Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I'm Coming Home...

Hello friends,
I am feeling a little nervous (like getting on a bike after many years). There was so much going on in my life-life happens- that something had to give. My life seems to have settled down quite a bit and I'm very happy to be back.

Every year I tell myself that I am going to keep the same theme for more than one year, but no matter what, I always end up changing my theme. Over the summer, I contemplated many- superheroes, jungle, and the cool blue cat. I'm not fond of real life cats, but that blue cat won me over! My 1st graders last year loved him and would hum his music ALL.THE.TIME. The other problem I encountered, was that finding decor was quite challenging. I did purchase some items, then made many of my own. So with further ado, here is my class in photos:

My classroom door.

 My Writer's Workshop Process Chart.
Teacher sample with student expectations numbered. The picture direction cards are from Miss Kindergarten.

Student sample (I was talking to my dad-that we can go to the store) with rubric. Click HERE for a copy of the rubric.

 Happy Birthday Card
student pages

 Happy Birthday Class Book--each student will write/draw to the birthday person and then I staple all the pages into a book that they get to take home to share with their families.
 Pete gets to sit with them all day and they get to have the birthday sign at their desk.

 I am loving this blue cat soooo much, that this may be the year that I finally repeat a theme. I am really happy to be back to share what is happening in my classroom. I'll be back to share more photos, my Daily 5 in Kinder,  and my struggles as well as my triumphs.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Love to Read-Dr. Seuss

Read Across America is one of my favorite times of the year. I get to read so many silly books and many with great themes: keeping your word, trying new things, responsibility.

This year was especially special. My student teacher Ms. Anna is fab.u.lous. She taught them this really cute poem, that they also presented at our assembly.

For a special treat, she invited her father, Detective Anna, to read a couple stories to my kiddos.

 Too go along with One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish Blue Fish, the students were given a blue bowl with a handful of fish crackers. They first had to estimate, then do an actual count, and finally determine if there estimate was greater than, less than, or equal to their actual measurement.

After reading Green Eggs and Ham, we made a dessert version (green vanilla pudding, with a wafer cookie, and green sprinkles for salt and pepper).

They got to create a hybrid animal after they we read Horton Hatches an Egg. This was my favorite:

Of course no Dr. Seuss celebration is complete without a hat. We had the students write down the title of the books on the hat as we read each one. At the end of the day, they got to put a fish on their favorite one.

For a sweet treat, we made them a hat topper pencil.

 Last, but never least, here are my kiddos with Ms. Anna. We sure are going to miss her.

How do you celebrate the big day?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Love & Friendship

I feel so behind...but here's a look at our day.
Valentine's Day was so much fun for my kiddos. I know it is a commercialized holiday, but I love it nonetheless. My hubby and I are pretty low-key about the day, eating at our favorite Japanese restaurant and sharing an ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins. This year, that cake disappeared too quickly--teenage boys.
In the classroom, I love the excitement that builds up to the "BIG" day. My kiddos can't contain their excitement to pass out their cards and goodies. I love that my students are so engaged and eager, and the whole time they are learning.  I have posted a few pics of our activities.

 The poem is from Dedee Wills February Poetry Collection- I have the year bundle. They are absolutely FAB.U.LOUS! We read Monster Love. It is an absolutely wonderful story about a monster that feels like he doesn't belong, until he finds someone that loves "him". It is my new favorite book.

 The heart craft idea I got online, but I can no longer find the link. If you know whose idea this is, please let me know to credit them. My kiddos wrote a note to their parents on back by completing the sentence stem, "If you'll be my Valentine..." Their letters were very touching.

They came out so cute!

  The vertical contraction came form Aimee over at Primarily Speaking. Both of these crafts were a perfect/cute way to practice our contractions.
 Of course we did candy sorting and graphing.

We made Love Potion Floats - Cherry 7-Up, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and a maraschino cherry.

 These were the goodies we made for the kiddos. They filled up their baggie with Valentine goodies and cards.
This is my absolutely WON.DER.FUL. student teacher reading Pete the Cat Valentine's Day Is Cool. She bought it for the class and dedicated it to them--aaahhh! I'm going to miss her so much when she's gone.

That is a wrap.
I hope your day was filled with love!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Is That a Fact!-- and a FREEBIE

Hello Friends,
Let me begin by saying that I am a true believer of the writing process. Many years ago, I was the writing coach at my first school and received intensive training by America's Choice. I have never looked back. I don't know if they are still around, but they changed the way I teach writing.

