Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sunday Rewind - Organize Now - Less Frustration in the Fall

Like most teachers, I have been reflecting and planning for the next school year.  Even though I have taken some time out to enjoy leisurely breakfasts out with the Mister, I still manage to work on at least one little "ol project each day.

This week I have been prepping a set of fall math centers from Reagan Tunstall.  She is amazing and makes creating Common Core aligned centers a snap.  This packet is called Back to School - 10 Math Centers.  If you want to check it out, click HERE.

If you aren't following her blog, just stop and do it now.  Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits.  

The thing I wanted to share is how I organize my centers to make them kid ready and easy to access when I want them.

Like most teachers, I print, laminate the pieces, and then cut them out. No mystery there.  The awesomeness comes in... Ta Da... with the great poly envelopes to organize them into.  All the pieces fit in and it is ready to go.  I can even add copies of the recording sheets if there is one.

Easy to see what is inside because they are clear.

An added bonus is that they will fit into my filing cabinet sideways.  I can store lots of prepped centers this way.

This fall I am moving into a portable classroom with limited storage, no cabinets, etc. (That is another whole blog post.) so this will give me a way to keep them handy but out of sight.

If you would like to try them, I ordered mine mostly from but they can also be found in most office supply stores.  The second piece of goodness is that they can be cleaned if needed with just a baby wipe or other damp towel.  (Sticky kid fingers:)

It's the little things that help make our teaching days go more smoothly, right.

Here is one math center ready to go for fall.

All put away ready to file

~Clara @First Grade Sunflowers and Ladybugs

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sunday Rewind - Daily Five Work on Writing

Work on Writing is a very important part of Daily Five.  Rewind - In retrospect, I need to provide more choices for this component of Daily Five.  For the majority of this past year, the kids wrote in their journals for Daily Five.  While they did show a lot of growth in their writing, it would have been even better if they had more choices about different types of writing to choose from. 

I Can Write a from A Cupcake for the Teacher

I plan to use the forms from this great resource from A Cupcake for the Teacher to make a writing bulletin board in our writing center. I found her Writing Center Starter Kit on Tpt. It has everything I will need to get started. You can check it out here Writing Center Starter Kit. Having some fun stationary, postcards, letter templates, cards, and notes is sure to add some life to the Work on Writing component of Daily Five.

With the implementation of Common Core Writing Standards this year, I am thinking that I will also need to have another writing time during the day to teach the different genres to my first graders.  I love teaching writing but sometimes struggle to get in the direct instruction and mini lessons needed for the kids to be successful. I am hoping to do a better job of backwards planning for writing time in my lesson planning this year.

What will you need to get started with Daily Five in your classroom? Mel D from Seusstastic has a great set of materials you can use to begin Daily Five I charts (I for independence) with your class and they are free.  Check them out here Mel D's super fantastic freebies. She is one of my favorite bloggers and shares amazing materials - many for free.

There is a great book study going on now in Blog Land around The Daily Five 2nd edition.  It is a quick read and will answer your questions about the how, when, and why of Daily Five.  Join in and reap the benefits of other teachers' insights and experiences.  

The  Freebielicious blog site is a great place to begin with lots of links to other teachers' blogs to share in this journey.  I would love the hear how you use the Daily Five and Work on Writing in your classroom.

~ Clara - First Grade Sunflowers and Ladybugs
Teaching 365

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sunday Rewind - Daily Five Revisited - Read to Self

I have just finished my first year back as a first grade teacher and my how things have changed.   I taught 3rd and 4th grade for the last 12 years.  Returning to first grade has been a goal of mine - it was where I began my teaching career.

On to Daily Five - Right away I knew I needed some way to provide authentic reading and writing experiences to my kiddos.  Daily Five was just the thing I had been looking for.  The results are in and as the saying goes - The data shows the results.  The kids made amazing progress both in reading and writing.  

And now for the rewind - All across Blog land, I have been reading along with others the new Daily Five, 2nd edition.  It has just confirmed what I had discovered on my own this past year.  IT IS FLEXIBLE!!!  As the beginning of the year, I tried to stay true to the recommendations and teaching in the first edition... But.. I found that my class needed some modifications to be successful

I began with read to self.  You can read my original post here - Read to Self.  The thing that has stayed the same is that this is a must do everyday.  No exceptions.  In the new edition of Daily Five this is addressed nicely as the sisters restate that Read to Self is one of the required dailies.

My experience was such that there wasn't enough time most days to have 5 rounds.  On a great day we might have 4 rounds.  I am happy to hear and have validated that it is "officially" okay to have only 3 rounds a day.  After the kids build up their stamina, that equates to about a 90 minute literacy block.  Within that they complete 3 rounds of Daily Five in addition to the
whole group mini lessons I sprinkle in.

Here is one of my little cuties
sitting in a hula hoop with her
book bin totally engaged:)
Book Bins
A sure fire tip for success with Read to Self is having a book bin for each child.  This eliminates the need for "book shopping" daily.  They have 5-7 books, sometimes more, in their book bin.  I developed a rotation for "book shopping" which allows each child to have a day designated as their book shopping-book exchange day.  No one is assigned to Friday so we have a built in make-up day for anyone that missed their turn or just needs more books. There are aways exceptions if a child truly has read all of their books - several times - and needs new ones, they find a time to shop.  If they are finishing quickly, that is a signal to me to start them reading easy chapter books and
introduce them to Accelerated Reader.

Over the next few weeks I will be reading along with the rest of Blog land the new Daily Five, 2nd Edition and sharing how The Daily Five has impacted the teaching and learning in my first grade classroom.

Happy Reading Everyone!!!

~ Clara @First Grade Sunflowers and Ladybugs
Teaching 365

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Sunday Rewind - Moving Classrooms Again!!!

School is now over and the next adventure begins!!! Packing and moving - AGAIN!  
I have spent the last week working long hours to literally pack everything in my first grade classroom so it can be stored until August.  Yes stored.  The classroom I am moving into is an old portable with 4 blank walls and will need some major renovation before a classroom can be moved in. No cabinets, no shelving, no nothing.  I have requested a few pieces of furniture/shelving to get started. The good news is that the carpet is being replaced.  Good thing since it smelled like a moldy attic when I did a walk through.

It looks a a lot like the beginning of the school year - boxes, boxes, boxes.

So, I will get to create the space.  I read once that you should begin with an empty space or classroom and then move in pieces as you establish the need for them.  That should be fairly easy since the room is completely empty.  Student desks and chairs will be moved over from my old classroom. My teaching partner is also moving her 
classroom into the portable right next to me 
(looking for any small silver lining I can latch on to).

All of these changes came about because our school is beginning extended day kindergartens.  In the past we have had pairs of two kinder teachers teaching and sharing a classroom with half day schedules for the littles.  No more sharing classrooms with an am and pm class. That also means no partner to help teach.  

Big changes. I am trying to take the high road and not complain too much. However 3 moves in the last 4 years is a little daunting even for me who usually just rolls with it. Fortunately I have been able to stay  at my same school throughout all these changes. 

The upside is that I will have time to read and reflect focusing of two things in particular.
1.  Daily Five Rewind - How did it go after the first year  of implementing Daily Five?  What will I do differently next year?   What will I continue to do the same next year?

2.  Implementation of Common Core State Standards - I will be attending days of training throughout the summer directly tied to Proficiency Scales and our new electronic report card as it relates to Common Core.  Fun times!  

What changes are you experiencing this fall?  How have you dealt with portable classrooms in your teaching?

~ Clara @ Teaching 365
First Grade Sunflowers and Ladybugs