Let's build a sentence! (free iPad app)

I am regularly trying to make everything more "fun" for my little friends, especially one little friend in particular who seems to find nothing...at all...that we do fun (even if the others are enjoying it).  Well I have to say I was SO thrilled when we tried out a new app in our classroom and I actually heard the words "Whoa- this is fun!" come out of my one little friend's mouth and let me tell you this was definitely the first time he has uttered those words in my room (and we've been working together since the beginning of Kindergarten and he's now halfway through 1st Grade)!

Common Core Alignment:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.1c Understand that words are separated by spaces in print.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.1.1a Recognize the distinguishing features of a sentence (e.g., first word, capitalization, ending punctuation).

The app is called Sentence Builder and it is free- check it out here. My goal with this activity was to get my students to recreate a sentence, making sure to include the necessary parts of a sentence and to write a sentence with all the necessary parts without my help. This app helped my students accomplish this goal in an engaging way.  There are 2 different levels and one "create your own" version on the app.  Each of the two levels has 5 different pictures- Level 1 has only the words in the stated sentence, while Level 2 has other words as well as variations of the words (different endings, lowercase vs uppercase, etc.) which was more challenging for my little friends, but a great way to push them to find the right words, especially since we have doing a lot of work on adding endings to root words! After selecting a level and a picture, a sentence is read to the students and then they move the words into the right order on the screen. They can then see if they are right by clicking the checkmark- it claps if you are right and makes a different sound when wrong.

My students enjoyed that part of the app, but they had the most fun with creating their own sentences.  I modeled how to create their own by taking a picture I had on my iPad, pulling it onto the screen, typing the sentence "We write words" and then recording my voice saying that sentence. (You can also use the system voice if you have students who are afraid of recording their voices-- or for the reallllly shy ones who barely speak loud enough for anyone to hear them!) My little friends then created their own by taking pictures of each other, writing the sentence "I see ____" and then recording their voices reading those sentences.  The students each did this on their iPad and then they switched with each other and recreated each other's sentences.  This was the part they really loved! They thought it was hilarious to see each other's faces and their voices on the iPads! One thing I really like about the app is that although there are only 5 "create your own" spots, you can actually just edit previously created ones to make new ones each time. I will definitely be using this app again- hope you can find it useful for your little friends too!

Have a great day!


Vocabulary to the Core with a Freebie!

I never realized just how much I actually enjoy teaching vocabulary until I really looked at the Common Core Standards and found new ways to teach it! I used to include teaching vocabulary on a weekly basis with what our reading series provides...introducing new words each week and practicing using them throughout the week and then completing a journal entry using those vocabulary words later in the week.  After looking at the standards, I realized there is so much more that falls under the vocabulary category that I already kind-of included in my lessons, but now I realized how to include fun activities on a more regular basis in my weekly lessons that are meaningful for my little friends. Some of the literacy centers and graphic organizers I used with my students to help cover the Vocabulary Common Core Standards and improve their comfort with using new vocabulary are below.  My boys especially loved the sports themed activities, especially the "Football Vocabulary Vacancy" due to the Superbowl coming up! I will definitely be doing that activity one more time with my little friends right before the big game (and then several times throughout the rest of the year as well)!

First up... my freebie for this week is a simple graphic organizer that can be used on a regular basis in the classroom to help students use new words.  Your students will be "vocabulary superheros" by writing the vocab word, drawing a picture to describe the word, writing a definition of the word and then using the word in the sentence. Grab it by clicking the picture below or clicking here!

Common Core Alignment:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on kindergarten reading and content.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.1.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 1 reading and content, choosing flexibly from an array of strategies.

Common Core Alignment:

All Kindergarten and 1st Grade Standards under Language: Vocabulary Acquisition and Use

I introduced our "building vocabulary" strategy with our poster, which now hangs in our room. My goal with all these activities is to get students comfortable with understanding and using new vocabulary and also then feeling comfortable figuring out the meaning of unknown words while reading. The graphic organizer below was used with one of the "amazing words" from the week.  They wrote the word in their Vocabulary Volcano, then drew a picture to represent the meaning of the word and then either labeled the picture or wrote a sentence. I have to say with this activity and the others, I was super impressed with just how well my students were able to describe what a word means- it was something that I thought they would struggle more with, so I was pleasantly surprised!

