Saturday, May 31, 2014

Spark Student Motivation: End of the Year Writing- Our future is SO bright we have to wear shades!

Have I mentioned lately how much I love that blogging, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook allow me to collaborate with teachers from all over?!!?  On Instagram a few weeks ago, I posted a picture of my blank door and asked for suggestions.  I got several suggestions and ended up going with Heck_Awesome's idea.  She suggested that I go with "Our Future's So Bright...I have to Wear Shades!" I immediately loved the idea and got busy creating so that my first graders could have a fun, end of the year writing activity to go with this wonderful idea.
My Instagram post.  I got several wonderful suggestions from teachers across the country and ended up going with Heck_Awesome's idea.  
My first graders had a blast getting to wear their sunglasses in school for the day! I even let them wear their "shades" to lunch, if they promised to say when people asked, "I have to wear shades because my future is so bright!"  Although most of them couldn't repeat the full line, it was pretty cute to hear them try to explain to other teachers why they had to wear their shades.

We broke this writing into two different pieces.  First, students were able to take their picture in PhotoBooth and then draw a picture on their sunglasses of what they want to be when they grow up. I mean really, how cute are these firsties with their sunglasses and smiles?


We then got all of our sunglasses together and got it up on my door that has been blank for far too long!  I am happy with how it turned out and my kiddos love seeing themselves with sunglasses on each time they come into the classroom. 



Once they finished that we worked on the writing portion.  Students got to talk and write about what they wanted to be when they grow-up.  Let me tell you, it is pretty cute to hear what some of these friends want to be and why they will be great at it...  
This first grader wants to be a "race car driver!"
Rafael wants to be a "police officer because they help people."  He knows he will be good at it because "I am nice and police officers are nice" too.  
I literally smiled as I read each of their papers. I gave students the opportunity to share their responses with friends-they were incredibly proud of their writing.   Most of them had really good (and fun!) ideas of what they want to be when they grow-up.
This little girl wants to be a "princess because their dresses are cute."  She knows she will be a great princess because "she likes their crowns."  
This first grader wants to be a "rockstar because she wants to be famous."  
Too funny and too cute if you ask me! :)  Really, first graders and sunglasses are a great mix. If you are wanting to try this activity with your students you can grab it for free by clicking on the image below.  
There is a little kid template where students fill in the blanks with their ideas and a big kid version where students can write full sentences.  
I  linked up with Joanne today from Head Over Heels for Teaching for her weekly Spark Student Motivation.  Sometimes doing something outside of the normal routine (allowing students to wear sunglasses for the day) is enough to motivate them big time.  Students were only allowed to wear their sunglasses if they were being super kind and super good listeners throughout the day.  Let me tell you that was enough to get most of kiddos on board even when their minds are thinking "summer, summer, SUMMER!"  


Happy Saturday!
Amanda

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Guided Math: A Framework for Mathematics Instruction


I am incredibly excited to be joining The Primary Gal's Guided Math book study.  Guided math has helped my students grow tremendously because it allows me to better individualize their math instruction.  However, with that being said, I know I have so many things to learn and tweak to make my guided instruction stronger.  I purchased Guided Math: A Framework for Mathematics Instruction by Laney Sammons book last summer and dabbled with it this year as I taught. I read pieces, took notes, and tried to apply it to my math instruction as much as I was able to.

This summer I am excited to reread it after implementing a guided math routine in my classroom because I know I will learn so many new tricks and tips.  I can't wait to fully implement my new ideas from this book study into my instruction next year.

If you are new to guided math or have tried bits and pieces of it in your classroom please check back here weekly for more strategies and ideas to implement into your guided math routine.


Whole-Class Instruction-Mini-Lesson: Each day my students start off with a mini lesson or a math talk.  I have been able to get this down to an actual "mini-lesson" about 10-15 minutes long (which took some practice for me!) 
Guided Math Instruction with Small Groups of Students & Math Workshop Model: The small group structures are present in my classroom.  Students are working independently or with their classmates when they are not in a guided math group with me.  I feel as though the structure I have set up has allowed me to differentiate easily for students and also holds them accountable when they are not working directly with me.   


An Ongoing System of Assessment: This is something I really hope to get a better handle on for next year.  I know that students level can vary depending on the concept so groups need to be very flexible.  It is important I find a balanced system of assessment that gives me a more complete look at what students know and understand on a day to day basis.  
A Classroom Environment of Numeracy:  I need to strengthen this and help students to see the importance of numbers and problem solving as well as how it affects their everyday lives.  I would like to help make math more meaningful for students with each activity.   
Individual Conferences: Although my structure allows for one-on-one conferring I really haven't taken advantage of this.  This year I spent my time meeting with small groups daily but I can certainly see advantages to also taking some time to working with students individually as well.  
Morning Math Warm-Ups: This is something I can certainly strengthen.  I have pieces in place with my number of the day chart but could make this stronger with more activities for students to do upon arriving for the day.  

