Thursday, January 14, 2016

It's Okay to "Just Read" to Your Students!

I wanted to be a teacher my entire life. I honestly can't remember a time when I didn't want to teach, and in all those years, there was this image in my head of sitting in a big ole rocking chair reading to my students while they hung on every word, eyes lit up with excitement and wonder, and smiles as wide as the room!

Fast forward to the actual job of teaching, and often times, we see children sitting on the carpet for Story Time and that sparkle and curiosity is dim.  Not at all like in the idealistic pictures of my youth.

Some years ago, I was calling my first graders to the carpet for a lesson using one of my favorite books.  I hear a collective "ugh" from several of my kiddos. Now, this wasn't a groan I heard very often, so I had to investigate.

I asked, "Why the groaning? You don't want to listen to a great story?" 

The response?  "Every time you read to us, we have to DO something".

My first reaction was to assume the kids didn't want to do the work.  And then I really got to thinking about it.  Why is it that every single time we, as teachers, bring a book out, it's followed by an activity, a test, or some other assignment?  When did we stop JUST READING to our kids?

I realized that there are children that view books and stories negatively because there was always "work" attached to it. 

There was always a catch!  "I'll read you a great story, but you're going to have to work when we're finished!"

Many children had never had the opportunity to just listen to and immerse themselves in a story.  It made me sad, and I knew that as much as I loved my teachers reading to me as a kid, I wanted to pass that along.

I know with all of the standards we have to teach, and the push to maintain the integrity of our instructional time that we are left with very little "extra" time.  I also know that there are those who believe that read alouds with no assignment are a waste of time, or "fluff" as I was once told.

I disagree. 

How can teaching children the love of reading and books be fluff or a waste of time?  As a first grade teacher, that is one of my most important instill a lifelong love of learning. 

A gift.  Don't you just love the thought of that?  With each story read, you are giving a gift to your students.  That idea just makes me happy.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm a huge proponent of incorporating literature into every area of my teaching and into all subject areas.  Most of the books in my classroom library are tied to a lesson that I will teach at some point, and all of those lessons involve an activity or assignment for my kids. Close Reading is one of the best things I have done in my classroom, and I am a huge supporter of teaching kids to THINK about text; however, I think we need to find some balance, too.

I read this quote by the wonderful Mem Fox, as she was talking about speaking to parents about reading. She said "When I say to a parent 'read to a child', I don't want it to sound like medicine, I want it to sound like chocolate". 

 I want that too.  I want kids to think of books like I think of chocolate... perfect and wonderful...and something I can't wait to get my hands on!  

So, I say, it's okay to JUST READ.  

Because it teaches children to JUST listen, JUST imagine, JUST dream, JUST wonder, JUST think, JUST love books.

 What do you think?


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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Penguin Prefixes & Suffixes

Hi Y'all!
   Happy New Year!!  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, and the new year is already off to a great start! I've been MIA for a little while with the craziness of the holidays and then I moved over the break, which just added to the mania.  I'm back, though, and excited to start sharing with you again. :)

   We started back to school on Tuesday and we've spent the last few days reviewing material and...if we are keeping it real here... doing some of the things that honestly just didn't get done before the break. 

    In language arts, we have been working with prefixes and suffixes. Our standard is to be able to identify root words, and use inflectional endings appropriately, but I always like to go ahead & introduce prefixes  during this unit.
 The kids helped me make the anchor chart over a couple days after we had really gone over the material in depth.  The inflectional endings we focus on are -s, -ed, and -ing for verbs and -s, -es, and -ies for nouns.  We also look at -ies for one syllable verbs that end in y like "cry", "fly" and "try".
   Here is our flip flap book for suffixes -s, -ed, and -ing.  The kids circle the root word and highlight the suffix. Then, they cut and paste them under the correct flip flap.

Root words and inflectional endings are always a little tricky for my first graders, so I like to keep our weekly activities pretty consistent. It helps with reinforcing the material, and it makes my job of explaining the activity even easier!! 
 So, we did the same kind of books each day to go with our focus.  
The kids really loved them & I noticed how much better they understood the material.  
If you would like a copy of all three flip flap books, click {HERE} for the FREEBIE.

Since we've been studying penguins this week, I had to incorporate them into our little unit, too!
 For our Ticket-Out-The-Door summarizer, I passed out sticky notes with words using all of the suffixes and prefixes we have studied this week.  They had to circle the root word, box the suffix or prefix, and then come up to the board and stick it under the correct penguin.

They did such a great job!

To assess the kiddos, they did like quick little cut & paste activity.  
Circle the root word & paste it under the correct heading. Easy peasy!

 I have updated this document & you can grab this little assessment by clicking the picture below.

So, that's it folks. Just a regular week in the classroom just trying to get back into the swing of things! I hope you can use some of these resources and, as always, thanks for stopping by!! :)

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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Pinterest Pick 3 Linky: November

November? Seriously?  It feels like we just started school, and it's already time for all things holiday, beginning with so many fun things to do for Thanksgiving.

