#classroombookaday 2017 UPDATE: Week 13–WE HIT 200 BOOKS!!

What an exciting week in first grade reading!!  We hit 200 books!!  We’re in that super fun time of year, too, where the topics we’re reading about are so much fun and we’re in a smooth routine that allows us to read even more than usual.  Win-win!!

Check out our wall! Our updated total is 203! (yeah…I just noticed I put on book up there twice.  Ignore that part. 🙂 ).

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I was talking to my friend the other day about our wall and how happy we are that it’s in a place where EVERYONE in our school walks every day.   We did so much with this challenge last year and no one got to see it or share it with us because our room was tucked up in a quiet corner where no one but us ever walked.  This way all the readers in our school (adult and student alike!) get to check out what we’re doing.  And besides showing all of our hard work, it’s just so PRETTY!!  Sometimes I really do just stand there and look at it.  Books can inspire you in so many ways!

This week we read lots of great ones by many authors and used them in many ways.

We came back to a few old favorite authors–and illustrators–this week (talking to you, Ryan T. Higgins, Marla Frazee, Mo Willems, Todd Parr, Steve Antony and Mem Fox!).  We have worked through SO MANY of those friends’ titles, but still had some floating around that we had to finish up.  Mem Fox has SO MANY and we were still working through hers from the Global Read Aloud (which, by the way, I am remembering I have forgotten to tell you about.  More on that later, I hope!).  We used many of them to help with some word work we have been doing, and some I picked to help revisit a friend/kindness theme (it’s that time of year when you need to remind kiddos that the things we talked about at the beginning of the year are still a thing!).  Little i  came in SUPER handy as we were working on the editing phase in our writing unit, and Pumpkin Jack is always a nice ending to our Literary Lanterns project and the “pumpkin” focus we had around Halloween.

Kiddos were our readers this week, too, as Celia shared Thank You, Mr. Panda and Campbell read The Thank You Book to us. 🙂

Funny kid reference from the week comes when I was sharing that we were going to read Knuffle Bunny Too and Knuffle Bunny Free.  I was happily sharing how we’d read these and Louie says, “Oh, like Knuffle Bunny 2 and 3!”  We all had a laugh and I TOTALLY didn’t even hear the titles like that.  Good detail, Mo Willems, and good listening, Louie!!

#classroombookaday 2017 UPDATE: Week 12

We’re still rolling along, adding books and book and books to our display in the first grade hallway.  Check out the latest and greatest:

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I know you can tell that we’re almost ready to add another arrow (for 200!), and as of this last week we have logged 186 books!  This week was busy and the schedule was a little wonky because of Halloween, a 1/2 day and other events around school, so we only added 10, but they were all good ones!

We had lots of Halloween-themed books, as well as another Lola Schaefer and another book illustrated by our friend Peter H. Reynolds because–why not??  One of the texts was a kid-written story, and then the last one of the week was from my rotation on our 1/2 day, where I taught about the Navy (each teacher shared about a different branch of the military).

What did you read this week?  PLEASE recommend something that YOU love to us and we’ll read it, too! 🙂  Until next week–happy reading!

#classroombookaday 2017 UPDATE: Week 11

Oh my goodness!  Week 11 already??  We’re moving and grooving and totally rocked the book-reading this week!  Seemed like they came in pairs this time around; one of our authors has written lots of books that are related to each other so we read them together!

Here’s the current display:

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We’re all the way up to 176 now!!  Yep, we read 21 books this week!  Told you we rocked it! 🙂

Here are the new ones. 🙂

See what I mean about pairs of books?  We had 4 sets of books from Sandra Boynton and Lola Schaefer (she seemed to do it so many times it HAD to be on purpose!  Ms. Schaefer, if you read this, please tell us if it is!!).  There were a couple of kid-readers this week, too, as Celia read a book SHE WROTE to us called Donut, and Natalie read us Doggies and Blue Hat, Green Hat after working on them for a while to get them ready to share with her classmates!  Also, we read Mystery Vine, by the same author as our old favorite David’s Drawings, Cathryn Falwell.  Man, I love it when we can revisit old friends. 🙂

Now, you know that RM. 111 and 112 love reading no matter what, and that we love all books and all readers, but I also know you know that there is not much better than when MRS. SISUL READS TO US!!  Again, you’re probably not surprised at all that she came back this week to read.  And that she was on ROLLER SKATES!!  Man, Robinson is a super amazing place to learn and read! 🙂

What did you read this week?  What pairs of books have you tried? Share with us!! 🙂

#classroombookaday 2017 UPDATE: Week 10

Somehow, even though we only had 3 days of school this week, we read more books than all of last week.  Maybe because I wasn’t happy with the fact that we only read 10 and we had to catch up a little?  Who knows, but we were busy readers and added some great titles over the last few days.  Here’s our wall as of October 20.  We’re up to 155 now!!

