"Egg"cellent Spelling Hot Potato Game

Happy Tuesday everyone!  I hope you are all enjoying your week whether you're in school or on Spring Break!  I have 3 more days until I can enjoy 10 blissful days off.  I may have a large to-do list already but I can't wait to sit back and check each item off the list with a LARGE mug of coffee on my couch!   To get my kiddos and I through this last week before break, I wanted to make sure we had some interactive activities to review some previously taught skills! 

We are having a review of Bossy R words this week in spelling so I knew I needed an activity to hook my firsties and get them excited about some review!  Plastic Easter eggs were just the ticket.  I wrote our spelling words for the week on index cards and hid them inside Easter eggs.  When the kids were ready, we gathered on the carpet in a circle and practiced our "Egg"cellent spelling song.

Once we began singing, my littles started to pass around the basket full of eggs hot-potato style.  We passed and sang until the song ended.  The last one who had the basket in their lap, opened the egg.  We then read the word inside, clapped out the spelling, and used it in a sentence.  We made sure to add our new spelling words to our chart as we played.  Here are some action shots from the game =)

I snuck in a few golden eggs to add some sizzle to the game.  If you chose a golden egg it had a twist to it.  Some of the twists were spell your own bossy /or/ word, spell your own /ar/ word, read our words that we've collected like a baby, like a pirate, or like a cowboy!

Once we collected, read, and practiced our words we returned to our seats to record all of our new "egg"cellent spelling words!  One of my little boys said, "Hey Mrs. Y you're 'crack'ing me up!  Get it, eggs, cracking! Hahaha!"  I love those sweet innocent first grade moments!

I fixed up and fancied up this activity and recording sheet and posted it as a freebie in my TpT store here!  I hope your friends enjoy it as much as mine did!  

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Five for Friday!

This five for Friday linky party is quickly becoming a highlight of my week!  I love the opportunity to sit back on a Friday and look at all of the excitement that has gone on in the classroom throughout the week!  It's been a great one full of tons of learning and some new experiences!   I have one more week until spring break...I think I can I think I can!  Here's what we've been up to!

With the spring weather starting to roll in and a few days left before spring break, my lovelies have been seriously lacking in the kind character department.  We've been bogged down by tattle tales, calling out, and not trying our best.  The ol' clip chart was not delivering its usual motivation, so I knew I needed to try something new.  I've been so excited to share my brag tags with my students!  I created these based off of the six pillars of character: respect, responsibility, thoughtfulness, fairness, citizenship, and caring.  Each pillar of character has designated brag tags to celebrate students who show those character traits.  

I ran through Party City like a crazy woman trying to find some accessories to motivate my students with our Operation Character Counts brag tags!  I hit the jackpot with these awesome dog tag necklaces and Top Secret military lunch box!  When the kids came in on Wednesday morning, they immediately screamed because our calendar had been replaced by our new brag tag display!  Their eyes wandered around the room to the secret box and could not believe what was inside!

Each student was given a tag with their name and rank (student number), a Ready to Learn tag, and a place on our board!  The kids have been so inspired and excited about this new behavior tool!  If you want to read more about it visit my TpT store here.

Here are a few of my sweeties after they earned their first brag tags.  We had two littles who were "Purrr"fect partners with each other and a little doll who is ALWAYS a listening star!  They have been so excited to show off their accomplishments when they go to specials and lunch!  Go firsties go!

I have been using and LOVING Miss DeCarbo's Long Vowel fluency pack with my lower level readers. Having them focus on one word family at a time is so helpful and the spinner allows them to feel in control of their work.  The picture of both sweeties using their reading finger to read their passage independently makes my teacher heart skip a beat!  Check out this awesome pack at Miss DeCarbo's TpT store here.

If you have been following my blog for a little while now you have quickly seen how much I love Lucy Calkin's writing workshop!  The independence it gives my students while allowing me to individualize my instruction for all of my students is so wonderful.  We have finished Bend 1 of our Opinion Writing Unit and we played a little game with our checklist to make sure we had all of the parts to make our opinions strong and convincing to our reader.  We played a partner game called "Prove It Prove It."  

I may or may not have sung "I like to prove it prove it," a few too many times!  

My writing partners put a checklist in between their writing samples.  We read each item off of the checklist one at a time as a whole group.  After we read an item, the students had to "prove" to their partners that they had each element of the checklist in their writing.  If they did they shouted "Proved it!" If they didn't their partner had to help them fix their writing.  It worked like a charm!

On a related note, I was officially accepted to the August Writing Institute at TCRWP!  This will be my second year going and I am so excited!  More teachers from my district will be coming with me this year and I can't wait to see what the institute has in store for us.  Last year there were so many wonderful keynote speakers, authors, and presenters there to share their experiences.  I took so much from it!  Will anyone else be there this August?