Today, I am linking up with some fabulous bloggers to share my top 3 favorite Pins for the month of November.  

What did we do before Pinterest?  I remember the old days of scrounging through MailBox magazines and Teachers Helper to come up with great ideas for each month. Now, it's all at my fingertips and I absolutely love it. Pinterest has definitely broadened the horizons of ideas for so many teachers, including me!

Here are my Top 3 faves this month that I can't wait to use in my classroom!
One of my favorite Thanksgiving books is Twas' the Night Before Thanksgiving.  It is such a fun and cute story and the kids always love the end. If you haven't read it, I won't spoil the ending, but this is such a cute craft & writing activity to go along with the story. I can't wait to use it with my first graders. Do you see the little feathers hanging out?

 Who doesn't love a cute turkey?
These cuties from Cara at The First Grade Parade are to die for. 
Look at those eyes! I know my kids will just love these, and I'm always looking for a cute hallway display, and anything to accompany good writing!

While I obviously love all things turkey this time of year, I also like to spend some time teaching my first graders about the real reason we celebrate Thanksgiving...about the Pilgrims and Native Americans & that treacherous journey to find a new home.

I found this pin from First Grade a la Carte and knew that this would be a great way to teach my firsties about the first Thanksgiving.
You make the bracelets to go along with the story.
Such a fun and age-appropriate way to do this, and the kids get practice retelling, too!
I hope you found something you can use this month!  For more ideas, check out these other bloggers who have linked up with their favorite pins! The linky is open for the month, so if you have something you'd like to share, please do!  As always, thanks for stopping by! :)

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

4 Types of Sentences: Mummy Style! {freebie}

Hi Y'all!  Well, it's a wrap...well, almost.  October is almost over, and we are soaking up all things spooky in first grade.With a full moon, Red Ribbon Week, Halloween, and super crazy rain, we are working hard on staying engaged while celebrating all the fun this week has to offer!

 So, speaking of wrap, today I wanted to share a super fun activity we did while learning about the four types of sentences. 
Since it's Halloween week, I love digging through all my fun books to find texts that lend themselves to our language arts skills.  Our focus has been on the 4 Types of Sentences & Where's My Mummy? was absolutely perfect for this lesson!! It has all four types of sentences in the story & the kids were able to identify them as we read.

We started with our anchor chart, where the kids gave me examples of each type of sentence
We practiced acting out each type with some motions.
Declarative:  I like pizza. (stomp for the period)
Interrogative:  Can you help me? (Hands up and out for the question mark)
Exclamatory: This is so much fun!  (Hands straight up in the air like a cheer for the exclamation point)
Imperative: Stop running! (Pointing straight out like Uncle Sam for the exclamation point for period)

Then, we moved on to reading our story & making our mummies!
Each child got a mummy template (actually a gingerbread man, but hey, it worked!).
I ran the templates on black construction paper & then outlined in white crayon for those that needed help seeing where to cut.

Then, I laid out a bunch of pre-cut white strips on each table.

The kids just glued down the strips to cover up their mummy. Then, they turned their mummies over & cut around the edges to remove the excess white paper from the strips.

We glued some crazy colored googly eyes to each mummy to complete the craft.

Each student was then given four speech bubbles, and they have to write an example of each on the correct speech bubble.  When they were finished, we glued it all down to a piece of construction paper!
And Voila!  Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!  The kids loved it & it was really a great way to reinforce our learning of the 4 types of sentences!  

So, that's a wrap.. Yeah, yeah, I know.  If you'd like a copy of the speech bubbles & the mummy template, just click {here}.  I've also provided pre-made sentences to cut & paste onto each speech bubble for those learners who need some extra assistance.

Well, that's it for me. As always, thanks for stopping by!  I hope you are all having a great week!

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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sharing Sunday: Resources for You in November!

Hi Y'all !
Is it possible that October is almost over and we are right smack dab in the middle of fall?  I'm ready for it to start FEELING like fall here in the south, but I absolutely love teaching this time of year!

There are so many units to teach, fun stuff to make, and engaging lessons to teach my little firsties. This is my favorite time of year for so many reasons!

Today, I'm linking up with the Primary Peach and some other amazing bloggers to share some fantastic resources that I personally use in the month of November.

There are blog posts, freebies, products, and other stuff for you to check out, so just keep scrolling!

You can click on any picture of the visual plans to take you to Google Docs PDF File where all the goodies are linked. There are so many amazing resources, so feel free to click around!
Alright, friends, let's get started....
 We love using Mo Willems' pigeon books this time of year. They are great for predicting, lending voice to writing, and they are just fun, fun fun!  In my plans, you will see an anchor chart that I love using with my kiddos and a cute craftivity my first graders always love to make! 

