Monday, October 29, 2012

Writer's Tools - Idea Book

Today I wanted to give you another resource that I use with my students in their Writer's Tools folders.  We store our sight word dictionaries, space man spacers, word collectors, sound charts, and other writing strategies in our writer's tools folders.  The kids love getting new tools and strategies to store in their folders.  I recently introduced an idea book tool.

gwhizteacher, writer's idea book, writer's tools

After brainstorming about writing ideas, characters, settings, and other story elements and types of writing, we add ideas to a class idea bank.  Students take ideas from the class chart and record the most meaningful ideas in their own mini books.  They personalize their books by adding their own ideas for their writing.  They can add ideas to their idea book in the morning during our morning Daily 5 or during our writer's workshop time.

gwhizteacher, writer's idea book, writer's tools

My students have enjoyed recording their ideas and have really benefited from brainstorming writing ideas with their peers.  Feel free to download my Writer's Idea Book and use it with your students during writing time.  Enjoy!

gwhizteacher, writer's idea book, writer's tools

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Sunday, October 28, 2012

ID Badge Verse - 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Fall is in the air!  The wind chimes on my front porch and deck have been tinkling all weekend and the beautiful Autumn leaves are begging to be jumped in!  This is such a beautiful season to enjoy!

gwhizteacher, idbadge verse, 1 corinthians 13:4-8

This week I am going to meditate (hopefully outside) on the "love chapter," 1 Corinthians 13.  This chapter gives a pretty tall order for the things that love is...kind and patient, and the things that love it not...proud, boastful, rude, self-seeking, easily angered.  The part that really sticks out to me is that "love keeps no record of wrongs."

When I was a little girl my father used to tell me to "forgive and forget" whenever I was having spats with my three sisters.  We used to play a game called "starting over" where we would completely forgive one another and move forward as if nothing had happened.  I think that this was a very valuable lesson to learn at a young age.  

The Father forgives us and separates our sin from us as far as the east is from the west.  He forgives and forgets; fully and completely.  He asks us to do the same.  Because we are human, this is a hard thing to do.  I find that I can easily forgive but the forgetting part is pretty difficult.  It may seem that we have forgotten wrong doing against us, but as soon a person slights us in any way again, their past wrongdoings are foremost in our minds.  We have to remind ourselves that the past is in the past and we don't need to keep a record of wrongs.  I struggle with this and imagine I always will.  It is hard to "forget" hurt.  I try to remember that I may hurt people (hopefully unintentionally) and I would want to be fully forgiven for my wrongdoings.  I need to extend the same forgive and forget attitude that I would hope others extend to me when I do something foolish in a moment of selfishness or pride.  

This week I hope to be patient and kind to others, to remain thankful instead of boastful, and to keep no record of wrongs.  I hope that I can model this attitude for my students.  Download the verse for the week, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, and meditate on the qualities of love you can extend to those you serve throughout the week.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Classroom Reminder

If you are anything like me you have a hundred thoughts running through your head at any given moment when you are teaching.  I constantly have creative ideas, "ah-ha moments," classroom needs, and teaching reflections cycling through my thinking.  At the end of the day I sometimes found myself asking, "What were those ideas I wanted to try?"  I realized that I needed a "reminder" to keep me organized.  Being my own reminder never worked as I'd inevitably loose the post-it notes or misplace them around the room. 

I decided to introduced a new job on the classroom job chart called "The Reminders."  The classroom reminders are allowed to use the space behind my desk.  They choose a colorful pen from a teacher (target dollar section) pencil pail and a target note or notepaper from the bucket.  The reminder's job is important because they help me to documents my ideas and "to do list" for the day. 

The kids can't wait for their turn to be a reminder.  I am not sure if the job appeals to the children because they get to use teacher materials or because it's so official.  The kids get to leave the carpet, line, or desk to write things down for me.  They love doing their best writing and it makes them feel very special to be asked for help.

I call on the classroom reminders  several times a day to write reminders for me.  The system is win win for me.  I don't have to forget any of those little ideas I get throughout the day and I really enjoy reading through the children's notes at the end of the day.  Decoding the reminder notes can be tricky but I can usually always solve the puzzle as I reflect on the events of the school day.  I transpose all of the little notes the students left me into my daily to do list or into my idea booklet.

A big part of being a good teacher is being reflective about your teaching and your students' learning,  and always finding ways to improve your practices.  This little idea may help you be more reflective and encourage you to record your ideas for improvement.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Roald Dahl Novel Study

I usually read at least five or six novels to my students during the last part of the school year.  This year I decided to start reading novels aloud to the class right from the start.  After our CAFE groups and Daily 5 centers are cleaned up (students do this as quickly and as correctly as possible so that they don't miss any of the story) I spend ten minutes or so reading aloud before lunch.  I decided to start with a story I was currently reading to my own boys since I had all the voices down to a science.  And with that decision, George's Marvelous Medicine, became our first mini novel read aloud.  This turned into an author study as we read a few more mini novels by Roald Dahl.  

