Small Moment Anchor Chart

Happy Monday friends!  I wanted to pop in really quickly tonight to share a little bit about our writing workshop lesson from today.  We're finally at the point in writing workshop where I feel like my first graders have a strong understanding of the routines and are able to get started with their stories without much support from me.  They're independently getting up and getting paper on their own from the writing center, they're working with partners to help brainstorm story ideas, and they're stretching and sounding out words on their own instead of asking "How do you spell ______???"  We're starting to find our flow!

For this reason, I knew it was time to push things into high gear and start working on taking our true stories about ourselves and zooming into those small moments in our lives.  In order to do this, I use the Lucy Calkin's strategy of thinking of small moments as seed stories instead of huge and heavy watermelon stories.  In order for my first grade writers to understand this difficult concept, I knew I needed a strong visual to drive this point home.  We talked about how watermelons are huge and heavy and I acted out how much I would struggle if I had to carry one around.  I tried to sell it as much as possible!  I told them that in writing, instead of writing huge watermelon stories we need to pick out tiny seeds.

Then, we started referencing my favorite mentor text for small moment writing; Night of the Veggie Monster by George McClements.  We went through a few of our favorite scenes (where he smashes the table and curls his toes!) and talked about how George didn't write about his son's ENTIRE day but instead zoomed in on a VERY small moment of his day.  So small in fact that the little boy never even leaves the table and stays in one spot throughout the entire book.  I told the kids how George McClements zoomed in on his son and chose a tiny seed inside of his huge watermelon day.

After, I showed my kids our new small moment anchor chart.  Together we read the descriptions that I had posted on the chart that says "Small moment writers look into a watermelon story and pick out a seed! this a watermelon story or a seed story?  Then I shared two examples that I had posted on the chart.  My watermelon story example was all about my day at the beach with my family.  While my seed story was about the small moment at the beach when I built a sandcastle with my sister.

After we talked about those examples, I continued to give different examples of story ideas and asked my students to turn and talk to their partners to decide if they thought it was a watermelon story or a small seed story.  With MULTIPLE examples we were finally on the right track!  Writing about what I love to do in Fall is NOT a seed story my little first grade friends.  

This is not something I expect my first graders to fully grasp after just one day of instruction.  We'll be referencing this chart throughout the rest of our small moment unit of study.  But, I know this visual will be a huge help to my kids!

If you're interested in grabbing this for your own classroom, I have put the pieces from my anchor chart into a packet in my TpT store.  You can grab it here!

Thank you so much for stopping by!  I hope you have a wonderful rest of your week!

Getting Started With Word Study

Happy Sunday everyone.  I'm popping in tonight to write a quick post about getting word study up and running in your primary classroom.  This is my first year using word study in my first grade classroom as opposed to the traditional approach to phonics instruction.  In previous years, I had been teaching a spelling pattern a week to my entire group of first graders.  Even though we always mixed up the activities and differentiated to meet each student's needs, I found that this kind of instruction didn't fit well with my teaching philosophy.

Last year was my first year teaching in an inclusion classroom.  I am currently the general education teacher in a first grade class and I work side by side with a wonderful special education teacher.  Because last year was our first year together and both the first time in our new roles, it was quite the learning curve.  But,  working in that kind of environment, opened my eyes to the kind of instruction that I felt my students truly needed and I'm brave enough to say that it wasn't what I was giving them.  For this reason, with the support of my administration, my entire team has decided to move towards teaching spelling features with word study instead of teaching the entire class one spelling pattern a week.  I'm not saying this doesn't work for other groups of students; it just wasn't proving successful with the wide range of learners in my room.

First off, you may be asking "What is word study?" Well, "word study develops students' underlying understanding of how letters and letter patterns represent sound and meaning in language."  We use word sorts during our word study time because they're hands-on and motivating and they encourage students to discover the "rule" without being told directly.  Something, I am desperately trying to accomplish this year!

We've been moving VERY slowly but my firsties are already picking up the routine and I'm so excited to dive in fully this week.  I wanted to shed a little light on how we've introduced word study and gotten it off the ground in hopes of inspiring some of you to make the switch.

On day one of school (our first Monday together), we began introducing what a sort is and the different components of a sort. Each group will be given their own schedule of activities but we wanted to get our first graders started with a schedule right away, so we've been working on the same one since school started.

  We discussed what headers are and why they are important to pay attention to.  We demonstrated turning our picture cards over and sorted beginning sounds as an entire class.  Our first sort looked a lot like the image above, from Oriental Trading, because as a team we decided that at the beginning of the year we would review beginning consonants.

