Friday, January 30, 2015

Five for Friday

Happy, happy Friday y'all! I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs for her weekly Five for Friday linky.

Since this was the last school day of the month, I announced our February leaders of the month.

Starting Monday, my new leaders get to sit at the "leader" table at the center of the room.

You can only imagine the excitement of getting to sit at our special table!

I've had the biggest problem with incomplete work lately. Originally this shoe pocket was going to be  used for students to keep their water bottles in. Well, that lasted for about a week because the dang thing wouldn't stay hanging. Since it was already labeled with student numbers, I decided to use it as a way to remind students, and myself, when they have incomplete work. They will place a red piece of construction paper in their pocket if they do not finish an assignment during the allotted class time. I chose red paper because it matches the color of their work in progress folder. They know to check their folder if they have a red square in their pocket and once they complete the missing assignment, they can take the square out of their pocket.

With all of the baby doctor's appointments I've had to miss school for lately, I've really relied on my substitute teacher tub. This tub contains extra work in case students are finished early and emergency sub plans just in case I have to be out unexpectedly. 

I've also had to do a lot of multitasking. I've been grading papers while I wait for the doctor! Why have an appointment time if you still have to wait to see the doctor?! That I'll never understand. Sigh.

I had my final formal observation for the school year and it was fantastic! My kiddos loved being doctors and performing surgery on their contraction patients. They even got to wear gloves and masks and use Band-Aids so their patients could "heal". My county has placed an emphasis on student engagement this year and this lesson sure did fit the bill. You can grab a copy of the contraction surgery I used here from First Grade Fever.

I came across a picture that Katie from Queen of the First Grade Jungle posted to her Instagram of a writing lesson her kiddos were doing and I knew that I had to incorporate it into my opinion writing unit.

I had my kids bring in a collection of toys and choose their favorite toy from their collection. Then, they wrote an opinion writing piece about why they chose that toy. Having their toys actually sitting in front of them worked really well for those kiddos that have trouble adding details to their writing.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Guided Math

I wanted to share a quick look into what Guided Math looks like in my classroom. Before I begin, let me be totally honest...

1. I haven't been as consistent with Guided Math as I'd like to be. That's partly why I started to create resources to supplement my Guided Math instruction. 
2. I'm still looking to learn more about Guided Math and tweak things as needed.

My Guided Math time is not built into my math instruction block. I reserve a chunk of time, about 30 minutes, towards the end of the day to alternate between Guided Math and pulling my RTI kiddos. I don't always meet with the same groups of students. I pull kids that need extension or remediation with specific skills. I use my pre-assessment to help create my groups, but I also might pull kids based on my observations during our math block earlier in the day. While I have students working with me, my other students are finishing incomplete work, reading, working on early finisher tubs, or going on Xtra Math

I start my groups with some type of hands-on practice using manipulatives. 

Then, I guide them through practice activities that are based on the skill we are working on that day {These practice activities are leveled below, on, and above.} I love using these plastic sleeves! Just write and wipe! 

Students are then sent back to their seats to work independently on an interactive journal page. 

These resources can be found here in my Guided Math Resources product for standard 2.G.3. It's on sale through tomorrow! I plan on making a similar resource for comparing numbers next.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Opinion Writing

Our writing focus for this nine weeks is on opinion writing. We have been hard at work learning the differences between facts and opinions, and coming up with opinions of our own. This past week we began to look at how we use facts/reasons to support our opinion. I always love incorporating a good picture book into my mini lessons. Opinion writing is no different. Here are some of my favorite books for opinion writing...

Of course I don't read all of them aloud to my kiddos, but I did pick out my top five to use during my mini lessons this week. I believe it is so important to take new concepts slow with my second graders and allow for plenty of opportunity to model expectations. I do this with opinion writing by first having my students respond to prompts that are inspired by picture books.  We began with Hey, Little Ant.

After reading, we came up with reasons to support both of the opinions shown in the anchor chart below.

Then, I had my students choose which opinion they agreed with the most and they added reasons to support that opinion to their interactive graphic organizer.

We followed the exact same process for I Wanna Iguana, Talk, Oscar, Please!, Too Many Toys, and Earrings!.

As we continue to develop our opinion writing skills, I will gradually release my students into choosing their own prompts to write about. If you would like to check out my Opinion Writing Interactive Journal Prompts product you can find it here in my shop.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Five for Friday

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs for a little Five for Friday fun!

Last Friday we had our second trimester ultrasound and were able to find out the gender of our baby! We are over the moon about welcoming a sweet baby boy into the world this May! We had a gender reveal brunch last Saturday with family and friends to share the news. You can read more about that here on our personal blog.

Our district's Literacy Coach has been popping by my school once a month for Writer's Workshop training. She shared this A-MAZING way to collect data on student strengths and weaknesses in writing. The components for each standard are broken down into a checklist format to quickly see student strengths and weaknesses related to the standard. I gave my students a pre-assessment for opinion writing and checked off the components that they had and what were missing from their piece. I then was able to see the areas in which I needed to focus my instruction, and develop whole class writing goals to develop my mini lessons around. I also developed individual writing goals for students based on their areas of strengths and weaknesses. For example, I only had one student who did not supply reasons that supported her opinion, so I know that I need to work with that one individual on that component during writing conferences. 

We started a new morning routine since our return from Winter Break. I toss this ball to two to three students each morning and ask them a question. Sometimes I may ask for them to tell me one thing they learned the day before that really stuck with them, or I may ask for them to tell me one thing they are most excited about learning today. I also may ask questions like, tell us about your favorite TV show or tell us one thing you did last weekend. My kiddos have really gotten into it and are so excited when it's their turn to have the ball! It's also increased our sense of classroom community! I love when they feel connected with one another!

We have been working on fairy tales these past couple of weeks. The first fairy tale we started with was Little Red Riding Hood. To get the kiddos excited, I brought out the book in this picnic basket. After we talked about what we already know about fairy tales and brainstormed several examples, I had them guess what fairy tale they thought we would be reading today. After several incorrect guesses, one of my sweeties shouted out "Little Red Riding Hood because she uses a basket to take cookies to her Grandma!". That was followed by an "OOOOOHHHH YEEEAHHH!" from the rest of the class. Ha!

This was out first full week working in Literature Circles. My class has really picked up on the routines and procedures of Literature Circles and it has quickly become one of their favorite times of the day. Not only do I love seeing what they are able to do independently, it also makes me one happy teacher to walk around and listen to them talk so in depth about their books with their Literature Circle group. If you want to hear more about my Literature Circles, you can find my blog post here. I also have a Literature Circle for Primary packet that is posted in my shop. You can find that here.