August 29, 2016

Quick Fix for Backwards Numbers

I just love it when teachers share great ideas that actually work.
Here's one of those stellar ideas I came across and use year to year.

Most, I say most, students come to first grade knowing their numbers. 
And MOST of them about half of them can write their numbers correctly every single time.
But then there are the other half.
So here's a quick lesson I borrowed from The First Grade Parade a few years ago.
Let me go ahead and say, it's one of those tried and true lessons to add to your 'vault'.

Our students line up everyday to exit the classroom, so why no relate numbers to them!
Here's how Cara explained this idea:

Zero...the point of the teacher {where it all starts}.  He is really serious about sequencing his kids when they walk down the hall and his only rule is that they line up in order facing forward.  1, 2, 3, & 4 do just as they're told.  They always follow directions.  But 5 & 6?!?!  Well they're just up to no good and they're always turning around to sneak away from the rest of their class. 1, 2, 3, & 4 have NO idea what's going on behind them because they're always facing the right way.  But 7, 8, & 9 are appalled!!!  They try to tell 5 & 6 to turn around, but they NEVER do!!  They're just so darn naughty!!!"

So with this in mind, I have students practice writing their numbers according to the naughty number rules. We write on our desk to practice.

And I let them make their own naughty number lineup because they are completely infatuated with it by now! {That was this teacher's plan ; ) }

So whether you're looking for a quick review, or a day's worth of math work, make sure you fit this in!

August 19, 2016

You Should Do It: Small Math Groups

I'm so thankful that teachers are teachable too!
I took it upon myself  this summer to do some at home professional development. 
The end result...I revamped my math block and teaching style (go me!).

In the past, I taught math whole group. I would teach, they would watch. We would practice. 
I started out doing math tubs just as a fun way to practice while I pulled students I needed to "tutor".

Over the years this evolved to me realizing I NEED to be meeting with ALL my students, not just those in need! 

Fast forward 4 years and I'm here to share with you what I did for the FIRST time today.
And just how absolutely fabulous it was...on DAY 1!

Here is how it all flows:

Here is each component in detail:

Calendar time is short and sweet.
We go through the parts of the date and use the number of the day to count place value and money.
For Target the Question, students are given a picture for the week.
Each day there is a different word problem that goes with the picture and we discover the answer together.

During whole group instruction, we sit on the carpet and I explicitly teach the content.
For this specific lesson we were focusing on ways to make 10 if given one part and the whole. 
I talk. Students listen.I may have a few of them interact with me for example problems. 
Many times this is followed by guided practice for an extra 5 minutes.

We break up into small groups using our CATS MATH rotation chart. 
This comes from Reagan Tunstall. If you would like to read more about how it works you can following these links to her blog HERE and HERE and HERE
{This is where I did my at home professional development from to come up with this math block}

Students go to 4 rounds each day (pictured above). 
During the small group instruction students meet with me.
In this time, I dig deeper into the topic we discussed in whole group. 
Normally this involves getting out manipulatives and working on things "hands-on". This allows me to correct anything the students are doing wrong. It is so much easier for me to catch and correct their mistakes when I am working with groups of 5 students rather than 20!

I KNOW my kiddos are going to appreciate math time SO much more this year and get lots more out of it too! If you're thinking of taking the small group math step...let me tell you, it's WORTH IT!

August 17, 2016

How do You do It: Reading Groups in Action

Welcome back!
If you missed my first post about "Kicking off Reading Groups" back track a little and read all about it  HERE.

Now that I've showed you HOW my reading groups and rotations work, let's take a look at........."the what".

What do you do in small groups?
What about the other kids?
These were the two main questions I asked myself when I decided upon how to structure my reading groups and rotations. If you read my last post, then you know it took me all of 3 years to figure out a system that works efficiently for me!
After many trials, errors, and successes, here are the answers I found out:
What do you do with those kids?
The main focus of these small groups are to teach decoding/comprehension strategies and to practice reading but occasionally we will work on phonics, grammar, etc.
What about the other kids?
The rest of the class are actively engaged in other rotations either individually or with a partner.
I wanted to give you a glimpse into what my students are doing when we are in our reading groups and our rotations/centers/paw prints...whatever you want to call them.
 I showed you how I store these activities in my last post.

Each paw print has its designated tub. Each tub is what holds the actual activities...whether it be a rhyming puzzle, grammar sort, or word work. Students are allowed to take these tubs around the room and work wherever they please (we define boundaries the first few weeks).

Read to Self.
Read to Someone.
Read to Teacher.
These are the only parts of the Daily 5 I use, and really I only use the name because it's self explanatory. Each day the students will read to themselves out of their book box, they will read to a friend, and they will work together with me to read to teacher.
Read to teacher isn't always reading.
Since I meet with each group Everyday, I feel like there are times when we need to change it up.

