Monday, April 13, 2015

Common Core Phonics Assessments - 1st Grade!

We have four more days until spring break here in Mass. and it is CRUNCH time!

You may remember I blogged all about my Quick-Check Common Core Assessments last July [click HERE to get a refresher]. These were great at the beginning of the year, but my oh my, I don't think I realized how helpful these would be when I came back from my maternity leave! After being out for 5 full months, there was no way I was going to sit down and re-give every large, long assessment we had, but I did NEED to know my kids better. It was really frustrating to not be able to speak to every.little.thing each of my students could do so far into the school year.

So, voila! I pulled out my quick check assessments since they take about a minute to complete and I got a quick snapshot of where my kids were! I was able to identify my struggling students pretty quickly and we started RTI (response to intervention) immediately.

Now that it is nearing the end of the year (9 more weeks!), I wanted to re-assess my intervention group and see how my struggling students were progressing:
 This little one is clearly still mixing up ch and sh!

 In February, this little lady had gotten EVERY middle vowel wrong... Progress!!

 This little guy got these all right this time!

and now the fun part... going through and making notes. This student has progressed in almost every phonics standard we tested back in February. All except the consonant blends... which means we will be working on that!

I find that these quick checks are great to make small groups and keep me focused through the end of the year! As I mentioned in my July post, I have made a quick check assessments for all the Common Core RF standards and every single math standard!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Spiraled Math Centers!

We have been spiraling our math learning big time in room 102. Since I was gone for so long on maternity leave I really wanted to be able to see what my students could do in math. So, while I still teach a focus lesson and most of our math activities are based on that specific standard (right now it's 3D shapes), I still have many of my math tubs spiral through older concepts.

That is where my themed math centers come in! These centers are scaffolded and spiraled throughout the year. Each month the 6 centers included go along with what we are teaching currently and what we have already taught throughout the year!

I realized I forgot to share that my March centers had been finished (ya know....a month or so ago...) so here are two of the centers:
 Follow the Rainbow: place value game!
Students each take turns rolling 2 dice to try and make the largest number. Whoever rolls the biggest number gets to move a space and whoever get to 10 first, wins!

 Double digit addition sort: I had my students use base 10 blocks to help them add.

and now for April... I pulled these out yesterday!
 Make it true: students have to pick the missing symbol to make the number sentence correct and record. There are also comparison number sentences that use <, >, =

Cracked eggs! My kids loved this one. They had to put together the pieces of the eggs to practice 2 digit numbers and expanded form.

As always, in ALL my monthly math centers there is a story problem booklet, seasonal graphing questions, and a read the room activity!

You can snag the above activities here:



or... get them all for the whole year at a discounted price!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

An Example of Our Day in 1st Grade!

Our day in first grade is long! We have extended hours from 730-330 so we have plenty of time to teach what we need to get our first graders on grade level. I thought I would share a little about a day in our life:

Before school:
My alarm is set for 4:38 am. I wake up and get to the gym by 5am. I workout and watch the news then shower and get dressed at the gym. I am outta there by 6:15! I stop at Starbucks and show up at school around 7am to write our morning message and get everything in order before the bell at 7:28!

7:30-7:50: Morning meeting
Every morning when we come in, we meet on the mat in a circle and follow a morning meeting routine. We first greet one another using eye contact and a handshake of some sort (sometimes a "pound it" and sometimes a secret handshake). Then we complete the interactive morning message which reviews what we have been learning in class!

7:50-8:20: Phonics
My class has been reviewing our digraphs before we go back and review consonant blends. We have been adding plenty of poems to our poetry journals to help us read with fluency! We will always start on the mat blending words with that digraph, then students go back and receive their poem to read, whisper read, and buddy read. The next day, my kids get their real or nonsense page to decode more words with that sound!
All these poems are from my Phonics Poetry unit.

8:20-9:25: Reader's Workshop

We have been inferring all sorts of things about our characters lately and using that sentence stem to help us talk about our text. We spend about 20 minutes reviewing and doing my guided lesson. Then, my students practice the skill through some turn and talk before going back to their reading spots to read independently for 20-30 minutes. Lastly, my students do some buddy reading and we close the lesson!

During independent reading, I pull my small guided reading groups. We have been focusing on close reading as we get ready for 2nd grade. We have been reading, re-reading, and answering questions using evidence from the text.

9:25-9:40: Morning recess
(self explanatory)

9:45-10:20: Writer's Workshop:

Our writer's workshop is set up the same basic way as reader's workshop. I will do a guided lesson and add my focus skill to my teacher writing. Then, my students will share how they will incorporate that skill into their writing with a partner before they go back and write independently.
We have been publishing our reviews and my goodness they are SO cute! I love reading all their reasons for why they love something.
(We followed my Writing Reviews unit to produce these!)

