Thursday, January 26, 2012

Quick and Easy Math Station

This is going to be a quick post as I seem to have finally caught germs from the kids...surviving the ongoing attack of germs until January is pretty good if you ask me! Today we read Ten on a Sled by Kim Norman. This book incorporates backwards counting, as each animal falls off the sled. My students are working on addition and subtraction story problems, so as we read each page we discussed whether we were combining two groups, or taking part away from the whole group. This was a great way to use the vocabulary words associated with addition and subtraction. Together as a class we wrote the addition or subtraction equation for each page on a sentence strip. {If I were to do this again I may share the pen and let students write the problems.} Next, I laminated the problems and cut them apart.

Tomorrow I plan on putting this into a math work station and letting the students match the number sentence with the page. I'm also working on a recording sheet to go with this station. I like this activity because it is hard to put word problems in stations since it requires students to be able to read the problem, which can be tricky. We've read this book enough times that students are familiar with the language already. And, it took about 10 minutes to create with the kids and 5 minutes after school to laminate...quick and easy and I won't feel bad about tossing the cards when we're done!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Little Sunday Project & My New Favorite Resource!!!

Here's a peek at my newly organized and de-cluttered math station supplies. I love the way I reorganized all of my math manipulatives and 8 station tubs; however, I found that I still had bins full of random games, file folder games, and other laminated creations that needed to be better organized. After giving it a little thought, it made most sense to me to organize these materials into 4 bins labeled by the quarter. I wish I had taken before pictures. Now at least I have it narrowed down enough to see what I have to work with. This is the first time I've had enough materials to need to organize into multiple tubs. I have a spot under my computer table where I plan on storing these. Maybe some velcro and material around the edge of the table to cover them....hmmm.

I managed to squeeze this in between birthday celebrations for my hubby. When my students found out it was his birthday, they wanted to make him something. We decided to make him a book about what we know about dentists (since he is in his 3rd year of dental school).  Not the cutest tooth out there, but all I could find during my 20 minute planning time. This page below was my favorite!

I also purchased Mrs. Jump's Reading 101 packet and I am LOVING it. I love planning and teaching guided reading and hate it at the same time. There are just so many ideas out there and so little time to do them in. The Reading 101 packet has really helped me focus my plans and remember that I don't need to get it all done in one 20 minute guided reading group. I'm looking forward to using it this week! Click below to check out this amazing resource (great for new-er teachers!!!).

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Strega Nona Unit

This past week our comprehension strategy was retelling so we chose Tomie DePaola's Strega Nona stories. My class LOVED them. It was one of those units where they were on the edge of their seat during every story. Perfect! Here are some of the anchor charts and comprehension activities that we did throughout the week:

Day 1: Today we read Strega Nona and discussed how to retell a story telling only the most important ideas. I introduced the words first, then, next, and last as ways to anchor our retelling. We also completed this lesson as a shared writing activity. By having four separate sentence strips the students understood that we could only tell so much of the story (aka the important parts). They were so into the story they wanted to tell it all! Then I put the strips in one of our literacy work stations and let the students practice retelling the story to each other. Next year I want to make some kind of printable to hold them accountable for their retelling work.

Day 2: We reviewed Strega Nona and made this story map.

Day 3-5: We spent the rest of the week reading the rest of the Strega stories {Strega Nona Meets Her Match, Big Anthony & The Magic Ring}. I decided I need to do more reader's response activities, so I handed out sticky notes and had students break up into groups based on which book they liked the best. Then they wrote why they liked that book on the sticky note. Easy!

"I like when Strega Nona meets her match and when {Strega Amelia} steals her customers."

This last picture has nothing to do with Strega's just one of those moments I had to capture. We had just finished reading a big book on animal habitats. While the rest of the class was eating snack these students stole away to check out the pictures they were so curious about. I couldn't even get mad at them about not asking because it was just what every teacher wants to see!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Getting Ready to Travel Around the World!

This week (in the midst of testing) we are going on an adventure around the world. This unit correlates with Virginia SOL 1.6 which covers how the location of a place (community, climate, phsysical surroundings) affect the way people live (including their food, clothing, shelter, transportaiton, and recreation). Yikes! That is an involved standard!

Last year we went on an adventure around the world. I choose different locations with varying climates and phsyical surroundings to show the students how these things affect they way people live. I'm sticking to three unique locations:
  • Hawaii (Warm climate with water and various landforms)
  • Antarctica (Cold climate with water)
  • Desert (Varying climate with few landforms)
Each day we will either watch a video clip (I LOVE United Streaming!!) or read a book about each location. Then as a class we will make a table charting the kinds of transportation, recreation, shelter, animals, and clothing specific to each location. 