Sometimes we work on decoding strategies.
Sometimes we learn new comprehension strategies.
Sometimes we practice phonics.
Sometimes we do a grammar sort.
It all just depends on what I feel each group needs help with.
Here is a look at what my "read to teacher" area looks like.
Each shelf is home to a separate reading group.
The boxes of books came with our textbook adoption. I use them sparingly.
Each basket holds a folder for practice pages we may complete together.
I also have a color coded spiral in each basket so that I can take notes while we meet.
I house books I pull from our literacy library that we read throughout the week in the baskets too
To sum it all up, I really couldn't imagine my reading group time working any better.
Meeting with my students everyday really helps me to know them as readers and learners.
The bonds I form with them during these times are irreplaceable!
If I were to ask them their favorite time of the rotations would be their answer, and "read to teacher" would be their favorite choice. If that doesn't melt your heart, I'm not sure what would! 

August 10, 2016

Starting Reading Groups in Primary Grades

How soon do you start reading groups?
How many kids are in a group?
When do you meet with them?
These are ALL questions I felt boggling my mind the first few years of teaching.
I KNEW there was a system and I would eventually come across it and it would work!
It just took some time...3 years....with many trials, errors, and eventually successes.
Today I wanted to share with you how I facilitate my reading group rotations and small groups.
But first let me answer those questions from ^^^:
How soon do you start reading groups?
I begin training my kids the 2nd day of school. 
We begin by talking about stamina.
I don't actually start rotating the groups until I have taught each rotation and the expected behaviors. I also have to DRA and find out the level of each student. 
My goal is to start meeting with my groups by the 6th week of school.
How many kids are in a group?
I group them by DRA level, so depending on those, as low as 2 or 3 and as many as 6.
When do you meet with them?
I meet with EVERY group EVERYDAY (Mon-Thur)! 
Let's start off talking about how the students know where to go.
Here is the chart I use to display the rotation cards for each group.

Fundamentals of the Chart:
My reading groups are coded by animals: Giraffes, Cheetahs, Monkeys, Zebras, Lions.
Each (animal) group of students move horizontally across the rotation chart.
Students ALWAYS begin each day at rotation 1 and end the day on rotation 5.
{more explanation in fine print below}
Each paw print that you see on the chart represents a different "center".
I store these "centers" in a tub on a shelf.

Next week, I will take you on a tour and show you what each component on the rotation chart looks like in action!

If you are looking for rotation cards, I recently created mine (after revamping them) into a product that you can purchase in my TpT store. Find them <HERE>

Check back next week for more on kicking off reading groups!

August 8, 2016

Back to School With Books // What to Read Week 1

The first 2 weeks of school are probably some of the most important days of the entire school year. 
They are days when you create a positive environment.
They are days when you form a class family.
They are days when you teach the rules and procedures.
They are days when you set the foundation for the year.

Many of the things I mentioned above are taught with books.
I wanted to share with you the lessons and ideas I use along with the books I use in the first 2 weeks.

Let's start off with a few of the books I use week 1.
We also read a few math related books the first week. 
Next up are books I use to teach rules and appropriate behaviors.

The kids LOVE David so much that I incorporate this mini unit into the week.
David helps me to teach rules!

{Click on the picture to find it in my store}

There are several crafts we do together, a whole group lesson on rules, a class book, poem and a writing response. They love it because it's all based off of their favorite character!

Week 2 is all about fariytales. Here are the ones I select to discuss.

I honestly hopes this bring life to some ideas for your first week.
I would love to answer any questions you have about activities or read alouds!
Happy planning!

August 5, 2016

First Week 5 Minute Assessments {Flashback Friday}

What teacher doesn't want to get a little ahead of the game?
I like to soak every ounce of summer in but there is always something inside of me too that loves venturing back up to  my classroom to prep for the new year. 

Speaking of prepping, I wanted to flashback to a post I shared last year that has some FABULOUS first week assessments that will give you a great idea of what your babies are capable of right away!


It's August!
The month when school resumes.
The month when summer is over.
If I've made you sad I have something to uplift your spirits!

Today I am sharing with you a collection of back to school simple daily assessments for the first week.

Don't you just dread those days when you have NO idea about what your students can and can't do.
Talk about frightening!
This packet contains all the assessments you need to figure out what your firsties can and can't do.

Included are the following:
*I Can...draw a picture of me.
*I Can...write my name.
*I Can...write my alphabet.
*I Can...match uppercase and lowercase letters.
*I Can...hear beginning sounds.
*I Can...write my numbers.
*I Can...can the objects.

My recommendation is to knock out one or two a day that first week, before you even begin to teach anything at all. 

Check out my TpT Store for even more freebies I didn't have the chance to share OR just click on the freebies tab at the top of my blog page!

August 3, 2016

Save Some Time--Number Your Students

As a teacher it sometimes seems overwhelming with all that we have to keep up with!

I wanted to share with you one system I have put into place to help my classroom run a little more smoothly.
Each year I take my roster and assign a specific number to each student.
I deem this as their "magic number" and it sticks with them the entire year.

I tend to put numbers on many things in my classroom.

Not only does this make ordering things such as papers, grades etc. easier, it also makes my beginning of year prep easier! It is a great time saver for me when I am getting things set for the start of school.

When you write numbers on things instead of students names, many of these things become reusable for the next year!!! 

Here are a few of the things I choose to put numbers on instead of student names:

Book Boxes

Classroom Job Chart

Student Mailboxes 

Dismissal Card Holder

If you don't already assign each student a number, it's a really simple thing to do.
Try it out this year, I guarantee it will save you time in some sort of fashion!