Saturday, November 30, 2013

Bundled up Personal Reader Stories!

Finally, I bundled up my personal reader stories!  
Over the last year, I've had several requests to do just that...
but it's taken me a while.  
But, it's done!  
3 sets of personal reader stories all bundled up to help your readers practice
 sight words and short and long vowel word family patterns. 
Crossin' it off my list!

Tomorrow, I'll be highlighting some of my best sellers 
and my favorite wintertime products.  
I'm gettin' ready for my favorite shopping day of the year 
(cyber Monday and a bonus Tuesday)!

For now, cheerin' for my favorite team 
and wishin' they would stop punchin' each other on the field.
Seriously boys - BeHaVe!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Opportunities for Opinion Writing

Two weeks ago, we started working on opinion writing in my first grade classroom. Last year, I did lots of rethinking about how I wanted to teach opinion writing to my little ones. After spending lots of time reviewing the writing strands of the common core, pouring over possible mentor texts and thinking about the best way to scaffold graphic organizers I decided to create my own opinion writing unit.

I created Writing My Opinion to cover the K, 1st and 2nd standards from the common core writing anchor standard 1.  The unit includes different graphic organizers (one that supports writers working on the K standard, another for the 1st grade standard and one for the 2nd grade standard) for differentiating opinion writing.  It also includes 3 different rubrics, 3 different self reflection forms, pieces to make a reusable anchor chart, a list of mentor texts to use for opinion writing and 10 writing prompts for your students to use as they are being introduced to opinion writing.

I introduce each type of writing that we do throughout the year by reminding the students that authors organize their writing in different ways.  We added opinion writing to our "Ways Authors Organize Text" anchor chart a couple weeks ago.  

I introduce opinion writing by using the mentor text  Red Is Best by Kathy Stinson.

After reading the book, we used my reusable opinion writing anchor chart to highlight the topic, opinion, supporting reasons, and conclusion as modeled by the author of this book.  That really helped the students focus their own opinions.  The pieces to make the reusable opinion writing chart are included in the Writing My Opinion unit.  After I made the chart, I laminated it and then I use large sticky notes to change the things we add to match each different topic that we work on together.

When the students were ready, I introduced a topic that I wanted them to try to write about. We used the "best ice cream sundae topping" as our first opinion writing topic. I knew there would be a high level of motivation involved.  I modeled first with my own opinion about my favorite topping.  I used the reusable chart again for the modeling.

I am super proud of how their writing turned out.  When they were finished, I typed their writing and we published them and turned the collection into a class book.  With the help of my fabulous parents, we also had an author's celebration with real ice cream sundaes!

You can check out the Writing My Opinion unit and my other products by visiting my Tpt store.  
It's almost time for  the cyber Monday/Tuesday sale!

I'm signing off to start filling up my Tpt shopping cart for the Cyber Monday/Tuesday sale!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Technology Tuesday (3rd edition)

Welcome back for another edition of Technology Tuesday! Since the mini iPads arrived in my classroom a month or so ago, we started using them for two daily routines. We use them for several other things throughout each day as well, but the routines stay the same each day.

 Last week, I mentioned that my class keeps a journal on the iPad each day. We use a free app called Kids Journal.

This is sample page inside one of the Kids Journal journals that you can create with the app.
You can read more about how we do the journaling routine in my classroom here

We also use a website to help us read informational text  on the iPad each day.  With the common core standards in place, I'm doing everything I can to help expose students to more informational text. One of my amazing parents, who is an elementary principal in another district, recommended the site to me.  The site contains daily nonfiction articles appropriate for students in grades K - 12.  My students read the Tween Tribune Junior articles, which are designed for students in grades K - 4.  Since this is a website, not an app, it can be used even if you don't have iPads in your classroom.

I choose three students each day to work together to be the nonfiction news reporters.  I carefully select the students to make sure that I have at least one high reader in each group of reporters.  Since Tween Tribune Junior articles are for K - 4th graders, even with a higher reader in the group they sometimes need my help with a few words. The reporters choose one article from the Tween Tribune Junior edition of the day.  They read the article together, discuss what they learned and decide how they are going to share the "reporting duties".  

Here is screenshot of part of a list of articles for today.  There are many, many pages of articles for students to choose from each day.  As you can see, students have the option to leave comments and take quizzes.  My students will not be leaving comments, but I may let them try the quizzes in the future.

