New Caddies for a New Year!

We had a work day at the end of Winter Break, and I went into school for a few hours to prepare for my kiddos coming on the next Monday.  I could have (or maybe I should have) stayed the whole day cleaning out and organizing, but I only had one thing on my list that HAD to be done: cleaning out supply caddies!  There is just something about having fresh new pencils, brand new pens, and the rest of the supplies in the right place that makes everything better.  You know what they say: A clutter room makes for a cluttered mind.  Cluttered table caddies do the same thing!  Here’s to a new, organized year!

Beautiful, isn't it?  I took this picture so that kiddos would remember what goes where.  Now I just have to remember to print some to go IN the caddies so they can be used....:)

Beautiful, isn’t it? I took this picture so that kiddos would remember what goes where. Now I just have to remember to print some to go IN the caddies so they can be used….:)


I’m not sure which is better–clean caddies on the tables or clean caddies all in a row on the windowsill waiting for first graders to start the new year!


I Know an Old Lady, Do You?

During 2nd quarter, one of our big ideas during Reader’s Workshop was comparing various versions of the same text.  An easy one–as well as a favorite–was I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.  We found 3 versions initially and read them (and then found a couple more!), creating a chart to represent all the parts of the story.


I Know an Old Lady retold by G. Brian Karas: Somehow I managed to only have a picture of our “lady” without her labels! We spent much time labeling all of those things in her belly!

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves by Lucile Colandro: This one shows our super work at labels using interactive writing.  Plus, this old lady is super stylish with a belt, some glasses and a bow in her hair. :)

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves by Lucille Colandro: This one shows our super work at labels using interactive writing. Plus, this old lady is super stylish with a belt, some glasses and a bow in her hair. 🙂

I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Pie by Alison Jackson: This may be my favorite lady yet! Check out that 10-layer cake in her stomach!

I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Pie by Alison Jackson: This may be my favorite lady yet! Check out that 10-layer cake in her stomach!

After we had read our stories, we dug in to start comparing and contrasting the stories.  We talked about how to do this in an organized way, and so kiddos were introduced to the Venn Diagram.  Well, reintroduced to the idea, but the name and the was new.  We had a 1st draft that ended up too messy to use, but it worked for us to understand how the diagram worked.


Once we knew how to put the pieces together, kiddos worked in pairs to write the parts that were the same and different.  Again, what we had learned during many interactive writing lessons lately paid off!


Another great example of interactive writing as well as great ideas for how the stories were the same and different! Super smart first grade thinking!


Close up of I Know an Old Lady


Close up of There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves


Close up of I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Pie and the “same” sections of the diagram

Of which stories have you read different versions?  Share some suggestions with us! 🙂

Marshmallows or Whipped Cream?


This post is just one picture and a quick link.  As 2nd quarter ended and Winter Break neared, we were enjoying the chapter book Who’s Stealing the 12 Days of Christmas? by Martha Freeman (like I have in previous years with 4th-5th graders).  There’s a part of the book where we just HAVE to enjoy some hot cocoa along with the characters, so we did on the Wednesday of our last week.  I just LOVE this picture of Briannia with her hot chocolate!  And for the record, she chose BOTH marshmallows and whipped cream!  YUM!  Isn’t she the cutest? 🙂

Check out the original post about this fun activity from a couple of years ago here and learn more about what we did. 🙂

List-Group-Label: MAPS

Or “This protocol worked really well with 5th graders and I was dying to see how it would work with my first graders.”  The answer?  Read to find out! 🙂

When I taught 5th grade, I read about a protocol called List-Group-Label for organizing ideas and learning new vocabulary.  Originally the structure was applied to geometry vocab, but I’ve used it with topics in Science and now Social Studies, as well.

First, we needed to explore.  So I gave them some maps.  And if you have known me for longer than 5 minutes you could probably guess the kinds of maps they were given.  Any guesses?  See if you can figure it out in the pictures…

(Can you see?  It’s the Happiest Place on Earth!)

After they had a chance to explore their maps–well 4 different ones actually–they came to a blank chart like this one and were supposed to add their ideas about what all of the maps had in common:


After they had worked for a little bit…


It looked more like this:


That’s the LIST part of list-group-label.  Now, normally with big kids, I have them group the post-its by how they are similar, but for many reasons, I led this next step with my kiddos.  After I grouped them, the chart looked like this:


See how they’re in groups now?  It was great to see how many similar ideas kiddos came up with!  They were spot on with their noticings!

