Tuesday, March 17, 2015

What's the Big Idea? Main Idea in Informational Text

Hey Friends!
    Happy St. Patrick's Day! We had a great time with some snacks and leprechaun mischief today. The kids have got Spring Fever BAD, and with it being 83 degree today, I can't really blame them.  13 days til spring break, though...not that I'm counting :)

  So, we've been working super hard on Main Idea. My firsties always have the hardest time with this concept, and this year has been no different. Recently, we did this great cooperative learning activity focused on main idea and supporting details, and it was a huge success.

   We use Reading Street at my school, so we've been studying dinosaurs in conjunction with our story Mr. Bones. Since the kids have been in LOVE with this story & all things dinosaurs, I wanted a way to incorporate our main idea focus into our unit.  We started with an anchor chart to review main idea and details.
We've been using highlighters A LOT in my class in order to find text evidence. Since the kids love using them, and they get so excited about it, I decided this would be another great opportunity to get them out!

First, I modeled reading the passage and thinking & questioning aloud. As a group, we identified the main idea & supporting details for our anchor chart.  It went really smoothy, so we moved on!

Next, I split the kids into groups of 3 - with varying reading levels - and gave them their own dinosaur passage.

 In our Teacher's Edition, there is an informational read-aloud passage on fossils. It was right on my kids' level, so I recorded each paragraph onto a sheet of short chart paper. *Note: a couple of the paragraphs were shortened to fit the space* 

 Each group also got 4-5 different colored highlighters & they had to read, question, discuss, and identify the main idea in yellow....and the supporting details in the other colors...one color per detail.
 Some kids went a wee bit crazy with the highlighters! We might need to revisit that...hmmmm....
 This group highlighted "fossils" throughout the whole passage because they said "This is the topic!".
Okay, great...I'll take that!

 You like how I made that "tOOth" mistake into tEEth?  Yeah, I didn't want to rewrite it. Call me lazy. But, don't you hate it when that happens?!
They did SUCH a great job with this assignment! It was fun listening and watching them talk it out, and learn how to work together....not an easy task when you're in first grade!

The next day, we used these graphic organizer's from Ashley Sanderson's What's It All About pack on TpT. The kids were given a passage from the day before, and they had to read and then record the main idea and supporting details. 
 Clipboards and chance to sit anywhere on the carpet?  Yes, please! That's always a winner!

I just love how this activity turned out. I should mention I had an unannounced observation during this lesson, too & my principal really enjoyed listening and watching the kids figure it all out.  Yay! 5 down...1 to go! Again....not that I'm counting ;)
 The kids were so proud of their work. One little guy said, "This is the kind of stuff my big brother does!". He was the first to suggest we hang them in the hallway...so we did! :) 

Such an easy & low-prep way to really engage the kids in main idea. Often times, it's just books or reading passages & my kids get so bored. They had a blast with this & I hope you found some good ideas, too!

As always, thanks for stopping by!

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Mastering Those Math Facts!

Hi Friends!
    At this point in the year in first grade, we are working hard on mastery....mastering everything we can!

With all these standards, it's hard not to lose sight of the importance of mastery. We spend so much time trying to "get it all in" that sometimes it's difficult to make sure our kids actually do get it ALL in their little brains!

    For me? It's math facts.  Although the Common Core doesn't have math fact fluency as a standard listed until 2nd grade, I know that a strong foundation in fact fluency will benefit my kids for years to come. But, even though I know that, I used to find it really hard to fit in another assessment. 

I don't  know about you, but we have got assessments oozing out the wazoo, and the thought of another one just made my head (and my heart) ache!

 Then, I started using Fluency Tickets with my kids, and thought I'd share how well this works with my first graders.
 First, I assess my kids using a pre-test of all addition facts 0-9.  At my school, we time these tests...10 minutes for all 200 facts. YES, that is a lot, so I break it up into different tests. 

The expectation for fluency is 20 facts in 1 minute, so we just go with that.  I know there are differing opinions of timing tests for little ones, so the pre-test can also be given without a time limit.

Anyway, after assessing them, I score them to determine which number group(s) they have mastered, and which ones need more work for fluency.  Some kids start with the 0's...and some kids start further along.

Next, I give them Fact Fluency Rings....flashcards on rings to help them study their facts for mastery. 
Each child gets the ONE ring they need to practice.
I copy them on different colored cardstock to make it more manageable. You could also laminate them for durability, and you'll be able to use them time & time again!

