Monday, October 6, 2014

Apple Study & Fire Safety!

Hey bloggers!

Fall is finally here!...unfortunately, the weather in my area is already feeling like winter :( Fall weather is my FAVORITE, so these nights in the 30s and mornings with sleet & flurries need to back off!

Anyway...we just finished up our 2 week apple study! The kids had a BLAST! We started out with learning everything we could about apples, and then got to the extra fun part-the tastings! The chart below was our second chart of things we learned!

Our first tasting was some red, green, & yellow apple slices. The students tasted their slices, described each apple, and then graphed their favorite on the smartboard. In our class, the students picked green as their favorite. I personally liked the yellow best :)

We also did some apple jacks tasting-just for fun! It was unanimous, everyone like them!

We finished up with apple juice vs. apple cider. I think this tasting was their favorite!

We also did a few apple crafts! We made apple people and apple bag puppets! :)
Okay, I CANNOT find the link where I got the idea for these apple people...do they look familiar to you so that I can credit the creator??

Up next, we have Fire Safety! We have a fire drill with the fire department this week and then they come back next week with the "Fire Safety House." They bring an RV that is set up like a miniature house inside (living room, kitchen, upstairs bedroom). They start in the living room and the fireman talks about fire safety, what to do, what not to do, having an escape plan & meeting area, etc. Then they go to the kitchen and talk about fire hazards. Then they go up the stairs to the bedroom and talk about how to escape. Then, they go onto the balcony and climb down the ladder and go to the "meeting area." This is always a big hit with the kids. They love getting to talk with the firemen and practice escaping.

I have some fire safety printables & activities that I use every year with my class. Just some fun, quick things for fire safety time if you're looking for something!
TpT    or    TN

If you go to my store and download the preview file, you can get the "describe a fireman" activity free! :)

We are finally getting into some editing in Writer's Workshop! My students write with pen during writing time. This allows me to see what changes they go back and make (since they can't erase to fix things). I can see the exact steps they take when they write. Last week, we talked about making sure we write with lowercase letters, using spaces, and using punctuation. I got out the pretty color pens for them to use to change capitals into lowercase letters and fix up any punctuation. They used their highlighters to fix spaces. If a space was missing, they just used their highlighter to draw a line in between words. If they had appropriate spaces, they just used the highlighter to make a smiley face at the top of the page (so that they could still use the highlighter-because it's just SO exciting!).

Also, we have started addition to 10 in math! Woohoo! I was super impressed with how it went on our first day, so I think we may be able to move a little quicker than I anticipated! Love it.
We started by writing addition sentences with our "one more" practice. But they were rocking it so we moved on to plus 2 and plus 3! Yay, firsties :)

We are starting our spider study this week and will be creating this, dare I say, adorable (I hate spiders) little guy from Doodle Bugs.
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I'll update you on those later!
Have a great week! :)


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Setting Up Writer's Workshop

Hey bloggers!

It has been a crazy 3 weeks back at school for me & my 24 firsties. Hopefully you are all settling in! Today I'm bringing you a post about how I set up writer's workshop.

A few years ago, my district purchased the Lucy Calkins Units of Study...and I love it. Many people think that it's too much for little kids, but like anything else, you have to buy in. You have to fully give it a chance. I strictly followed the books my first few years, and now I'm comfortable enough that I can check out the session name, and teach it on my own.

The Units of Study really guide the kids in their writing. It's great because the students can work at their own pace. Everyone hears the same mini-lesson, but you can really differentiate and teach to each student's needs during conferences. You really get a lot of information about your students during conferences!

I start writer's workshop on day 1 of school. That may sound a little crazy, but they can do it! Their writing can start very basic-it can be a simple one page story about something they did that summer or even the day before. What's really important is that they get used to writing and the expectations.

The first few days are basically introducing them to the paper, pens, and where supplies are kept.
All of our writer's workshop paper is located in the same area. In the beginning, they only have one paper choice in one drawer. Eventually they will have many paper choices depending on the type of writing we are focusing on.

