Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday Rewind - Classroom Reveal 2015

Week one - only two days with kiddos - is done! Here are a few pics of my classroom. Love all things owls and blue. Enjoy!

 Writing bulletin board.  Very easy to see if any are missing!  Love the owls border and names.

 Math manipulatives and Ipad station.

 Setting up for Work Work. Daily Five begins next week.

 Tossed out my desk.  This is now my teacher corner.  So much more roomy.  I try to keep the table clear for small groups etc.  I have M - F bins for stashing all the papers,  books, and activities for a week at a time.  The binders hold units and instructional materials.

 Document camera and projector along with my supply cart.  Keeps the things I use most at my fingertips.

 Book bins labeled with kids names.  Time to get Read to Self started.  Excited for Daily Five to begin.

 Overview from the back of the room.

 Large chart paper and large pocket chart for fluency activities.

 My favorite corner of the entire room - my classroom library.  The books are sorted by genre and type:  ex:  Cats,  NF Animals, Fic Animals, Fly Guy... You get the idea.  I made the decision not to sort by AR levels however mosts of the books have AR information on them.

 Owl Word Wall - waiting for all those sight words we learn in first grade.

 Writing bulletin board

 Rocking Chair for story time and carpet activities

 Student Cubbies

 Added Clips to label student cubbies - so easy to move them if needed.  No goo or residue to clean off the wood.

 View from the front door.

Calendar - needs a couple for items to be complete.

Well we are off to a great start.  I wish for each of you a wonderful school year full of learning!!!

Clara ~ Teaching 365

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Saturday Rewind - Back to School We Go!

Where did the summer go?  Yep it's gone.  
I must confess though that I love my routines. 
 I have a school year routine and a summer routine.  
The problems start when I try to mix the two!!! 

 I am blessed to be starting the school year with lower numbers of first graders this year.  Can I get an Amen! 
 I am excited to have a new group for first graders 
to play and learn with.  

I try to remind myself constantly that I don't need to have the whole year planned out - 
just the first couple of weeks. My awesome teaching partner and I met and  mission accomplished!  We choose some great picture books to pair with beginning of school activities to get the year started on a positive note.  Looking forward to it.
Like most of you, I have been getting my classroom ready for the new school year. I moved into a portable classroom last year and the storage options have been 
challenging to say the least.

 I have bulletin boards up with clean, crisp, shades of blue fabric.  I know, I know.  Many people use paper, but I just love the fabric - no ripping and it can be used more than more year.  If I find a fabric piece I love I keep it in the rotation. To add a bit of freshness, I changed out all the borders this year.

This year I am going with owls and dots theme.  While not everything will be covered in owls, I do like to include a little cuteness to start the new year.  I went with a color theme of shades of blue with a little green and yellow thrown in for good measure. I am hoping for a calm feeling in the room for my 21 firsties (and me).

One plus of the portable classroom is that it is more of a rectangle than a square.  I have 3 distinct areas in the room for great learning to occur. I love the gathering area with a colorful literacy rug where we will 
spend lots of time learning together. 
I love the smell of freshly cleaned carpet.

The second area, the middle of the classroom, is a desk area.  I have the desks in long rectangles that will mimic tables. This allows each student to have a personal space with room for their many supplies and belongings.  It is also where direct instruction takes place and I can use the document camera and presenter to model concepts and provide demonstrations for my kiddos.

The third area is a small group, intervention area with a reading table.  I took the plunge (again) and had them get rid of my teacher's desk.  It makes the whole area roomy and open. This back corner of the room also houses my bookcase filled with binders and teaching manuals as well as my filing cabinet.

I am looking forward to the new year and am blessed to return to the job I love.  Here's wishing all of you a great start to your new school year.

Pictures coming soon:)

~ Clara @ Teaching 365

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday Rewind: It's A Wrap - Open House

This is that time of year when I wonder how I will ever make it to the end of the year.  Yes there are only a few days left in the school year - we are in the teens right now.  To get there however there is a long list of things to accomplish and check off that giant teacher to do list we all have.  

This last week was a big one - Open House.  In my district, this is a time when we invite all the parents, all the children, and potential future parents to tour our school and our classrooms.  This calls for all hands on deck and every nook and cranny to be tip-top, decorated and organized to the ninth degree.  

So here are a few pics of my classroom so you can share in this experience.
I do my best to have something from each curriculum area on display,
but there is just so much wall that you can plaster with kids projects.  

After the walls are covered, I put everything else on their desks.

This year was stressful because just as I was leaving to drive back to school for the big night, it started pouring rain.  Yikes!  I am going with "all is well that ends well".  AND. IT. DID.  I made it through the night and even managed to make it to work the next day.

Enjoy this photo tour through my first grade class and know that summer is just around the corner - time to refresh and rekindle and get ready to do it all again another year!

Geometry - Plane Shapes with marshmallows and toothpick.  
Our big buddies came and helped with this project.

 Science and Language Arts - We read Frog and Toad Stories.  
Then we planted our own seeds and learned about the life cycle of plants.  

