Friday, March 18, 2016

Five For Friday March 18, 2016



1)  Leprechaun Traps

We had so much fun with homework this week!  Below are a few of the amazing leprechaun traps that the kids came up with.  They also wrote an opinion piece to go with their traps on why they thought their trap would catch a leprechaun.  It was so much fun!  They especially loved when Larry the Leprechaun left them a gold coin, a note, and messed up up the room!

2)  I love Find Your Partner!

One of my favorite quick learning breaks/activities is Find Your Partner.  I make little cards with pairings that could be words and definitions (or a multitude of other things too).  Then, I pass them out to the class (they are in a mixed up order).  Then I give the kids little frames to use if they like (they are free to use a different variation too).  We model what not to say too:

"Hi friend, let's read to see if we are a match."
If yes, then they say:  "Yes, friend we have a match.  Let's sit on the carpet."
If no, they say:  "No friend, maybe next time."

This is a quick movement activity to get wiggles out and it promotes learning.  I love the little break it gives the kids, while pairing them randomly.  I usually do this as a warm up right before we are set to listen for a bit or do some close reading.  Below is a little video of a pair doing it with a set from my NGSS plant unit.


3)  Point of View Writing!

Point of view can be hard to identify in literature for first graders, but it is one of the common core standards in reading literature.  One great way to introduce it and make it concrete for the kids is to have them write in a different point of view.  That way the kids can experience what it is.  I did this in the plant unit we are doing.  Below are some of the great writing samples I got when the kids took on the point of view of a flower. They impressed me with their knowledge of some of the things that we have been studying.  I displayed them with a craftivity from unit as well.  Link below photos if interested.

I love the voice in these samples!

4)   Bunnies!  

Today was our last day before spring break.  Even though we just celebrated St. Patrick's Day, we had to squeeze a little Easter Bunny fun in because we are off for two weeks. So, today we made some adorable hats and had an Easter egg math problem hunt. Both activities were so very fun!  It was an active and great day.

This is the cut out we used to make the hats.  They were too cute.  We folded down the top rectangular flap and attached it to the two top corner flaps on the longer rectangle.  Then we tied the string under the chin.  Firsties definitely needed a hand or two to help :0).

 5)  Peep Science

We had a blast with this peep science experiment today.  We predicted, observed, and concluded.  We put the Peeps in water, soda, and a vinegar and baking soda mixture.  Below are some photos of our fun today!
We couldn't stop at just the 3 liquids, we had to mix them all together and then try that too.

With soda it bubbled and floated.  With water it just floated.

HUGE hit with the kids!  The peep bobbed up and down a bit, landing on its side.  Then it turned right side up again.

After the vinegar and baking soda exploded it left a cute little heart impression!

I tried to capture the video of their favorite reaction:  the baking soda and vinegar.


Saturday, March 12, 2016

Five For Friday March 11, 2016

1)  Asking the tough questions!
     After completing our writing assessments for this round of report cards, I was pleased to see what strong, creative writers my students have become.  They clearly have voice and structure.  Recently though, I've seen some slipping up in proofing and re-reading writing.  So I decided to ask why. I wanted first to have the kids help me correct a paragraph and see if we knew where to put the capitals.  They did.  So, just after that, I asked them to think about why we aren't consistently putting capitals in our writing (even though we seem to know the rules of capitalization).  At first, the kids looked a little surprised to be asked this question, but quickly their answers flowed.  I wrote them down as they said them, and they were insightful. Some said that they we weren't rereading.  Some said that we were rushing to be done first.  And, one of my favorites, was from Adriel who said, "Writing is not a race.  It is something that takes time."  I'm keeping this up for awhile and having them walk over to where it's written to read it before they turn in their writing. 

2)   Plants Week 2! 
      Most of our wheat seeds sprouted, and without soil!  Quite a few of the kids predicted that the seeds wouldn't grow without soil (like the student below) and were so surprised when tiny sprouts and roots began to form in our straws.  We read the article in our unit, researched, and learned the reasons why.  Each day the kids have been excited to see the changes and even more excited to get to the "formal" observation days.  I absolutely love going through the scientific method of discovery like this with them.  I can't wait for next week's plant structure fun!  If interested link for unit is below.
This student was surprised her seed sprouted.
Great news . . . they sprouted!
Loved the learning that they expressed!

3) Math This Week
     This week we got deep into the types of comparison problems and I showed them the double tape diagram method.  It was awesome to see it applied to one of my reluctant math learners on her daily practice.  We also represented numbers to 100 on our desks, and one of my little guys started the project of planning and starting a math club for his Daily 5 project!  I love the enthusiasm.