Special: This reminds me of my mom gave me a present. 
Comfortable: Hooded Sweatshirt

My students also sorted word cards during "Root Root Root for the Home Team." They chose a picture card and then added a baseball hat ending.  The goal is to get them to read the root word, add an ending (ing, s, or ed) and then sort the new word based on if it is a real or nonsense word. We have been focusing on endings a lot in our stories the past few weeks and I know my friends need a little more help with this, so I really liked using this as a practice activity for them! After, they completed a recording sheet showing the real vs nonsense words.

The "Football Vocabulary Vacancy" was a great activity for my students. They first read the sentence (with a little help) on the football and then found the meaning of the underlined word on the football helmet. Afterward, each student chose a word, drew a picture and wrote a sentence representing their understanding of the meaning of the word.  They did a fantastic job!

Similar: The bikes are the same. 
Difficult: My homework is hard. 
Return: I give back my doll. 
One more thing we did was "Visit the Vocabulary on Vacation"- the students chose a picture with sand and either read the sentence themselves or I helped them read it. They then had to match the sand to the crab which has a picture on it matching the sentence description.  The next step of this sort is to match the picture up with the category it relates to: food, animal, thing found in nature.  They also then completed the recording sheet to show the sorted pictures/sentences.  I'm not sure why but my little ones really love reading clues and figuring out the word/picture, so needless to say, they really enjoyed this activity!

Of course I also wanted to use our iPads to practice vocabulary and I found a fun free app called Vocabulary Builder.  There are a few different versions of it that include a variety of vocabulary images (all free!).  My little friends had fun with this one- it is very simple to follow! They chose their vocabulary picture they wanted to do and then they simply moved the words to the matching picture.  This app is especially nice for little ones who can't read because it says the word when they touch it. I also like that it lets the student know if they are correct or not when done sorting. There are only a few different pictures with each app, but they are nice practice for identifying simple words and especially great for ELLs!

Whew- that was a whole lot on vocabulary, but I have to say I will definitely incorporate all sorts of vocabulary activities like these in my weekly lessons from now on because they really help my students become better readers. Please feel free to check out these activities and several more in my Vocabulary pack here or by clicking the pic below!

Freebie Fridays
Have a great day!


A Little Bit of Honesty and {Freebie} Doubles Task Cards

Honesty is something I teach my students.  I think we all do.  It is an important life skill and as we recently read the story "Ruthie and the (Not So) Teeny Tiny Lie!" we, again, discussed the importance of being honest.  

Fast forward a few hours to my guided reading group.  As we sat down to begin, one of my little girls told me "You are my favorite and the best teacher ever!" Right as she finished her sentence another little boy in the group (who is one of those kids that is a 50 year-old man trapped inside a 6 year-old's body) looked at me very matter-of-factly and simply said "No offense Mrs. Zanchelli but I have had better."  HAHA Oh my gosh, what do you do besides laugh?!?  I mean I am glad he was honest; however, I felt like having a chat with him about keeping those kinds of thoughts to himself! :)  So I laughed and then simply replied by saying "We all have our own opinions!!"  

CC.1.OA.6 Add and subtract within 20.  Add and subtract within 20, demonstrating fluency for addition and subtraction within 10.  

Number sense is a huge part of our first grade math curriculum.  It feels as though we are constantly working on number sense and are continuously recycling back to similar concepts throughout our curriculum to help students gain a deeper understanding as we have moved to the common core standards.  A few weeks ago we discussed doubles and this week we are working on some Doubles, Doubles Plus One, and Doubles Plus Two math facts. Many of my students know 5+5=10 but when I ask them 5+6= they quickly bring out their fingers.  I have know problems with students using their fingers but am trying to help them realize that all they have to do is add ONE more to the double's sum instead of starting all over again from the first number.  It's a process but I know we will get there! 

