Monday, July 28, 2014

Very Merry Christmas in July! A Giveaway for you!

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Some bloggers have gotten together to giveaway $80 to their Teacher Pay Teacher stores!  Make sure you visit all the blogs to check us out. I am always trying to get some of the things off my wish lists.  We will end the giveaway on the 30th!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Falling in love with Close Reading Chapter 4

Question 1 -
Honesty, Reading Closely for structure doesn't really occur in my first grade classroom.  We are still learning to blend sounds  and make meaning from the text for at least the first half of the school year!  So, I have not taught much structure.  When I teach writing, I do model using dialogue between characters.  I love the Mo Willems books for this.  I also teach students to compare books by the same author, or similar books by different authors.  We focus on the author's purpose  as well.  I guess I really need to put on my lenses and dig deeper with my students during my shared reading lessons and during read alouds.
Question 2 -
I think I hit upon this a little above, with first graders, I need to be the one leading the way.  I need to find the complex texts and model close reading through think alouds!  If I model with the whole group, I think I will be able to transition my higher readers into using different lenses when they read.  The goal would be to have my students think outside the box  when they are reading independently. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Guided Math Chapter 9 ...the final chapter

I plan to differentiate my math lessons.  I am required to implement envision with fidelity, but I can adjust the lesson so that when we are doing the guided practice I am working with small groups.  I do this to a certain extent already, but with a little planning on my part I can extend the learning of my high fliers and try and boost my strugglers.  I also am adjusting my Daily 5 to more of a center rotation.  (I'm a control freak anyway - so it should be fine!)  I plan to have the students complete a math activity each day in addition to a word work activity.  
 I work with an amazing group of educators!  Our school is always trying to work for the best of the students.  We want to work smarter not harder.  If it is for the best of the students, it is supported!  It would be great if within my grade level we had time to level/group students according to their needs, so that each teacher and aide could teach a mini lesson or work on student skills.  Who knows what the schedule brings!? 
Make sure you check back in September to see how things are going!

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Falling in Love with Close Reading Chapter 3

Question 1
This chapter of Falling in Love with Close Reading makes so much sense to me.  Maybe it is more meaningful to me since it is all about word choice, and this is something I can use with my first graders!  I can take these lessons and apply them in my classroom with recreating the wheel!  I especially connected with the video clips of toys for boys and toys for girls.  When we are studying needs and wants I can present two short video clips and teach the students about the power of word choice.  The students will be able to connect with the commercials and develop better understanding of the power of words.

Question 2
The difference in how I've taught word choice in the past and how I plan to teach it now is the power of patterns.  Before we focused on choosing words that weren't dead.  (You know the lesson -- where you bury words; said, like, laugh... and identify words you want the students to use instead; whispered, delight, giggles...)  Here's an example from Hope King's classroom.  She presented this at I teach 1st!

I will still teach this lesson, because my students need it, but now I will teach other lessons where we look at word choice through lenses.  We will be looking deeper!

What will you do differently?  Share your ideas here!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Guided Math Chapter 8

Assessment is essential in Guided Math because it drives instruction.  When working with small groups of students, you want to group them with similar learning goals.  I want to work with students that are struggling to understand place value at the same time.  This way my lessons are focused and succinct.  Much like Guided Reading, I will need to constantly be assessing and evaluating student need.  Once a student has mastered a skill they need to move onto a new skill.  this is why the groups need to remain fluid.  No one keeps a young reader in the letter id/sounds group once they are putting the sounds together to form words, the same goes for math.  Why hold a child back?
I use a combination of assessments.  As I mentioned before, I have a plethora of district mandated assessments.  Luckily, the Beginning of Year assessment has been created to assess learning from Kindergarten.  I can immediately look at the data to see what skills my students are struggling to master.  Additionally, I can utilize our MTSS screener to identify areas that need to be mastered.  Paired with my observations this is always a good place to start. 
As I start to work with groups, I can give quick assessments to look for understanding and mastery of the skills.  Often first graders come back to school and just need a refresher on certain skills.   This way I am keeping my student's learning moving forward. 
I have multiple assessments that are provided for my use by my district.  These assessments are to identify holes in student learning based on my instruction.  By implementing Guided Math, I feel like I will be better meeting all student need rather than just noting that Suzie doesn't understand place value -- and moving on, because that's what the pacing guide says!

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

WOW!! Las Vegas!!! I Teach 1st!