Of course, November wouldn't be the same without a little unit on Thanksgiving.  One of my favorite books is Twas' the Night Before Thanksgiving.  It is absolutely the cutest book, and if you haven't read it, the very end is the best!    First Grade Wow has the cutest craft and writing FREEBIE to go with the book, and I am love with that literacy unit...and my kids are, too!
In writing, we are working hard on narratives. We use the Lucy Calkins framework, and one of the biggest lessons we teach is about focusing on SMALL MOMENTS in writing. I love using this great fall freebie for teaching this skill to my kids.

I don't know about you, but we spend MONTHS working on sentence structure, writing complete sentences, as well as learning about the 4 types.  My kids love doing pretending to be real doctors and doing Sentence Surgery to practice working with naming and telling parts.  

And our love of Mo Willems moves right on into our ELA unit on the sentence types.  Check out the blog post to see an anchor chart and a freebie craftivity for working with Pigeon and all those crazy sentences!
Place value, place value and more place value!!  We dive right into this difficult skill in November, and there's nothing more fun than using pool noodles to practice building numbers.  I also love incorporating literature into math so using The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, we build houses and even make a street!  You'll find a great place value unit and a super engaging freebie for working with your students too!

November is also a time when we ramp up our Fact Fluency practice. These Fluency Tickets for Addition and Subtraction are great for implementing an easy, low prep, program for you & your kids.
In social studies, it's all about the pilgrims and their long voyage on the Mayflower. Check out Scholastic's great interactive website to explore The First Thaksgiving, and this great freebie from Cara at The First Grade Parade to make the most of your unit!

While we are learning about the voyage, we make these little suitcases and fill the with what we think we would carry on our trip to the new world.  It's so funny what they think they will NEED, like video games and an iPad.  This is a great way to start the conversation about needs and wants, too!
Check out these great resources to make your life easier!!  These centers are easy to print and use in your classroom while meeting all the components of Guided Math. I also love using the Would You Rather? prompts to really encourage higher-order thinking while working on our writing.  Asking students to choose between two scenerios really get them thinking!

The Text Evidence Passages are a go-to in my classroom. I use the all year in Guided Reading and they are awesome for increasing metacognition while reading, and using fiction & nonfiction texts.

So, that's my month in a nutshell!!
I hope you have found some great resources to use in your classroom & this has made your planning a little bit easier! :)

Check out these other great bloggers at The Primary Peach and their visual plans for some other great ideas!

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Sentence Surgery: Naming & Telling Parts FREEBIE!

Hi Friends!
   Fall is definitely in the air, and we are busy, busy, busy!  Every year, I spend so much time (and effort!) trying to teach the naming and telling parts of sentences to my first graders.  I typically end up wanting to pull out my hair, and if you've ever tried to teach this particular skill, it can be nerve wracking for sure!

   This year, my fabulous student teacher and I decided to make this can-be-boring-but-have-to-teach-it standard into something fun....with Sentence Surgery!
  My student teacher made these awesome anchor charts to set the purpose for the lesson and to review naming and telling parts of sentences. 

We used the book The Duckling Gets a Cookie?!? by Mo Willems because it's such a fun book that the kids always love, and it is a great example of INcomplete sentences.

  While most of the phrases in the book are questions or commands, the students were encouraged to think of ways that the pigeon could have used complete sentences to talk to the duckling.  

The kids brainstormed for a while and gave suggestions.
Then, we told them that the pigeon's sentences needed help...they needed SURGERY to be complete and make sense!

Every student got a "surgery kit" (i.e. bandaids and a surgical mask), and then they got to work making sentences.
 Here are the sentences we used...a couple related to the book & a couple that would be familiar to them.
 The bandaids were a LITTLE sticky, but they finally got the hang of it!
(A lot of them tried to "glue" the sentences together using the bandaid, so I suggest having them use the bandaid to stick the sentence down to the construction paper)
 It's much neater that way!
 All you need is strips of construction paper, bandaids, surgical masks if you can find a sweet donor, scissors and glue!
 The kids absolutely LOVED this activity. They kept calling each other "Dr." and it was hilarious. Most of them even wrote their names as Dr on their papers!  Hilarious!

They all wanted to wear their masks home, and I got some strange looks from other teachers. Plus, a bus driver asked if there was some sort of "outbreak", so just FYI if you decide to do this!

I loved that the kids were so engaged, and this activity really made those awful naming and telling parts make sense!
To grab the sentences we used, as well the cover, just click the picture above.
I also included other sentences in case you don't read this book, and some with varying fonts to help you differentiate for your learners.

  In our literacy centers, we have been reviewing the naming and telling parts with a Make a Sentence Center.
The students are given 4 sets of naming & telling parts (color coded by using colored paper). They have to match the parts to create complete sentences and record them on our activity sheet.  

There are also different fonts used within each set to help assist lower learners in making sentences, and to help me differentiate for my students

You can check this center out in my TpT store by clicking the picture below.
I printed my own on colored paper to save ink, but there are color versions available in this pack, as well!

So, there you have it friends... Sentence Surgery.
I'm telling you, the kids absolutely ADORED this activity & they're still talking about it...and they still want to be called "Doctor"! 

As always, thanks for stopping by!!

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