September 20, 2013

Five for Friday

THANK GOODNESS IT'S FRIDAY!! Today I am linking up again with Doodle Bugs Teaching for their weekly linky party!

#1: Pumpkin Spice Lattes
I seriously don't think I could live anywhere where there weren't seasons...or at least fall. Fall happens to be my favorite season because the weather begins to cool off, the colors are beautiful, cute layered clothes, and Starbucks rolls out their seasonal drink the PSL. It's literally fall in a mug and it's amazing.

#2: Scarves!!
Continuing with my fall theme, I was SO excited to finally break out my scarves! This is an essential accessory piece for me once the cool air swoops in. It's been beautiful as of late...and I was so excited to see that a Lou Lou's opened within walking distance of my apt in DC!

#3: Student Birthday Gift
This week I got to use the birthday homework passes I made for my kids this summer using Vista Print! He was so shocked that the card was a homework pass- so needless to say it was a hit. I think kids enjoy getting things like this because these days they tend to just get pencils. I'm glad he was happy to receive it...now every one of my kids looks forward to their birthday a little bit more ;)

#4: Staff Meetings
During the beginning of the year I've come to realize that our staff meetings tend to be about topics already discussed in earlier meetings. Rarely do these meetings have anything positive anymore- just seems like more is added to our plates and nothing is really taken off. But....I found this ecard and made me chuckle because I know other teachers out there can relate and since nothing will change, sometimes we just have to laugh about it :)

#5 Unwind with Drunk History
So, again a little adult humor that got me through my week was discovering Drunk History on Hulu Plus. The boyfriend and I were skimming through the channels and we stumbled upon this hilarious show. It's exactly what it's titled....history being retold by drunk people. Since Philip is from San Antonio, TX (and grew up learning all about TX history) I thought it would be fun to watch the episode about The Alamo. Seriously, it's the funniest thing we've seen since the Geico 'Hump Day' camel commercial :)

September 19, 2013

Week in Review: Math & Reading

Wow! Thank goodness it's Friday tomorrow! This week has been so busy (what week isn't???) but my class has been doing some amazing learning! I am so proud of the gains I can see my kiddos begin to make. I want to say that the majority of my students this year came into 2nd grade a bit lower than my class last year so this year I'm having to adjust my lessons a bit and start with the basics and build from there.

We began our unit on doubles and how we can use doubles to add. I read to them Two of Everything by Lily Toy Hong, which tells the story of Mr. and Mrs. Haktak who are very poor living in China. He's gardening one day and happens upon a magic pot that doubles everything that falls inside. It's a funny story to read and really gets the doubling concept across to kids who are learning it for the first time.

After reading the story and discussing what happened to the items that fell into the pot, we made a T-Chart together labeling it: IN | OUT and students came up with different examples of how items would double when put into the pot. This lead to the Doubling Pot Activity! Simply put: students come up with a doubling problem where they pick any item to put into the pot. I told them they could choose between 1-10 to double since I didn't want them to make it more difficult for themselves to double the number.

The students had to record and draw the number of items going into the pot, then draw what would come out if it was doubled.

The day prior I made a chart similar to the one below to which they copied into their math notebooks along with the correlating double problems. I later turned it into this fun little anchor chart that hangs on our bulletin board.


The past few weeks my class has been working on identifying characters and settings in the stories we read. I have transitioned my class from practicing with familiar texts to new ones. Below are some examples from the thinking we've been doing this week:

I began my all-time favorite read aloud of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I absolutely LOVE this book and for so many reasons. First, I truly loved reading it when I was in late elementary school and second, as a teacher, it's such a silly story that kids eat up every time and Dahl does a wonderful job describing his characters and settings. Because the kids know it's a movie, it helps with engagement and lends itself to a discussion about movies vs. their book versions.
Since we spent so much time on characters it was time to give settings a little love. Here is an example handout I had students complete that allows them to pick a setting, draw a picture, and in a few sentences, describe the setting. I had only read the first couple chapters at this point because Dahl introduces Charlie Bucket's home and begins to describe the Factory from the perspective of Grandpa Joe. These were fairly easy settings to describe so the kids did very well with their descriptions.

                                 Wonka's Factory                                       Charlie's House

Talking about those gains I've seen already...take a look at a student's description of a setting from Tough Boris (2nd week of school) and compare it with this week's (3rd week examples above). I'm just so proud of them! My kids are beginning to use more detailed sentences using Dahl as a mentor author!

Piggie Pie by Margie Palatini was another mentor text we used earlier this week to discuss character. After reading and discussing the story and it's characters I asked students to describe the main character: Gritch the Witch. I wanted to assess their ability to describe Gritch using the 4 traits we spent so much time practicing together (appearance, feelings, words, and actions) using the character maps.

Daily 5: Read the Room & Stamina
We have been working on our stamina for weeks now and finally have we made it to 10 successful minutes!! Yaaay! Let me tell you...it's been very tiresome to stop the timer and bring the class together to discuss what went wrong during stamina building and to start over. BUT- I do understand its importance. My admin wants us to begin guided reading groups/centers next week (week 4) and I'm thinking...'yeah, right'. I think it's vital students have the time needed to build their stamina because it's a lot to ask a class of 6-7 year olds to focus on one thing for 15-20 minute intervals. However, we are almost there!
Teacher Tip: Save the glasses from those 3D movies and pop the lenses out of them. Instant reading glasses! 

