Sunday, September 30, 2012

ID Badge Verse - Romans 5:3-4

It's been a LONG weekend full of work, and the week ahead is sure to promise many opportunities to "develop character." Hahaha!  Whenever I know I will face struggles during the week, I try to remember that suffering can lead to improved character if I embrace it in the right spirit.
gwhizteacher, ID badge verse, scripture verse, freebie
My hope this week is to seek balance between the huge amount of school work that "needs" to be done and my family.  I hope to be truly present for my students as well as my own children.  I hope to make my brain "stop" it's constant thinking and instead focus on what is most important.  I hope to show my children how to develop character through perseverance.  Download the verse for the week, Romans 5:3-4, and remind yourself to rejoice in your trails that you may ultimately rejoice in HOPE.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Number Chart Fluency

I love the math group rotation system I am using in my classroom!  Today my teaching assistant was called to relieve another teacher for a bathroom break just as we were beginning math.  Her group was already engaged in a mini lesson on subtraction.  I told her I'd go relieve the other teacher for a few minutes.  I was able to do this because my "teacher time" group was quietly engaged in a "buffer activity" (for lack of a better term).  I always structure my group so that they have a consistent activity that they do as a "warm up" when they come to my group.  This gives me time to transition the other groups and make sure all the computers and listening centers are working, and that parent volunteers have their lesson task sheets for the groups they will work with.  I do these buffer activities for my literacy groups and math groups.  The kids can begin them independently and know how to transition to our lesson when I sit down with them.  My math "buffertivity" (hahaha) is for students to challenge themselves with the blank hundred chart white board.  They fill in the numbers backward, forward, by tens, etc with an expo marker.  Then they can use the Number Chart activity sheet (that is also in their daily folder as a weekly math activity) to help them practice counting skills.
number chart, gwhizteacher, hundred chart
When I join the group to teach my lesson, I give praise to students that challenge themselves.  I have asked students not to practice what is "easy" but to make their brains work hard as a type of math lesson warm up.  The kids love it!  When I came back five minutes later from the other teacher's classroom, my "Teacher Time" group was working hard at my kidney table!  I sat down, gave a few words of praise, and said, "Erase your boards; let's begin!"  
gwhizteacher, number chart, hundred board, counting chart
Download my Number Chart and use it as your own "buffertivity" during math groups.  You can put them in page protector sleeves and use with skinny expo markers if you don't have hundred chart white boards.  Your students will enjoy being independent while you get your other groups situated. :)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fastest Transition Ever

I like to maximize instructional time and minimize transitions.  In fact, truth be told, I HATE transitions.  I understand that they are important when moving from one academic subject to the next.  They give students' brains and bodies time to prepare for what's next.  I am a big fan of brain breaks during academic transitions.

But..what about the transition to lunch or recess?  I don't see the need to use any more class time than necessary for these transitions.  The learning time is just too valuable!  When I want my students to move very quickly from their space to a "moving line" (a line that starts moving out the door as quickly as it is formed) I use this chant to help create a sense of urgency.  
fastest transition ever, gwhizteacher, line up chant
I'm not even sure where I got it, but I've been using it for years.  I say 2, 4, 6, 8 and the students make a quick and quiet line and we move seamlessly (usually) out the door.  It's great for fire drills, too! Since we use it every day, the students have memorized it.  I gave them a copy for their fluency folder to practice during read to self.  Download the fastest transition ever and get a few extra minutes to read to your class!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

ID Badge Verse - 1 Peter 5:7

My sister shared this verse on her facebook this week.  I felt it was just the verse I needed to see this weekend.  During times of great anxiety, during great trails and tribulations, God lets us "give up" our worries to let Him deal with them.  The amazing thing is that he doesn't want just our "big" worries.  He even wants the day to day troubles and burdens.  He asks us to cast ALL our cares on Him.  
How blessed we would be if we could remember to "give it God" during stressful moments each day.  He can take care of the worry and we'd be free to be "in the moment" for our students.  Download this week's ID badge verse, 1 Peter 5:7, and let God bear your burdens so you have room in your heart to bear burdens for those you serve throughout the week.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bubble Gum Sums