Next came the LABEL step, so I made the post-its into a web so we could see the groups as well as write the labels:


Working together as a class, we decided what each group had in common, and what statement we could make about maps and how they work based on the information.  I was IMPRESSED!! These kids had loads of background knowledge about maps and their features, which made our use and study of them easier.  This is one reason I LOVE this protocol–it quickly gives me a good idea of the class’ schema on a topic, which helps me know where to go next.  They are doing the work and making the connections, which is meaningful work, and they are having fun!  Win, win, win for everyone!


Our finished web about maps! Pretty comprehensive, wouldn’t you say? 🙂

Now, I have to focus in on one bubble of this web for a second.  Look at this one:


This particular bubble has a great story.  One of our friends was gone on the day that we first studied our maps, but returned on the day we were reviewing the web we had made.  She said, “Wait, there’s something else you should add!”  She proceeded to describe “that thing that’s on there that tells you which way you’re going.  You know, like ‘Never Eat Soggy Waffles!’ ”  “Of course!” we all thought, and we added a bubble about compass roses.  The best part?  The chart originally had a big empty space here, so it was like it was waiting for this super-smart addition!

Well, as is always the case in our room, this conversation sparked a great idea for the next step: we needed signs in our room that told us which way was which way.  Kiddos quickly got to work in small groups creating direction signs for our walls. Another “best part” of this project?  Every single sound in the words NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, and WEST can be figured out by first graders using word wall words, resources in the room or knowledge about sound chunks.  ANOTHER win-win as we could connect literacy to our social studies work! 🙂





What smart suggestions for ways to improve our room and give us new resources to help us learn!  I LOVE what they look like, too, and how they add to the “kid” feel of our room.  KID WORK everywhere! 🙂  Great work, Rm. 202 friends!

First Grade Math Warm-Ups: Week of January 5-9, 2015

Welcome back to school!  I don’t know what the weather is like where you are (well unless you’re where I am!), but here it has hardly gotten out of the teens and my bones are chilled!  It was nice to be able to be warm and cozy in Rm. 202 with my first grade buddies this week!  Here’s what we studied:


Again, true story from my life used for our warm-ups.  It really makes them interested in solving the problem when they care about the context!



This week we’ve been continuing to work on knowing if we should add or subtract.  When we discuss the problems, the question I ask them is not “What answer did you get?” but instead they turn to their partner to tell them what operation they used how they knew what to do.  I am listening for explanations related to the context and what is actually happening, rather than specific clue words.  Just knowing clue words (like “left,” “in all,” or “how much more”) doesn’t always work; depending on how they are used in a problem, they can sometimes mean addition or subtraction.  Or, you can add TO subtract (as in the strategy of counting up), so it becomes even more confusing.





This problem is an addition problem, but also gets kiddos thinking about multiplication without really knowing it.  They have to really be thinking about the situation–I bought 2 bundles that each cost $20–or they will use the 2 and 20 and just add or subtract them.  It was great to see how many kiddos understood the way the problem worked.



The focus with the numbers in this problem was to help mathematicians use known combinations to efficiently figure out unknowns.  Ideally they would see make 5s to make 10 or see a 6 and a 4 to also equal 10.  This idea of grouping connects to our future (well, really continuing) study of place value and addition numbers within 100.


First GradeMath Warm-Ups: Week of 12-15 to 12-19


I participated in the St. Louis Hot Chocolate 5K with my family on Dec. 14 and of course I had to use it as a context for a problem of the day!  And yes, it is a true story.  I’m really slow. 😦



We’ve been working on addition strategies, so the numbers in this one were chosen so that hopefully kids would see the 10 and use it: 6+4 =10 and then 10+7= 17.



One thing I want my mathematicians to be able to do is think flexibly about numbers.  Sometimes I give the the answer and ask them why it reasonable (or not!).



I’m not sure why I wrote the word tonight on this problem (as it doesn’t make any sense since I wrote it the next morning!), but you get the idea. 🙂  The focus was both on adding a string of numbers, as well as determining whether to add or subtract.  We’re getting really good at knowing when to add and when to take away, by thinking about the context and picturing the situation.


Friday didn’t have a math warm-up since we didn’t have math.  We had a delightful Winter Party instead!  Hope you had a great holiday break, math friends, and that you’re back into a positive January groove! 🙂