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Friday, September 30, 2011

Day 36- Special Day

You would have thought it was Christmas today. My soldiers were so excited that today was the last day of September! They didn't seem to care about the fact that it is Friday, or that there was to be a Teacher vs. Student volleyball game at the end of the day. No, they cared about getting to change our calendar during math from September to October.

I wish I had gotten a picture of their faces as I changed the calendar days. (they just had to watch me do it- I think they didn't trust me to do it later this afternoon) I did have to curb the Halloween talk. I told them that all talk of Halloween has to wait until after Fall Break at least.

During our Whole Group Reading time I had the Queen song Bohemian Rhapsody going through my head. Well, not the whole song, but the first line, "Is this the real life? Is it just fantasy?"
My class is working on finding the difference between fantasy and reality in texts. Today's story was The Bunnies and the Fox, as found in our Houghtin Mifflin text book. We read the story and pulled out the fantasy and reality elements.

The premise of the story is that 2 bunnies want to go outside to play in the snow, but their Mama doesn't want them to get taken by the Fox. It ends with the bunnies making a giant snow-bunny that scares the Fox away.
The kids liked predicting what was going to happen next, and one young mind...

(white shirt) predicted exactly what happened at the end of the story! I'm telling you, my students impress me a little more everyday!

I like the unit we are currently covering with the Core Curriculum. This unit is studying animals using non-fiction texts. It ties in with our previous science lessons on living things, our current lessons in social studies on habitats (continents, landforms), and now it will help our students when defining a text as fantasy (fiction) or reality (nonfiction)!

 The kids talked me into teaching math on the carpet again today. I looked over their work from yesterday to make sure everyone was following along, and they were, so I guess I don't mind too much. We were working on using manipulatives to solve subtraction number stories.

Jamie has 5 pencils. She shares 3 of her pencils with her friends. How many pencils does she have left?

I held up 5 unifix cubes, passed 3 of them out, and we counted how many I still had left. Easy-cheesy. In fact, they really picked up on this skill quickly.

One of my students asked this wonderful question, "Mrs. Delk, does it matter what number we write down as long as we use the right numbers?"
He was remembering our lesson from yesterday when we studied Fact Families! In a Fact Family, it doesn't matter what order the addition numbers are in, the answer stays the same. (2+9 or 9+2) In subtraction, as long as the biggest number is written first, you can change out the other  two numbers and it will stay in the same family.
I was so proud of my soldier for making that connection! I did, however,  have to tell him that, in this case, yes it does matter what order the numbers are written since the number story was specific about what amount was removed. But what a great mind!
(the great mind belongs to the soldier with the black jacket!)

This afternoon faculty and students come together to enjoy a fun, moderately competitive, game of volleyball. (Three rounds, with teachers and students changing each round.) Mr. Burney was in charge of the music, and Yours Truly was the Master of Ceremonies! Basically, I called out the new names between the rounds and the scores at the end. I really wish I had brought my camera out! The teachers went all out with their outfits, crazy hair, and knee socks. (imagine a middle school girl from the 80's and there you have it!) Luckily, another teacher had her camera and was willing to share pictures!

 Here we have Mr. Kirby (4th grade) with his "Secret Weapon" gloves, and Mrs.Wann (3rd grade) with her lucky marigold socks.

 Even Mr. Evans got in on the action! And Mrs. Skeens (4th grade) and Mrs. Barnes (school counselor)

The price for all this fun? $30 Cub Cash. Not too shabby for an afternoon of fun!

Our Daily Brain

Just because...

My students are so excited that Halloween is just around the corner! (you know, a month away!) So I did a little blog search and found a neat Halloween activity packet that this website offers for FREE to download!

The activities are a little below the students' levels, but they are colorful and fun! Maybe these activities can hold the kids over until Halloween. :)


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day 35- Finding the "Differents"

Yes, I know 'differents' is not a word. I was going for a clever play on words. (differents and difference) Get it? Maybe not, but you will!

That was our topic of study in math; using the "Find the Difference" strategy for subtraction. I don't think this strategy will be the most popular one for my students, but it never hurts to know another way to do things!
I showed the students two sets of unifix cubes.
 I pointed out that some of the cubes had partners that were the same. But we didn't want the Sames! We want the Differents! So we slashed out the Sames.