I knew Vegas was going to be a great experience, but who’d have thought I’d meet so many wonderful teachers/bloggers?!


First thing Monday morning I ran into Greg Smedley-Warren from Smedley’s Smorgasboard!  I felt like I had met a celebrity.  We had a great chat about our schools, and I got a quick picture.  


Our keynote speaker was Marc Brown, of the Arthur Aardvark fame!  He was very enthusiastic and full of excitement!  He even read us his newest book it hasn’t been published!!  He’s working on it with R.L. Stine of the Goosebumps fame!  Marc Brown is doing the illustrating. Guess what?  The story is about Monsters!!  Look for it next Spring!


My first session was with none other than, THE Cara Carroll, from the First Grade Parade.  The session was all about making math a fun-a-liscious experience.  I took tons of notes and snapped some pics!  I can’t wait to spice up my math instruction.  (It fits right in with the Guided Math that I have been reading/blogging about all summer!)

Of course I wasn’t going to leave without a picture! 
Then I hit up not one but two different sessions on how to spice up science!  I love science, but we all know it's the first thing to go when we are out of time.  I gathered a slew of ideas on how to incorporate science into my Language Arts instruction so we won't be missing out any more! 
I went Laureen Reynolds' session about shared research projects!  She is all about "shared" projects!!!  These are practical and easy projects that take lessons one step farther, I was so motivated!!  I can do this  (Check back in with me in September-  I have things a brewin')
Off I went to see my Kansas gals!!  Kelly Bumgardner and Diane Schmelzer, other wise known as Made for 1st Grade.  They had amazing ideas for bringing Common Core to our center time - Daily 5 for me!  I am already working on tweaking those ideas to make them fit for my kiddos.  The best part of the session was that I WON a $25 shopping spree to their TPT store.  Seriously!! Winner, winner chicken dinner!


I hit up some Deanna Jump sessions next!  YES, the Deanna Jump!  I didn't get a picture, because the line was soooooo long!  I did get motivated though!

The girls and I went shopping, I offered to buy them some shirts, but they declined.  I have no idea why?  I thought these were perfect!

The girls and I took on the Vegas heat and saw the Bellagio fountains!  That's Libbyliscious taking it all in!

I was pretty hyped up on Wednesday -- when I went to Hope King's session on Student Engagement.  Lordy, Lordy that girl is motivating!  She works at the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, GA.  There's no surprise why!  She can get adults and kids motivated to learn!  She's all about setting the classroom up to excite kids learning.  I am definitely going to try some of her awesome lessons.  (Regardless -- of the interest of my co-workers!  This year I am going to be the best teacher I can be -- and not let any one bring me down, because it's too much work.  I am all about these kids I am teaching! )

I am also all about Carlo's Bakery!!!  We waited 30+ minutes for some treats!  I got a Lobster Tail (top row) and the girls ate one of those yummy chocolate & strawberry concoctions!

 I met WHIMSY WORKSHOP!!!!  The bloggy meet up was amazing.  I met so many bloggers.  It was a room full of people passionate about what they do.  You couldn't help but be excited to be a TEACHER!

I think the biggest thing I learned was to be myself.  I need to teach the way that the students learn best.  I need to stop worrying about my co-workers, and just do my job.  This is not a competition -- I am simply teaching so that my students learn as much as possible when they are with me.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Falling in Love with Close Reading Chapter 2


Question 1 -
Reading Closely for Text Evidence is reading through lenses.  It is different from word choice because,We are specifically focusing on details to gather data; what characters say/think/do, relationships, setting descriptions, and time period.  We are looking deeper to better understand the text.  We are going to then look at our data to find patterns how do the details fit together?  Then we take the pattern and think about how it affects the character’s feelings, traits, and relationships.  In some ways it is similar to word choice as we must look into the text to find specific pieces of proof.
Question 2 -
I love the lessons and examples from this Chapter; however they are geared towards much older students.  As a first grade teacher, I need to take my learning and apply it specifically to my students.  I feel like close reading is something that I can use with my higher readers, or with my entire class second semester.  My focus for the first quarter, often into the second quarter is to make sure my students have the basic phonics skills so that they can put all the pieces together and become readers. 
I think I will model close reading with a read aloud, and a guided close reading lesson.  In order to be successful I will need to scaffold my initial lessons with close reading to ensure student success.
Question 3 -
Students are encouraged to think more and dig deeper to prove their thinking with close reading.  They use their lenses to see developing patterns and then apply their learning to their understanding.  I see the student talk as more complex and at a higher level.  To me it seems as if the students are getting a much better reading lesson than we have typically taught in the past.
Where do I go from here?
Honestly, I don't know! I need to meet my darling little first graders and assess where they are reading.  I may only use close reading as a guided/whole group instruction the entire first semester.  I do want my students to develop critical thinking skills, and I think close reading can help with that, but I need to make sure they are ready for such a task.  Check in with me in October -- let's see what I have been able to do!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Guided Math Chapter 7 and a FREEBIE!

