Thursday, September 8, 2011

Word Wall Word Practice

Our First Grade team created these videos on Keynote, exported them as .mp4 or .mov and added them to our play lists on our classroom ipods. It was an easy process to then add them to our Wiki for at home practice. I also use a "book" with these words in them to keep track of what words the kids know. Each kid keeps one in their "just right reading bag" so I can keep check during individual conferences. I also put a link on our classroom blog and gave the parents information about how to find the lists.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Twist on Interest Inventories

I have always struggled with interest inventories. In theory I understand how they can be helpful but I have never found one that felt "just right". This year my school is implementing a new schedule for meeting student's needs in reading. I will have a "flood" of specialist come into my room twice a day during my Daily 5 rotations. I wanted a way for them to get to know the children as well. So I thought of making an folded paper book for each child. We will spend the first week making it and then keep it in our "just right reading bags". During our Daily 5 rotations a teacher/specialist can confer with a child using the book to get to know each other better. I made each book by folding large paper into a book. This makes a six page book. The pages will include
"Family"= draw everyone who lives with you
"School"= favorite thing(s) to do at school
"Home"= favorite thing(s) to do at home
"Books"= things I would like to read about
"Friends"= my friends
"Reading Log"= the last page will be the start of a reading log to write down the titles of books they have learned to read. (I am thinking about stapling small sized legal pad pages to have lines here)

What types of Interest inventories have you found useful in elementary grades?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Digital Blue Microscope

One of my favorite things to use with my "firsties" is a Digital Blue Microscope. They are not that expensive and when used with the Smart Board there is a whole lot of bang for the buck. Kids are always finding things from nature and it is so much fun to plug in the Digital Blue Microscope and take a closer look at what they have found. We have put together many project using it. Here is a sampling.
This is what we did today.
Looking at caterpillars and wasp

We did these earlier.

This one is from several years ago but I really love it.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Book Whisperer

I have been reading The Book Whisperer By Donalyn Miller. Donalyn is a 6th grade L.A. and S.S. teacher. She believes in the power of reading. Although I am a First Grade teacher, I found much of what she said about teaching the love of reading to line up perfectly with what I believe even with "Firsties". I had just been reading the section about "stealing time for reading" on Sunday, Mother's Day. As I slipped in to my pew at church I waved "Hi" to one of my "Firsties". Then I noticed that she was reading her library book. I smiled to myself although I had mixed feelings. I was so happy to see that she was "stealing time to read" but in church??? My worries were soon put to rest, for when the service started she quietly closed the book and put it to the side. I feel validated that we truly can teach a love for reading to 6 and 7 year olds. They can learn to use every minute to get in a bit of reading time. There is nothing I love more than reading stories to children. I have always hoped it was contagious. Our school is moving toward the Daily 5 model for our schedule and the CAFE for our conferring. Everything is coming together. I love my job!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pirates! ARRRRR

We have been reading Adventure According to Humphrey by Betty Birney. We love all these books because we love little furry creatures. We have a classroom pet guinea pig named Pee Wee. Sometimes he talks to us just like Humphrey does in these books.
peewee copyIn this book Humphrey is longing for some adventure. The kids are building ships and reading a story about Pirates, called Jolly Roger's Guide to Life by I.C. Waters. We are following @piratejokes on twitter too. This has been a fun way to learn the "ar" chunk for spelling.

We also love this Pirate video.... ARRRRR

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Expanding Vocabulary

Expanding Vocabulary has been a place I have been the most stumped while implementing The Daily Five and CAFE. This year my Teachers as Learners Group, called TALK, decided to study Comprehension From the Ground Up by Sharon Taberski. This book was great for expanding my knowledge on helping kids improve their comprehension skills with strategies. My favorite thing I learned from this book was a way to work on vocabulary. I have been keeping a big chart and adding words to it but it just wasn't becoming part of our day and I did not notice kids using the words in their conversations. Sharon's idea is to put Teir 2 words on a sentence strip and then go on a word hunt.

This has worked like a charm. During our Daily Five rounds students are challenged to find words in their personal reading bags. During our transitions they bring the book back to the rug and read the sentence that contains the word to the class. Then we add a tally mark. If a student uses the word in conversation we also add a tally mark. When we have found or used the word 15-20 times we retire the word to our word wall. We keep noticing them but we don't tally them anymore.

How do you increase vocabulary in your rooms?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Google Docs and iPad

Google Docs is quickly becoming one of my favorite ways to keep data and pages. It is quick, easy and always accessible. My first grade team ( and really my whole school) is moving toward using The Two Sisters philosophy of The Daily Five. With this approach students select tasks that they want to complete from the five that we do daily. This teaches the kids to work independently and frees teachers up to meet in small groups and with individuals. My reading specialist and I both have iPads. I created a doc for each kid and can share it with her. Now we use our iPads to take anecdotal notes on the kids reading. I can see what she has done and visa versa. It has made us very consistent. Sometimes the kids are baffled at how I can know what she has said to them moments before when I meet with them. When I do new reading assessments I always put each kids goal and strategy at the top so we are always able to remind them, and ourselves, what to focus on. The Two Sisters call their notebooks a Pensieve from the Harry Potter movie and a connection that one of their students made.

An iPad Pensieve!