Friday, February 26, 2016

Five For Friday

On Wednesdays, our school has "B.Y.O.D. Day".  Our planned activity Wednesday was a review of time, which we recently finished.  We got these QR Codes on Time as a freebie from Teaching With Heart in Texas.  My kiddos loved that the QR codes were posted around the room so they could hunt for them!  In the beginning we were low-tech; students had to simply read the clocks and record the time shown, on their answer sheet.  After all answers were written, I exchanged their pencils for pens, to ensure no answers would be changed.  Then they moved around the room with a partner and used their devices to check their answers.  They were all so engaged and loved it!

We have been learning how to measure.  Here you can see students working in pairs to measure a length of tape on the floor.  Earlier I put down 8 different length pieces of colored tape.  I numbered them 1-8.  We folded a piece of blank paper into quarters for each student. The students wrote an answer for each length of tape in a square. They measured using traced cut-outs of their own feet.  We leaned the importance of lining each foot up so that they were touching, but avoiding overlapping and space between.  We also discussed the importance of using the same size object to measure.   Therefore, they did not share their feet cut-outs, since that would mean using different size objects to measure.  We have some "t-niney" (tiny) feet and some great BIG feet in our classroom this year!

To prepare for next week's Read Across America day, I just finished making 20 QR codes for 20 different Dr. Seuss books.  I wanted my kiddos not to just hear the words read to them, but to also see the words as well.  These videos show the words in them so the students can read as they listen.  I'm super excited to share them with my kiddos next week!  I know they'll love them.

If you want to pick up your own set, click on the title below.  
It's basically like getting 20 books for only $5.00.  
You just can't beat that!

In reading, we've been reading from Readers' Theaters.  I have several printed already and in folders for them to use with their reading partners. Each day we had a lesson that involved reading a script.  The lesson were fluency focused - noticing punctuation, reading rate, voice inflection, reading with expression, deciding on what emotion was needed for certain phrases, etc.  At the start of the week, I pulled my lowest readers to my group and we read through scripts together, giving them the needed support to decode and understand what they were reading.  My students were so engaged and on task the entire time they were reading with their partners.  They just loved these scripts!

My last event photographed was at the end of the day today.  At our school, when students are caught doing good, exhibiting the desired behavior expectations, they will often earn and Eagle Buck (our mascot is an eagle).  They put their name on their Eagle Buck and put it in the Eagle Buck Jar.  They earn many throughout the week.  On Fridays, I pull 5 names from the Eagle Buck Jar to choose a treasure from the treasure box.  They do not let me forget to pull these names!  
These were 4 of our proud treasure winners!  

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Sunday Scoop

Hello everyone.  I'm linking up with The Teaching Trio for The Sunday Scoop.  I've spent my Sunday afternoon finishing laundry, shooting hoops with my own children, and relaxing in front of the TV a bit.  Looking at the week ahead, here are a few things on my plate. 

If you have not thought about Read Across America day yet, it's right around the corner.  You know... Dr. Seuss's birthday!   To make sure all of my kiddos have access to plenty of Dr. Seuss books, in addition the traditional ones I have in my classroom library, I've made a set of QR codes for 20 of Dr. Seuss's favorites books.  If you want a set, click on the title or image below.  Simply print, and scan with a device that has a QR code reader.  You can download those from free from the App Store.  

What was your favorite Dr, Seuss book as a kid and why, or even now?  I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Are You Ready for Read Across America Day?

We are just a little more than half way through February, but its time to start planning for the events coming next month.  In less than two weeks, March 2nd, it will be time to celebrate NEA's Read Across America Day, in honor of Dr. Seuss's birthday.  Read Across America Day started as a way to motivate kids to read. We celebrate football with pep rallies.  We gather together to remember that Character Counts.  Why not do something to get kids excited about reading?  Those were the very thoughts that got this party started in 1997.

With the release of the new found Dr. Seuss book this year, there are lots of new resource ideas.  You can download this Read Across America activity guide from NEA's website.

