Monday, February 20, 2012

Long a Pail Sort on TpT

Nate sorting pail

This next week I will be working with my students on the ai and ay spelling patterns.  Last year at this time I created a little activity for students to use to practice reading words with these combinations and to review _a_e. 


Last year my students loved this center.  Tho I advise not using all of the shovels but picking and choosing.  It’s just too much for the little guys. 

pail sort

If you would like a copy of this activity, come grab it from my TpT store.

Hope some of you can use this!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Day in My Shoes Linky Party

I saw this linky party in a whole bunch of teacher blogs that I have been reading lately.  It’s been very interesting to see how similar and how very different some of our schedules are.  I haven’t blogged in a VERY long time.  That’s an understatement … I know! and I’m not going to make any promises about trying to do a better job because life is just crazy and I don’t know how the rest of you teacher's out there find time to blog, pin, and do everything else you do.

Anyhow …  If you’d like to read about other teachers’ days or just add your own follow the link below.

We’ll follow my typical Monday because its my only day without specials …so its busy, busy, busy …

6:00-6:20 or 6:30 My alarm goes off and I push snooze multiple times – until I get up sometime between 6:20 and 6:30

6:20 or 6:30 – 7:15 Get out of bed and make coffee, take a shower, get dressed, do hair, eat breakfast, brush teeth, do make-up

7:15-7:40 – Drive to school

7:40-8:15 – Say hi to my coworkers … end up chatting sometimes for a short time sometimes until almost 8:15 when I look up at the clock and say “I’ve got to go get things ready in my room.”  Put chairs down, get morning work ready, put things away that I left out after I rushed out Sunday night after making copies much too late.

8:15 – go to the gym to pick up students (when it’s too cold to be outside), greet each student with a hug, make sure everyone is in line and ready for prayer, pray as a school, wait for the little kids to leave so we can follow to go upstairs

8:30 – enter our classroom, students begin morning work – I tell the first one or two to get started to move their clip up (hoping that it will motivate the slow movers to get started), check folders for notes from parents &: put in homework, remind several students who went straight to morning work without unpacking to come back and put their folders in their cubbies, take attendance

8:40 – Call class together to clean up and line up for bathroom/drinks.  Send one student to Resource to get extra help during reading.

8:45-11:30 – Daily 5 Time – I alternate mini lessons and choice times.  During each of the mini lessons we either work on a phonics skill, review high frequency words, work on grammar, teach a writing mini lesson, do a making words lesson, take a spelling pretest, teach or review a reading strategy to add to our cafe menu, or whatever else might be needed.  We follow each mini lesson with a Daily 5 choice time.  I send the kids to their choices counting down from 5 for them to get started right away.  During each choice time I meet with a different group of kids.  I have 5 groups I meet with regularly.  One group is about a quarter behind where they should be.  I meet with this group every day.  Another group is right where they should be.  I meet with this group every day.  The third group is reading about a semester ahead and I meet with these guys Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  My fourth group is reading at a 3rd to 4th grade level.  I meet with these guys on Tuesday and Thursday.  My fifth group consists of a new immigrant and a child who is about a year behind in reading.  I meet with these two kiddos every day as well working on phonological awareness and beginning reading skills.  Just a side note … I differentiate spelling as well by only moving students onto the next list if they’ve mastered the spelling pattern.  At this point I’m reading 5 different spelling lists.  Around 9:30 we stop for a snack at which point my student returns from Resource.

11:30-11:40 – Read a Bible story and introduce our memory verse for the week.

11:40-12:10 – Take students to lunch and grab a tray for myself (we have hot lunch at our school only two days a week.  It’s donated by two different groups of church folk from partner churches.  And Monday’s lunches are always very tasty!)  Quick run around at 12:05 to make sure everything is ready for the afternoon … switch the rotation for math drawers because I ran out of time in the morning since I was chatting with coworkers.

12:10-12:40 – I have recess duty with the PreK3-1st

12:40-12:50 – Bring students up from recess

12:50-2:15 – Math – During math we alternate between whole group mini lessons and independent work time.  Our mini lessons consist of calendar work, place value – I do routines from teacher tipster, money, time, or whatever else the whole class might need.  We have four work times between the lessons.  Four different math groups … one group is still needing to use counters for addition, one group is beginning to work on subtraction, the third group is working through more quickly and is working on subtraction strategies, the fourth group came in to first grade ready to multiply.  I do a  lot of enrichment activities with this group as well as just work at a more quick pace.  While I am meeting with math groups, one group is doing their practice sheet from the curriculum.  The other two groups are working on math drawers playing math games from either the curriculum or centers that I get from blogs or TpT. 

2:15-2:40 – Science or Social Studies – right now we are learning about living long ago and students have been working on constructing log cabins out of popsicle sticks.  They have really enjoyed this activity and beg to do it any extra time they have.  They even ask to do it during their work on word time, which I then remind them of all the jobs they have to do during work on words during the week and they realize they don’t actually have extra time.

2:40-3:00 – Clean up, class jobs, pack up, hand out checked papers, if we have more smilies than frownies during the day give the class a star towards their goal, line up for dismissal.