 Once we slashed out the Sames, we looked at what was left- that is the Difference (or Differents)

So we popped off the extra cubes, the difference, counted them and we had our answer! The Difference between 10 and 6 is 4! 10-6=4.
After practicing this a few times, I changed my question. I stopped asking what the difference was, and started asking how many more the smaller number needed to be equal. The answer stayed the same, of course, but the students solved the problem by counting up instead of taking things away.

We also did more practice with Fact Families. We went to the carpet for that part of the lesson. I think my students like learning at the carpet. At least when I'm sitting on the carpet too. :)

Yesterday was Mrs. Overton's birthday! Mrs. Overton is our Assistant Principal, and her office just happens to be just across the hall from our classroom. We had to be very sneaky with our reading lesson today. We used the Birthday poem that Ms. Leahy gave us for this week, and the onomatopoeia lesson we had a few days ago, combined the two and had a mini birthday celebration!

We reread the poem for fluency, then went through it again and added "sound words" that we would hear is we were really making a birthday cake.
Crack- breaking eggs, glug-glug- pouring milk, chick-chick- cutting open the cake mix package, scrape- mixing the ingredients in the bowl, beep-beep- setting the timer, ding- timer going off, click, pop, swipe, scrape- opening icing and putting it on the cake, whoo- blowing out the candles.

We practiced reading it with the sound effects added, but the video did not show the kids to their best advantage. I think it would have gone better if we had actually made a cake while we read it. Now if only I could get an oven installed in the classroom before tomorrow...
We did get to do the art activity I had planned! We have lots of different cakes to surprise Mrs. Overton with tomorrow. And now, the best part of birthdays, besides the cake, the singing!

Reading centers today:

In social studies, we started filling in our Landform mini-books. We studies 20 landforms, but will only have 8 in our mini-book. I'm letting the students choose what we put in it, but everyone is doing the same ones. So far, we have volcano (of course), river, pond, and hill. Here are some of their illustrations.

 Tomorrow is not just the last school day of the month, or the last day of the school week, or the day that my students get to use their checks to buy my books, it's the first ever Teachers vs. Students Volleyball Game! The price of admission is $30 Cub Cash. The students who are playing have to at least be in 3rd grade (sorry, my students!) and have $50 Cub Cash to get to play. The special announcer for the game is.... ME!
I know absolutely NOTHING about volleyball, so this is going to be interesting! The game starts at 1:45!

Our Daily Brain

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day 34- The trouble with teaching...

The trouble with teaching is that sometimes we don't get to all the activities that I had planned for the day. Yesterday's post mentioned us doing an art project to go along with our poems for the week. Well, that didn't happen. :(
It would have been a great day for it since it was Mrs. Overton's birthday today! Well, as the song says, The cake will come out.... tomorrow! (I might have changed that to suit my purposes.) We can only see what tomorrow brings.

The biggest change of the day... I changed their table baskets! Not too impressive, I know, but my students were excited! Previously we used pencil boxes and not everything fit. Now, we have handy-dandy baskets!

 Overhead view. All nice and neat.

Library books, big grip pencils, leveled books for at-your-seat small group reading extensions, math cards, and unifix cubes. (crayons not pictured)
It may not seem like a big thing, but my students got a kick out of being able to see everything, and I loved not having to pass out everything during math! Why did I not start off the year being this brilliant?

OK, on the the real activities of the day. We revisited the story Minerva Louise at School, and we made a list of ways the story showed parts of reality, and parts of fantasy.

This story is realistic fiction. It has elements that could really happen, but it is still a make-believe story.

Tomorrow's story is about bunnies and a fox. It's a fiction story, but I can't wait to see what points of reality my students will come up with. They always seem to notice things that I might overlook.

We started Reading Small Groups today! I know what you're thinking, "It's the end of September and you're just now doing small groups?" Well, don't get your feathers ruffled. We have been doing 'unofficial' reading groups for weeks now, just doing our own students. But, now that all of our students are tested for their independent levels, schedules are officially set, and pull-out times are confirmed, we now have a schedule that allows first grade to move around for small group reading.

