Monday, January 30, 2012

My Favorite Transportation

As a part of our writing program, Write From the Beginning, the students are learning to write to explain why. This week the students wrote about their favorite means of transportation. They first created Circle Maps to brainstorm their favorites, then chose one to write about on a Flow Map. The students had to list three reasons why they chose their favorite transportation. They then wrote four sentences using their Thinking Maps. The students were required to use transition words for their three sentences explaining why. After the students wrote (the process took several days), I met with each student individually to edit their work. The students then wrote a final draft of their writing and created art of their favorite transportation.

The Main Idea: Hot Air Balloons

To assess the students understanding of main ideas, we read I Fly Hot-Air Balloons from Reading A-Z. As we read, we charted important details from each section on a Multi-Flow Map. Once finished, we discussed what all of those important details had in common and what the author wanted the students to learn from the text, or the main idea. The students then had to explain the main idea of the story in their own words. They wrote the main idea on a basket that they made out of construction paper. They then created a hot-air balloon to attach to the basket.

Ordering by Temperature

To help the students understand the differences between cold temperatures, hot temperatures, and room temperatures, we conducted an experiment. Hidden under black cloth book covers, the students felt of three objects to identify which one felt the hottest, which one feld the coldest, and which was was a normal temperature. Under one of the book covers were hand warmers, under another was a gel ice pack, and under the other was a bean bag. The students recorded the order they thought the were in using letters to match the labels on the book covers. The students then illustrated objects found in their home ordering them from hottest to coldest and then from coldest to hottest.

Landforms and Bodies of Water

The students reviewed bodies of water and landforms by creating a foldable diagram to illustrate the different features of mountains, hills, plains, oceans, rivers, and lakes.

The Main Idea: Transportation

As a part of our lessons on how to identify the main idea of texts, we read several books from We Give Books and Reading A-Z about various forms of transportation. Each day we read a new expository text and the students had to verbally identify the main idea of the text. We used Multi-Flow Maps to help chart the details that lead up to the main idea. (Sorry... I did not take a picture of these charts.) After reading about the various types of transporation, the students created a Circle Map of as many examples as they could think of. We then discussed how those examples could be divided into conceptual categories. So, we then created a spider web graphic organizer to sort the examples into the categories of land, air, and water. The students then created a three part foldable to illusrtate one example of transportation from each category. They then wrote at least one fact they learned about that mode of transportation under the flap.

Clock Match-Up

As a way to review time, the students played a game to match digital times to their analog clock counterparts. In the beginning, they just matched the two cards but eventually they played concentration with the cards to add a little challenge. The students can play these games during math stations while I tutor small groups.

Globes: Land and Water

Last week in Social Studies we talked about different landforms and bodies of water that are found on earth. As a part of that study we played a game where the students rolled the globe to one another. When the globe rolled towards them, they could only touch it wiht one hand. They then had to identify if the part their hand landed on was land or water. As each person had a turn, we tallied their response. The students quickly realized that they landed on water the majority of the time. This led to a discussion of how the earth is covered mostly in water. After the game, the students folded a paper plate into fourths. To help them remember that the earth is mostly water and that is approximately three/fourths water, they colored three out of four parts as water and one out of four parts as land. This was a fun way to also introduce a little bit of fractions and probability.

Our Class Schedule with Clocks

Last week we learned more about telling time on the hour and half hour. To help the students remember the meaning of the hour and minutes, they created clocks out of paper plates. On the top plate there were slits pre-cut to leave spaces to write 1-12 on the clock in order with correct spacing. The students numbered the plate like a clock and them glued it down in the middle to another plate. They then folded down each number and wrote the corresponding minutes behind the number. For example, behind the 6 they wrote 30. We then created a class schedule with drawings of analog clocks along with the digital and written word form of the time. We then wrote the activity or lesson that we do at that approximate time. The students then chose on of those activities or lessons and glued down hands on their clock to match that time. They then wrote one sentence to describe what they do at that time. (Sorry -  I did not take pictures of these clocks!) After creating the clocks and the class schedule, the students completed their own clock book. They had to read the digital time and draw the hands on the analog clock to the corresponding time. They then had to write at least one sentence about the activity that they do at school during the time. They then illustrated their books. You can download the book here for free!

Intro to Research: Skateboarding

Last week in reading we worked on an introduction to research: asking relevant questions and finding answers in text to those questions. With this lesson, we read Skateboarding from WeGiveBooks. If you have not visited WeGiveBooks, you should! There are so many current and classic books online for FREE! Before reading, the students shared what they already know about skateboarding which we recorded on a KWL chart under the K for what we "know." The students then divided into groups and wrote down questions they had or things they "wondered" on post-it notes. We added these to the KWL chart. We then read the book, including taking a close look at the parts of the book such as the table of contents, glossary, etc., to find answer to the questions. We then added the information under the L for what we "learned." The students then created their own skateboard out of construction paper and wrote at least one answer they learned from the book.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Online Flashcards and Timer

Fact Monster has decent online addition flashcards that the students can practice at home. You can find the flashcards here. In class when we take the math facts checks we use this online countdown clock so the students can monitor their own progress. Another great site to practice addition flashcards is Mr. Martini's classroom site. These flashcards are much larger and the students can click on the sum at the bottom of the card rather than typing in the answer.

