Digraphs, Word Clouds, and a Freebie

Common Core Alignment
  CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.1.3a Phonics and Word Recognition: Know the spelling-sound correspondences for common consonant digraphs (two letters that represent one sound.

It has been a week of teaching digraphs!  An exciting week in first grade-that's for sure.  We watched videos on YouTube to introduce some of our "H Brothers" and have been reading, writing and simply working with words to help us to remember the two letters that make each sound.  

Wordle has become a favorite activity of mine as I have began working technology into my classroom.  Students are extremely motivated to see their creations. Word Clouds can be tied into every subject area and kids love seeing their work in bright, fun colorful font! 

Each student created their own word cloud with "sh" and "th" words.  

When my students go to create a "Wordle" this is what they see:

Students type in as many words as they can (following our rule-this week it was sh and th words) in any given amount of time.  I typically allow 8-9 minutes for typing in words but depending on the length of my center it might be a few more minutes or a few minutes less.  

Below is what it looks like as students type in their words.  (I always have students begin by typing their first name to help identify their work.)
Students will then press "go" and be able to create their very own word cloud by choosing colors, fonts and sizes.  The more times students type a certain word the bigger it will appear in their cloud.  My kids LOVE creating word clouds! I make sure to put a visible timer up so students know how much time they have to customize their word cloud.  If it is during a center I simply allow the last 2 minutes to create the rest of the time is spent putting in the words.  

Here is an example of one of my student's word cloud:

Other ways I have used Word Clouds in my classroom: math facts (addition and subtraction subtraction,) word wall words, word family words, adjectives, and spelling words.  I have also put the kids' names in my classsroom into a word cloud and used it as my laptop background. The kids love to see it when it displayed on the SMARTBoard!

Check out this freebie word sort which I also used as a center this week.

This is one of my first graders hard at work at her center! She sorted the words and is now drawing a picture of each of the words!

Click on each of the words below to see a few of the different internet resources you can use with your students to make word clouds: Wordle, Tagxedo,  ABCya!  Word Clouds for Kids!, and WordItOut

As I become more aware of all the blog world has to offer teachers "Freebie Friday" is one of my favorite things (I don't know how I went so long without knowing about it!)  Please check out my freebie as well as many other great freebies you can use in your classroom on Teaching Blog Addict!

Freebie Fridays

Enjoy your Friday! 

Making words with iPads, magnet strips and more!

Since I work with kindergartners and 1st graders who are learning how to read, we spend a lot of time each week using our knowledge of letter sounds to make words.  It is amazing to see my students become readers, but as we all know it can be a VERY long process for some.  As a result of the length of time I spend each day trying to get my students to become independent readers, I try to switch up the activities we use daily to cover the same concept. Something new I have tried this year which both the students and I love is a combination of the ABC Magnetic Alphabet Lite app on the iPad, magnet strips with magnetic letters and Word Creation journals.  

Common Core Alignment:

CCSS. ELA-Literacy. RF.1. Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.3a Demonstrate basic knowledge of letter-sound correspondences by producing the primary or most frequent sound for each consonant. 

The ABC Magnetic Alphabet Lite app on the iPads is free! (There are also other themes you can pay for if you want to use it for more than just letter/words.  The free version fits my needs perfectly though!) I primarily use this app after we "warm up our brains" with a Phonemic Awareness activity.  Each student has an iPad and I say a letter sound and then they find that letter, say the name of it, and put it in the main part of the screen.  After the iPad screens are full, I say the name of a letter and the students "send it back home" by swiping it back down to the bottom.  This is a nice way to review the letter sounds before we begin using those sounds to make words.  

The great thing about this app is that it can be use for many different activities.  If you only have a few (or even just one) iPads in your room, you can set students up in a center with this app.  If it isn't in a teacher guided center, you can instead have one student be the teacher while their partner is working on the iPad. One way I have the student be the teacher while their partner is using the iPad is by having the student say a sight word/spelling word/vocab word, etc. and the partner needs to make the word on the iPad, using this app. Then the students switch roles so everyone gets a chance to use the iPad and practice their words!

After using the iPads, I then use individual magnet strips and magnetic letters for each student. I find the size of these strips perfect for each child to have in front of them in their own space! I use these mainly for 'making words' activities where I say a word, the students say the sounds and then use the letter tiles to make the word.  I don't know about your students, but mine love anything magnetic so these magnet strips have made 'making words' really fun!

After we make a word on the magnet strip, the students then copy the word into their Word Creation Journals.  We read the sounds and say the word one more time together after writing it down and then repeat the process with the magnetic strips again until we have made 5 new words.

I personally really like being able to incorporate technology, manipulatives and writing all in a 30 minute 3-step process for 'making words' because it has a good amount of variety so my students (and I) don't get bored!

Have a great day!


Another Reading Response Freebie!

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving with your family and friends!

