Saturday, April 12, 2014

Arrr Mateys! Themes aren't fluff.

   This week we returned from break to a little bit of fun with Pirates. I know there are plenty of people who disagree with "themes" because they feel they don't meet the standards, but I would have to disagree.  Most of our day last week was will filled with pirates and I hit a more Common Core standards than I can count.  Themes help me make the standards exciting and also make everything flow and make sense to my little people.  So I thought I'd show you how a little of what I covered last week through our theme.
   Every week we start our morning with our morning message. As you may know from reading my blog, I use the same message all week.  We change the date each day and work on different skills. On Mondays we fix mistakes and fill in blanks, and lately we've been working on finding words with long and short vowels, inflectional endings, multiple meaning words and parts of speech. 
    After morning message we move on to our poem.  I wrote a poem about being a pirate. On day one we just read the new poem and discuss its meaning.  Other days we use our pocket chart highlighters to work on language and phonics skills.  Again, our poem always matches our theme for the week.  
     Each week I choose a book that matches our theme.  I love the book How I Became a Pirate so I knew it would be perfect for covering lots of first grade reading literature and language standards.  This week we covered questioning, retelling with details from the story, character traits and details that support those traits, point of view, and main idea.

   In writing we have been working on opinion. I don't usually theme my writing, as we use Writer's Workshop, but because we are currently working on opinion writing and because using literature to respond with an opinion is important, I thought we'd begin with their opinion of being a pirate.  On day one we just talked about facts and opinions. I gave my kiddos all sorts of choices and they worked with a parter to state their opinion and reasons why the preferred on thing to another.  On day two we created a Pros and Cons list of being a pirate.  Then my students used their lists of pros and cons to fill in a graphic organizer.  Finally they used that organizer to write their final piece.  
   My Centers at the end of the day also follow our theme for the week.  Here are a few pictures of our centers. Of course while my kiddos are reviewing Common Core standards through centers, I am meeting with guided reading groups.  Below is a picture of one of my sweeties with their poetry center.  Another student is working on verb tenses in a little pirate sort.  
   We were also working on adding three numbers with sums to 25 and a pirate book centers where students practiced vocabulary by inserting the proper synonym for the bold word.
   So that's a little bit of our week.  I hope it gave you a little peek at what goes on in our room and proved that themes aren't just fluff. They make sense to kids, they're fun and they get the job done. 

PS. Lots of people have asked how I choose my themes. I often choose them by looking at our Science and Social Studies standards.  I have lots of map skills to cover this week and next so pirates were the perfect solution.  I have also been asked if I would create a list of my themes. I will be posting my weekly themes soon. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sunday Stuff

I'm convinced this is true.   Unfortunately, spring break ends tonight for this teacher. It was a relaxing week, but it went way too fast.  In fact, the 1200 good intentions I had never did get accomplished, but there's always summer right? 

I am excited about our literature unit coming up. We'll be reading How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long. The illustrations are as adorable as the story because David Shannon is the illustrator.  We'll be working on all kinds of Common Core this week. I tried to hit a little bit of everything, from questioning, to vocabulary to point of view and even a bit of opinion writing. 
In addition to this unit for Shared Reading time, we'll also be working on map skills.  I love our pirate theme while teaching basic map skills.  Also included in this unit is a poem for the week, as well as, centers.

In addition to these pirate resources I also have a few FREE pirate centers on Teachers pay Teachers.
Both of my pirate units are 15% off tonight. 
I hope you all have a great week! 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Five for Friday

I can't believe I'm writing a 5 for Friday post and it's actually still Friday. 
This may be a first! So here it goes, my 5:

I first want to remember a special little boy I taught.  3 years ago this week he passed away from a disease called Neurofibromatosis.  This ugly disease overtook his sweet little body.  He touched the lives of everyone he met.  In fact, his friends still celebrate his life every year.  One of his close friends made me this adorable key chain in remembrance of Jordan. Jordan's favorite color was orange.  This year I am going to remember him by donating to the Children's Tumor Foundation. If you would like to help end NF, you can click the link below.
As you may know I recently became so inspired to get healthy from some of my sweet friends. I've been trying really hard to eat clean and workout 5-6 days per week. As you may also know, I love fashion.  So when I workout, I also want to look cute doing it.  A few days ago I found this fun top at Kohls, and now I want more.  Ruffles with Love is a site full of adorable shirts for wearing while getting fit.  I am so IN LOVE with everything on the site! I think I need them all. I might treat myself to one after each 10 pound loss or goal I meet. You can click the picture below to check out the store for more adorable shirts.
I am also a BaubleBar addict. I just went shopping and this mint jewelry is Fabulous!!!

I am joining some amazing bloggers in a Spring Cleaning Sale. My store will be on sale through Monday. I am giving a 20% discount.
You can click below to check out my store. 
To see who else is joining in on the fun click the link below.
Wanna see who else is joining?
Check it out!

While everything is on sale, you can check out some of my end of the year items.  When I get back from spring break, we'll be working on map skills with my pirate unit.  

In addition I'll be creating a shared reading unit for the book, How I Became a Pirate
That unit should be available within the week. 
It will also be time before long, to start thinking about the end of year. Two of my best sellers are my end of the year awards and my summer review packs for both Kindergarten and First Grade.

