October 23, 2014

Fiction or Non-Fiction?

When teaching what type of books are fiction and which are non-fiction, my brain always has to stop and think about which is which. 

How come people who name things can't make them easy to remember?
Shouldn't non-fiction be NOT real?
Firsties would catch on SO much quicker that way, but since it's not here's what we've been doing.

We started off by making these 2 anchor charts together.
We sorted the different pictures after discovering the 2 types of books after looking at a pile of each and sorting them according to what, yes, BrainPop had told us to look for.

Each day we focused on a different feature and added it to our non-fiction feature chart.
I would show them examples from a non-fiction book I would read.
Then in partners, they would use a non-fiction book to find a feature in their books.

Last week was Bat Week so we did a little searching through non-fiction books about bats to record what we had learned from the features in the book.

Teaching non-fiction is definitely one of my most favorite things!
The kids are always so engaged and proud when they learn lots of facts about one certain thing.

Next up, pumpkins!

October 22, 2014

Was That a Question??

Punctuation.
Where to use it?
When to use it?
That is the question...

So, we have been constantly working on recognizing and writing questions. 
To help us recognize questions when reading, we have been writing down the "question words" we come across in books on this question mark shaped anchor chart.


The better we got at recognizing questions, we started writing them.
Each day I chose a question word off of our chart and had each student come up with a question using the question word and write it on a white board.

We shared all of our questions with each other.


And we are almost question writing pros by now!

October 19, 2014

Where Have I Been?

It's October.
And I feel like I've been doing everything but blogging!

Spending time with this guy.


And this one too.

Bonding with my teammates.

But I'm ready to get back to sharing my ideas and what's been going on at school with me and my firsties!

September 24, 2014

Wrapping up Writer's Workshop

Today's post is short. 
Just like how our end to Writer's Workshop happens.
Short and sweet!

I came across this turn-in accountability system a few years ago from my friend Susan at TGIF.

In previous years I had used a desk folder with a red and green dot on the inside.
Red=finished, green=in progress.
HATED it!
I rarely saw my student's writing and didn't feel it had any importance.

Then I fell in love.

My students now turn in their writing at the end of WW each day depending on what they completed.
If they are working on their picture or words (in pencil) they turn it into the red tray.
If they are going back and adding to their picture or words they turn it into the  yellow tray.
If they have completed their piece and are ready to conference with me they turn it into the green tray.

Simplicity at its best!
I collect writing pieces from the green tray daily and add them to my conference stack.
The next morning, I pass out the pieces from each day and we start the process over again.

My students also get to see and feel responsible for how much they completed during WW time, almost like a self-monitoring tool.

September 22, 2014

Phonics, Phreebies and Phun with The Little Red Hen

Recently we have been practicing our sequencing skills.
What better book to do that with than The Little Red Hen!?

Besides sequencing, we also had a little phonics fun! 
We've been working on reading and spelling short vowel words so we took a short e word family and made some words!

Making words with -en


Pick up your FREEBIE by clicking the picture below.


September 17, 2014

Beginning Steps of Writer's Workshop

Because of last year's success and growth of my firsties in writing, Writer's Workshop has become the favorite part of my day.

We have WW first thing to kick start our day. 
It's a calming way to get our brains started thinking.

Here is the WW schedule we typically follow:
1) Mini-Lesson
2) Lights off, music on, silent writing time
3) Turn in time
4) Share time

Here's some examples of introductory mini-lessons we have had.

Completing a heart map:
We use this to house all of our ideas.
Each time students are stuck on what to write about, I have them pull this out for reference.



Click on the picture above for your FREE heart map!

Choosing a Topic and Starting:
Using my heart map, I model how to choose a topic.
We follow Lucy Caulkins writing curriculum so the steps I teach for writing follow her advice.
1) Draw your pictures
2) Write your words
3) Go back and add details to pictures and words
4) Color


The posters are a reminder of what steps to take when completing a writing piece.
Starting next week, I am introducing how to have a "writer's eye" and will refer to these posters also. 

Our first week of WW was very successful.
I had every student engaged in their writing and each turned in at least one piece or more.

Here's a look at where some of my students are at in their writing.
The top picture is one of my low babies and the bottom one of my high babies.
Looks like some of us (and this teacher) have a lot of work to do!

September 15, 2014

Fun with Number Bonds

Hands-on learning is so much more fun than workbook practice.
Can I get an amen?
Our new math curriculum has plenty way too many of those.
So, to break up the monotony we made our own number bonds this week. 


All you need to do is prep 2 blue parts, 1 red whole and 2 black linking strips.
Glue together and ta-da!

We practiced using them for several days.
At first I would call out 2 numbers for them to put in the parts, slide to the whole and count the total.

Then we moved to "ways to make" numbers as I called out a number to put in the whole and they would figure out different ways to make that number.

The last day we practiced writing number sentences with them.

The good thing is I collected them and can break them out again for subtraction!