Fluency is such an important part of our lives in the primary grades. Letter fluency, sound fluency, sight word fluency, math fluency…the list goes on and on. Our classroom even has a “Fluency Center” where students practice their very own set of 10 sight words each day. However, there is not enough urgency at that center….and to be honest, I was craving more urgency. I wanted my students to want to see how quickly and consistently they could recite letter sounds and sight words, but I wasn’t quite happy with what I had going on. Then I was introduced to Spot It. By a second grader. …and of course I ordered it the very next day. Yup! That’s the truth! This game transformed my small group warm up in literally one day. All students are on task. They have to be. They game requires that you are constantly observing, constantly reassessing, constantly making connections between different images or words. There are so many versions of this game, which is wonderful for teachers who want to keep those struggling students actively engaged. How to play: The game is extremely simple, but challenges the brain the entire time. Because of this, it is perfect for primary grades. Students feel successful and Continue Reading
When I taught third grade, my students whined and complained when I asked them to write. They struggled to write when directed and when working independently. They lacked experience in sentence formation and frequently struggled with spelling. It pained me to watch them get frustrated, and it pained to me edit their work and ask them to write it over yet again. I was determined to make my students enjoy writing, and to produce quality writing in the process. We are daily writers in Kindergarten. I strongly believe that if you encourage writing from the get go, students will naturally write. No stress, no frustration, no tears. I intentionally integrate writing all day long. This has developed a love for writing in my kindergarteners. (DISCLAIMER – The first month or so of kindergarten is rough. I get that. Believe me, our first unprompted writing sample was no fun. I had criers and quitters. However, I teach writing in a teacher directed format during the first month or so, and then move toward independence. I differentiate in my classroom and within activities every day. The activities below are just samples. They are not necessarily completed by my entire class.) Each morning, we begin with our morning journal. The Continue Reading
Recently, I gave a professional development to the teachers who are new to my school as a requirement for the last semester practicum of my Master’s (yippee!). The PD was focused on how to teach in and through literacy centers. But, not just any literacy centers. Real, data driven, standards based literacy centers. RIGOR is an important word these days with our new Florida Standards (as with Common Core). The goal of this presentation was to give teachers a deeper look into providing center activities that required students to do more than move task cards, match cards together, or order magnetic letters. I am not against the former. Yes, there is a time and place for both. However, the teachers that were in this PD were interested in how to create activities that would promote the thinking and writing that we are pushing for with our new standards. After many requests, I’ve decided to share some of the slides with you below. Enjoy! Disclaimer: Before we start, I know many people cannot call daily academic activities “centers” anymore, because administration and some researchers associate centers with play. “Stations” is becoming the popular term because it seems more work-based. However, my school still Continue Reading
It’s been about a month since I began the leap from first to third grade, and I am loving it! Last year, I taught high achieving first graders who were almost (if not, just as high) as my third graders. So thankfully….the leap wasn’t too difficult. 🙂 My friend and now co-teacher last year in my first grade classroom. Co-teaching with one of my best friends and another energetic, hilarious, engaging teacher has been an amazing experience. We are each other’s physical, mental, and emotional help each day…which in the teacher world can be a wonderful thing! Today, I wanted to share a few of the things we have been doing… Schedule In our county, 18 is the maximum amount of students allowed in each classroom. Both third grade classes that I work in have about 25 students. Therefore, the school had to hire an extra teacher (me!) to work in both classrooms and provide support. I am teaching only reading. I begin each day with one teacher, and begin after lunch with the other. The three of us have synced our schedules. This way, I am teaching the same lessons when I am in both classrooms. It is SO Continue Reading
Today linking up with my friend Christina from Miss DeCarbo for Wordless Wednesday! My week has been filled with meetings, sessions, and testing. It has been crazy. BUT on the positive side, I am so excited to say that my first ever Professional Development session is complete! I am so thankful for all of the teachers who provide me with my own “Virtual PD” daily. Blogs and teacher friends are a beautiful thing! Have a great week!
This week I finally printed some of the things I have created this year. I started organizing my centers like this last year. We did literacy and math centers every day so I had A TON of activities and no where to keep them. Now I store my centers in plastic Ziploc bags. All the Ziploc bags go in a filing cabinet or the closet (depending on subject and topic). This is convenient for me & for early finishers who need to be kept busy! I print and laminate everything. I cut any extra white or lamination off of the big direction sheets. This way, they fit perfectly inside the zipper of the Gallon bags. Each activity has an individual bag that includes: 1) Anchor Charts 2) “I Can” Statement/Direction Sheet 3) Task Cards or Activities 4) One copy of the recording sheet for easy access. Just grab it and make copies. On Fridays before I leave, I grab the centers for the next week, take them out of the large bags, and put them in our center bins, like the one below. I leave the task cards in the small sandwich bags. I keep the empty Gallon bags in Continue Reading