These awards were such a huge hit last year! I love how individualized they are and how excited my kiddos were to see what their award would say.  

And to help prevent the summer slide you can check out these:

If you want to share your 5 for Friday, CLICK HERE!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A week in review...

I thought I'd share a little of what we did last week. We had some fun with St. Patty's Day shenanigans.  Last week we read, Green Shamrocks by Eve Bunting. It's a cute little book and great for teaching all kinds of common core skills. 
On Monday my kiddos made predictions about what happened to Rabbit's shamrocks. Most of them predicted a leprechaun stole them.  Their ideas were adorable. 
The next day we worked on sequencing.  I made several sheets so my kiddos could be broken up into groups for differentiation.  Some kids just put the events in order, other's had to write about them and some came up with the ideas all on their own.  
These are some other activities I created, but we didn't get a chance to use. 
On Wednesday, we talked about "Cause and Effect". I gave each kiddo a cause or effect card and they had to find their partner.  We shared the cause and effect and then my students worked together to fill out the cause and effects from the story.
On Thursday, we worked on Point of View. In first grade the point of view standard focuses on who is telling the story.  With this lesson we talked about the character's and narrator's jobs in the story. We also talked about quotation marks and dialogue.  After sorting the cards from the story, my student chose a book on their reading level to work on the Who's Talking worksheet. They had to find dialogue from the character and text when the narrator is telling the story.  
On Friday, we worked on shades of meaning.  First my kiddos partner read the book.   Then, we sorted the word cards below and then my kids worked in groups to put the words in order from least to most intense.  Every table got them correct! I was so proud and my kiddos loved this lesson. 
This week we also did a fun little "Skittle's Science" experiment.  It's a fun way to teach how scientist observe.  

We also had a visit from a leprechaun and a hunt for our pot of gold (otherwise known as twix and rolos).  

At home we had some St. Patty's Day fun as well. 
Here's Drew's mostly green lunch and a few pictures of the leprechaun's visit to our house.
 And a picture of Leprechaun Landon.
I'm working on some rascally rabbit fun for the classroom, as well as shared reading unit on pirates! 
I hope you have a great week! 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Green Shamrocks

I'll be back soon with some new ideas and some answers to questions I've been getting, but I wanted to let you all know I finally finished my St. Patty's Day Shared Reading unit. It was made for the adorable book Green Shamrocks by Eve Bunting.  
This unit covers:
Story Sequencing (Differentiated)
Problem and Solution 
Character Traits
Cause and Effect
Point of View (Who's Talking?)
Shades of Meaning

Are you ready to face your little leprechauns tomorrow? 
Have a great week!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Reading Week

Are you all celebrating the Dr.'s birthday this week? We are, or we're trying.  We had a 2 hour delay today because of more snow.  I'm about over this white death.  I really wasn't made for winter...AT ALL! 
Today we did a few Cat in the Hat activities and then had a visit from author and illustrator Steve Harpster.  If you don't know Steve, you have to check him out. You can visit his site by clicking HERE. He's amazing with kiddos and teaches them to use their imagination and work hard to achieve their goals.  He also teaches kids to draw animals and monsters with numbers and letters.  The kids have a blast and their drawings are adorable.  The best part of it all is that Steve does both in person, and online visits. He also presents for free and 30% of the sale of his books go to your school.  I have all of his books! Love them, and so do my kids. 
Here are a few pictures from his visit. 
 Steve and 5 of his drawing books. He is also an author and illustrator of many popular books. 
 Teaching Kids to draw a porcupine from a lowercase h.
The kids take paper and pencil to the assembly so they can draw along with Steve. Here is a during the presentation picture and their drawings after. 
So much fun! 

Speaking of reading, many people have been asking about my Shared Reading units. I wrote a post not long ago, describing reading in my room.  You can read it here.  I've also just started making my units available on TpT.  Last week we did a nonfiction Shared Reading unit on penguins. I was so excited to hit the informational text standards deeply with a topic that was fun for my kiddos. So penguins definitely did the trick.  I often get asked, where do get multiple copies of a book?  I know my topics and book titles ahead of time, so I often have our library order multiple copies for me, but for the book I used on penguins, I actually ordered 14 copies through Scholastic with my bonus points.  They were very inexpensive.  
The main book I used was Penguins by Emily Bone. It's the perfect length and level of difficulty for first and second grade readers. 
And here are the lessons I created to hit the standards! 
Students use what they know and what they read to make meaning of the text. 
 In this lesson you review the text features in nonfiction and use those features to find information. 
 I created two lesson for comparing text. Not only can you compare two nonfiction texts and the way they are written, their features, etc. You can also compare the information that they give. That is what we did with the second comparison lesson.
We also discussed the importance of asking and answering questions through reading and the two types of questions that we can ask, thick and thin.  In this lesson students sorted thick and thin questions and then created their own questions about the nonfiction text. 
Main Idea or Central Theme or Message is also very important.  Students used the book and worked in groups to identify important details and the main idea. They then uses the interactive notebook page with a book of their own to apply their learning. 
Lastly, we talked about word meanings with domain specific words. I made this sheet editable so you can choose your own words if you choose to use a different book.  

I hope you are having as much fun learning and reading as we are. 
Happy Read Across America Week.