Today we played math games instead of our usual MATH group rotations.  The kids enjoyed practicing new skills with partners.  Since our room has a candy theme this year I made some games to go along with the theme.  One of the games we played today was called "Bubble Gum Sums."  

gwhizteacher, bubble gum sums math game

Students rolled dice and practiced "counting on" from the larger number to find the sum. They covered the sum on their gumball board with a pom-pom "gumball."  The winner is the first player to cover all the gumballs.  It was funny to watch children roll over and over, getting different combinations for the same number.  The game worked as they began to know which numbers they would need for a certain sum.  They would blow on the dice and hope for a 9 and a 2 or a 7 and a 4.  It was quite comical.  Some children asked to take a game board home.

Download a copy of the Bubble Gum Sums for your next math game day.  Hopefully I will have more candy math games for you soon!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

HOTS fans

Have you ever had a "few extra minutes" during a reading group?  I use a set of Higher Order Thinking Skills questions for fiction and nonfiction any time I have extra time when working with a group.  The HOTS fans are easy to store and simple to use.  

HOTS fans, Higher Order Thinking Skills, gwhizteacher, reading response questions

A colleague of mine found these questions years ago.  We found them so useful, I used them as a guide and created a set of fiction and nonfiction questions for teachers as well as parents.
HOTS fans, Higher Order Thinking Skills, gwhizteacher, Reading responses cards
In my classroom I begin with knowledge level question and then move to higher order questions.  Sometimes the questions on the fan serve as a guide helping me form questions that specifically relate to the text we are working on. Download the HOTS question fans and have them ready for the next time you have an extra teachable moment!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Math Groups

We started math groups today!  I made a math rotation chart for my first graders based off of my son's second grade teacher's system.  The letters in the word math stand for 

gwhizteacher, MATH rotations, MATH centers, math groups

M - Math Problems
A - At the Computer
T - Teacher Time

H - Hands-On

Each day the kids rotate through two of the stations.  The Math Problems station is run by my teaching assistant.  Students complete math fact pages in their math workbooks or work on solving story problems.  Students working At the Computer work on Think Central, AdaptedMind, Khan Academy videos or our county math software programs.  I give differentiated mini lesson at the Teacher Time table.  Students working in Hands-On play games, use manipulatives, or work with flash cards and counters. Since students work in two sessions each day, they recieve differentiated small group instruction in problem solving or math concepts from a teacher every day.

In second grade students move through all four stations each day.  My students get two rotations each day.  I worried about not meeting with each student every day.  But a good friend said something that really made me think.  She asked me if I would rather my students get two lessons that were differentiated along with chances to practice skills on the computer and with manipulatives, or FOUR teacher directed lessons in which students may be bored and unengaged or even struggle to keep up. Great point.  I'd rather they get just what they need, even if that means I may not get face time with students every day.  It's worth a try. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Word Ladder Wipe Offs

My class began our CAFE group and Daily 5 Center rotations today.  It went very well!  I can't wait until things speed up as kids become more familiar with the rotation schedule and the behaviors and tasks for each center or group.  One thing that I really liked about today's rotation was my new Daily Word Ladders wipe off station.  Before my spelling small group chooses a spelling material to work with, they completed a word ladder with a parent volunteer.  To save on paper and copies, I designed a wipe off sheet for them to use.  It worked out fabulously! 

