Saturday, September 13, 2014

Tracking Our Reading Growth in 1st Grade!

I blogged over at Blog Hoppin' today about how I have my little first graders track their own reading data:

Hop on over to read more and grab the free data-tracking sheets I use!


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Building Number Sense in Kindergarten and First Grade

We are THREE weeks in! Already! I can hardly believe it.

We have been working hard on building number sense in my 1st grade classroom, but I noticed pretty quickly that this crew would need to take a few steps back before we went into my Numbers to 120 unit. Many of my students needed to work on ordering, identifying, comparing and building the numbers 1-20 before we could kick it up a few notches and work on higher numbers.

In order to help my students build up this background knowledge I created some of the following hand-on activities:
 Number line remake! Students work together to put together this number line puzzle in which students need to be able to identify numbers 1-20 in all different forms.

 Match and make! Students make the numeral with the number word and then make that number with a math manipulative of their choice. These 2 chose pattern blocks.

 Roll and build: Students play against one another to roll dice and build towers with that amount of cubes. Once the whole board is covered up, students challenge themselves to count up their color cubes and see who had the most. There are 2 levels of difficulty of this game.

 Button jars. This is a simple, hands-on activity that lets students pull a a button jar, fill it with that many buttons, and put it in order. There are jars 0-20,

Tens frame spin & color! This activity has students using spinners to identify different numbers and number words. Students color accordingly.

My kids have been having a lot of fun with these hands-on activities and games and I am confident that after another week of practice, we will be ready for some bigger numbers!

There are a few other activities that are included in my Building Number Sense unit and 5 practice pages. You can snag the unit below for 20% off through tomorrow night (9/8):

I made this unit with a beginning-of-the-year 1st grader or a kindergartner in mind!

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!



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