Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Today in 1st Grade--Harvest Party and More!

Wow! The energy level today was high (as we expected)! I hope that students had a great Halloween night! We had a fun-filled day of learning in first grade today, topped off with a wonderful Harvest Party at the end of the day. Thanks to all who sent things in for the party and/or were able to join us. It was a success!

Miss Dube started the day right with this morning message...
We had math in the morning instead of the usual afternoon time since our Harvest Party took place during our math block. Measuring with candy corn was popular! 
Roll-a-Skeleton was a just-for-fun math game. 
We started a pumpkin investigation today. Students did some estimating about this very large pumpkin--its weight, height, and number of lines. Soon, we'll carve it and scoop out the seeds! Then we'll estimate how many seeds there are, wash them, count them, and on Friday we'll sample them and collect data about who likes/dislikes pumpkin seeds (after I roast them in my oven at home). 
More measurement! 
Estimating the pumpkin's height--we have some great estimators in our room!
Thanks for providing a yummy snack for our Harvest Party!
One of the three stations in the room during the Harvest Party was scratch art/bracelet making with Halloween beads. Students created some great patterns!
Scratch art--it was interesting to see. Most students wanted to scratch off all the black to see what was underneath!
Aww! These girls made some great cat scratch art!
My station was making "Gak," also known as Flubber. I hope that it made it home safely and wasn't TOO messy. It's easy to make! Just take equal parts of glue and liquid starch and a few drops of food coloring. Mix in a baggie until it coagulates (this was a new word for most!). Fun stuff!
Our great snack spread. That made a fantastic third station at our party--the snack station! 
The Halloween art station!
Gak (slime)!
More art :-)
Nice work!
Our special project today was making these candy corn creatures! And I love the black cats hanging out in the background. :-)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Odds and Ends

Hi everyone! I had the pleasure of teaching ALL DAY last Friday when our lovely student teacher Miss Dube was out. I knew I missed teaching the entire day, but I didn't realize just how much until I got to be the teacher all day again. :-) Miss Dube is awesome, though, and we sure will miss her when she's gone. Her last day is November 30th. :-( We will send her off with a farewell party, so watch for details on that soon. Our wonderful day on Friday reminded me that I should inform all of you about the status of Miss Dube and what's to come...

Miss Dube has slowly taken over many teaching responsibilities as we have progressed through the trimester. We plan everything together, but she has taken on more and more direct instruction each week. Next week will be Miss Dube's "solo week." We have worked together to plan the week, but it will be Miss Dube handling all teaching responsibilities on her own.  I will be in the building throughout the week planning future instruction and preparing materials, and I will formally observe some of her lessons. Her supervising teacher from St. Michael's College will be in our classroom frequently as well. After the solo week, I will gradually resume teaching responsibilities while Miss Dube phases out in preparation for her departure on November 30th. Please be in touch with questions!

Here are a few photos that tell about some of what's going on in Room 6...

"Brain Breaks" continue to be extremely popular and motivational in our classroom. Students love the dancing brain breaks with  videos on the whiteboard. We take these breaks in between academic learning/work periods to recharge our bodies and minds before starting the hard work of focused learning again!
Just look at that happiness! Love it!
Focused and ready to write after an energizing brain break. :-)
Miss Dube and I put our heads together to help students battle "Backwards Bob," the pesky fictional character who invades our classroom and turns numbers and letters around in students' work. Bs and Ds are especially troublesome. Ask your child to explain the B and D trick pictured above. I expect students to think about which way lowercase b and lowercase d should go and to not just write the uppercase letter instead. We are working hard on only using uppercase letters when needed (proper nouns and beginning of a sentence). 
Star Sentence Criteria...there are more criterion to come, but these are the two we are focusing on at the moment. :-)
We really do have wonderful writers in Room 6, and this checklist for rating our writing has really made a difference in students' diligence in following through with a story until it's done. Everyone is striving for "Four Star" writing! In Writing Workshop, we are encouraging students to write "Small Moment" stories about their lives--things that have already happened--over at least three pages. Taking time to write words and do illustrations is important too. The main focus right now is using lots of details to tell about what happened.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Maps and our community

Students seem to be enjoying our community unit! We started with learning about community helpers, then students learned about the places where community helpers work, and now we are getting into basic mapping concepts. Miss Dube created a great lesson in which students helped to create a map of a fictional town full of important community buildings. Students enjoyed coloring the buildings and then posting them on the map. Some of the places went in certain spots on the map, and students had to find clues about where they should go. For example, the airport goes by the airplane, the school goes by the playground, the fire station goes by the fire trucks, and so on. I took a lot of pictures as the map creation was in progress.
Next, we will focus on more mapping skills. Students will learn about the compass rose (to learn about the directions North, South, East, and West) and will begin to better understand where we are on the map. There is lots more to come, and it will lead perfectly into our country study (about Mexico) coming up in December! 