When we start our morning meeting each day, the reporters put the iPad under our document camera and tell us what they learned.  When they are finished reporting, we ask the reporters questions to clarify anything that we want to know about the information in the article.  This is when I point out the strategies we are using to read/understand the nonfiction news (returning to the text, rereading, check the pictures for clues, thinking about/discussing vocabulary).  The articles often have a discussion question at the end.  If the chosen article has a discussion question, the students discuss it with their elbow partners and then we quickly discuss it as a class.  If my reporters are well prepared to "report" the nonfiction news, it only takes about 5 - 7 minutes of my morning meeting time to do this routine.  I am lovin' the opportunities to model/practice strategies for reading informational text and my students are loving reporting the news to the class.  

I'm thinking I should start my informational text unit a little earlier next year.  This year, I'm planning to start it right after the winter break.  That will enhance our discussions and reporting of the nonfiction news.  

I do have fond memories of my parents reading the newspaper every evening while we sat in the living room waiting for the Cosby Show to start.  But, times are changing and my own children will have memories of my husband and I reading the news on our phones in the dance lobby or at the soccer field.  I want my students to be prepared to read, understand and discuss informational text with their peers and I am so grateful for the technology to help them learn how to do it in such a way that will hopefully motivate them to explore more informational texts in the future.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Technology Tuesday (2nd edition)

 Welcome back! If you didn't have a chance to visit last week, then you can read the 1st edition of my Technology Tuesday posts here. I have 2 mini iPads in my classroom. Since the mini iPads are new to my classroom, I want to tell you that I LOVE the kind of cases that I use for my mini iPads!

 iBlason mini iPad case - It's a durable case with a handle. It also converts into a stand.  I have a blue one and a green one, so I can easily identify  the two different mini iPads in the classroom.

I made a permission slip for using the iPad to use next year.  I had already sent home two different permission slips that covered the things on this permission slips.  Next year, I'll have one permission slip (specific to using the iPad) for my students.  You can download a copy (free) from my Tpt store, by clicking on the image below.

My class keeps a daily journal with the iPad.  We use the app Kids Journal, which is free.  It's simple enough for my first graders to use, but has enough space for more advanced writers to use to write.  I choose 3 students each morning to be our "journalers" for the day.  They start the day by having a meeting to add the weather, their feelings and the location on the journal page for the day.  Then throughout the day, the three of them take a photo to capture learning in our room.  Then they work together to write sentences about what the child in the picture is working on or learning about.  At the end of the day, we read the journal entry of the day together and revisit some of the old entries.

Time for this tired girl to get to bed.  I'll share more of our iPad adventures next week in the 3rd edition of Technology Tuesday.  Thanks for visiting!


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Technology Tuesday (1st edition)

 Thanks for stopping by for my first edition of Technology Tuesday!  I love technology and decided to make including more of it in my classroom a priority this year.

 I really wanted to use an iPad with my students, but really didn't want to take my personal iPad into the classroom. So, I wrote a proposal through Donors Choose to try to get a mini iPad with a protective case for my classroom. My project was fully funded in less than a week (thanks to a few anonymous donors and the fabulous parents in my classroom). In fact, the parents in my classroom were so excited about their children being able to use the mini iPad in the classroom, that they asked me to write a grant for a 2nd mini iPad. The 2nd grant was fully funded in 2 days.

Would I recommend Donors Choose to another teacher...absolutely! Before writing a proposal, I think it is important to be sure that you are willing to "kick in" any portion of the total that does not get funded (especially if classroom parents will be contributing). Proposals stay on the site for 4 months. Donors who make donations to a project that is not fully funded by the project expiration date do not get refunded. They have some options to give their donation to another project or work with gift cards to give to a teacher/project. I personally would not feel comfortable asking parents to donate for an item that we didn't end up getting if the project wasn't fully funded.

My students were so excited when our 1st mini iPad arrived in the mail.  I asked their parents to keep it a secret, so I could surprise them.  I put a bow on the box and told them that there was something that was going to help us learn in the box.  A few of the guesses included:  a gerbil, a number line, a calculator and a giant pencil.  The big reveal proved to be a big surprise after those guesses.  My little dumplings jumped up and down when they discovered it was a real mini iPad!

