Friday, October 31, 2014

Five For Friday: Goodbye October!

Not only were we celebrating red ribbon week, but Halloween too! Craziness!! But we survived and had a great week!

1. We are finishing up our unit on Sharing the Planet. The kids decided we needed to try composting so we spent a morning researching and finding out information about it, and then today we put it together! Read here for more details. I'm really curious to find out if it will turn out!

2. We also collaborated with a fourth grade class to reuse our trash by turning it into something useful! The kids had so much fun working together. We watched the Landfill harmonic first. I need to watch the whole documentary sometime. It is so amazing!

3. Our district is smart and made today a half day for professional development! The kids could not get over the fact that we weren't going to spend the whole day talking about halloween anyways, so it works out well! ;) Anyways, this is the second year that our school has done a cancer awareness walk. We walk around the school. It is such an awesome thing to see all the pink and kids come together at the end and meet in front of the school. Last year it really brought us together as a school community after a lot of change. This year it was just as wonderful!

4. Call me a nerd, but good collaboration in planning makes me so HAPPY! We are working on our new planner and it makes me so excited to teach it! We still have to finish the planning, but I think it is just what our kids need. It's that time of the year when they can get comfortable with school and the procedures, but thinking about greatness can encourage them to keep striving for more! I'm SO excited!!

5. Happy Halloween! We had fun trick or treating tonight!


Friday, October 24, 2014

Five For Friday... TGIF!!

The last two weeks have been crazy! I don't love report card time. We are working on our benchmarks and end of quarter assessments.... it messes up our whole schedule! But I am getting some good data, and a new quarter is kind of a fresh start so we are going to change some things up as far as small groups and workshop! Nothing too major, but hopefully it will get us all back on track!
Here's what has been going on recently...

1. As an IB school we have to develop portfolios for students to reflect on their work. Using them in a first grade classroom can be an interesting task. I wrote about it here.

2.  Last week was our fall break. We unexpectedly had to make the long trip to cleveland for my Grandpa's funeral. Thankfully our boys are great travelers!

3. One of the good things about the trip was being able to see all of my family! We are spread out in 4 different states and 2 countries! We hadn't been all together in over 2 years (well, we were missing a brother-in-law, but we were almost all together!)
You see that boy on the right? Oh yeah, that would be Alex...
adding some attitude to our picture! ;)

4. We survived our first field trip of the year.... the play Junie B. Jones! It's my favorite kind of field trip. Get on bus, get off, sit and watch show, and get back on bus! ;) low key is what I needed this week! The kids really enjoyed it though and that is what is important!

5. Alex draws a picture! He drew a picture of himself and Liam. I thought it was sweet. He has not been into drawing at all so I just love everything he does!! He even wrote Liam's name-- I just helped with the M!

Yeah, so this post is not so much about school.... I saw this article on facebook and am glad to know there is a name for what I am feeling right now! Hehe! Thankful for a restful weekend ahead so I can regroup to make it through the second half of DEVOLSON! :)

I'm linking up with Doodle Bug Teachings Five for Friday this week! :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Using Portfolios in the Primary Classroom

As an IB school, we are required to have the students keep a portfolio that they use to reflect on each of our transdisciplinary units. At our school, the students start their portfolio in kindergarten and it follows them until they get to 5th grade. 
This is our third year doing portfolios. Our first year I created the framework for what I wanted mine to look like... Of course, keeping up with it was a whole different story! 
But its a new year and I have new goals for making sure we keep up with it better! :)

Here is what our portfolios look like...

The Cover... 
Some kindergarten teachers use the pages I made, so I am excited that the kids will have a cute self portrait from kindergarten follow them all the way to 5th grade!

Table of Contents...

We have areas in our Portfolio for our 6 Transdisciplinary themes, Learner Profile, and Action/Student Choice. I've made some blank editable pages for those who are not an IB school too! You can choose what ever areas you want!

The trickiest part of portfolios is keeping up with the work that can potentially go in the portfolio. 
I usually have my kids keep an inquiry folder and we store work in there for each unit then at the end of the unit I let them pick a piece of work that they want to add. This first time around I don't give them as much choice because we are building the routines so I gave them the summative assessment and we all reflected on that.

Reflection Choices:
I give my kids three choices
1. I enjoyed this
2. I learned
3. It was difficult. 

