Saturday, August 30, 2014

Labor Day Weekend Check In

It is so hard to believe that Labor Day weekend is here. Time marches so quickly. When we return to school it will be our 19th day. Many schools are just starting!

I am thankful for this 3 day weekend. It came at a perfect time. Things are truly rising to the surface as to the needs of my 19 students. I have had a chance to sit with them, listen to them and watch them. The first few weeks are full of teaching routines, expectations and building community. A teacher gathers so much information during this time. I will be spending some of this weekend thinking about how to take the time I have and use it wisely to meet the many needs of this diverse group of students. It is a challenge I love and plan to succeed!

In our classroom, we continue to have a wonderful time. I wanted to share a little bit about our day. When students arrive each morning they meet with their partner or group and practice a script or poem for reader's theater. It can be a little noisy in the room and each week there are new partners so there may be some disorganization. But, I must say, it is a beautiful thing to behold! They are reading...and trying to read at the right speed, learning new words and patterns, learning new information, practicing expression and reading words in phrases. We spend some time talking about those expectations. These scripts also go home to practice for homework. We usually practice for a week, then they get to perform. The class points out all the wonderful things they did after their performance. Then, there are some who get to go perform for the principal! They are motivated and excited readers. Look here at the smiles!



Our next routine is our morning meeting and message. Our letter has a different focus each day. On marvelous Monday we talk about our weekend. On tangled Tuesday, we have to untangle some sight words in the letter. On wacky Wednesday we have to fix some errors in capitals, punctuation and spelling. On thinking Thursday we have some things in the letter to think about and respond to, usually Math or Science! On finish-up Friday we have to add some missing words or letter sounds at the end of the word. Here is an example of our marvelous Monday letter and thinking Thursday. The students get to take these home. I draw names and they are so excited. Many tell me they use them to play school! We were reading these together, but then I found out I have a class of readers. So, they are taking turns reading the letters now. It is a great time to learn new things about reading. They can even chunk some 3 syllable words!


Our morning continues with reading centers, phonics and vocabulary instruction. Then we have our Reader's Workshop time. This is a time to learn new strategies and then practice them in their very own books they choose. I get to go visit and talk with them about their reading and thinking. This is usually when we meet some of our critters! Our critters help teach strategies. So far they have met Stick with it Stork, who taught them about stamina and how we need to spend time working on things and not give up. Ollie the octopus taught them to listen to their thinking voice and they even learned the big word metacognition! Our newest critter is Lips the Fish! He taught them to use their lips for sounding out the letters in words. We practiced with two tough sounds, v and f. We felt our lips, the air and our voice and realized the differences in those sounds!

  I didn't get a picture of Lips. I'll post it next time!

Here are some "real" readers using those strategies!

After lunch and some structured physical activity (SPA), we come in for some writing and science. Students have been busy learning about writing sentences and using their best handwriting. They are also bloggers! You can read some of their writing here on our class site! Our Class Blogs They love to read your comments if you would like to leave one! In science they have been observing the properties of objects. I forgot to take a photo of them being scientists! They were really being precise and detailed!

Students then head off to their special classes such as PE, Art, Music or Media. We end our day with math! These students are amazing mathematicians and they are growing in knowledge every day. We have a routine of counting, guessing a mystery number, doing some subitizing with dot cards or ten frames and finally mental math. Then students are off working in groups on mathematical practices. These are some things they noticed they do.

They are working on counting up to 120. They are counting forward and backward and now some are even finding some patterns when they count by 10's on the number chart. They practice their math fluency of facts on a computer program they really like.


Interactive notebooks are fun practice too!

A long post to just explain our day! We are having fun here and will keep the updates coming. I didn't take pictures of this but we do try to often stop and post a tweet or two about our day. You can follow us on twitter @FirstatBatters ! Give us a shout out or favorite some of our posts. We'd love to know someone is watching and noticing all our hard work! Soon we will be Skyping with others and tweeting with our first grade classes. We will be a part of a global read aloud too! Our class is a happening place. Stay tuned for more!