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This week’s books were varied and fun.  Check them out!

See those Mem Fox books?  Yep–Global Read Aloud is still rocking and rolling!  We are beginning a pumpkin project in reading so had to read those two books about pumpkins, and some were just for fun!

Mrs. Sisul came by on Friday to share Monster Trouble with us, and you know Principal Read Alouds are always a big hit!

This one was so great and we were all surprised with how the little girl tricked the monsters with KISSES!!

What would you like to see us read?  What recommendations do you have for us that you have read lately or that you just really love?  We’d love to hear about books we don’t know about yet. 🙂

Word Wall 2017

I am a teacher who works with first graders, so we do LOTS with words.  Reading words, writing words, learning about how to say words, discussing meaning of words.  Words. Words. Words.

So…in the beginning when I was putting the room together, lots of thought and consideration was given to how we’d use our word wall and where it would go in the room.  Ms. Turken and I also had many conversations about how we could use our walls in tandem (as our kids would be going back-and-forth between our rooms often and would be utilizing both versions).  Last year, I also had a rebirth of the word wall, and abandoned the whole “traditional” layout (with letters and sight words) and we put words in categories rather than by alphabetical order.  Kids in Rm. 202 used that version of the wall SO MUCH MORE because it was theirs.  They had ownership over how it was organized and therefore were much more purposeful in how it helped them.

As I said, we’ve had a “word wall” since day one.   It looked like this:

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And next to it, to the right, is another wall, that has been predominately “blank”, as well, except for names (which some kiddos just noticed last week. LOL).  This set up is almost identical in Rm. 112–on the same wall, even–just with different colors.

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Today, for many reasons, became the day to tackle the word wall discussion.  For one, kids have had some time to “live” in our room, as well as in first grade generally, and so have more of an understanding of what more they might need as far as resources.  We’ve also just officially started word work as a Daily 5 rotation, so they are more aware of how this aspect of reading and writing in first grade.  We’ve been reading for almost a whole quarter now, and have been working out words, and are far enough now for an “official” lesson about what to do with unknown words in Writer’s Workshop.  It’s to the point now that we have to address where to go when you don’t know. 🙂

We gathered in front of the blank word wall today and had a discussion about what it might be for.  Many pointed to the fact that we’ve been utilizing it to help us write our letters when we forget what they look like, or what order they go in.  Many were happy to leave that silly wall just as it is!  I pushed, however, and talked about how I’d overheard several kiddos talking about how they needed help with how to write (spell) specific words today, and suggested that maybe we could use the spaces (between the letters!) for words.  They seemed keen on this idea, and many suddenly remembered that they had a wall like that in kindergarten! (I tell, ya, those kindergarten teachers think of the BEST ideas! hee hee)  We discussed what kinds of words we should put on our wall and many threw out words they’d been trying to use today, and someone suggested we  add sight words to our wall.  The thing I loved about their thinking (unlike many years, and in comparison to the way I’ve used word walls previously) is that they agreed that we should put up words they DO NOT know how to read and spell yet, rather than ones they ALREADY know how to use correctly.  This is the part of the typical Word Wall that always had me confused anyway: I used it as a wall of “have-tos” and held kids accountable for words they already knew, rather than effectively helping them work towards ones they didn’t have control over yet.

Additionally, many suggested that we routinely COME BACK to review the words on the word wall to siphon out words we had learned (and didn’t need anymore), adding new ones that kids needed to rely on.  BOOM!  Not rocket science, but this was the very first time I’ve ever had a learner attend to the “living” nature of the word wall.  It’s the first time I had done that, too.  WOW! so thankful that happened.

In past years, I have decided on what words we would learn and add, based on a list or suggestion from someone or somewhere…sometimes relying on my kids to lead me (I’d say I did more of this student-led work last year more than ever), but often just at random.  Waa waa.  Super teaching strategy, right?  It didn’t hurt anyone, and kids eventually learned how to read, write and use those words, but of course there was a better way of doing it than just so haphazardly.

Since Rm. 111 kids would decide which words to add, we originally had a plan for each kiddo to tackle a “letterful” of words, leaving the remaining ones for me to choose.  Campbell suggested that we determine 5 or so words for each letter that we wanted.  The time of today when we could work on this didn’t allow us much time, so I tweaked the idea a little and we worked with our learning partners.  In the end, I think this worked out better anyway, as kids had to more deeply think about and defend their choices than would have been required if they just chose on their own.  As they finished with their first letter, pairs tackled others and we got almost finished with our choices today (up to the letter R, I believe…).  When our work time was over, we had a tableful of possibilities.

