Monday, September 30, 2013

Teaching Writer's Workshop (plus a QR code freebie!)

I love to teach writing in first grade! They make so much growth over the course of the year. I thought I would share some of my workshop tips with you since I have been absent from blogging (and very, very tired :)). I use the Lucy Calkins Writer's Workshop books aligned to the common core, as well as some of my own ideas mixed in. We are currently in a small moments unit of study. I begin each workshop with a mini-lesson focused on a specific skill or concept.

I begin the unit by brainstorming what we can write about as a group. This chart is hung up as a reference for the entire "small moment" writing unit. Many of my writers this year try to tell me that they don't know what to write about, so I refer them to the chart! I am thinking about printing a copy of this for each of their writing folders with lines for them to add on other ideas as well. 

Each student has their own blue writing folder. I didn't take a picture, but on the left side, there is a red dot sticker, and on the right side, a green dot sticker. The red side holds stories that are done and the green side holds stories that are in progress. This helps organize their work and makes it easier for them to find what they're working on when it's time to write.
 These are two great books I use when I am launching my Reader's and Writer's workshops. Rocket is an easy character to relate to!

These are my writing caddies. They are also used for crafts, which is why there is glue in there! The special markers are just for writer's workshop or craft times. I also allow the use of staplers and staple removers, tape, paper clips, "people" color crayons and markers, and various kinds of paper. A lot of the beginning workshops are about management and expectations, as well as lots of review on writing (stretching out words, hearing all the sounds, etc.). 

We start writing on single pages, but by week 2, we are working on stretching out our story across multiple pages, and including a beginning, middle and end. To do this, we need to discuss how to write a story. Step 1 is to think of an idea, step 2 is to plan by touching each page while telling to story to a partner and sketching with pencil (no words yet), and step 3 is to write the story. My kids have writing partners that sit next to them at their tables so that they are able to plan with them and get help from them.
Booklets are usually introduced at this time- 3 pages for writing and a blank cover. Also, we begin talking about adding details (see poster below). We also talk about matching our pictures to words and making our pictures "5 star". 

The hardest thing to teach (for me) is how to write a small moment and not a giant, watermelon story. I taught that lesson for the first time today! I read a lot of "small moment" mentor texts over the first few weeks of school so that they are familiar to the students when I refer to them for writer's workshop. They are full of great details and awesome story lines. Here are my favorites: 

Today, we made a poster with a watermelon on it (I wish I took a pic!) and talked about taking a watermelon topic (I modeled with going through our whole school day, saying "and then... and then...") and finding a tiny seed inside that great big watermelon. We decided that "changing desks" was a good seed to go with. I also mentioned that watermelons have tons of seeds - so if your watermelon is your trip to Disney world, you might have 5 seed stories to go with it, zooming in on teeny tiny moments during your vacation (i.e., waiting in line forever to ride Space Mountain and feeling so nervous). This takes a lot of practice! I conferred with kids 1:1 today (I got to about half the class) and tried to help them find seed stories within their watermelon topics. We continue to use our mentor texts to help us with it. When I gave this mini lesson today, I referred back to "Night of the Veggie Monster" and how the author could have written about how they eat dinner and his son doesn't like vegetables but he has to eat them anyway and then... and then.... but he instead tells a funny, detailed small moment story about it! This book is a must buy! 

Not at all writing related, but I just created this for my iPad course that I am teaching for K-1 teachers. It is a number matching game with QR codes (you don't have to use the QR code cards if you don't want to or don't have access to iPads/iPods). It's good review! :) Hope you like it!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Five for Friday


I read aloud "Good Dog, Fergus" for the first time since I got my dog Lola. I think this book was written about her!!! 

2. I launched my Math Daily 5 in my classroom this week. I have a whole post planned on how that looks at this time of the year. If you're interested in the post I've already written about how it worked last year, click here! This year is similar, but the beginning of the year looks very different for first graders! Learning the expectations, routines, etc., is so important. 

I am super excited about my new daily 5 organizer! I got this at Walmart. I was determined to find one that has 5 drawers!


These are my iPad rules posters - you can find them here :)

I also introduced iPads in my classroom! I have a favor to ask :) I am currently teaching an iPad course for K-1 teachers in my district and am introducing apps like Jot, Educreations, Lexia, etc. If anyone has any videos that their kids made featuring some of these apps OR has classroom management tips for iPad classrooms, and they would not mind sharing, please send them my way!! :) 

I made some pretty delicious salted caramel brownies :)

5. We worked on a fun craftivity from A Cupcake for the Teacher. SO CUTE! I wish I snapped a pic of the final results, but I forgot. Cupcake's crafts are my favorite!

Happy weekend :)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Five for Friday!

1. I made it through the first FULL week of 1st grade. Barely. No picture needed.

2. Lola got her Halloween costume, and here she is modeling. Picture needed. My best friend's 8 month old baby will be a pirate, so she is his pirate friend :) The girl version, of course! 

3. First grade self portraits are my favorite thing to look at, ever! :) 

4. I finally created some new things for TpT and they're autumn themed! If you would like my Awesome Autumn literacy activities or my Autumn Math Journal prompts, leave a comment below and I will choose 2 people randomly later on this weekend :) They're fun ones - I love the fall clip art from Krista Wallden and Ashley Hughes! 

