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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Wow what a year!

Boy this year has taken off.  We have several new programs going on this year at our school and in our class.  We are doing Lucy Calkins in reading & writing.  I have used Lucy Calkins in writing workshop and am loving her updated writing workshop model and how it really interweaves with shared reading, and readers workshop. 

 I just watched a webinar on The Crazy Professor with Whole Brain Teaching.  I plan on trying to start this tomorrow.  I am going to take it slow and start just getting them used to using gestures while they are reading and silently acting out their book at their spots.  Then proceed from there.  If you are interested in getting your students engaged I highly recommend Whole Brain Teaching techniques.  It has truly reformed my classroom and how I teach.  The key that I am struggling with is being consistent with the new procedures and not falling into old habits. 

In math I have started using a detective theme in teaching math workshop.  We start getting our detective journals out, have a mystery question of the day, and we go from there.  My kids are LOVING math this year.  They are so excited to see what we are doing in math daily.  Because of this excitement in math my challenge to myself has been how can I bring this excitement into reading workshop.  How you may ask???? SUPERHEROES!!   Even my girls are into being superheroes in reading and our "weapons" are our books.  I will post examples of my Smart board lessons online soon.

I am working on math stations for 1.OA.1, 1.OA.2, 1.OA.3, 1.OA.4, 1.OA .5, and 1.OA 6.  I will let you know when these are finished. 

This first nine weeks have really taken off.  My kids are active and learning.  I am really enjoying using my new techniques I am learning in Whole brain teaching with my class.  Hope you had a great election day!  

Monday, September 17, 2012

Whole Brain Lesson Planning

So last night I watched my first training video on wholebrainteaching and it focused on the way you plan your lessons.  It was really a genius moment that struck me.  First you start with a question and have them repeat.  Then you answer the question with gestures and they repeat.  You teach with several turn and talk moments so they teach each other as well keeping them engaged.  Here is the part that was pretty awesome. There is a OH YEA/No WAY test where you ask a question and they answer yes/no.  If 80% get it correct move on if not reteach.  THEN...move on the QT (cutie) game.  They cover their eyes and you ask more in depth questions figuring out more in depth knowledge if you have 80% that understand move on if not...reteach.  I thought wow instead of a test on paper that makes perfect sense!  SO I tried it today.  Wow. This is restructuring how I teach and my entire philosophy but I am loving it.  I have participation and can't wait to see what they retain.  I hope that is shows awesome results! I will keep you posted.....

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Whole Brain Teaching

So I promised I would share some about whole brain teaching.  This is something new that I am trying this year.  To be honest, I learned this idea from youtube.  Since then I have started to read some of the articles online and am trying my best to implement some of the ideas.   First change has been that we review our 5 rules at least times a day sometimes more.  They are....

Rule #1. Follow directions quickly
Rule #2. Raise your hand to speak or stand
Rule #3. Listen when your teacher is talking
Rule #4. Respect others, respect yourself, and respect the school
AND Rule #5 Keep your dear teacher happy!  (my favorite!)

We have motions to go with each and the kids know them by heart by the end of the first week of school.  I get their attention by saying Class. and they say YES.  If they are busy I say hands and eyes and they say hands and eyes (put their hands together and eyes on me).  We have partner time throughout the day where they talk and I say teach...they respond OK and start talking.  I must say I have seen a HUGE improvement on the students response.  I can get their attention easily, I don't say near as much and it saves my voice because I can call out one word commands and they know what to do and how to respond.  My biggest challenge so far is being consistent.  I read online that for every 45 seconds there should be some sort of response.  This is very hard!  But I will say on the days that I am successful by the end of the day I think. Wow...what a great day.  This is going to be a journey this year and I'm excited to share it with you!  If you have any ideas, suggestions, struggles, etc. please comment!

Classroom set up.

Wow the beginning of the school year has been a whirl wind.  This blog will be about how my classroom is set up.  I love it!  It is very organized and the kids seem to really enjoy the room.

This is a picture of my cubbies.  On the wall I have my shapes, numbers with words, color words, etc.  I call this my math wall.  I plan on putting some math vocab words up as we learn them as well.

These two pictures are showing the front of the classroom.  I got these great cubes from Target when they were on sale.  They work great for a small group around the Smart board but also the lid comes off and it is an awesome place for storage!

This is my library.  I have the books labeled by Guided Reading level and interest.  The baskets are from Target as well.

