Monday, September 30, 2013

Fiction Response Freebie and Co-Teaching, Anyone???

I just checked to see if Farley's Currently was set to go for October, but I guess I'll have to wait a day. I've been super busy this past month wrapping my head around the new school year and trying hard to set routines that will last the whole year. 

Now that it's almost October, I am feeling like things are falling in place nicely. But, oh, was it painful at times to get to this place. I feel like a broken record half the time! WBT is going well, but I still have so much to learn! Daily 5 is well underway, and we just learned about Listen to Reading today (more on using Storia for this when I post the October Currently later this week). The CAFE menu is filling up as we focus/learn new reading strategies. Writing Workshop has been launched, and we are ready to dive into personal narratives. EDM is EDM (I don't particularly love math...if you know me, you know this already). 

Here's the million dollar question....If you are currently co-teaching, what does it look like in your classroom? What type of teacher do you co-teach with (reading, learning support, autistic support, speech/language)? How often do you co-teach? This year, I have a student who receives LS services, and I am fortunate to be working with his learning support. The LS teacher delivers services in the regular classroom. We are working well together, but we are not quite sure how our co-teaching is supposed to look since this is new to both of us. Currently, the LS teacher will confer with the student (he's there during Rdg Workshop) and work on his reading goals (from his IEP). He is also in the classroom for math, so he has been pulling a small group (with his student) to teach the same lesson I'm teaching the larger group. We like this format, but are wondering how everyone else co-teaches.

I've updated my Fiction Response Sampler Pack (click on image above to grab your free copy). As I need a response, I create it. Then, I use it with my firsties and tweak it to make it better. This pack will continue to grow until finished, so be sure to come back to my store often to check for updates. Once it's finished, it will become a paid item. 

The students are all able to complete them with success, and they become a great assessment tool. This year, our school (K-2) is creating literacy binders to house items related to each child's reading life. The text responses will become part of this binder, and it will be shared with parents. 
Don't forget to click on the image above to get it for FREE in my store. 

By the way, have you read A Bad Case of Tattletongue?   
It is a hilarious story about a tattler named Josh. After his mom warns him about Tattle Tongue, the Tattle Prince visits Josh during the night. He teaches Josh the 4 Tattle Rules and teaches him the difference between a tell and a tattle. I've referred to this book about a billion times since we've read it. The kids and I LOVED this book! You've got to check it out! 

Monday, September 2, 2013

September's Currently plus Daily 5 Talk

I can't believe it's September already...

I've been cleaning non-stop today ever since I couldn't find the bottom of my boys' closet (the older two share a room). I need to get out. My boys have been asking me to go to the pool one last time. We were one of two families there yesterday! I'm just waiting for the younger two to wake up.     Ah....nap time! 

This weather couldn't be better, but I'd much rather enjoy it on a day off like today (not while I am stuck in school).

I've had my sights set on a reading specialist job recently. It didn't pan out. Yes, I'm a little disappointed, but I'm also thinking that things happen (or don't happen) for a reason. I am not going to give up, and I am perfectly content with where I am this year. My class is great, and I'm excited to do all my favorite first grade things.

I want a maid. With three little kids, this doesn't need any explanation!

I really need to sign up for this 5K race. I'm doing it...after this post!

I started Insanity (these workouts are truly insane). The dred factor is high! My brother looks fantastic from doing these, and that motivates me. I'm going through it, this time "for real". I am on Day 3 today. 

This year, I am a mentor, and it's keeping me on my toes. Last week, I had my plans done on Wed. night so I could sit with my "mentee" and discuss my plans. Yes, it's a bit of a pain to get them done this early, but it's so worth it! 

I need to keep in simple and enjoy the little things in life...enough said about that. 

O.k., so I tried to make "visual" lesson plans for Mrs. Wills Kindergarten's weekly Peek at my Week linky. I am so computer illiterate. I don't know if she uses a table, or excel? I use a Mac, so my options are making a table in Pages or using Numbers (have no clue about Numbers). Oh, well...eventually.

Last week was the first week of school for me, and I started introducing The Daily 5. I've used this for years, but it wasn't after my Daily 5/CAFE online grade class that I started using it the "right" way. Last year, during my class, I restarted everything, and it made such a difference! 

So far, I've introduced 3 Ways to Read a Book (using books used for shared reading), T-Chart for "Read to Self, the lesson on "Good Fit" books (using shoes). We started building stamina on Wed., and we got up to 7 minutes by Friday. You can find a free stamina meter/stopwatch on Smart Exchange (it's awesome). 

This week, I plan to introduce Work on Writing next (according to "The Sisters" this is the new sequence). The students can choose to work at the Writing Station table or at their seats. They will each have a journal, they can use the writing prompt menus (see my store at TPT here)
and monthly word cards and word charts. If they work at their seats, they will already have a copy of the Writing Prompt menu and September word chart in their writing folders. If they sit at the table, they can find copies of them there. Eventually, I will add a class book (and change this often) and letter writing paper. But, for now, it will kept simple. 

"The Sisters" suggest offering student choice after they've had practice with these first two dailies. Their reasoning it that it's much easier to practice choosing between two dailies than 5. It also builds motivation early on. I'm so glad I just read that, as I was ready to lug out my plan board (to be used until they were used to where to go). Last year, I finally relinquished control over their choices, and when I did, it was amazing. The kids were SO motivated to choose. Yes, I "recommended" dailies at time, but overall, they made fitting choices. 

Later in the week, I will introduce Read to Someone. The order the dailies are introduced, after Work on Writing, doesn't matter. 

I am assessing students' independent reading levels as they practice Read to Self, and guided reading levels will be assessed after that. 