We ended our week with some more wonderful weather lessons!  This week was all about clouds.  We learned about the four major kinds and used a flip book from Stephanie Stewart's Weather is Wild packet to record our new learning.  The kids were fascinated by the different clouds and we are planning a walk outside next week to observe what clouds are in the sky each day.  We had a blast completing Stephanie's adorable cloud craft from the packet to end the week!  I love how each has their own personality.  We have some rosy cheeks and eyelashes on a few!  Check out this wonderful resource here!

I hope you all had a wonderful week! If you are on Spring Break, enjoy it!  If you're like me and have another week to go, just keep swimming!  We'll get there!

Interactive Phonics Fun-Bossy R

Happy Wednesday everyone!  Today was my kind of day in the classroom!  I have a group of lovelies who NEED to be up and moving throughout the day.  It is very rare this year to see my group sitting at their desks for an extended period of time.  My group needs engagement, opportunities to work cooperatively, and time to interact with the content they're learning.  What my firsties need, I am happy to provide!  

We have been working throughout this week on the very tricky Bossy R spelling pattern with /ir/, /er/, and /ur/.  Last week we focused on /ar/ and /or/. We had Smart Clark visit our classroom and help guide us through the week with his awesome /ar/ activities.  Today we didn't just get a visit from super heroes, we got to become one!

On Monday we were introduced to the Bossy R triplets with this simple yet effective SECRET STORIES® by Kate Garner about the sounds! 

‘ER /IR /UR’
They LOVE to go driving in cars,
but they are terrible, awful, horrible, ‘no-good’ drivers-
so they always have to slam on the brakes!

For more SECRET STORIES® make sure to visit Katie Garner's website at www.TheSecretStories.com
We were slamming on our brakes ALL day on Monday. So much so that my next door neighbor peeked her head into see what we were up to.  Ooops fun learning needs no explanation!

As we continued to practice our Bossy R sounds today, we were introduced to the Bossy R triplet super heroes from Jessica at Wild About Firsties and her fantastic freebie!  We sorted some of our Bossy R sounds as a whole group, built words on the SMART board, and watched one of our favorite videos from the Electric Company!

After some review, it was time to become our very own Bossy R super heroes!  We used the mask template from Jessica's freebie, cut them out, and glued them to popsicle sticks.  Once we all had our masks ready to go I told them what their jobs would be!  We were going to "fly" around the room to super hero music that I played from my SMART board.  When they heard the brake sound like in our secret story, they had to stop and save the day!  The kids were told to stop at the closest /er/, /ir/, /ur/ poster and write a word on their own to show they were super hero material!  Once the music started playing again they were allowed to continue to fly around the room with their super hero friends.

I used the brake sound effect from this video to play at random times once I stopped the music.  Our super heroes did such an awesome job writing down their Bossy R words once they heard the signal!

This little cutie wrote his name on the mask and circled the /or/ in his super hero name!

After a few rounds of super hero music and stopping to record our Bossy R words, we stopped flying and went over the words we had collected.  

We had a few mistakes that we needed to discuss but other than those, my super heroes did a fantastic job recognizing the Bossy R sounds and writing the correct spelling pattern for their words!  Not only did we get to interact with each other and learn our phonics pattern but we had a blast protecting the classroom in the process!  Way to go superheroes!

How were you a super hero today?

I hope you enjoy the rest of your week!

Tech Tuesday!

Happy Tuesday!  I'm linking up today with Marie over at Once Upon a Classroom for a tech linky party!  

As much as I try to bring technology into my classroom, I have not embraced it as much as I should.  My class doesn't have its own set of iPads and that's definitely a goal of mine! One way I have been trying to be more tech savvy is with my note taking.  As much as I LOVE pretty binders and flair pens, the papers can start to pile up and cause a messy and unorganized desk.  I'd often find myself searching high and low for my writing workshop note binder one minute and scrounging around for a paper to record anecdotal notes during guided reading!  

When the problem seemed to be at its worst, I was so grateful to learn of this great app from some of the other teachers in a lead teacher group I'm a part of through Teacher's College Reading and Writing Project.  Enter confer app!  I've only been working with it for a few days but so far I'm seriously impressed!

 Confer app is an easy one stop shop for recording notes on ANY subject, for all of your students!  It's very easy to navigate and gives you the option to add several subjects and students.

Confer app makes it very easy to add new students manually or gives you the option to upload or paste a list of students from an already established list!  Once you have entered all of your students names you can use the same list for each subject or edit it to suit your different classes.

Once your students and subjects are entered, you're ready to note take!  It's that simple!  I decided to use this primarily for writing workshop.  Once you select your student that your conferring with, the app provides clear places for you to add in your teaching point from the mini-lesson and begin taking notes on students' strengths/compliments, teaching that you do during the conference, and next steps you have for the student.