Also, this week I've introduced a couple new reading centers and have given the kids time to practice them. The other day I showed them Read the Room where they all got to practice finding good words around the room. I wanted to make sure that they were looking for words that were new to them to spell and use in their writing and I have to say they were pretty driven.

Many of them found some really good words! I used a timer on my proboard for about 5 minutes because I told them they shouldn't spend the full center time just looking for words. They are really starting to see that 5 minutes isn't very long! In my class, I have students look for words that spell a particular seasonal word. This time of year they have to find words that fit the letters of S-C-H-O-O-L   D-A-Y-S. Then, they pick 5 of those words to use in a sentence and draw a picture of one.

Hope everyone else had a wonderful week! Yay for Friday!

September 15, 2013

A Peek at my Week Linky!

Today I am linking up with Mrs. Wills Kindergarten to share with you what my week looks like up ahead. A lot of it is still reviewing the Daily 5 reading centers and we just finished up our citizenship unit in social studies and ordinal numbers in math. Needless to say it's been a quick 2 weeks but so much learning going on!

My week...

Word Study: This will be our first week of our word study groups and students will begin practicing various word study activities while I meet with my groups. My team always gives a sight word pre-test at the beginning of the year and only 1 of my students performed below the standard. This gives me great insight into the words she should be working with this quarter. I will assess students each Friday on their ability to identify the pattern, spell the word correctly, and use similar words with the same pattern in a sentence.
Reading Workshop: We will continue building our reading stamina with 17 minutes. Our class will review the anchor charts from last week regarding the behaviors and expectations for centers (i.e. Work on Writing, Read to Self, etc). I will introduce a new centers this week: Read the Room, Listen to Reading, Word Work, etc.

See my previous post about the past week's mini-lessons on character and setting. We will continue working with these story elements and being able to apply them to new texts. 

Writing Workshop: This week we will continue learning about what gets a capital and using periods to finish our sentences. Mini-lessons will be dedicated to practicing together by fixing mistakes and writing correct sentences. My students have begun writing their first prompt which is about their summer vacations. Their goal is to practice the mini-lesson skill in their own writing. I will also introduce proper paper orientation.


Math: My class just finished a unit on ordinal numbers and now we begin learning the different strategies to add. We will also begin our timed math facts tests. Students practice 50 simple addition and subtraction problems in 5 minutes during quarter 1. We begin discussion of addition strategies with the concept that there are multiple ways to come to the answer.

Social Studies: With citizenship wrapped up, we will begin our unit on communities. The focus at first will be about how populations are divided into 3 different types of communities (urban, suburban, and rural). Throughout the week I will extend the lesson to how communities change over time (difference between the past and present) and introduce the terms population and transportation.

This is a quick snapshot of my week! Be sure to link up and share yours! :)

September 14, 2013

Saturday Snapshots!

What a blur this week has been! We have already done so much these past 2 weeks and I can say I'm exhaaausted! I don't remember feeling this way last year...but our school is doing block scheduling this year and I'm not really a fan. In theory I believe block scheduling works- but not for 2nd graders (or me for that matter). Our team's specials are all scheduled at the same time so we have an hour to ourselves. Sounds great, huh? Well, the reality is that our specials aren't until the very end of the day, which leaves my kiddos to work, with no real break, until our recess and lunch time. That's 4 hours of straight instruction!! The kids are doing OK but those behavior issues are beginning to pop up but it's simply because they're tired by the end of the day and probably over-saturated! My first bathroom break isn't until lunch! Ugh...but enough of complaining.

Today I am linking up with Run! Mrs. Nelson's Got the Camera! for her weekly Saturday Snapshots linky! I've managed to take a few photo's this past week and here are a couple of them.
At the beginning of the year it is important for me to begin teaching my students proper manners and one of them is good eye contact when greeting someone. I was surprised to also see that parents put social skills and eye contact as goals for the year on my Parent Survey. So, each morning before our meeting, students learn to greet each other by turning their bodies so they're facing each other, have good eye contact and say "good morning, _________". Then they can choose to handshake or high five. They each do this until everyone around the circle has greeted someone. The following week I began introducing new greetings for them and this one in the picture is Walk This Way. Since they've had enough practice with regular greetings, this requires them to pick someone across from them and greet them by doing a funny dance. The other person mimics them and greets. They have so much fun with it!

Here's a great action shot! My kids really get into it and makes greeting people less scary. They've gotten so much better at eye contact! :)

At recess my kids do such a great job at including everyone and it's fun to sit and watch the friendships form. This is a fun picture of one of my girls practicing her shot. She got so excited when she got it in. The little boy was coaching her- it was adorable.

Some not-teacher related photos...
This past weekend I threw Philip a 30th birthday party and it was great to see all of our close friends come out for the occasion. His dad and best friend even surprised him by flying in from Texas to be with him on his birthday! So blessed.

I hope everyone had a wonderful week. I'm looking forward to sharing ideas from our first few units!