What does this mean? Well, not all of my students are on levels that would fit into 3 convenient reading groups. So, the first grade team got together with our students' levels and came up with reading groups that have similar levels in each group. I keep most of my students, only 4 students  travel to another first grade classroom for reading groups. It went really well! CHES follows Dr. Tyner's small group reading plan.

I started my groups by doing the assessment piece to see what "word works" level they will be on. I have one group of Beginning Readers, and 2 groups of Emergent Readers. While I plan on following Tyner's model, I also plan on supplementing my lessons with sight word activities I find myself, as well as using leveled books from our library and my Houghton Mifflin leveled book series.

As a disciplinary tool, I use Star Papers in my classroom during small groups. (I forgot to take a picture, sorry!) Star Papers are just behavior charts with 25 boxes on them. Students earn checks on their papers for their behavior and participation during small group reading time. On Fridays, their checks can turn into books!

This is my bookstore. (supplied by McKays- I love inexpensive books!) The books range in price from 10 checks to 100, depending on the size, quality and reading level of the book. Students can spend their checks every Friday, or save and buy a book that is a higher price. Last year, I had a student save her checks all year and she cleaned me out the last day of school! What my students like the most is that they can buy more than one book at a time depending on how many checks they have.

Well, today was a day to earn lots of checks. Every correctly spelled word on their assessment was worth a check- that's a possibility of 20 checks! I have 7 students from other classes that join my reading groups, so they have Star Papers too. It's only fair that they be able to join in. :)

Here are the pictures of the centers for the day.

 I was impressed with the team's teamwork in making the word "wheelbarrow". All three students on the team were looking for letters to make the word, and no one raised a voice in complaint.
The other center I was to take a picture of got a little... jumbled.... before I could get to it. *sigh. Such is life.

In yesterday's post, I mentioned that we needed to have a Math Power Circle. In southern words, we needed to have a Come-to-Jesus-Meeting on the topic of finding math relationships. First we had to take our Quarter 1 Assessment. Basically, we had to take a test to show the County that we are teaching and learning math. So, after the test, I got to teach math. :)

Each student brought his or her unifix cubes to the carpet and we sat in a circle- the better to see everyone. We played the "random child" game (where I pull the name of a student out of a bag to see who gets to help me) and found 2 students who got to be the first examples.

Math Come-to-Jesus: (this is one of those times I wish I had my camera going, but totally forgot)
  1. We chose two numbers between 1 and 10 and the students each showed one of the numbers with their cubes. (5, 6)
  2. I told the students to join their cubes together, then I asked the rest of the class what math operation we just did. Since joining means to put together, the kids decided it was adding, and they counted the cubed all together to find the answer.
  3. I wrote the first addition number sentence on my small dry-erase board. 5+6=11
  4. Next I had the kids take the 5 and 6 apart, and out them back together with the 6 being first, and I asked the rest of the students if this was going to make a difference in the answer. Ten students thought it would change, five said it would not.
  5. I wrote down the new addition math sentence, 6+5, and they counted to find the answer; 11. This opened a discussion as to why the answer stayed the same. One very bright child pointed out that all we did was turn the first two numbers around. It is a turn-around fact! The numbers didn't change, so the answer wouldn't change!
Next came the fun part- helping the students understand that subtraction is related to addition.
  1. The two students holding the cubes showed that they still had 11 cubes all together. We counted to three and...POP! One student popped off his 5 cubes from the rest of the cubes. I asked the students how many we had started with and they answered 11, then I asked how many popped off and they answered 5. We decided this was a subtraction problem since some of the cubes were taken away. 11-5=? We counted the rest of the cubes and found the answer was 6. 11-5=6. 
  2. We put all the cubes back together and did the same thing, only this time we popped off 6 instead of 5. 11-6=5
  3. I had the students put on their thinking faces while I showed them the math number sentences we created. 5+6=11, 6+5=11, 11-5=6, 11-6=5
  4. Me- "Did we change any of the numbers?" Kids- "No." Me- "Did we change the order of the numbers?" Kids- "Yes!" The kids made all kinds of connections- we wrote each number four times, when we subtracted we put the big number first, we used an equal sign every time, there are two addition and two subtraction...
We did this process 3 more times with different students and numbers each time. By the last time I told the standing students to hide their cubes when they popped them off (for the subtraction problems) and we had to guess what their missing numbers were. 
The main goal of this activity was to show my students that addition and subtraction are the same! It's simply a matter of what number you put first. Numbers in Fact Families are related! Fact Family numbers don't change!

