Monday, November 17, 2014

{Freebie} Subtraction Word Problem Mini-Book

Happy Monday, friends! Today we narrowly avoided a snow day (hip, hip hooray). I'm not always a no-snow-day supporter but (1) it's November (2) I want a full week in school (3) I didn't want to cut my Thanksgiving Break short (we would have lost next Wednesday!). So, therefore, yay for a full day of school!

Over the past few weeks, I have been taming our reading block to make sure I have time for guided math everyday. I typically meet with my lowest friends, and it is such valuable time together. Right now, we are in full-court-press mode with word problems. Moving more toward a "Number Talks" type of class, real-world math consumes more of our time together.
My friends need lots of word-problem practice, more than is provided by our math curriculum. So, I have started creating monthly, differentiated word-problem mini-books. Right now, we are working our way through Subtraction within 10 (with my sweet and lows) in turkey style. You can grab this free mini-book here!
While you're there, also check out my December Mini-Books. This set includes 3 mini-books for subtraction within 10, 15, and 25. This is a perfect resource for differentiating your math small groups or math centers!
Well friends, I'm headed to bed. It's 8:25 on a Monday, so you can definitely understand the need for sleep. :)

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Guided Reading: 1st Grade Style

The school year is in full swing, and we are now 3 weeks into choice with Daily 5. I know. It's crazy talk. My friends have become so independent and love the chance to guide their own learning. For me, it has been such an am amazing 'teacher moment'. There are so many times when I look-up from my teacher table and am filled with pride. My friends are doing it! :)
Of course, the reason we use a Daily 5 or Workshop schedule is so we can have that critically important guided-reading time with all of our readers, every day. Small group is when growth happens, and our beginning readers thrive during this time. 

A general breakdown of our time looks like this: 8-9 minutes reading selected text, 3 minutes text hunt focusing on weekly skill, 3-4 minutes connecting comprehension skill to our text/writing about our text/teaching a new center. 
Today I wanted to share what my guided reading time looks like. Since we've started making choices, the transition time between rotations has been extended. Therefore, I set-up my teacher table before school. That way, when other friends are making choices, the group of friends who are meeting with me can get started reading. I put a whiteboard on the bottom of the pile, a blends chart for my 2 lowest groups, and then, the book we're reading. 
 As their friends are making choices, my Teacher-Table group knows to get started reading whatever is in their spot. For my on-level groups, I do use our Reading Street basal.
These friends are also loving Reader's Theatre, so I like to throw in some fluency practice a few mornings a week. We are really enjoying these plays I picked up on Amazon. 
 For my below-grade-level friends, I pull from Reading A-Z, as well as, Simply Second's Vowel Pattern Books.
After we have finished the 'choice' part of the transition (normally lasting 2-3 minutes), I head to the teacher table and listen to a friend read. This is normally when I am doing a running record, a fluency assessment, or taking data for our tiered folders. When I need a writing utensil, I grab for this small, Ikea flower pot that sits on my desk. It's not fancy, but it does the job. Plus, it doesn't take up a lot of space on my teacher table.
Students reading to me, to themselves, and to a partner normally takes 8-9 minutes of our time together. After we've read our text for the day (at a whisper by ourselves and then, with a partner), we interact with the text focusing on our skill for the week. Right here you see a friends searching for plural and singular nouns. To make sure we all stay on track and don't waste any of our precious guided-reading time, I always set a timer for ~3 minutes. 
After our Skills Hunt, we focus on blends, digraphs, or long vowel sounds. 
I'll also use part of our guided reading time (normally no more than a few minutes) to teach new centers or activities students may have the choice to make in later weeks. Teaching Versatiles whole-class is just not possible. Students really do need that hands-on practice. 
This is a picture from my green group and our final week on Short Vowels. We celebrated with this Short Vowel Sort (a freebie). It was a great chance to review our short vowels before moving to long vowels, as well as, to practice sentence writing.
So, this is what our guided reading time looks like. With my below-grade level group, I plan 20 minutes, but my two on-grade level groups get 15 minutes. Not included above is my above-grade-level group - we have moved completely to Chapter Book studies - Frog and Toad, Horrible Harry, Cam Jansen, etc. They are VERY high and the basal is way, way, way too easy. We spend our time together reading, connecting comprehension skills to our reading, or writing about our reading. 

Overall, this system really works for me. I would love to spend the entire time reading, but have found with the Daily 5 my mini-lessons have been cut much shorter (which is fabulous), but I do have to make-up the instruction somewhere else. Teaching our skills and comprehension understandings with texts in hands makes it more real-world and not so arbitrary. So, for us, it works. 

So, please tell me, what does guided reading look like in your room? What works for you?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Field Trip with Ease

Hey, friends! Today we ventured to the Pumpkin Patch and Apple Orchard, and it was a BREEZE. So, I wanted to share some things that made our day go oh-so-smoothly.