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It was really interesting to see what they had come up with, and made me think about how I’d chosen focus words before.  I am pretty sure I never had contractions up there so early, and the wall was full of 2-letter words for months.  As I reviewed the words they decided upon, I saw MANY MORE connections between words than I’d allowed for previously, and noticed many ways that words could be used to spell other words that I hadn’t ever considered.  First graders are so smart!!  I mean, really–so often they know what they need much better than me! 🙂

I did end up revising their lists a little, taking out words that could be figured out with longer words.  For example, I left CAN’T but took away CAN, as we could use the latter to spell the shorter one.  Same with most of those contractions, as well as the word BE, since BECAUSE and BEFORE were also there.  Also, some of their word choices were colors and numbers, which will go into category boxes (much like last year’s wall) on that black board on the right side.  We’ll discuss this and how to use it a little later.

I didn’t get quite done today, but am already really excited to see all the words that are hanging there now, and am happily anticipating how the wall will be used by my Rm. 111 (and 112!) learners.  I am excited for the newly gained confidence that I will see emerging as kids can add another layer of  independence to their literacy work.

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Oh, and by the way, when I asked them what we should call this wall of words, they suggested we put the title WORD WALL on it. 🙂  hee hee (and see–there’s even a lesson in that title: I did not leave CALL or ALL on the list because they are inside of WALL). 🙂

All I can say is I LOVE FIRST GRADERS!!  Please stay tuned for more on how we use this amazing thinking to help us with FUTURE amazing thinking. 🙂

#GRA17 is FINALLY HERE!

I think it was two years ago when I first officially joined the Global Read Aloud.  We were reading The Year of Billy Miller that year and I was teaching 2nd grade.  I was invited by my Tweep Tam in Australia and was excited to collaborate worldwide with other kids and teachers reading the same text.  Then last year, as I returned to 1st grade, I brought Ms. Turken along for the ride and had an even more amazing journey exploring and responding to Lauren Castillo books!

As we moved into this fall, excitement was high to join this project again, and THE DAY IS FINALLY HERE! We are so jazzed to be studying Mem Fox (and old, familiar favorite author!) and sharing our learning along the way.  We will for sure use Seesaw to show our friends and family our thinking, but also hope to collaborate with other kids via Skype, too.

We started with a short video about Mem Fox, and some wondering about both her life and Australia, where she lives.  Then, I shared a book I had written when I was teaching 2nd grade (as a mentor text during a culture study we were doing in Social Studies).  It was a little indulgent–I got to have a Peter Reynolds moment and say “Australian Culture, by ME!”–but also helped give kids some background on Australia before we read.

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Kiddos wrote and drew about what they learned and uploaded their thinking to their Seesaw journals.

Today we came back, ready to hear Koala Lou (the first week’s book), but instead we first teased kiddos with a habit that we’ve learned that good readers do–take a sneak peek.  We studied the front and back covers and kiddos made predictions about what they thought the story might be about.  They did a pretty good job of guessing some things that actually happened in the story.  Again, these were uploaded into Seesaw so we could share our learning. 🙂

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Then…finally, last thing today, IT WAS TIME to finally hear the story!  We gathered in Rm. 112 and it sounded something like this:

We are SO EXCITED to see what comes next!   Art maybe?  Have any suggestions for us? 🙂

 

Happy Half-Day: October 2, 2017

Yesterday we had a 1/2 day.  Just about one a month, teachers and students are released early and we head to an afternoon of professional learning (and yes, kiddos head home!). Check out some pictures of the fun and learning we had during our morning together. 🙂

IMG_1694Have you seen the SUPER AWESOME patio we have on the back of Rms. 111 and 112?  Yeah, it’s pretty amazing.  We have plans for how we can use this place for whole group situations (anyone wanna buy us an outdoor rug?), or maybe adding some different seating so kids or groups could work out there on nice days.  On this day, it was perfect for a picnic lunch with our first grade friends.  I think it’s funny how few students that looks like, but trust me, there are 40 kiddos and 3 adults out there in that space together. 🙂

AND…since it was so nice, we ventured outside to read again (remember the post about how reading in the trees makes you feel good?).  Since we could only go to our front yard and we only had a little bit before it was time to go home, Ms. Turken and I gave kiddos the choice of reading-to-self or listening-to-reading while we were out there.  As is usual, we were about 50/50 in each place.

There is just something different about reading outside, in the sunlight with the breeze blowing on you.  SO glad these kiddos like it, too!  Can’t wait for the next beautiful fall day we can do it again–I still have another great location for us to visit. Stay tuned so you can see what happens next on our reading journey! 🙂