Saturday, August 31, 2013

what a week (with a little classroom tour!)

Twenty-three PRECIOUS children entered my room on Monday, and then THE FUN BEGAN! We truly are a one-of-a-kind crowd! They are kind, helpful, hardworking,  and downright HILARIOUS.

We began the week with a little jitter jig song to “shake out our jitters.” It certainly seemed to work because it felt like we were all family in no time! Ha! Much of the week was spent going over rules and routines. My kids LOVED “meeting” The First Grade Experts (hallelujah!). They referred to them by name all week long and even saw them run past our classroom windows a few times. SO SWEET! On Friday, we filled out our applications to be the next members of the club and shipped them off in a big envelope. I know there will be many smiling faces on Monday morning when they see they were ALL “approved.” Woo hoo!

In addition to learning rules and routines, we played many “getting to know you” games, explored math manipulatives, and started The Daily Five! They made it up to 8 minutes during Read to Self by the end of the week. I felt like a proud mom because I bragged about their time to anyone who would listen. You know the feeling, I’m sure!

Here’s a little collage of some of what we did. I brought my camera each day with the intention of taking many more pictures, but it seemed like I would blink and the day would be over.

The Find a Friend activity you see in the collage is from Abby’s Fun with Firsties pack. It was a class favorite!

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I did manage, however, to snap a few pictures of my classroom late last night. So, let’s go on a little tour, shall we?

This is a view of my library. Last year, my library was closed off with two bookshelves, which made the classroom feel much smaller. I LOVE this open feel so much more. I’m OBSESSED with the book banner (inspired by my dear friend, Maria at Kinder Craze) that hangs overtop of the library. This is the space in the classroom that everyone gravitates towards. My kiddos seem to REALLY love it!

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Here’s another shot of the library, from the other side. Those cushions are so comfy and the big chair is, of course, the favorite seat in the house.

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This is my Daily Five corner. You can find all my Daily Five posters you see below and other resources for free here. The yellow chevron seat cushion was made my darling friend Tracy’s (Creekside Teacher Tales) mom. She is the SWEETEST. I plan on holding all my writing materials in the storage bins underneath the seating.  The fabulous reading genre posters you see in the corner were made by Rachel Lamb. I plan on introducing my kiddos to these soon!

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Here’s another shot of the library. You can see the “Bravo Job” sign and boards behind the library that hold student work.

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To create the “Bravo Job” wall, I painted 23 clipboards a bright and cheery green and then placed a little name label on top of the ugly metal part to create a special board for each student. I think it’s SO important to display student work. It really allows them to take pride and ownership in what they do, and it reminds them that the classroom is NOT mine, but OURS.

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On the opposite wall, you’ll find this monstrous Dr. Seuss quote. I created this using my Silhouette Cameo (obsessed!). It’s a quote I refer to a lot in my classroom, and it creates a fun focal point.

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Below the quote is where we rest our book bins. One of my FAVORITE people in the whole world, Kristen (from A Day in First Grade) made the little labels for me. I just love her! So sweet, huh?

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These are my students’ mailboxes. I labeled them using cute little signs I found at Michaels. I believe they were 30 cents a piece. This idea was inspired by The Teacher Wife (see her post here). They are held up with two pieces of Velcro. Easy-peasy! I bought circular labels for the bottom two mailboxes, which will hold extra papers (in case students lose a paper, etc.).  

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When you enter the classroom, you first see the “Our Class Pact” bulletin board (located on the left in the picture below). That’s where our school’s mission statement is being held for the moment. My plan is to have my students write our own classroom pact to display there. The little green bin (with the drawers) is the first place my students stop at when they enter the classroom. They put all of their important papers from home in the tray on top. I hold extra tissues, hand sanitizer, and band-aids in the drawers. The alphabet line (at the top) was inspired by Miss Nelson’s Got the Camera. I LOVE it! Already a few students have said, “Hey, I know why some letters are yellow: they are VOWELS!” So smart!

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The chalk number posters and the word wall cards ( found here and here) really add a little extra cheer to the room. We haven’t added any words to the word wall YET, but we will soon!

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Next to the word wall is our little writing station, which holds all of our writing supplies for Work on Writing and Writer’s Workshop. You can read all about my Writer’s Workshop resources here. Underneath the desk is where I store all of some SUPER cool lap desks I found at Ikea. Once I introduce the Writer’s Workshop and Work on Writing,  I plan on having my students use the lap desks so that they can spread out around the classroom to write. Right now they are using them during Read to Self and they’re really enjoying them.

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In this little corner is where you’ll find my TINY teacher space and the horseshoe table. Giving up my big desk was the best decision EVER! I now have a teeny desk that holds my computer and a small bookshelf for my printer and teacher books. To save space, I found some awesome stools at Ikea (I swear I am not a spokesperson for them!) for 6 bucks a piece, I think! They are sturdy and easy to move around.

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And, finally, another shot of the library side of the classroom. I had to stand up on the counter and risk my life for this shot, people! And, I’m only half kidding.

