Saturday, June 30, 2012

Blog Swap and Hop

Welcome to the Blog Swap and Hop, organized by the fabulous Tessa from Tales from Outside the Classroom.  Today teacher bloggers across the world are swapping blogs.  I am fortunate to have Lori from Conversations in Literacy share some back to school fine motor development activities.  After you have read her post, come find me at Raki's Rad Resources to learn about using mentor texts in writing.  Then continue through the blog hop using the links below this (and every) post.

Hi everyone!  I am Lori from Conversations in Literacy and I get the honor of being a guest on Jana's fabulous blog today!  I am so excited to be able to be here and I really hope you find something that you like and can use these ideas.  :)  Be sure to follow Jana and I would love for you to come visit and follow me at my blog too!

It is early to start thinking about the next school year, right?  But I know a lot of you are already thinking about it and gathering ideas!  Seems our teacher brains have a hard time shutting off and truly relaxing sometimes.  I am always on the look out for ideas I can use to help my students.

We have some students coming in this next year that we know will need some fine motor development to help them get ready to use that pencil and to be able to write.  Always seems that we have a few, don't we?  

Here are some ideas that you can use to help those incoming students that need a little extra help with this.  First, we like to use colorful scarves!  We practice holding them in our fingers similar to a pencil grip and using big movements.  We practiced up and down lines, swirling and curves, and completing big circles.

We also practice these basic movements on paper.  Some students aren't quite ready for writing letters yet.  They may not have had experience with writing and the movements needed for that.   The thought is to practice them in large movement first then move to smaller movements on big paper then scale down to regular paper and writing their names.  Here is an example of just basic lines on big paper.

Another tried and true way to build up fine motor strength is to use lacing cards.  These are easy and fun for the students to do.  

A really fun way for students to build their fine motor strength while working on their name is to use tongs to pick up pom pom balls.  It is important to me that as they do this, they lay the pom poms on their letters in a way that follows the correct path of movement for letter formation.  

Have you seen the gel bags on Pinterest?  Gel bags are another good way for students to practice fine motor skills.  They are very easy to make.  Just take a baggie and fill with hair gel- the cheapest you can find.  Then you can mix in food coloring and/or glitter.  I just put in a couple colors of glitter in this one as I didn't want it very dark.  Students can practice shapes, lines, letters, etc... as they move their finger over the top of the sealed baggie.  I went a step further in mine and put in a couple of smooth buttons.  I want my students to practice manipulating the buttons around.  I also slip a paper with their name under the baggie so they can practice moving the button with their finger over their name for another way to practice fine motor and learn their letters in their name all at the same time.

 I have enjoyed my time here on Jana's blog!  Thank you, Jana, so much for having me!!  Please take time to come see who is visiting on my blog today too!  You can blog hop all day and gather some really great ideas!

Conversations in Literacy

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Daily Five Chapter Three

We know the foundation that Daily 5 is built on.  Now, we need to work on launching the Daily 5 through routines. 
Gathering Place

Here is my "gathering place" in my classroom.  (note:  these pictures are from the very beginning of the year.)  The first picture is the view from the front (to the side) of the room and the second picture was taken as I stood at the door to my classroom.  All group instruction and share times in my classroom took place from our carpet.

The Sisters say that the gathering place is where "the whole class comes together...regardless of the age of the children" because "distractions are limited...and students are able to turn and talk to each other."  I agree with everything they said because those are the exact reasons I bring my students to the carpet for each lesson.  Then the students go to their desks to complete their independent work and we gather again for the closing where I have a few of my students share what they were working on during that time.

Picking appropriate books

Before I read The Daily Five, I had the Five Finger Rule in place to help students pick out an appropriate book.  I spent some time of how to do it but I know that I didn't spend enough time because students were still not picking appropriate books when they shopped on their own.  The one element that I left out that the Sisters added was purpose.  Why do I want to read this book?  This is an excellent reflection question for students and helps them stray from picking books "just because."  I really had a student tell me that is the reason he picked a book. 