10:25-10:50: Science/Social Studies

We receive FOSS science kits at our school, so whenever we don't have a science kit, we teach a Social Studies unit. Currently we have received our insect unit and we are learning all sorts of insect facts before our meal worms arrive!
(They are completing a little sentence scramble from my insect freebie: HERE)

10:55-11:35: LUNCH/RECESS
(self explanatory)

11:40-12:20: Handwriting/Interactive Read Aloud
I don't have pictures of this, but we use Handwriting without Tears for the first 20 minutes and then the second 20 minutes, we do an interactive read aloud. An interactive read aloud is a planned, purposeful read aloud in which we use a mentor text to practice a certain skill and have stopping points to discuss! This is when we capitalize on our accountable talk:

12:20-1:20: Calendar/Math Workshop
We start with calendar, move to a "math warm up" which I usually have us quickly practice our math facts through Quiz-Quiz Trade with flashcards or a game of I have, Who Has? Then move to our guided lesson. We have currently been learning about 2D shapes, their sides, corners, how to sort shapes, where we see shapes, etc. After I teach  my lesson, my students do math tubs to reinforce the skills we have learned.

 One tub is our pattern block shape fill-ins from Investigations!

 Another tub includes my free composing 2D shapes cards.

We also use these geoboard task cards from First Grade, Blue Skies.

I also have some of my higher students work on our new Higher Order Thinking Tasks!

These last two tubs come from my friend Laura's, new pack: Shape Soup.
My kids thought it was SO fun to pick out the shape vegetables and sort them into the right soup can!

1:25-2:30: Specials/Prep time
Students go to one of the following specials:
Library, Gym, Art, Music, Dance, or Safe & Caring

2:35-2:45: Snack
School provided snack.

2:45-3:25: Intervention/Acceleration Block
During this time, all the students in 1st grade are split into ability based groups among the teachers and all our interventionists. This times is dedicated to teaching homogenous, smaller groups the skills they need to work on to either catch up to grade level or continue accelerating their learning.
My small group has been loving DeeDee and Deanna's Guiding Readers units. We have been using the phonics portions every day to help practice and review long vowels!

3:30- Dismissal!

And there you have it... that is what our day looks like!
Happy weekend :)

Link up with Reagan over at Tunstall's Teaching Times so I can see what yours looks like!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Higher Order Thinking Math in 1st Grade

So my students can add and subtract within 20. They can identify the tens and ones of a 2 digit number. They can count to 120.

Good, great, GRAND....

But why are they not excelling on our standardized tests?!?

This was a question I would ask myself over and over the last few years. My students could perform the skills they needed, but when it came to APPLYING those learned skills, my students were lacking. Now, there's all sorts of reasons my students might not do well on those computerized, standardized tests... but I noticed very quickly that the questions being asked of my students were not simply "7 + 7 = ?" They were being asked real life story problems. They were being asked multi-step, higher level thinking questions that required endurance. They were HARD, but I was sure my kids could do it. I knew I had to teach them how to endure when a task at first seems too difficult. I had to ask my students to actually apply what they had learned to get a solution and provide reasoning for their thinking.

I also had to incorporate “math talks” in my classroom as often as I could. These talks got my students discussing their solutions to problems, defending their answers, and providing different ways to solve any given problem. They got my students THINKING!

Over the years I created and collected tasks that are both challenging and fun for my first graders. Each task also has a challenge question that can be used when a student solves the problem and is looking to challenge themselves a little further.

Here are some in use in my classroom:

Counter sums: Students try to use the counters to make a sum of 12 in many different ways. For this particular student, I had them draw dots on counters to manipulate and make more equations!

What's the equation: The sum is 20, what is the equation?
These two students worked together to come up with many different ways to make 20, including 3 and 4 addend equations.

 Test time! To see if these two had progressed with subtraction within 20, their task was to create a math test (with an answer key) to give to a friend! They loved getting to be the teacher and I could tell right away that they knew how to subtract within 20 easily!

 Dress Teddy! This was a fun and tricky number sense problem for my students. They had to look at the clothes and try to figure out how many different outfits they could make for the teddy bear. At first, this group was all sorts of confused. Until one of my kids said, "let's start with the pants... there's only one pair of pants." From there they could mix and match and record the different outfits. It is SO hard to bite my tongue and not guide them, but if you can hold back long enough it is amazing to see them persevere to get the answers. They feed off one another and it is pretty cool to watch!

I created 8 different tasks (which each have an additional *challenge* task) for each of the following domains:
Number sense
Place Value
Geometry & Measurement
Time & Money

Each task comes in 3 different forms as well. There is a printable version that you can see above with the question on it. There is a guided printable version which is the same, but has guiding questions to help your students complete the problem, and a task card version to print, laminate and pass out to groups.

I use all three versions of the tasks in my room. We use the task cards in groups with large posters for students to show their work. When we split up into groups like this, I choose tasks that are appropriate for each group based on their needs. I also make sure to put aside time for the groups to explain their work and their answers.

In small groups, I will often use the printable versions (guided or not based on their ability levels) so I can observe their thinking and guide them as necessary through the problem solving process.
However I choose to use the tasks, I make sure that talking is a HUGE part of the task. I often ask questions that start with these stems:
-Why did you ______________________?
-What if you __________________________________?
-Is there another way you could’ve ___________________________?
-How do you know _______________________________?

I love to see the discussions that occur when my students walk me through their process. They show their peers new ways of thinking that help them in later tasks. They also impress me over and over again!

If you think these would be great for you students, head on over and check them out:
These higher level thinking type of problems encourage students to work together and have great discussions surrounding the answers. They provide students with an alternate way to show what they have learned and also allow students to use their skills in real life situations. #math #firstgrade #Higherorderthinking

You can download the preview for more examples of the tasks :)

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