Last year I made a quick (a.k.a UGLY and PLAIN) passport for my students to track their adventure. This year I decided to spice it up a bit. Check it out below! I'm hoping to post some pictures of our anchor chars and student work at the end of the week. Is this a standard for you? What activities have you found work pertaining to this concept?

Day 1: Hawaii: We will watch video clips showing this tropical location including a "how to" hula segment!

Day 2: Antarctica: This is perfect timing since next week we'll be starting our penguin unit. We'll look at some pictures on the smart board and read a book on Antarctica.

Day 3: The Desert: For this location we'll be watching some video clips on United Streaming. I also plan on checking out books from the library on each of these locations to put in the classroom library for browsing during literacy work stations.

Day 4: Finally we'll return home and review about our hometown and how it's location affects us.
Here is my assessment piece; a quick survey to see what students have learned about a particular location.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Clutter Free Classroom Week 1

I'm linking up with the Clutter Free Classroom Project to share some before pictures of some areas that need some serious organizing. I decided to link up and follow this project because I truly believe that staying organized and thus maximizing time on task is a crucial part of teaching young children. After 3 years of teaching in the school system I am currently in, I have learned that my students need seemless transitions and as little down time as possible. Thus I have to be organized and ready to go 24/7...which I'm not sure is really possible, but it's worth striving for. So here I am sharing my pictures of areas I hope to declutter by buying plastic bins and sorting through them next week. Becuase when you need a thumb tack or the magnetic roll of tape you need it NOW and you better be able to find it before chaos breasks out!

My teacher space in the back corner of the room needs some serious decluttering. It's the space I gave the least thought to at the beginning of the year and it's time to tackle the mess!

This drawer drives me crazy! Every time I open it I can't help but shut it right away. And I just keep throwing more stuff in there. My desk doesn't have any drawers so this is where I throw everything instead.

I love the look of this basket to hold files and other small notebooks etc,.

It looks like I'll be at the Dollar Tree and Big Lots this week picking up storage containers and maybe some type of shelves to put behind my desk on the counter. Hopefully I'll have a post soon proving that I decluttered this area. I'm also working on a "passport" that will help us learn how physical surroundings affect transportation, recreation etc (SOL 1.6 here). It was one of my favorite units last year and I'm looking forward to sprucing it up. Happy Friday!

To see other blogger's posts about their decluttering tasks click on the button below.

Clutter-Free Classroom

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Back in the Swing of Things!

Yesterday was a great day back to school. Just take a look at our color chart! Wahoo! We reviewed classroom rules and I even spiced up our classroom prize catalog to be a bit more enticing. Although we didn't get very much done, we did have a relaxed day back! I'm sure tomorrow will be a whole different story.

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

I shared yesterday that my new year's resolution was to work smarter, not harder. Being the Type A personality that I am, I tend to do everything at 100%. I'll admit it is hard for me to delegate, whether at school or at home. I like things done my way and often get so wrapped up in certain tasks that I end up getting nothing done. Sound familiar? I found two resources that I think are going to help me focus my attention so I can work smarter and get more done.

This part of the post is timely as today me and my hubby celebrate our 2nd anniversary. I'm constantly trying to be the best wife and teacher at the same time. I know its possible and I am truly in awe of all the bloggers out there that are also balancing families. The last few months have truly made me realize that I often put ALL of my energy towards my 20 students and have little left by the time I get home. I know that in order to be happy at home I need to feel fulfilled by my work, thus I work hard. This year however I am going to try to "let go" a little and save some energy for tasks at home. To me part of being a good wife is balancing my career with a clean, organized and happy home. That way little annoyances at home don't set me off after a long day at work.

Anyways, I stumbled upon this blog called Clean Mama. She has some great, easy tips to follow on a daily basis to keep your home clean and organized. I'm excited to follow her and see what she has to share during her Clean & Organized 2012 blog series:


As for working smarter in the classroom, I will continue to follow many blogs as I have found this a frequent topic of blogging. I will particularly be following the Clutter-Free Classroom Project. Can you tell I'm drawn to blogs that provide 52 week plans? Check out the amazing things that this blog has planned to help teachers get more organized and use their space more efficiently. I'm totally hooked and ready to work smarter, not harder!

Clutter-Free Classroom

Sunday, January 1, 2012

It's Official!

It's official...I've blogged an entire year. I just looked back on my blog archive and it was exactly a year ago today that I crafted my first blog entry. A year later, I can't begin to explain what this blog has done for me. Here I thought I would share my trials as a new teacher, but I'm the one who has benefited from this blog the most. It's been a rocky year at times, but I've learned a great deal about myself. My resolution this year is to work smarter, not harder. I don't know if this is possible, but I do know that I continue to learn tricks of the trade. I can't wait to see what I learn from my fellow bloggers in 2012. Thank you for all of your words of encouragement and amazing inspirations. Happy New Year!