I purchased the Daily Word Ladders book a few years back and LOVE using it with my ESL students to build vocabulary.  Because the program identifies first, middle, and final sounds in words, it builds foundational literacy skills while increasing language.  In addition, it is a great task for parent volunteers to work on with students.  It has a consistent format that kids can easily master while still buidling their skill level. 
Feel free to download my wipe off ladder to use with your students.  I printed seven copies on cardstock and laminated them with my personal laminator.  The kids used skinny expo markers and it worked perfectly!  Enjoy!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

ID Badge Verse - Colossians 3:23

It's been a busy weekend.  I haven't stopped working since the dismissal bell on Friday afternoon.  I know that it's going to be a LONG and busy week.  I decided to share my "life verse" this week since I will be using it every day to help remind me not to get discouraged.  
gwhizteacher, ID badge verse Colossians 3:23,
Colossians 3:23 says, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for man."  This verse reminds me that whatever I am doing is important.  All those little tasks that add up to a whole day of rushing and bustling around, are important if you are doing them for the right reason.  I may not get everything done, and I may feel overwhelmed at times, but if I stop and remember who I am serving, I can try to work not only with my hands, but with my heart.

I hope your week is fruitful and full of blessings.  Download this week's ID badge verse and remember that in all that you do, work at it with your whole heart. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Morning Daily 5

Last year I tried a new "less stress" approach to morning work near the end of the school year.  As I was only able to do three Daily Five rotations during the day, I wanted to give the kids extra time to practice some of their Daily Five literacy behaviors.  I began a Daily Five morning work rotation with my students, allowing them to spend time in a "free" Daily 5.  I didn't expect them to complete assignments or tasks during their free Daily.  Since the children come in at different times during our arrival period, I wanted to take away any pressure or expectation to complete work, and allow them to simply enjoy a pleasant literacy warm-up to begin their day.  IT WAS WONDERFUL!  The students were able to revisit familiar tasks and books while enjoying working in a literacy center with friends.  The room had a pleasant hum each morning and kids began to really learn how to spend time "relaxing in literacy."  
Morning Daily Five, gwhizteacher, FREE daily 5 rotation cards

I decided to forgo the stressful morning work journals this year and begin my day with Daily 5 rotations again.  Each table is assigned a different station every day.  I just rotate my magnets every morning.  The kids anticipate their station for the next day and come into the classroom ready to learn!
Morning Daily Five, gwhizteacher, FREE daily 5 rotation cards
Morning Daily Five, gwhizteacher, FREE daily 5 rotation cards

Feel free to download my Morning Daily 5 rotation management system.  There are 12 different station cards so you can add variety to your tasks each week.  I laminated mine and added magnets to the back.  Easy and fun!  No more morning journals to check!  The kids are engaged, on task, and best of all, ENJOYING their learning!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Word Collectors

The new Common Core standards emphasize text complexity and rich vocabulary.  The Daily 5 / CAFE frameworks also embraces expanding vocabulary as one of it's major strategy subheadings.  As we have interactive read alouds and shared reading in class, we keep our ears tuned to new vocabulary words.  We have collected a few interesting words so far.  I wanted the kids to have their own word collectors that they could add to as they find interesting words in their own reading, while also adding words that we find during our class read alouds.  I gave every child a personal word collector to keep in their writer's toolbox folder.  The word collector is two pages front to back so the kids have room to write words and meanings.
word collector, gwhizteacher, expanding vocabulary
My wonderful teaching assistant designed a large word collector out of poster board, using the same layout (front to back) and graphics as the student word collectors.  I am able to model writing new vocabulary words in the class word collector as I read stories to the children.  The students have full ownership of their personal word collector, deciding which words to add and when to add them.

word collector, gwhizteacher, expanding vocabulary
Feel free to download the student word collector (My Word Collector) and class word collector graphic (Our Word Collector) for your students to use.  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

MI Magnet Man & Smarts Survey

As we learned about different smarts each day last week, we added pieces to our MI magnet man.  

Multiple Intelligences, MI Magnet Man, gwhizteacher

Now that we have learned about all eight different intelligences, our magnet man is complete.  As we learn and share during the day, students enjoy identifying which parts of magnet man we are using.  Sometimes we are using three or more smarts, and other times we use only one or two.  It's become a game!  Students have enjoyed MI man so much this year that as soon as the class marble jar is full, we will be making our own mini MI magnet men as a craftivity celebration!
Multiple Intelligences, MI Magnet Man, gwhizteacher

Tomorrow is OPEN HOUSE!  The students completed a "smarts survey" today to show their parents.   I know the parents will enjoy looking at their child's brain maps, self portraits, and MI surveys.  I am always amazed at how children view themselves and how they are able to set personal goals for their learning.  