On Fridays, I test all my kids. BUT, I only test them on their number group. Each child gets a Fluency Ticket which acts as the assessment for the particular number group they are practicing.

Differentiation?? Yes, please! 
When a child score a 100 on his or her test, they earn a sticker for that particular fact group & move on to the next one.
I use this little chart that I found buried in my closet. No idea where it came from, and honestly, it could be cuter, but it works!  The kids get to come put their sticker on the chart, which they love!

You certainly don't have to do this part, but I'm just sharing how I do it in my room.

The kids also have a pocket in their interactive math notebooks where they store their tickets AND where they can put another sticker to show off their progress.
When my firsties have finished their work in their notebooks, they can pull out their fluency tickets and practice, or they can get out their rings & use those, too!

The kids absolutely LOVE it!  When it's time for our tests, they get so excited.... and they are doing so well! 

Plus, I love that it's an easy way to differentiate the assessment, and an even easier way to document their mastery. 

It takes 5 minutes out of my day on Fridays.....what could be simpler than that?! :)

When I started this, I just had these little tickets for my class because it was the best way I had figured out how to test fluency while still getting it ALL in.  

I decided to make it into a pack & share with you!


Click on either picture above to check it out in my TpT store! It's 20% off until midnight tomorrow night :)

As always, thanks for stopping by! I hope you found this post useful ...and if you test fact fluency in your room, how do YOU do it? :)

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Bright Idea: Monthly Theme Pockets

Hi Friends,
   Another month...another batch of bright ideas!!  Today, I'm linking up with a bunch of other bloggers to share some bright ideas that make our teaching lives a little easier.
  I don't know about you, but super messy desks are my worst nightmare. I just can't stand to see all the papers and things hanging out of them.
Not to mention how much work gets lost in the deep, dark depths of this mess.  Papers don't get turned in, and the loud cry of "I can't find mine" is heard 'round the room!

  Well, friends, I'm here to tell you about monthly theme pockets. Have you ever used them?  They are such a great way to keep student work organized.  Plus, they are super easy to make and keep up with... two of my favorite things. 
 Basically, these theme pockets are large sheets of construction paper folded about 1/2 of the way up and stapled on both sides. 

I make labels for the units we are doing in a given month. 
This month, it was plants, weather, 100th day, and winter animals.

 We typically focus on one unit per week, but there are some months with fewer or more pockets. This month just happened to have four.  During our unit, the kids place ALL of their related work in their pocket....crafts, worksheets, conference sheets, writing, anything we do or make.
At the end of the month, I put them all together to make a portfolio.
I line all the pockets up, staple them all together & use packing tape to secure the edges.
That stuff can really stick! Plus, it covers all the staples! You could use cute duck tape, too.
This is an example of the pockets put together before anything was added, but I wanted to give you an idea of how they're combined.

Of course, when the pockets are full of work, the portfolio is MUCH bigger.
That packing tape really holds it all together, though!

Then, I wrap another large sheet of construction paper around it.
I choose the same color as the back pocket, and just tape it to the back. It doesn't go all the way around, but when it's taped, you can't tell. It looks like a book!  
I print out cover labels, and the kids just glue it down.  This is the what the finished product looks like!

Here's another example of a pocket we did back in October. The kids just love these, and it's a great way to keep all that junk out of their desk.
Everything has a place.... just like I like it!

How about grading?? I either a) take up the pockets at the end of the unit & grade the papers, or b)take up individual assignments throughout the unit & when they are returned to the students, they are placed in the pocket.  

Not only do I love these things...and the kids, too...but their parents always love having these little snapshots into their child's learning.  Winning! :)

I hope you like & can use this idea. If you do, I'd love to hear about it.
Don't forget to check out these other bloggers and their AMAZING bright ideas. I always find something I can use in my classroom :)

As always, thanks for stopping by!
 If you like this idea, please check out my Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook pages!
Just click the little icons at the top :)

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Throwback Thursday: 100th Day Ideas!

Hi Friends!
Today was the 98th day of school for me and the kiddos, which means the 100th day is just right around the corner....Ours is Tuesday, and as I was writing my plans for the week, I thought I would do a little Throwback Thursday action with some fun ideas for the big day.
I'm really not sure when the 100th Day became a "thing". I don't remember doing it as a kid, but it's been something all of my students know is coming...and they're so excited about it!

This year, we're all dressing up like we are 100 years old, which I think will be so much fun.  We're also doing a bunch of other fun stuff, too!! 