Rituals and Routines
One of my all-time favorite routines is creating anchor charts with the students to cement their learning from lesson.  I don't know how I taught before I learned about anchor charts.  When I first started using anchor charts, it was all about me.  I decided what went on that anchor chart and the students watched and listened.  Was that effective?  NO!  When I started creating a basic chart that the students helped decide what went on the chart, then my lessons became more effective.  Of course, I had an idea of the direction I wanted to take the anchor chart, but my students chose how we worded what went on the chart.

Since I have not implemented the Daily 5, I wanted to share one of my anchor charts from this year.  My students were working on questioning using the "I Wonder...Text Says" strategy from Strategies that Work.  I modeled the first question by reading, asking the question, continue reading, and writing what the text stated.  Then the students helped create the second question and found the answer as they listened to me read.  The chart is simple but effective.  When my students went back to implement the strategy in their own reading, they had this chart to remind them.

A ritual that stood out to me was the correct and incorrect model.  I have used this before in class, but the Sisters added an element that I had not thought to add before.  As you are practicing in the new elements of the daily five, a student models the correct behavior with the teacher pointing out on the anchor chart that behavior.  Then another student models the incorrect behavior with the teacher pointing out that behavior.  This is the piece I was missing:  the student who modeled the incorrect behavior then models how to do it correctly.  How was I missing this before?  I don't know, but I am going to use this strategy in all areas of my teaching.

What stood out to me the most in this chapter is the following quote:

This is my ultimate goal as a teacher.  I will not always be there to monitor their learning.  They need to be able to do it themselves AFTER I have slowly (piece by piece with practice, practice, practice) taught them how to do it.

I can't wait to hear your thoughts on this chapter.  Don't forget to go over and see the lovely Mrs. Freshwater at Mrs. Freshwater's Class.  She is co-hosting chapter three with me.  Link up your thoughts in the blog hop below.  Don't have a blog, then comment away.

Chapter 4 is going to be hosted by three wonderful blogs:  First Grade Blue Skies, Tattling to the Teacher, and Tales from Outside the Classroom.

First Grade Blue Skies

    Sunday, June 24, 2012

    Favorite Things Sunday

    teaching resources, differentiated reading, Bloom's taxonomy, writing

    Glad that you have joined me!  Every Sunday I share some of the best ideas I have found throughout the week.

    How-to Blending Board
    Make, Take & Teach shared a great tutorial on how to make blending boards for your students.  She shows you how to build one with step by step pictures and then there is a printable that you can download that has it all laid it out for.  The Career Tech Center at her district made them for the kindergarten and first grade teachers.  In my district the go-to person would be the Agri teacher.  Now you have the blending boards, how about a freebie to put those blending boards in action?  Julie has you covered.  She has another great post with a link to blending cards and a video where she shows you how to use them.

    Make, Take & Teach

    Paper Bag Characterization
    Who likes book reports?  NO one!  What is a teacher to do?  Runde's Room knows how to mix it up when it comes to book reports.  She had her students do paper bag characterizations instead.  You really need to go to her blog and look at the wonderful creations from her class.  They are FABULOUS!  The project really lets the students delve into their character.  The outside of the bag as a few thinking questions.  The inside of the bag is where all the magic happens.  The students must place objects in the bag that symbolize something important about the character.  LOVE IT!


    Ask a Better Question, Get a Better Answer
    During Mrs. Lirette's Learning Detectives 15 Days of K celebration (she was celebrating going back to kindergarten next year),  Dr. Penny from Teach the Math did a guest blog appearance.  She talked about the importance of asking better questions, higher level questions.  This is not an easy skill; it takes practice.  To help you out, she created a great freebie:  That's a Great Question (click on the better below to be taken to the freebie).  I will introducing it to my teachers next year in our on-going quest to ask better questions.

    I hope you have enjoyed "A Few of My  Favorite Things" and come back each Sunday to see what other fabulous  finds I have gathered for your enjoyment and to add to your resources.

    Thursday, June 21, 2012

    Daily Five Chapter 2

    chapters one and two

     This is really a combination of chapters one and two since I am a little behind.  Next week, I am hosting Chapter 3, so I really need to get on the ball!

    Side note:  Now that I am ready to write about these chapters, my lovely cat has decided this would be a great time to crawl in my lap.  Not easy typing on my laptop around the cat. ☺

    I have no experience with the Daily 5.  I picked up on the excitement of other wonderful teacher bloggers I know and decided that I need to find out what all the fuss was about. 

