Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Morning Meeting

What is morning meeting?  Well, it is a time for students to gather together and start the day in a positive way!  This is my first year implementing morning meeting, and I love it.  I have always struggled in years past to find time for it, and I am telling you it is definitely worth the time.  It takes a little longer than what I want, but I truly love this time we spend each day and the routine we have.  We cover so many skills and standards in the 15-20 minutes we spend on morning meeting each day.

You can see my schedule above.  I mostly have it posted so that I don't forget any of the steps.  (Yes, I am that forgetful!)  We start by staying our class mission statement.  We wrote this at the beginning of the year, and it is our class promise to do our best each day.  You can see them reading the mission below.  It's a quick mission that takes us about 1 minute to complete.  It's a great reminder to keep us on track during the day.

Then, we gather around the rug and do a little dance and sing!  My kids LOVE this.  We do the same song for the whole week, so by Friday they really know it.  I typically use Dr. Jean songs.  My kids love to sing and dance to them.  They usually have motions, so that makes it even more fun!  The songs help teach us fluency, and they help us get our bodies and brains moving.  It is a healthy way to start our school day.  Who doesn't love to sing and dance? 

After we sing, we sit down and share.  I usually have 3-4 students share each day.  My goal is to have each student share at least once a week.  There are some days a student shares even though he/she has already shared, but he/she is so excited about something that they want to tell the whole class.  So, I of course can't say no to that!  Sometimes I give them topics to talk about.  This teaches us how to stay on topic (good for writing skills), we learn how to tell stories in order (also good for writing!), and we learn to listen/speak in front of others.  Do you see all of these standards we are doing?!  It is amazing, and most importantly we are coming together as a class and building relationships. 

After we share, we gather on our rug spots and practice some phonics skills.  We use the Michael Haggerty phonemic awareness book.  I read from the book and the students respond.  It is a quick practice and fun to complete.

After phonics, we move on to our poem.  Here we practice so many skills.  We read one poem a week.  I use the alphabet poems and each poem has a puppet to go along with it.  My kids LOVE making the puppets.  Each day we read the poem and practice fluency (we use different voices), finding rhyming words, punctuation, words that start with certain letters, etc.  You can read more about my poems here.  I refer to our poem and vocabulary portion of our morning meeting as shared reading and writing time. 

After we read our poem, we move on to our vocabulary portion.  This is also our shared writing time. I introduce 3 new vocabulary words each week and we practice these new words by putting them into sentences.  I try to find a picture that would go with the vocabulary words, and then we practice writing sentences using the new words we learn.  We reread our story each day.  We focus on concepts of print at this time, spacing between words, punctuation, capital letters at the beginning of sentences, and many more skills!  You can read more about our shared writing here!

As you can see, I am a firm believer in morning meeting.  Everyone does it a little different, but this is the way I enjoy doing it.  We have fun each morning and it is a great way to start our day!  If you have morning meeting, please share below what you do!  I love to hear how each classroom uses it. :]

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Learning about Famous People {Ruby Bridges}

During Social Studies we are learning about famous people.  We learned about Martin Luther King Jr. last week (perfect for Martin Luther King Jr. Day).  This week we learned about Ruby Bridges!

She is the perfect person for my students to learn about and reiterate how brave and strong she had to be during such a difficult time period.  She is also perfect because she is close to my students' age, so they can try to relate to her and how she felt at that time.

Ruby was so brave and showed my students that they can be brave too.  We read this great book (picture above) called The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles.  My kids loved it and held on to every word as I read.  Then, we did a fun activity to help us remember the story and discuss it.

You can see my students hard at work coloring the two school houses.  One school was Ruby Bridge's and one was ours.  Then, we discussed how our schools were the same and different. I found this cute and FREE activity from First Grade and Flip Flops.   

I put it together a little differently than she showed, but I thought it turned out cute!

This was a fun activity and really helped my students better understand how far our country has come.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

How to use Reading Workshop

Do you use reading workshop in your classroom?  Or, have you ever wondered how it works?  Well, here is a sneak peak of how I use workshop in my classroom!

