Saturday, January 30, 2016

Five For Friday January 29, 2016

1)  Writing Goals!  

We're at that point in first grade where it's time to fine tune our writing for the second half of the year.  I feel my firsties have a nice concept of the text types and they no longer are afraid to write and make mistakes.  I love this part of the year!  They are talking about different introductions, coming up with new conclusions, and reading like writers.  Just the other day, one of my little guys came running up to me with his iPad, pointing a page in his Raz Kids book:  "Look! Mrs. Miller, they wrote the conclusion the "J" way!  He noticed that the author used a comparison to conclude the writing.  We nicknamed it the "J" way after one of my students last year who LOVED to conclude his writing that way.  I'm always looking for new easy ways to manage writing goals, since they shift so often.  So, I decided to let the kids choose a character to represent themselves, color it, and then I typed up their writing goal (that we discussed together). I printed it on colored paper and stapled them to the wall at their eye level so that they could physically check their writing goal daily before they decided to write or do Daily 5.  When they are ready to move on from that goal, I'll staple a new goal on top.  That way the kids can have a record of all the goals they mastered or worked on during the year.  It has been a great success so far!  Kids love going to the board, and I love the kids taking charge of their learning.  When we conference now, the first thing they do is address how they did on their goal.  They are motivated to master it and try a new one.  Once again, I love first graders. Their openness and excitement is contagious!

2)  Writing Complete Sentences!

Up until this point I've done a lot of scaffolding when we respond to literature or informational text.  I've modeled, done lots of oral practice, and explicit teaching on how to answer questions using the tools the questions give us (word choice, spelling, etc.).  This week I released, but not without bringing some fun into the mix.  Right now we are doing our Being an American (American symbols, heroes, and landmarks) unit.  Our article, on the Bald Eagle, had lots of great information and I wanted the kids to answer (in complete sentences)  the text dependent questions. To make sure the kids had a good concept of what to do and what not to do, I had each table put together puzzles that contained the question, the correct way to answer it (in a complete sentence) and the incorrect way to answer  it.  They had so much fun putting together the puzzles, talking about the right way to do it, and laughing about the wrong way to do it.  First graders love to point out mistakes!  They also did so much reading during the activity.  When they all went to answer the questions on paper in their Being an American book they were met with success!  I just added these puzzles to my unit, as well as, Find Your Partner/Center activities, and an adorable Statue of Liberty craftivity.   My student teacher and I were amazed at how much better they did this week than last.  If you bought my Being an American unit on TpT please look for the update and re-download for FREE.  I am continually adding new things as I work with my firsties to all my units.
3)  Script Writing!
I love Daily 5.  I love the freedom of choice. I love the freedom of learning.  And I love to see photos like the one below.  The little guy in the foreground is reading about hammerhead sharks, taking notes, and preparing to make an iMovie script.  After the script is done and we have edited/revised together, he will put together his iMovie after screenshotting and editing images that he chooses.  At this point in the year, this is one of my firsties favorite things to do.  They love being movie makers!  I love the writing that they do in this process.  I designed scripts that go with each text type, and basically follow the structure of the text type.  This little guy is working on an informative movie on hammerhead sharks.  He will take notes, write his script (that is basically an informative piece in script format), and create his movie.  We share them with parents and in class.  The other thing I love about this picture is that it is choice in action.  The little across from him is working on his long vowel o packet.  He chose word work for his daily 5 task.  Seriously, if you haven't read about Daily 5 yet, check it out. It is definitely worth a look!

4)  Marathon Training!

I'm so excited to be training for my first marathon in almost 16 years!  If you haven't heard of Hal Higdon's training schedules check them out!  I used his schedule 16 years ago and I'm using his today.  Although injury free is a promise no one can make, his schedules are a good bet to keep you healthy in your pursuit of your goal.  I'm following the one below for now, and might advance up to the next level, if I can.  That is, if life allows me.  This one is an intermediate 1 schedule, but he has all levels.  I'm excited!  

5)  February Writing

We've been doing writing homework all year, focusing on one text type each month.  I'm excited that this month, February, I'm mixing up all the text types in the month and letting the kids practice all 3 in homework.  In class we've been practicing all 3 types all year, but I wanted parents and kids to have a firm concept of what each text type entailed in homework.  They are ready!  If you're interested in this unit, check it out below.  We do it for homework, but it can be done in class too.  Each topic comes with paired, mentor texts, activities, and a writing prompt/activity with plan.  The unit also provides for differentiation and comes with wall posters that outline each text type.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Winter in Southern California!

Winter in Southern California might not have tons of snow (at least at the beach), but we do enjoy our winters.  Here in San Diego, we really don't have traditional seasons, but things do change.  Yes, we're babies when it comes to cold.  We wear UGG boots if the weather is in the 60's and I literally have to bring a blanket with me to pick up kids from practices in the evenings because I am freezing. Even my transplant friends adjust to the perpetual 70 degree weather and feel the pinch if it dips below.  All kidding aside, we are incredibly lucky to have most of our days be outdoor days. I am so grateful to be able to be able to see the sun most days.  Our lives are truly based on it, and I appreciate it every day.  Here are a few ways we spend our winters in So Cal:
Even though my daughter and I are just summer surfers, we still enjoy taking a walk with the boys on the beach. The beach is probably my absolute favorite thing about So Cal.  
Sunset walks with my littles are another favorite.  This is a shot of Torrey Pines State Reserve, seriously one of the most beautiful hikes in San Diego.
Water sports are another benefit of Southern California!  My daughter and a few of her friends went tubing (with wetsuits)!  
Outdoor fun keeps going with my little guy catching some air.  Skateboarding is HUGE here in Southern California.  Even though I literally cringe each time he does a trick, I love seeing how much he loves it!
Thanks for hopping by on the blog hop!  Below is a link to my winter freebie.
Please continue the hop and head over to the  wonderful blog below to check out How Kristen Kalani enjoys her So Cal winter!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, January 18, 2016

Five For Friday! January 15, 2016

1)  Second Week of FREE editable lesson plans.  Here they are:

2) Text Features Fun!