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More about iPads and the ShowMe app

I hope that you have taken a moment to watch some of the show me "videos" that students created using the ShowMe app on the iPad. They were highlighted in a post on Monday this week. I promised to post more soon. I have, but they are now housed in a new and different part of this blog. To see them, please go to the tabs at the top of the blog and go to the iPad tab on the far right. This is a new page to host our iPad creations since there are so many (it takes up a lot of "post space" to post them all on the home page).

There are still a few students that need to rerecord their ShowMe creations due to various reasons. Stay tuned for those!

Monday, October 22, 2012

A great start to the week!

It was a busy, productive day of school and I took a lot of photos. So, I figured I should take a few minutes to give you a glimpse of some of our activities today in first grade. The details are in the captions...

We had 10 iPads from the school iPad cart today. Students used an app called Montessori Words to move letters to make words in our newest word families, -in and -im. They worked in partnerships.
The most exciting thing about this activity was practicing how to "mirror" to the whiteboard. Whatever is on a student's iPad can be shown via the Apple TV in our classroom. This is a fantastic tool, and we are fortunate to have it. 
I am not sure which partnership is "mirroring" to the whiteboard via their iPad right now, but whatever is shown on their iPad screen is now up there for everyone to see. Cool!
This is a class full of wonderful writers. Students have been doing great with their writing partners. Writing is more fun (and productive) with a teammate!  
Happy writers!
Sharing is an extremely valuable part of our Writing Workshop. I have seen students become inspired in so many ways through  seeing/hearing their peers' stories. Students have started to write more, with more detail, and about so many different topics. Miss Dube has been doing a great job in her Writing Workshop mini-lessons. She started teaching writing about a week ago. 
In math, we have been doing some pumpkin-themed activities. We finished our pumpkin math stations today that we started last Thursday. The pumpkin glyphs (shown above) will be displayed in our room soon. Students followed a code to color their jack-o-lanterns to tell about themselves. 
Pumpkin Jumble is one of my favorite seasonal math activities for several reasons--it's fun, it reinforces tallying/data collection, and it is a good way to review the names of pattern block shapes. 
We are now into Unit 3 of our Everyday Math program. You should have received the family letter about this unit today. Our first lesson was about visual patterns. Our district how has access to the Everyday Math online resources, which include great activities for the interactive whiteboard. 
Students could manipulate the sticks to make patterns and then label them with letters.
At math station time, one of the stations was math fact practice. Students had three choices--a subtraction fact page, an addition fact page, or a mixed-fact challenge page.
Working in the math journal is a regular part of our math station time during math workshop.
Students learned a new game called "Before and After."
I already posted some of the iPad tutorials created on the ShowMe app, but this is a picture of the creation in progress. Great collaboration, girls! 
We took a photo of our pattern, then labeled it with letters, and then recorded an explanation of the pattern using ShowMe.

Patterns and the iPad

Some groups used the iPad today to record their thinking about patterns during our math workshop station time. ShowMe is a very basic, easy-to-use, FREE app. It has many possibilities, which I'm sure we'll explore as the year goes on. Today, I taught children how to take a photo of the pattern they created, label it with letters, and then record their descriptions of the pattern. Here are some samples from today. I hope to share everyone's soon. Also, only half of the class did this station today--the rest will enjoy this activity tomorrow.

This was the lesson I created with students as an example:

Here is Zachary's lesson:

Here is Makayla's lesson:

Here is Kasil's lesson:

Here is Kamron's lesson:

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Daily 5 Stations

Students have been learning about the Daily 5 for several weeks now: Read to Self, Read to Someone, Work on Writing, Listen to Reading, and Word Work. These are five activities that students should do each day in order to become the best literacy learners they can be. As you have been reading about on this blog, we have Read to Self and Read to Someone time daily as part of our Reading Workshop. Students also have an opportunity after Read to Someone time to choose a Daily 5 station. After spending a lot of time learning about the various activities they can do during the Daily 5 station, students have just started choosing which "Daily" they'd like to work on each day. It's going very well so far. Ask your child what Daily 5 station is his/her favorite!

Read to Self
Listen to Reading
Work on Writing
Read to Self
There are more stations open during this time, so watch for more photos of Daily 5 time in future blog posts.