Whew! My brain hurts, I need a cute picture.
We were lucky enough to have a helper during our math and social studies time! Mrs. Watson, our one-time Reading Interventionist, now Full-Time Sub (and All-the-Time Awesome Helper!!) helped our class during our Math-Come-to-Jesus and offered her assistance in making our new Landforms chart for social studies.
Of course we had to show her our fabulous hand motions first as we reviewed. She was impressed. Then we went over our new landforms, created hand motions, and Mrs. Watson filled out our chart.

Wonderful job, Mrs. Watson!

We started our new lapbooks today! Our last lapbook project was on Living Things. This one will be on Animal Habitats. We started by making our Landform mini-book outline. Some of my students were pulled out of the room, so we didn't start filling it on. We just titled and decorated the outside.

They're going to be good. I can tell.

I will close out this extremely llllooooonnnnggg post by sharing our new landform hand motions. I think you'll like them!
 Mountain- tall, raised land. Higher then a hill.

 Canyon- opposite of a mountain. A very low valley in the middle of a mountain.

 Sea- large body of water. It looks like the hand motion for lake, but a sea is open since they tend to flow into the ocean.
Island- a piece of land in the middle of a body of water.
Yes, my students are sticking out their tongues. Their waving arms represent the ocean, and their tongue is the small body of land in the ocean. Get it? :)

They have their backpacks because we were learning right up until the end of the day! They had to show me their landforms before I let them go to their bus rooms!

Our Daily Brain

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Day 33- Snap! Crackle! Pop!

It's better than a talking cereal, it's


 What is onomatopoeia? It's when a word makes a "sound". Fizz! Buzz! Woof! We read a poem today that had some sound words in them, so we made a chart (of course we did!) of more sound words that we knew. (please pardon the chart, I -ahem- didn't know how to spell onomatopoeia properly until I got on here and the spell checker scolded me. I will fix the chart tomorrow!)

I will, of course, let my students know that I misspelled the word on purpose, in order for them to see that teachers occasionally make mistakes too.
In order to fill in the chart, we read the poem first, then I had them do a little listening activity. They closed their eyes and listened as I drummed my fingers on the table. They opened their eyes, and I asked them what they heard...
a horse running
a dragon
a drum
a dog running/ cat running
rain falling
Totally not what I was expecting, it was better! My soldiers have great imaginations!

The poem we used is from a Scholastic book called 101 Thematic Poems for Emergent Readers.

I actually got this book for free when Scholastic put many of their Teacher books on sale for $1, and I got a coupon code for $10 worth of free books! SCORE! I'm not a great coupon-er, but I could be! Here is the poem...
We went through and found all the "sound" words. I will just let you imagine 17 six year olds making all the noises after we underlined them; it was a hoot! :)

Another poem we read was on birthdays, given to us by Ms. Leahy.

Some comprehension questions:
What did the author decide to do? What steps did he or she have to follow? What was the cake's shape? Why would candles make a birthday bright?
I didn't do it today, but I think tomorrow I'll have the kids illustrate what their cake would look like if they had to follow the poem's guidelines. It sounds pretty straight-forward, but I'm guessing my soldiers will surprise me with some awesome creativity.
We might even add to our onomatopoeia chart the sounds that making a cake would create! Whisk, scrape, ding!

Centers today...

 Team 4's handiwork.

 Team 2- finding sight words

 Math was making subtraction number sentences. Words can not express the difficulties my students are having mastering this skill. The thought that addition and subtraction are related, and the numbers can be moved around to make the different number sentences is mind-boggling! I'm feeling a Math Power Circle tomorrow. We are going to master this! (I wouldn't usually stress over this, but Fact Families are a BIG part of second grade.)

We completed our Landforms power point today. Our favorite landform of today was island. We took a Virtual Fieldtrip of Hawaii to check out America's island. The kids loved seeing pictures and video of active volcanoes! After we reviewed all the landforms, the students chose their top 4 and illustrated them. 