Dr. Seuss books have been family favorites in our house for years.  Here are some of our favorites.  With the birth of our first child, my brother-in-law started us on a ever-growing collection of Dr. Seuss books.  For early readers, The Foot Book and One Fish, Two Fish... have repetitive and predictable texts.  However, before our children were ready to read, they loved being read to.  My oldest daughter and son loved for me to read Are You My Mother,  They loved their father to read Go, Dog. Go!  Their favorite part was the dog party at the top of the tree! My favorite has always been Green Eggs and Ham.  I just love the rhyme and the ending, when Sam realizes in fact, that he does like green eggs and ham.

Growing up, I'm sure you had your favorites.  I wonder if they were our favorites too...

I've listed our family's top 10 Dr. Seuss books here.  
#1 Go, Dogs. Go!

#2 Green Eggs and Ham

#3 Are You My Mother

#4 The Foot Book

#5 One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

#6 The Cat in the Hat

#7 There's a Wocket in My Pocket

#8 Ten Apples Up On Top

#9 The Sneetches

#10 How the Grinch Stole Christmas 

And now we have the newly found book titled What Pet Should I Get?  I was so excited when I realized this was a great book to launch our Opinion Writing Unit.  It spurred great conversations about which animals would make the best pets and why.  My students loved it!

Our library has a limited number of these classics, and I'm sure every teacher in our school will want them for their classroom.  So to make sure my students have access to them I created QR codes for 20 of these great books!  If you are not familiar with a QR code, it is a code that can be scanned by a QR code reader app, which is available as a FREE download here for an iPhone or here for an Android device.  Or you can visit your app store on your device.  You simply use an iPad, iPhone, or other tablet style device to scan the QR code.  For my QR Codes: 20 Dr. Seuss Stories for Read Across America,  a video will appear with someone reading the book.  These videos include the words to the books, so students can read along,  not just be read to.

Grab your copy of QR Codes: 20 Dr. Seuss for Read Across America from my TPT store now, so you'll have time print them and laminate to last for years.

So on March 2nd, during reading, and at a few other key times during the day, our focus will be on celebrating the wonderful stories brought to us by that wonderful American writer and illustrator Dr. Seuss, whose real name was Theodor Seuss Geisel.

Here is the official Dr. Seuss site, which features games, printable activities and information about Dr. Seuss himself.

If your school has a subscription to Brain Pop, Jr., click here for a great movie about Dr. Seuss.  If not, here is a more lengthy biography video from You Tube, without ads, but I suggest you view it first. Its about 10 minutes long.

In the comments section below, I would love to hear what Dr. Seuss stories were your favorites when you were growing up or even now.  

Saturday, February 13, 2016

How Can You Help Your Students Read Words With Blends?

When children first begin to read, the best thing to use are repetitive books.  These are books that have a predicable structure and, for the most part, have the same words repeated over and over, adding just one new word per page.

    "I like cats."
    "I like dogs."
    "I like balls."

This gives children the support they need to review and repeat words they have learned and to see only a small amount of new words, in order for them to find the enjoyment in reading a book. Those beginning readers feel such pride and a sense of accomplishment when they have successfully finished reading a book.  This is a key component to future learning... a love of reading!

However, very soon, they will progress, learning the sounds and sight words needed to read lengthier text.  Once a student begins to read at level D (Fountas and Pinnell), blends are introduced.  Students need practice using these blends to become familiar with them.

I just made a set of Blend Puzzles to use in my classroom's literacy centers, so I thought I'd share them with you.  These are the first in a series of blend puzzles I will be creating and posting to TPT, so check back soon to see the next set.

Better yet, follow my blog, subscribe by email or bookmark this in your favorites, and you won't miss the post when I introduce the next set.

Simply laminate, cut apart puzzle pieces, and put them altogether in a baggie or file folder.  Then make them available for students to choose.  You may want to introduce them in your reading groups.  That will generate some excitement for sure.  I like to introduce all of my new material either in a small group or whole class, before putting it out.  Not only does it generate interest, it also gives me the opportunity to communicate my expectations for how I want the activity to be used.