Math Facts Checks

This nine weeks we wil begin our emphasis on learning math facts. Each week your child will create addition flashcards in class which will be sent home to study. each Friday the students will be given fifty addition problems which they must complete within five minutes. This averages out to be about six seconds per problem. Eventually the students need tobe able to identify the math facts within three second. But, we will build up to this goal gradually. Studnets who do not earn at least 70% on their math facts check will have the opportunity to be rechecked for a sticker on their goal sheet but the original grade will remain. We will work on the addition facts in this order:

Week 1: +1
Week 2: +2
Week 3: +3
Week 4: +4
Week 5: +5
Week 6: +6
Week 7: +7
Week 8: +8
Week 9: +9

Clock Shoot

This week we have been learning to tell time on the hour and half hour in both analog and digital formats. We will be working more on these concepts next week - especially telling time to the half hour. To help your child practice matching analog time to digital time, have them play the game Clock Shoot. In Clock Shoot, the students move the mouse to reveal an analog clock. Using the analog clock, they aim and shoot at the matching digital time. There are varying levels so the students can work in "relaxed" mode or they can increase the rigor with a timed moded.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Podcasting for Educational Purposes

Many of you have emailed recently asking how the students record themselves reading. You've also asked how we turn those recording into podcasts. We use podcasting to give the students a real audience for their reading - I've found that students improve and work harder when they realize someone is listening to them. The first year that I started using this method, I saw the students' fluency rate jump alomst 20 words per minute in a month! We also use the podcasting so students can hear what they really sound like and to help them hear first hand areas that need improvement. I learned this method through our instructional media specialist, Sharon Thornton. You can learn more about the technical side of podcasting through one of my previous blog posts: This post links to Mrs. Thornton's website with more detailed information. Mrs. Thornton's page has so many great resources to check out!

Pennies for Pasta Donation Drive

Pasta for Pennies
Donation Drive for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
January 13th-February 3rd

Our school is currently collecting donations for the Leukemia and Lymphona society. Your donation may be in the form of coins, cash, or check, payable to the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. You may also donate online at:

The class that collects the most money for our school will receive a pasta party courtesy of Olive Garden. Last year our school raised $2,413.89!! Our goal is to raise at least $3,000 this year for this cause. Listed below are some other activities we will have going on during our donation drive:

1. On Wednesday, November 18th, Mike Moseley will be going purple. We will all wear purple to show our support for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

2. On Wednesday, November 25th, Mike Moseley will put a cap on blood cancers. Everyone will wear his or her favorite cap to school.

3. On Wednesday, February 1st, Mike Moseley will give blood cancers the slip. We all will wear our slippers to school.

4. If we reach our goal of $3,000 Ms. Terry - the school counselor, along with some of our teachers, will dance in tutus at pride rally.

5. On Friday, January 20th, and Friday, January 27th, Ms. Terry will have a surprise for the class that raised the most money that week.

***In just three days this week, our class has raised almost $80.00!!! Way to go!***

Don't Let the Cows Out!

A few years ago in an effort to find an engaging way for the students to practice math facts, I created a game called "Don't Let the Cows Out!" In this game, the students sit in a circle on the floor and take turns throwing two large foam dice into the center - we call the dice "cows." The first student to add the two numbers together stays in the middle and competes against the next player. The students are the fence and we have a rule that if the "cows" get out of the fence, you lose your turn and have to go clean up after the know, "cow patties." Yes, I realize this is strange but the kids love it!  And, it discourages the students from throwing the dice all over the room. I have no idea why this idea came to me but it surprisingly works and the kids love it! Now that the students are well-versed in the rules and expectations of this game, I can assign a "trail boss" to monitor the game while I provide other students with small group instruction in math. The students who are not in the middle provide encouragement with cheers and by pretending to make food for players who have been in the circle for a while. It keeps the students active while waiting their turn. We try to play this game at least fifteen minutes per math period to spiral in math facts but they would play all day if I would let them. They love it so much they ask to play it when we have indoor recess.

Dice Addition

I recently saw an idea online about keeping dice in plastic baby food containers for the students to use as addition practice. While in my hometown for the Christmas break, I came across small colorful containers at a dollar store. They were perfect for the dice. Each student has their own container with two dice in it. They shake the dice and practice adding the two numbers together. The students keep the dice containers in a basket on their table where they also keep phonics books and practice clocks. The materials in these desk baskets are used for when the students finish work early.

Texas Rangers Visit!!!

The students and staff at Moseley welcomed very speical guests to the school on Tuesday! Tom Grieve and Michael Kirkman from Texas Rangers, along with Captain, came to speak to the students. The kids were so excited. Thanks to the Texas Rangers for making time to remind the students of hte importance of school and for allowing time for the students to ask them questions.

"I Have a Dream" Podcast

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and as a part of our Social Studies lessons, the students wrote their own dreams. We discussed how Dr. King believed that all people should be treated fairly and judged not by the color of skin but by their actions. After writing their dreams, the students recorded them using Audacity software. You can listen to the podcast with the player below or download it from our podcasting site hosted by PodBean.

Monday, January 16, 2012

If I Lived in a Snowglobe Podcast

Here is a podcast of the students reading what they would do if they lived in a snowglobe. The podcast was recorded using Audacity software and was then uploaded to our class podcasting site hosted by Podbean.

Hand in Hand with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Last week we learned about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his contributions to society. As we read various books about him and created timelines of his life, we added information to a class Circle Map. The students then created their own Circle Map of important information. They then used these Circle Maps to write five facts about him on a multicultural handprint. We then displayed the hands on the bulletin board along with a timeline of his life that I got from a Time magazine a few years ago.

If I Lived in a Snowglobe...

This is another idea that I found on Pinterest. Our class, along with Ms. Branch's class, recently had the responsibility of sharing something we learned during our weekly Pride Rally. Each student created a snowglobe and illustrated one thing they would do if they lived in the snowglobe. They then wrote the sentence. Each student shared their sentence at Pride Rally.

The Emperor's New Clothes

Last week we read The Emperor's New Clothes and the students again created a foldable to retell the story in their own words. This story is pretty complex for first grades but they did a good job!

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