Here is a sampling of their work. 90% of my students chose to put a volcano on their papers! I think exploding mountains are pretty interesting too, so I don't blame them!
Tomorrow we bring in science and talk about the different animals we would find in those different landforms. (habitats)

Our Daily Brain

Monday, September 26, 2011

Day 32 The Continent Song- video

This is the Continent Song. The previous post wouldn't let me add the video, I guess it was too big. I don't know where the song came from, it was taught to me by one of the second grade teachers last year.

(sung to the tune of Do You Know the Muffin Man?)

Do you know the continents?
The continents, the continents?
Do you know the continents, 
all around the World?

There's North America, South America,
Europe and Asia,
Africa, Australia,
and don't forget Antarctica!


Thanks, Ms. Hancock for filming!

Day 32- Chickens and Landforms

I'm back!! It was good to be back in front of my class again. I did have 2 of my soldiers out today, and our school nurse sent an email today informing the teachers that the flu has started and it is hitting hard. Be sure to wash your hands regularly and sneeze into your elbow!

I have good news... we are DONE with ABC books! That unit is over and we were glad to see it go! For the next 6 weeks we will be studying animals using fiction and nonfiction texts. This topic will blend into social studies where we will study maps, habitats, continents, and landforms. (Landforms are not exactly in the first grade standards, but they are in second and my soldiers are going to be prepared!)

The story in our Houghton Mifflin reading book was a good jump-off story. (if you check out the link, you'll find some great strategies and games for your student that goes along with their story for the week.)

Our story was Minerva Louise at School. It's a story about a hen who finds a "big, fancy barn" and is excited to go home to share all that she learned.

I like that this story opened my students minds to the difference between fiction and nonfiction stories. When I explained the difference, my students went into a discussion as to why this story could go into either category.

Fiction- chickens don't really go to school. Chickens wouldn't think everything was something else. (like the baseball was an egg) Chickens wouldn't decorate their nests like she does in the end.
Nonfiction- Chickens are real. Schools are real and you can learn in them. You might have a chicken at school for show-and-tell.
Impressive, right?! To keep some feathers being ruffled, I went on to explain about realistic fiction. Some parts could really happen, but you can still tell the story is imaginary.

Here is our chart showing what Minerva confused in the story. (just look over the mistakes!)

Tomorrow we will use a nonfiction book to go into detail about chickens, or farm animals in general, and the next HM story in their book.
Here are the terms we are going to need for this week. The "K" is for kindergarten review, and the 1 is for first grade terms. Not a huge difference as far as I could tell.

I didn't change their centers this week since they only did one day of centers last week. I also didn't give their spelling tests today. I wanted my kids to have one extra day to study the words from last week, so they will be tested tomorrow. Here are my soldiers hard at work on their centers!

 This is our Fluency center for this week, and you can find it at the 1+1+1=1 website! The students have to put the story back in order to match the book Old, New, Red, Blue.

This is a picture of Team 2's center- Read, Build, Write. This is my vocabulary center and this one's topic was gardening. (this center was found at Homeschool Creations.) Our science lessons last week revolved around healthy habits, and gardens grow healthy food!
The last picture is a comprehension center, much like my fluency center. Students have to put the story back in order.

Social studies was awesome today! We started by adding vocabulary on the board, and we came up with definitions as we went.

 We then began going through the Power Point I made to teach landforms. You can check out the PPT for yourself HERE! (This is the first time I've tried to link a document to the blog, so I hope it works!)

We didn't get to finish it, but we made a chart of the ones we covered today. (the definitions are not too technical- the students covered the big points!)

While we were going through, we created hand motions to go with the terms. Here are a few..

 The first one is a hill- a raised piece of land. Second is a pond- a small body of water surrounded by land.

 Next is a lake- a larger body of water. Last is a cave- a hole in a hill or mountain. (the students are looking through the hole into the cave)
The others were ones that had movement, so I had to get a video of those!

*sigh. We are so brilliant.

Ms. Hancock took video of us singing our Continents song, but it was too big to add to this post. It gets one of its own!
Our Daily Brain