Even though it is some times hard to read what these first graders write as their reflection, I really want them to write about it. If they just put a happy or sad face, they are just hitting the surface. I want them to start thinking about the WHY. 

Now remember... this was our very FIRST reflection... First graders are still learning what it means to reflect, so whatever they write down, I will take! :) 
As the year goes on, I will encourage the kids to go a little deeper and work to pull more out of them. 

At this point, I want them to get used to looking at their work, 
reflecting on how they felt about it, 
and trying to express why they thought that.

Our first year doing portfolios we didn't even start them until the middle of the year. 
Last year, we were reflecting on pieces of work from two or three units ago and doing multiple ones at the same time...NOT okay!I knew this year had to be different!

Goals for this year:
I hope that at the end of each unit our choices and reflections will deepen. 
I really want the students to be proud of their portfolios and be able to self-assess their work. 
I don't want it to be a chore or a hassle. 
I would love for my students to share their work with their parents at the end of the year. 
The last two years, I don't think my parents even knew these existed! 
We are off to a great start with our portfolios, I hope that we can keep it up! :)

You can get the portfolio page for FREE at my TPT store! Go check them out! Several pages are editable, including the cover, table of contents, and spines for the binders (I put their names on them).
Click on the picture to find it at my store!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Five For Friday: What a week!

It was definitely a full moon week and the start of the fair...
that and we are anticipating fall break!

Here's what we have been up to this week:

1. I worked on a vocabulary tool kit to help my kids when they are writing. Alex enjoyed it a lot too! You can find it here at my store.

2. The pigeon came to visit! He's helping us remember to use punctuation when we write! As I conferenced with kids I had them add some sentences where they used punctuation to help make their writing sound more interesting! 

3. Let's break for a home success... Alex wrote his name! Backwards of course and the A looks like an H but... look at that E! It starts by the brown arrow and he decided his X needed to be big (see black arrow). He is close to turning 4 but has had little interest in writing at home... Those two days of weekly preschool are helping out!

4. This sweet child could barely write her name at the start of the year. We worked together to stretched out the sounds but I was so proud that she heard all these sounds and knew the letters to match!! 

5. We started working on our new bulletin board. We are currently in our Sharing the Planet unit. We are focusing on earth materials, natural resources and then what we need to do to sustain them. These first couple of weeks our class has been talking about earth materials so the kids wrote down facts about water, rocks, sand, and soil and why they are important to us. Them they made the pictures to go with their facts. The kids were so creative! Next week we need to bridge the gap between earths resources and how we need to take care of them. I'm trying to think of a way to help lead them into that discovery by themselves! I have a couple book ideas, but would always welcome any great suggestions!

So glad it is the weekend!

I'm linking up with Doodle Bug Teaching's Five for Friday!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Building vocabulary through writing

This year I have a sweet little friend who is brand new to America... And English! Thankfully he is a sweet, outgoing fellow who has made friends very easily, but we definitely run into some communication issues! I love watching him on the playground talk to his friends in Spanish and they respond to him in English or when he rattles off a sentence to me and I respond with an "ok!" And he rushes back to his work, and I am left having no idea what just happened! My other favorite is when I try to pull out a Spanish word from my limited vocabulary and another Hispanic child comes up to me and tells me that I did a great job saying "---" in Spanish! Isn't he such a great little bucket filler!

Writing is my area to work on this year... it easily gets pushed to the side when things get busy, but I want to be more intentional about guiding my kids through the writing process. I decided that giving my kids some tools to help scaffold them as writers was one step in the right direction! When it comes to vocabulary, we read a lot to build vocabulary, but if they work at making better word choices in their writing they will internalize the vocabulary more then just hearing it.

I have several kids who I have noticed needed a little more support when it comes to writing and vocabulary so this weekend I started working on a little writing resource for my kids. I started with the tier one vocabulary that was recommended to us by our district and then added some writing tools that I like to or want to start using during our writing workshop. I hope this helps to bridge the gap between reading and writing.

These are some of the things I am excited to use with the kids...

I have tried a couple of different editing ideas for kids, 
but I always go back to this one as my favorite!

As we build up our sight words and other vocabulary we can add them to our personal word walls!

We won't add this to our writing folders until we build up our vocabulary a bit, 
but when we come across better word choices in books etc, we can add them to our Thesaurus! 

