Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Nonfiction Text Features iMovie

Our latest iMovie is here! Students did a fantastic job of working together to create this movie about nonfiction text features. Many seem confident that they can make their own iMovie productions soon, after helping me to create this one as a class. I have no doubt this is true! Without further adieu...enjoy the show!

PicCollage Creations for Nonfiction Text Features

These are the collages students created for our iMovie. I thought students would probably want to show families their work without it moving like it does in the movie. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Reading together

We have many special places in our classroom to read, but the loft is by far the class favorite. Our readers are amazing! Keep up the great work, first graders!

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Master Builders!

More and more builders are joining the construction crew in our classroom. It's fun to watch what they create and how the negotiate the process. I've seen many fantastic creations created each day, and many Lego structures are ongoing, since they can be saved. Great creativity!

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Wow! I mean...WOW!

The class totally amazed me on Friday with their ability to create evidence of their learning using the iPads. I had introduced PicCollage, a great FREE app, a couple of times before, but I had not yet had students use it. On Friday, they were paired with another student and assigned a nonfiction feature to find and photograph for their own PicCollage creations. They searched through books in our classroom to find examples of their nonfiction feature, took pictures of that feature, and arranged their photos in a collage, complete with a title. Their completed collages will be featured in an upcoming iMovie. Watch for it!

These two found labels in nonfiction books.
This partnership was looking for labeled diagrams.
These students were searching for captions in nonfiction.
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Working Together with Word Families!

We have a growing word family caterpillar on our classroom wall to document some of the word families we've studied in SWR. Until  now, I've been the one to write to words after students make suggestions for what should be included on the caterpillar section. Last week, students worked in teams to complete a word family for the caterpillar, and THEY wrote the words. I saw some phenomenal teamwork in effect--students worked together to generate words and to write them on with dry erase markers. They are now proudly attached to our very long word family caterpillar. I will take a photo of that soon--I forgot to do that for this post.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A peek into our room with videos

Recently, I took a few videos of life in our classroom. These are just tidbits, of course, but I hope they are interesting/fun to watch. I am posting two today for your viewing pleasure, and they are very short. Enjoy!

Meeting Rules
Each day, one or more students lead the class in reciting our meeting rules. These rules are in effect any time that we meet on the rug for whole-group instruction. Students love to be the leader, and it's a good reminder of the expectations for listening during teaching times.

Morning Meeting Greeting in Spanish
Last week, students learned a new song with motions to say good morning to one another in Spanish. They were a little shy for the camera, but they did well with learning the new Spanish vocabulary!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Audioboo app

I introduced a new app called Audioboo today. This app allows students to record themselves and then play back their audio recordings. We are using it to self-assess reading fluency. This week is just a try-it-out week. Next week, students will attempt to sign in and share their "boos" (recordings). So far, so good!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

What's Happening in 1st Grade?

Hi everyone! I hope that you're having a great weekend. And, of those of you who have Monday off, please enjoy the long weekend! Remember, Monday, January 21st is an inservice day for teachers, so there is no school for students tomorrow. Since tomorrow is MLK Day, we spent time last week learning about Martin Luther King, Jr. and we will do so again on Tuesday. Click this link to see a free video on about MLK.

I have some pictures to share with you from the past few days at school. Here's a quick summary of what's happening in each subject at the moment:

Fact practice is the main theme of our current unit in math. Students were introduced to Name Collection Boxes and Fact Families. I created two Educreations tutorials last year about these topics because I had several students absent when these topics were introduced. Here they are, if you're interested in learning more:

We continue to study nonfiction texts. Students learned about  many nonfiction text features and their purpose (how they help the reader). We are now moving into how to read nonfiction texts. For example, some nonfiction needs to be read sequentially, but a lot of it can be read in pieces and parts--you can skip around and find topics that interest you, the answer to a question, etc. Features of nonfiction such as a table of contents and index can help you find the part of the text you need. Also, we will be looking at comprehension skills with nonfiction texts, such as thinking about the author's purpose, questioning, understanding and analyzing text, reading for meaning, and recalling and restating facts. 

The chart below (it's so long I had to take two pictures of it) shows some of the features students have studied. It's not quite complete in the picture, but it gives you an idea of what we're doing.