We first start by gathering on the rug sitting next to our reading partners.  Students sit by their reading partners on their specific square.  I like to leave an aisle down the middle so I can walk down and listen to them talk with their partners.  It helps me understand who knows what we're doing and who is learning what during our mini lesson.

So, once we have gathered on the rug, I recite our learning target for the day.  My students repeat it after me and then we discuss what we are learning so they understand what it is we're doing today.  Then, I go into the mini lesson.  This usually lasts about 10 minutes.  This particular lesson I am teaching about using blends to help us figure out tricky words.  So, I shared the different blends, we placed them in the pocket chart - spoke them aloud - and then placed a picture that matched each blend next to it.  I also showed them how to find blends in words in books we read.  I modeled using a story and showed them how I got my mouth ready to read the word.  I then showed the next page and had them turn to their partner to practice reading the blend word and using the blend to help them figure out the tricky word.  We share back as a class and conclude by restating our learning target.  

Students then go off to their reading spots and get their book bins.  I tell my students that while they are reading I will go around and listen to see if they are using blends to figure out tricky words and get their mouths ready when reading them. 


You can see my kids sit anywhere in the room with their book bins and they read their leveled books first. I walk around and use my clipboard to record whether students are understanding the learning target or not.  I use a -, check, + system.  If they do not understand, they get a -, if they are on level they get a check, if they are above level they get a +.  I record this on my clipboard so that I can use this information during small groups to help my students. 

Once I have checked the learning target, students are then asked to reflect on their reading by using their reflection sheet.  They mark whether they were able to complete the learning target, they could do some of it, or they need more help.  I use this to also help students during small group time.

After students reflect, they can read their poems or look books.  A look book is a harder book they can enjoy looking at the pictures and try finding words in the text to match the pictures.  Our poems are what we read during our shared reading/writing.  You can learn about that by going here!

Once they read their poems and look books for a bit, they can switch to partner reading.  During partner reading I may have them practice extra skills together. 

After, we gather back on the rug and go over what our lesson was and what we learned.  For this lesson, we practiced reading the blends on our blend chart!

That is a reading workshop lesson.  Here is a breakdown of the times:
Mini lesson - 10-15 minutes
Independent reading - 30 minutes
Partner reading - 10 minutes
Wrap up - 5 minutes

I hope you enjoyed learning about workshop in my classroom!  Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Snowman Day!

We decided to celebrate winter by having a snowman day!  We started the day by reading Snowmen at Night and practiced retelling the story. We then focused on finding the main idea of the story by looking at everything we retold.  We used the information to find what the story was mostly about.  The kids did an awesome job retelling it!  I mean sometimes their memories amaze me because they remember things I don't at times.

Once we finished the story and wrote the main idea, we made our own snowmen at night.  I LOVED this project.  It has been all over Pinterest, and they turned out so much cuter than I thought they would. 

It started like this. I drew the circle with a white crayon to give them an outline to follow. 

Then they worked hard to fill in the circle with white pieces of paper.  They added snowflakes with white crayons and added the eyes, nose, and mouth with construction paper. 

They turned out adorable like this!

Here is my hallway display. :]

During writing, we wrote how to make a snowman.  Students completed their own snowman book with words and drawings.  We focused on using transition words. You can grab your own copy here!

During handwriting we practiced writing our names correctly using only capital letters at the beginning of our name.  We wrote them on snowmen!

Then, we took our snowmen and practiced graphing them to see who had the most letters in their name and who had the least letters.  You can see us lining them up on the floor and tallying them.  We completed a sheet that shared the most, least, and the difference between the two.

Here is our hallway display of our snowmen names.  I think they are really cute!

I hope you've enjoyed learning about Snowman Day!  Please share below if you do anything fun with  snowmen in your classroom.  I'd love to hear it!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Behavior, Behavior, Behavior

Behavior, behavior, behavior...ugh do you ever get tired of finding the "perfect" behavior management tool?  It is always something that I am trying to perfect.  I LOVE class dojo, but I was not allowed to use it this year in my classroom - so I used a clip chart instead.