3:00-3:20 – Go downstairs for dismissal.  Chat with my students while waiting for them all to be picked up or time for after care.  Listen to students ask to hold the walkie talkie or play a learning game on my phone.  Sometimes say yes almost always say no to playing a game on my phone.

3:20-4:00 – After all my kids have been dismissed I go back upstairs and many times end up talking teaching philosophy with another coworker before heading out.  On the first Monday of the month I have a teacher meeting and on the third Monday of the month I have a meeting for the education committee that lasts until 5.

6:00-7:00 – I am an assistant coach for the first / second grade basketball team so I go to the rec center and play with the kids coach basketball.

Afterwards I stop at the grocery store, grab something to take to my friends’ house for supper, get over there, cook together, eat, chat.  I head home around 10:00, get ready for bed, and slide in … reading from my Bible before falling asleep.

Like I said, Monday is by far the busiest day!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Let’s Learn about Ponds

This last week we began our study of ponds.  We used an old school overhead transparency from our science curriculum to get our schema activated and observed all the things that live near a pond. 

Next we used a tree diagram to brainstorm what ponds are have and do.

We spent a lot of time last week working on creating our own bottle habitats.  I found a great resource online a few years back that I’ve used ever since as a springboard.  I can’t find the resource now that I printed off then, but here’s another that might be helpful.  This one is put out by the Annenberg Foundation.

We found it very interesting that we added to our pond in a similar order that God created His world.  First we added land and water; dirt in the top part, rock then water in the bottom.  Our next step was to add grass seed and duck week (the plants).  Next will be fish.  These steps were spread out through the week with a few observations that we made as scientists to learn how adding things to our habitats change the habitat.

My first graders this year did a great job showing detail on some of their observations this year.  I’ll add those to this post later. 

A couple of nights before adding the grass seed and duck weed to our habitats I took one of my students with me to the park after school to collect duck weed from the stream.  (The benefits of teaching in a close community)  He really enjoyed this special time together and we had duck weed to add during our next science lesson.


Today we all went on our field trip to the park.  It was a whole lot of fun!  Students spent time exploring, catching bugs, and finding natural treasures around them.  We refocused on our tree diagram (that we brought with us) and commented on things we had previously brainstormed that we could now say definitely live near ponds as well as added more living things we spotted.  We spotted some turtles, water bugs, a cardinal, a duck, dragonflies, a grasshopper, and lots of other little insects.  We even spotted this habitat below.  Anyone have any ideas of what might have created this little burrow?  We were maybe thinking a muskrat.

We even spotted a heron up in the tree!  Can you find it?  we talked about how the heron lives close to the pond because it likes to eat fish.

After a little exploration time we focused in on specific areas inside hula hoops to see if we could find smaller creatures living near the pond.  Students found little beetles, roly polies, crickets, little green insects, and all kinds of plants. 

We then got back in our vehicles and drove a little ways down the street to a stream that runs through the park.  Here we caught all kinds of minnows to add to our bottle habitats.  One student even caught a crawdad!  This was a first.  In the three years I’ve taken my kids on this field trip I have never before seen one.  So we of course had to bring it back to school for further observation.  I’ve got to do some research tonight though – find out what it eats so we can care for it during observation.  Then I suppose I’ll have to choose another student to go with me back to the park to release it late this week or early next week.





We have our fish all ready to add to our bottles tomorrow morning.  I’m sure we’ll have to do it almost right away because we won’t be able to focus on anything else until that work is done.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Two Days Down

I’m exhausted and ready to fall asleep … and yes it is only 7:30.  I can’t even imagine all of you with 20 + kids.  I've only got 12.  But those 12 are as diverse as night is from day.  I have 4 countries represented this year in my classroom: Burma, Burundi, Congo, and the United States. 


I am really thankful for the opportunity we have at the school I teach at to do God’s work in loving the immigrant and refugee and to pursue reconciliation between many different people groups.  But it’s incredibly complex.  My student from Congo just arrived in the country 3 short weeks ago.  And he’s not content to sit still and listen to words he doesn’t understand.  We spent a great deal of time today as a class working on the words wait and be still.  I’ve begun building stamina with my kiddos for Daily 5 on read to self.  But what do you do to help someone “fresh off the boat” (or plane) when you’re trying to watch everyone else to make sure they’re following procedures and you don’t need to regroup to check in.  I’m not even sure today if my students read the whole time as I was trying to introduce my non English speaker to a tool he can use during read to self to increase his vocabulary, which I figure is the best place to start considering he knows three or four English words in all.

I spent time today teaching my kids how to communicate using body language and short phrases in order for them also to help our new friend rather than the shoving and snatching that began happening with the lack of communication between them.  I have a feeling this is going to be a lesson in patience for a few of them. 

Three years ago I worked with two ELL students new to the country who did not yet speak English but at the time I taught kindergarten.  The students were of a culture that was extremely soft spoken and respectful of authority so it worked out well as they would sit and listen to become accustomed to hearing the English language.  It also worked out very nicely because the skills they needed to learn Kindergarten also needed to learn.  This year will be a little different story.  I’m so glad I teach using Daily 5 and a workshop Daily 5ish approach to math!  This is going to open up much more opportunity for me to meet the needs of my students using differentiated instruction.  I’ve just got to figure out how to teach the procedures and build stamina while having one who has not a clue what I’m communicating.