There you have it-lots for me to work on and strengthen.  That is certainly one thing I love about summer is I have the time to reflect and really figure out how to improve my math instruction for next school year. 


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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tried It Tuesday: GoNoodle

Has your class tried GoNoodle yet?  GoNoodle gives students the opportunity to take different kinds of brain breaks throughout the school day.

Last week I jumped on board and just like everyone else is saying my kids are o.b.s.e.s.s.e.d.  They love it-they literally cheer when they see me click on it from my bookmark bar BUT then they instantly get quiet because they know I will let a quiet student choose our kind of brain break.

Once creating an account you will choose a monster (or your class will.)  Once you have chosen your monster you are ready to go!

Each time you log in-your monster has a funny tidbit or a random piece of information for you.  The kids love reading it! The kids can see how many minutes they have spent on brain breaks (mine class was at 17 at the end of last week) and how many minutes it will take to level up (we have 13 minutes left.)  When you level up your monster gets bigger and develops a little more.  We started with a more of a "blob" of a monster...but now after leveling up he has arms, legs, and is much bigger!  


Once you click "play" your screen will look similar to the picture above.  There are a lot of different kinds of brain breaks out there and most of them say exactly how much time they are which is nice.  There are brain breaks specifically for calming your kiddos (Flow, To the Maximo, and Airtime) as well as countless brain breaks to energize your kiddos.

I do not know about you but my kids do not have a problem being energized (especially at this time of the year) so I have been using the calming brain breaks to help students stay focussed.  Students do breathing and stretching quietly as they refocus and give their brains a much needed break!  

Doing a "Flow" Brain Break.  
Stretching with Maximo.  
If you haven't "GoNoodled" yet is definitely worth a try!  Your kids will love it and it has been a huge help in keeping my firsties focussed as summer break slowly creeps into their minds! 

Thanks Holly at Fourth Grade Flipper for hosting Tried It Tuesday! I love seeing what other teachers are up to in their classrooms.  If you haven't already, hop on over to Holly's blog for lots more fabulous ideas!  


Happy Tuesday!
Amanda


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Five for Friday!

This week was busy! Here's what we were up to:

1. Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! I don't know about you, but I sure did a whole lot of yummy eating this week with all the treats in our school...made for a great week. :)

2. It also was quite the amazing week because it was actually 80 degrees here this week- woohoo- made it feel like summer really is right around the corner!

3. We've been having some fun with Words Their Way in our classroom. My little friends LOVE when we pull out their personal pocket charts each week for extra practice sorting the words.  Somehow they seem to always do so well on the sorts on the day I pull these out...I mean who doesn't love pocket charts? (It's also a major bonus that they only cost $1 from Target- I'm pretty sure I have nearly an entire class set of these- I couldn't stop buying them when I saw them a few summers ago!)



4. Well, since the end of the year is very near, we also did some close reading with my end of the year passages.

I like to discuss any observations we notice from the text on Day 1 to ensure overall understanding from both the pictures and text itself.


For this story, we then went into a deeper vocabulary discussion on Day 2 to make sure we understood the difficult words in the text.  We also marked up the text with wikki stix to find our evidence within the text-- my little friends just love those sticky little stix! :)



 And of course filled out some graphic organizers to show our thinking on Day 2 & 3!



Here's a peek at a few other passages we responded to as well...I just adore their pictures- too cute! 



You can check out more about this pack by clicking the pic below or right here. You can also learn more specifics about how I do close reading with my kindergartners and 1st graders from my previous post here!


5. And now officially begins end of the year testing season for me...F&P test kits are out and I'm excited to see all the progress my little friends have made.



Have a great weekend!
Aylin

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Mentor Text: Antonym Focus

Happy Sunday! I'm linking up with the super sweet ladies over at Collaboration Cuties for their Language Arts Mentor Text Linky this week. 


I'm sharing an engaging book all about antonyms: Straight and Curvy, Meek and Nervy by Brian P. Cleary. The book goes through a bunch of different comparisons of all sorts of words that are antonyms. I love that this book constantly refers to the words in the text as antonyms...a lot of times my little friends will just call them opposites, but I like that this book emphasizes "antonyms" to help expose them to the word as well.  

 I also love all the new vocabulary words that pop up through reading this story out loud to my little friends. The illustrations in this book are so entertaining and just captivate my little friends- they definitely help them understand the meanings of all the words, too.  The vocabulary also encourages them to start using different words, which is SO helpful to advance their writing...and make their writing much more interesting to read!




 The author also has several more of these books that I love to use with my little friends with a focus on nouns, verbs and adjectives. They are great read alouds when introducing or reviewing any of these concepts!


Oh and in case you haven't heard...both of our stores will be on sale this Tuesday & Wednesday for the big TPT site wide sale! Click here to go right to Amanda's or Aylin's store! 


Have a great day!
Aylin



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