  For the first three weeks of school, we've been working as a whole class and moving along a word study schedule (as seen above) to teach the procedures and routines of our word study block.  Our word study block will only last us 20 minutes, so we needed to get into the routine of gathering our materials and getting set up quickly to not waste a minute.  While we are reviewing the schedule and practicing our daily activities, my team gave our students a spelling inventory.

The spelling inventory (we used one from Words Their Way since this is the program we'll be using) is given like a spelling pre-test to all of our students.  On our first try, we gave 15 of the words to see how our first graders did.  According to Words Their Way, once a student gets two wrong in a row, it's time to stop.  We analyzed the first set of inventories and found that some of our students were able to continue.  Once our spelling inventories were done and analyzed (with a little help of some tea and fancy flair pens) we were able to start preparing groups.

While our team was preparing groups, our students were still being introduced to the activities on their schedule so they would be prepared to work independently when the time came.  According to the schedule, on Tuesday my students took the same picture sort that was introduced on Monday and cut and sorted the pictures on their own.  We practiced MANY times how to cut out the picture boxes carefully and how to sort the cards.  You'll notice from my little one in the picture that we all flip our cards over, scramble them, and then sort our pictures under our headings.  My students are getting so good at doing these sorts independently and saving time for some more fun sorts like blind sorts and partner sorts.

On Wednesday, my students have been working on sorting their cards three times each and then pasting on manila paper.  I have decided not to have my students use their word study notebooks to paste their picture cards in.  Their word study notebooks will be used for extension activities and word hunts.

On Thursdays, or the final day of the week (since we've only had four day weeks so far) have been dedicated to word hunting.  I have a lot of decodable books from our reading series, Journeys, that are set aside now for word hunting during word study block.  My students have been practicing setting up their word study notebooks with the date and headings and are off hunting for words that match their spelling features completely on their own.

Now that the routines have been practiced and almost every activity on the word study schedules has been introduced, we're ready to start groups full time!  I have finally set up my word study group folders and organized all the materials that I will need for each day when I meet with my groups.  I bought an 8 pocket folder to help organize all of my word study materials.  This year, I will have five groups; two that begin in short vowels, one for blends, one in digraphs, and then my advanced students who will begin with a review of mixed vowel families.  For each group, I have a pocket designated to the day that they will meet with me and their color name.  Each pocket will hold their sorts and my sort that is pre-cut, their schedules that I will go over with them, my notes and planning page, and the sort extension activities.  

Each student word study folder will be in their color bin at the back of the room.  That way at the beginning of word study time, our groups can go get their folders from their matching color bin with everything already inside of it.  I am choosing not to label these folders with my student's names because if my students need to move groups,  I want it to be fluid and easy.

Word study games are the last piece to this word study puzzle.  While I work with my first group this Monday, every other group will be working on word study games that review beginning consonants and short vowels that have already been introduced.  As each day passes another group will meet with me for the first time and get their new schedule.  If the group has not met with me yet, they will continue playing games until they see me for the first time.

When word study is fully up and running with each group working on their own sort on their own schedule, I will meet with a group Monday-Thursday.  Two groups (one with my co-teacher) will be seen on Mondays.  That frees me up to use Fridays as a check-in day with my lower students or a chance to review and circulate with other groups and monitor their progress.  As we continue to establish our word study routines, I will be back with more information on what works for us and what we're changing.

If you would like to see more of my word study student schedules and follow-up activities, you can check out my Word Study Start Pack on TpT by clicking the image above!

Thank you so much for stopping by!  I hope that this gives you some insight in how to get word study up and running in your primary classroom! 

Five for Friday...on a Friday!

Happy Friday all!!  I have finally done it!  Since starting school this year I have been completely unable to post my Five for Friday on an actual Friday.  But, that all changes starting today!  I have felt swamped under the back to school transition, constant assessments, and new curriculum adjustments.  Maybe this is a sign that things are starting to turn around?  I really hope so!  We had a short but great week in first grade, so here are a few highlights from the past few days.

Wednesday marked the first official day of Fall.  Need I say more?  Bring on the pumpkin spiced lattes, football Sundays, crisp mornings with sweaters and leggings, and the weekends I beg my husband to take me pumpkin picking.  It is my absolute favorite!  So, I had to celebrate with my first PSL of the season...I had been holding off ALL month!

It was a long day on Wednesday and I couldn't have asked for a more perfect treat!  PSL, you are always there when I need you!

