Sunday, February 24, 2013

Giant Humungous Giveaway with Teaching and Tapas!

Happy Oscar Sunday everybody! I am really excited to announce that I, and over 100 other bloggers, am participating in Teaching and Tapas giveaway!

You can enter here or hop on over to Alyssha's blog for a chance to win over 100 products. Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Guided Reading Binder Freebie

Happy Wednesday everyone! Today I was planning my word work for the next couple weeks and I realized how much my word work instruction has changed from when I first started teaching. When I began I was so overwhelmed that I spent a lot of time working from a (mediocre) basal reading program. Since I've shifted to word study and guided reading, my students have progressed much faster and I am a happier teacher!

During my guided reading groups I take notes about what I notice with my students. Is there a particular skill they are lacking? Is there a tricky vowel or diphthong that is troubling? What about comprehension strategies? I use these notes to guide my centers and instruction for the next week. I find it a very effective way of targeting the needs of my students. My students were a little weirded out when they saw me taking notes at first, but now they're totally used to it.
My reading binder
I have a section for the date, group members, title of the book, reading level, notes, and possible book/mini-lesson target (I use that if the book highlights a particular phonics target or comprehension strategy).
If you want to use it too, click the link below to download the PDF off of google docs. Print it out, duplicate, hole punch, and viola! We'll have matching guided reading binders :)

Does anyone else have some guided reading strategies they would like to share?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

President's Day Literacy: Fact and Opinion & More Suffixes!

Happy three-day weekend to everyone! (At least I hope everyone has at least a three-day weekend).

When I was deciding what we should work on the shortened week after President's Day, I started to think about some of the background knowledge that I have been assuming my students have. I realized there were two (rather glaring) skills that I needed to work on.

First, my students need to focus on the difference between fact and opinion. As we have been diving into those super tough common core comprehension standards, I have been seeing that students were often stating their opinions as facts, using their schema to make assumptions about the readings that were not supported by the text. I realized that we needed to work on differentiating between the two.

I started off by explaining that facts are something that are always true, and opinions are how you or someone else feels about something. I gave a few examples of each and had students sort as a class (all written on sentence strips-I wish I had a picture!). Then students broke into a turn-and-talk and came up with their own examples of facts and opinions. For centers, students worked on the President's Day fact and opinion sort. All statements are centered around Lincoln, Washington, and the President's Day Holiday. My hope is as they practice this they will be better able to analyze text with evidence rather than just their opinion.

The second skill I realized that I needed to work on with my students was the difference between the suffixes -er and -est. My students are primarily ELL and often have difficulty with distinguishing these subtleties in English. Most students would always use the word "better" instead of "best" in their writing and omit "-est" words in spoken language all together. 

To teach this concept I brought three students to the front of the classroom. Student A was tall. I gave her a card with the word "tall" written on it. Student B was taller. I gave him a card with the word "taller" written on it. When I brought up Student C (the tallest) I asked students how we would describe Student C. Most students said taller, rather than offering tallest as the answer. I explained that when there are more than 2 things being compared, the word ends in the suffix "est." I handed Student C a card with the word "tallest" on it. I then wrote up on the board: -er means more, comparing only 2 things. -est means most, comparing 3 or more things. 

My practiced this idea with a few more adjectives: small, sad, and happy. We thought of examples of things that could be small, something smaller, and something smallest. It was hard at first for students to think of the least extreme example first, but they got the hang of it by happy.

They practiced the concept during centers using the President's Day -er, -est suffix activity.

Now that I have that all figured out, back to work on my Common Core Folktale Unit. It is my biggest undertaking yet, these new standards are KILLING me! :) Although I must admit, I'm enjoying the challenge.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Valentine Mailboxes

It's coming... the second most tiring day as an elementary teacher... VALENTINES DAY!

I have been gearing up for weeks since I love teaching with themes and I LOVE valentines day. Seriously, even when I was single, I loved all the pink and red and sweets :)

Anyway, tomorrow my students are making Valentine Mailboxes out of shoeboxes. Today I made my prototype that they students can use an example. Obviously I expect them to add more fun, like glitter, patterns, etc, but this is the basic gist of what they will do.

Step One: Start with an ordinary shoe box

Step Two: Cover with a paper of your choice. I chose to put glue on the surface, cover each surface separately, and cut off the excess. This helps the box be able to open and close (rather than if I wrapped it like a present and would keep the lid shut).

Step Three: Add a red flag on the side to make it look like a mailbox. 

Step Four: Decorate! Glitter, stickers, more paper strips, go crazy! (And maybe clean up the edges a bit. Looks like I'll need to do that for my example tomorrow).

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Help for Making Reading A-Z Books!!

Happy Sunday everyone!

I wrote a few months ago about the website Reading A-Z where you can print off leveled books for your guided reading. Click here to read about how I use it in the classroom.

It is a great resource for cash-strapped schools, but the major downside is that making the books is a big pain! The way I have worked this out is sending the books home with parents to make. (Parents are always asking how how to help and this is a GREAT help for me).

Because it is pretty tricky, I created  step-by-step instructions with pictures like the ones below so there is a clear way to make them. It has helped a lot and really cut down on prep for me!

Click here to get the instructions (for free) on google docs! It is in a PDF and google will say it can't scan it for viruses because it is too big. I PROMISE it is not a virus. Pinky swear.

*Please note I do not claim any rights to the images in these books. All images are the property of Reading A-Z and these instructions are meant to be used by paying members of the site. This document does not contain any of the books from Reading A-Z*

Friday, February 8, 2013

February Currently

So I COMPLETELY missed Oh Boy 4th Grade's January Currently. Man, that flu KILLED me! So I'm trying to be more on it this month. I LOVE her linky!

If you haven't heard any songs from Wake Up! check out this link for my favorite song, Hard Times. This is MY JAM! I really rock out on my hour long commute to work.

Loving this guy:
How could I not?
I also can't believe I'm done the 3 week in March! Before anyone gets too upset, I'll be back to work mid-June, so I work that same amount of time, I just get Spring off instead of Summer. It does mean my trip to Paris with my man is slightly cheaper, so that is nice.

Pumpkin Spice Lattes are Gods Gift. Enough said. Come on Starbucks, get with the program!

My boyfriend and I moved into our San Francisco apartment in July and we haven't totally figured out the best way to organize all our stuff. Our closet is embarrassing! That is project number one for this "Summer Break."

As I mentioned above, I have an hour commute. Ugh. That makes those tailgating, driving on the shoulder to avoid traffic jerks that much worse. I want to yell at them: "You may drive a fancy BMW, but my prius beats you in gas mileage EVERY DAY!" I shouldn't complain, living in San Francisco is truly wonderful. I live a 20 minute walk from this:

Rude drivers, have it your way. It's worth the commute :)

Check out Oh Boy 4th Grade's Currently Link up for more fun!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Concept Board

I'm not sure about all of you, but there are a few skills that, no matter how much time they spent on it in first grade, my students STILL need extra support in. Particularly Parts of Speech, Money, and the Calendar. Some of this is due to the fact that I have a majority English Language Learner class and some of it is because it is just DIFFICULT.

I decided to create a "Concept Board." I use it as a place to put visual reminders of some of the more difficult concepts we're working on in class. If students can't remember what a pronoun is, they look to the concept board. When we're adding different types of coins and are confused between a nickel and dime, they look to the board. It's helped a lot during independent work. As their needs change, so does the board.

My classroom is tiny so I used one of my dry erase boards for the board. I'm really glad I did.
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