My students all have a writer's workshop folder. I give them labels on the first day that say "Not Done" and "Done." The "Not Done" label has a green dot on it and the "Done" label has a red dot on it. If they have a story they are still working on, it goes on the "Not Done" side and if they finish a story it can go on the "Done" side. My qualifications for a "Done" story at this point in the year are that a story has to have a picture & words that match on every page (coloring is optional). The green and red dots just help the kids that can't read the words-green means keep going, red means stop. The first few days, I expect them to be able to write for about 10 minutes. The kindergarten teachers at my shcool also follow the Units of Study, so the students have some writing background. I slowly stretch this out over the first few weeks of school and eventually they write for about 25-30 minutes independently. The students keep their writing folders in a special writing drawer that each group of desks has next to it. They also keep their pens in this drawer. This keeps students from losing things in their messy not organized to my standards desks.

I also model writing stories during the mini-lessons on the first few days (& throughout the year).

The second week we really start discussing the expectations during writer's workshop. We create our "Writer's Workshop Contract" and all of the kids sign it. We discuss what a contract is and what it means when you sign it. I refer to this MANY times the first few weeks, and a few times later in the year when needed :) In my classroom, writer's workshop is a QUIET time. It's one of the few times during the day that I do not let them talk. The only noises you will hear during this time in my room are me conferencing with students and students quietly stretching out their words to spell as best as they can. 

At the beginning of the year, we are writing personal narratives. I love starting out this way because the students are writing true stories about themselves. Writing these types of stories is much easier for them than writing fiction or procedural. It is much easier for them to come up with true stories about themselves!...which brings me to another key concept at the beginning of writer's workshop-How to Write a Story.

I teach them a few different ways to plan:
(1) Plan across your fingers.
(2) Touch the paper and say your story before writing.
(3) Plan with a partner.

After independent work time, we have a share time. This differs day to day:
(1) teacher share
(2) partner share
(3) group share
Sometimes I choose a few stories to share on the document camera from students that were doing their best first grade work. Sometimes I have the students share in partners. Sometimes I have the students share in groups. With everything, there is a lot of modeling that is done for each.

For partner sharing:
-You have to have a done story.
-You sit side by side with your partner and take turns sharing & listening.

For group sharing:
-You have to have a done story.
-One person sits facing the rest of the group.
-The only person talking is the person who is sharing.
-Your story goes behind your body when it is not your turn to share.

The Units of Study cover many topics and types of writing throughout the year. In first grade we cover:
-personal narratives
-how to writing
-all about writing (non fiction)
-poetry
-persuasive
-letter writing

After each unit (usually about 4 weeks), we have a writing celebration. We use this time to celebrate the hard work they have done and to recognize what great writer's they are becoming. The celebrations vary each time. Sometimes we share as a whole class, and everyone gets a chance to share on the document camera. Sometimes the students share in groups. Sometimes we partner up with the other first grade class and share our stories with them. There is usually some kind of treat as well-just something small like a cookie or something. They love it. After celebrating, their new published story goes on our bulletin board in the hallway. When we publish a story, I have them choose their favorite story in their folder, re-write it neatly, and color the pictures (crayon or colored pencil only).

If your school has some extra money, I definitely recommend the Units of Study (I do not get any compensation for promoting them). They make teaching writing SO much easier and will make you and the students more confident in writing!

We just finished our 3rd week of school...and my students are already writing for 20 minutes independently! They are awesome :)


Monday, September 1, 2014

Currently & Giveaway Winner!

Hey bloggers!

It's time to announce the giveaway winner for the Pencil Sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies! Thank you to EVERYONE that entered! :)


Jessica, I will be emailing you soon!

And now it's time for Currently September with Farley!

Where did the time go?? My baby is already 10 months old! He has a sports photo shoot this weekend...and then his one year pictures in a few months! Ahhhh!

Picking 3 trips was tricky! I have been to a lot of places...France, Spain, England, Bahamas, Hawaii, Costa Rica, Vegas...but I finally came up with a list!

I have been fighting a nasty cold-ALREADY! My first full week of school I had to take a sick day because I lost my voice from the cold. Fortunately, I have a student teacher this year that helped out this week, otherwise I would have had to take more than one sick day. Ugh, back to school sickness!

Enjoy your 3 day weekend! :)

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