Multiple Intelligences, MI survey, Intelligence survey, gwhizteacher
Many times I have parents take the survey about their child before I show them the survey their child completed.  Feel free to download my MI survey and use with your students to identify their learning styles and strengths.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Good Morning Greeting

Happy Monday!  Today was a great day! My class practiced "read to someone" and it was a fantastic success!  My kids loved the EEKK poem so much, they asked for a copy of their own to keep in their fluency folder.  They also did a great job at the "check for understanding" strategy and asked for mini strategy cards to use as bookmarks in their book boxes.  I can't wait until reading groups and strategy groups begin!  I've got a gumball "motivation" machine waiting in the wings that will be perfect with our Candy CAFE theme. 

Today I wanted to share one of the greetings we use during morning meeting!  It's called the Rhythm Stick Greeting.  We made our sticks on Music Smart day during the first week of school.  
morning rhythm stick greeting, morning meeting, gwhizteacher, music smart
We used 3/4 inch PVC pipe (cut to 8, 10, or 12 inch sections with a PVC pipe cutter) and colored electrical tape to create our sticks.  
morning rhythm stick greeting, morning meeting, gwhizteacher, music smart
We use them at least once a week during morning meeting or as a brain break activity.  Students enjoy creating rhythms and leading the class in pattern making.  Download the greeting chant and begin enjoying this activity with your kids!  It's simple fun that lasts all year!
morning rhythm stick greeting, morning meeting, gwhizteacher, music smart

Sunday, September 9, 2012

ID Badge Verses

Every week I use a different scripture verse to guide my prayer time, and as a source of inspiration during my day.

I decided to share my weekly verse with you each Sunday.  I usually put my verse for the week in the back of my ID badge holder so it reminds me of my prayer goal for the week.

ID badge verses, gwhizteacher, weekly ID verses

This week I chose a scripture I heard in church this morning.  Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  

This verse is such a comfort to me.  I hope that this week I can provide comfort and hope to my students as I communicate my vision for their bright future in my classroom.  I hope to inspire them to picture their own bright future brimming with possibilities!

ID badge verses, gwhizteacher, weekly ID verses, Jeremiah 29:11
Feel free to download my verse cards for the week.  There are several sizes that will fit your ID badge, lesson plan book, desk, binder, or file cabinet.  Enjoy and have a great week!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Multiple Intelligences Celebration!

Today we celebrated our many smarts by making "smart necklaces" and brain maps.  Students used color beads to show their strengths.  Each of the different smarts were represented by a color.  Students chose letter beads for their initials and then put their two best smarts on either side of the initial beads.  All colors/smarts were represented on the necklace with the students' "best" smarts having the most beads. 
Multiple Intelligences, MI celebration, Smart necklaces, gwhizteacher, brain mapping
Multiple Intelligences, MI celebration, Smart necklaces, gwhizteacher, brain mapping
I read the story "ABC I Like Me" by Nancy Carlson to the students while they wore their new necklaces.  As I read each page we identified the "smart" that was illustrated.  The students were able to explain their thinking for each page.  Some were easy to identify (E for explore = nature smart) and others made the students think (C for cheerful = self smart).  We talked about how each of us is unique; we all have the same eight kinds of smarts in our brain, but each of use our smarts differently because of our different strengths.
Multiple Intelligences, MI celebration, Smart necklaces, gwhizteacher, brain mapping
Multiple Intelligences, MI celebration, Smart necklaces, gwhizteacher, brain mapping
Students made brain maps showing the eight strengths in their brain.  They made their strengths/best smarts take up the largest areas in their brain. We shared our mind maps with our friends, elaborating on our best smart, least favorite smart, and a smart we would like to grow in during the school year.  Students completed a fill in the blank writing reflection sheet to display with their mind map.
Multiple Intelligences, gwhizteacher, brain mapping, free brain mapping activity
Multiple Intelligences, gwhizteacher, brain mapping, free brain mapping activity
I displayed student mind maps and reflection sheets by their self portraits they painted on self smart day.  The display is too cute!  I can't wait for the parents to see the mind maps when they come in for Open House next week.  Parents are always surprised at how the children view their abilities and strengths.  It is very revealing.
Multiple Intelligences, gwhizteacher, brain mapping, MI display board
I make special note of what each child says they want to learn more about during the year.  I hope to help all students meet their goals and increase their abilities in areas they don't feel as strong in.  

