Friday, September 27, 2013

Apples, Apples, Apples

Today was one of those days where I found myself thinking about how much I love teaching!! The fun began when I introduced our shared writing topic for the day and told my class we were just going to have to make applesauce at school so that we'd know what to write about! We have been working on complete sentences since the first week of school. So today, I introduced them to some of the structural elements of a complete paragraph. It wasn't our learning target focus - our focus was complete a "How To" writing piece through interactive writing. But, I still introduced them to a topic sentence {green}. The details in the middle {yellow}. And highlighted our Conclusion sentence by circling it in {red}.

Adoreable apple craftivity from Smitten With First!  My class loved those "kooky" eyes as they called them.

As a class we decided what the steps we wanted to document were...after our applesauce was underway of course! I like this activity mainly because I can easily involve the students in it every step of the way. First, everyone got an apple that they were responsible for washing in the sink. {Our apples were already washed in vinegar by my teaching partner so they were clean as can be, but my kids didn't know that, and they took their role seriously.} Then, I picked a few students to add water to the crock pot. After that, we peeled & chopped a few apples together and put them into the pot. The rest were chopped and added while they were at specials, which they were fine with. :)

Once the apples had simmered over specials I called the class to the carpet and set my document camera up so that it was looking right into the pot. Then I could project the live footage onto our pro-board! I had one sweetie add a cup of sugar while I added some cinnamon. Then, I called them up a few at a time to start mashing the apples. Throughout the day, different people got to come mash until everyone had gotten a turn. We let it cook most of the day but about an hour before scoop time I switched from cooking on high to just keeping it warm. About 15 minutes before go time I scooped into cups and put the cups in my fridge to cool down.

But before we got to eat the applesauce, there was work to be done! Like graphing our favorite colored apples.

Poor yellow, he always gets left out. But I can't blame them. Red is my first choice too!! This is always one of the easiest graphs we do all year, so it's good that it comes near the beginning. Some might argue this is too kinder for first/second - but - I don't use this graph to teaching what a graph is. I use it to identify how we use the data on our graphs to make conclusions. "Data" and "Conclusions" are BIG words that I want my students to understand early on. We noted there were three distinct points we could conclude from our data, and put them into COMPLETE SENTENCES!! {Since that has been our FOCUS in writing for the past five weeks!} You can see the sentences that they decided upon below after discussing with their table teams and then all together as a whole group.

Then, they picked one of the data points to write in a complete sentence on their paper. 

 We finished our Shared Writing...

I hate the lighting in our hallways. It always looks like it's 8:00 at night in pictures. Every time. Boo!! :(

And discussed Character Traits and Setting with this adorable new find of a book!! Bad Apple is the story of an Apple (Mac) and how he gets bullied by all the other apples in the orchard for having a Worm (Will). But, Mac and Will are best buds, despite what the crab apples have to say about it

Yep, I made these guys work for that sauce. We didn't actually eat the applesauce until the last 20 minutes of the day. But when we did, it was DELICIOUS!! Yes, I had a heaping serving right along with the kids. Can't beat the home made stuff!

This was the perfect day to wrap up the on-going apple theme in our room the past two weeks. I hope this post hilights the variety of standards that I was able to cover in the midst of all the apple fun. Nothing makes me happier than find fun and creative ways to tie them into everything that we do!

Now I'm ready for my FAVORITE month and season.

October. Fall. Halloween. All things Pumpkins. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Falling Into...FLUENCY!

My first year teaching I felt a little overwhelmed by all of the sight words my students were expected to memorize. We used the FRY word list and had to test throughout the year to see which words they were learning. So of course, I sent home flash cards. And begged families to practice them at home. Some did, others didn't. Over time many of my students were able to memorize the words on the cards, but I noticed that often didn't transfer over to seeing the same words in text. I kept trying to explain in my best kid friendly terms that fluent readers need to know their sight words so they could read without sounding like a robot. That these words were found in ALL the books and ALL the sentences we read. But time and time again they would learn the word on their list, then see it in real writing and not know what it said or meant. So I started typing the words into sentences and placing them in a binder in the library. The sentences were silly and seasonal. When we studied pumpkins for example, out came the pumpkin sentence sheet. I started using them as a warm ups and/or to conclude guided reading groups.  Now, the words had a context. They wanted to be able to read the sentences in group. So then I thought, why not put the sentences ON the flash card. It couldn't hurt right? That is how Flash Fluency came to be.

