Saturday, August 24, 2013

First Day and my Classroom Virtual Tour!

Wednesday was our first day and BOY, did it go by fast!  I have the sweetest group of 25 firsties this year and they were really excited to walk in on the first day with their teacher dressed as a Super Hero Teacher!  My cape was a huge hit!
I was able to squeeze in some student photos on our special day with a cute little sign I made.  I shared the photos on our class website and the parents LOVED it!
Click here for the download.

I am even more excited to link up with Ashley from Flyin High in First Grade to give you a virtual tour of my Back to School Classroom for the 2013-14 School Year!
It is 11 minutes long so grab that Java and enjoy!
Have a great weekend friends!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Five for Friday: Task Cards, Focus Wall, and Freebies!

Happy Friday Friends!  I am so happy to joining today's Five for Friday.  I have the day off from working in my room. Custodians are frantically waxing the hallways outside my classroom and since the laminator is still not working, why not stay home and blog instead!
Here are a few things I have been working on for school~
Now I was stalking this item from day 1 of it's release and I then I just HAD to have it!  Reagan has done an incredible job giving detailed directions on how to set up the binder.  The only thing I have done differently so far is buying color binders instead.  I am not a white kind of gal.  Can't do white.  White gets dirty way too quickly (when I am involved) so I went with color instead!  I plan on using the binders with the kiddos as part of our daily morning warm up work.  I put the cover inserts in today and added the clear page inserts.  Now time to copy the content!  (I may get a parent to do the rest for me!!)  Fingers crossed!


I just published this set of Morning Routine Task Cards.
I can't wait to introduce the steps the first week of school!
This will really help with keeping the kiddos on track and on task.

I got so excited about the morning task cards, I thought, why not create the same type of routine task cards for the end of the day!
 So I published this set of Excellent Ending Task Cards too!
Click here to check them out!

Last year, I played around with several different ways to display common core learning in my classroom.  
What I found was the area I was using was not manageable at all.
Changing things out weekly was a big chore and took too much time.  So this year, thanks to you fabulous teachers out there using focus walls, I have started a really nice bulletin board that will spotlight all the "learning objectives" for the week.  
I created some fab glittery animal print Focus Wall Headers
that I have cut out and ready to go.  You can check them out here.

Freebie Time!
My theme this year is animal print fabulousness
So I also made some new posters for my classroom that I am happy to share with you!

and some DIRECTION labels!

Special Thanks to Doodle Bugs Teaching for hosting this five for Friday celebration!


Monday, August 5, 2013

I'm Lovin' Daily 5 August linky edition

 My sweet and fabulous friend Becca over at  First Grade in Foxwell Forest asked me if I would be interested in joining her new monthly linky party focusing on Daily 5.  Of course there was no hesitation and a quick YES from me!  Now Becca has already laid the foundation of starting up the year with Daily 5, so be sure to stop over and visit her blog as soon as your done reading here!  And because she adores the Daily 5 as much as I do, she is also raffling off a new copy of the Daily 5 book by the two Sisters.  So if you don't already own a copy, enter to win one!
To give you a bit of history-
This will be my forth year using Daily 5 and my Third year using CAFE.
Some important start up tips that I find most useful:
#1  Make sure your classroom rules (WBT) is in place before starting your transitions.  I teach WBT rules on Day 1.
#2  Don't rush the launch.  Let it unfold naturally, and at it's own pace. Daily 5 begins on Day 2 of school.

#3 Create the anchor I charts with your class first, before moving to pre-made products.  There is alot to be said about the intimate process of brainstorming those charts that is very meaningful to the students AND the teacher.  
#4 Thoroughly teach the procedures and process for "Check for Understanding" and Good Fit Books!
#5  Students should be Reading to Self at least 20-30 minutes daily (weather it during a round or after morning work time)
As many of you know, the Sisters have a 25 day cycle for launching the Daily 5.  Last school year, I started with 26 first graders and a WIDE range of abilities.  Behavior was also a key factor last year, so I made the decision to slow things a bit, so that I could offer shorter, more intense mini-lessons for each day of the launch.
After it was all said and done, I retyped my notes and created this 
Launch Sequence:  

If you would like to download of copy of my 2012-2013 pacing guide, click here.  (Please keep in mind that I am not an expert by any means...Just your typical OCD first grade teacher that loves the details!)

I also have a few Pinterest Boards that are stocked FULL of great resources.  Be sure to check them out!

In June, our district First Grade Team got together and created a curriculum map for ELA and the new CCSS.  So, before school starts, I have some strategies to switch around just a bit...but for the most part, I think I will continue using this schedule.
I will also be adding more Work on Writing choices (in a different order).  Stop back next month on Sept. 5 for the more tricks of the trade using Daily 5 in the classroom!

If you have anything specific you would like to know or want me to touch on for next month, be sure to leave a comment!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Math Work Stations

My mood: 
Debbie Diller Delight!
Math Work Stations
I just finished reading this book and had that WOWZA epiphany!  Finally!  I can see how this can work for me! YAY!!!  So let me share some new learning with you.  I have a few years of Daily 5 under my belt and tried dabbling last year in Daily 5 Math.  Time became an issue, or a lack there of, and the management piece of D5 Math did not operate as smoothly.  Insert "Math Work Stations" by Debbie Diller.  This woman is so smart!  I instantly realized that the big picture she was painting for me was in the form of partnerships.  My Daily 5 Math groupings were just too big and that was the problem last year. Creating meaningful partnerships for each station is the key to my success here.  That means,
Two is a party, Three is a crowd.  
Can I get an AMEN on that!
Now, I have 26 first graders and thinking about how to organize 13 partnerships seemed daunting at first but then again, I am in a Debbie Diller state of mind so the clarity is becoming crystal clear!  
This year, after the launch of Daily 5 for Literacy is underway, I will launch Math Work Stations.  One new station per day.  The modeling, rule enforcement, demonstrating positive and negative behaviors will stay consistent.  Debbie has a "one and done" policy that I just adore!  Johnny throws something, he's done for that round.  He sits with me and my guided math group quietly.  During that time, he will draw what he SHOULD be doing during the NEXT round of math stations.  