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Nature Smart Scavenger Hunt

Today my class learned about "nature smart" (naturalist intelligence).  We began our Morning Meeting with a mystery greeting.  Students listened to  "My Five Senses" by Aliki and then used only their sense of touch to try to guess the item inside the mystery bag.  I put a paperclip in the bag and let each child take a turn feeling the mystery item.  After all students had a turn we counted to three and shouted out the mystery item.  Students explained how they were able to decide the mystery item was a paperclip.  
My Five Senses, mystery greeting, Morning Meeting, Nature Smart Day

We had lot of fun reading "We're Going on a Leaf Hunt" by Steve Metzger.  Students instantly compared it to the bear hunt version of the story we read on Music Smart day.  
Nature Smart Day, gwhizteacher, nature smart scavenger hunt, multiple intelligences
Instead of going on a leaf hunt like the kids in the story, we ventured out on a nature scavenger hunt.  I saw a great idea on Pinterest about a Nature Scavenger Hunt.  I created a sheet for students to use during our nature walk.  Students were allowed to tally items, check off blocks, or to write what they found in each box.  We had so much fun walking all around campus collecting nature evidence and writing/discussing what we saw!  
Nature smart day, nature smart scavenger hunt, gwhizteacher, multiple intelligences
I am attaching the sheet I made for our Nature Scavenger Hunt Sheet.  There is a blank version and one with a few clipart images. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Math Smart Day

What an eventful day!  Universal screening assessments began in first grade at 9:30 time to thoroughly "prep" the students for any type of independent work.  At the same time I tried to group children into math exploration stations, I had a knock on my door and got a new student!  Even though it's only day seven, the new student packets came in handy!  I had a set of every notebook, folder, paper, and all the odds and ends each student needs all ready to go!  The children were more than happy to maker her feel at home as we unpacked the new student kit and added her name to all the labels. 
new student packet, gwhizteacher
I introduced "math smart" to the kids today.  We played math I have, Who has? games during morning meeting.  We play one of these games at least once a week as a team building activity during morning meeting.  I have tons of handmade versions that I hope to convert to electronic files that I can share.  Slowly but surely...I have already completed a few sets (Nonsense Words and Sight Words) and put them on my TpT site.  During math stations I noticed that the children really enjoyed working with a simple center I made a few years back.  

What do you do with all those 1x1" squares and red/yellow counter chips in your math kits?  I have thousands of I wrote numbers 1-100 on bunches of them with a sharpie.  Instant hands-on skill practice! 
gwhizteacher, math tiles, hundred board, math center, math smart day
gwhizteacher, math tiles, hundred board, math center, math smart day

Today we matched the number to the hundred board, but there are plenty of other ways to use the number squares and counters.  Students can...
  • Select numbers to put in order from least to greatest
  • Select a number and then mark it off on a wipe-off hundred board
  • Select numbers and mark off one more/ten more
  • Create "number puzzles" putting numbers in sequence (horizontal by ones and vertical by tens) without a hundred board 
  • Find / sort numbers that are odd & even
Send home a sharpie marker and a bag of math tiles or counters with a parent volunteer today and you'll instantly add a few hands-on activities to your math bag of tricks!