It feels like ages ago already, but this Monday night was our  back to school night.  I have to say it was a big success and the parents were so supportive and encouraging!  On my kid's desks we had a letter waiting for the parents written by the kids, a water bottle that said, "Parents like you are refreshing." from the wonderful Ashley over at Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd.  We also had the kids decorate picture frames for their parents and we put their first day of school pictures inside them.  I always like to send the parents home with a keepsake.  I was really proud of how the room looked after it was all set up.

I'm almost embarrassed to admit it, but yesterday was my very first time using interactive notebooks with my students!  I saw that possessive nouns was on the docket for this week and I panicked about how I would approach that to my very sweet but struggling first grade readers.  I found Teaching with Love and Laughter's amazing grammar interactive notebook pack and knew this was the best way to approach it.  I can't wait to dive into INB's this year and teach my kids how to use them as a reference throughout the year.  I hope I can keep up with it!  

We have been diving into word study as a whole group for the last three weeks now.  The spelling inventories have been given and analyzed and I finally have my students set into word study groups.  This means, word study rotations are in full swing starting Monday!  I finally organized my spiral folder to include each group's materials for the week.  I will be using my schedules from my word study packet on TpT along with my planning pages to keep me organized.  Each folder has my group's weekly schedule, my planning notes, their sort for the week that we will do together on Meet the Teacher day, and a follow-up assessment that I'll use with them the next time I meet with them.  I can't wait to get this structure fully up and running.  I will be back to blog about this more when things are in full operation mode!

I feel like my world fell back on its' axis last night as TGIT returned.  The Scandal premiere was so good but I just don't know if I'll be able to hold on with all this back and forth.  Shonda Rhimes, you're just too good!  I haven't started How To Get Away With Murder Yet but I'm confident that will be my next Netflix marathon.  Is it worth it?  I hope so!

Alright, that about sums up my week so far!  Today we have training from TCRWP for writing workshop with our staff developer and those are my favorite kinds of days.  I hope to report back to you some of the strategies I pick up soon!  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!  Thanks so much for stopping by!

Five for Friday...on a Saturday!

Happy Saturday everyone!  I just can't quite get my blogging flow back yet.  This was our second week of first grade and it was a wonderful but B-U-S-Y one!

This picture says it all...truly.  I always forget what the beginning of first grade looks like and feels like!  Anyone else with me?! Combine the usual exhaustion with brand new curriculum and new administrators and you've got a quick glimpse into the state of my back to school affairs.  This weekend I am staying with my family while my husband is on a business trip so it is ALL about taking it slow and recharging.  Before I go for a walk with my mom in the local park, here's a snapshot of my week with my great firsties.  Once we get the hang of things, I know this year is going to a be a wonderful one!

We started this week off with a focus on our daily objectives.  I wanted my first graders to understand what was expected of them right from the start. Plus, my new objectives display is adorable to look at, so at least we have that going for us!  Looking to spice up your objectives display? Click on the picture to take a peek at it in my TpT store.

Next up on the first grade agenda this week, NOUNS!  I love teaching grammar even if it is difficult to fit into the already packed schedule.  We watched a Brainpop video about nouns, what 6 year old doesn't love Annie and Moby?!  We discussed nouns that are all around us and we sorted nouns into people, places, and things from my newest nouns packet.  My kids rocked the discussion and were able to recognize the kinds of nouns that described them.  In our class we have dancers, athletes, daughters, sons, cousins, and students.  Go first graders go!

Click on the picture if you're interested in spicing up your noun instruction!  My kids did great with the different activities!

We're starting very slowly with our word study time in first grade.  My students are doing an awesome job sorting and hunting our beginning consonants as a review from kindergarten and introduction into word study routines.  Each student has started with the same schedule as we start our word study block, but once our groups are established each group will use a different schedule to accomplish their word study goals.

What do you do when you're prepping a completely new homework system and you run out of white printer paper?!  You use Astrobrights to spice up your new reading tic-tac-toe menus!  My first grade team and I sent these reading tic-tac-toe menus home for the first time this week with a leveled book for each student.  These menus not only ensure that our students are reading just right books, but also keep them accountable and reiterate what we're working on in class.  Win win if you ask me!

I was wandering through Target this week, because sometimes you just need to de-stress, you know?!  I stumbled upon this t-shirt from Mean Girls and thought DONE...Halloween costume found!  I won't wear it to school but I think I have to have it!

Thanks as always for stopping by!  I hope everyone had a wonderful week and will be able to enjoy the weekend.  We have back to school night on Monday so I will be busy prepping a few things to get myself ready.  I'm always so nervous talking in front of parents.  A room full of children, no problem!  But, adults...not so much.