    The very first thing that caught my eye when I started reading chapter one was the quote by Regie Routman, "The typical teacher has children doing a lot of 'stuff.' How is what I am having children do creating readers and writers?" (page 3)  Perfect question!  Just a few paragraphs later the sisters say, "...did those things just keep our kids busy, or were they engaged in literacy tasks that will make a difference in their literate lives?" (page 4)  It got me thinking:  Was I just keeping my kids busy?  Were the tasks authentic and important to their "literate lives?"  Were my students spending copious amounts of time reading and writing?  If the answer to the last two questions wasn't yes, then I had to change what was going on in my classroom!  In my mind, I understand that students need to practice reading and writing to be successful at it.  But I don't think I was always using that independent classroom time effectively.

    So how do I go about changing the environment and structure in my classroom to make it a place where reading and writing happen all the time?  That's where chapter two comes in.

    Daily 5 has a core foundation:  trust, choice, community, urgency, stamina, and staying out of the way.  I can already tell you that "staying out of the way" is my weak point.

    Trust - The sisters asked a question that stuck with me, "What am I doing now that I could trust the kids to do? and In what ways could I trust children where I haven't before?" (page 19).  I am a small case of teacher OCD (or really a big case).  However, to create an environment where reading and writing could happen uninterrupted, I had to let go a little a TRUST my students.  I want to but I think I am going to have to take baby steps. ☺  The last sentence in this section also stood out to me:  "We Would underestimate our students' abilities because we thought kids could not read or write that long on their own" (page 19).  I know I was underestimating my students at times this year.  For the past nine years, I worked with middle school students.  Then this year I am working with PK-3rd grade, heavily with first grade.  At times, my expectations weren't high enough because I kept thinking, "they are only in first grade."  But what does that really mean?  As I became more comfortable with the 'little ones' (as I refer to them b/c I had some huge seventh grade students!), I realized that I was lowering my expectations too low.

    Stamina - When I was working with students this year, we were working on learning how effectively get our message across to our readers.  I struggled at the beginning because I expected my students to jump right in and write, write, write and stay on task with no practice, no lead up.  We hadn't built up their stamina!  Stamina does not come naturally.  It must be taught like every other academic skill we want our students to know.  I back tracked.  I started slow and sentence by sentence we worked to create writing stamina.  Reading works the same way.  Minute by minute.

    What's next?  We know the foundation that Daily 5 is built on.  Now, we need to work on launching the Daily 5 through routines.  I (along with the wonderful Melissa from Mrs. Freshwater's Class) will be hosting chapter 3:  What's the Difference?:  Key Materials, Concepts, and Routines for Launching the Daily Five.

    Here are few guiding questions to think about as you read chapter three:
    1. Why is a gathering place important?
    2. How did your students progess with picking appropriate books?  What went well?  What had to be changed?
    3. What rituals and routines do you need to teach for this structure to be successful?
    4. (If you are already implementing) How did you adapt the rituals and routines introduced in this chapter to make them successful for your students?
    5. What is one statement that stood out above everything in this chapter?
    Here is a little something to help you keep your thoughts in one place as you read:

    Remember to come back next Wednesday to hear my thoughts (and others...there will be a linky so can link up your thoughts) on chapter 3.

    Make sure you check out Nicole from Teaching With Style as she was the hostess for chapter two.

    Tuesday, June 12, 2012

    Grades 1-3 Daily Five Book Study

    Attention teachers in 1st through 3rd grades:  

    Daily Five book study begins on June 13.

    Daily Five, Daily 5, The Sisters

    Melissa from Seusstastic Classroom Inspiration and Nicole from Teaching With Style will be kicking off the book study by hosting Chapter 1:  Introduction.

    Nicole from Teaching With Style made a fabulous bookmark to help everyone know where each chapter of the book study is being held.  Make sure to download your copy by clicking HERE or on the picture.

    I am excited about this book study.  I just finished the first three chapters and have so many things running through my head that I can't wait to discuss with everyone.  I will be hosting Chapter 3 on June 27 along with Melissa from Mrs. Freshwater's Class.