One of my favorite components so far is the option to add a picture of the students work that you're conferring with!  Above, I took a picture of a students' writing sample after I conferenced with them.  You can see the strength I recorded, the teaching point I used with him, and the next steps I have for that writer.  

Once your notes have been recorded, the app gives you a lot of options for what to do with them.  You can sync your notes to your computer or export them to google drive.

I love that I have the option to upload my notes to google drive.  This gives me a sense of security and somewhere to keep all of my students' notes in one place!  It provides teachers with easy reference so you're not scrambling for all of your notes that you have on one student.  

If you're interested in this app, it is a little pricey!  That was my only hesitation.  But, luckily confer offers a 'lite' version that's free.  You can only add two subjects with ten students at a time but it's a great way to try out the app and see if it's what you're looking for!

Not only is this app a helpful tool for any classroom teacher, it was created by a national board certified teacher and is recognized as a Top 100 Paid iPad Education App!

For more information and a detailed explanation of the app see the video by creator David Lowe below or visit their website confer app!  

I hope you will find this as useful to your classroom as I have for mine!  Don't forget to link back to Marie for more great tech ideas!

Enjoy your day!

Math Block Makeover

Teacher truth on the blog tonight, I do not like math. I wish you could see me cowering behind my computers screen right now!  I have tried tirelessly to enjoy it, really I have!  It all stems from my own experiences in school.  I was that kid in AP English classes and remedial math classes..numbers and I are like oil and water.  We don't mix well together.  Ask me to write a detailed essay about a novel, done.  Read a poem and come up with my own variation, happily.  Assign me an algebra equation or geometry project, I will go cross-eyed.  But, when I began teaching I promised myself that my negative experiences with math would not seep into my own teaching.  I wanted math to be fun and interactive for my students, unlike the experiences I had growing up.  

One of my grad professors once compared good teaching to the ability to form yourself into a pretzel; being able to adjust and change to fit every situation. This analogy has stuck with me and I have been forming myself and our math block into quite a few pretzels this year! This is my second year using Pearson enVisions for our math curriculum.  The lessons are very intensive and difficult to fit into the time frame that we have.  Especially, when some of my students leave for basic skills 40 minutes into the math block and often miss important points of instruction.  I'm sure so many of us have the same issues which is why I knew I needed to switch things up!  I have been inspired by so many guided math posts and resources so I knew I needed to give it a try.  Today was a step in the right direction!

To start we warmed up with my new math warm up workmats that correspond to each lesson in our subtraction chapter.

 The students were able to independently complete them, which is so important to activate prior knowledge and connect to previous lessons!

After our warm-up, I brought the students together for some math talk and discussion about our previous concepts with our anchor chart.  We worked through questions on the chart and turned and talked to our partners about what we already knew.  

Afterwards, enVisions has a hands-on minds on partner activity that the students are supposed to start their lesson off with.  It's a great activity but most of the time, my students are unable to complete it independently and my co-teacher and I have to stop the lesson to model it a few times before my students understand.  A lightbulb moment happened for me finally...why don't we do this activity in small groups after the instructional video instead of the other way around?!  Done and done!

Video first...we're living on the wild side in room 11!

After watching the instructional video on the SMART board and discussing with our math partners, we split up into groups.  Two groups stayed with their partners and played a game and the other two groups worked with me or my co-teacher to complete the small group hands-on activity.  This gave me a chance to work directly with my higher needs students while my more independent students were able to practice the skill with their partner in a hands on way.

The partners were working on my new spin to subtract tens game.  It's a format that they're used to so they were able to work independently and it tied into the lesson.  I was so happy to see them engaged and interacting with each other without the assistance from the teacher!

When 15 minutes were up, we switched!  The small groups worked with their partners to complete the game and the game groups were able to work with my co-teacher and I in a small group setting.  We were able to switch the numbers and make the activities more challenging for them.

After both groups successfully met with the teachers and played the games, I knew my students were able to tackle the independent practice for our subtracting tens lesson.  This gave me time to walk around the room and assist any students that still needed help. My kiddos made me so proud and were able to complete the independent practice AND problem solving completely independently. 

We weren't done yet.  My kiddos need a lot of practice writing in math and responding to higher order thinking questions.  I took some of the questions from the enVisions lesson and typed them up for us to respond to in our journals.  Today, we completed this entry together but as the topic goes on I will release the reigns...I promise ;) 

We closed with a 2 minute timed fluency subtraction practice that my kiddos so desperately need!  They were still engaged and ready to tackle their last task!

This was a great first day moving in the direction of a more guided approach using our math curriculum!  I know there's a lot of work to be done but my hope is that I'm providing my students with a more hands-on and exciting environment to learn math in!  Tomorrow we'll be using the same structure but with a different game from my new math pack.  If you're teaching using the enVision curriculum and want some things to supplement OR are teaching subtracting with multiples of ten check out my new packet on TpT here.

I can't wait to see what new pretzels await me tomorrow!  Enjoy your night!