Sunday, November 26, 2017

Santa's Stuck and Grinch Stuff!!

Hello Everyone!
I hope you all had a wonder-filled Thanksgiving!  I am so grateful for this time with my family.  We were able to go up to Cleveland to help my oldest son move into his new home.  He has taken a new investigative reporter position at the ABC affiliate there!!  I know all of you in Indiana are going to miss him, but this is an amazing opportunity for him! Yes, he is now further from his TEXAS home, but…whatever it takes, right?!  We did have a little time to visit downtown, and I have to say…It is beautiful!!!  There is so much to do in this vibrant city. I think he is going to love it!
Thanks for letting me brag about him a little!  We are very proud of him.
But now it’s time to think about school again. These next few weeks are my favorite times of year to teach first graders. The wonder and innocence they bring to the season is such a beautiful reminder of the joy and love that comes with this time of giving.  One of my favorite books to enjoy with the kids is Santa’s Stuck by Rhonda Gowler Greene (readily available on Amazon). I have shared my unit packed with ELA, Math, and Science, but I have added some more to fit with what we are working on right now as our curriculum continues to evolve.  If you have used this unit before, please download again to get the new activities.

And the season would not be complete without some time spent on that iconic GREEN GUY!! You know who I’m talking about! I’ve added more to this unit too!! Download again, friends!!  

These are just a few pieces to the unit! There is so much more!

Thanks for stopping by for this quick update!  I hope you have a great week back and you can enjoy these next few weeks with your kids!! Keep doing what you're doing, and don't forget to find the joy in this journey!!  

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Dictionary Skills? What?

Dictionary Skills? What?
You might think that students working in dictionaries is an obsolete idea.  With the advancement of technology, students can find information, check spelling, grammar, sentence structure, even get help writing complete papers.  But learning how to use a dictionary will help students later on when they are researching or trying to find information.  Once they discover how a dictionary is laid out, they will be able to gather information from other resources.
Our youngest students should learn that
*words in a dictionary are organized alphabetically.
*Each word is called an entry.
*You can find correct spelling, pronunciation, the parts of speech, and definition.
*Guide words on the top of dictionary pages give clues about what words are included on each page.

This ultra mini unit introduces kids to the wonderful word world of dictionaries. Once hooked, kids will love being Dictionary Detectives!

So after organizing our thinking about dictionaries, I let the kids pick a word from the given list. In pairs they set off to be Dictionary Detectives. They had to look up the word, write the definition, and then write a sentence on the recording page.  Then they got to share their detective work by making a little paint chip pumpkin!  They turned out great!!!  A wonderful hand to heart action!!!
But what happened next is what made me say "What??"  I keep our little basket of dictionaries back by our classroom library.  During DEAR time kids can pick any book from our library to read.  For the past week, more kids pick a dictionary to read! I know, I know...they aren't able to practice fluency, story structure, fiction, nonfiction characteristics, etc. But wow!! They are having a blast looking up words!!!  I see them using their detective skills along with the alphabet layout, and the guide words! When they finally spy the word they are looking for...TAH DAH!!! You can hear the joy in their voices, little screams, and wiggles! They can't wait to share!!!  I love it so much!  I hope their excitement for discovering wonderful words never falters!! 

If you need a quick mini unit to help you get started on this detective journey,

I hope your kids love being Dictionary Detectives as much as mine have!  
Let me know how it goes!
Till then, have a wonder-filled week!!
Love to all!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Retelling Expository/Nonfiction!!

Hello Everyone!
I am a firm believer that when kids can see and touch their learning, whether it be math, reading, spelling, really anything, they will be able to grasp the concepts, take them to heart, and even use the concepts to extend the learning and apply it to other concepts more  quickly and thoroughly.  Introducing new learning through visual and tactile means builds relationships and connections.  I see evidence of this every single day.  This is the main reason I try to create anchor charts, reminder posters, charts, connections, etc, that are stimulating visually. That is also why, after introducing a new concept, kids have access to these visuals, and then set out to create their own through touch.  Many people think that the connection activities I have my students do are nothing but fluff. I can see where that may be how it looks from someone who doesn’t see the whole process.  The observation and stimulation of the thinking process, the recognition of relationships and connections, the interpretation and perception  of  new discoveries, and finally, the analysis and self-expression to show learning, must be taken in for anyone to understand what went into that “fluff.” 

This week we have been working hard on retelling an expository/nonfiction text in order to show comprehension.  We start off by comparing fiction and nonfiction text, and discovering those differences by looking at examples.  Then I showed the kids some anchor posters to help them visually get the connections needed.  And just like the retelling rings we made for narrative text, we made rings for expository. Some might consider this fluff, but the visual and tactile reminders of the components of the texts we read are invaluable to some …if not most kids!! The kids take both out while reading and manipulate the beads as they retell to reading partners.  This is the kind of fluff  I’ll support any day!  Watch the whole process!

Just like the fiction unit, I'm sharing the nonfiction one.  Having visual and tactile reminders helps kids connect and grow from their learning! 

Hope you're having a great week!!! Let me know if you try all of this and how it went!
Have a great rest of the week!  
Thanks for stopping by for a peek!!