Sunday, September 30, 2012

Song Debut: "Good Morning Critter Cafe!"


Over the summer, I worked super-duper hard on my 74 page unit that ties together the components of the Sisters' Literacy CAFE with reciprocal teaching strategies using our fuzzy-furry beanie friends!  (My bloggie spot is even named after it!) 



One special piece of the Critter Cafe is our morning transition song!  This is so stinkin cute!  The kids absolutely love it!  I blow the train whistle and we get a conga line going around the room while we sing! Then we pull the train in around the Critter CAFE menu and wave good morning to all of our strategy critters!





Take a listen to our Critter Cafe THEME SONG!



Johnny Appleseed

Let me just say this was, by far, the BEST Johnny Appleseed day EVER!  I owe much thanks to three special resources!

First up are 2 anchor charts that I found on Pinterest from Life in First Grade!  Leslie's blog is AMAZING to say the least and I am thrilled to have found her in the bloggie world!  I am a lefty, and my handwriting is BLAH!  My drawings are even more.... *BLAH* *BLAH*!  Thank you Leslie for inspiring me to try my best on your anchor charts!  The kiddos loved them, especially for quick reference during Work on Writing time!  

Following the great ideas from Life in First Grade, students were introduced to "Tall Tales" as a Genre.  To add informational text to our learning, we also read about the life of Johnny, and put a post-it next to our favorite fun fact(s) about Johnny that we wanted to write about during Work on Writing!


The second and most inspiring resource, is Stephany Dillion's Johnny Appleseed unit!  She has graciously posted her unit for free on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Be sure to leave her some A+ feedback when you download this fabulous freebie!  This is what I used from Stephany's unit:
This word sort was tons of fun!
It really offered a Quick Assessment on what sounds students did or did not know!

Time to Write those Real and Nonsense words on your lists!



We used Macaw the Confirmer with our Weekly Readers to CONFIRM predictions while reading!

After sampling some red, yellow, and green apples, we recorded our class data  on this awesome apple survey!  The kids LOVED this activity! 




Students got to choose (during Work on Writing) from these 2 fun prompts:  All About Johnny and What would you plant?
We are going to compare the life of Johnny Appleseed to another famous Tall Tale Hero using a Venn Diagram!



Now time for my third favorite Johnny resource....
Two Thumbs up BRAIN POP Jr.
WOW! AWESOME online resource!!
I needed a quick video segment to share with the kiddos and found this after a fast google search!
There is a yearly membership fee of 145 bucks, which is pretty steep.... BUT, many of the activities and videos are free!
So check it out ahead of time for some very fun, engaging, and interactive materials on just about any topic you can think up!  
We watched a video on Johnny's life, learned 5 new interesting words from the WORD WALL, and did just about every activity that was offered on the page for Johnny!  Brain Pop Jr. is definitely a keeper in Room 102!






Saturday, September 8, 2012

Critter Cafe Mystery Box


As I launch each new strategy at the Critter Cafe, I am using Babbling Abby's Mystery Box idea to spice up the lessons!
The kids absolutely LOVE it and I definitely suggest using this adorable idea in your classroom too!  It works great for any inferring lesson!  



I usually have the Mystery Critter Box sitting out at the reading table the morning of a new strategy!  The kids are  super-excited each time they see the box because they know a new critter is coming to work at the Critter Cafe!



This was an orange NIKE shoe box that I spray painted white and black!




Extra animal print fabric, left over from the chairs, made a nice flooring in the box!


Introducing Cross-Checking Cheetah on Day 1 of Cross Checking!


This was the launch of Metacognition: Making Predictions & Connections.
The three Super Reader posters were our "clues" to what strategy and critter it was! 




All these items were inside the box underneath Meerkat the Connector for us to practice throughout the week!
In addition to my Critter Cafe materials, you see Metacognition Thinking stems from One Extra Degree,
and Text to Self CCSS cards from Anne Bradley!

Daily 5 Bonanza!

CHUNKING lessons during Daily 5 and Critter Cafe


The two Sisters' stressed one very important topic at the July conference in Ann Arbor.  The art of CHUNKING mini-lessons.  With the gift of the Daily 5, even the two sisters struggle to make their introductions and mini-lessons short enough to fit that 10 minute time-frame that resides in brain-based research.  The ability to chunk the MEAT of your lesson into a 10 minute block is simply, TOUGH!  I struggle SO much with that especially with the Critter Cafe launching lessons.  There is SO much to teach!!!  I was using the Daily 5 & CAFE for Dummies the past 2 years to scaffold my instruction over the first 25 days of the launch.  What I noticed was that my lessons were WAY to LONG.  Of course I thought it was great at the time, but now, I can see how long the lessons were going.  
This year, I am all about the CHUNKING.  I am shortening the Daily 5 introduction lessons and the CAFE lessons.  It will add more days to the calendar of the launch but I truly think this year is the BEST by far!  For example, my Day 1 of Read to Self was chunked into 2 days this year.  My day 1 of Work on Writing, was chunked into 3 days this year.  Instead of a 5 day time frame for each Daily 5 launch, I am chunking into 7-9 days each.  AND it WORKS so much better!  I am thinking LONG TERM and how the goal and URGENCY of this framework is to create INDEPENDENT readers and writers.  As teachers, we all know that cannot be accomplished in a few short lessons!  I feel as though I am investing the time NOW so that the rest of my year will be thoroughly on task and engaging for students!