I created this freebie Doubles and Doubles Plus One Task Cards to help my students practice.  It is a simple set of 12 cards to help students realize if they know the sum of any double they can easily get to the sum of any doubles plus one problem.

Freebie: Doubles and Doubles Plus One Task Cards

If you are looking for other ways for students to practice using Doubles-please check out this post where my students use iPads, number sorts, and bump games  to help them practice their math facts.  Or click the image below to go directly to this product.

Happy Friday!

GarageBand in First Grade

GarageBand has been an incredible application to use with my first graders on a weekly basis.  I have been using it on our laptops but it can also be used on the iPads. 

When first adapting to my Mac, I thought GarageBand was overwhelming and would be too tricky to use myself let alone with my first graders.  Boy was I wrong!  It is incredibly easy and all of my first graders are able to maneuver around, record themselves successfully and listen to recordings from GarageBand which has great classroom benefits.  

To Get Started:
1. Open GarageBand 2. Select "New Project" (on the lefthand side) 3. Select "Voice." 4.  Click "Choose."

5. Chose a name for your file.  *If my students are using GarageBand for fluency practice I always have them  save their document as the title of their poem or story.  6. Press Create (I have yet to mess with tempo signature, or key-you can just leave it alone!)

7. Start Recording.  Press the red circle to begin recording.  To stop the recording press the space bar.  To get back to beginning of the piece press "Enter/Return."

Each time you start and stop you will see a purple bubble appear.  As you are recording the bubble will be red.  When you stop it will immediately turn purple.   

Common Core Alignement: 
CC.1.R.F.4 Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension. 

CC.1.OA.6 Add and subtract within 20.  Add and subtract within 20, demonstrating fluency for addition and subtraction within 10.  

Student Uses for GarageBand: 

1. Math Fact Fluency-Students are given flashcards to practice math facts.  The best part is students like to hear their voice fluently so they keep practicing the facts (without being told!) until they memorize the fact.  The first time through I will often see kids using fingers but they will practice until they know the fact and can read it without any pausing.  

2. Reading Story/Poem Fluency-Students practice reading poems and stories into GarageBand.  Again, I will see/hear students sounding out words their first time through.  Then as they listen to their story they will delete it and say things like, "I can do better" and try again...ALL ON THEIR OWN!  I don't even have to prompt them.  Perfect for fluency practice!
Poem Notebook Fluency Practice

Teacher Uses for GarageBand:

1. Spelling Tests-differentiated lists!  My team and I pre-make multiple spelling lists each week.  Currently I have 2 completely different spelling lists in my classrooms and at the beginning of the year I had 3.  On Fridays when students take their spelling tests they simply click on their spelling test (I save the different tests under specific group names so students know where to click) and start listening!

Students go to the center with the GarageBand recording and take their spelling test while listening to each word read from the computer.   I do not have to waste time during the school day to give multiple spelling tests.  Students simply take their test at an independent reading center.  

Added benefit of using GarageBand for spelling tests: I do not have to repeat sentences 5 times because ONE student is not listening!!  Children can listen to words and sentences as many times as they want/need which is really helpful.  Also, for the quicker students their is no wait time because they can move at their own pace.      

Taking his spelling test in GarageBand at an independent reading center (which easily allows for multiple lists in a single classroom.)

Quick Tips: 
1. Kids should stop and listen to their work often.  In my room, I stop recording after each sentence for spelling tests and every page for stories. When children are recording poems they are asked to go to the punctuation mark and press the space bar to stop.  If recording themselves students should listen to their work after each  time they press the space bar to stop.  Then, decide for that "bubble" if they want to keep it and move on or delete and rerecord.     
2.  The music feature is great but to be honest for our purposes (fluency) it is not necessary.  The kids are highly engaged and love hearing their own voice so much that we have not needed to introduce the music portion to our recordings.  