Every "Book Club" (a.k.a. reading group) is reading nonfiction texts with me. This group read a book about mapping and then worked to create their own maps of a room of their choice. They all chose to  map their bedrooms. I will post pictures of their finished pieces soon. 
Sharing and Read Aloud:
Most students share each week during their share time. Hooray! I am now asking that students ask questions of one another rather than the questions and comments that have been the choice up until now. My reason for this is to provide another time for students to practice the skill of asking questions to find out more information about something. Coming up with relevant and meaningful questions during sharing time will help students do the same in other subject areas. Students love sharing time in our classroom, and it's a great way for students to develop speaking and listening skills too.

SWR/Word Study:
The class is doing quite well with the first grade spelling skills as outlined in our district's SWR scope and sequence. Students are, for the most part, applying both red words and word family words into their written work. Most students are also transferring this knowledge to their reading--use word family "chunks" to help them figure out longer words in their reading (e.g. if you can read/spell -og and -ing it can help you solve the word blogging). The skills that are not yet automatic for most students are applying sentence rules in their own writing--sentences begin with an uppercase letter and end with a mark of punctuation. Everyone knows these rules, but the majority of students still need to be reminded to apply them when writing their own pieces. We are taking extra time to practice letter formation and to break the habit of mixing upper and lower case letters when writing. Practice, practice, practice!

Social Studies:
We are having fun with our Mexico unit, and last week we focused a lot on learning some Spanish words. We sang a song in Spanish for our greeting, learned color words, and even used Skippyjon Jones books to learn some new Spanish vocabulary! The Amate Bark paintings in our hallway look beautiful and they are ALMOST all complete. Illness in our class has delayed completion a bit, but I promise a slideshow of the finished work ASAP. Coming up soon--more Mexican art and Spanish word learning (counting is on deck for next week) and learning about Mexican food! This will include some cooking projects and sampling of a variety of fruits and vegetables grown in Mexico!

Writing Workshop:
Our current unit of study, Writing for Readers, has caused an amazing transformation in the appearance and readability of everyone's work! Students are taking much more care to slow down as they write and think about their handwriting, spacing of words, integration of spelling skills, and use of punctuation. We will be publishing new pieces soon, and they will be shared at our "We LOVE to Read and Write" celebration on February 14th. We will also publish them in a digital format on the blog. Stay tuned for that.

Explore/Free Choice:
We take about 20 minutes each day for explore and free choice time. This is also a time that students finish work that they needed more time to do. Our explore time is in the afternoon, right before Writing Workshop. It's a great time for students to be social and creative, and it's a perfect way to get some of their wiggles out before settling down to write. Students are most excited to write, draw, and build with blocks and Legos during this time. Sometimes, the 20-minute time frame is extended, when everyone's been focused and hardworking all day. If the class transitions and listens well all day, we naturally have more time for our explore/free choice time. :-)

Finally, in case you are wondering, we will do lots of science in first grade! Our main science units are solids and liquids, weather, and the life cycle of a chicken (hatching chicks). We will begin these units in February. 

Have a great week!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Morning Math and Nonfiction Features

Math Update
Our first grade mathematicians are at their best in the morning, it seems! I recently changed our math time from the end of the day to the morning, and the results have been very positive! We recently tackled some of the most difficult routines in the first grade Everyday Math program--function machines and strategies for figuring out differences in number stories. Wow! I am totally impressed with how everyone is doing. Would you like to come in and volunteer during math? Our new math station time is 10:30-11:00 a.m. Please let me know if you'd like to join us!

I'm including photos of students working in their Volume 1 math journals. We have officially made it halfway through our math program! I will send these journals home with your children on Friday. Please note that we do not do all pages, as we just do not have enough time in the day. Please encourage your child to do the unfinished pages as a great way to get some extra math practice! 

I blogged last week about students using Educreations to teach about a math skill they know. I hope you have had a chance to view some of these in the iPad tab above. As I tell students, if you can teach it, you really know it!

Reading Workshop Update
If your child has shown a sudden interest in distinguishing fiction from nonfiction, it may be because of our current unit of study in reading about nonfiction text features. So far, students have explored the following features: photographs, illustrations, labels, captions, diagrams, table of contents, and headings. We have several more features to explore. Ask your child to explain the purpose of these features when you come across one while you're reading together. They might surprise you with how much they know!
Students have been working with their literacy partners to explore nonfiction texts to search for certain features.
Our classroom library is full of engaging nonfiction texts! We are so fortunate. 
I see a heading, photographs and a caption--three nonfiction features!
There is so much to discover, especially when you work together!
We learn best from each other, and the document camera allows us to show what we find in a way that's easy for everyone to see.
I see a labeled diagram--another nonfiction feature!
We've been studying nonfiction books in our book club groups too. Watch for your child to bring home his/her book club (reading group) books each week to share with you at home.