This was Day 3 (in chunking time) for Work on Writing!  Take a look at the amazing STAMINA building!  

After launching TURTLE TUNES at the Critter Cafe, we were eager to create a word wall of interesting words we were hearing during daily read alouds!

Here is our class WORD COLLECTOR, a precursor to work on writing

That same day, students were introduced to their Word Collector Notebooks!  They get to decorate it themselves!

Inside the INTERESTING WORDS COLLECTOR,
Students then create a front and back page for EACH letter of the alphabet, using a different color crayon for each letter. This was a ton of fun and I got to assess very quickly which students were on target with their letter order and who needed assistance!




The chunking lessons of UNDERLINING your "interesting words" was well-worth  it!
3 days of shorter intervals and less "teaching" by me!    


I am so excited with the progress of our first "work on writing" activity!  


I used the RATE your WRITING rubric as another mini-lesson and WOW!  The kids really did a fantastic job assessing their work.  They figured out quickly that they are IN CHARGE of their writing quality and I saw little heads turning up the entire writing ROUND checking their work to the rubric!  LOVED THAT!


I have a new edition to my work on writing this year!  I am extending the launch of Work on Writing to include the "Work on Writing Choice menu board."   Each day I will introduce, model, and add a new CHOICE to our menu wall.  There are 8 choices so students will have wonderful opportunities to work on writing in a variety of ways!  
This is our Work on Writing CHOICES menu.  I used black 12 x 18 laminated sheets of construction paper and some simple headers I created in powerpoint.  You can hop on over to my TPT store and grab them for free!  Just leave some love and feedback!  

I am working on little labels for each drawer in our Work on Writing cart.  Each of the 8 above mentioned choices will have a coordinating template in each drawer.  For example, making LISTS will be in drawer 1.  Making postcards will be in drawer 2.  Students will use the cart to pick up their choice writing of the day!
There will be a laminated piece of template paper in the bottom of each drawer so when a student takes the last piece of paper in that particular drawer, they will set the laminated piece on my desk and I will know I need to refill it!  EASY PEASY! 


Daily 5 extras...

To better explain the idea of ROUNDS during Daily 5 I have a graphic organizer I use to explain it my little firsties!  We have a full-model working ROUNDS board in our classroom this year.






 As we add a new component of Daily 5 we link (with animal print duct tape) the rounds together!  It is a quick and easy visual for students to pick which ROUND they are going to next.  I plan on adding a hook in the center for my rounds CHECK IN clipboard.  I usually sit in the chair and students line up, check out for their round, I record it, and then hang it back up on the wall!
Both the graphic organizer and Check in form are FREE on TPT so hop on over and grab them!


Whole Brain Teaching

Friends, I feel like this year I have totally transitioned my teaching practices AND style a full 360 degrees!  (And it's only the 12th day of school!)  I came across a blog post over at The Polka Dot Patch and became very curious about this "Whole Brain Teaching" approach that was a very hot topic of discussion.  As any good teacher would, I hopped on over to YOU TUBE and did a little fast research!  All I can say is WOW!  HOT DOG!!!  I am LOVING this!!  
My demographics this year:  19 boys, 7 girls.  That's right folks.  Oh my!  So to better my chances at sanity, I knew I needed something new and fresh to keep this class engaged!  I spent the two nights before school started replaying the videos and teaching myself the basics of the Whole Brain Approach to Learning.  I hopped over to TPT and grabbed some freebie posters to get me started and on the first day of school I spent the entire day in WHOLE BRAIN teaching mode!  The kids ROCKED with it!  



I went to the Dollar Tree and bought frames because these posters are SO SPECIAL to our class this year!
The Rules posters are from Third Grade Thoughts
The teaching posters are from Teacher on a Mission
Action: Cup ears, point to the teacher, make talking gesture with hands.

Action: hands making the forward fishy swimming motion fast

Action: Hands outward towards our friends, Hands in pointing to ourselves, Hands making a huge circle encompassing the school.

Action:  Raise hand high, make it speak, make walking fingers up to the ceiling

Action: With hands, make personal space bubble around us, make a hug around self, hands over heart.

I added a RULE 6 just because I love "I can keep my dear teacher  happy!"
Action: Frame face, bop side to side, smiling at the teacher








How am I sprinkling WBT in to my day?
I begin every morning meeting with reviewing our 6 class rules posters with the TEACH, OK!  I use it for longer mini-lessons when introducing new Daily 5 and Literacy Cafe strategies, and I have incorporated it into my Calendar Math time too!  I LOVE IT!  Please don't hesitate in using it!  It WORKS wonders!  The key is CONSISTENCY!  Every day!

Please enjoy some of my favorite teaching videos on Whole Brain Teaching!  Be sure to check out Chris Bifle's website too!  He is a genius!





















In addition to the WBT's Scoreboard, I am also giving some LOVE each time my class does something LOVELY for the teacher!





When my HEART is full, the kids get 10 minutes of free time or extra recess minutes!

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