Saturday, June 30, 2012

Summer Planning and Daily Buzz Freebie

I am sad to say June is coming to an end. I have to laugh when I read about teachers having 3 months off every summer, please... I am down to 8 weeks off. Really it is 8 weeks we are working and not paid. Working without the normal resources and I can't even get into my classroom. It makes it very heard to work for free! I love what I do and that is the reason I do it!

This past year I used "The Daily Buzz" for my students to summarize and/or write about what we are working on in class. It worked great! It was so versatile, I could use it with so many things. In the house we did word families or fact families. We worked through our daily math problem in the thought boucle. "Today's Question" was used for the students to answer a multitude of daily questions. We would work on it all day. During morning work the students would complete the first section of the page. To open or close math we would work through our daily math problem together. The house was done at various times during the day. At the end of the day, students summarized what they learned. I used the back of the page for various things as well. It was awesome because I could copy "a ton" of them and was always ready to go. Click on the image and download it if you like!

I was meeting with my wonderful first grade team yesterday working on our curriculum map. It is very hard moving to the Common Core Standards, but still being tied to the old curriculum that does not align with the new standards. Being told to teach to the standards, but to give assessments from the series that don't align. Our county doesn't do county wide plans like I have found online for many counties. What are you doing at your schools with this???

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Daily 5 Book Study Ch. 2 Ah-Ha!

I have joined "The Daily 5" book study over at the primary graffiti blog. This is a fabulous book by "the sisters" Gaile Boushey and Joan Moser. If you haven't read this book and incorporated it into your classroom it is a must (for all grade levels)! I have just completed my my 3rd year using my K/1 adapted version of the Daily 5. The results I have seen from this are amazing! This past year, half of my 1st grade class looped up with me from K and the other half did not. My kids who had done the Daily 5 in K were so far ahead in their reading levels and fluency compared to the kids who did not have the advantage of the Daily 5 in K. I feel the key is the amount of time spent each day reading at their level and challenging themselves is the key.

Prior to reading the Daily 5 the first time, I had been big on Debbie Diller's Literacy Work Stations. I found this to work pretty well, but the students weren't working in their centers frequently enough. I also felt like I was spending more time setting up and planning centers/stations than the students were in them. I students rotated through stations with same small group at every station. They tended to get tired of working with the same students and conflicts were frequent in some groups. I was doing 2 or 3 20 minute rotations a day and was working with students 2 times a week and thought I was doing pretty well.

After reading the Daily 5 I changed things up! Initially I did the Daily 5 three days a week. Now I was seeing every child in small group 3 times a week. I was in K at the time and had more of a "directed choice" system in place. After my first year with the Daily 5, I reworked it a little for year two.

During year two of the Daily 5, I was doing it 4 times a week. I also had a K class with a huge variation in levels. I couldn't really teach whole group, and changed to teaching most things small group. The Daily 5 was great for this! At the end of year two I re-evaluated how it was working for me again.

At the end of year two, I found many things I liked and somethings I thought were missing. At our school we are lucky enough to be rich with technology, I wanted to include this more during the day. I loved being able to meet and work with all students, not just the low students. I have 18 students and found I really liked how well groups of 3 worked together; so I divided 18 by 3 and found 6 was the magic number. I really felt Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics were being overlooked with such a huge reading push. I love the Math Daily 5 idea, but just don't have the time in my day. So I have combined the elements of Debbie Diller's system I liked, with the Daily 5 and added a S.T.E.M. to create my own "Super 6"!

I have had many teacher's in my school and county ask for more information on how I do this. I am currently putting it all together and hope to share it with everyone before next week.

As I am watching the Olympic Swimming Trials (I can't wait for the Olympics) and re-reading Chapter 2 I had an ah-ha moment! When explaining stamina this year, I am going to use the Olympics to help explain it. The Olympic athletes set a goal and practice everyday to achieve that goal. A swimmer trains by swimming different ways, weight lifting, and thinking about what he is doing. He already knows how to doggie paddle and blow bubbles, so he doesn't doggie paddle and blow bubbles much anymore. He does not play soccer or snow ski to become a better swimmer. So our goal is to become a better reader. We will train by reading more, writing and thinking. Continuing to re-read a book we have already mastered over and over or a too easy book will not help us get better. We must continue to challenge ourselves!

Monday, June 25, 2012

How Do Your Kids Use Technology?

This summer our county put together a fabulous Tech Expo. Instead of bringing in outside trainers, we used the experts in our county to teach about hardware and programs we have available to us in our county. There was a conference style schedule of five 45 minute classes. As a trainer, you only taught one or two classes so you could attend classes as well. A wide variety of classes were offered to pick from. I taught "TeKno1ogy in K/1, They can do it too!" I shared tips on K/1 students using technology without you pulling your hair out! We also discussed how students can use technology in class. One of the ways my students use tech to share what they have learned is using Keynote (or Powerpoint) to make a story map. I have students make these in groups of 3 during the Super 6 (my learning centers) Buddy Reading with the story of the week. This is the sheet with the students' instructions.

If you haven't had checked out Classroom Freebies lately, head on over! Today is Manic Monday and there are even more freebies!
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
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