This week, we began using my Autumn Flash Fluency set as we've been reading about apples. This was a quick {less than ten minutes} introduction to the apple cards, which also happen to be the first ten Fry sight words. I had my kids sit in a circle and pick a card. Then, everyone read their cards with an elbow buddy. (This is good for any sweeties who don't know their word or words because there is a great chance the person sitting next to them can help them out. This helps them feel successful in the group setting.) Finally, we take turns around the circle reading our cards out loud. Once we went all the way around the circle the cards went back in the middle and each child grabbed a new card. My kids said this was a fun game so we did it four times. After that I collected the cards and told them we would revisit this activity in guided reading groups the next day. A few of the kids asked if they could read the cards when we weren't in guided reading.

And then I told them - Yes, yes you can!! :)

I hole punched a laminated a set of cards and put them on these little metal rings. They go in a basket near the library and students are allowed to read them as an, "I'm Done, now what!?" activity. I also allow students to read them together in the mornings when they finish their morning work and during read to self time.

I still have copies of the typed sentences to put with the cards. Students can read these fluency pages which have all the sentences from each set of cards on a themed sheet. I have a colored version that I laminate on card stock and keep in the classroom, and a black and white version that I send home with students to practice at home. I also let parents know about the flash cards in our weekly newsletter. I let them know that I'm happy to send home a set of cards {black and white to save ink} for them to cut out and practice at home, if they request them.

My original Flash Fluency set did not include all the fun clip art or the modern fonts. I just didn't have them when I first started teaching. However, this past year I have accumulated more than my fair share and I have found that the variety of images on each card makes them more engaging! Now my students will say things to me like, "I can read all the apple cards!" They are excited to move on to a new set and see what the new pictures will be.

If flash fluency sounds like something you think your class would enjoy too, you can it even further in my TPT Shop. It includes ten themed sets and covers the first 100 Fry Words. I will also be putting together a Winter set and a Spring set, but these ones will keep us busy through November! Yay!!

**UPDATE: An entire Flash Fluency Bundle is now available**

Keep Calm and Flash On!! :)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Appleicious Freebies

We're Back!! After a 4 day hiatus due to our state flooding, they let us back into the building on Tuesday and we hit the ground running again. It was a weird week because I was trying to pick up where we left off abruptly last Wend and then see what stuff I had originally planned for this week that I could still do. I felt like I was in limbo...and decided I don't like limbo one bit. So on a whim I launched into some apple studies and decided to tie them into some of the other content we had been working on - nouns, fluency, and handwriting. We started the week off with a new poem about apples. It's pretty short and sweet but my kiddos still ate it up.

It's not my original poem. I found it in one of our Scholastic Readers this month. But I went ahead and made a larger version and hung it in our class library so that we could read it for fluency and also squeeze in a little handwriting practice.

After we learned it I had each of my kiddos copy it in their very best September first grade handwriting. I want to start collecting at least one sample like this a month so we can document handwriting progress throughout the year. I'm not making any promises (because lord knows the second I say it I will jinx myself.)  but I'll try to share our monthly handwriting poems when we do them each month.

This second one was a huge crowd pleaser this week. It was our Noun Scavenger Hunt!

We started studying nouns last week and continued learning about them this week.

At one point I said to my class,

 "Did you realize everything we touch and see are actually nouns!?"

To which one little sweetie exclaimed during a total "ah-ha" moment...

"NO!! But, I didn't even know what nouns WERE  until this week!!!"

Touche' first grader, touche' ;)

If they didn't know them before, they sure do know them now! Check out this guy totally acing  his scavenger hunt. It was a very fun formative assessment for me to see how well my class could identify the three types of nouns on their own.

And I'm happy to report, they rocked it!! 

If you'd like to swing some of these activities in your room you can download them below.

TGIF Friends!!!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Current Events, Teachable Moments.

