Read-to-Someone

We’ve been busy-bee readers in Rm. 202!  Remember how I told you about Read-to-Self?  Well, after we figured out how to do that pretty well, it was time to add something else to our Reader’s Workshop time and our good readers toolbox.

A few days ago we started talking about how good readers sometimes work at getting better by reading to someone else.  Before we jumped in with both feet, we had a conversation about what it would look like/sound like to work well while reading to someone.  We decided you should be sitting right next to your reading friend, that you should be using quiet voices, and that there are several ways to read with your friend: both of you in the same book, each reader with a copy of the same book, or one takes a turn and then the other.  As we go through the year we’ll learn more about how to get better at helping our partner figure out words, as well as how to have deep conversations about the books we’re reading together.  For now, though, we’re getting good at the routine of read-to-someone, and having fun working on reading with our friends!

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Evan and Jacob read a Black Lagoon book together.

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Landen and Nate get comfy on the rug with their book.

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Amelia and Millie read a dinosaur book on the rug together, too!

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Sara and Makayla read at the coffee table together. Don’t you just love how great that table works with little learners? Just the right height for kneeling. :)

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Emily and Ava each have a copy of an old favorite–Strega Nona by Tomie de Paola.

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Ella Marie and Briannia share another old favorite–Clifford!

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Diego and Thomas found a cozy spot in the corner to have a conversation about their book.

For kiddos–What’s your favorite part about read-to-someone?

For parents–What are your kiddos saying about read-to-someone?  What book would you choose to read if you were in Rm. 202?

For teachers–What tips do you have for using read-to-someone with first grade readers?

We want to hear from you! :)

Small Moments

We have been moving and grooving in first grade–in more ways than one.  We’ve been moving our bodies, but also moving our minds as we are learning about what good writers do.

In our district, and at our school, we use a wealth of knowledge and resources to teach our content.  Right now we are utilizing a FABULOUS unit of study from Lucy Calkins, all about personal narratives–which she calls Small Moments.

So far, we’ve set the stage for our Writer’s Workshop, by learning the procedures, as well as important things like where we keep the paper and other supplies in our writing center.  We are just a few days in and have already talked about:

  • how writers remember the story by telling it out loud first, thinking about the beginning, middle and end
  • how writers remember the story by touching and telling the story across the pages of their booklet, sketching the pictures first, then writing the words
  • how writers can go back and add in details they forgot the first time, using carats to add words, or just writing more to the end
  • how writers can tell the difference between a WATERMELON story or the SEEDS inside it  (which are the small moments we are focusing on)
  • how writers stretch out words they don’t know how to spell, and use the words around the room and the word wall to help them
  • how writers need each other–writers worked with a partner to add details by answering questions their partners were wondering about (like who, when, where, why, etc..)

It’s been really amazing to see the progress both in writers’ ability and their willingness to try new things in just the short days we’ve been working together.

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Evan, Millie and Ava are hard at work on their writing. Don’t forget your name and number on the top! We’re working on learning the date, too. :)

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Charlie’s getting started by sketching his picture first, then adding the words to the beginning of his story.

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Check out how Landen’s being a super-smart first grade writer and using the alphabet chart to figure out the sounds in his words!

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C.J. uses the alphabet chart, too, as he adds words to his pictures. Jacob is hard at work getting his ideas down, too!

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See Thomas using his rubber band to stretch out a word? Peyton checks out the chart, and Lauren is busy working on a story about a princess. :)

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During our Writer’s Workshop, writers can work wherever they think they can do their best work. Ella Marie found a studio spot all by herself at the kitchen table.

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Makayla and Briannia are working on their Small Moments at Table 3.

Millie shows off her word wall skills as she writes Joshua's name.  There are rings with the word wall words that hang under the regular words that kiddos can take to their tables to use and return.

Millie shows off her word wall skills as she writes Joshua’s name. There are rings with the word wall words that hang under the regular words that kiddos can take to their tables.

We have an anchor chart to help us remember the steps to writing a story.  We have been adding steps to it along the way.

We have an anchor chart to help us remember the steps to writing a story. We have been adding steps to it along the way.

