Saturday, August 30, 2014

Starting Writer's Workshop in First Grade!

This past week we began our writer's workshop lessons!

My school uses Lucy Calkins, but before we dive into small moments we talk about what Writer's Workshop looks like in our first grade classroom.

This poster is hanging in our classroom and we go through each of these bullet points throughout the first week!
-Lights off: My classroom is lucky enough to have tons of windows and we are able to turn down all the lights and still have plenty of natural sunlight to write with!

-Music on: This one little CD has allowed me to curb talking during writer's workshop more than anything I have tried in the past:

This little CD is one of a six-pack designed to help students stay focused during reading and writing. I had all 6 at my old school but unfortunately had to leave them all there! This was my favorite though, so I bought it again. I play it softly in the background and let the students zone out. If we get louder than the music, we have to turn it off and my kids get really upset! I am always amazing by how into it they are.

-Students at desks: most students sit in their seats during writer's workshop without any problems. However, I always allow students to find a quiet space at a center table or on the floor with a clipboard if they need it!

-Teachers with students: It is important for my kids to know the expectations for the adults too! During writer's workshop we are currently walking around and checking in with students. As time goes on, we will be able to pull small groups and individual students who need extra support.

Voices off/Feet in front/Sitting up straight: All self-explanatory, but we make sure to model, model, model what this looks like!

Brains working: Seems self-explanatory but this one, but this also takes a lot of modeling. I have students come up in the front of the class and show us what it looks like when our brain is working during writer's workshop. It is pretty funny. My kids scrunch of their faces like they are thinking really hard and then they start pretending to write or draw. I always have them show the many ways it looks when our brains are NOT working during that time (heads on desks, slumped down in seats, pencils on floor, etc.)

Neatest handwriting/Colorful illustrations: The neatest handwriting I am not too much of a stickler on at this point in time. It will come to my students as the year goes on and we are beginning Handwriting without Tears next week. The colorful illustrations however - yikes! I don't know what has happened to drawing, but I swear my kids don't know how to color anymore! I spent one whole class period talking about using many different colors from our crayon box and adding more detail to our illustrations! They are getting better though!

Those are the basics in room 102 and if you walked by during our writer's workshop block that is what you would see going on!

As for WHAT we are writing, we start simple. I want to know what my students can do at this point in the year and before we jump into Lucy Calkins, I want my students to practice getting into the writing routine and building up some stamina. We do this using activities from my Write from the Start Unit:

These sentence completion sheets are just one example of many included in the pack. I love them because it lets me see who can complete the prompt in a way that makes sense and it also allows my students to trace the beginning and see what good handwriting should look like before they continue. We completed this one and "Good Friends" (I can be a good friend by...)  on days 1 and 2 of writer's workshop. I also include these sentence completions at my writing center along with some mini-books that students can complete:

Now that my students know the routines and procedures of writer's workshop in our classroom, we will be able to seamlessly dive into small moments and start writing some fabulous personal narratives!

If you are about to kick off writer's workshop in your room, I thought I would give away my Write From the Start unit to 3 lucky readers! Just enter below and I will pick a winner on Tuesday before work!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The First Week of First Grade - Activities and More!

My, oh my! The first week of first grade is OVER!

I swear, 5 years later and I still forget just how little and "new" to school 1st graders are. The growth is just so amazing and HUGE in first grade that all I can do is picture last year's class at the end of the year. I forget that when they come into 1st grade they are squirrely and wild and talkative and can't seem to follow any directions. 

Is this how it always is?!?!?!?

The answer is yes.

In between shaking my head and pulling my hair out, I remember that this is all part of the challenge! The great first grade challenge. Can these students turn into the straight-line walking, directions following, raising hands before we speak type of students that I dream of?!?

I am hoping the answer is YES!

My new class... I can't wait to get to know them more and see them grow and learn!

Getting back into the swing of things has been a bit more challenging this year since I look like this:
**technically I am 34 weeks pregnant now and my belly is probably even bigger**

But alas, we are still trucking along! Here's some of the fun we had this week:

The first day of school we took out some buttons and starting graphing. It gave me some time to get paperwork sorted through and also let me see who could sort and follow directions easily. I offered this graph up on my blog for free last year!

We read The Kissing Hand and talked about our 1st day of school feelings. They ranged from happy and excited all the way to scared and "really mad." Craft idea from Kindergarten Days. These little racoons and sentence stems will be the first student decor up on our big, blank walls!

We also completed quite a few activities from my First Week Fun unit, including this mini-book about our new class!

We started a few, easy centers to get used to the routines and procedures during center time:
 CVC cards with magnets and recording sheets - made them a long time ago!

Color match up freebie by Smitten with First!

Roll, add, and color from my Apple Math unit.

We also had a bit of coloring fun in math with this great book from Steve Harpster! This was an easy after-lunch, let's relax and color and review some simple numbers to 10 type of activity!

Last, but not least, we brainstormed some of the fun we had over the summer and then I let my students write their first story of the year. No rules or organization, just write about some of the things you did this summer. This is also in my First Week Fun pack.

Phew! I'm tired again just looking at everything we did this week. Next week, we will start the real learning! Phonics, reader's workshop, writer's workshop.. etc!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Classroom Pictures!

I am linkin' up with Blog Hoppin today to show you WHERE I teach!

My classroom walls are a bit bare now since I save a LOT of my wall space for student work and anchor charts we make together, but I can show you how it all begins!

I am SO lucky to have a large classroom. If you have followed my blog for the past few years, you will see that I used to have a teeny-tiny room in Last Vegas. I am spoiled here!

This is the view from my exterior door.
Reading posters: Free from Teacher Wife

Directly to the right of when you walk in is my half set-up math station. Each tub holds our math centers. The top is not finished yet!

Walk past the bookshelves and you see the second half of the room!
My word wall will take over the cabinets.

 Look left to see computers, windows, and our writing station!
Alphabet: My Primary Decor Pack

 But if you kept walking straight you would see this little hallway which leads to the main building (door on the right) and a big ole storage closet (door on the left)

 Close up on our word work station!

Display bulletin board with binder clips to easily switch out papers AND not put holes in them!

 Now, let's turn back around and look at that writing center!

Inside the tubs are prompts from my Write From the Start pack and will be replaced throughout the year with my Writing Through the Seasons prompts.
Sight word practice: Free from Kindergarten Smiles

Look to the left and you see our bathroom, small whiteboard and cubby area.

  Now look back towards the exterior door! More windows, behavior chart, and my "turn it in" bin (the stinkin' poster fell behind the cabinets) and folders/take home bin.
Behavior chart: Primary Decor Pack

Meeting area and calendar space! I use lots of that wall space above the boards for anchor charts and student work!

My teacher space. Needs some sprucin' up, but that is the last things I tackle.
Notice my owl painting that a STUDENT made for me my last year in Vegas! I love, love, love it and display it every year!

Well that is all I have for now and as we work in the classroom over the next month, my room will look a lot more DONE! Hopefully I will remember to share the updated pics with you.

Now hop over to Blog Hoppin' and check out everyone else's digs!

Oh.... are you STILL with me?!

One last thing...

There is a QUICK, ONE DAY ONLY, BOOST sale going on tomorrow (8/20) on Teachers Pay Teachers and my whole entire store will be on sale! If you enter the promo code, you can get 28% off!

[My Store]

Happy shopping :)

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