This has been a crazy week for us in Colorado. Since Thursday cities all around Colorado have been suffering from some devastating flooding. My family and I are very lucky to be safe and dry where we are, but many of the surrounding areas have been evacuated and are experiencing serious flood damage. We can't really go anywhere because of all the road closures around us. The rain finally stopped yesterday for some much needed blue skies but unfortunately it returned today and is supposed to continue all day long. 

Here are a few pictures I gathered from Friday of the flooding in and around our area. It's hard to believe that there are parts of the state that are under much more water then what you see here. :(

This is a road I used to drive daily to get to my old school. 

Our state's major highway, about a mile from my old subdivision.

We could see this flooding of the Big Thompson River from a hill in our neighborhood.

I had originally planned to start my Guided Reading Groups mid-week this past week and blog about it but we've been out of school since Thursday. Our district is closed tomorrow too and some of  the other districts where the flooding is more severe are already closed all of next week. Right now I can't even get into my classroom to grab stuff to work on which is a bummer. So I'm sorry for the lack of content to share with you guys this week. I will try and make up for it just as soon as we're back in the classroom! Until then, please keep Colorado families in your thoughts.

My teacher brain of course is already thinking about how I can turn this into a teachable moment. I have my whole Weather Is Wild Unit which I'm sure will now involve lots of conversations about flooding when get started with it in January. But for a more immediate lesson I thought we'd learn about some non-fiction text features. We will be studying newspaper articles and then write our own about the floods. This is a sample of what I will be going over with my class.  

Right now our newspapers have lots of photographs that we can cut out and use for our articles and captions. I'm sharing the blank Current Event Writing Template I've created for this in case you would like to work on a similar writing pieces about events in your area or elsewhere. Click HERE to grab it for your class.

Hoping to be back soon with happenings from our rain free classroom!!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Cozy Classroom Rug Giveaway

Even though I've yet to do a full classroom reveal (it's coming I swear) there is one space I am SO EXCITED to show you!! Our gathering space, complete with my brand new rug from Mohawk Home!

I was given the chance to select one of their beautiful carpets for my classroom. There were so many to choose from, but I fell in love with this one! The colors are so vibrant, it really brightens up the whole space!! I also like how it defines our gathering space so well. My kids try to sneak a seat onto it every chance the get!

 All Mohawk Home rugs are made right here in the USA.
 Check out this video to learn more about their caring company. 

I am THRILLED to tell you that Mohawk Home is allowing me to give away one of their rugs to one very lucky blog follower!!! How awesome are they? The carpet I am giving away can cost up to $149.99.  And it gets even better because three of my best blogging buddies also get to giveaway a Mohawk Home rug to one of their lucky followers! So you actually have 4 different chances to win!!

Use the Raffeclopter Below to Enter. Winners will be announces on Sunday!
(Mohawk Homes and I will be verifying all entry requirements upon selecting a winner.)

And don't forget to visit these other three blogs for more chances to win!! GOOD LUCK! :)

 (Nicole is on Hawaii time- so stay tuned for her post!!)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Week One Snapshots

Wow, week one is already over and done. Can I just tell you, I'm in full on puppy dog love with my new little bunch!! This year is the opposite of last year, and the majority of my class is made up of firsties again. They're all so eager to learn and participate and sing all my silly songs with me. They've totally won me over!!! I snapped a bunch of random photos throughout our first week together in first &second grade. Even though I'm more than halfway through this blessed three day weekend, I still feel myself suffering from that special type of tiered that can only mean the start of the school year. I know you all know what I mean!  So for the most part I'm going to let the pictures do the talking for me...

 Working on our first writing crafitvity of the year!!

 First week survival stash my sweet hubs brought me after day one. #truelove

Starting our first week jounals on day one. 

Oh Pete! How we just love reading about you again, and again, and again...

Sorting buttons by color was a big hit. Sometimes I gotta keep it old school simple.

And so it begins. So many e-mails, so little time. Eek!

Everyone is Smart!!! :)

First graph of the year. Blue wins!

Never been more in love with my word wall than I am this year!

So there you have it. Week one in ten random snapshots. 
Happy Weekend Friends!!!