Saturday, January 28, 2012

Contractions-and a give-a-way!!!

So, I had read at some point about having contraction "surgery" with the kids, but I've never really had the time or the "right group" to get me started.  This year I knew I had some parents and relatives that worked in the "surgery" field so I thought I would give it a shot this year.  And I am SO glad that I jumped in!  The kids had a blast and were just incredibly adorable!

First, we reviewed what we had known about contractions.  It had come up in our series a few months ago, but I knew that they did not "master" that skill.  They did know that it was two words that were broken apart to make a new one.  The students were paired up-and there was 2 rounds.  The first round one student was the doctor and the other was the assistant.  The assistant needed to assist the doctor as well as record information about the patient on a worksheet that I created for the event.  Students were give a patient (the word pair) and had to use it in a sentence.  Then the doctor performed the surgery and bandaged the word together with a bandaid.  The the assistant had to record more information about the patient--on how it looked now and had to rewrite the original sentence using the new contraction.

After round one, the kids switched roles so that the other person had a chance to perform the surgery or write.

Here are some pics! 

Of course, this whole lesson inspired me to go back and create some hands-on games for the kids to do.  Ideally it would be done before the surgery, but I will now have my kids to it after the fact, to follow up and make sure they truly understand contractions.  I have 4 games/activities that would be good for 4 days, or for stations or daily 5 work that could span a longer time than that.  One game is a matching game--I am going to use it in my word game basket and have the kids play that when they finish work early.  Another game/activity that I had created was sorting correctly spelled contractions and incorrectly spelled ones.  The recording sheet for this only has kids writing the correct way.  I don't want them practicing writing them the wrong way!  Another activity I have is just putting contractions in ABC order.  We've been practicing ABC order each week with different things.  This will have them work with the words, write the words which will help them remember them more.  The last activity/game I have is a word search.  I have 2 versions-one pre-filled and the other blank for kids to choose words.  They will search books and tally the number of times they find a certain contraction.  After tallying, they will write a sentence with the word they found the most.  A second worksheet can be used where the students create a graph to match their tallies and they will write a sentence using the contraction they found the least!  And of course, I included the template for my contraction surgery where I have the word pairs typed up as well as the worksheet I created to go along with it!

Click here to see the contraction unit

This is my third week of being out there in the world with my classroom and on Teachers Pay Teachers!  In honor of it, be my first followers to the blog, follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers and leave me a note to this post, I will give one lucky person my contraction unit!  Because I am new, I am going to end the contest next Sunday---Superbowl Sunday!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Literacy Stations

We've been doing things quite differently at my district this year, that I had to almost "start over."  I am not half-way (almost) through the year and I am only NOW feeling comfortable and feeling like I am in somewhat of a routine.

One thing that I started doing with my kids was the daily 5.  I like it, and I don't.  I wasn't able to start it up like the book suggests, being that I did not start the year with the kids that I do have pretty much all day.  That could be one reason I am not liking it-----completely.  What I do like is how I am running it.  I know that seems strange, that I don't like it, but I do.  Here's what I did---I do NOT have a chart to tell kids where to go.  I read on a blog a looooonnnnnnggggg time ago about creating a bookmark.  I can not remember where that blog is right now, but I took that idea and ran with it.  I made the posters that are hanging at each part of the room small---and ordered it on bookmarks.  I created about 3-4 different versions to be able to make about 20 different/unique rotations.  I like how I do not need to remember to "change the chart" or change the names, etc.  Because, at the end of the day that is what I usually forgot to do!

Another part that I love about it is the read to someone station.  I used to have buddy reading, from Debbie Diller-and had all the fun props and things, but one thing that lacked was their focus.  Often times they were playing with the pointers or hats, etc.  Now, I have a cutout of a checkmark (not wooden like the book says) and 1 book for the pair.  They have done a wonderful job with checking for understanding.  Since that is a big thing in first grade, that is the only version we are doing during the daily 5.  I make sure to change the books and have a variety of levels in there to stretch their skills, but to also help with their fluency.

Word Word was another station that was causing me stress.  I liked the concept.  I did not like the "freedom" my kids were taking at this station.  Now each student has their own folder with the first 300 words from Fry.  I assessed them for the words that they could read and highlighted them yellow.  Then I gave the kids the first 100 to spell (not all at once).  Those were colored blue.  The words that are only yellow, not highlighted or only blue, were the words they are to be focusing on with the letters, wiki sticks, etc.  This was pretty good for awhile, but the had become off task... so, I now add 2-3 games that they need to complete in a 2 week time period.  I hand out the worksheets that accompany it when I go over the directions.  I keep the activities in baby wipes containers that are marked 1, 2 and 3.  In each container, I have 3 sets of the activity so that more than 1 person can do it at a time.   The students label their worksheets with the number that the game is in when I hand them out in the beginning.  They keep these worksheets in their folders with their words.  Everything is there-and they see it each day.  The games that I have for them usually take 2 sessions to complete.