Here are some of the activities we've done in the past that the kids have loved!  I set these up as centers that the kids rotate through during the day. Most years, we've had the centers going all week, so that helps with planning...and it keeps the fun going!
Hershey Kiss Counting: Kiss Your Brain!
I use these little dot stickers (Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Walmart), and stick one to the bottom of 100 Hershey Kisses. The kids have to pull out a kiss, and color the 100 chart the color of the sticker. They continue until they fill in the whole chart.  This year, I'm doing it with a 120 Chart to make it more Common Core friendly.  {The kids get a little baggie of kisses when they're finished, too!}

100 Cup Stack:
This fabulous idea came from Joyful Learning in KC. We've been doing it for a few years, and it's always a favorite. The kids get to take 100 cups, and build anything their little hearts desire. It's amazing what they come up with. I love seeing their creativity!

Sprinkles & Bubble Gum!!
What kid doesn't love cupcakes, sprinkles and bubble gum?! Not many. My firsties have to cut little pieces of paper  - 100 pieces - to create sprinkles for their cupcake.  I also have the bubble gum center where they use Q-Tips to make 100 gumballs for their machine.  They then "subtract" (i.e. cross out) any number of gumballs to create a subtraction problem.  Fun fun!!  Both of these are time consuming, but I love how they turn out! :)

Snack Time!!
10 items....10 of each.
The students count out 10 of each of our ingredients to create their own 100th Day Snack. I send home a letter asking for donations, and we use these mats to help with sorting and counting.  
Of course, this center is a crowd favorite...and a teacher favorite, too!

100 Art: What Can You Make with 100?
Each child gets a 1, and 2 zeros to create anything they want. This little guy made glasses, and I think it's so cute! It's always fun to see their little creations.{I can't find the original source of where I found it on Pinterest, so if you know where this idea came from, please let me know.}
Mr. George Baker:
Sweetness....pure sweetness. I absolutely LOVE this book.  We read the text as a whole group, then the children write about what they think life will be like when they are "old", like Mr. Baker.  Warning: This is a tearjerker, but such a beautiful story. 

Speaking of being old.....
This is my first grader's absolute FAVORITE thing to do.
Using The Aging Booth app, I take all of the kids pictures & then they magically transform to see how they would look when they are 100.  The app actually says it only ages you like 30 or 40 years (which is terrifying when I look at this picture), but the kids think it's hilarious....and their parents love it, too!!
Seriously, this pictures gives me nightmares!!

Here's one of my sweet friend's from last year....so precious!
You can download it to your phone or tablet, and it's super easy to use. I just print the pictures the day before, and bring them to school for the kids. They use their pictures to go along with their Mr. Baker writing & we hang them in the hallway. 

So, those are some of my favorite things to do to celebrate the 100th Day! What are some other activities that you love to do? I'd love some new ideas!

As always, thanks for stopping by....and just think, the 100th Day means you're over HALFWAY to SUMMER!!! Woo hoo!!


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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Real Teachers are....Messy?!

It's confession time... I don't know about you, but while I'm blog stalking, I find myself comparing my classroom to all those that I see. Everything is so organized and perfect, and let's be honest, we all want that.  But, the truth is... real teachers can be messy. We have SO much stuff...and often, SO little space and SO little time.

Today, I'm linking up with Hilary at Second Grade is Out of This World for her new "Real Teachers of 'Blog' County" linky to show off confess to our dirty little secrets....the mess.

Yep, we all have messes. Some more than others, but believe me, there's one lurking in almost every single classroom...even in those classrooms you pin & admire.

 Here's what my classroom looks like from the "outside"...

Fairly nice and tidy.... most days :)
 Labels and tubs and boxes....just like I like it...
My "desk".... more tubs, more labels....but then there's THE CLOSET.

I pride myself on being super organized at school and I love for everything to have it's place... but my closet is the dark corner of despair in my room. It's where organization goes to die.
 "Just cram and shove" seems to be my organization motto for this spot.
I'm so embarrassed to even show this on here... it's worse than I thought!

 You can see where this closet started out organized.
Ahh... I remember the day well..yes THE day. One. Just one.
There were tubs. There were labels.  There was POTENTIAL!
But, alas, the real world of teaching took over, and I just started stacking and cramming as time allowed.
It's just awful & I have every intent to get this place all neat and tidy at some point.

Today is not that day, though... I'll just keep stacking and praying things don't fall out and impale me in my classroom.  Until then, check out these other bloggers and their dirty little secrets.....

Click {here} to head over to Hilary's linky! :)

As always, thanks for stopping by! 
Now, it's your turn....where do you hide all of YOUR mess??

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