Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Work Station Pros!

We are into our fourth week of school. My little first graders are getting VERY good a work stations since we spend time during our reading and math block working in them. Here are few snapshots from our literacy stations this week. 
Writing Station: So far students have enjoyed writing back to school cards to each other, lists, stories and labeled pictures. This writing unit is from Mrs. Will's kindergarten. Check it out here.
Work Work: We are currently reviewing beginning sounds and short vowels. On Monday and Tuesday students sort and write their sort. Then on their second visit to this station they may stamp their sort or work on sight words.
Pocket Chart Station: Students work together to sort our whole group sort, and then they practice segmenting the pictures and writing the word on whiteboards.
Read to Self: I love how the Daily 5 teaches reading stamina. I have noticed a big difference in the classroom library, as well as during our D.E.A.R time and warm up read during reading groups. I looked over from my teaching table on two separate occasions and snapped these priceless pictures. They were SO into their books.
Read to Someone: Checking out the morning messages and using a pointer to reread them
These girls are doing a great job in Read to Someone station. Poems are a big part of my Read to Someone station. Students can practice pointing to the poem, put the poem back together (from cut up sentence strips), or read big books.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Week 2 Math Stations: Number Sense

Well it only took me until the first full week of school to get sick this year...not a good sign! I remember my first year of teaching I was literally sick every 2 weeks. It was awful. I guess I'm going to have to be a little more religious about washing my hands. Anyways, things are clicking along in my classroom. We are all getting to know each other better and with that new sense of comfort comes a few instances of pushing the limits. As I enter my fourth year in my current district, I have come to learn that as students warm up, their true behaviors and personalities come out. Managing behavior is the most frustrating and rewarding part of my job. Needless to say I have created a few behavior checklists so far this week and spent my Friday making phone calls to explain them to parents and get them on board. Sometimes I feel like I could use another teacher in my classroom just to handle behavior related issues. It's a lot of work, but it is so necessary. 

As I continue to manage behavior and reinforce expectations, I thought I would share some of our number sense math stations. Our grade level relies heavily on Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics by John Van de Walle and LouAnn Lovin. It is the text that my math professor used at JMU and not only explains the math concepts (K-3) but also provides excellent station ideas and black line masters. It is one of my top 3 most consulted teaching books. Some of these ideas came from this book and many of them come from a colleague who is a talented math teacher. We are working on reviewing kindergarten concepts and number sense for the first 3 weeks of school. Since the kids just need to practice this skill, we have been spending a lot of time learning stations and practicing them.

{Station # 1: Missing Number Cards} In this station the students fill in the missing number. Some of the cards have a number missing at the end. Others have a number missing in the middle, like 72, ___, 74. These are fairly easy because the students have 2 numbers to refer to. The hardest type of card in this station is when the number is missing in the first box, like ___, 68, 69. We are currently working on the terms right before and right after to help students understand how numbers work. If necessary, students can use a hundreds chart to help them figure out the missing number.

{Station # 2: Calendar Station} Calendar station is going to be a regular station in our classroom. Right now my students are working on the months of the year and days of the week. They can sing the Days of the Week song until your ears start to bleed, but when asked to sort them vs. the months, things start to break down. I don't have a picture of this, but this station also has cards that say "If today is Monday, tomorrow will be _______.,  If today is Wednesday, yesterday was _____."
{Station # 3: Tens Frames War} In this station, students play the traditional game of war. With the students we call it "Compare." They each get a pile of tens frame cards, count to three then flip a card over. After they compare the two cards, whoever has the higher card gets to take both cards in their pile. These black line master are from Van de Walle/Lovin's book. This helps students master the concepts of "more," "less," and "same." Van de Walle points out that the concept of "less" is more difficult for students to grasp, perhaps because students given more opportunities to use the idea of "more" in everyday life (pg. 38). A good question to ask in this station is "why do you think this set has less." Students will start to see the relationship between sets of numbers on a ten frame and develop math talk skills.
{Station # 4: Hundreds Chart Sticker Charts} There is not a concise name for this station! Basically we took blank hundreds charts, filled them with different numbers of bingo stamps, checks or stickers, and then wrote the number on the back. Students can either play Compare or practice counting and checking themselves. Although students probably don't have an understanding of tens and ones, they are being exposed to how numbers to 100 are sequenced. Van de Walle states, "Most important at this early level is for students to become familiar with the counting patterns to 100" (pg. 57). A lot of our number sense activities include the hundreds chart.

{Station # 5: Patterns on the Hundreds Chart} This picture doesn't do this station justice...so let me explain! Students were given counters to practice counting a collection of objects. After they counted it, there were supposed to find the number on the hundreds chart. However, these 2 students were using their inquiry brains and started having a discussion about patterns on the hundreds chart. The student on the right noticed that the numbers on the left side all ended in 1 and decided to mark those numbers with counters. The student on the left side of the picture was starting to recognize the patterns in a row vs. a column. Here are some patterns Van de Walle highlights (I like the language he uses):
  • The numbers in a column all end with the same number, which is the same number at the top
  • In a row, one number "counts" (the ones digit goes 1, 2, 3 ...); the first number (tens digit) stays the same
  • In a column, the first number (tens digit) "counts" or goes up by ones

There is SO much you can do with number sense in math stations. I have eight stations, 2-3 students at each station and we spend about 12-15 minutes in each station. Students go to two stations a day. Many of these activities will remain in my station rotation for many weeks, until I feel students have mastered them. In addition, a lot of these activities are things that I will do with a small group of students at the teaching table. It gives students who may be struggling with a concept time to practice in front of me and then independently in their station.  I know math stations can be a daunting task, but once you get them set up your math time should run nice and smooth!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

First Week Is Done!