    Monday, June 4, 2012

    Currently June

    Yesterday was Favorite Things Sunday, but I didn't add one of my favorite things that happens at the beginning of each month - Farley's Currently party.  I love reading what each person is doing and getting to know the people I blog stalk in a more personal way.

    Thinking Out Loud June Currently

    Now you know what I am doing, hop over to Farley's and see what everyone else is doing.  Make sure to check our her fantastic new blog design too.  It definitely represents her personality!

    Favorite Things Sunday

    teaching resources, differentiated reading, Bloom's taxonomy, writing

    Glad that you have joined me!  Every  Sunday I share some of the best ideas I have found throughout the week.

    Printing on Sentence Strips
    Jessica from A Turn to Learn gives a step by step, easy to follow tutorial on how print on sentence strips.  I was so excited when I found this post.  I currently write my state standards on sentences for display, but now I they will be nice and neat because I can use my printer.  This would also be great for poems that I can now print on sentence strips.  What are you going to print on sentence strips?

    To find out how easy it is, click on Jessica's button below.  She has PC and Mac directions.

    Math Ideas
    Dr. Penny recently asked her blogging friends to link up their favorite and best math freebies for grades K-2.  Right now there are 75 freebies listed.  Who doesn't love a freebie?  Get some great new ideas to supplement your math curriculum next year.  I would love to hear which freebies you downloaded.  Leave me a comment below.

    Check them out by clicking on her button below.

    Teach the Math

    Writer's Notebook
    I recently found a great writing blog, Kristi from I'm Writing Too, while reading through Slice of Life Tuesday posts hosted by The Two Writing Teachers.  She describes it as: "What you are visiting is my online writer's notebook. This blog is used as a means to both model what I am asking my students to do and a means of accountability to keep writing too."  Her Slice of Life was titled "Annotated Top Ten."  Her students came up with an top ten list of things she says.  I LOVED this list.  It made me wonder what my first graders would have said this year and what my seventh grade students would have said in years past.  You need to read her list to find out what "you or your chair" and "elephants" mean.  Those were two of my favorites.  Leave me a comment telling me one of the things your students would have put on your top ten list.

    Sharing Kindergarten
    Mary from Sharing Kindergarten is having a linky party called My Favorite Things.  I love all three of her favorite things!  If you have a blog, link up.  If not, leave a comment.  Click the image below to be taken there.

    I hope you have enjoyed "A Few of My  Favorite Things" and come back each Sunday to see what other fabulous  finds I have gathered for your enjoyment and to add to your resources.

    Saturday, June 2, 2012

    Daily 5 and CAFE Book Study

    I am participating in a online book study for grades 3-7 over The Daily 5 and The CAFE Book by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser with a wonderful group of teacher bloggers.

    Who is hosting?  When is it?  How can I participate?  These are all questions that I will answer for you today.

    Who are the hostesses?

    lyon_blog_buttonAdventures of a 6th Grade Teacher
    BBS blog buttonLessons with Laughter
    Fabulous 4th Grade FroggiesThinking Out Loud

    How do I participate?

    Are you thinking, "I don't know if I can keep up with who is hosting what chapter."  We have the answer for you!  Lorraine from Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies created a blog called "We Read, We Blog, We Teach" so all of our book study information and posts will be in ONE place.  Click on the button below and follow and subscribe.

    We Read, We Blog, We Teach

    How do I follow?

    How do I subscribe?

    Every couple of days one of the hostess will post about one of the chapters in the book with guiding questions.  Then everyone can write a comment or comments so we can discuss the chapter together.


    Do you need a copy of the books?  There are a few giveaways going on to help you out.
    1. Katie from Adventures of a 6th Grade Teacher is giving away both books.  She posted about it on We Read, We Blog, We Teach.
    2. Molly from Lessons with Laughter is also giving away the set.  Her giveaway ends on June 8th. 
    3. Laura from Corkboard Connections has a set to giveaway also.  Her giveaway ends on June 10th.

    When does it start?

    July 1st with chapter one from The Daily Five.

    I will keep everyone updated with new information as it comes out.  I am very excited about this book study.  I have never participated in one like this before and it will be so much fun to see everyone's take on Daily 5.


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