First, I will admit, I had 17 parents/grandparents join us. I know. It may sound like a nightmare, but it was amazing! I only have 22 friends, so it allowed me to really enjoy my time learning/exploring with the class. I was able to go pumpkin picking, play tag, and even enjoy an apple-cider treat. :)

Outside of amazing parent support, I prepared a few other things to make sure everything went smoothly. In my teacher drawstring bag (not stylish, but so easy to carry), I put a clipboard with 3 class lists (you never know!), wipes, hand sanitizer, plastic Ziploc bags, plastic grocery bags, bandaids, Painter's Tape, and Sharpies. I definitely should have included a whistle....live and learn!
Why the Painter's Tape and Sharpies, you ask?? These were the BEST tools for our pumpkin picking adventures. As we were finding our perfect pumpkins, I asked a parent to label the pumpkins with each child's name. It kept the pumpkins from being mixed up, and when we had to put them below the bus in storage while we traveled, we didn't lose our pumpkins. It was the simplest way to keep everyone happy!
After we returned from our adventure, we spent the rest of the afternoon talking and writing about our days. This week we are learning to write our first REAL paragraphs! Paragraph writing is a year-long skill, and our first efforts today were awesome! We used a variation of the 4-Square Planner to organize our thoughts. Our first paragraphs included a main idea (My favorite part of our trip....), a reason (with a highlighted because), a detail, and a wrap-up sentence. For our first efforts at paragraph writing, I was VERY pleased! (If you would like this template, you may grab it here.)

This is one of my favorites - "I loved jumping from hay stack to hay stack because I got to play tag with Ms. W. I had to run fast to get away from Ms. W when she was it." #nomercy #playtowin #bestdayever 

We'll friends, that's it for tonight. We had a wonderful, wonderful trip, but I am tired. The games of hay-stack tag and slide races did this teacher in. ;) Until next time, adios!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Number Lines: An Easy Storage Idea

Entering the 2nd quarter of the year, we are knee-deep in addition and subtraction. We've spent time learning about dozens of different strategies for solving math problems - visualizing, drawing, crossing out, manipulatives, and one of our favorites - number lines! 

While I love that my friends want to use the number line to help them, I struggled with storing them. They were always stored in a haphazard pile in which the edges never met and a stray number line lay on the floor. That's when inspiration hit (i.e. I found an extra Command Hook in my desk.). 
After laminating and cutting my number lines, I hole-punched each number line and added a Command Hook to the side of our technology station in the front of the room.
With a hole in them, the number lines are ready to hang. There you go! A simple, simple solution for storing number lines. Hanging number lines give students easy access to them and keeps them confined to one place in your classroom. Plus, storing number lines by hanging them is simple enough that students can put them back when they finishing using them.
So, what do you think? How do you store your number lines? I'd love to hear what works for you! 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Differentiating Your Classroom with Color

Hi, friends! I'm stopping by to share how I've stepped up my differentiating-game this year. My new team is fabulous at finding just-right learning materials for our 1st grade friends, and we have found a just-right system to make sure these materials get in the right friends' hands. 
Like most teacher stories, it all starts with school supplies. This time, it's three reams of Astrobrights colored cardstock - green, yellow, and blue.
We flexibility group our friends into these 3 groups - green (below grade-level), yellow (on grade-level), and blue (above grade-level) for math and reading. To make it easy to remember think of a first grade outside picture (green = grass, yellow = sun, blue = sky). Our kids can move anytime they are ready, no big deal. Right now, I actually have 2 yellow groups and am slowly transitioning them into a blue group. I have a FABULOUS group of friends this year!
Our friends know what color they are in math and reading. During Daily 5 or centers, students grab the folder or word-ring that is just-right for them. In our Word Work center, our word rings hang on Command Hooks in an extra cubby. Students grab a word ring and an activity tub (Versatiles, Magnet Letters, Super Sentences, etc.). Students are able to work on the same activities, but with their just-right words.
In Math Stations, we use Sterlite Tubs to hold our materials. When students go to grab a math tub, it holds 3 folders - green, yellow, and blue. Students grab their just-right tub and get to work. If we were playing a game of Go Fish - the blue folder would have cards for Make 40 Go Fish. The Yellow Folder would have cards for Make 20 Go Fish, and the Green Folder would have cards for Make 10 Go Fish. Same game, just-right for all my friends.

In our listening center, the 3 colored folders fit on top of the shelf. Students can choose any book to listen to. Then, after carefully listening, they pull a recording log out of their folder. The papers in the green folder often include a word bank and space for drawing their ideas, the yellow folder includes more lines for writing, and the blue folder includes a recording sheet for a 2nd grade reading skill.
Here is an example of folders for our Versatile Tubs in Word Work. Our skills for the week were Short E and Beginning Blends. The green folder is focusing on short e, the yellow folder us focusing on blends using picture clues, and the blue folder focuses on blends in the context of complete sentences.
It's really that simple and effective. Students have access to the content and material that is just-right for them, and it requires little management. I am not planning 15 different reading/math tubs each week. Rather, I plan 3 Word Work activities and just change out the word rings each week. I plan 4 math tubs and just change-out the cards or numbers in the tub each week.

This is what is working for my friends. What works in your classroom? How do you manage differentiate with your friends? I'd love to hear about your system!