Five for Friday

Hello again! Today I am linking up with tons of great teacher bloggers for Five for Friday. I may be a day late, but hey, no judgements right? We just finished up week 5 and you know what that means- back to school germs are full swing. It amazes me every year how many gallons of hand sanitizer and cases of tissues we seem to go through in just a few short weeks. Now that my turn with with germs is done, I can finally see straight long enough to share about our week :)

 We began Monday with our school's annual Pinwheels for Peace event. Every student in the school creates and decorates a pinwheel in art class. The music teacher also teaches everyone a song about peace. Our entire school community gathered in a circle to watch the pinwheels and sing for peace. Something about all of the children dreaming about a peaceful world always brings a tear to my eye. It's such a powerful event and one I look forward to each year. 
Last week I got a little "Pinspired" and made a bunch of anchor charts for writing. Now like I tell my students, I went to teacher school, not art school, so they're not perfect. But, I do think they got the job done. I love using anchor charts with my students as a tool to help them recall important information. I usually end up creating basic charts with my students during my lessons, but occasionally I like to fancy them up a bit. Other times I start the basic frame (cute part) before the lesson and create the remaining part with my students. They love having ownership over the work hung in our room and tend to see more value in it compared to something like a store-bought poster simply hung on the wall.
After using Pinterest as inspiration for my writing anchor charts, I decided to try my hand at creating my own. This week in science we continued our unit on Force and Motion. Our focus was on the difference between push and pull.

We spent the week talking about real life examples while searching our classroom and playground. I introduced the concept of a hard and soft push/pull by having students pass a balloon, koosh ball, and kickball. They could see the amount of force needed to keep the ball off the ground differed.We also used an example of the amount of force it would take to push a baby on a swing compared to an adult. Their favorite example was when we pretended to be super heroes stopping the world from a meteor- they pretended to use a huge amount of force to push it away.
 The unit 1 theme for our literacy standards focuses on ABC books. We spent the last few weeks reading dozens of them. Who knew there were so many! My students are really enjoying the different books. The unit works well for reinforcing beginning letter sounds and brainstorming words for each page. I am also tying it into our writing standards by focusing on the concept of topic and details. This week we are using the ABC books as inspiration for our own class book. Students chose to create a class ABC book about animals. After brainstorming a list of animals for each letter, students each began creating their own page. I will add pictures next week once we get past the rough draft stage. They are also using informational texts to research additional details about their animal.
Although I have enjoyed reading many of these books, I have to say one of my favorites is ABC of Jobs by Roger Priddy. Each page shares a different job description, the clothing required, and a fun fact. My students loved learning about the different career options and it tied in perfectly with preparing students to be college and career ready.

 I don't know about your class but my kiddos seem to go through pencils at an unbelievable speed. Keeping pencils sharpened seems to take up more time than it should each day. I set up a system where students put their broken pencils into a cup and take out a sharpened one. Now that I had a system in place it was time to find the perfect pencil sharpener. I heard about "the best classroom pencil sharpener" from Classroom Friendly Supplies. I placed an order for the cool blue one and it came in this week. I absolutely love how sharp it makes each pencil. The fabulous reviews are true and it was well worth the money.

I am happy to officially welcome fall. In honor of the cool(er) weather, I created a new word problem set. My focus was on addition and subtraction word problems with numbers up to 10. What I love about this product is the ability to use a QR Code reader to self check work. My students are loving the integration of technology! I am having to read the problems out loud for now (lots of non-readers) but they still enjoy it.
 Thank you for following the randomness of my week. I hope you have a great Saturday!

Listen to Reading Benefits & Setup

As I've shared before, I follow the Daily 5 as a framework for my literacy block. So far we have introduced Read to Self, Work on Writing, and Word Work. Yesterdays task was to organize my Listening Center materials in preparation of this weeks launch.
During Listen to Reading my students are able to use a variety of technology tools including Leapfrog TAG Pens, Hot Dots, Portable CD Players, the classroom CD player, iPads, and computers.

Now I must admit, when I first started doing the Daily 5 I questioned the effectiveness of the listening station. Were my students gaining anything from the audiobooks or were they simply just quiet and happy (which some days was extremely nice)? I decided to do some research in my own first grade classroom by having students do a cold read of a book before using the listening station. I recorded their voice on my cell phone or iPad using a Quick Voice app for 1 minute. Then, students listened to the book 3-4 times over the next few days. When finished, I recorded them again. I used the tracking sheet below to do an informal running record (number of words missed) and word count in 1 minute- pre and post listening to the audiobook while following along.

