Sunday, January 27, 2013

Time Flies...When You're Teaching

Clearly I'm not very good at this whole juggling act of being a teacher, wife, gym member, dog owner, and blogger. Lately at the end of the day, my brain is such a jumbled mess that anything I would post about my day would make about as much sense as Snookie being an advisor to the president (and that would be no bueno). For those of you out there that actually visit this blog, you're in luck today. I'm going to attempt to blog about our entire month of January that I've neglected to add to this empty little blog.

I can't believe that January is almost over. Tomorrow is our 100th day of school and I seriously can't believe it. &&& now, here's January past & January yet to come (warning: this will be the longest blog post e.v.e.r. from me)!

Our first week back to school after the Christmas break was a short one. Teachers went back on Wednesday for a work day. Everybody knows I love a work day to clean, get organized, and of course have some fun with my fabulolus first grade ladies! As I sat in my quiet classroom I couldn't help but think about how much I loved my 17 wild ones. In all of their shades of craziness I love them to the moon and back. Less than five seconds after this thought escaped my lips, I started de-germing the listening center and found the antennae to the radio broken off. . and partially hidden under the rug. I can see how it played out in my head. . .I know whoever did it panicked and did what they thought would keep this disaster a secret from their neat freak/perfectionist teacher. ..bless their little heart for that because as mad as I wanted to be all I could do was shake my head and laugh at their sweet little attempt to cover up their mess. (Yes, I've told them 5 gazillion times to leave the antennae alone, but it's silver and shiny and therefore, unresistable to 6 year olds).

On Thursday, the kids came back to school && so began: January Week 1 (all 2 days of it)

In Math we did a quick review of place value. Of course, nothing else would do except a snowy/wintery theme so I put a quick little mini unit together: Winter Wonderland. This unit had 2 objectives: 1. Identify how many tens and ones compose a given number and 2. Match a numeral to its corresponding base ten pieces. (Grab your copy at my TPT store). My kids really liked the Snowy Day Partner Match (activity #2).
For this activity each student got a number or base ten card. They were then allowed to dance/twirl/stomp/walk around the room until the music stopped (music courtesy of Pandora: Kids Bop station). When the music stopped they had to find their place value partner, find a seat next to their partner, and record their number's information (how many tens, how many ones, and draw the base ten pieces). My kids are very wiggly this year so anytime I can get some movement in while they're learning...sign my name on the dotted line please.and.thank you!

During ELA we were in review mode as well. . .shocker, I know. During our Interactive ReadAloud time we focused on making predictions and inferences. I used the following two books: Buster by D. Fleming and Bridget Fidget and the Most Wonderful Pet by J. Berger. These are 2 really cute stories that were great for quickly reviewing making predictions and inferences. Of course we also worked on editing sentences with the super cute and exciting Resolution Revolution pack (you can get your copy at my TPT store).

We also talked about resolutions with the help of the absolutely adorable book Squirrel's New Year's Resolution by P. Miller. After reading about squirrel and his friends making their resolutions, we made our very own. I had big plans to do a cute craftivity, but we ran out of time. . .and glue sticks. So, we wrote about them in our journals and drew a picture with our new crayons instead. && just like that January Week 1 was over just as quickly as it started.
January Week 2 (5 days. . .yes 5 whole days!)

Our focus in math this week was graphing. . .my kids love graphing. . .they get it. . .it's easy & fun to teach. . .this is what a teacher's dreams about the first full week of work are made of.  On Monday we read Ice Cream Larry by D. Pinkwater. If you haven't checked it out, it's about a polar bear that eats a lot of ice cream, becomes famous because of it, and eventually has his own line of ice cream bars (hey, a bear can dream right??). The story is an ice breaker for the day's math lessons: creating tally graphs & analyzing their data. Before we started collecting and analyzing data, we did a quick review on making/counting tally marks with the first activity in my mini unit Holy Graph-ola! (new addition to my TPT store). Each of my loves got a tally card or a numeral card. They had to quickly find their partner and check in with me to confirm that they indeed correctly found their partner (not just their B.F.F.). After this quick review, we were ready to gather data to create tally graphs & analyze the data we collected. So, we set off on a spinning adventure. The only thing my kids love more than dancing, is spinning spinners...and maybe skittles...definitely skittles.  They're a match made in heaven and anything that combines fun with learning I'm jumping on that train for serious. For the spinning activity, my kids worked in small groups (quick & easy because they sit at round tables with atleast 2 other people). Each group got a popsicle flavor spinner card, a paper clip, and an unsharpened pencil. They used the pencil to hold the paper clip onto the spinner card and spun, spun, spun. As they spun the popsicle spinner, they recorded the flavor that they landed on by using tally marks. When time was up (I gave them about 5 minutes for this), we stopped and started analyzing the data (how many of each flavor, which had the most, which had the least, how many spins altogether).

