Saturday, January 23, 2016

Five for Friday...or Saturday

Jumping right in this week! 

We studied rocks, rocks and more rocks! 
One thing that has been a benefit to teaching rocks is the fact that I collected rocks when I was little. Nerd alert I know haha... I did have a larger collection at one point but in a haste I threw it out saying to myself.." When will I EVER need this many rocks?!" well....first grade teacher you DID need those rocks! Well, I ended up restarting my collection through travel and such and my students love rocks!! 
One thing I like to to do with them is have different stations for them to observe the rocks. We talk about properties of rocks ahead of time so when they do this they can also take notes like a real scientist! We rotate the stations so they can see all of them. 
When they first get their tray, I have them just look with their eyes and write what they see. Then we TOUCH the rocks! We talk about texture and weight and other properties and record those observations as well. 
It's really not that fancy, but they love getting to touch and feel and see all the rocks and act like scientists. I also get a chance to hit the objectives and some higher order questions and thinking.  

Another activity we are working on and will be for awhile is writing a biography about a friend. Since we are studying nonfiction this falls right in line! 
We pair the kids up and they interview their friend. 
Some questions they ask are: 
What do they look like?
What are their hobbies?
Where do they live?
What do they want to be when they grow up and why?

They record all these answers down on their recording sheet.  
Once we have this accomplished they will take those notes and transfer them onto another planning page but put them into complete sentences. 
After that they will turn that into an actual book! 
I will post the finished products when they are finished being authors. 

Random alert!
Just two things I have been loving lately. 
Now we are ranch snobs around these parts. There is a restaurant near our house that makes the best cilantro ranch! I've been there so much and pretty much order it by the gallon that they actually told me the recipe...I've made it many times and liked mine but it just isn't the same. I am sure I missed an ingredient when I can't get over there to order the trough I have to settle usually. Well hubs and I went to Kroger and got a little wild...we ventured out and tried a new ranch....crazy I know!
But well, 2 days later it was all gone..needless to say it is perdy stinkin good!
These have been a favorite too. I got them at Costco and am hooked. They are not totally unhealthy either which is always plus! I am kinda a cilantro addict too....

Do you send books home for your kids to read? An amazing resource we have access to is Reading A-Z...ever heard of it? Well if you haven't you should check it out. Of course you need a subscription but it is worth it. I have printed off leveled readers Pre A-M to have available to send home with my kids for them to read their level each week. Well, all these books also require some organization. YAY! I have tubs! Lots of tubs! Once they had a home to live in keeping them organized when sending them home was a biggie. I need to be able to keep up with who took what and when and hopefully not repeat titles. 

Enter the spreadsheet. Many pages of it...I took time aside and recorded all the titles and levels. I put it in the spreadsheet including my kids magic numbers and poof! an easy way to check off who has what titles.

Then I made cards for each group. I put their magic numbers, level they need to be receiving, and then write the books I give on that level after checking them off the spreadsheet.
It might seem a little overboard...and it probably is...but HELLO I am Ashley..I am OCD..have we met? 

One idea we borrowed before the break was using the book "Mooseltoe" to write and create!
Here are some of the results.

This friend explained why she decorated hers this way.."The left side is before-the problem at the beginning. The right side is the solution side." 

Have a BLESSED week ahead!

This image says it all. Simple. True. Imperative.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

New Product-Student Progress Checklists

Quick pop in! 
Last week I blogged about maintaining communication with parents and how to update them via progress checklists. (you can read about that here)
Well I had some interest in these and decided to tweak it to make it more generic for others to be able to use. 
So here it is! 

 You can check them out here as well if you are interested in them :) 

Have a BLESSED night!!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Five for Friday-2016 Edition!!

Happy 2016!! Ok someone please slow this time thing down! 2016?! I mean weren't we just partying like it was 1999?! Ahhh, its so crazy! Well it is what it is and another year to start fresh and make things spectacular!
One I always feel like I fell off the wagon...and I've slacked on creating too. I have a ton of projects either on the to-do list, half done, almost done, done, done? I just have lacked some motivation and creative juice to get it all wrapped up! Soon!

Balancing first grade?! Crazy town I know but they can do it! I am in no way looking for mastery in this at all because it is a very intricate and developed concept but I did want them to just see and experience this for the moment. Plus they LOVED it! Who would have thought? But after we were done they were like "This was awesome!" *mind blown*
My main goal really from this was just to get them to understand that the equal sign is a symbol to show that the left is the same as the right. They get so used to seeing it one way that when it changes at all it throws them off track and they freeze. When in all actuality they can do it. I broke out the balances and you would have thought I was a super hero . I also found one online that was interactive so we were able to use the smartboard and the small balance they could touch. 
Here is the interactive online one:

I also felt the need to have them be able to record their thoughts and findings throughout the lessons so I created a packet that incorporates missing addend, balancing equations, and word problems. (I am hoping to get this up on TPT as well soon!) I went very slow and gave them a lot of time to talk and explore and discuss reasoning's. Seriously, my mind was blown listening to them think through and use math talk. Everyday after these lessons I felt like I had run a marathon, not in an omg I am going to pass out, what was I thinking kind of way, but like an omg that was exhilarating, I feel accomplished, it can be done kind of way. Especially when they were so interested and pumped as well. 


