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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

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