Since the school I am at has always had blue as the highest option, I kept blue at the top (which drives me crazy because I wish it was in rainbow order).  I have it posted at the front of my room so that we can see it all the time. 

Each child has their name on a clothespin and the pin can move up or down throughout the day.  They get the opportunity to clip up after they have made a mistake.  Everyone starts on green.  If they clip up it is because they have been exceptionally well-behaved. If they go below green, then they need to work on making smarter choices. As I said, if a child clips down, he/she can still clip up if he/she starts to turn their behavior around. 

Blue is the highest - they get a certificate telling their parents that they have earned a "blue day" and a prize from the treasure box!

Pink is the second highest.  When a child is on pink they get to visit the principal to tell her how good they were that day.  My kids love telling her the good things they do!

Purple is right above the starting color.  If the students are on purple they get a sticker at the end of the day.  It seems small, but they love stickers! 

Green is the color everyone starts on each day.  This is the color that shows that they are behaving that day. 

Yellow is a warning.  This tells the child that he/she needs to start making better choices. A student is typically given 1-2 warnings before he/she is moved to yellow.  

Orange means their behavior has continued to not improve.  Then, he/she has to walk laps during recess.  

Red is at the very bottom and means that there needs to be parent contact for the child's behavior.  Depending on the severity of the behavior, I either email or call the parents.  Occasionally we have a meeting to discuss the child's behavior.  

At the end of each day, whatever color the child is on that is the color I place in his/her folder.  This way parents see their child's behavior each day.  I also keep the calendars at the end of each month to keep track of each child's behavior throughout the school year.  

How do you manage behavior in your classroom?  I would love to hear what you do!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Shared Reading and Writing

It's a brand new year, and I'm ready to get back into my blogging!  I have missed it so much - I'm sorry for my absence.  I've been so overwhelmed at work, and unfortunately, I had family illnesses.  So, I am determined to make 2016 my best blogging year yet!

I hope your new year is off to a great start.  I thought I would share with you part of my morning routine.  Every day my class participates in shared reading and writing.  You may be wondering, what is shared reading and writing?  Well, this is when you and your class read stories or poems together as  a class and then create writing pieces together as a class.  I like to use this shared reading and writing time to do things a little bit different.  

I always end morning meeting with our shared reading and writing.  Every week we have a new poem.  This is our shared reading portion.  I introduce the poem on Monday and the students listen/repeat to learn the new poem.  Then, we make the puppet to match it!

On Tuesday, we read the poem again as a class (a student always points while we read).  Then, we color the poem and place it in our poetry folder.  We use this folder during our independent reading time.  Students are given time to read their look books or their poetry folders.  They also use their puppets at this time to read their poems. They love it!

Here is the schedule for shared reading the rest of the week:
Wednesday: Read the poem, student points, find words that start with the letter of the poem
If the poem is focusing on the letter K, then we look for all the words that start with K or have a K in them. 

Thursday: Read the poem, student points, find sight words
We often use wiki sticks or dry erase markers to find the sight words.  I write the poems on chart paper and laminate them for durability. 

Friday: Read the poem, student points, practice fluency by reading the poem using different voices
We might use a robot voice, a cowboy voice, a whisper voice, a deep voice, a squeaky voice, etc. 

The students learn all 26 poems of the alphabet and at the end of the year we have a poetry palooza and share them with our families!

 Here is the book I use to get my poems:

Our shared writing of the week consists of us learning 3 new vocabulary words each week.  Then, we practice learning these words by placing them in sentences for our shared writing.

I always pick a picture that will go along with the vocabulary words.  Then, we write sentences to match the picture and use the vocabulary words in our sentences.  Finally, we read the writing together as a class.  This is our shared writing time each day. 

Once we learn the vocabulary words, I place them on our door where we continue to review them during line up time.  We have learned so many words!  You can find the words that we have learned so far by clicking here.  

I hope you have learned something today.  If you have shared reading and writing, please leave a comment below explaining what you do each day - I'd love to learn more!