Saturday, March 31, 2012

Punctuation People!

   One of our first grade standards in SC is to teach students to edit for punctuation,capitalization, and spelling in writing.  For those of you who teach little ones, you can relate.... teaching kids to put correct punctuation marks in writing is SOOOO hard!  They get capital letters for the most part, but having them put periods, question marks, exclamation points, quotation marks, etc is QUITE the task!  So, I decided to make the punctuation marks into "people" with this fun anchor chart and give each mark a little speech bubble with a comment relating to what purpose each mark serves.  They loved helping me make this chart and really loved the little "punctuation people!"  After we wrote down the purpose of each punctuation mark, I had the kids split into collaborative groups and find examples of each punctuation mark within the books in their just-right book boxes.  
Punctuation Pasta
   Another fun thing we will be trying is editing sentences for punctuation using pasta! I saw this cute idea on, and I just had to try it!  You just use elbow macaroni for commas, spaghetti for exclamation points, and some other different kinds of pastas for the each of the marks. You can make large anchor charts and have the students put pasta pieces in the correct places to "edit" the story for a word work station, or just write sentences on sentence strips and have students put punctuation at the end for an easier version.  Try this with your kiddos...they will love it!


    So, this is pretty much the most exciting teacher news ever!!! Katie won TEACHER OF THE YEAR at her school on Friday!  Yaaaaaaayyy!!  And, to top it off, this is ONLY her 4th year teaching ,AND she is at a brand new school, so that just means she is pretty much awesome!  Katie had told me the other day that her name had made it to the Top 3 on the TOY ballot, and she was really surprised, because she just knew that she wasn't going to win, according to her.....  (She never gives herself credit for being awesome.) :)  But when I got the email from her at school on Friday saying she had won, I couldn't believe it!  I was soooo excited!  So I decided to leave school as soon as I can (2:45) and book it down I-20 to Augusta to surprise her before she left school (she can't leave until 4:00).  I literally made it to her school with maybe 2 minutes to spare, because she was walking down the hallway on her way out when I got there.  I knew it was her because of all the balloons!!!  She was super surprised!  So we went out to dinner to celebrate with one of her teacher friends from school, and then I had to jet back to SC.  It was a short surprise visit, but a lot of fun. CONGRATULATIONS Katie!!  So grateful to be blogging with such a great teacher!!!      - Beth

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Summarizing with Somebody-Wanted-But-So

    I have a great FREEBIE for you!!! This week I am going to be studying summarizing with my little ones!  It is a much needed review for some of my firsties, because I have noticed a few kiddos are having trouble differentiating between a retell and a summary.  We did a lot on retelling at the beginning of the school year, and I felt like when we started summarizing they didn't quite get that I didn't want a novel!!  :)  They just kept going on and on and on.... ahhhh!!  We talked about how a retell is the WHOLE story from beginning to end with ALL the details, but a summary is just a brief overview of the main events.  This week I am going to be using the "Somebody-Wanted-But-So" format to guide my little ones in summarizing.  Click below to get this SWBS packet with posters, response sheets, and more for FREE at my TPT store!  Happy Summarizing!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Great Garbage Mystery - Inference Introduction

