pigeon!

 

Don't Let The Pigeon!

Don’t Let The Pigeon!

Don't Let The Pigeon!

Don’t Let The Pigeon!

We practiced together, but then they were off on their own! The books turned out unbelievably adorable! And the cutest part is that I’m finding little Pigeons on all their other work as the days go on 🙂 He’s just so much fun to draw!

Thanks for checking into our adventure! Be sure to stop by soon AND subscribe to this blog by email along the upper right hand side!

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!

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!

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!

 

 

Vocabulary {How to Introduce New Words to Firsties}

 

Journal

Journal

In first grade, you see an amazing amount of growth from the beginning of the year to the end. The kids aRE like little sponges and constantly learning and growing every day.

One of the important things we teach is vocabulary words. Even though we are constantly learning new words during units, we specifically teach new words twice a week. We focus on “every day” words, words that the kids might hear in books or people around them that are probably new to them.

The majority of our students speak two languages- which is an AMAZING skill!- and because of this, we have found that focusing on every day vocabulary words helps build their second language.

We use the Evan Moor Word a Day program…

Vocab

Vocab

This is a great program and great words your kids will see and hear in so many stories. I find it crazy that the word we learn that day always seems to pop up in whatever stories we read that day- it’s great to see the kid’s faces light up when they recognize the new word! They also love using the new words all week. We had the word “odor” this week and it’s been a kiddlet favorite- “This wipe has an amazing odor!” 🙂

In my room, I introduce 2 vocabulary words a week (Monday-Wednesday-Friday I do grammar, Tuesday-Thursday I do vocabulary).

On this day, we were learning the word “dash”.

I introduce the word by writing it in a few sentences on the board (the program also gives example sentences)

After we read the sentence together, the kids pick out the special word they think we are learning. They almost always get it right, showing they know how to pick out interesting words!

Using our basic vocabulary sheet, we write the word of the day at the top of our paper.

Then, we discuss the word together. We talk about examples and what it means. Depending on the word, we play a thumbs up or thumbs down game with what the word means.

Vocab

Vocab

We always talk about things we can draw to represent the word. Then, the kids draw their own picture to represent the word.

Vocab

Vocab

Vocabulary

Vocabulary

Vocabulary

Vocabulary

Vocabulary

Vocabulary

I mean- agh! How AMAZING is that picture!? There is so much I love about it- look at the lines to show the lion is “dashing”, look at the expression of the deer! It’s so good!

After, we write a sentence that tells about the word and the picture.

Vocabulary

Vocabulary

Vocabulary

Vocabulary

It’s such a great part of our day and something the kids REALLY love. You’d be amazed how much they remember these words and pick them out of every story we hear or read. It’s a great way to practice our oral language skills and build our vocabulary.

For teachers, this page is included in my Vocabulary Journal Pack- FOUND HERE AT MY TPT STORE! – with many, many others.

Journal Page

Journal Page

 

 

There are multiple other versions of pages, and they scaffold to get harder and be more detailed. As we learn more grammar skills, we’ll start using the pages that include details about the parts of speech. Right now, the page we’re using is a great beginning of the year tool to get us used to learning words. Also, drawing a picture is so essential to learning and remembering the word’s meaning. When they draw, it helps transfer the word from our short term memory to long term. This means we’ll remember it better!

Check out the pack on TpT!

The pages can be put together to make a journal and includes pages labeled with letters at the top of put in ABC order. It’s a great way to organize your learning in class. Let me know what you think!