I'm hoping to get back into a blogging routine as the next few weeks pass.  Happy Saturday friends!

Week One Wrap Up

Well, we made it!  Week one is officially in the books and I am thrilled with how things are going so far.  There were a few moments of panic before school started up again on Tuesday.  Mostly it was a lot of wondering if I remember how to get 20 six year olds excited about school and interested in coming back the next day.  My panic slowly settled as the week went on and we are finally starting to get the ball running in first grade.  I have a great group of kids and I'm excited to see how this year goes!  

Because there's no tired like teacher tired at the beginning of the year I'm just now getting my thoughts together to join Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday.  I know, it's Sunday but let's call it Five for Friday on Sunday Funday?!  I think that it's acceptable after the first week of first grade, don't you?!  Here's a quick snapshot of my week.  

But first, let me take a selfie...

First day of first grade!  Year 5 let's do this.  Have I mentioned how terrible of a selfie taker I am?!  I have lots to learn!


Teaching in an inclusion class has taught me so much over the past two years.  I now realize how important it is for my students to have a clear game plan for the day and an understanding of what's ahead for them.  One of the first things we discussed this week was our visual schedule and how we can use it throughout the day.  My firsties quickly picked up on how to follow along with the day's activities and when they could expect lunch, recess, specials, and snack.  Can I get an amen?!  No more "Mrs. Yannuzzi, when are we going home?????"  All I have to say is, check the schedule sweetie!  Phew!

If you're interested in implementing schedules in your classroom, you can check these out in my TpT store by clicking on the picture below.  

This year, my grade level is implementing a huge change to our phonics instruction.  Instead of teaching one phonics pattern a week whole group, we are implementing a word study program based on Words Their Way.  I am beyond thrilled to be able to use this kind of instruction to meet the needs of all my learners.  This week we started to implement our word study schedules sloooowww and steady!  
We started by introducing the word sort as a whole group on Tuesday (meet with the teacher).  Then, on Wednesday we cut and sorted our beginning consonant cards as a whole group (cut and sort).  On Thursday, we sorted our cards again three times each, learned how to have a partner check our sort, and then glued it on the paper (sort and paste).  On Friday, we did our first word hunt for beginning consonant b and m words with baskets of books at our tables.  My kids did an awesome job!  We gave them their word study folders, schedules, and notebooks and they were stoked.  I'll share pictures in action as we continue with it.  
This week, we'll be giving the spelling inventory while continuing beginning consonant sorts as a whole class.  Once we analyze the data, we can group them based on their phonics needs.  I can't wait!


Each first grade class is using my student schedules from my word study packet to get us started.  We're all using the first schedule on the top that begins with Meet With Teacher to get us started until we're ready to split up into different groups.


It wouldn't be a successful first week of first grade without multiple viewings from Go Noodle.  We hit the ground running with this awesome classroom management tool on the very first day by sharing my personal favorite, Pop See Ko.  A big hats off to our kindergarten teachers because my kids are already Go Noodle extraordinares.

I have to give a big shoutout to the always inspiring Kelley Dolling from Teacher Idea Factory for this one.  She has talked about Kim Sutton's Math Drills That Thrill for a while now and I knew it would be a great fit for my kiddos.  I ordered her book and cd at the end of August and couldn't wait to use it with my firsties.  We used her random number CD and matching printables to write numbers that we hear in the songs and played another game to color in balloons of numbers that we've heard.  If you're looking for a fun way to review number skills and other mathematical concepts to music, check out Kim Sutton's website here!


We didn't waste anytime this week with launching writing workshop.  Our first few days were spent as an introduction into the procedures and language that they will hear throughout the year.  We read Rocket Writes A Story and Ralph Tells A Story to get us in the mindset that everyone can write something true that has happened to them.  I shared some of my own writing after they promised to not make fun of me! And we started sketching and writing about our own stories.  It was a lot of praising the students, "Wow Gabriella I'm so proud of how you sketched a picture of your dad dropping you off at school! Way to go!"  "Writers! Watch Gio, he's going to our writing center to get more paper because he knows that once you're done you've just begun!" 
Next week we'll really launch into our first unit of writing workshop, small moments, and I can't wait to share the work we do.  My writers are already excited about all of the different stories they can share, even if we have a lot of work ahead of us!

Thank you so much for stopping by and reading about our first week in first grade.  It was definitely exhausting by exciting all the same!

I hope you all had a great week!