I am really excited to see how my students do with getting to choose this early in the year!!!

During Writing Workshop, we've launched the workshop by learning routines, listening to books about writers (just like them), learning to choose topics and to sketch/label/write-stretching all sounds heard. This week, we will continue working on this, and move our writing topics to be about us. The Personal Narrative unit is coming up next, but these routines/procedures must be in place first. 

Spelling instruction is in its beginning stages. I gave and scored the Primary Spelling Inventory (for Words Their Way), and we are learning our 6 Word Work routines (whole group). We've learned how we get a sort introduced and how to cut and sort. This week, we will learn the rest (Sort and Write, Meet with Teacher, Buddy Sort, Sort and Glue). Anybody else use Words Their Way? I'd love other ideas on games/activities! 

Math is straight EDM, but this year I'm incorporating Math Workshop in the 2nd half of the math hour. We just started with Monster Squeeze, Penny Dice Toss and using counting books. This week, Bunny Hop and Top It will be added. This is my 2nd year using EDM, so I don't consider myself an expert. If you have any math workshop ideas, please send them my way. 

And, I can't end without saying how much the students and I are enjoying Whole Brain Teaching! I thought I'd give it a try this year, and I am so happy with it. I love the "Class, Yes", the rules are fantastic (they really don't argue when I say they aren't making me happy), the Scoreboard is motivating and we love the "Mirrors". This week, I'm introducing the Super Improvers Wall. 

O.k., that's enough out of me for now. Have a super week!!!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Tips and Tricks (and a Freebie) From the First Week of 1st Grade Teacher Bootcamp

It's Over!!! 
That first week back...oh's like body shock! I forget every stinking year! I have this perception (for some unknown reason) that the incoming first graders are going to be like the outgoing ones who left in June. And, every year, I am so, so, so wrong!!! That first day, I believe all teachers fuel themselves on pure adrenaline. Well, now that it's the weekend, and I have time to check the mail, catch up on email and just sit down for a few (none of which I did this past week). I also have some time to reflect back on my week. I am very excited to get to know each one of my 21 (soon to be 22...on Tuesday) first graders. I am just keeping my fingers crossed that #22 doesn't rock the calm waters we've worked so hard to establish. 

This year, I am a mentor. This is my 2nd time being a mentor, but when I was one the first time, it was a few years ago. We didn't have all these district initiatives that we have going now. Being a mentor this time around is keeping me on my toes!!! I have to plan about a week in advance (to be able to share my plans with my "mentee"-is that a word?), I have to make sure her room is up to snuff for her very near future "walk through" (it is),  and I have to make sure she has everything she needs. She was hired right before the school year began, and she walked into a near empty room. That being said, I think she is a very motivated teacher who is fitting in just fine. We are both up for the challenge.

So,  here are some tips you won't want to miss....
Tip #1:If you use a writers' workshop approach to writing, you've got to run and check out this FREE (click on FREE) resource. My colleague, Christina, found this little gem last year (huge thanks to her). Last year, my goal was to revamp writers' workshop and do it "right". This resource helped me SO much (as well as the other first grade teachers in the building). There are many FREE writing units available. I just linked the "Launching" unit. By the way, I can't save and open that particular file...keep getting a message that it is damaged. BUT, you can just print it out, and stick it in a binder. 

Tip #2: (A Management Tip)-Sit your students in groups. I have my students in 3 groups (desks pushed together). They currently have fancy "Group 1, 2 and 3" (ha ha). Put two small community pencil holders (little organizers from Target Dollar Spot) to hold their pencils, dry erase markers and erasers. Make sure there are a ton of sharpened pencils in them to start the day. As pencils break, they just put them in an empty section of the organizer and take another one. Any pencils they want sharpened go in the organizer by the end of day (many brought their own pencils). I showed a student how to sharpen them, and she does this at the end of every day (she's on the last bus set). 

Tip #3: (Another Management Tip)-To minimize walks to the trash can, water fountain and to get tissues, I recommend the following: 
*Place an empty basket/container in the middle of each group to serve at a mini trash can. Assign a group leader to each group. That person is responsible for emptying it when it gets full.
Put a few paper towels and a box of tissues in the middle of each desk group. This has made a world of difference! Also, encourage students to bring water bottles (with built-in straws or flip tops...not the regular twist-off grocery story water bottles). 

I'll continue posting tips and tricks that could help every teacher in my next few posts. Maybe I'll call it "Tuesday Tips and Tricks"? So, keep checking back. 

Now, for the freebies...
If you haven't read the book Ish by Peter Reynolds , you've got to  get it TODAY!!! Or, if you are on a budget like me, borrow it from your local library. This story is about a little boy, named Ramon, who loves to draw. But, he is discouraged when his older brother makes fun of his drawings. Ramon crumples up his drawings and gives up. Later, he finds his younger sister has been sneakily taking his crumpled up drawings and taping them to her walls. During a visit to her room, Ramon is stunned to see his artwork. He complains that they are not perfect (ex: He says his vase doesn't look like a vase). His sister says that it looks "vase-ish". Ramon quickly catches on that it's ok if things are "ish". His desire for drawing quickly comes back. I think this is perfect for all your little darlings who like things "just so" and have a hard time when things aren't 100% perfect. This is a book we'll refer to all year. 
We were working on making text-to-self connections this week. They had the option to draw or write (or both) their connections. Then, they had the opportunity to use water colors to paint their own "ish" paintings. I just used regular white paper.

                       (beach-ish)                       (balloon-ish)

You can grab a sheet for an "-ish" painting or drawing plus a Fiction Reading Response sampler pack that contains the text-to-self response sheet by clicking on each image below.