Phew! I was so busy this first week of school I barely had time to snap a few pictures. Let's just say I am SO glad that the first week is over. I've decided I don't like the first day of school. I am not fond of the unknown and like to be on a schedule, so needless to say I'm looking forward to the second week of school and getting to know my little ones and our new schedule! 

Here are some of the read alouds from the first week. Officer Buckle and Gloria was great for our class rules discussion. I used Click Clack Moo to introduce writer's workshop and why we write.

I have a very active group of kiddos this year...so I know we'll be having many discussion on carpet behavior. Here is the "Reading Together" anchor chart that we made on Day 2, inspired from our Making Meaning reading program.
Sorry this picture is blurry...but I loved how this classroom rules activity went so I had to post it. First we watched a clip from United Streaming, called "No Rules" and talked about why we have rules. Then I called on students to tell me a rule they thought we should have. I wrote their rule on an index card. Then we sat in a circle and sorted their rules under 5 categories (Be kind, Be respectful, Be a hard worker, Be a good listener, Be responsible). Although it took a second for them to understand each category, the sorting provided some great conversations and gave the students some more concrete examples of what each of our 5 rules means. Then I posted the 5 rules on our front bulletin board for daily reference.
Our first try at math work stations went well. On Day 3 of school I talked about dot plates and modeled how to play "Compare." Then I had the students practice playing "Compare" in partners before moving the plates into a work station. They loved this station and did a great job! I am slowly introducing content stations. Right now we still have a lot of manipulatives in each station, which I will slowly change out this week with more number sense activities.
I love how our math station rules came out. I had the kids help me write the rules and posted them on our math wall.
One of our morning messages from the first week of school

Monday, September 3, 2012

First Day of School "Must Haves"

The playdoh is made and the plans are done. Labels are printed, folders stuffed and my first day of school outfit is all ironed. It is the night before first grade and as always I have butterflies. I'm excited to meet my new class and nervous about the unknown. Every Labor Day weekend for the past five years I have waited anxiously to meet my class who I will be spending 7 hours a day with. I am sure some of them are nervous tonight too. So what do I do to settle my butterflies? Obsess over my plans until they are memorized, think of a million "get to know you" activities and collect every read aloud possible about being kind, being respectful and being a hard worker. I think I'm ready!
 Here's the playdoh nice and bright!

Here is the newest addition to my back to school read aloud collection. I'm excited to share this with my class this year as I teach our classroom rules. I also purchased this great packet from Jennifer Findley. I love the positive behavior vs. negative behavior sort and class rule booklet. It was a great time saver for me today as both of those activities were on my to do list to create.

I'll be back tomorrow with a recap of my first day! For now this teacher is off to relax!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Classroom Is Done!!!!

After many weeks of planning, my classroom is officially ready for first graders! I'm now at that point where I can't think about adding anything else to my room or my brain might explode. It's definitely time for students to come! Thanks to many great ideas from Pinterest and other bloggers, I think the room came together great. We will see how functional it all is in the next few weeks.
Here is my finished teacher corner. The objective chart is from Think Share Teach. I took our state objectives and reworked them to fit the margins of each subject's bordered page. Then I laminated them and added velcro to the back so I can quickly change out objectives when needed. As you can see, I have a lot of cinder block walls and the hot glue gun worked great! I also love lamps.
Here is a view of my classroom from the carpet in the front of the room.
Here is the front of my room and where I feel like EVERYTHING happens. I added boundaries to my word wall with painter's tape and love how it came out. I feel better looking at it, so I think it will make a big difference for my kiddos who have a hard time focusing and finding words. The green bins will house finished work throughout the day and during both literacy and math stations. The shapes correspond with the table they sit at. Last year I had students turn in work in baskets labeled according to their reading group, but then I could only use those baskets during literacy work station time. I'm hoping these updated work bins will be used more often. Grab your own set of labels from Mrs. Wills here.
Here is my finished calendar board. The date portion at the top is all velcro and I plan on adding tens frames to the right of the calendar to count how many days we've been in school and tie in with number sense. Later I'll add tens and ones, but a team member of mine pointed out that it can be very confusing to first graders who are still firming up basic number sense skills to see hundreds, tens and ones on the first day of school. A lot of our students are still working on one to one correspondence.
Another VERY important part of my classroom...the station boards. This is where students check to see which stations they are going to each day. From left we have literacy stations, math stations and then yes....science and social studies stations. More on how that will work later, but for now I think it's safe to say I'll be teaching a lot of station expectations in the next few weeks.
A little dark, but here is the Welcome banner on my door looking into my classroom. Grab your own Welcome banner here.

Classroom Library: New pillows and a new lamp this year. You can also see my terrariums that I used in my inquiry staff development last week. Let's see how long they live!
Classroom Library closer up.
And last but not least...the part of my classroom that has been getting the most "ooos and ahhs" are my lovely felt chair covers. THEY ARE SO QUIET!! And since we will be spending so much time in stations pushing in chairs and moving around the room, I can't wait to see what a difference they make. It's the small things in a teacher's life : )