How to conference with students!

Conferring with students can be a challenge in many classrooms.  Especially if the basic structure of guided math is not in place.  Students are creatures of habit.  They crave routine, and will follow what you set up as the routine.  This means if they interrupt you once, and you allow it, they will interrupt you again, and again.  This is why it is important to set up a guided math routine much like you’d set it up for guided reading.

In order to conference with students you need to have a good understanding of what is happening in your classroom.  I like to watch what my students are engaged in and see if I can trouble shoot any potential problems BEFORE I start conferencing.  While I do this I may take anecdotal notes.  I am developing a guided math notebook where I keep detailed information on student progress.

I discover my students’ mathematical thinking by observation and conversation.  I like to look at what they have mastered and ask them questions.  (I plan to add an interactive notebook/math journal component to this years teaching.) If the student has the ability to teach the concept, they have achieved mastery.  If they are struggling, I need to look at where they need support.  I need to carefully question and provide only enough support for them to understand on their own..  Maybe they just need a reminder of a strategy that was taught. Whatever I do I need to share knowledge with the learner, not force feed a formula.  Students need to be thought of as partners in the learning process.
Laney Sammons suggests:
1.     Research student understanding
2.   Decide what is needed
3.   Teach to student needs
4.   Link to future
I think it is important to recognize what the student has learned and remind them of this.  Not only does it help to link the mathematical processes together it builds confidence.
I made a quick guided math binder to track my student conferences!  I plan to run the student sheets front/back.  That way if I take anecdotal notes on post its, I can simply stick them on the back.  Another way to take notes is to use labels.  Those stay put when stuck on the back of the page.  I know sometimes my post its go astray!! 
You can grab it here!

I hope to conference with my students once a week.  I honestly do not know how many students I will be working with, what their needs are, and what other support I will have in the classroom.  I’d like to conference more frequently, but I am not sure that is realistic.  Between teaching small groups, providing enVision lessons, and conferencing I think it will be a meet weekly.  I hope to be able to revisit this topic once school has started in the fall and show everyone how things are working (or not working) in my classroom!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Vegas Celebrities

Oohhhh my goodness!  I was star struck this morning!  I entered I teach 1st/ I teach K and immediately ran into Greg Smedley Warren, from Smedley's Smorgasbord!  I even had my picture taken!

What a super duper way to get things started!  Our keynote speaker was Marc Brown, as in Arthur, Marc Brown!  He was so engaging!  He even read us his newest book that's not going to be published until next year, hint, it's a monster book!  It's adorable!

Then off to a math session and then a sight words/high frequency words session with none other than THE Cara Carroll!  It was wonderful to see her in person, she's as sweet and genuine as she seems on her blog!  And yep, I got a picture!

Best day ever!  I am super motived to add onto my Daily Five word work.  And I've got some new math activities in the works too!

The girls and I took off to do some sight seeing this afternoon.  We started with the High Roller, a giant Ferris wheel thingy.  Here's Libby and Kate looking out over the strip!

We even saw the Bellagio fountains from way up high!

Of course, sweet and delicious Libbyliscious wanted to see them in person.  So what's a little jaunt down the strip in the 100+ degree heat?   Let's just discuss my sunburn. What's a little burn to keep the teen ager happy?

Check in tomorrow to see who else I meet and what I learn!

Don't forget to stop by my Teachers Pay Teachers shop and take advantage of my sale while I'm in Vegas!

I'm Vegas!!! but don't worry I am having a SALE!!

Don't worry, I haven't forgotten about all my friends that aren't in Vegas with me!  I am hanging with my daughters, and making new friends at I teach 1st! 

I decided to share the love and have a sale on TPT just for my awesome followers!  Come on over and see what's on sale!  Be watching FB and Instagram for flash freebies.  I won't ruin the fun, just keep your eyes open, the Flash Freebies will be quick and random!