Because the students are so enthusiastic (they even bring their own copies to "follow along" with during read aloud time) we have voted to read at least one more novel by Roald Dahl.  I read the first chapter of The BFG and the first chapter of Danny, The Champion of the World to the students.   They had to compare the tone and feel of both books before they voted for the novel they wanted to hear the most.  Which book do you think won?  We are reading The BFG and the kids LOVE it!  

I have to be careful to keep the tone more playful and funny than scary and dark.  I think the book could easily go either way depending on how you read it.  I read with a pretty funny accent for the giant character and am sure to "edit" the book as a read.  

I asked the students to reflect on the books we have already read with this simple reflection sheet.  Download a copy of My Favorite Roald Dahl Book reflection sheet and get started reading The Magic Finger and George's Marvelous Medicine to your students!  It's so much fun to read and laugh together; I am so glad I started this habit early this year!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

ID Badge Verse - 1 Thessalonians 5:11

It's the last week in our academic quarter and things always get a bit hectic right around crunch time!  We all feel like we have so much to cram in and, of course, SO MUCH ASSESSING to complete.  It always gets done but from the look on teacher faces throughout the building, you know that some of us are thinking we may not make it this time.  

I encourage you to lift up your colleagues and teacher friends throughout the week with positive words and a helpful spirit.  I will be wearing 1 Thessalonians 5:11 this week to remind me "encourage one another and build each other up." It can be hard to use encouraging words with adults when we speak to children all day long, but specific praise and encouragement can go a long way, even for teachers!  Download this week's verse, 1 Thessalonians 5:11, and let your students catch you extending grace, giving compliments, and showing gratitude to teachers and staff throughout your building.  I hope you all have a great week!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Common Core Cards

I have put my Common Core cards for 1st grade on TpT!  Finally!  I am happy with how they turned out and think they will really help me with understanding these new standards.  My colleagues and I originally made standard "strips" but found it was a bit clumsy to keep up with.  I decided to make mine as 4x6 sized cards so that I could file them easily and keep them right on my desk.  Of course I had to add a color and picture to each strand to really keep things organized!

gwhizteacher, common core I can Statements, first grade Common Core

I already feel like I can "see" where I am going each week by using the cards.  The colors help me know which standards I need to focus on during different parts of the day.  I REALLY like using the academic vocabulary with the kids, but also like how the I Can Statements use language that is a bit more kid-friendly.
gwhizteacher, common core I can Statements, first grade Common Core
I made matching colored dividers for each strand so that I can find the cards I need easily.  Each card has the original standard; the ELA standards also include the College and Career Readiness Standard and strands.  This helps me to see how the more basic foundational skills I am teaching directly correspond to student learning and understanding all the way through high school.

gwhizteacher, common core I can statments for first grade

My plan is to eventually attach magnets to the cards so that I can put them down the side of my whiteboard and write vocabulary words beside each standard.  I saw a post where a teacher used clipboards for vocabulary.  What a great idea!  I just need something a bit more simple since I don't have a lot of space.

gwhizteacher, common core I can statments for first grade
The pack includes blank cards that you can run through your printer to include additional or supplemental standards you may teach in your county or state. 
gwhizteacher, common core I can statments for first grade
Visit my TpT store if you are interested in these Common Core "I Can" Statments and standards.  Now...I've got to get started on my county's science and social studies Essential Standards.  My index card file box will soon be quite full! 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fluency Folders

I needed an easy way to help my students practice the CAFE strategies we learn for Fluency.  This year each student has a purple "Fluency Folder" in their chair pocket.  The folder is a plastic two pocket/three brad folder that has 5 page protector sleeves in it.

gwhizteacher, fluency folder

As we learn jingles, transition songs, chants, poems, or short stories, I copy a set for the class and put them into the fluency basket on our Daily 5 centers shelf.  When students take a turn in the fluency center they grab the new sheet for the week and add it to their fluency folder.  Because we have already used the poem or song in class for several weeks, students know all the words and the rhythm in which it should be read.  

More fluent children will use the phonics chants I got from Pinterest (robot read, baby talk, whisper read, etc) to change their expression and voice when reading.  Students store their "fluency fun voices" sheet (download the phonics chants from I Love 2 Teach) in the pocket as well as any other fluency tracking tools (Popsicle stick mini pointer, word highlighters, etc) they have learned to use in small group.  Whenever the kids read their poems or songs using one of the fun voices, they color a piece of the box on their sheet. 

gwhizteacher, fluency folder, phonics chants, fluency fun voices
I printed the phonics chants in black & white and set the zoom at two pages per sheet so all the boxes would fit on a single page.  Students color a part of the box for the fun voice strategies they have practiced with.