Our writing folders help keep us organized: the green means it's a story that we're still working on and the red is for stories we're finished with for now.

Our writing folders help keep us organized: the green means it’s a story that we’re still working on and the red is for stories we’re finished with for now.  The file folder in there will come later, but will be for the project kiddos are working on right now.

 

 

 

Becoming a Writer: It Starts Here!

It’s no secret that I LOVE writing.  Besides just doing it, I read about it, talk about it and LOVE teaching it.  I am sure you’ve read those posts here, and if you haven’t, why you take a minute and do so?  It’ll be worth your while, I promise! (In addition to the posts I linked, you could check out the writing tab or category for more about what writing looks like in my classroom).

So it’s also no secret that I was a little sad about leaving what “big kid” writers do.  When I first learned about my move back to primary, I lamented the lessons I wouldn’t teach about using the Writer’s Notebook, conversations I wouldn’t have and craft lessons that I wouldn’t be able to include in my Writer’s Workshop; first grade writing is more about becoming a writer than being a writer.  In short, I felt like I was leaving a little bit of myself in 5th grade–a part of me that I would really miss.

And yet, the more days I spend with my little writers the more I’m remembering the joy of teaching beginning writers.  The wonder and amazement that they come to my lessons with is priceless.  The smiles on their faces as they share stories of learning to ride a bike, tackle a scary roller coaster or ride to school and wave to someone out the window of the bus.  As we are learning strategies that real writers use in their work, I can see them file those in their toolboxes to pull out later in their writing.  I am already seeing progress in the way friends are adding details to their pictures, adding sounds to their words and ideas to their writing.

The most exciting part of being on this end of a student’s writing journey is the influence I have in helping them learn to see themselves as writers–and maybe even like it!  There were times that 5th grade writing was frustrating because there was such a hurdle to cross in getting them to believe they could do it.  Unfortunately, back then my friends had 5 years of believing the WEREN’T writers or that they HATED writing to try to overcome in the short amount of time of time we had together.  Now, I get to help these little friends start to see the power in their words and encourage them to do great things with them–for today and for years to come!

And so yeah…I’m kinda pumped about it. :)

Read With Your Roadrunner!

On Friday we had our very first Read With Your Roadrunner event at our school.  It was an opportunity for parents, grandparents, friends–anyone–to come and read with their Roadrunner for the start of our day.  Enjoy some pics from a great event–in Rm. 202 and all of Robinson School!  So excited for the next one. :)

Diego and his mom enjoy a story together!

Diego and his mom enjoy a story together!

JKB's mom got to stay and share a story with he and Emily for a little while.

JKB’s mom got to stay and share a story with he and Emily for a little while.

Briannia and Amelia are checking out her bookbox together.

Briannia and Amelia are checking out her bookbox together.

Two more super-focused Roadrunners--Sara and Makayla--read together.

Two more super-focused Roadrunners–Sara and Makayla–read together.

Some friends chose to read alone: Kylie is busy with a favorite story.

Some friends chose to read alone: Kylie is busy with a favorite story.

Evan, his mom and his baby sister are enjoying a new Captain Underpants book--another good find from our book fair!

Evan, his mom and his baby sister are enjoying a new Captain Underpants book–another good find from our book fair!

JKB and Thomas checking out a non-fiction text about lions.

JKB and Thomas checking out a non-fiction text about lions.

The group on the carpet got bigger!

The group on the carpet got bigger!

Ella Marie reads quietly at her table to start the day.

Ella Marie reads quietly at her table to start the day.

Lauren brought her brother and her mom to read together with her!

Lauren brought her brother and her mom to read together with her!

I think that by the end of our time, Diego's mom had read to most everyone in the room!  What a great sport she was. :)

I think that by the end of our time, Diego’s mom had read to most everyone in the room! What a great sport she was. :)

Love seeing friends sharing books together. :)

Love seeing friends sharing books together. :)

Even little Roadrunners can read together--C.J. and Landen are checking out a new book fair book--Bugs in My Hair!

Even little Roadrunners can read together–C.J. and Landen are checking out a new book fair book–Bugs in My Hair!

