Monday, February 27, 2012

100th Day of School

We just celebrated our 100th day of school!! Can you believe only 80 more days and the year will be over. I can't believe my students will be soon be 2nd graders.....Okay, okay, enough of that and let's get back to celebrate 100 days in First Grade. We began the morning with a Shared Reading activity of a 100 days in School Poem.  Then we read the book Happy 100th day! I choose this book to instill in the kids that this day was going to be full of learning activities and that we would be busy busy busy.
 Then we continued with filling in a circle map of what we had learned so far in First Grade.  The students then used this chart to write about their own learning.

For writing we had our students use descriptive words to predict and describe what they thought they would look like in a hundred years. It was very interesting to see what some of my students thought they would be like in a hundred years. I even had some students describe what they thought the world would be like.....aliens would be here, flying cars, and my favorite.....computerized teachers.

As a follow up the students also created a portrait of what they would look like in a hundred years.  This particular student said he was going to be an angry grandfather who didn't like kids....I love his wrinkled chin.

For math each student had to create an art project using 100 items. Yes, we combined art and Math as well as English Language Development. Our students could pick any object and then use it to create any art project they choose. Then ofcourse they had to present in English what materials they had used, why they choose those materials and why they choose to portray the art they did.  These are just a few of the projects that were created.
                                                                                                                                                                100 cheerios made a happy sun,

100 Trix cereal made beautiful flowers,

80 fish crackers and 20 gummy fish in groups of 5 made a beautiful ocean.

100 feathers made an Angry Bird.

100 foam boots made the feet for a centipede and 100 pom poms made apples for this beautiful tree..

Other 100 days of School books to read.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Laura Numeroff

 For our writers workshop we started using mentor text to help our students develop their writing. My first grade partners and I decided to begin with the Laura Numeroff series. We wanted to focus on the author trait of circular stories. We picked this trait because its sequential and our students had been focusing on sequence prior to this. We selected certain titles to read in Spanish and the others we read in English. The decision for that was primarily guided by what we had available in Spanish. Luckily I've been buying Spanish books for a while and we had a great selection to pick from.

During the read aloud of each story we focused on the strategy of predicting. Our students would try to predict using the clues in the book and their prior experiences to predict what they thought might happen next.
It was great to hear my firsties predicting things like I think he's going to slip and fall because one time I was trying to get out of the bathtub and I slipped. They enjoyed finding out what silly next thing these characters were going to ask for.
The only book we didn't get to in this series was "If You Give A Dog a Donut". It happened that during this author study the Scholastic book order had the book. My students saw the book for sale and were so excited that I had to order it. We will read it at a later time since it won't be here before we are done with the series.

After we read each book we filled in an author map.  The students had to identify the Characters, Setting, Sequence and Author Trait. Some of the things they noticed while filling in this chart were very interesting.
 For instance, my students noticed that in the English versions the book titles had a pattern. Cat - Cupcake, Mouse - Movies, Pig - Pancake, Pig - Party, Moose-Muffin and of course Dog - Donut. This was something they took into consideration when doing their own circular story....some of my students had titles like....."Si le das un globo al gato", "Si llevas a tu mama a un museo" y "Si llevas a un perro al parque".
As my students explored this series they came to learn that these stories were circular. They ended where they had started! "OMG Ms. V. it's like it's going to start all over again. These should be called never ending stories not circle stories" was the comment from one of my students.  I think next in math we will be learning about shapes so ill have to make sure and revisit this comment!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Strategies That Work

About 7 years ago, reading comprehension instruction became a primary focus of our staff development at our school. As part of our professional reading our Principal purchased Strategies That Work for the entire staff. The aim of comprehension instruction is to get our students to interact more completely with their reading. To help our students not only think about what they are reading but what they are learning. As a teacher with lesson plans to do, papers to correct, common formative assessments to create you might think this is just another thing to do. But when it comes to reading, comprehension is probably the most important thing.  This book has been very helpful in teaching these comprehension strategies to our students. Just the Resources that Support Strategy Instruction pages at the back of the book are worth looking at. It lists Great Books and Author Sets to Launch Strategy Instruciton as well as great books for teaching content by area. I found this book so helpful I went ahead and purchased the second edition.
   The second edition differs in that it has samples of student work.  After all reading is connected to writing. Using these strategies with double entry journals during guided reading gives me as a teacher great insight to my students thinking, prior knowledge and weaknessess as well as strengths in writing. Both these books suggest author charts. The second edition has a section in the appendix that depicts what these charts might look like. The teachers at our school adapted these charts to fit the grade as well as English language level of our students. Each strategy has its own chart.
Because we are a dual language school these charts then had to be translated into Spanish.The wonderful dual language teachers at my school translated and or created some of these charts.

As dual language teachers we have to make instructional decisions about which strategy to present in which language. The great thing about these are that you can use one in Spanish during whole class instruction and then use the English version during a small group guided reading lesson. (I'd like to note that some of these charts were created and laminated without correcting errors such as missing accents).
At our school we have also broken these strategies down by grade level. In Kinder we focus on Visualizing Making Predictions and Connections.  In first grade we review these as well as add Retelling and Inferring.