Thursday, February 27, 2014

Transition Train

In between all of our snow days we have been working on telling our personal stories through writing.  We have spent a great deal of time focusing on transitions in our writing.

We started by planning our story with a graphic organizer. Get a copy here.

Then we spent one day focusing on writing the beginning of our story and one day focusing on writing the middle. We will get to writing the end next week.

Before we starting writing the beginning of our story we looked at the beginning of some of the books we have read.  From there we determined that the beginning of a story tells you: who the characters are, where they are, and a little about what might happen.

From there we talked about different ways to start our stories.  To help students remember different ways they could begin their story we created an anchor chart.  We called it the transition train.

After looking at the beginning we moved on to the middle.  Here is what the middle of our train looked like.

Next week we will look at different ways that we can end our stories. If you are interested in getting your own copy of the transition train head over to my TpT store.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Struggling with Daily 5

This is my second year doing Daily 5 and I have loved it from day 1!!!  Last year my kiddos had no problems with the routines and were very independent. This group is having a hard time and I know that it is because we have not been in school and they are lacking in the routine department.

Last week during one of my independent times instead of pulling a small group I sat back and observed my class, here is what I found.
1. My kiddos were struggling with picking a spot where they could work by themselves with little distractions
2. They were struggling with getting started with listen to read on the computers
3. They were tired of writing their own personal stories for work on writing.

With my data in hand I used my planning time to come up with a plan.

To solve the picking a good spot to work in I decided to put "x's" around the room that showed kids good places to sit so that they would not distract others and others wouldn't distract them.  If students are at read to self they can sit on any of the 5 blue x's around the room.  If they are at word work they can sit on any of the 5 cream x's around the room.  Students at work on writing have to sit at their tables. I know that this minimizes the amount of choice that students get but my plan is to slowly give them flexibility and transition back to letting them choose for them selves. Right now it is working and they are much more focused on their reading.

To solve the listen to read problem I wrote down all of the passwords to the listen to read sites on index cards and put them on a binder ring. I then used 3M clips and hung them on the computers.  This worked wonders!!!

I completely understand that my students are tired of writing their own personal stories considering we have been writing them since Aug.  So I created these simple writing prompts to give kids a break from coming up with their own stories. I can't tell you how excited my class was when I introduced these. I created about 5 to start with and plan to add more based on what we are learning and my students interest.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Adding Details to our Writing

This week we will be focusing on adding details to our writing.  Here are two of the lesson that I will be teaching.

Crafting Background
Read “The Trouble with Dogs” Said Dad by Bob Graham. Point out that the illustrator approached each background with a different variation. In just two page turns you see a whole range of background possibilities. First, in one illustration the much larger dog, Rosy, lies asleep on the floor with the smaller dog, Dave, lying across her back. The only background is a bit of the floorboards stretching out to either side. On the other side of the same spread, the mother, father, daughter, and two dogs are gathered around a blue couch. The floor is pictured again, with some shoes beside the couch and a yellow pillow. A little more background, but nothing beyond the couch-no walls, no windows, no other furniture. The room is really not there. When you turn the page, what you see is very different. There is a wide panoramic view of a park with lots of green grass and straight rows of flower beds, and trees and people all about. Dave, who has cut himself lose from the family walk, is just a tiny figure in the midst of all that background.

Teaching Point:
Today I am going to teach you that the central image in an illustration may have lots of background behind it, just a little or hardly any at all.

If I were making a how-to book about dog grooming, I can imagine that I wouldn’t need much background in my illustration of the bathing process. I could just have the sprayer, the soap, a towel, and some sort of floor or ground underneath. But on the page where I described taking the dog for a walk in the warm sunshine to help its hair dry (not what they do at the groomer’s, but what we do at our house), then it would be good to include background in order to capture the feeling of taking a walk on a sunny day.

Crafting Physical Details of Characters
Read Rattletrap Car by Phyllis Root. Point out Poppa and how he is dressed in overalls. In choosing overalls with no shirt underneath for Poppa, illustrator Jill Barton seems to have captured the good father’s personality perfectly. He matches his rattletrap car, a car that falls apart, piece by piece, as the family travels to the lake on a hot day. Poppa ably fixes it along the way. Barton also gives Poppa spiky red hair, rosy cheeks, kind eyes and a prickly stubble on his arms and legs. The illustrator has crafted the physical appearance of Poppa with great intention, lending great appeal to him as a character.

Teaching Point:
Today I am going to teach you the details in your characters tell the audience about the character.

If I were making a book about our assistant principal, Mrs. Thomas, it would be just plain weird to draw her in sweat pants, don’t you think? She never wears sweat pants. She always wears great dresses or skirts. He hair is almost always pulled back in a ponytail. These are details that would be really important to include when you draw her. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Active Learning: the Fish Bowl

This year our SIT is focusing on Active Learning in our classrooms.  My team has decided to focus on one Active Learning strategy a week.  This week we focused on "the Fish Bowl".

We used "the Fish Bowl" strategy this week when we were practicing our addition.  I had each student write down a sentence that would join two groups.  For example 2 and 4 is ___.  We put all the sentences in a fish bowl.  Then to practice joining groups I pulled a sentences and students had to show that sentence on their work mats.

We also used this strategy in small groups to make rhyming words.  Each student wrote a cvc word on a post it.  All the post it's went in the fish bowl. One by one each student took a post it from the bowl.  They had to read the word and say a word that would rhyme with that word.  They had so much fun, especially because they got to write on post it notes.

Here are a couple more ideas:
~Have students write numbers on cards and put them in the fish bowl. Draw two cards and have students write an addition sentence for those numbers think have them solve the addition sentence.

~Again have students write numbers(0-9) on cards or post it notes. Fold them up and put them in the fish bowl. Have students draw a card and figure out how many more they would need to make 10. An interactive way to practice common core standards.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Favorite Resources for Guided Reading

Here are some of my favorite resources to use at my back table for Guided Reading.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Way Down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea

Next week we will be taking our annual trip to the aquarium.  To gear up we will be learning about a different sea animal each day.  I look forward to this unit each year because it makes me think that spring/summer is right around the corner even if it is not.

Up first is the Dolphin.  Our aquarium has 6 dolphins. The kiddos look forward to seeing this animal the most.

Both of these books gave us lots of information about dolphins.

We used an are, have, can chart to help us document all we have learned about dolphins. 

In the next couple of weeks we will be working on using our anchor charts to write information books about different animals. Here is a sneak speak of what our little books will look like.