Sunday, September 30, 2018

"Water" You Writing? And a Year of First Grade Word Work

Hello Everyone!
I truly can't even believe that it has been so long since my last post!  I am sooooo sorry! It just seems as if I have been barely staying afloat this year.  We have had some huge events going on, both at school and on the home/personal front.  
My goal for today is to fill you in on what we've been doing in writing and in word work. I writing we are working hard on expressing ourselves in small moments.  This year I wanted to use the well documented "Watermelon vs Seed" analogy for focusing on small moments.  In the past I've used "Catch a Small Moment" and a "Pea" idea.  But I know that the upper grades use the watermelon idea, so, alas!  Here I go as well!  
I started off reading Watermelon Party which is a fun little example of small moments, and of course, it's about a watermelon!

 Then we talked about the difference between a watermelon story and a seed story. We sorted some cards on an anchor chart.

I showed the kids how I would make the difference in my writing by finding the seed stories in my watermelon story.

 And they got busy with theirs!

We put the seed ideas up to help remind ourselves of the seeds!!!

Here are a few pics of what is included in my "Water" You Writing?" ultra mini unit.

I have already seen a difference in my kids' writing!!  Our small moments are growing into amazing stories!!

Next up?  Word Work! I get a ton of e-mail asking what I do for Word Work/ Spelling with my first graders.
Here you go!
The unit I'm sharing includes the reasoning behind our word work or spelling practice. We tend to use a Scientific Spelling type influence to our spelling practice. It is a curricular idea that teaches students to spell words they do not know by using reliable patterns and rules of the English language.
We believe spelling instruction should be ongoing, daily, and purposeful.  Instruction should be interrelated and interconnected with all strands of language.  The primary focus of instruction should be on teaching a variety of effective spelling strategies, rather than on just memorizing lists of words.  Students must be given opportunities to work with words, to proofread their own writing, and to study spelling patterns.  The key to spelling development is the understanding and application of spelling strategies that enable students to become independent and competent spellers.
In first grade we focus on one scientific rule at a time along with some high frequency words. This unit give some ideas for sequencing, brainstorming, activities, and ways to check student mastery throughout the first grade year.

A Sample of our Brainstorming sheet

This 190+ page unit could keep you on track for the entire first grade year. We start during the 4th week of school after reviewing letters and sounds, vowels and consonants, abc order, word wall, high frequency words from kinder, etc.
Kids take home their brainstorming sheet, generate more words for "homework" with parents. We take a "spell check" on Fridays, and allow kids to write words from the list we generated or words they came up with!  They love our Spell Check time!  All spell Check sheets are kept in a folder so we can watch growth and progress. I love how we allow differentiation, and self selected words.  We of course, also watch for use of the spelling rules to show up in their written expression. That's when we really smile!!
If you are at all interested in trying what we have developed for word work/spelling...good news! I have the link below! I am happy to share my recipe for success in spelling.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask away! Email or comment.

Well, thanks for hanging in there through all of this and for being patient with me! You all are the best!  I hope you are off to a great start this year.  If I can help with anything, please let me know!! I love hearing
 from you!
Nancy VandenBerge

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Growth Mindset and a new Beginning of the Year unit! Oh the Places We'll Go!

Hello Everyone!
I certainly hope your summer has been one of family time, rejuvenation, and maybe a little learning! Mine has been all of those. We were able to take several trips to see family across this country to celebrate birthdays, babies, more birthdays, and just reconnections.  Having time off during the summer is so important to me as we have spread to every corner.
Having time off in the summer is also important to me to rejuvenate as a teacher. I always try to take advantage of the book studies our district offers.  This year I was able to read three great choices. If I were to pick my top fav it would hands down be “ From Striving to Thriving” by Stephanie Harvey and Annie Ward. If you teach reading to any age kiddo, or if you are a parent of a school age child, you have to read this book.  I am telling you, I literally almost cried when I finished it. It was almost like the authors were looking in on my teacher heart as they were writing this book. From the very first page where they state that “Voluminous pleasurable reading is key to literacy development,” to tabling the labels we put on our young readers, to learning how to embrace mistakes, to inner conversations and so much more!  Every page is a gem, a jewel of research based instruction! My masters degree is in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in reading and I wish this book had been out when I was studying about reading levels!  It has totally changed my thinking! One golden thread I found throughout this entire book is the mindset of trust, teach, transform.  I will cling to these words this coming school year with my fellow teachers, and my new little students. 
 The book also refers to “growth mindset” which I have done a lot of research on lately. In fact, that is one thing I want to share with you. I put together a little unit to help me work on our growth mindset this year. I know many of you have already been hard at work on this and we have too, just not in an organized way. So it was time to get it done!
Here are just a few pics of the unit.

The unit ended up to be close to 100 pages of posters, journal pages, books to make/read and so much more!
I know I will use just about every page of it!!!  A lot of it during the first week of school!

Ok! Next up! I have gotten so many e-mail asking what our beginning of the year theme is going to be this year! I finally got it done! We are going to venture into the original growth mindset guru- Dr. Seuss and his book, "Oh the Places You'll Go!" Such a great book to read at the beginning of the year.  and don't you know we do all kinds of traveling and growing in first grade!! If you have used any of my other beginning of the year units, this one is very similar in content. Some binder cover templates, some meet the teacher stuff, some quick thematic assessments, some math games, some poetry, and a lot more! Thank you Dr. for such an inspirational book!!!  Here are a few pics of the 100 page unit.

And Click Here for your very own unit!!

Well, I've had a blast this summer, but our break is almost over.  I'm excited to work with some new team members that we added!  And I'm excited to share some other new things with you!  Thank you for stopping by for a quick look at what we've been up to.  Stop again soon! 
If you are still on break- enjoy!!!  If you are heading back to the classroom soon, have the best year yet!! 


Sunday, May 6, 2018

Number Patterns with Tops and Bottoms, Realistic Fiction Writing, and The Empty Pot

Hello Everyone!
We had one of the best number sense weeks we've ever had! We worked very hard on number patterns up to 120. Because we were also in the middle of a plant unit in science, I decided to use "Tops and Bottoms" by Janet Stevens, as a theme for some number pattern activities as well.   I have shared my Tops and Bottoms unit before, but I've added this math component for you to download and print.  Here are a couple of pics.

The unit also includes a huge measurement component!!!

For the past couple of weeks we have also been busy trying our hand at writing realistic fiction pieces.  We are following Lucy Calkins fairly closely.  As inspiration, we are reading a lot of realistic fiction literature, and I think the kids are getting the hang of it. I put together a mini unit with posters, planners, and checklists.
Here are a few pics.

Here's the link to the printable !!!

Finally, this coming week we will be working on author's message in stories.  I chose "The Empty Pot" by Demi.  It is such a lovely story about honesty and bravery. If you have not read this yet to your kids, do it now!!  I put together another little mini unit to accompany this story.  The unit will help kids see the value in such a piece. 

I am so looking forward to using this with my kids this week!!

Well, that's all for now!!!   I hope you have a wonderful week that is filled with the JOYS of watching your kids learn!!!
Thanks for stopping by!!!