Debbie also suggests adding "Math Talk" cards to each station for "Expanding Math Vocabulary."  Genius!  We use all kinds of outlines for our littles when we read and write.... Why not for math too?  I am going to use her idea of 4 x 6 index cards and create a  speech bubble that includes the phrases and words I want the kids using when having their "math talk" during each rotation.  (Perfect time to hit those hefty CCSS!)

Another fabulous point of interest is her "I Can" checklist that she creates WITH the kids for each station.  Just like in Daily 5, students are expected to WORK the entire time on a list of objectives that are included at each station. She tapes the list to the underside lid of each container.  Now, students have a visual to-do list of what needs to be accomplished within that rotation.  This is a great way to eliminate fast finishers!  There is always multiple variations to activities so students stay on task the entire time.

I am thinking that this year I will have 15 minutes for a whole-group mini-lesson, followed by two (20 minute) rotations of Math Work Stations.  Each rotation will transition with bells and chimes (just like Daily 5) for starting and ending.  We will finish up each rotation with a check in and share time.

This year, in light of all my exciting changes, my math focus board will not look like a Math Daily 5 board.  It will mimic Debbie Diller's Math Stations management board instead.  The easy part is taking the 5 components of Math Daily 5 and incorporating them into the Work Stations!  Again, I really LOVE the idea of partnerships verses small groups. 
  Once all 13 stations are up and running smoothly, I will start pulling guided math groups, 4 students at a time.  Now Debbie suggests waiting at least 4-6 weeks to make sure the work stations are 100% fully independent and functional.  

The Math Stations Rotation Board will look something like this:  (And I promise to take photos as soon as I get back to school!)  Not sure if I am going Pocket Chart style or anchor wall......
I love how Debbie adds photos of the students so I am doing that too!  
What will my 13 stations include for the start up this year?
Station #1  Computer/iPad
Station #2  Math Writing  (stamp, draw, write, numerals)
Station #3  Graphing
Station #4  Number Sense (# of the Day)
Station #5  Fact Fluency: Math Game: Go Fish 
Station #6  Math Writing (problem of the day-prompt in journal)
Station #7  Fact Fluency: Math Game:  Chutes and Ladders
Station #8  Art with Tangrams
Station #9  Fact Fluency: Math Game:  Dice
Station #10 Math Game:  Seuss Matching
Station #11  Number Sense 
Station #12  Math Game: Hi Ho Cheerio 
Station #13  Math Reading (picture book and activity)

I thought it would be important to start the year with a solid understanding of how to play games cooperatively.  It is also important to FOLLOW DIRECTIONS and play fair so this will be a great beginning to building those social skills too! 
Once we are underway,
I will start adding new CCSS related activities to the stations that are aligned with our math series.  As I introduce new concepts, new materials will be added to the stations and the "Math Games" will become one station in and of itself.   In her book, Debbie provides more than 15 station activities for each common core area!  Can you believe it?  Debbie has done the work for us folks. I plan on following her station ideas throughout the entire year.  I love the notion of creating the elements of Choice, Change and Challenge using materials that do not have to be changed out every week.  

It's funny that before reading this book, I assumed and imagined a station was just like a center...  a rooted "spot in the room" where a group of students mingled on a  project.  Debbie Diller would shake her NO WAY JOSE' finger at you and say her "Work Stations" are WORKing cells of partnerships within the classroom: little mathematicians buzzing with math talk!
   Ah, yes.  
Insert my happy face.
Can you picture it now?
13 partnerships around the room working feverishly on task,
using math talk,
strategic thinking,
taking turns with kindness.....

I mean really,
who doesn't want this happening in their classroom!
So, with lots of eager anticipation, I can't wait to get started!
Since I have a few weeks before school starts, I went shopping for station tubs.
I found a great deal at Wally World for a 10 pack of big storage tubs perfect for station materials.

Sterilite 3.75-Gallon (15-Quart) Latch...
I made labels for my work station tubs!  Super cute and colorful!

 The labels will help organize my station tubs AND the management board.  I also made color-coordinating "I can" checklists so I can have them ready to go for the opening of each new math station! 
Debbie suggests creating a checklist (in whole group) that includes students' expectations and taping it to the inside lid of the station tub.  This is a great way to write out learning objectives and take care of those fast finishers too!
 I just added this little unit to my TPT store if your interested.

School starts August 21, so I can't wait to get started and begin a new year with Math Work Stations!  I promise to keep you posted on the progress and share photos very soon!
If you have any tips or suggestions for me, please leave a comment.
Happy Friday!  

Thursday, August 1, 2013

August Currently

Hello my sweet friends!
It's been two whole weeks!  I have missed you!
I can't think of a better way to play catch up then linking up with that awesome Farley and her August Currently!
Currently, I am.....

Our Blogger Meet Up was fantastic!
 It was such a pleasure to meet these girls!
Thanks Kate for the snazzy photo!

Who knew that Jessica, Kate, and Brittany were just minutes away!  We will have to get together again very soon ladies!  And Alyce, my lovely friend, thank you for driving all that way!  It was such a pleasure!

Now I should be back into full blogger mode tomorrow!  Until then, be sure to join the fun and link up with Farley's Currently!
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