The Writer's Workshop is a format that provides the structure to support authentic learning to write. The workshop is designed to be on a daily basis for 45-60 minutes a day. I know you are thinking, "Where do you find the time?" Well, I find my kiddos learn what good writers do to help them write, they generate their own topics and ideas, work with others to revise their writing, as well as practice authors craft, skills, grammar, and conventions. Now that was a mouthful. The predictable structure (Mini-lesson-5-15 min.,Work Session-35 min., Closing-5-10 min) provides consistent expectations. What's the driving force? The mini-lessons. They are chosen based on on-going assessments, analysis of student work, and anecdotal notes from writing conferences. If you want to know more, there are a googol of resources out there in cyber space. The following are some of my go to books:


               Is That a Fact by Tony Stead, is my go to book for informational teaching ideas. It is filled with great examples, suggestions, and ideas.

So as you can tell, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE  teaching writing AND my kiddos love it too! Which means they work really hard on their writing, learn soooo much, and become awesome writers...it is a win-win for everyone.

We have been writing narratives, opinions, poems, some functional pieces, and have now started a full informational genre study. Their final product will be an "All About" book. Since it is January, and I like to integrate science, I decided to start with penguins-I love penguins.

Week 1
This is how I break it down:
Our first attempt will be very guided. I choose the first topic. I bring out all my personal and library books on the topic. We read lots of books through a variety of reading modes, look at different types of media, discuss in groups, and create class charts.

We do lots of graphic organizers. I do not rely on dittos so much. They will create most of their own graphic organizers in their writing notebook or loose leaf school paper. I model, model, model what I expect them to do on their own and then provide them with plenty of opportunities to practice. 

 Students do their on pictorial/diagram in their notebook.

After about a week, I give them a specific focus--

Week 2:
 "Today boys and girls you will be doing research with your partner. I want you to do research on (what penguins can do). "
They head on out and find only information on the focus area. Together with their partner they write/draw their findings in their penguin books. And because we practice the close reading strategy all the time, they really stay on topic and know they can only write down what they can cite from the texts.

 For the closing, they come back together to share out their findings and we chart it on some type of graphic organizer.

This continues until they do the same for Habitat, Consume, & Predators. They will then do their own treemap in their notebook with 3 items of their choice for each item. Whatever graphic organizer they use, the purpose is to write/draw their facts These are the details they use in their first draft.

They also get to use their close reading passages to gather their information.

Week 3-4:
Students start their drafts. We usually work on one part of what will be their book per day and I provide as much scaffold as needed for their first real informational piece of writing. (This will become a published book when completed.) There writing will consist of the following components:
-Front Cover
-Table of Contents
-Page or more on each sub-topic (habitat, consume. predators, do)
-About the Author

{Diagram sample picture coming}

Day 1: Brainstorm some opening and closing sentences for our writing. We do this whole group. I like to use Think-Pair-Share A Lot, and this helps all my kiddos participate in the formation of the sentences as some of my kiddos still struggle with this and I want them to feel as successful as possible. I then select a couple children with good oral skills to share out and we'll come up with 4-5 good sentences for the first subtopic. We then select one sentence and students will use this one in their writing. Here are some examples of our sentence charts.

 We are really working on expanding our sentences.

I do one subtopic per day. The students also begin their actual drafts on this day. For their drafts, students will use this green bar computer paper I buy online from Office Depot. It is over 14 in. I cut it in half and one box will last me the whole year. It is AMAZING for helping with revisions and editing. 

 These are unedited examples of ELD 2 students. Both of these kiddos had strings of letters at the beginning of the school year.

Day 1-2: Write! Write! Write! They use their treemap to select their choices and to formulate complete sentences. At the beginning of the year we thoroughly discuss kinder vs. first grade writing. Their aim is to have sentences with more than 6 words in them. I also start pulling kiddos to meet with me so we can go over the content and/or grammar. My focus varies depending on the developmental writing stage of the child. For some of my kiddos, I want them to just write, and for others, I work on developing their ideas and using their resources. These writing conferences usually last between 3-5 minutes per student.

Here are examples of a self-revised/edited papers.

Day 4-5: Final edit and rewrite. They write their published copy. This means their best and neatest writing on paper I provide them. Here are some sample pages:

 Click HERE for your free printables. If you grab your FREE copy, don't forget to leave me some feedback. I love to know how to make things better.

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