(Ava, Millie and Charlie were also enjoying this time with their families in other parts of the building, so sorry–no pictures! :(  )

What a great way to share a love of reading, time with our families and start our Friday off on a good foot!

What was your favorite part of Read With Your Roadrunner?

Self-Portraits

One thing I believe is that we’re all beautiful.  I want to help my students believe the same thing, and celebrate diversity.  One way we began to do this is to read books about the ways we are all beautiful and then create art to showcase that–art that will hang in our room all year to help us remember. :)

Last week we read the book The Skin You Live In, by  Michael Taylor.  It is written in the form of a poem, so it sounds good, but the point of the story is that our skin is something to celebrate and appreciate.  The pictures are really great, and everyone loved reading it!

Screen Shot 2014-09-06 at 4.15.31 PM(photo courtesy of goodreads.com)

After we read it, we talked about the beautiful skin that we live in in our class, and started a project to create portraits of ourselves.  I have done this many times with classes, and sometimes there’s paint involved, sometimes markers, sometimes colored pencils.  This time is was colored pencils, along with yarn, fabric, string and glue. :)

I was so impressed at how diligently everyone worked to make it both creative and authentic to themselves.

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Look! We got to practice our cutting skills with this project.

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I love that we have so many adult helpers at our school to support us! Mrs. Gaglio is helping Makayla create her portrait. :)

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We also got to practice our gluing skills.

I had to highlight Ava and the way she masterfully demonstrated her understanding of using "just a dot, not alot."

I had to highlight Ava and the way she masterfully demonstrated her understanding of using “just a dot, not alot.”

Here Diego is helping Briannia figure out how to make the cloth look like her clothes.  I love how projects like this have opportunities to work both alone and with each other.

Here Diego is helping Briannia figure out how to make the cloth look like her clothes. He figured out how to solve the problem, and is showing her how to sketch the shape of her shirt before she cuts the fabric. I love how projects like this have opportunities to work both alone and with our classmates, sharing our knowledge and teaching each other.    This picture exemplifies the phrase I love–everyone is a student and everyone is a teacher.

I just had to take a picture of this part of our rug as we worked.  Learning is messy, friends! (Don't worry--they know how to respect our environment and they picked it all up!).

I just had to take a picture of this part of our rug as we worked. Learning is messy, friends! (Don’t worry–they know how to respect our environment and they picked it all up!).

We had just the right spot to hang them so they can smile down on us all year! :)

We had just the right spot to hang them so they can smile down on us all year! :) There are a few friends who aren’t finished yet, and theirs will fill that hole by the clock when they’re done.

 

Brain Breaks Rock!

I have posted already about how we’re movers and shakers in Rm. 202, and we are learning how to control our bodies.  We’re learning how to figure out what we need to be good listeners and thinkers.   So in order to do that, we’re taking short breaks to recharge our brains and use our energy in a positive way.

Here are some breaks we’ve been using (thanks Mrs. Morgan for sharing this one!):

We really like #3.  Excited to try #1, too!  Well, really they all look good. :)

We really like #3. Excited to try #1, too! Well, really they all look good. :)

Earlier this week, Mrs. Raeber (Nate’s mom) shared another site with brain breaks, too (from a blog called Minds in Bloom), so we’ve tried some of those out as well.  She reminded me that we already do dance party and today we played Find it Fast, where kiddos have to find something around the room that is a certain color.

ANOTHER resource (wow–I’ve got a lot of smart people sharing smart things with me lately!) came from Mrs. Appelbaum (remember how she also shared her book David’s Drawings with us?  Genius!): GoNoodle.com.   I think this is probably our favorite one.  It’s really just a collection of short videos that you can watch that help lead you through an activity–some are fast and crazy (like Run Like Kitty where you really just run in place for 2 minutes really fast!) and many are more like yoga, where a funny monkey-man named Maximo (who has an AWESOME accent) helps you move your body in a more controlled way.

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I’m pretty sure we did this silly one in the morning after we had done some heavy-duty thinking with Mrs. Berger. It’s called The Funky Chicken.

A little later in the morning--again when we'd been sitting for a while--we chose to do this one where Maximo lead us through "Surfer Dude."

