Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It's Here! It's Here

"It's here! It's here!" Those would be the words of my students when our new ActivBoard was installed at the end of last week. Today we used the new board for various lessons. They practiced identifying matching ending sounds, created a Circle Map about the ocean, and created Circle Maps and Flow Maps to write about how to bake a cake. Thank you to our district's amazing technology facilitators for making sure that it was up and running smoothly and to our principal for making this new technology available.

Math and Science Family Night

Last Thursday we had a great turnout for our annual Math and Science Night. Congratulations to Carmen for being a winner in the Math and Science Night poster contest! In first grade, the students could make constellations in the science room or play addition and place value games in the math room. In science, the students placed a printout of a constellation on top of a piece of black paper. They then used a push pin to punch a hole where the stars were located. When they held up the black paper to a light, they could see the light through the holes and the constellation shape. In math, they could play "Go Fish to Ten." In this game, it is played like the traditional "Go Fish" game but instead of playing for a matching card, they ask for the card that would add up to ten with their card. Whoever had the most cards at the end won the game. In the other math game, each player would take two cards from the stack and make the biggest number possible. For example, if they drew a six and an eight, the greatest number they could build was eighty-six. Whichever partner had the greatest number overall got to keep the cards. Whoever had the most cards at the end won the game. These are games that can be easily played at home with a simple deck of cards.

Cake: Long A Words

Last Friday the first grade teachers taught a joint lesson on how to bake cupcakes. I was out on this day so I do not have pictures but the students told me they had a blast! I am thankful for amazing teammates! As a part of the lesson, the students wrote various long /a/ words on a cake pattern and decorated it. This week we are currently working on writing about how to make cupcakes. Once they are finished, I will post their writing.

If I Were President...

In honor of Presidents' Day, the students wrote why they would be a good president. I was proud that they used our Capturing Kids' Social Contract as a frame of reference for what good character should look like. I was also proud that they understood that a president should have good character. After writing, the students created a picture of themselves to go along with the writing on a campaign poster.

Place Value Posters

The students created place value posters in small groups. The students were in groups of three and each student had their own number card ranging from 60 to 99. The students folded a large piece of paper in fourths. In each square, they wrote down one of the numbers from the cards and built it with Base Ten Blocks. They then modeled the number with paper Base Ten Blocks. The students wrote each number in word form and expanded notation. They also identified on a t-chart how many tens and ones were in each number. After identifying and modeling all of the information for the three numbers, they used the fourth box to order the numbers from greatest to least and least to greatest. Their posters were added to our group time teaching wall as a reference point.

Place Value Ordering

Last week the students practiced ordering larger numbers. To assess their individual knowledge, I gave each student a different number card. The student wrote their number on the recording sheet, built it with Base Ten Blocks, and then drew it with sticks and dots. They then wrote how many tens and ones were in their number on a t-chart. The students then rotated to the next desk. They repeated the same process but with a new number. They repeated this again by going to the next seat. By doing it this way, each student was guaranteed to have a different set of numbers than all of the other students. After following the steps for three numbers, the students put them in order from greatest to least and least to greatest. We then repeated the process again. The students then worked in small groups to discuss their findings.

Math Facts Wall of Fame

As you can read about in my post titled Math Facts Checks, our grade learns various math facts each week. The students take a pre-check of their weekly facts on Wednesday and the real check on Fridays. If they earn 70% or higher, they get to add their name to our Math Facts Wall of Fame. The idea for the Math Facts Wall of Fame came from our Second Grade team. They have their students sign a Math Facts Club paper when they meet their goal. The students love doing this!

Living and Non-Living

In science we have been learning about living and non-living. The students worked in small groups to sort various pictures into living and non-living categories. As they sorted they discussed what a living thing must have to survive. The students recorded their findings on a Tree Map in their science journals. They then created a foldable to identify eight things that are living and eight things that are non-living.

Compound Words

We have been learning about compound words during grammar. As a check of their understanding of the concept, the students created a compound words foldable. They created the foldable by folding a large sheet of construction paper in a stage fold. They then folded the paper in half twice. This resulted in four boxes on each side of the stage fold. They then cut along the folded lines on the top flaps. On the flaps, they wrote the two root words that form the compound word and illustrated their meaning. Under the flaps, they wrote the compound word and illustrated that word's meaning.

Scavenger Hunt

As a part of a lesson on how to follow multi-step directions, the students drew a map of familiar places in the school. After completing the maps, we went on a scavenger hunt throughout the school. The students were given directional words, as a review of Social Studies, to help them follow the map and find the hidden object. As we went on the scavenger hunt, the students identified various signs and symbols along with their meanings.

