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

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday Rewind - Meeting The "Sisters" at the California Reading Association Conference

When I first found out that two of the people that changed how I approach teaching language arts in my first grade classroom were going to be the keynote speakers at the California Reading Association Conference, I knew that I had to go.  

It was all I had hoped for and more.  It seemed I was just in the right place at the right time over and over again throughout the conference.  Along with my teaching partner Jinny, we had personal time with The 2 Sistersteachers Gail Boushey and Joan Moser- authors of The Daily Five and Cafe books.  No less than three times we crossed paths and it was a mountaintop experience for a first grade teacher. 

Their new edition of Daily Five answered many of the challenges that I had been working through with my own class of 6 year olds.  
 ... and yes we had a photo op. Here I am in between two of my idols in the realm of teaching.

Chit chatting with the ladies before they begin their keynote address on Friday night.
 The Sisters presenting about the changes in the Daily Five and 
the new edition of their book

Judy Lynch, well know local literacy coach and reading recovery teacher,
 sharing how to incorporate CCSS into your literacy lessons.
 Me - all smiles.

While I am still pinching myself today to make sure it wasn't all just a wonderful dream, I will be working on implementing the changes, albeit minor, in my Daily Five routines.  I learned so much in such a short amount of time that clarified both issues and concerns about areas that weren't going that smoothly or that I knew needed something a little different.  I just didn't know what.

Now I do!

I remember whispering to my first grade teaching partner 
that I felt like we were in the presence of royalty.  

It was a magical and inspiring weekend of networking with other teachers, being mesmerized by 16 different children's authors, and being introduced to the idea that you can use music to inspire kids writing. We got to collaborate with some of the best minds today regarding how children learn.

Author's Meet and Greet with David Schwartz, author of How Much is a Million and many other nonfiction texts.  

Mean Jean, The Recess Queen
Children's Author - Alexis O'Neill

And now the most important part of any mountaintop experience, the return to the valley with new ideas, energized and ready to get crackin' on them before they evaporate.  

I can't wait to get back to school on Monday and dig in.

~ Clara @Teaching 365