A few weeks ago we spent nearly an entire Friday building a cloning machine. The entire process left me with a desire to schedule more of those types of activities. Here’s a quick recap of our process and a few photos! We were smack dab in the middle of an Opinion Writing Unit, so it was the perfect time to use our persuasive writing skills. Students were challenged to think of an idea that they could support. One they wanted to convince others to support. I asked them to help me brainstorm things that they’d like to do, but can’t. We also brainstormed problems that need a solution as well as things we don’t necessarily enjoy doing because they are not fun or take up too much time. We added these ideas to our SMARTboard file. The conversation we had was really interesting! Using our brainstorm list, I encouraged students to pick an idea and write about it. I shared a story frame for those that needed that support. They were so busy writing! After, students were asked to share their opinion pieces. We practiced our listening and speaking skills. Students were encouraged to listen carefully and to determine if they […]
I’ve said it before — I just love studying penguins with first graders! I share our unit study ideas here, but in this post, I’d like to share an add-on activity that I’ve done with my class the past three years. I received Spy in the Huddle as a gift for Christmas. It’s long, but if you break it up into snippets, it’s doable. I’ve identified “stops” for each of the three episodes. We stop the video every once in awhile for review, discussion, debate, and learning! Download Stop and Go Teaching Points While I own the DVD, we view it on Netflix because it’s much easier for two reasons: Our new laptops don’t have DVD drives. I could check out a drive from the library, but it has to be returned daily. Netflix “remembers” where we’ve left off each day. Video is a powerful tool for learning. With that said, I want to be sure that the digital media that we use in our room is purposeful.
One might think I own stock in plastic storage solutions, but I don’t. I just realize that a well organized classroom is beneficial for many reasons. Organization leads to students who understand structure and can carry out routines and expectations that you set forth. It also plays a big part in lesson success. Read on to discover my top five favorite storage solutions. Three years ago I ventured into the world of paperless parent communication and adopted a classroom parent communication app. After careful review and testing, I choose Bloomz as my parent communication app. It keeps my students’ families and me organized on so many different levels! It is robust and covers a lot of different facets of communication that others don’t. You can check out my comparison chart to see the differences for yourself. My favorite part of Bloomz is that it is easily accessible and immediate. It acts like a folder in the sense that it stores all communication from me in digital form and archives it, meaning it is accessible until I delete it! I can communicate with my parents through a post, message, or announcement. I’ve reduced the amount of paper I send home by 97%. […]
Establishing a terrarium in our classroom wasn’t a planned event. It happened because one of my kids brought in a cocoon and we needed a place to put it. I thought it might be nice to put it behind glass so that they could observe, ask questions, and make predictions. We had hoped that whatever it was would emerge before school let out for the summer– but it didn’t, so I took the terrarium home and emailed updates to my students’ parents. My students’ excitement for the summer news was fun to see, so bringing the terrarium back to school once summer ended was a no-brainer. I wanted to replicate that curiosity and engagement throughout the year. Our short time with it that past spring was proof to me that a classroom terrarium is a powerful learning tool. One that every student should have access to. This school year, the terrarium celebrates it’s eleventh year in my classroom. It’s been a wildly, fun experience. Read on to learn more! A lot of teachers ask me why I don’t have a permanent classroom pet. Truthfully – my first answer comes from a place of selfishness — I really don’t want to put […]
You may have already read about how personalized learning works in our writing workshop routine. I continue to refine personalized learning routines in my classroom. Up until recently, my students have been working as a class with the same writing checklist. Mini lessons have built up to our class writer’s workshop checklist. Students used it during their independent writing time as a reminder of what was expected. They were encouraged to use it as as a “mental checklist” when they reread their work. It helped them to keep in mind the skills that have been our focus. While was a beneficial tool during writer’s workshop for many, many weeks, it became apparent that personalized checklists were needed. Deciding which specific goals students should have on their personalized checklist is a two part process. First, I confer with each writer and ask them what their perspective is. They are encouraged to be reflective. The dialogue we have helps me to know what’s important to them and what they’ve noticed about their own writing. During the first half of the year, my students seem to have a common set of goals that they needed to work on as a whole. header (name, date, and checklist […]
My first grade writers have been working to find small moment stories. We’ve had success using the watermelon analogy, when paired with our own story ideas. To introduce the concept, we took a walk in the woods. Our “big idea” was the walk in the woods, and we worked to identify the smaller stories within that story. I modeled this a few times with my students before asking them to find their own small moments to write about. We’re using Lucy Calkin’s Units of Writing as a supplement. The strategies she suggests have been pivotal in growing our writing skills. Every day we review the process for generating an idea, planning out our story (pre-writing), and illustrating/drafting. The above and below images are reviewed daily. I often change out my ideas and have them occasionally vote which one they’d like me to write about. In an effort to keep the mini lessons short and to the point, I sometimes choose to not write every word of my modeled story. Instead, I draw squiggles for words as I share my story out loud, and every so often model a previously learned skill — Hearing and Recording Sounds in Words. Sometimes I’ll have the […]
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