This is my small group corner at the carpet area.  I never could figure out a good way to use that shelf until I got this idea from a 3rd grade teacher at our school.  Now I don't have to worry about hanging my chart tables, where my markers are, and it is a great place to showcase the books we are talking about in interactive read aloud, science, and shared reading.

This is my big book/manipulative area.  I LOVE the drawers.  At first I wasn't sure how it would work but I have all my math manipulatives in the drawers.  You wouldn't believe how much room that saves on shelves! 

This is my absolute favorite thing about my room this year.  I got the idea of these tables on pinterest.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE them!  I use them for their math manipulatives, pencils, glue sticks, writing supplies, writing paper, morning work paper,extra crayons, etc.  Everything is out of the way, the math manipulatives stay there all day and the kids don't mess with it until math.  It is amazing what an extra 12 inches will do.  It has also helped the mystery of the moving desk that happened daily last year.  I haven't had to straighten up my groups one time this year.  The desk stay in place and don't move!

I got this idea on pinterest as well.  I had saved Mr. Potato head from the trash at the end of the year thinking I would come up with a way to use it.  And low and behold it was on pinterest!  I started whole brain teaching techniques (which is an entirely other blog entry)...and when the kids win their smiley/frowny game at the end of the day, I add something to Mr. Potato head.  If the frowny wins I take something off, if we are tied...we neither add nor take away from Mr. Potato head.  When he is entirely put together we will have a special reward, maybe eating outside, or reading outside, a treat at lunch, etc. 

This is a picture of my mailboxes.  They were pink but didn't fit the color scheme so we painted them to match.  They work well.  The kids keep their folders in them and I put their homework, notes, etc. anything that needs to go home in their boxes.  At the end of the day they pack their folder, check their mail box, and that's that.

This is my word wall.  I am excited to have it in a place that is functional for the room.  I just finished up a sight word spelling test and I plan on using that data to come up with the words we will be adding on the word wall weekly.

This is a cabinet we covered in brown material and I plan on hanging up student work to display.



 This is a picture of our hallway again where we showcase student work.

I love my room this year.  I just wanted to share it with you!  Hope you can get some ideas to use as well :)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Breaking Down the Common CORE

This summer I am diving into first grade Common CORE and trying to dig deeper into my understanding on how to effectively teach it to my students.  I have decided the best way for me to do this is one strand at a time.  I am starting with the Writing Stand.  In studying this I started thinking let's make it simple what do I need to teach?

1)      Informative (Christmas time holiday’s around the world, about pumpkins, all about books)

2)      Narrative (small moments)

3)      Opinion

4)      How To and Research

When looking at it this way I see a very logical way of implementing this in my classroom.
1st 9 weeks – Narrative –small moments- why? Because the students are familiar with narrative stories. First month I work on setting up procedures for all the workshops this is easy to transition into narrative writing and  teaching Lucy Calkins Small Moments lessons.
W.1.3. Write narratives in which they recount two or more appropriately sequenced events, include some details regarding what happened, use temporal words to signal event order, and provide some sense of closure.
2nd  9 week - Informative – I do a lot with learning about Pumpkins, Holiday’s around the world, and nonfiction reading during this time of year.  This works perfect into informative writing All about  books.
W.1.2. Write informative/explanatory texts in which they name a topic, supply some facts about the topic, and provide some sense of closure.
3rd 9 weeks - Opinion- by this time in the year they will have opinions. This is pretty easy to introduce talking about opinions of books while doing our read aloud.  I thought it may be fun to introduce by having a taste test and they discuss their opinions of different flavors of cereal or fruit.
W.1.1.. Write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or name the book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply a reason for the opinion, and provide some sense of closure.
4th How To- Research – By the end of the year I will have them in the computer lab and around computers enough to really be able to produce a research project and How To Books.  The Common CORE states:
·          W.1.6. With guidance and support from adults, use a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers.
·         W.1.7. Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., explore a number of “how-to” books on a given topic and use them to write a sequence of instructions).
·         W.1.8. With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.
I feel that all 3 of these can be addressed in the last 9 weeks. The students should be developed in  their technology skills to be able to produce a Kidspiration I-Movie on their How-To book.  I will post more as I get going.  To really do justice with this standard we will dig into our technology strand to get an understanding on what we need to address.
Writers workshop really leads itself to teach the strand W.1.5 throughout the year.
W.1.5. With guidance and support from adults, focus on a topic, respond to questions and suggestions from peers, and add details to strengthen writing as needed.
Wit our individual conferencing this standard addresses itself, along with our celebrations we have at the end of all our writing units. 