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I’d love to share more detailed pictures in a future post. It was LATE on Friday night when I took these and our poor custodian was ready to kill me, I think. I’m pretty sure she was sitting in her car waiting for me to leave so she could lock up the building.

That’s it for now! Have a FABULOUS and well-deserved weekend!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

think like a kid

As a kid, I hated math! Just ask any of my teachers. Or my parents. Or my siblings. I hated it. I actually hated it so much that I would feel physically sick every morning at the bus stop because I feared my teacher would call on me and I would not know the answer. Some days I would actually get sick!

This is how I always saw math:

How I see math word problems

Funny enough, it wasn’t until I began TEACHING math that I truly began to like it. Now it is one of my favorite subjects to teach. As corny as it sounds, I think my struggle to understand math as a child only helped me be a better math teacher today.

Last year, I created LOTS of Common Core addition and subtraction resources to align with each of the eight standards in the Operations and Algebraic Thinking domain. These activities helped me and my students TIME and TIME again last year. They were BIG lifesavers! I thought I’d share these resources with you all since I am getting them prepped for this new group of kiddos.

I’m sure my students last year would agree that learning addition and subtraction would never have been as much fun without Addition Addy and Subtraction Subby. I cannot WAIT to introduce my new group to these characters through these fun stories and crafts. My teaching philosophy has always been to think like a kid. I am constantly asking myself, “How can I make this relatable to my first graders?” or “How can I make this boring math lesson come to life?” These little characters really help do just that – bring learning to life!

My kids referred to these guys all year long. They would say things like, “I think this is an Addition Addy problem because two groups are coming together.” I hope this new group finds these as helpful and fun!

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I also made these posters for my students to refer back to. I NEVER teach my students to refer SOLELY on key words, but more as a strategy for helping them solve problems. These will definitely come in handy again this year!

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Last year after my students learned all about Addition Addy and Subtraction Subby, we completed these crafts as a little review. They LOVED writing different number sentences! I know this upcoming group will enjoy making these guys too.

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I hung these math wall cards and strategy posters in my classroom last year as I introduced these concepts and my students referred to them all year long. Thank goodness I laminated them last year. They are all ready to go! I just need to hang them.

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In addition to the posters and stories, I also made activities to align with each standard. These were perfect for my math tubs! Each activity is labeled with the Common Core standard to help keep me somewhat sane and organized!

Here’s a little breakdown of each of the activities included:

For the activities below, students matched up the picture cards/dominoes with the correct number sentence. Then, they had to record and solve. I had my students complete these after we had solved many picture stories as a class. These definitely helped prepare my students for more difficult problems.

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These activities helped my students become experts at solving problems with three addends. These were super easy to prep but VERY helpful.

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Another class favorite was addition and subtraction bingo! After playing this as a whole group a time or two, I set this up at a station and let my kiddos go to town.

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These activities help students learn about the Commutative Property and Associative Property (Standard 3). I always start them out with concrete materials first, like cubes, and then go from there.

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Teaching students how to solve part/part/whole problems can be a daunting task. This is an excellent activity to help students master this skill.

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Here’s a little true/false sorting activity. I started out this lesson by asking students to think about things that are true/false in real life. Like, “The moon is made of cheese.” or “Pigs can fly.” Then, I made the connection to true/false math problems. This little mini-lesson helped tremendously.

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This true/false math game was a class favorite!

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When we began to relate counting to addition and subtraction, these fun games came in handy:

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A huge component of the Common Core is WORD PROBLEMS! This word problem packet was an awesome resource for my kiddos last year. I made a copy of the booklet for each student and had them pull these out as we were solving different kinds of word problems. They acted as great assessment tools. There are 23 word problems in all.

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These little addition and subtraction math fact fluency books came in handy too!

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I also made these Exit Passes for each standard. These quick assessments helped me see if my students got the “big picture.” They are nicely labeled with each standard.

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I documented all of my observations on this sheet. I’ve tried different ways of recording student observations, but this one worked the best for me. Super simple and easy!

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Detailed directions for each activity can be found in my Math Attack packet found at my TPT shop! Click HERE to go grab this Common Core packet.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Who Am I? (Free Back to School Game!)

 

We all want our students to feel like they can be themselves when they enter our classrooms. The first week of school, I like to do many different games and activities where students can have fun and share about themselves!

One of my favorites is this “Who Am I?” game!

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I LOVE this game because it is student-led. Before we played last year, I quickly went over each card (in case students had difficulty reading the cards). They had a blast!

This comes straight out of my Back to School packet, but you can download it for FREE below:

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In other news, I am so excited to show you the progress I’ve made in my classroom. I went in each day this past week and tackled so much! The first day back for teachers is Monday and students come the following week. I am SO looking forward to catching up with teacher-friends this week AND meeting my kids at Meet and Greet on Friday. Yippeee!

Here’s a sneak peek at some of my classroom pictures! I will share more this week.

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