Today I am including a Reading Response Freebie that I love using with my kindergartners and 1st graders.  I find that my students can almost always tell me a lot about a story that I read to them, but I also want them to become experts at writing about stories we read. So to help them become expert reading responders, I use graphic organizers regularly in my classroom.  You can check out one I use in my room below.  This one has two different versions so that I can differentiate based on my students' abilities. In the first graphic organizer students can write a list of the story elements: characters, character details, setting and important events.  The second graphic organizer has larger boxes where students can instead draw a picture of the characters and setting.

Common Core Alignment:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.1.3Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.K.3With prompting and support, identify characters, settings, and major events in a story.

Please check out the graphic organizer here!

Click the picture to get this freebie!

Freebie Fridays

Thanks so much to Kristin over at iteach 1 to 1 for the shout out! She is one of the many teacher bloggers that inspired us to start our own blog!

Have a great day!


Freebie-Reading Response Pirate Theme

I hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving!  It is always so nice to have a little extra time to spend with family and friends.  I also love getting the time to recharge and have a little extra time to create new things for my kiddos to use when we get back to school on Monday!

Common Core Alignment: 
CCSS. ELA- Literacy. RI.2.1:
Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when,  and how to demonstrate key details in a text.  

Responding to reading is an important part of when assessing comprehension.  I have found it helpful to be able to give students graphic organizers to assist them in processing the information that just read.  After "reading to self"in a center students will typically have a few minute to be able to respond to their reading.  This helps hold students accountable for one of the book that they just read. 

Please check out this freebie that helps students organize their ideas and then retell a story that they just read.  

Freebie Fridays


Read & Respond- Using Show Me on iPads

As a reading specialist, I love teaching all things reading everyday! I do a combination of pull out and push in small groups with the kindergartners and 1st graders at my school.  I will post activities that I do with both grade levels and hopefully you will find the posts meaningful and useful for your classroom.  I incorporate technology on a regular basis in my teaching, so I hope you have the opportunity to use some of my ideas as well with whatever technology you have available in your classroom.  

Common Core Alignment: CCSS. ELA- Literacy. RI.K.1:
With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text. 

Responding to reading is a major part of my small group lessons so I regularly try to incorporate different resources to make responding interesting and informative.  This activity focused on the visualizing strategy, as it is our focus for the month of November. I used an app which I love for a variety of activities, ShowMe* (an interactive whiteboard app).  In this lesson, I first did a brief think aloud where I told a short story and drew a picture on the iPad as I spoke.  
I then read the students a story while hiding it within a file folder so they could not see any pictures from the story.   The students then drew on the ShowMe app as I read and afterward we discussed what they included in their pictures. 
I then had them record their voices telling about their visualization. This is a great feature of ShowMe because then if you are unable to meet with each student (if you use this in a center, for example) you can later listen to their understanding of the story. To wrap up the lesson, I showed the students the pictures from the story and we then discussed how our pictures were the same/different.  Visualizing lessons provide great insight into students' comprehension of a story.  

*This app is also great for any other sort of reading response where you may ask the students to draw a picture of the characters, setting, etc.  I also like using it for practicing letters and making words.  

Have a great day!


Word Families-using Keynote, Pages and SMART Notebook

Hi, I am a first grade teacher looking to give back to the blog community.  For the past few years, I have religiously checked many blogs and I am excited to be able to give back to a group of people who have helped me to grow professionally.

I teach in a 1:1 classroom; which means each of my first graders have their very own laptop!  Crazy, right?  Although I know an entire classroom of laptops is rare-I am hoping this blog will help you to integrate technology successfully into your classroom. We can learn together through my mistakes as well as successes! 

Common Core Alignment CC.1.R.G.3.b 

Each week my first graders work hard at reading and adding to our "Word Family of the Week."  We do a different activity every day to help us with decoding-specifically working on "chunking" these new words so students are able to read them automatically.  

This week we worked on the "et" word family.  At the end of the week my students created a page in their word family book.

Here one of my students typing her words that belong in the "et" word family.  After typing in words students are able to find pictures to match and record themselves reading each words.

In my classroom, I am using using SMART Notebook Software to create these word family books but I have also used Keynote and Pages to complete this project.  Students love to choose their own pictures to go with each word so they work hard to get as many words as they can into their document!

Whether you have one laptop or classroom full you can keep an ongoing document with students that can be used as center.  Students can add words and pictures each week to create a book of words that belong in each family.  Children can always go back to a previous word family and make additions when they have extra time.    

How do you use word families in your classroom?  Do you have any favorite activities?  



Learning to the Core Introduction

Welcome to our blog: Learning to the Core!
We are so excited to begin our new blog which we hope you will find useful for your daily teaching.  We will include ideas on how to use technology when teaching math and literacy while incorporating  the Common Core Standards.
Thanks for stopping by!
Amanda and Aylin

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