On the first day,  I reviewed the rules for using the iPad and we practiced carrying it.  Yep, we practiced carrying it.  I figured it was worth the time.  You can download my Rules for Using the iPad freebie by clicking on the link below.  If you like this freebie, please follow my store and my blog.  I'll be posting more freebies related to using iPads in the classroom over the next several weeks.

We just started using the iPad in my room in October.  So far,  we're using the iPad for individualized word work,  daily journaling, writer's workshop and reader's workshop.  I'll be sharing more about the specifics in my next few Technology Tuesday posts.  Thanks for visiting!

Monday, November 4, 2013

It's Currently November

I have skipped Currently for a few months, but I'm back in action.  I can't wait to read about what is happening with all of my favorite bloggers. Thanks to Farley, from Oh Boy Fourth Grade for hosting each month.

Listening:  I have two goldendoodles.  I guess spell check doesn't think goldendoodle is a word (but I'm too tired to fix it on the image above).  One of my goldendoodles recently started snoring.  I think she has a cold.  My husband thinks I'm crazy. It's the one who sleeps on my feet, so it's a little distracting when I'm awake...but I should be used to the sound of snoring (it started 14 years ago when I got married).

Loving:  My principal is coming to observe me on Thursday.  The superintendent and both of our curriculum directors already came to observe a math lesson in my room last month.  I volunteered for that because they wanted to see someone teaching a lesson from our new math program.  Since we begged for 14 years to get a new program, I figured someone had to let them see a lesson.  Just kind of  wish that could have been my observation so I could cross it off the list.

Thinking:  Who am I kidding?  I've already started my Christmas shopping.  I love Christmas shopping (although I do most of it online)!  I love wrapping too!  And...this year we are each making one handmade item for each other.  My kids are so excited and have been hiding in their rooms working on their special gifts for other family members.  We're hoping it's a tradition we can continue.

Wanting:  By the end of the week, I'll be 40.  Turning 40 is kind of a big deal for women in my family.  Unfortunately, it was shortly after 40 that my grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer (she died after years of fighting) and that my mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer (she is a survivor).  I'm not worried about my genetic history (that would do no good), but I have as much of a cancer prevention plan in place as possible.  All that considered, I'd like to celebrate my 40 years quietly without all the doom and gloom of the "over the hill" junk that people bring out when someone turns 40.   Believe me, my body is reminding me that I'm not 20 anymore.  No need to tape doom and gloom decorations all over my door.  Life is good.  Every day is a gift that should be celebrated.

Needing:  A little more sleep...I've been waking up between 1:00 and 2:00 a.m. every single night for the past week.  Something about this schedule is not working. I'm super sensitive to caffeine.  I have not been drinking anymore caffeine than I usually drink (1 diet mountain dew in the's my coffee).  So, I'm guessing it's the abnormal amount of chocolate I consumed to survive Halloween week.

A little less stress...every teachers wish.  I really do love my students this year, but I do not love teeth clenching, limited sleep and staff meetings. Ha!

A Yummy Pin:  I'm a horrible cook, but I love to bake!   This is one of my favorite desserts.  My friend Becky shared the pin with me.  It's from Taste of Home and it's delicious!

Guess I better try to get back to sleep.  Happy Monday!  Stop back to visit tomorrow for my 1st edition of Technology Tuesday!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Digraph Activities

I've been up to my eyeballs in technology...but haven't accomplished a lot of blogging lately. I did manage to finish some digraph activities that I've been wanting to use with a group of my students for individualized word work. First graders in my district have weekly spelling and word family words. I also use the Ganske Developmental Spelling Inventory (from Words Their Way) to determine what kind of individualized word work to give each student. 
I realized that I don't have as many games/activities for digraphs as I'd like. 
You can check out the new set I created by clicking on the image below. 

  I'm also trying to focus on incorporating more technology this year. I love technology, so it's fun for me and the little ones. Starting this Tuesday, I'll be starting a series of posts called Technology Tuesday. I'm not sure how long it will continue. It will probably continue until I run out of things to say (which hardly ever happens to me), run out of time (more likely) or get bored. Whatever the case, I'll be sharing how I am using iPads in my classroom, tips for ways to incorporate technology into lessons and my favorite apps and websites. I hope you'll stop by for my first Technology Tuesday this Tuesday.