A little later in the morning–again when we’d been sitting for a while–we chose to do this one where Maximo lead us through “Surfer Dude.”

I’m loving the difference I can see in their ability to concentrate and think (not just sit still) after they’ve moved a bit.  I think perhaps the perfect example from today of our movement breaks working well for a learner came when a little friend was asked to play a math game and was instead bouncing around the floor.  Earlier this week I put window clings up near our trampoline (sorry, I forgot to take a picture!) that have numbers 1-10, with the intent that kiddos could bounce and tap or count or whatnot with them as they were moving.  I sent my friend to the trampoline and asked her to bounce to 20 (which was the topic of the game she was trying to play) and tap the pictures as she did it.  She wasn’t over there long, but after her 20 bounces, she was much calmer and played the rest of her game in such a focused way!  YAY! :)

I’m excited to continue to try new things, and celebrate how they help my friends become better learners.  It’s really so rewarding when you can help a kiddo figure out how to be the best version of themselves–we’re getting there!

Teachers: How do you use brain breaks in your classroom?  Parents: What are your kiddos saying about our movement breaks?  Share your stories!! :)

Moving and Grooving: Trampoline

In the post I wrote about the First Days of First Grade–Part 1, I mentioned that we’ve been doing a lot to help our bodies learn how to move appropriately, as well as to keep our brains alert for learning.  In that post I shared about our dance parties (which are still going strong and are a TON of fun!), and this time it’s our trampoline.

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Ok, so looks just a boring trampoline in the corner.  But really it’s a learning tool.  Let me explain…

So I can’t really take any credit for the idea of the trampoline or the placement of the trampoline, or even the plan for how to use the trampoline–just for being the one to buy the actual trampoline. :)  The idea of moving has been one I’ve heard about for a while, and when I knew I was coming to first grade, I knew I needed a way for kids to do that easily.  Our OT, Mrs. Wilson, has made suggestions of rocking chairs (which will be one of my next additions!), trampolines, bungee cords on chairs and all sorts of creative things for years.  It wasn’t until now, though, that those supports really fit my students.  My friend, Mrs. Dale, has been VERY helpful to me, too; she had a trampoline last year and could help me think through things like where it should go, who should use it, when they should use it, etc.

Let me back up a little bit and explain some rationale.  The big idea of even having the jumping space is for friends who have lots of energy that they need to get rid of in a positive way.  There are just some kiddos (historically boys) who need to move and shake more than others.  Kiddos that are wiggly and might just need to bounce while they listen or bounce while they read or bounce just to bounce!  I’ve heard stories of a friend in Mrs. Dale’s class who is directed to use the trampoline when he feels like his body needs to move and he does so during whole group conversations.  He even raises his hand while he’s on there–proof that he’s really listening!

Now, I had some questions–like “How do I keep everyone from being on it all day?”  and “How do I know who should really use it?”  And you know what, I actually knew the answer when she said it–“kids will know and will let you know and you just need to trust them.”

So…after Mrs. Dale and I thought it through last week, I was finally ready to unveil the Rm. 202 trampoline.  But don’t let me fool you–they’ve know it was there for weeks.  It was just propped up against the wall behind the easel and not available to them.  Until now. :)

Our first day it was open during choice time.  Kids made a line, they had a timer and helped each other manage whose turn was next.  And they just jumped.  And jumped.  And jumped.  I think that first day 7-8 friends went through the line.

IMG_3155Hopefully in a short time the novelty will wear off, and those that really need it will be able to use it when they need to get their bodies ready for learning.  I don’t have any success stories to share yet (well except that it’s fun!), but I know that I will.  Right now our trampoline sits next to a blank black wall and a plain window, but there plans for those spaces as well.  Ideas rolling around are for ways to incorporate cross-body movements with jumping; kids could tap letters, practice spelling word wall words as they tap the letters on the window, count or spell out loud as they bounce each number or letter…the possibilities are endless really. :)

Surprising the things you see in a primary classroom these days, huh?  Trampolines, Legos and wooden blocks are just as important on the school supply list as pencils, erasers and scissors. :)