The kids had a ton of fun learning about text features this week.  They went on a scavenger hunt and LOVED playing the Build an Article game.  I really feel both of these things helped even my language learners understand text features much better.  Both activities are in my MLK unit (link below).

3)  Our New Narrative Input Chart!

There is always a big excitement when we place our next narrative input chart up.  The kids love trying to guess what our next topic will be about!  I write stories that go along with our units that feature two characters, Kaya and Bob.  Bob teaches Kaya things by taking her on adventures.  The narrative always goes with our social studies and science units.  This idea came about from my class last year.  After the first one I did with Kaya and Bob, the kids kept asking for them.  So, I just decided they would become our class characters.  It worked great.  The kids love them like any other character from a series.  They are found in my science and social studies units as a unit opener.  I read the story that goes along with the pictures and then I write key notes and vocabulary on the chart while I'm retelling the story.  The subsequent days, we work interactively with the story focusing on vocabulary and background building.   As I'm writing this I just realized I forgot to add the sequence in the lesson plans above, but I will do chart before Being an American Unit.  There are 2 narrative input charts in that unit.   Link below:

4)  What's Inside a Number?

Starting place value with little guys is always fun!  They love the base ten blocks, beans, counters, and quick tens.  But, at the core, place value and having a good sense of numbers is absolutely essential to any math they will have from this point on.  I've always taught the kids that other number are inside of numbers to help them grasp the concept of expanded notation, but this year our team decided to expand further on that concept by having the kids really think about where they are in their own understanding.  Taking charge of your own learning is a school wide initiative that we focus on daily.  We came up with this poster as a team and I am excited to roll it out to the kids next week.  As we move through the unit, hopefully they will move through their level of understanding.  We use Engage New York/Eureka.  I created power points to go with each lesson, vocabulary wall cards, and differentiated pages to go with each lesson in Module 4. The link for the unit is below.

5)  Central Message

We came back this past week and reviewed central message of some of our class favorite stories.  Below is the chart we made.  

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Five For Friday January 8, 2016

1) Freebie - Editable Lesson Plans

I'm starting my first blog of 2016 with some gratitude. I feel so blessed to be on this TPT adventure.  It is incredibly time consuming, exciting, and there is a great collegiality among the teachers, authors, and bloggers I have met.  Here are some sample lesson plans as a freebie.  I always love to see how other teachers organize their day.  I included the products that I'm using in my class right now.  Almost all of the products in my store are products that I use regularly in my class. That is why I update them and add to them so often. Kids change and with the change the curriculum needs to change too!  
Hope it is helpful!

2)  The Jack and Jill Marathon

I'm so excited because my word for 2016 is balance.  I'm doing something just for me, which I haven't done in awhile (at least on this scale).  I was sitting next to a friend while watching my daughter cheer at a game and she was telling me that she just signed up for a marathon. She showed me pictures and in an instant I knew I had to do it (totally not me -I'm a planner to a fault).  Although I'm an avid runner,  I've never travelled anywhere for a race. I've always thought it too expensive, and I haven't even done a race in years because I just couldn't justify the expense.  I can't explain it, but I just knew this was right.  I've also kind of felt like I've been in a running rut.  My one and only marathon was 16 years and 2 kids ago. It scares me a lot, because I know the time it takes.  To be honest, I don't know where I'll find it, but I'm not stressing it.  It's not about times anymore for me.   I'm so excited, mostly to challenge myself mentally and physically. 

3)  Balance

I don't know if anyone else feels it, but sometimes I can totally get out of balance.  I was lucky enough to have 3 weeks off.  My district goes back really early, but we do have longer breaks in between.  I found balance during the break physically with yoga and running and mentally with organizing, slowing down, and actually making my family nice meals!  I really hope I can keep it going at least a little bit more than I had been doing in 2015.  I need it for 2016!

4)  Text Features!

Before break I gave my kids some assessments and I really thought they had a good concept of text features.  But, I was wrong.  They had some easier ones down, but I needed to do something different to get the information to them in a fun way and still cover material I need to teach.  So, I created a Martin Luther King Jr. unit that focuses deeply on showing kids how to navigate text features in informational text.  Below is the link if you are interested. I'm excited to use it when we get back!

5)  Fun Math Game!

The pic below shows my students having fun with a Make a Ten Game that is easy and almost no prep (if you have 10 frame cards).  Here's how to play:

Each pair needs a stack of 10 frame cards (20 or so)
1)  Mix up cards.
2)  The first player turns over 8 cards facing up, leaving a pile facing down.  Player 1 tries to find as many combinations to make 10 as possible.  (For example:  2 and 8 make 10 or 2, 3, and 5 make 10).  They can take the cards that make up 10 and keep them.
3)  Player 2 adds any cards to the face up that were taken by using the pile that are facing down. Player 2 tries to make as many combinations of 10 as possible.
4)  Play continues like this until all cards are gone.
5)  Player with the most cards at the end wins.