I am really excited about this tool to help my sweet little English learner and other kids who need it! 
I printed one copy and laminated it and Alex did not want to let go of it! Haha!
Hopefully first graders will enjoy it as much as he does!

All of the parts of the writing helper are also included as full page posters.
Check out the whole product here or click on the picture!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Currently: October Edition

This is my first time linking up to Oh' Boy 4th Grade's Currently Linky!

Listening... to Parks and Rec, well watching I guess. I can't ever keep up with current seasons of shows so I love watching Netflix on the weekends!

Loving... Fall is back in South Carolina! Hoping the weather stays cool like this. We had a nice little fall weather week and then it got hot again.... That does not make me happy! 

Thinking... My boys are napping I really should be getting something done around the house, but its the weekend. I love just being able to do what I want for a couple of minutes! 

Wanting... Naptime sounds really nice... ;)

Needing... My lesson plans are done, but my school to-do list is full of random things that need to get done... not to mention my cleaning to-do list! I can't keep up!

Treat! For the last couple of years we have done a fun pumpkin measuring activity in class! For this month you can find it as a freebie in my TPT store! Thanks for leaving some feedback! :)
Pumpkin Measuring

Friday, October 3, 2014

Five for Friday: hello October

It's Friday!! I'm linking up with Doodle Bug's Five for Friday today!

I can't believe we started October this week! We are keeping busy and steadily getting into more and more routines! 

1. I worked on some new games this past week! and yes, we will be working on reversals! ;)
I love using dice for game. The kids seem to pick up on them really easily and we can use them in a lot of ways! I posted it on TPT this week. The preview shows a couple of games and includes a freebie! you can find it here!

2. We started a new Unit of Inquiry this week. After collecting some earth we wrote down some questions.  We read some books about water on Thursday and had such a great conversation about clean/dirty water around the world. We aren't finished with the conversation yet, but the kids were starting to make great connections. I can't wait to see where we will go next! I have loved the collaborative conversations our team has had too, we have all ended up coming at our unit in different ways, but the kids are definitely making connections to the world!
LOVE it!! I posted a little about our unit here
More will come as we continue inquiring our way through it!

3. I'm not sure why I lug this home every night... I did not open it once this week! 
At least I feel organized this year!

4. My life is busy but listening to the Bible each morning keeps me grounded! So thankful that the youversion app has an audio feature. I am doing an Immersion into Ephesians. Reading all of Ephesians everyday has been so encouraging.

5. I finally got my Reading Strategy posters up! We have been working on them for a couple weeks now, but I finally have them hanging behind my guided reading table! I also have stickers for the kids to add to their journal covers as they master them, and I am using them for the Accuracy portion of our CAFE wall (my work in progress...)
The kids love talking about their expert strategy! 
You can find all the reading strategies and a lot of extra goodies here!
Reading Strategies Posters, Bookmarks, Labels, Student Car

I'm ready for the weekend now!!
Happy October!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Sharing the Planet!

Last week we finished up our first unit Who We Are...well mostly! We still need to dive more into the Learner Profile and Attitudes, but we made a good start. We actually reflected and added work to our portfolios (more on that soon!)... which was a first. Usually we are reflecting on two or three units at at time, but this year I really want my kids to be proud of what they are putting in their portfolios. I would love to meet with parents at some point to have kids share with their parents about their work. I think the more they are internalizing their learning, the more transdisciplinary it will be!

Our provocation to start out our new unit, Sharing the Planet, was a little nature walk. I gave each student a ziploc and told them to go collect some earth.--whatever they thought the earth was. So they ran out of the building and "Collected Earth"! It was so interesting to see what they came up with... and for the most part they were right on target! (it double as a preassessment too! :) )
It was starting to sprinkle so one girl wanted to collect the rain... "Is rain the earth?" she asked me!
We will use these collections for more investigations!

Today I read Our Big Home and then they shared some questions they had...

We went off on a little tangent on what is a country vs state, but while we were exploring the world on google maps we talked about the difference between land and water too. It's all learning! I love it! 
Here are some of the questions they asked:

Not all are supposed to be covered in this unit...the ones about if the whole earth has the sun at the same time are technically another unit, but I'm sure we will get them answered now too! ;)