Monday, August 29

All About Me Unit

I'm sorry I'm breaking the "one post a day" rule.  I'm just trying to get caught up.  I know once tomorrow comes (which is technically now!) it will be another busy week in first grade.

I wanted to share a little bit of my (and my 1st grade team's) All About Me unit.  I spread many of these activities over the first week of school.  The rest were completed this past Friday.

 We read "A my name is Alice" and created a class book.  Can you tell that football runs deep, here in the South?!

 We created self portraits (which is a must in first grade!).  I love how they turned out.  This year I did them a little differently.  They drew with pencil, traced with Sharpie, colored the face with crayon, then water-colored the rest.  All in 45 minutes because we were trying to get to PE on time!

 I haven't actually had time to get to this activity, but I really want to squeeze it in this coming week.  The finished products were precious.  It was hard to choose just one to take a picture of.  A teacher on my team took everyone's picture, printed them, and had the kids cut out their face.  Then they finished the picture by adding details to show what they wanted to be when they grew up.  So cute!
The name mosaics are a cute idea from DeAnna Jump.

 After reading "Chrysanthemum" we discussed names (as I'm sure 95% of K-1 classes will do!).  We created a flower glyph to represent each name.  I wrote their names in the middle and they traced with black marker. 
The number of petals represent the number of letters in their name.
The leaves represent the number of vowels
The number of stem pieces represent the number of syllables.

We also made a "Letters in my Name" graph.

Sunday, August 28

Week in Review- Math

I'm sorry it's been a little while since my last post.  My husband was out of town last week, making it a much more busy week.

As I mentioned in a few previous posts, my first grade team spent many hours this summer creating our own math curriculum-- based on several different research-based programs (of course!).

Here's what the second week of math looked like in my classroom:

Whole Group Lessons:
We spent the whole week learning about patterns.  We watched the Brain Pop Jr. pattern video as a quick introduction.  I love this website!  The children practiced rhythmic patterning by clapping while I read "Caps for Sale" and tapping them while we sang "Going on a Bear Hunt."  We also completed a flipchart on the Promethean Board to learn how to create, extend and label patterns.

Independent/Partner Work:

 I gave each of the kids a pattern block template from our Everyday Math program.  They were allowed to create any pattern using the shapes.  I was really impressed with how they turned out.

 The kids worked in partnerships to create patterns with either bears, Unifix cubes, or links.  One person created a pattern and the other had to copy it.  They had to make three different patterns.

To the right is an activity I like to do each year.  Each child is given Fruit Loops to create a pattern of choice.  They glue them on then label their pattern by color, number and letter.  They always like this activity because they get to each the leftover cereal!

Click here to download your copy.

We also did the name pattern sheet, but I forgot to take pictures of it.  I blogged about it earlier here.  You can get a free copy of that page by clicking on the link.

 Math Notebook:

 To the Left:
7 ways to make the number 6.

To the right: Our first problem solving label was just a way to start a discussion about numbers.  We will get into addition soon.

To the left- Class graph: do you have a pet?  Click here to download a copy.   To the right- Estimation:  I brought in a bag of Hershey Kisses.  They had to guess how many and write their guess.  We came to the carpet and counted together.  Then each child went back to their notebook and wrote the correct answer and then "I was too high" or "I was too low."

Monday, August 15

Individual Reading Conferences

I LOVE reading with each of my kiddos separately!  I try to schedule as much time as possible to read with each one.  I am a strong believer that individual conferences help children more than small groups.  In just 5-7 minutes I can encourage, motivate, praise, and address their SPECIFIC reading issues.  My kids are always so excited when it's their turn to read to me.  They are also disappointed when assessment time rolls around and I can't get to each one as quickly.  Typically I spend 30 minutes each day reading with children by themselves.  I try my hardest to read with a new child every 5 minutes.  By the end of the week I have read with each child at least once.  They will also come to see me for a small group (once a week), and another time daily if they are in my intervention group.

I created a little form to use to keep up with all these conferences.  I like it because all the conferences are in one spot.  It shows their reading progress (or lack thereof) and it's great for parent conferences or referrals.  Plus, I can quickly scan my notes from the previous week to remember what was discussed last week.  I like to use a different color pen each week, so I can quickly see which students I have read with for the given week.  I know when each child has notes written in "orange" that I've covered everyone.

