Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Who is the Grinch Anyway?

Each day this week, I have picked a Christmas book to read aloud to my first graders.  After reading the book we follow with an activity correlated to language arts.
Today I read that old classic How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss.
Each child drew their version of the Grinch on a 9x12 piece of green construction paper.
Next I gave each child a set of strips to cut apart.

Character Map Strips

Step by step we placed the strips on "our own" grinch, then wrote a response under each strip. The children loved this activity and were so proud to hang up their details about this Grinch. It was a fun way to explore a main character of a book.

Here is a picture of an example:

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Fabulous First Grade Websites

There are so many wonderful websites out there and so many creative teachers among us. Spend some time visiting a few. Even after all of these years teaching first grade I am always finding something new and exciting. Sometimes another teacher's ideas or blog will reinforce a thought I had. Sometimes these ideas and blogs will help me try something new and fresh. Many times I just am looking for a new way to present material.

Remember, most teachers share ideas freely but, always check for permissions and copyrights before using another person's information!

Here are links to a few of my favorite first grade sites on the web

Mrs. Sterczek's First Grade
I like her parent information page.

Mrs. Zider's First Grade
She has a very nice tour of her classroom through photos.

Mrs. McGowan's First Grade
She has a wealth of information, including lots and lots of great websites to check out.

Mrs. Antoine's Access to Academics
You'll find great teacher resources, as well as examples of classroom management tips.

Mrs. Dennis' First Grade
Here you can find links to first grade skill builder activities for students to use at school and at home.

Ms. Oakes' Fantastic First Grade
Check out her "sweet" behavior guidelines using her classroom rules.

Mrs. Golubic's First Grade
I love her wonderful collection of links that are divided by subject areas.

Mrs. Short's First Grade
Awesome ideas for internet projects. There are also some great printables and downloads.

Mrs. Harper's First Grade
Wow, what a nice "parent's toolbox" link. There are tips and ways for parents to help their children be the best they can be!

Mrs. Houpe's First Grade
Colorful! That's what her list of rainbow words are for sure! She has created color-coded flash cards for the parent to utilize at home. They are listed by week of study. You could take this idea and adapt it to your reading series.

Mrs. Weyant's First Grade
Love the idea to post "Study" Guides for parents. This way parents can stay connected to what's being taught in the classroom.

My First Grade Site

Calendar Time

Each day we spend about fifteen minutes together having calendar time. We take a look at the calendar and say the month and date together. On my calendar I post birthdays, trips, etc. We count up to see how many days until that event.

I also have a section where we complete the sentences:

Today is ______________.

Yesterday was __________.

Tomorrow will be ________.

This is an excellent review of the sequence of the days of the week! I have the days of the week laminated with a magnetic strip behind each one. That way they can easily be changed each day.

Next we have a chart that we continue to count the number of days we've been in school. This reinforces counting up to 100.

Then we count coins that match how many days we've been in school. For example, if we have been in school for sixty-two days, then we count coins that add up to sixty-two cents. I have a set of plastic coins with velco behind them. Our money chart has strips of velcro, too. I like this because you can change them quickly, yet the coins stay fast and tight until you remove them. When we accumulate five pennies we exchange them for a nickel. When we get two nickels we exchange them for a dime. You get the picture!

Speaking of pictures.....here are some of my calendar area.

Labels, Labels, Labels

Self sticking labels for the computer have become one of my favorite new ways to be well organized and efficent in my classroom.

I print sheets of labels with each child's name. The first day of school, I put parent volunteers to work right away. They attach the student-name labels to consumable workbooks, journals, take-home folders, etc.

At our school we change classes for reading, so I have a label that attaches to the take-home folder also. It has my name, our room number, and the reading teacher's name. This helps the parents, teachers, and students quickly identify a folder. Here is the template I use and you are welcome to change it to suit your needs.

Take Home Folder Labels

I use labels for field trips. I make a label with our school name and phone number, my name etc. I then stick them to one of the cute sets of cut-outs available, laminate them, punch a hole in them. Then I tie a string through it and tah dah you have cute field trip necklaces.

Another use for labels is to print your own customized message for parents. I can quickly peel these labels and attach them to the child's daily agenda that goes home each night.

Here's just one example: I use return address labels. Each one states: Just a reminder that you've signed up for a conference on_________________ at __________________.

I'd love to hear about ways you have used printable labels in your classroom!