My results showed that struggling students made the most growth in accuracy. Advanced students made the most growth in words per minute. On level students (in first grade) made the most combined growth in both areas. Having the concrete evidence to support audiobooks as tools for developing fluency made me want to jump in head first. What I also found was the one on one conferencing about fluency goals and playing back the recordings for students to compare their own reading was more beneficial than I ever imagined. Students had proof that listening to reading made them better readers and therefore were more on task and excited about it.


Ok, now that the why is's my how. Students first select a listening tool. Typically they use portable CD players with book/audiobook sets from Scholastic. Sometimes they use TAG pens for fluency or Hot Dots (for phonics skills). Last year my students were a bit rough with the CD players so we had to resort to using the CD Drive in our computers to play them with a set of headphones. Storia from Scholastic is also a great resource for iPads with animated and digital ebooks.

Yesterday I spent the day converting ALL 75 of my audiobooks on CD to my iTunes account. I uploaded a copy of each recording to iTunes, took a picture of each book cover to use as the artwork, and created separate playlists based on topic/season. Now, students will be able to get the books and play the story without scratching CDs or running out of batteries. For now, students listen simply for exposure to text and fluency. Later in the year students will respond to the listening center by completing different activities.

How do you store all of your listening center materials? What benefits have you found?

Counting Practice in First Grade

Here is my first attempt at a new weekly series on my blog: Math Tip Monday. Although I have a slight obsession with children's books and I recently just earned my certification as a Reading Specialist....math is actually one of my favorite subjects to teach.

This past week we needed to practice our counting skills. Here are some of the activities we used to review counting up to 50:

- Interactive 100's chart on the Smartboard. I would call out a number and students took turns touching it which makes it turn a different color. The rest of the class had their own 100's charts and counters to use on the floor while waiting their turn. I also changed the colors I said each time to further add in listening skills. (Ex. Put a red on 4. Cover the 33 with a yellow counter)

To find the interactive file click Gallery (the picture frame), search "hundred", and select the Interactive and Multimedia file. Simply drag and drop into your file. 
 Next I use the screen feature to cover up the numbers above 50. Click the Screen (like a drop down shade), and drag it up/down/left/right to cover what you don't want shown.
- Number Order- I assign students a number as part of my classroom management system. We ALWAYS line up in number order. Rather than simply call numbers in sequence, I often start at a number other than 1 and count up, or backwards. This helps students pay attention (hopefully) to the numbers before and after their own.  
- Popcorn Counting- I cut out pieces of popcorn shaped white paper and write one number on each  ( up to 50). I store all pieces inside of an empty popcorn box. Students shake the box, pull 3 numbers out, and put them in order from least to greatest. They can use a hundreds chart if they need help determining the sequence. Record in math journals and repeat. They love helping the popcorn "pop" during the box shake phase.
- Here are two other math centers we used during the week to practice sequencing numbers:

 - Mystery Bag Counting: 
Put a variety of objects into baggies (I normally use brown lunch bags or zippered pencil pouches). Set the bags around the room. Students will work with a partner or independently to count the number of objects in each bag. They will then record the name of the bag (letter, name of object, color of bag, however you choose to name them) and the total. Students can also draw the number of objects to match as time allows. Switch to a new bag and repeat. 

Click below for a Freebie Recording Sheet
I hope you have a great week. Check back next Monday for Addition & Subtraction ideas for primary students.

First Week...Check!

Phew! I made it through the first week of first grade for the 7th year in a row :) I am loving my little guys so far and am excited for a new year. Last year I had 14 students and this year I am blessed with 21! Let me tell you, I thought the bathroom line was slow is a whole other story.

Last week we focused on getting to know each other and routines/procedures. One of the class favorites was our Find Someone Who game. Students had to learn about new friends and record their names on the scavenger hunt sheet. I was nervous about my non readers at first but the pictures really seemed to help. I was pleasantly surprised at how well they all did talking, recording, and moving around the room.

We spent a lot of time reading stories together (Chrysanthemum, The Crayon Box that Talked, My Mouth is a Volcano) and discussing the lessons learned. We also created our Teacher Job/Student Job anchor chart. We discussed what each of our roles looks like, sounds like, and feels like. We also brainstormed what our job is not supposed to look like, etc
 This upcoming week we will work on our 3 Bee's anchor charts (Be Safe, Be Responsible, Be Respectful). Here is a sample from last year.
Lastly, here is a special treat for you. Click the picture of the letter below to download your own copy. I plan on passing one out to each of my grade level team members (a little late but that's ok). Have a great start to your week!