My kids look forward to the new fluency sheet every week.  Since we say so many different songs and poems in class as a way to manage behavior and transition between activities, students never know which chant will be in the fluency basket next!  They are always excited to add another paper to their page protectors.  I decided to limit their folders to five page protector sleeves so that students wouldn't have 42 papers in their folder.  

gwhizteacher, fluency folder

Students put the poems and songs that they really want or need to work on top in the sleeves.  Most kids have their work "layered" in the folder (I get the easy load sleeves that the papers slide right into).  As the year has progressed, ever child's folder begins to look a bit different depending on what they need to work on.  The folder is theirs so I tell them that it's up to them to choose to work on what they know will help them improve their reading fluency and phrasing.  

gwhizteacher, fluency folder

Monday, October 15, 2012

Candy Corn Fact Families

Today was a GREAT day!  The kids are really rockin' and rollin' in math groups!  Fall is in the air and we enjoyed using a few game boards from my Spooktacular Math Games pack on Friday during math game centers!  The kids really work hard during the Monday through Thursday rotations to "earn" math game centers on Friday.  I love giving the students time to practice skills and strategies in somewhat heterogeneous groups, so I would do math game rotations whether they actually earned it or not!  It is a powerful motivation tool to use with the kids during math groups.  

Today we started a new set of rotations.  We've been working on math mountains and fact families for a couple weeks now, so I put some candy corn fact family manipulatives and a wipe off recording sheet (as usual... I LOVE working smarter while saving a few trees) in the Hands-On center.  

gwhizteacher, candy corn fact families, fall math centers

Students chose a bag of candy corn parts for a specific sum (ten, nine, eight, etc), used the pieces to rearrange the numbers, and then recorded the fact families on their sheet.  One of my colleagues, a second grade teacher, made the recording sheet and I happened to see it on Friday as I was leaving the building.  I swiped it for my centers today and encouraged her to put it on TpT so others could use it too!  She has the best ideas!  Simple, FUN for students, and easy to differentiate!

gwhizteacher, candy corn fact families, Fall math centers

My students loved moving the candy corn pieces around (even though we learned that the yellow part of the candy is actually the bottom piece...ooops!).  Make yourself a few candy corn manipulatives from construction paper (white at the top, orange in the middle, and yellow at the BOTTOM...hahaha) and download the FREE Candy Corn Fact Families sheet from TpT.  Have fun!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

ID Badge Verse - James 1:19

One of the resource teachers in our building was delivering Daily 5 and CAFE books to teachers on Friday morning.  As she made a few teachers' dreams come true (they had been patiently waiting for their own copy of these books),  she was likened unto Oprah and we all had a good chuckle.  I made the comment to a friend, "Wouldn't it be great to have so much that you could give stuff away like Oprah?"  The response I got..."You're little ___'s Oprah every day."  That comment really made me think.  Rather than focusing on the things we wish we could give our students, why not focus on what we can give them?  Love and listening are two things that many children could use more of.  
gwhizteacher, ID badge verse, James 1:19
Because we are teachers, we often have a full agenda of things we have to say and teach throughout the day.  We need to be careful to really listen to our students when they speak to us.  We need to listen not only to their words, but to their actions as well.  Our students tell us, and often times show us, what they need every day.  It's up to us to meet their most basic needs first before academic learning can take place.  Download the verse of the week, James 1:19, and remember to be an attentive and patient listener this week.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Writer's Tools - Sight Word Dictionary

This year I decided to give my students  tangible "tools" with many of the mini lessons I teach during Writer's Workshop.  Each student has a Writer's Tools folder to store their tools.  The folders are plastic two pocket/three brad folders that have a few plastic page protector sleeves inside.  

gwhizteacher, sight word dictionary, writer's tools folder

The kids store their sight word wall list, word collector, finger spacing "spaceman," handwriting chart, writer's idea book, trick word dictionary, and editing checklists inside the sleeves and pockets.  We plan to add many more tools to their folders as I introduce more strategies for the planning, editing, and revising stages of Writer's Workshop. I am surprised by how much the kids enjoy using their folders.  It seems that just simply having the folder open reminds them of the mini lessons and strategies that we've learned and they are more likely to use those strategies in their writing.

gwhizteacher, writer's tools folder

In a previous post I shared about the class word collector poster I use with my students to help meet our CAFE goal for "Expand Vocabulary."  Students LOVE this tool and anticipate their turn in the free writing Morning Daily Five station (see previous post for morning word daily five cards).  Students take out their Writer's Tools folder and record the words we've added to our class word collector poster onto their own word collector.  I actually heard a little girl say to another little girl, "I am going to add forlorn and murmur to my word collector tomorrow morning!"  That's something you don't hear every day!  In the words of Kevin Henkes, "Wow!  That's about all I can say.  Wow."