4) Inferential Questions!
      After hours of running records and questioning, looking at data, and making a plan I had to think of a way to improve inferential questioning for my firsties.  We've been working on it a little all year, but this week we came up with this cute chant to help them break it down.  
5) Thankful!
     I spent the last week at rehearsals with my beautiful daughter for a huge show a volunteer organization that we belong puts on to raise money for the philanthropies we support.  It is a huge labor of love with lots and lots of hours and time.  I'm thankful that I get to have a backstage look at all the hard work the girls put into it and I'm so thankful that I get to spend some extra time with my teen! 

Friday, March 4, 2016

Five For Friday March 4, 2016

1)  We started our plant unit!

     We started our Next Generation Science unit focusing on plants.  I created it using the NGSS standards in Structure, Function, and Information Processing.  This is my fourth NGSS unit that I have created and I love it!  For those of you who have looked at those standards they are NOT teacher friendly.  They are not packaged clearly and it took some serious time and research to decipher them, but now that I have, I actually love the standards.  They contain so much life knowledge that kids need to understand. They also build on each other and are built on investigations (although you have to search those out yourself).   I wish I learned science this way.  Luckily, I have the opportunity to bring them to my students. My own kids, ages 14 and 11 (almost 12) watch me and can't believe the first graders are learning and understanding these concepts, but they are!  We don't have curriculum in our district for them so that is why I write my own units.  The unit is a complete literacy and science unit and the kids are loving it.  After researching in our plant information book and doing science doodle vocabulary pictures we predicted what was inside a seed.  We then investigated and recorded what we observed and learned (see above)

Students testing whether we can grow seeds without soil.

Science is so much more fun with safety goggles and aprons.
We placed tiny strips of paper towel inside the straw and then placed a seed inside. 

Fitting everything inside the straw was tricky, but these first graders did it!

We then placed the straws inside small clear cups with water.  A tiny end of the paper towel was sticking out to see if it could deliver enough water to the tiny seed.  We predicted in our Science notebooks whether we though the seed could sprout without soil.  We'll see!

     Here we are conducting an investigation on whether a seed needs soil to grow in its first phase of development (germination).  I love their little faces. . . so happy and focused!  All of the investigations, books, and activities are in the unit.  

See link below if interested.

2)  Dr. Seuss Celebration!

     We had so much fun celebrating Dr. Seuss and his gift of making reading so fun for kids.  We made our own Thing 1 and Thing 2's. I let them decide on colors and they came out adorable.  The kids traced their hands, traced circles for the head, and traced a bow.  Can you tell I had some assessing to do?  Seriously, they had fun and I got to do some running records for report cards!  We also had a fun, family reading afternoon.  This adorable mom had most of the boys in the class surrounding her.  I LOVE to see kids so into reading.

3)  My first Blog series!

      I have a student teacher this year and she was asking me how to start a writing program.  She sees it now, in full swing, but wasn't with us or her other class at the beginning of the year.  She got me thinking and so I decided to write a series of blog posts detailing how I start, run, and revise my writing program through the year.  It is a labor of love and I've had over 20 years of practice.  I am really proud of my program now and I feel like I have developed strong writers who have a love of writing.  
     Greatly influencing my program is the San Diego Area Writing project which is a fantastic training if you are local.  Also embedded are teaching structure, chants, explicitly teaching introductions, conclusions, transitions, text types, and purpose, power writing, writing homework, parent communication, mechanics, revision, feedback, editing, writing walls, writing handbooks, student created graphic organizers,  mentor texts, and mentor sentences.  All of these topics will be addressed in my blog posts.  I'm totally nervous about keeping up on these posts, but hopefully I will and hopefully they will help someone:).

4)  Leprechaun Fun!

     In elementary school both of my kids had all the same teachers.  It was amazing.  It was so important to my son that he had his sissy's teachers.  All of those teachers loved and were amazing to both my kids, even though they are different. One amazing benefit was that my kids could share memories of fun projects that their teachers did with them.  One of the most memorable was the fun Leprechaun traps they made in second grade with their beloved Mrs. Brown.  Since then, I've really wanted to do that project with my firsties, but conferences, testing, report cards, and spring break always seemed to be hurdles I just couldn't clear.  This year, though, I started planning early.  I incorporated the whole project into a 3 week homework and writing sequence incorporating informative, explanatory, and opinion writing.      Kids read two mentor texts about leprechauns, identify text structure, answer questions, and plan and write an informative (expository) piece about leprechauns.  Next, they read two mentor explanatory texts about how to build a leprechaun trap.  From there they work with that text type and write how they would build a trap.  Finally, they build one and write an opinion piece detailing why their trap would catch a leprechaun.  If interested the link for the unit is below.

 5)  Still training and loving it.  

     Even though some days are ridiculously busy, I am completely loving my training.  When I'm not running alongside my little skateboarder or my daughter, I'm running and listening to Podcasts.  I'm addicted to learning how to be a better person while on my long runs.  It is such a calm, peaceful time for me. What is peaceful for you?