Monday, April 8, 2013

Its hard to know where to start with the whole blogging world so I guess I'll share a bit about my classroom.  I try my best to do as many small group activities as I can.  My kids are broken into groups for both reading and math.

My county has recently trained me in a new literacy program.  It is a good program that offers a balanced literacy program.  My morning is focused entirely on literacy activities.  Our typical morning looks like this:

7:30 - 8:15 - Arrival and Morning Work

8:15 - 9:00 - Morning Meeting
9:00 - 9:10 - Word Study
9:10 - 10:00 - Reading Groups/Centers
10:00 - 10:50 - Writers' Workshop

My kids can arrive anywhere between 7:30 and 7:50. During this time they work on their morning journal.  I make these monthly and each day has a writing prompt.  They normally take all the way up until 8:15 to finish.  Before we start morning meeting, I choose three students to share and then we choose an Author of the Day.  This student is a student who did their personal best and who created a great answer to the writing prompt.  You can check out my April Journal Here!  I will be posting my May one soon.

Our Morning Meeting time is our calendar time.  We do the calendar, the weather, the number of days we've been in school, our words of the week, our poem, etc.  My favorite part of our morning meeting is our geography section.  During the first half of the year my first graders learn all of their states with their daily dose of the fifty nifty United States song.  Right now we are working on our states and capitals.  Where was this song when I was trying to learn them? 

Every day my kids sort their word study words.  We follow the Words Their Way Word Study.  I have four groups and they each learn their sort on Monday.  Every morning we race to finish our sort.  I put up this awesome Timer and they see how many times they can sort their words.  They then do a word study activity (sentences, ABC order, three times each, etc.) before they roll into centers.

It has taken me a while to get Centers how I want them, but I am still working on it!  I like to tweak it once a quarter, I'd say.  I have about 9 center choices for them to choose from and I require them to do at least 5/week.  Most of them get to 5, depending on what they are working on.  At the end of the week I collect this sheet:

While my kids are rotating through Centers, I meet with two reading groups a day.  The County's program follows Jan Richardson's Guided Reading format, which I have grown quite fond of.  I like to use it as a basis and then kind of add on my own personal touch.  I've created some great recording sheets to keep track of student progress that I am happy to share.  Just shoot me an email.

Every now and then I come across a center that I want to recommend to everyone.  Right now I am loving my Sight Word Road.  The kids love it to and walk on it at least once a day.  It is where I have all the dolch sight words on a path along the floor.  Before they can walk on it, they must get a ticket which gives them a task (read all the pink words, read all the words with one syllable, hop while reading the words, write the words, etc.)  This is just a fun way for them to really practice their sight words!  I can't capture the whole road, but here is the beginning... the rest wraps around the tables in the classroom.  So simple and fun!  You can download the words and tickets at my TPT store, here.

After Center time we move into a 45 minute session of Writer's Workshop.  We follow Lucy Calkins' model for Writer's Workshop.  Each day we start with a mini-lesson on the target goal for the day and then work for the whole period.  I conference with the students as they work and if I see something extraordinary we take an "inspiration break" and look at our peer's good example.  I allow about a 5 minute share session at the end of the writing block.  We are working on All About books now, non-fiction books full of various non-fiction text features.  We just started, but the kids are pretty excited about it.  We have lots of topics from sports to trains to different holidays and seasons.  My goal this year, now that I am getting the hang of writer's workshop, is to create unit plans for each unit.  My unit plans are 3-4 weeks long and simply feature a different learning target each day.  I find this helpful for both me and my students, it provides a nice structure and each day they have a focus on something they can add to their writing.  I am really LOVING writing this year and the kids are just so creative!  I will post my All About Unit this week!

Well I think it is time to take a break! I hope to get more information up here about Math and Content later this week!

Happy Teaching!

Mrs. Bailey

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