Sunday, January 29, 2012


Students have been very excited about the iPad in our classroom--it's amazing how one tool can be so powerful and have so many possibilities! Students also continue to love using our digital cameras. They (and our other cool new tech tools) are still pretty new in the classroom, so we've barely scratched the surface for how we're going to use them. It's very exciting! Coming soon--using Flip cameras and voice recorders to encourage fluent reading. 

Students have started recording something about their Snowballs creations using VoiceThread. They can record just voice or do a video.
It's fun to see students excited to document their creations. I hope to help students record other times during their day, but we seem to think of the student digital cameras mainly at free choice time so far! :-)
They  had a lot of fun experimenting with the camera. It got very silly! 
As a class, we have been working on SMOOTH transitions from one activity to another. On Friday, students earned stars for every smooth transition. Each star earned the class 2 extra minutes of choice time at the end of the day. We started with 20 minutes in the bank and earned 14 bonus minutes! 
A student photo of some collaborative building work.
Constructing this airplane out of an extra box took a group of students two choice time periods and a lot of negotiation/problem solving. It was so neat to see how they figured out a way to reinforce the wings when they started to sag. Two students collaborated to write a book as a spin-off of this project--one is the author, and one is the illustrator. They are both excited to share their writing on Monday. Choice time allows so much unplanned/spontaneous learning to happen!
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Four Winds, Guidance, and iPad

I hope you are having a great week! We're busy as always (in a good way) at school. Here's a look at some of what we've been up to on Monday and Tuesday this week...

The Four Winds puppet show--this month's theme is snow. I am always so amazed with how well students retain information from these puppet shows. It's remarkable!
These coffee filter snowflakes were amazing! I think I need to do a quick video tutorial to share with everyone. They were just so gorgeous and so much easier to cut than regular paper. Thanks, Mrs. Gamelin!
So intent on his work!
Look at those snowflakes!
More gorgeous snowflakes!
Students collected snow (yes, we managed to find some behind our school!) and put it in cups. They then drew a line and predicted how much water would be left when the snow melted. Many were surprised at how little water was in the cup today when they returned to school and checked out their cups. It will be interesting to repeat this experiment when we study solids/liquids. I hope we'll have some fresh fluffy snow by then to use for comparison!
Guidance--we summarized some of the things people can do to "attract" rather than "repel" our friends and everyone chose one of these tips to put on a friendship magnet to bring home. Most didn't make it home today as you will see below. I will encourage students to bring them home tomorrow!
"Be friendly!"
"Be a good sport!"
Careful artists...quality work takes time! :-)
These were left on the easel after school...I think everyone liked how they look together!

SWR--I found another great app to use for working with word families (Word Wizard). Students love the iPad and we made this a whole group activity by putting it under the document camera and projecting it onto the Smartboard. We have some more tech-savvy ways of sharing the iPad in the works. Stay tuned! Also, I know a lot of great apps but am always looking for more. Feel free to send any recommendations to me!

We are spending some time this week reviewing strategies to help when you're stuck on a word in reading. We have some great new beanie baby animals to use as props to help remember the strategies (thank you, Kaleb's grandmother!). The strategies reviewed today and tomorrow are pictured below.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

SWR Check-Up Update

First, I apologize for not getting the last SWR check-up corrected and home last week. Students did not take a new check-up last week (due to the shorter week), but they will bring the check up from 1-13-12 in the green folder tomorrow. I wanted to let everyone know that our check-ups will be done in the sentence format (see below) for the next few weeks and possibly longer. We have been working hard on sentence structure/rules and penmanship. Dictated sentences are an important way for students to apply their letter/sound knowledge and spelling skills in a more meaningful format than simply writing words in isolation. This allows me to see if students are able to remember which words are phonetic (word family) words and which are non-phonetic (red words) without having any prompts. The hope is that more dictated sentence practice will help students become more conscious of their spelling in their everyday writing. You will notice that I corrected spelling errors in your child's check-up and that I also noted punctuation and letter formation errors. It has been hard to get used to writing on the lined penmanship paper--it can be confusing, but we will keep working on it! Most students seemed fine with this change in format, and many actually expressed that they like it better. As always, let me know if you have any questions!

Fantastic work!
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Writing Workshop and Marble Mazes :-)

We are working on a writing unit called "Authors as Mentors" in Writing Workshop. Recently, we have been looking at bold print both as a feature in fiction and nonfiction and comparing how it's used in each type of text. We have noticed bold print in many of the fiction books we read, which are the texts that are most like our "Small  Moment" stories in Writing Workshop. The student in the photo below tried bold print on his own, before this feature was an official Writing Workshop mini-lesson! I asked him ahead of time if I could "make him famous" by using his story in my writing mini-lesson about how we can use bold print in our own writing. More about this exciting writing unit to come...

Our famous author!
The marble maze has been a hit every time we have choice time. It has been neat to see how many students can work together to create so many different ramps for the marbles to travel through and how they problem solve together when the ramp does not work. Great cooperation!
This was some seriously great cooperative work!
They were so intent on getting testing this marvelous ramp before the bell rang!
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Student photos--choice time on 1-19-12

Students love to "save" their creations digitally. :-)


Singing together with a class songbook in the loft. 

A town!

Angry Birds with Do-a-Dot! 
This is an exciting thing, believe it or not--a stapler that
works! Thanks to a very diligent student and his generous  
and thoughtful family! ;-)
The view from the loft!
We now have a wall of penguins!

The Do-a-Dot markers were popular last week!

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Guidance Update

Mrs. McCleary's Guidance lesson was a perfect connection to our current science unit about magnets. Today, Mrs. McCleary helped students think about how people can be like magnets--we can either "attract" or "repel" people by what we say and how we act. Students really seemed to connect with this analogy and came up with a great list of ways we can "attract" friends to us and not "repel" them! 

The lesson started with a funny book, How to Lose All Your Friends
Students' ideas for attracting friends.

Room 6 today...

What a fun day! We started our day with a mistake-laden morning message! Oops! Mrs. Sorenson sure did make a lot of errors! ;-) Good thing these first graders have keen editing skills and caught and corrected each mistake! We then moved onto our Snowballs art/literature project. Many students did not finish theirs today, but they are off to a great start! Watch for a VoiceThread about this project coming soon (I'll post it on the blog). We also began something new today--science choice stations! I posted a couple of photos today but I'll explain more later. I hope your week is off to a great start!

Off to a great start!

Great cooperation!
Editing the morning message.

Sharing ideas and tools is fun!

The creative juices are flowing!
They paused just long enough so I could take this picture--everyone was so involved in their creations!
Intense concentration! 
So proud!

I love the teamwork!
Science stations--making a giant envelope to hold our  magnets work

"Fishing" with magnets.