I’m sure I’ll have much to share with you this year as I learn how to meet the needs of a student new to the country while also meeting the needs of the rest of a diverse group.  If any of you have ideas that might be helpful please leave a comment.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I've Been Working on My Classroom ...

Think ... I've been working on the Railroad. I'm not sure why that was in my mind with that tune but now I can't seem to get it out of my head. I've been Working on My Classroom all the live long day. I've been working on my classroom just to pass the time away.
Can I just say I'm loving my classroom this year? Both the group of kids I'll be having and the way I'm setting up and designing my classroom.
Here's a little tour ...


This is what you see when you first enter the room. It's where we're keeping everything important like the turn in tray, pencils, and hand sanitizer. On the bottom shelf I'm keeping the kids portfolios. I keep important assessments like the IRI and other pieces of evidence that show students have mastered standards.


Around the corner is our class library. These are mostly my fiction books. It looks like I may have squished this picture a little much but you get the idea. We call this area of our room the pond. It is one of two meeting areas this year in our classroom. I have gone to less table spots than students in order to both open up the room and provide for several different areas in which students can work. This will work in my classroom because I have short whole group lessons and then break out into independent workstations during both literacy and math. During that time I meet with smaller groups of students for more diferentiated instruction.
The next picture will show my nonfiction section of my classroom library. This section is just at the opposite side of the pond from these shelves.


There are actually two shelves here back to back. This shelf is my nonfiction library. The shelf to the back of it houses my chapter books. The small shelf on the side has all animal fiction stories. Aren't there a lot of those? I thought it would be easiest to separate them like this rather than place them in three or four baskets. I'm using the treasure box on top of the shelf this year for Bible time. I will be introducing Bible to the kids this year using the parable of the pearl of great price to share with the kids the treasure of scripture and of relationship with God. I'll then use it to spark curiosity of what the next lesson will be each week. This year I also installed small white boards on my closet doors. These are going to be used for my word wall. Instead of taping up index cards each week, I'll write up the words with dry erase. Much easier so I'll be much more likely to stay on top of it.


This is my writing area. I keep materials for my kids to use both on the white bookshelf to the left as well as in little cubbies on top of the trapezoid table. I'm using a small Fancy Nancy bulletin boardish thing I found on Pinterest on the side of the bookcase. You can link back to the original poster here. My idea is to use Fancy Nancy words when I teach my students to revise their writing. We'll talk about which words are ones that we use too much when we're writing and I'll put those on library pockets on the Fancy Nancy board. We'll put words on popsicle sticks that are fancy words or synonyms for those words in the pockets. I will teach my students to highlight words that are used often and replace them with words from the fancy word pockets.


This is where I'll be meeting with my small groups. I know it's still a mess. I've got two more days to finish up. Hopefully I can make it. It's not in this picture but where the watering can is I now have a small closet shelf where I've put all of our clean up supplies. The job chart will go next to it on the end of the wall that sticks out there. You can see into the second side of my classroom where I have two "tables". One of them is a table and the other is two desks zip tied together and covered with shower board. I've actually covered the table with shower board now too. My kids last year destroyed the table top and I needed to cover it with something. I thought shower board might be a fun route and with my very small class this year (10 students) we could all fit around it if we wanted to write spelling words or do making word lessons or whatever else.


This is my math and computer area. On the white shelf is my math book library and math notebooks that we will be using for calendar time. I bought these from Cara Caroll at her TpT store. Our math workstations will be in the drawers under the computer table. Behind the green curtain I have extra supplies stored for when we run out throughout the year.


Around the corner from math is area for listen to reading. This is located in our bog. Similar to the pond, the bog is another large group meeting area. There was no room on the walls near the class library in the pond for calendar materials so I used this space for that.


Here is a somewhat finished bog. The trees on the walls are sticker decals that can be easily taken off and reused. (At least that's what the package says.) Most everything on the calendar wall is standard. But the two cookie sheets will be used for data collection. Each day we will have a question and the kids will place a magnet with their name on it on one of the two pans to answer the question. I am adding a section to the Math Notebook I talked about earlier in which students can collect data. They will make tallies for this collecting and then graph the results and analyze the data.

I do not have pictures of my science area nor of a shot of the classroom from the opposite end. I would like to add those at some point. But this post is long enough for now.

I hope you enjoyed a peek at my classroom! :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

And the Winner is …

My first give away is over and it is time to announce the first winner. 



Mrs. D please email me (through my blogger profile) to let me know if you if you would prefer a gift card in the mail or by email.  I need either your snail mail address or email address to send it your way.

Thanks to everyone who participated!  When I reach 100 the give away will be a little bigger and hopefully a little more worth your time.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Give Away Reminder

Just a reminder … my first give away ends tomorrow.  I didn’t realize I would be out of town so I’ll pick the winner Tuesday evening.  I know a $5 gift card to Target isn’t much but it’s all I can afford.  Leave a comment on my give away post for your chance to win!