Here is a few pictures of the calendar that I created for the first nine weeks.  I created a sheet that works great to keep track of notes for conferencing.  This relates to the rubrics for student and teacher and the goals that are on these rubrics.  Each lesson is assigned a Common CORE goal and there are owl I Can statements for each goal taught.  I also created this for a friend in a moose theme if you prefer moose over owls. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

BUILD stations

Last year our school district adopted the Common CORE standards. My stations are based on BUILD.  I found this idea on pinterest and I base my literacy and math stations on the BUILD idea.  All of my stations are differentiated High, Middle, Low and I try to make them open ended to the point where the game or activity can either be repeated or I offer more than one choice in that station.

Here is how I run BUILD for Math (which will be very common to others you see out there).  In math I do a 15-20 minute Mini Lesson, 5 minute independent work (this is where I get who I need to pull or push during this time.  I use this as a "test" so I can see do you understand what I am doing, are you completely lost, or is it easy and no big deal.  My groups change daily.), then we have a 20 minute BUILD station and 20 minute small group.  Well that is how I did it last year.  I plan on doing something very similar next year depending on how our schedule looks.  I introduce one station at a time and we spend 2 - 3 days on that station at the beginning of the year.   This year I really plan on making a big deal on my expectations for each station, what work I expect to be completed, how to take care of the activity, etc.  We may spend a week on each center before we move on just so I can really pin it down and the kids know exactly what I expect.

B- Buddy Games
  • In this station I put games that we have played whole class or in my small groups with the kids that fit with our math unit we are working on.  
U-Using Manipulatives

  • This station has activities based on the skills that we are working on but everything uses manipulatives.

I-Independent Work
  • Last year I needed a stations for my kids to practice word problems.  This is how I used this station.   I put differentiated math work problems and they are on a reading level that they can read independently.  I also read on pinterest this station could be independent reading (math books). 
L-Learning Numbers
  •  This station is based solely on understanding numbers, number order, greater than/less than, etc.  An activity that I found the students needed to revisit last year was just a  simple activity of putting numbers in order starting at various numbers to 120. 
D-Doing Math
  •  I use this station to really emphasize what the skill I am teaching.  Last year we did true/false activities, matching numbers/shapes, etc. 
At each center I have an accountability piece for the students to complete.  Last year we had a BUILD notebook where they wrote what center and a little bit about what they did at that station.  

In literacy some people use the Daily 5.  I found it was easier for me to plan and to maintain using the same BUILD letters just giving a different meaning.  Again I had an accountability piece for each station that the students had to complete.   It helped the students stay focused and know exactly what they are suppose to do at that station.  

B-Buddy Reading/Computers
  • I have several books that I have more than one copy, Big Books, etc the students use at this station.  The partner picks a book out and they read the book together.  Last year I had them discuss/write their favorite part or something about what we talked about in our reading lesson.  I also plan on using my big books and my computers in this station this year.   
U-Using Sight Words
  • Last year on Teacher Pay Teacher I found these awesome cards that had word work activities for the kids to complete.  I put them on a ring and let them choose what activity they wanted to complete.  I also made a tic tac toe board with some of the same activities and used it in my spelling center however, this year that may change.  I gave the students a sight word test as the year went on and that is how they got their list of words that they worked on and it was different for each student.  It was completely based on how they performed the Dolch sight word list and as they mastered the words, their words change.  I also had them find their sight words in their books they use during guided reading.
I-Independent Writing
  • This was just how is was a time for them to write, they made cards, letters, stories, etc.  This year I plan on changing a few things at this station just because most of my kids I found made cards and it seemed to become more of an art than a writing station. 
L-Learning Spelling
  • As I mentioned above the students used their spelling list (I had 3) and they completed a tic tac toe activity (I will post this).  This year our school is adopting Words Your Way so I am not sure how this station will be structured but it will include some Words Your Way activities.
D-Doing Art/Games
  • This year I changed my stations in math and reading 3 -4 times before I got them nailed down.  At one point I got rid of my art and game stations.  I missed it and so did the kids so I brought it back in D.  I put some seasonal art activities here with some directions for them to follow (either words or pictures depending on the level of the activity).  I also have some fun literacy games, I Spy books, etc that I like to throw in just to give them a little break or a little fun.  This became my kids favorite center and  mine as well because it was my fun station that I needed just for me.
  As I get my room set up (in August) I will post pictures of my OWL room this year too :)  Please feel free to leave comments or ask questions.