There's no way to record every aspect of a child's reading in just a few minutes.  I will just pick a few areas that stand-out to me while they read.  Here are some of the things I'm listening for:

- sight words (can the child read most sight words.  I'll make notes of ones they need to learn)

- decoding words (blending CVC words, using picture clues, using beginning sound, using rhyming words, does child make substitutions or guess at words)

- fluency (reading with expression, correct speed, not choppy, phrasing)

- bad habits (pronouncing "the" and "a" incorrectly)

- motivation to read, interest in book, self-confidence

- comprehension

Below is an example of my reading conferences with a child in my class last year.  This little boy came to first grade a little behind and unmotivated to read.  He had very little confidence and cried every time he missed a word.  My main goal at the beginning of the year was to build confidence and promote an interest in reading.  By the end of the year he was a good little reader and ready for second grade.  If you look carefully at the dates I recorded his conferences, you'll see that some weeks were missed.  Those mainly fell around end-of-quarter grading periods or short weeks in school.  Hey, I'm a REAL teacher and as much as I try to read with each sweet pea every week, sometimes it just doesn't happen. 

Click here to get your own copy of the Reading Conference form

Sunday, August 14

Just Right Books for Firsties

I just wrote my first post for the new first grade blog, called First Grade Connections!  This is a new blog desgined to share first grade ideas.

If you need an assessment to determine which reading level is "just right" for your kiddos jump over to First Grade Connections to read all about the one I use in my classroom.  It's simple and quick-- perfect for the first week of school.

Monday, August 8

Best First Day Ever!

Today was the first day for teachers to come back.  Our kids will start on Thursday.  It was a fantastic day!!! 

The Superintendant spoke at our Teacher Institute this morning and it only lasted 30 minutes- score!  More time to work in my room!

We were told that the State would be giving us $143 to spend in our classrooms this year.  That sure beats $0 they gave us the past two years!

And, the BEST news (drum roll, please!)...  During our faculty meeting we were told that one lucky person would recieve an iPad 2 from the PTO.  They passed out envelopes with the winning number inside.  Everyone opened the envelopes at the same time (it felt like Christmas!).  We were ALL given a iPad 2!!!!  Everyone was cheering and clapping.  It was so much fun!  I can't wait to actually get mine in the morning.  Plus, Apple sells these neat little cords that attach the iPad to the document camera, so my kids can see the iPad on my Promethean Board.  We all got one of those too!  Our PTO is the best!!!!!

Tomorrow we get our class list.  Can . not . wait!

Sunday, August 7

Calendar on the Promethean Board

I have had several questions about how I do calendar activities on the Promethean Board.  I've taken screen shots of each page to give you an idea of what it looks like.  I've uploaded it to Promethean Planet for you to use if it looks like something that would work well with your class.  (Let me know if you download it from Promethean Planet.  The images on their website don't look complete.  I'm hoping that it downloads correctly.  I don't have the Promethan software at home to be able to check it out).  Click here to download the file.

 Page 1: This is the true "calendar" part of calendar time.  The kids can drag the yellow box to mark the day.  They also drag the days of the week to the proper boxes.  I have created this calendar to last until December.  You can easily retype the name of the month as it changes.  I created pictures for each month.  They are just stacked on top of each other.  So when September comes around, just click on the August calendar picture, right click, and choose "delete".  September will be underneath.  You'll need to retype the name of the month yourself.

Page 2: Pledge of Allegiance.  After the pledge, we sing a patriotic song.  For the first four months of school, we sing one song a month (so the kids can learn each one).  After that, they help me choose which song to sing in the morning.

Pages 3-6: When you click on the song link from page 2 it will take you to each song.  I embedded the songs into the flip chart, so all you have to do is click on the music icon to hear the song.  Click on the "more calendar" star to return to the rest of the flip chart (and skip over the rest of the song pages)

Page 7: Place Value Review.  This is the page to record the days in school and drag up the base-10 blocks.  After the 20th day, you can practice having the kids hear the numbers better.  If it's the 23rd day I will say "we have been in school 23 days.  Listen to the number carefully, what two numbers do you hear in 23?"  You would be surprised how difficult this is for first graders at the beginning of the year.  Anyway-- the answer is 20 and 3!  There's also a place to record how many H, T, and O.  So for the number 23 they would write 0 hundreds, 2 tens and 3 ones.

Page 8- Money Practice.  Here the children will practice making the days in school or the date with coins.  If it's the 23rd day in school, they would make 23 cents.  The other option (which is a little easier) is to make the date.  So, if today is August 7th, the kids would find ways to make 7 cents.  This way is easier because you will never be making more than 31 cents.  We practice the coin poems for several months until the kids know them very well.

Page 9- Ways to Make ___- I will pick a number (ex. 8) and the kids will come up with ways to make that number, using addition and subtraction facts.  This is a great time to practice using the 100s chart, and number line.  We also talk a lot about addition and subtraction properties.  The "Macarena Math" song from Dr. Jean is included on this page to practice counting by 1s, 2s, 5s, and 10s.