I would love to hear from you...  How would you use these blend puzzles?  Just click on the "comment' button below.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Valentine's Day Math and Reading

Right now my team of teachers and I are focusing our efforts on helping our students increase their fact fluency.  It is always a real eye-opener to see the actual results of the assessment our district uses to determine their fact fluency.  We call it the Hiding Assessment.  Once we determine the number at which the student hesitates more then three seconds or gives a wrong answer, we set up a series of activities to focus on that number.  Once the student becomes fluent at that number, they move up and work on the next number.  The goal is for our kindergarteners to be fluent to 5 before they come to us in first.  Our goal is for first graders to be fluent to 10 before moving on to second grade.  After my math mini-lesson and lesson application, my students participate in a math rotation which lasts about 20 minutes.  They rotate through four stations called: 

1. Computers 
2. Math by Myself
3. With Mrs. H. 
4. Centers   

The station "With Mrs. H." meets at my teachers table.   I meet with this group mainly to remediate or review earlier content.  

The station called "Math by Myself" is the station with activities designed specifically for the individual students. If a student is working on the number 6, everything in that folder helps them remember the various number combinations of the number 6.  

In the "Centers" station, I include new and past math concepts.  I also include fact fluency center activities.  I select the activities that go into the center stations, but the students can choose which ones they want to work on from the activities I put out.  I wanted a fact fluency center with a Valentine's Day theme, so I created Breaking Hearts Fact Fluency.  The students match the broken hearts by locating the sums and the number combinations that go together.   Students use the smaller pink hearts and white hearts along with the ten frame to help them determine the correct sum.  Afterwards, they provide answers on the recording sheet. 

Here is a preview of all of the number combinations, including the recording sheet.

Click to get your copy of Breaking Hearts Fact Fluency.

If you are teaching a bit older child, you will want to check out the FREE Valentine's Day multiplication fact game at my 3rd grade blog, 3rd Grade Grapevine.

My sweeties love it when they come in first thing and find their morning work is one of my Color by Sight Word sheets.  I have pages created to go along with the seasons and holidays as they arrive.  I have three for the month of February, and each are with the Valentine's Day theme.

This is the cover of the packet you would see on TPT. The upcoming seasonal themes include:

  • Winter/Snow
  • Valentine'd Day
  • St. Patrick's Day
  • Lion/Lamb ("Spring comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.")
  • Easter
  • April Showers
  • May Flowers
The sight words featured are a combination of Dolce and Fry words along with years of experiential knowledge of the words kids need to know how to read by the end of first grade.  

I am a huge fan of Discovery Education.  If you have not found that resource yet, bookmark it or save it to your favorites.  I can't tell you how many times I just pull up the site, type a topic in the search bar, and, WHA-LA!  ...several great resources to choose from that will fit whichever grade level I need.  All of the following videos can be found on Discovery Education and they are all about Valentine's Day.

Here is a video that tells the origins of Valentine's Day, and how the tradition of giving valentines all began.  
It's titled Holiday Facts and Fun:  Valentine's Day.  
Click on the image below to go there.  
You will need to set up a FREE account if you or your school do not already have one.

If we have rainy weather, I will often play a fun video on the smart board.  Clifford's Your Secret Valentine would be a fun choice.

If your school allows access to You Tube, here is the same Clifford Valentine's Day video.  You Tube used to be blocked in our district, but not any longer.  However it still it in many districts, so you may want to go through Discover Eduction. 

Click on the title, Breaking Hearts FREEBIE , to get your copy of the recording sheet below, just for visiting my blog.  Follow my blog and bookmark it so you don't miss updates and other FREEBIES offered here.  

I would love to hear from you...  When do you incorporate math centers, or do you have a similar math rotation as I do?  Do you use Discovery Education videos in your classroom, or do you have other video sites you like to use instead?    Just click on the "comment' button below. 

Freebie Fridays

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