 ***If you do decide to introduce music I would have students add it last-sometimes students will get caught up with the music and not care as much about the fluency :)  ***

Enjoy your Wednesday!


Reading Response on iPads and MacBooks + Apple TV!!!

I love to use the iPads and MacBooks for any sort of reading response activity during my reading groups.  This week I had my kindergartners identifying the characters and setting during a read aloud on their iPads and my 1st graders identified the characters, setting, main idea and story events based on their guided reading story of the day on their MacBooks. 

Common Core Alignment:

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

My kindergartners took a picture of the simple Keynote (Mac version of PowerPoint) I created. They took the picture while in the ShowMe app. We then stopped a few times while I read and they drew pictures of the characters and setting on their iPads.  Afterward, they recorded themselves describing the characters and setting of the story based on their pictures.  My little friends really loved this activity!

My 1st graders actually completed the Keynote on their MacBooks.  They each opened up the Keynote file I created and stopped while they were reading their story of the day (we use My Sidewalks which is the intervention series with Pearson Reading Street) to put in names of characters and the setting.  After finishing the story, they typed the main idea and the story events.  The last step was to record their voices on Keynote describing the characters, setting, main idea and story events.  We have done a wide variety of story maps in my classroom and this was just one other way to get my little friends engaged and comprehending! They each took ownership of their final Keynotes and the great thing is that you can definitely have students do this in literacy centers (both on the iPad or MacBook) while you are busy meeting with a guided reading group!

Oh, and one last thing....my classroom is getting an Apple TV! The TV actually just got installed yesterday and we don't actually have the Apple TV part of it yet, but I am super excited to begin using it in the next few weeks as another technology tool! Basically it'll act as a screen for my iPad, so whatever I am doing on their with my students can be projected onto the TV (and of course many other things that I just haven't figure out yet!). Most of the classrooms in my school have SmartBoards, but since I am a reading specialist who does small groups all the time, instead of spending more money on another SmartBoard, I am so lucky to have this option instead...more to come once I get going with it!

Have a great day!


Busy Week Back and a Freebie!

Whew- I'm not sure how it happened, but this week flew by for me! I thought it would move slowly after being on break for awhile, but surprisingly it went quickly. (Hopefully you felt the same way....) All break I had no problem staying up till 1 am...that ended come Monday night when I was super tired from being back at school...from just one day! (Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a night owl by any means, so staying up till 1 AM over break was very impressive!)

So part of the reason the week flew by was because we just got right back into the swing of things and I had my little friends trying out all sorts of fun winter themed activities! Check out the pics of some of the things we did together this week!

Common Core Alignment:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.K.3 Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to narrate a single event or several loosely linked events, tell about the events in the order in which they occurred, and provide a reaction to what happened.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.1.3 Write narratives in which they recount two or more appropriately sequenced events, include some details regarding what happened, use temporal words to signal event order, and provide some sense of closure.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.3a Demonstrate basic knowledge of letter-sound correspondences by producing the primary or most frequent sound for each consonant.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.1.3b Decode regularly spelled one-syllable words.

We wrote in our Think, Draw, Write Journals answering the question: What clothes do you need to wear in the winter? I seriously just love little kid drawings- they are so willing (for the most part) to just draw! We also did some writing where the students described the picture by using the blends in the word bank.  I personally love the last line on this one: "Brother and sister smile for the tree." :)

My little friends also did a little word creation on the iPads where they would choose a picture, say the sounds and then write it on their iPads. They also did a short vowel review with reading CVC words and sorting them by word families, as well as some Phonemic Awareness practice with our fun little snowmen! I was clearly super excited to start using some of my winter themed materials right away back from break! (You can check out any of these items in my TPT store!)

And on to my freebie for this Friday! It is a Valentine's themed graphic organizer which i'll be using with my students closer to Valentine's Day, but the objective is to get my students to identify a character in the story that they liked and then provide key details about the character when filling this out.  Check it out here (or by clicking the image below)!

Freebie Fridays

Have a great weekend!


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