 Page 10- We practice writing the "short date", telling time, odd/even, and greater than/less than on this page.  With the clock I progress from drawing the hands to the hour, then half hour, then 5 minute marks, then writing the time and having the children draw the hands.  Odd or even starts out simple with just writing a one digit number and the kids writing the words "odd" or "even".  Later I will make it two digits, then three digits.  Greater Than/Less Than also starts out simple with one digit numbers, then two digits, but later in the year I will write addition facts on each side, or draw coins on each side.  Anything to keep them thinking.  It's also good to throw in some equations where the answer is equal.  This one is always a little more tricky at first.  

I stated at the beginning of the post that this is the calendar for the first semester.  Later in the year I change it up a little bit and take out some of the routines that get boring.  I'll post the second semester later in the school year.

Friday, August 5

My Room Has Been Blog-ified

I have collected so many amazing ideas from all of my bloggy friends.  After working in my classroom a lot this summer I think it's almost ready.  I like to say it's been blogified!

This picture was taken standing at my door.  If you look closely you can see the blue posters hanging from the ceiling.  Jan Brady (no, not from the Brady Bunch- ha!) is a first grade teacher at my school (visit her cute blog, First Grade Honey Bunch, here), who came up with this idea to display our word family posters.  Each poster is attached to the blue foam board with velcro.  The boards have wholes punched in the top.  We used the 2" metal rings to hang from a magnetic hook attached to the ceiling.  When I get ready to teach a word family I can easily pull down the poster I need, write on it with a Vis-a Vis Marker and hang it back up.  These stay hanging in the room all year.  Here's a better picture of the posters up close.

 You can see the rings a little bit in this picture.

We attached the word family poster with velcro.  It works great!

My whole class- a view from my table.  You can see I did the same idea with my math posters, hanging from the other wall in my room.

I tried my best to copy DeAnna Jump's tree.  I think it turned out pretty good, but it sure is big!

 A few pictures of my library.  You can't see it, but after reading a post on Ladybug's Teacher Files I decided to number all of my themed book tubs.  That way the kids can easily (hopefully) find where the books belong.  So my tags have the theme "Christmas" and a number "3" on each one.  The new numbers have also been added to the front of each book.  Plus, now they are in ABC order so it should be easier for me to find the tub I need.

I loved the "important times" idea from Amy Lemons.  I really wanted to put the numbers around the clock too (actually I had them printed, laminated and cut out) but I didn't have enough space.  Notice the clock says 11:30.  That's PM.  With young children, it's best to work alone, late at night!

The school wide behavior policy at my school is called "The West Way."  The children know The West Way includes Courtsey, Respect and Responsibility.  So, I printed out the letters, painted them and added the words to my wall.  I also have the days in school (here because I do calendar on the Promethean board) and a tooth tally.

Here's a close up on my Daily "Four" chart.  The kids' names will go on white cards in the blank spaces.  They will move their cards to the correct order at the beginning of the day.  This way we don't waste time marking down their choices.  The chart reads left to right- student name, choice 1, 2, 3, 4 then the next child and their four choices.  I used an old 100s chart pocket chart.

 Our classroom jobs.  I usually only change out jobs once a month.  This gives the kids plenty of time to learn exactly what to do.  The kids' names are written on the ants.

Decoding strategy posters.   I found these on First Grade Factory by Alicia Lochridge
The class compliment chain.  This is a way to reward the whole class for compliments they receive from other teachers (walking in the halls, when teachers come by my room to ask a question, at lunch...)  The poem says "We'll add links to our chain each day for all the compliments we get along the way.  And when the chain and the floor do meet, Mrs. Morse will bring us a special treat!"  I usually will bring popsicles, popcorn, or let them eat lunch in the room- something simple.

Our first unit of study will be watermelons.  My student teacher painted my watermelon sign last year.  I painted the letters this summer.

The first grade team decided we needed to hold children accountable for certain words to be spelled correctly when writing.  Each nine weeks we will add nine more "no excuse words" to the list.  These are the first nine.  They will also be typed on a label and placed on the cover of their journals (and the desks of struggling spellers).

My math tubs on top and drawers full of math games and manipulatives

A close up of my whole group meeting area

I try to have some bulletin boards that stay the same all year.  Once school starts I will take pictures of my class with their 3rd grade book buddies and put them here. 

Here's another simple board for the year.  I need to see a physical calendar, and since we do it on the Promethean Board, I decided to put one in the corner of my room.  Another easy board that needs little attention.  Love it!

The view from another corner of my room

 My bulletin board in the hall. My classroom theme is Morse's Monkeys.  I've put up this same board for 7 years.  Why stop this year!