Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Time PLEASE slow down!

It's that time of year...the holidays are upon us! I don't know about you, but I am certainly feeling the crunch to find the perfect balance between addressing all the material and sharing the spirit of the season with my students. Here are a few peeks at our Thanksgiving unit.

This adorable poem came from Deanna Jump. I added the food cards for the students to choose what to eat instead of turkey. This turned into a great vocabulary and visualization lesson as I added a response sheet for students to fill out after filling in the blank. 

I have always loved morning messages. This week we got really into making lists of our favorite Thanksgiving foods. I shared the pen and had students come up to the front and help me sound words out. We are also still working on mastering that /th/ digraph. 

What holiday unit is complete without an I Know an Old Lady Who .... book? After reading I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie, students talked with their partner about what they would eat if they were the old lady. Even though this was an easier writing assignment for us, I took advantage of the simplicity of the project by reinforcing capital letters and punctuation, as well as spacing. I love how they came out and they really brighten up our hallway!

This last part is from before Thanksgiving but I wanted to share our first attempt at non-fiction writing. During shared reading we read about worms and worked on topic, main idea and details. Then during Writer's Workshop we constructed on a brace map (see below) where we charted our new learning. Students then used the map to help them write an informational book about worms. They loved trying to write their own "Fun Facts." 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Feeling Very Honored

I debated about whether or not to blog about this, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized how much my blogging has impacted my latest achievement. This past Thursday I was named my school district's 2013 Teacher of the Year. Myself and 49 other nominees from around the city were recognized at a program and reception on Thursday night. I am completely shocked and honored to have been chosen as Teacher of the Year. The best part so far has been the excitement and school bonding that has happened since I was announced as the top teacher. There was an energy in the halls yesterday at my school that I have never felt. I'm so happy to share the recognition with them and hope that it serves as a catalyst for a terrific rest of the school year. To all my blogging friends, thank you for always serving as a source of inspiration and encouragement. A lot of who I have become as a teacher started with this blog.

Very honored!
At my Channel 8 interview with Morgan Dean on Friday morning.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Update

What does a teacher do while waiting for a hurricane? Catch up on tv shows and organize that black hole of a teacher's bag! Stay safe everyone!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Where Did October Go?

I can't believe it will be November this week! For many reasons I'm happy to be ushering in this new month. Mostly because the marathon I've been training for since May will finally be here. Yikes! Between training for the marathon, my husband's work travels, and the bazillion obligations at work this month, my little blog has been neglected. But as we hunker down for Sandy, I figured today was a great opportunity to get caught up!


First, the delicious apple sauce made during our apple unit. The kids thought it was delicious and ... an added bonus was how wonderful the room smelt for parent teacher conferences!

We have been learning about shapes. My students struggled with understanding the difference between a rectangle and a square and being able to explain how they knew something was a square or rectangle. We went on a little shape walk one day. Who knew how many things are shaped like a rectangle or square just in our first grade hallway. The walk provided great conversation and math talk about squares and rectangles. Plus, first graders love clipboards!

Next, our water unit in science. I've really been trying to embrace inquiry science, so I let go of my controlling tendencies and let the students mix their own solids and liquids in water. They got to see each experiment up close and because they actually did it themselves instead of watching a teacher demonstration, they seem to have a better understanding. We only spilled one cup of red Kool Aid and one cup of oil and water...ooops. Our WONDERFUL art teacher pulled in this science standard during her lesson with oil pastels and why students shouldn't get them on their clothes.

This is my first year using a science notebook and so far I love it. Sometimes I make a recording sheet to glue in the notebook and sometimes I leave it up to the students to decide how to represent their observations. We used our notebooks a lot this week!

Scientists in action!

Trick or Treat: Worms?!

This week will be the first week we really dive into nonfiction in our classroom. I LOVE teaching with nonfiction because it is always so high interest. Our pacing guide has us covering topic, main idea and details. This year, under the leadership of one of my teammates, our first graders have started composting in our garden. Although the garden is a work in progress, the composting is in full swing, complete with worms. We decided to learn more about our little worm city since it fits perfectly with our nonfiction standard. 

Over the past few weeks my students have been learning about how to use their schema while reading. I love Debbie Miller's book and always teach schema some time in the first quarter. It is a useful lesson to help students learn how to activate their prior knowledge and apply it to a new book. This week we will of course focus on our schema about worms. We will learn how our experiences composting in the garden fit into our schema about worms. I love how Deanna Jump uses her "Chit Chat" message to get ready for a unit. Here is the morning message I will introduce tomorrow, inspired by Mrs. Jump:
Today we will __gin our worm unit. We will lear_ lots of __teresting things about worms! What schema do you __ready have?
Then during our read aloud time we will begin our schema chart. Students will share what they already know about worms and I will add this information to the chart on a sticky note under "Our Schema". Students will add to this chart throughout the week as new information is learned under the "New Learning" heading.  

During Writer's Workshop we will begin our first nonfiction piece titled, "All About Worms." For pre-writing students will help me fill out this tree map and then they will complete their own version at their seat.

I expect students to complete one page each day. I have chosen certain skills to practice based on the nonfiction book we will read that day. For example, one day we will draw and label a diagram page because our read aloud for the day will have an example of a diagram. Another day students will fill out a "Fun Facts" page, just like the mentor text for that day. I'm providing students with a lot of support for this first crack at nonfiction, so I created a book that they will fill out. As the year goes on, students will get more say in how to create their nonfiction pieces. Here is the template students will use. I'll be back next week to let you know how it all goes. Hopefully Sandy won't interrupt any of this unit. Have a great Sunday and stay dry!