 We raised ladybugs and watched them progress through the larva, pupa, and adult stages.  
We let them go on the rose bushes at the park next door on Friday. 

 We wrote letters to the next year's first graders.  They shared their memories of first grade and things to look forward to.  And yes... they did type all that themselves - A huge jump from the beginning of the year when they could barely type their own names correctly!

We wrote acrostic poems about ladybugs and made tulip art 
from tissue paper for the cover of our poems.

Poetry in a Jar - The students read poetry, picked a favorite, and then illustrated the poem by adding items into a jar.  We will do oral presentations of these projects to our parents next week.

Well there you have  it!  It's a wrap.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Sunday Rewind - Tis The Season

Yes Tis The Season – the season of exhaustion joy when the littles are full of anticipation of the red suited gentleman visiting them.  They are sure they have been “good” this year.

I try to limit myself to one art project each week but this time of the year there are sooooo many cute projects.  We started off this season of celebration by making a count down Santa.  Each day the kids can add a cotton ball as a type of advent calendar.  They were adorable.  This was the perfect lead in to our writing letters to Santa.

I work to make this a learning experience not just a lengthy list of gadgets, devices, and tiny bits of plastic that our kiddos are hoping Santa will leave under their tree.  In the letters, the kids introduce themselves, ask Santa a few questions, thank Santa for the gifts from last year, request a gift for this year, warn Santa about any potential problems at their houses, and tell him what they are doing for him.

I believe gratitude has to be taught, modeled, and reinforced throughout the year.  I am always a little shocked surprised at the number of children that can’t remember what they received for Christmas the year before.

We spent a week writing letters to Santa. My teaching partner had shared this wonderful writing project from Jessica Meacham’s blog.  You can read her original post here. We both loved it so much we have incorporated it into our December writing. 
The letters were darling and had a depth that letters in the past were lacking.
We even learned how to address an envelope.

Now that our letters are off to the North Pole, we can work on making a few fun Christmas projects.

One of my favorites is this green construction paper wreath.  It is beautiful in its simplicity.

We are also making a Rudolf with an “I like” pattern poem writing to go along with it.

I like
I like……..
I like …….
I like……..
I like……..
I like……..
But I don’t like…….

The poem can be seasonal
and related to the winter
holidays or make it more

Together, they make a great bulletin board display.

Our final project will be a gift to our parents.  Each student will make a Santa ornament.  This year I went with plastic fillable ornaments instead of the class ones.  Nothing makes me more nervous than glass balls in the hands of 6 year olds so I switched to plastic this year. 

The filling is red construction paper strips that the kids wrap around a pencil and then stuff into the ornament.  The belt is self stick felt.  The kids paint on the belt with gold sparkle paint. 

I love keepsake ornaments and I always smile as I decorate my own tree and see the many ornaments  that I have received from my own children, friends, colleagues, and former students. The mister and I do a lot of "Do you remember when...?" 

What special things are you doing in your classrooms this month?

Tis the Season - I wish for you a season full of joy, gratitude, and blessings.

~Clara @ Teaching 365

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday Rewind - Informational Writing with First Graders

Yep! You read it correctly. These past 3 weeks we have been working 
on informational writing in first grade.  I believe that for students to be successful they need the opportunity to experience the process with increasing independence each time.  Model, model, model the expectations right in front of them. 

Fall is the perfect time for those great topics such as spiders, owls, pumpkins, and bats. After writing 3 pieces with lots of scaffolding and support, my littles need to write a piece all by themselves. 
 I used a lot of this packet as a resource. Available here.

Well all by themselves may be a slight exaggeration because we do follow a process including researching, reading books aloud, taking notes, and choosing facts for an individual graphic organizer.  Gradually they assume more and more responsibility for the writing.

During this prewriting time students receive lots of support and I try to provide them with as much background information as I can. Students work together. I provide support to those students that need it.

Our final writing lesson and activity was to organize our facts that we have collected from our reading and research and organize them into some sort of understandable order. We came up with 5 categories, which I typed up and taped, to the top of large sheets of paper.

Next I literally cut apart the facts we had been recording all week and distributed them to the students. We discussed them and the kiddos glued them where they think they best fit. 
 If they could justify their reasoning, up it went.

Our Cut and Paste Charts of Facts

 It was a proud teacher moment to see the amazing vocabulary words the kids have picked up during this unit.

Diligently adding information to the graphic organizer.  Kids in the background revisiting the charts.
The graphic organizer the students are using can be found here.

Free Graphic Organizer 

On Friday, the kids chose the facts they wanted to include on their personal graphic organizers. They revisited the large charts and made their lists. We put it away and now on Monday we will revisit their graphic organizers. This will be their last chance to gather more facts, ask for help or clarify any questions they have.

Now for the final product!!! On their own, they must use their graphic organizer and write an informational piece on bats. This is our first big independent writing assignment and I can only hope that the practice and process we have gone through will be enough to help my littles meet this CCSS for writing in first grade.

Wish me (and the kiddos) luck! Breathe, breathe, breathe.  I will share the results next week☺

~ Clara @ Teaching 365