We not only worked through seeing the equal signs meaning but we also challenged ourselves to make a false, unequal, unbalanced equation, actually balanced. 
They started seeing how they could create certain equations different ways and that there was not just one way to make or see it. 
I thought they were going to explode when we got to one problem that went past 10 and since they balance only goes up to ten they had to either put more than two weights on or stack the weights to get to their answer. 
There was so much good stuff that we did that week I can't even list it all! 

Here is a little video of one of my friends sharing his math thoughts. It may not seem like much to you, but it was a celebration that day to get that kind of thinking even started!

When I get the packet uploaded I will repost the link!

So as I was decorating this year, I had this sparkly frame just sitting not being used. I also had some old card covers I had saved from greeting cards I was given over the years. Sometimes you get cards that are so pretty and just can't seem to throw them away- I mean cards are so pricey now days. So I had compiled a few that I really liked and just tore off the cover. 
I added some scrapbook paper in the background and.....
fast, easy, pretty decor! 
You could do this really with any card you may get Easter, Valentines, etc. 

I also threw these little candy jars together one night. I filled each jar up with some candy (starburst and jolly rancher) added a little card and....
a fast, easy, cute, tasty gift.
I wrote these little sayings in each card as well...
"Hope your Christmas and New Year is "bursting" with blessings."
"Have a "jolly" Christmas and New Year full of blessings."

We talked long and hard about characters in books and their traits. This is always something they love to do but sometimes have difficulty moving past their external characteristics towards their internal. We want them to get to know their characters like their BFF! 
So I made this poster to use during our mentor text reading to help out a bit. This is something we took very slow and it took us all week to make it through each section. 
We read good 'ol Kevin Henkes! 
Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse lent itself to some very good character analysis and let me tell you when we were done we knew Lilly like our BFF!
 Once I read through the story once we worked on just the first section of "feelings". They taught their buddy about how she felt throughout the story and then we recorded a few of the places they talked about. That was all we did for the mini lesson that day. The next day we went back and reviewed her feelings we wrote down and then I wanted them to help me with exactly what were her actions during these feelings. So we pinpointed two of those feelings and I had them prove it to me in the book. I really challenged them to show me and defend their answer. We then went back and proved her words she used in the story to back up her actions and feelings. We were only able to get one answer recorded that day.
At the end of the week after a lot of modeling and partner chat I gave them each a recording sheet I made to match the poster we had used that week. As a class I modeled very specifically what we were going to record and used the book to refer back. Since it was teacher lead it looks near perfect haha but my reasoning behind them copying is to get them practicing their book talk and proving their thoughts rather than worried about spelling etc. I feel this in turn will help them when they do go off on their own and can manage this kind of activity without me being right there.

Click HERE to grab these printables!

Throughout December we decided as a team to try out a new idea for celebrating family traditions around the holidays. Long story short, the kids went home and created a  "quilt" piece (on paper, material, photo paper etc) discussing and sharing their families traditions. We wanted them to understand why a tradition is important to them and their family. 
After they turned them in, we presented them to the class to learn about everyone's traditions. It was really neat to see and hear different stories and see their creativity. Here is a short little video of them presenting. 

How do you share progress updates with your parents? I always feel like I can do more or maybe should do more when it comes to communicating with my parents. I am sure if I listed all the ways and frequency I do initiate communication it would actually be adequate. But I got to thinking more about making sure I am really letting parents know throughout the week, month, and even semester how their child is doing. Especially those whom their child is not having any issues academically or behaviorally. Sometimes those kids get pushed to the back burner not because they are not important but because, well, they are not a red flag or concern. I decided I wanted to do something else for everyone in my class at semester time to kind of wrap it up and give a quick update since I can not have 22 conferences all over again in December. It started as one page then quickly turned into 8-10 just since I was not sure exactly which format I liked the most. I printed them all out and decided to go with this particular one. 
I wanted to make it easily read and understandable. I filled one out for each kid and will send it with the report card. I have not offered this yet in my TPT store or as a download yet because it is more tailored for my classroom expectations, however, if I see interest I may tweak it to be more generic and offer it in case there is someone that may be able to use it as well! There are, like I said, many different versions I made, it all just depends on what people prefer. 

Have a BLESSED weekend!

 I hope you start your 2016 full of hope and joy! God will do great things!