Camping: Living and Non-Living

In reading we have been learning to follow multi-step directions with picture cues. For these lessons, the students learned to draw tents and trees to go along with our camping theme. They had to read the written directions on the projector along with the step-by-step pictures. After each step, we discussed what we did and how following the steps in order helps drawing the pictures easier. After the students drew these two pictures, we transitioned into a science lesson. When possible, I try to connect the different subjects together. I believe it makes for stronger connections to the concepts. For science, we discussed the differences between living and non-living things. We then created a t-chart to list various living and non-living things. After brainstorming, the students went back to their pictures from the reading lesson and added at least three living things and three non-living things to their camping picture. They then labeled each thing and circled it in a certain color to indicate if it was living or non-living. They then shared their drawings with their neighbors.

How to Make S'Mores

A few weeks ago we learned about camping. As an introduction to the theme, we made S'mores. As we made the S'mores, we talked about the steps we had to take to make them. We recorded the steps on a Circle Map. We then wrote the steps in logical order on a Flow Map with transition words. This writing is apart of our Write From the Beginning program. After enjoying their snack, the students went back to class and wrote their own Circle Map, Flow Map, and sentences to write how to make the S'mores. They then created a paper S'more to display with their writing.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Student Created Books for Review

Several months back our first grade team brainstormed various ways we could help our students review concepts. One of the ways we came up with was to have the students create class books. The students create these books for all of the content areas.

For example, in science the students made books about force and motion, bodies of water, landforms, etc. My teammate typed up various phrases that included specific concepts and vocabulary in kid-friendly terms which the students glued in order and illustrated. In math, I laminated their pictures created from our shapes lesson (check them out here at The Shape of Things) and put them together as a book. I also laminated their Pumpkin Patch Place Value pictures and put them together as a book. They also made a place value book with specific vocabulary to show the different ways to build and model numbers as well as how to compare them from greatest to least and vice versa.

Also, I have taught the students how to export pictures in the computer lab from Pixie 2. We save these exported pictures and I print them front to back. They are then laminated and put together as books. Most of our computer lessons are based in math and rather than the work to just be stored in the computer, I like to print them.

For reading, we often make group Flow Maps to retell stories. During reading workshop, I divide the students into groups and each group takes a section of the Flow Map to retell that portion and illustrate it. This helps students remember what they have read and practice retelling stories.

We keep these books in a student-accessible bin and the students may choose to read them when they finish work early or during reading workshop. Because the students created them, they are very motivated to read them. Additionally, we read them as a whole group before district tests. Our district tests every three weeks or so, depending on the subject. This is good way to connect back to previously taught lessons and review specific vocabulary.

Mama Bear

For Valentine's Day, one of my students gave me a very funny gift... a teddy bear wearing a shirt saying "Mama Bear." So, you are probably wondering "why is that funny?"

Here is the story.... As a part of our classroom management, I tell the students that when they are misbehaving "Mama Bear" is going to come "growl" at them and that I would rather "Mama Bear" not have to come out. It is a light-hearted way (yet serious at the same time) to to remind the students to check their behavior when they start to make the wrong choices. As all parents and teachers know, there are times when we have to "growl" at the students. And when I say "growl" I mean giving them "the look" and "the speech" about how to behave and what I expect. I remind the students then when they misbehave and Mama Bear has to get onto them, they become grumpy like a bear who was woke up too soon from hibernation and so does Ms. Bishop. When the students see another student starting to misbehave, they quickly tell them "You don't want Mama Bear to come out!" This is just one of the many strategies I use as classroom management. The students really seem motivated to do what is right; they think the concept of Mama Bear is funny but at the same time they know they don't want Mama Bear to growl. Now we have a "real" Mama Bear to remind the students to behave!

Fellow teachers, what classroom management strategies do you use in your class?

Valentine's Day Party

We had our Valentine's Day Party on Tuesday. The students enjoyed tons of sweets and enjoyed reading the cards they brought for one another. Such a great time!

Homemade Valentine's

The students made homemade Valentine's for their families with ping pong balls and paint. The students first drew and cut out a large heart shape on white paper. They then placed their heart on a cookie sheet. They then dropped a ping pong ball that had been dipped in red or pink paint onto their heart. They then used the handle of the cookie sheets to roll the ball around leaving a design on their hearts. After the hearts dried, they wrote "Happy Valentine's Day" on them.

PTA Program

The first and third grade students performed a patriotic program at our PTA program Monday night. They did a fantastic job!

Place Value Hearts

This week in math we are extending our knowledge of place value to numbers up to 99. We are continuing to work on identifying the number of tens and ones as well as putting numbers in order from greatest to least and vice versa. We are also working on recognizing numbers in word form and expanded notation. For a fun Valentine's Day related activity, I gave each student a hundreds chart. I used the hundreds chart from Lil' Country Kindergarten. She has a large number of hundreds charts that can be colored to reveal pictures. We used the heart hundreds chart. Instead of having the students just read the numbers at the top and color them in, I called out various forms of the numbers for them to find. For example, I would say "Find the number that is 4 tens and 5 ones and color it pink." The students would verbally tell me that it was the number 45. I would then say "Find the number that would be 70 + 5 in expanded notation" and they would say "75." We continued until all of the numbers were colored in to reveal a picture. I have done similar activities to this in the past with Marilyn Burns' resources.
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