Begin each day with Organization

Each teacher has his or her own way to manage a classroom. My way, of course, is what I've found to work for me the best over the years.

On Open House (Meet the Teacher) day each child is given a folder. The last few years our P.T.A. has generously provided an ACE (our mascot) ROAR (our expectations: to be respectful, organized, appropriate, and responsible) folder for each child. In years past I would purchase 2-pocket folders, all the same color, during back to school sales.

The inside of the folder should have two pockets. On each side I glue a left and right hand. (Why not do double duty and reinforce the concept of left and right while being organized!)

Left and Right Hands for Folder

Every morning, the children place their folders (and agendas) on my desk as they come in and begin morning work. Parent know from my first letter to them that they should place any notes in these folders. As the children complete morning activities, I check each folder. I pull out homework for grading later. I check for any parent notes, money, etc. Then I place the new homework inside the folder. Last I initial the current page in the agenda (These are provided by our school.) The parents initial the same page at night. That way we both know the folder was seen at home and at school.

We have a reward system at our school where the children earn "paws" for good conduct. Every morning the children brings me their folder--with the completed homework--they will receive 2 paws. (One for being responsible and one for being organized.)

As I have mentioned in another post our school-wide behavior system is called ROAR for being respectful, organized, appropriate, and responsible.

It is amazing how fast the children learn the routine. Our mornings are stress-free and I can easily check for missing homework. If more than one day an assignment is late or missing, I can notify a parent right away and we can all get back on track.

Start as you mean to go!

My first word of advice is to think about what you want for your classroom's structure and routines. Have a firm idea for yourself in place, then begin getting the children involved from the very first day. BE CONSISTENT! You can be firm by saying what you mean, but be loving and fair at the same time.

There are lots of wonderful ideas from educators on the web. You can freely use any of my ideas. If you visit an outside link please check the usage and copyright info for each site.

Here we go:

1. I pick a classroom theme. This year I chose oceans/sea. We have a mascot at our school...ACE the tiger, so I pull him into my theme.

2. We have school-wide rules and expectations http://teacherweb.com/VA/AmeliaCountyElementary/Stuart,Kathleen/ROARBrochure06-07.pdf

so our rules are set. However, we can decide how we'll reinforce those rules.

3. Each child has a sailboat, steered by a tiger of course, in the "ocean" (This is a decorated space on my magnetic blackboard.) If the children follow the rules, they keep their boat in the ocean. If they don't, they have to "dock" their boat (in a designated space) which means time in our Quiet Room during recess. Any child who keeps their boat in the ocean all day gets a sticker for their behavior chart. When that chart is full a trip to the classroom treasure chest in order.

4. Let me explain the "quiet room". Our first grade team decided this year that one of us would host the quiet room each week. During recess children ,who've broken the rules or haven't completed work, visit the quiet room. Here they can have their time-out quietly and/or have help completing work. After 5 or 10 minutes the children will join the other for the remainder of recess. It's working really well for us!

5. I decide on jobs and create a bulletin board. My theme is "oceans" so, we have a castle under the sea. Every child has a job for the week. This is important because you want the children to feel a sense of ownership in their classroom right from the very first day. These jobs will rotate each week. Here are my jobs (& descriptions) for the year, but keep in mind there are so many options. Pick jobs that work for your classroom and school.

Office helpers: These children take notes, etc. to the office and pick up messages from the office.

Line leader: This child leads the line to lunch, resource, etc.

Caboose: This child ends the line and helps the teacher keep an eye on the class.

Chalkboard helpers: These children clean the board each afternoon.

Ice cream delivery: These children help pass out ice cream on Fridays.

Calendar Presenters: These chidlren point to the month and day and leads the class in saying the days/months.

Light Inspector: This child makes sure the lights are turned out when leaving the room.

Door Holder: These children hold the door for the other students.

Supply Helpers: These children pass out papers, etc.

Afternoon Cleanup Crew: (**This is my fav!) These children walk around and inspect the room during pack-up for home time. If a child hasn't cleaned their own area, he is quietly called over to correct the situation. These children also peek in the desks to make sure agendas, papers, and folders have been placed in backpacks. I read a story to the ones who have completed their clean-up. When we walk out the door to go to the buses, our room is neat and tidy. I also know the children have everything. But the best part is that the children themselves have taken care of this. It's wonderful!