They had a blast and the math lesson was a breeze. On Tuesday we read The Three Little Kittens by P. Galdone and completed a cut and paste picture graph sheet from the Mailbox magazine about their lost mittens   (I have no clue what issue it came from). Wednesday came around and it was time for creating bar graphs. We read Tacky the Penguin by H. Lester and graphed the various colored goldfish that they had in their collections. Fun, easy, yummy, done! On Thursday we moved on to a topic near and dear to their taste buds. . .hot chocolate! Each student got their personal copy of a data collection sheet. They were assigned the task of asking every friend in class (all 15. . .16 including themselves. . .17 including me) what they liked in their hot chocolate: chocolate chips, marshmallows, or whipped cream. 
For each answer that they received they recorded a tally mark in the appropriate row. It was loud (and a little crazy), but they made perfect tally graphs, perfect bar graphs, and analyzed their data. After all of the collecting and analyzing, we all enjoyed a nice cup of hot chocolate with our favorite toppings and friends. Life is definitely a little sweeter when chocolate is involved! On Friday we took our formative assessment on graphs and I had 16 wonderful scores to report at our PLC meeting. Love it when that happens!
During ELA our comprehension focus for week 2 was comparing and contrasting. We decided as a grade level to introduce this skill by comparing characters from within the same story. For example, we read the Litlte Red Hen and compared/contrasted the little red hen with her friends. We also read Tacky the Penguin, George and Martha, and Miss Nelson is Missing. Of course we had to have some practice with editing sentences. We worked on our editing skills with the help of my Just Chillin' pack (available at my TPT store).  

January Week 3 (5 days. . .ok. . .I can do this)
This week's math focus was Missing Addends and Subtrahends (this blows their minds every year). Although it is a troubling concept, I attempted to make it a little more kid friendly in my Digging Around unit (it's available on my TPT store. . .an updated version has been added). With a variety of doggy inspired books and corresponding activities, we put our thinking caps on and got down to business. I've tried to break it down to a pretty simple science for them. Circle your biggest number. . .draw a picture of that number. Find your other number that is given to you. Take away that many of your dots by x-ing them out and abracadabra, you have your missing addend or subtrahend. Every now and then I had a student try to completely ignore anything I said and attempt to add the 2 numbers that were given to them. Drove me crazy. . .still drives me crazy. . .will always drive me crazy! After a lot of practice (and I mean a lot) most of us finally had it. We didn't have a chance to do the craftivity portion for this unit on Friday (because of guidance), but I will share it just in case you have time for some cuteness in your day! Since we were busy "digging" up missing addends with some doggy inspired fun all week, what better way to end the unit than with a dog and his/her missing addend bone?!? 
This example is from last year's kiddos, but the process would have been the same had we not run out of time. I gave my friends a circle pattern for the head, a bone pattern, and the missing addend/subtrahend rectangle. They also got to pick a square of scrapbook paper to cover up their missing addend or subtrahend. We talked about the different kinds of dogs that we knew of, looked at some pictures, and then they were allowed to create their own unique (and adorable) dogs. They picked a missing addend/subtrahend card from the week's previous activity cards to create their equation. Life is good with craftivities I tell you. . .unless you're a glue stick. . .then life is a little less sparkly.

The comprehension focus skill for the 3rd week of January was identifying the main idea (non fiction) and central message (fiction). Identifying the main idea is one thing, but holy snowballs identifying the central message is nothing less than brain surgery for my kids. By the end of the week's interactive read alouds my kids had a much stronger grip on the central message, but it was a rocky road to success (a few gray hairs are sure to pop up on my 27 year old head). The writing center on Mondays and Tuesdays wouldn't be complete without a little editing fun. . .this week my kids fixed some Frosty Sentences (already posted on my TPT store). Twas a perfect match for the colder weather that blew in (Charleston' definition of cold mind you).

January Week 4 (4 days. . .after a glorious 3 day weekend)
There's something magical about having a 3 day weekend. . .serious magic that only summer vacation or spring break could trump at this point. The focus for math for week cuatro was comparing numbers. It was a perfect brain break after last week's focus of missing addends & subtrahends. My kids loved every square inch of our Rumble in the Jungle unit (get it at TPT).

It really gave them the chance to interact with their classmates, share their thoughts, and of course compare some numbers. On Friday I pulled out one of my favorite childhood games. . .Hungry Hungry Hippos. My kids squealed with delight as I unpacked the game board and hippo friends. As for me. . . I was a little sad. . .where was the pink hippo? I'm not even going to try to lie, I almost shed a tear when my game came out of the box without a pink hippo. . .where or where did the pink hippo go?? After I got the game assembled (which was no easy task mind you) we all gathered around the carpet in a circle with a clip board, a pencil and our hippo recording sheets (part of the Rumble in the Jungle packet). I picked two friends to play the game and the rest of us cheered them on until the last marble was gobbled up. We then counted each person's collection and compared the results. They had a blast and I eventually got over the absence of the pink hippo. . .kind of.  For ELA our comprehension focus skill was a review of comparing and contrasting. Alexander the Wind Up Mouse (beware of the magic component), The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza, Sheila Rae the Brave, and Chester's Way were used this week to compare characters within a text. The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza was used to compare/contrast versions of a story. As always, the writing center on Monday and Tuesday was alive with the buzz of editing sentences...this time with the help of the Snowy Sentences pack (available on TPT now).  

This means that  I'm completely caught up on January past. Tomorrow starts January Week 5 (5 days. . .and the 100th day). I have a lot to do to get ready for the 100th day (procrastinating has never been my friend) so I'm going to turn off the laptop for the day. It's hard to believe that 100 days have come and gone already...hopefully the best is yet to come! Have a great week friends! Live.Love. Teach!

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