gwhizteacher, word collector, CAFE

Download the sight word dictionary I use with my students and add it to your own Writer's Tools folder.  Let me know what you think! 
gwhizteacher, sight word dictionary, writer's tools

Monday, October 8, 2012

Math Mountains

I worked all weekend on designing a set of common core "I can" cards for my class.  I really spent a lot of time making the cards just the way I want them.  I am glad I put the time and effort into making them because I think I have a better understanding of the standards than I did before this endeavor.  I really liked including the College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards and Strands for ELA and the Domain & Cluster groups for Math.  Being in a primary grade level, it is sometimes difficult to see what the foundational skills we teach are really leading toward.  

I LOVE the new math standards and the strong focus on problem solving.  Even though it's been a whirlwind teaching with the new math standards so far, I believe, in the long run, the children will benefit from knowing HOW to think instead of just WHAT to think.   As a CGI math girl at heart, the problem solving aspect to the Common Core Math standards is my favorite.  I enjoy meeting with small groups each day to work on problem solving strategies!  
gwhizteacher, math mountains

One of the strategies the children enjoy working with are "math mountains."  The math mountains are a great visual representation of the "fact family" concept.  I like the simplicity it provides without making the kids think specifically about the terms subtraction and addition.  They are able to visualize the relationship between the two before we establish more formal labels. 

gwhizteacher, math mountains
I use this sheet with my kids in the Hands-On center.  I put several copies into plastic page protector sleeves to make a wipe off center.  Students or partners roll dice, choose dominoes, and use flash cards to record facts or find the missing addend or sum.  I can't wait until the kids are ready for the fact family wipe off sheet and are able to compare operations.  I heard one of my students tell my instructional assistant during small group, "Hey! Your subtraction lesson sounds a lot like Mrs. G's addition lesson!"  Yes!  I love it when they uncover these connections on their own!  Download the Math Mountain sheet for your Hands-On math center and stay tuned for my fact family sheet!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

ID Badge Verse - Romans 12:7-8

This week I wanted to share one of my favorite "teacher verses."  Romans 12 tells us, "Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you."  Different people have different gifts and this chapter of Romans speaks about using the specific talent God has gifted you with in accordance with His purpose.
gwhizteacher, ID badge verse, Romans 12:7-8
Teaching is HARD job and I don't think that one can continue to stay in teaching if they weren't truly called to this purpose.  We work very hard, often times with limited resources, and ever changing obstacles in our path.  Sometimes when the hard work "pays off" and I can see the results of my labor, and I want to jump up and say "YES!"  Often times I do!  I sometimes have to remind myself not to toot my own horn for my accomplishments or evidence of my students' success.  I need to also give thanks to God for providing the increase and for ultimately blessing me with the measure of faith He has gifted to me.  Download this week's verse, Romans 12:7-8, and remember to use your gifts to the fullest with love and sincerity.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Halloween Noun & Verb Sort Freebie!

I was so excited to put my first Literacy pack on TpT the other day!  I made a Halloween themed pack of activities for literacy centers and work stations.  I usually have my students work as partners on a skill before working independently so I designed the materials to be used as a game first and then as a more independent center.  I included student direction sheets for both the game and the center version that list common core standards in kid-friendly language.  I also included a teacher guide sheet that has common core standards listed for each game/center.  I think the center would be most appropriate for first grade students.  Second grade kids or ESL students that may need a bit of remediation or independent practice with sight words, decoding, nonsense words, or inflectional endings would do well with this literacy pack.

I decided to make a FREEBIE to go along with the literacy pack.  It can be used by first or second graders.  It is a simple noun/verb sort that includes picture cards, sorting headers, and a student recording sheet.  My students enjoy this center and I hope your students will too!  Download the Halloween Noun and Verb Sort today.
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Halloween Math Game Freebie

After spending time in math group rotations during the week, students get really excited for math game stations on Friday.  I have really enjoyed creating games for them to play during game time.  One of the things they enjoy the most about the games is getting to take them home in their daily folder to play with family members.  I have found that I can give something a fun name and the kids are instantly hooked.  Instead of using counters or cubes as game markers, I try to use fun foam pieces, sparkle pom poms, "quiet critters," or other fun items to make the games more fun. I finally finished a set of Halloween themed games for my students to use this month on math game Fridays. 
gwhizteacher, spooktacular math games for first grade, halloween math games
I posted it to my TpT site.  Download  Haunted Seven, a free sample of one of the games.  I hope you enjoy using it with your students! 
 gwhizteacher, haunted seven, math games, math spooktacular