5. Do you tweet? My class has been tweeting on Twitter this year! We are currently tweeting about our reading stamina and we are competing with our fellow first grade class. It has been a GREAT motivator! If you tweet, comment below - we'd love to chat with some other classes around the country! I love when my kids say "are we 'twittering' today?" Ha :)  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Class Books

My class is NOT a fan of writing. In any form. We launched writer's workshop this week and started small moment stories and they are just not feeling it. So we're taking a step back and making lots and lots of class books together! My classes love having class made books in the classroom library. Some of them have been based off of our read alouds this week, like "A My Name is Alice" and "Brown Bear, Brown Bear". We've also been doing lots of name activities, so two of the books incorporate our names! 

The two white binders are holding our "Brown Bear" style book where the students wrote their name (ex. "Billy, Billy, who do you see? I see ___ looking at me!") We made an alphabetical list of class names and each student wrote the name of the student underneath them on the list in the ____. They also drew adorable pictures of that person in the box on the page! The "Name Alphabet" book is based on "A My Name is Alice" - the kids wrote "B my name is Billy and I like basketball" or "G my name is Grace and I like gumdrops". It also came out super cute!

We use the birthday book as a take home activity for birthdays! You can purchase this pack for my birthday binder here. I just updated it with cute new binder covers. I send this home on the day of the child's birthday and they write about how they celebrated! Typically they also include a photo on the page of their birthday party or a way that they celebrated. This book is a huge hit in the classroom! I love to store my class books in 3 ring binders. it makes it easy for me to take the pages out at the end of the year and have the binder ready for new pages for the next group of kids! They also look nice standing up on my otherwise blank window sills :)

I will be making lots of class books over the next two weeks- anyone have any other good ideas?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Learning to listen!

My class is super wiggly and energetic this year! They don't stop moving! I love using Erica Bohrer's learning to listen packet at the beginning of the year. It really helps them learn what it means to listen with your whole body. We always begin the year with a discussion and labeling lesson about whole body listening. I love Erica's posters from this packet - I always have one on my easel, my front board, and last year, I even had them taped down to everyone's individual desk. Whatever works!
Click this picture to visit Erica's TpT store to download her free packet! 

Here's our whole group lesson for today. We read "Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Listen" by Susan F. Cornelison and "label a listener" as a class. Excuse the strange legs on my first grader in the picture :)
I love this book for this lesson. Click the picture to visit Amazon to order one of your own!

Here's a photo of Erica's poster in my classroom. This one is on my front board. I love how straight forward they are! She updated this packet recently. It's still free on TpT! 

How do you teach your kids to listen? :)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The first couple of days, a giveaway, and a freebie for book selection!

We've had 2 days of first grade so far, and here's what we've been up to:

Lot's of discussion about supplies and taking care of our belongings :) Here we are getting crayons and pencil boxes and talking about how we take care of supplies - complete with a demonstration of breaking crayons by me :)

I use Babbling Abby's Fun With Firsties pack every year. We read "First Day Jitters" by Julie Danneburg (this is always my day one read aloud no matter what grade!) and then use this awesome survey from Abby's pack! 

Product Image

On the very first day of school, I walked into a FLOOD. My room flooded over the weekend with heavy rains in MA :( Not much damage, just a mess of things to clean up before the kids walked in!

We also completed our first day self-portraits from Cara Carroll's "Saved by the Bell!" unit. 

We met this year's class mascot, Pete! He will travel to everyone's house this year. I created a new class mascot pack on TpT to go with him. 

I'll give this pack to the first commenter :) Pete is not included - he doesn't like to travel too far :)

We will be launching our Reader's Workshop this week, and although I don't use Daily 5, I love some components of it! I love the explanation of good fit books and "I PICK". I created a little poster to aid my friends in book selection!

I'm off today, but will be back at it tomorrow :)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Classroom tour (finally)

Finally! My classroom is as ready as it's going to be. I am still adjusting to a smaller space, but I really love how it all turned out!

My chalkboard alphabet is from Lyndsey at A Year of Many Firsts. My number posters are my own. My word wall headers (right) are Erica Bohrer and the vowel glue bottles are The Teacher Wife! The word wall on the right is for vocabulary words.

Close up of calendar and schedule. My classroom jobs are on the ribbon. Hand signals are from my TpT store.

Our mascot, Pete! :)

Another view of the front. My clock now has my clock numbers (freebie on my facebook!)

I hate this space. Those are my color posters from my TpT store, but I can't figure out how to cover this area... we can't have anything non-fire retardant. Anyone know where to get fire retardant/fire proof fabric or curtains? I just can't stand looking at this space because it's not very organized :(

View from the back corner to the door. My door decor is gumball themed :) at the front board is my real word wall (with headers from Lyndsey at A Year of Many Firsts). Also on this wall is my Classroom Rules posters and my voice level posters. I made that frame (inspired by Erica Bohrer) to take pics on the first day of school!

Another view.

Teacher texts shelf :)

Guided reading table with crate seats! My spiffy pink chair is from IKEA :)

Student supply area with table caddies, paper trays, tool box, scrap bins, staplers and tape.

Library and vocab wall. Library labels are by Erica Bohrer.

I added some black shelves that my dad and husband made for my against the front wall to contain the overflow of books :)

Tuesday is our first day (I can't believe it!). I have lots of cute stuff planned, can't wait to share :o)