The time my kids spend at their stations vary, but are usually around 12 minutes.

*A note about my games/stations:  I like to have things uniform.  My games that I create all have the same "look" to them and generally the same "direction" even if it is a different skill.  One thing that I have come to realize through the years is that I wasted so much time with directions.  When I keep things looking the same (now, they have different graphics or themes), they become more confident and when I do throw something in that looks completely different, they are not afraid to jump in and try to figure out what to do without asking first.  (That is, asking me even after I go over the directions.)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Math Story Problems

Having been on the Math Curriculum team, rewriting the math curriculum 2 times in the past 5 years and, well, generally loving math, I'm always trying to find new exciting things to do in math and just teach better!

One thing kids struggle with over the years is solving word problems.  Well, let me rephrase that.  They are not so good at explaining why they do things when they solve problems.  It's quite difficult to tell whether they took a guess, copied their neighbor, or did it on their own.  We've done everything from exemplars to group work to the kids being teachers.  This year I came up with a new idea.  I would have a story problem packet for them to work on for the months.  This would help me achieve that goal because I would only be remembering making copies once a month, instead of daily.  The kids would get into a routine of pulling out these books at the beginning of class.  It would be done DAILY!

So, I thought about how to go about this.  The most important things with first graders (primary kiddos really) is that there needs to be space for pictures/work and a place for an answer.  Those were obvious.  That didn't get me to know what was going on in their head.  Then, one day I had one of those "aha" moments-but it was during reading.  We've been using the terms:  "First, Next, Then, Last" to retell stories and to write stories and the kids have been doing fabulous with it.  What if I add it to the page for them to solve it.  Then there is a template that they are used to, that they just need to fill in a few details that tell me whether or not they KNOW what they are doing!

I tested this during December with a Grinch Day word problem book that I created.  We did a few together and then I had them working with a partner to finish.  It worked!  AND the best part is that my students were asking for MORE! :)  I have now created a booklet for January with a Penguin theme and have already finished February with a "love" or Valentine's Day theme.

Now our routine is that when my kids come in for math (remember, we group our kids...) they pull out their booklet and start.  I should also add that I have them fairly trained on how to "attack" a word problem as well.  They first read it.  Then they search for those Key Words that tell them that they will be adding or subtracting and circle it.  Then they will underline any numbers or important information that they need to know (we're still working on that.....  it's just not as easy as looking at our chart we made to tell us whether we need to add or subtract.)

Monday, January 9, 2012

New Year, New Blog

Call me crazy, but this is my THIRD blog to write and keep up with!  I have a personal blog, which I have not kept up with very well this year....  And a blog to my parents--which is actually 3 different blogs as this year is much different at my school.  We are grouping our first graders by ability.  So I have a homeroom, a reading group and a math group.  Overall, I see 30 students, which isn't really that bad.  Keeping them up to date is a challenge, but I am finding my way.

I have had some persuasion from my friends and coworkers to join the "Teachers Pay Teachers" to sell and give away my things that I make in my classroom, and I have given in to them :P  Now, I can add that madness to my crazy school life and my crazy home life, complete with a 5 3/4 (as he would tell you) and a 20 month old--both boys.  ALLLLLLL boy.  And both complete Momma's Boys, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  I love the cuddles and love I get from them every day and know that it will all go by too quickly and I will miss those days.

Another thing about me is that I LOVE math.  I create things for math all the time.  I turn everything into games.  My kids just love coming to me, most days, because they think they just play! :)  Along with one other first grade teacher in my district, I rewrote our Math Curriculum this summer to the National Common Core Standards.  I love how there are "less" things to look at---but the skills are DEEPER!  A lot of the things that we are teaching that are "harder" skills, we do not have a lot of resources yet to use, so I am finding myself creating games and worksheets to go along with it.  Here's my very first game that I uploaded, for free ----------> Penguin True/False Equations  I hope that you can use it in your room and that it works well!  :)  I created a giant unit of Penguin Math items that I just put on TPT as well.  If you like the True/False Equations, I am sure that the rest of the games will work well for you as well.  You can find that here--->Common Core Penguin Math Games

Thanks for visiting!  And I hope to have the blog fully up-and-running soon! 

Here is a Word Sort that I'm having my kids do this week during word work time of the daily 5. Click here:  Hot and Cold O Word Sort  There are 2 different versions to use and 1 could be turned into a game if you wish.  Like I said, I turn everything into a game! :)
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