     I am sooooo enjoying this beautiful Saturday afternoon.....  I just got done cleaning up from a FABULOUS Pampered Chef party I hosted.  It was so much fun and the food was wonderful of course!  I can't wait to get more fun Pampered Chef goodies.  I LOVE their stuff! After being given a Pampered Chef bridal shower I was hooked for sure.
    Anyway....sorry for that side note.  On to the world of teaching....  I was just thinking the other day about my favorite things to teach, and in my top 3 would definitely be INFERRING.  I just love it!  I don't know why... I guess maybe it's because I usually teach it in the Spring when the "light bulbs" have begun to turn on, and I can see them using true higher order thinking.  But, I wanted to share my favorite inferring lesson of all.  Unfortunately I cannot take credit for coming up with the idea for this lesson.  I have to thank the fabulous authors of the book "Comprehension Connection."  But this is always the first lesson I do to introduce inferring because something always "clicks" with the kids afterwards, and they just get it. This is basically this is the general idea of the lesson.....
        So, first I bring out a bag of "trash" and tell the kids that I need their help.  I explain to them that I have these new neighbors that just moved in next door and that I really want to be a good neighbor and go meet them and get to know them, but that every time I go over there they are never home.  So I explain to the kids that earlier that morning I saw that the neighbors' trash was sitting out beside their driveway, so I took a bag of their trash to see if I could find some clues about them, so I can get to know them better...and I need their help!!  Now, in advance, I have decided what kind of family I want the family next door to be and I have collected clean "trash" items that would give clues about each member of the family.  I always have my family be a mom, dad, older child (6-8), and a baby.  I collect empty makeup bottles, hairspray can, women's magazines, etc for the mom, a shaving cream can, home improvement ads, receipt from a men's store, etc. for the dad, an empty formula container, empty diaper wipe container, etc. for the baby, and a crumpled up piece of homework, a receipt from a toy store, and some other kid type stuff for the older child.  I also decide what I want the family's hobbies/interests to be.  If you want a family that eats out a lot, save your restaurant receipts or to-go boxes and put those in the trash bag.  If you want the family to like shopping, save your store receipts.  Save food items containers.  You get the idea....  I have even put a made-up shopping list in the trash bag so they know what the family eats or buys.   Then, when you are ready to do the lesson, make an Inference/Evidence chart like the picture shown.  Take out each item one at a time from the bag and have students guess what that item says about the family.  The "evidence" is what item is in the trash.  The "inference" is what the students think that item tells them about the family.  It is SO much fun to see what they come up with!  First graders are incredibly intuitive and creative sometimes.  I even had a student tell me one time that the family was a "white family."  I said, "How do you know that?"  She said, "Because the make up bottle is the color for someone with white skin."  I was like, "Holy moly... I would not have even thought of that!"  So smart!
       Anyway, after we have inferred about all the items in the trash bag, I have the kids go back to their seats and write 3 inferences they made and draw a picture of the family based on the evidence and inferences. If you click the recording sheet , it will take you to my Teachers Pay Teachers store where you can get this recording sheet for FREE!!!  Enjoy!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Rock Around the Clock

I have been teaching time, and I love all the hands on things to do with the kids! Thanks to Rachelle and her blog "What the Teacher Wants" we made cute floor clocks. I took the large numbers from part of her unit and added Hula Hoops. The students will sit forever and make times back and forth with each other. Just say we are using Hula Hoops and they are in!

I love to use music in my classroom. There is a great song by Jack Hartmann called "Hip Hop Around the Clock" (you can find it on youtube). The song is interactive, and I have the students make the different times on their clocks during the song.

Also, thanks to an idea from a teaching friend... My class plays "Catch the Clock."  All you do is write a list of times on the board. When a student notices one of the specific times throughout they day they get a special prize for catching the clock!  So smart... I just wonder why I didn't think of it before. :)

I hope a few of these ideas help make teaching time fun in your classrooms. I know we have had a lot of fun this week! We are even going on to "Second Grade" clock skills because they are catching on to the first grade standards so quickly! Have a great night. So glad tomorrow is FRIDAY!!!!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Extreme Makeover: Simply SWEET TEAching Edition!

So.....we've pretty much dropped off the face of the Earth for the last month for several reasons. Life has been crazy as usual, we've both been traveling for one reason or another, AND we've been looking for JUST the right blog design... and we finally found it!!  Thanks to Alicia from DreamLikeMagic (and a fellow South Carolina girl from Myrtle Beach), we have a beautiful new blog design!  Life is good and our blog is happy now. haha. We have so many new ideas to share with you from our classrooms, and we are so excited.  We both talked over the weekend about the purpose and "mission" per say, of our blog, and what we really agreed on was that we wanted to focus on several things:  PURPOSEFUL teaching and learning activities, STANDARDS BASED instructional resources, and REALISTIC ideas that are not going to take you hours to prepare, etc.  We both understand the stresses and demands of teaching (and of home life..especially for you mammas out there), and the pressure on teachers for student performance, test scores, etc.  While we love to have fun in our classrooms and let our students be creative and independent, we understand the need for meaningful and purposeful  instructional ideas and resources, so we hope that our blog will give you both!   Thank you for hanging with us :)