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Monday, January 19, 2015

What Will the Weather Be? Ask Our Meteorologist!

So we made a cloud in our classroom and the children loved putting this together. They learned how to fan fold paper which they loved doing. The results were so cute and now they are hanging in the window of our classroom.
My teaching partner Dawn made this adorable visor for the "meteorologist of the day" who gives us the daily weather report. They love it and it took her very little time to make. The visor came from Michaels and cost a dollar. It looks hilarious on our kids and they love it! Score. The weather journals are simple and another big favorite with our students. I do a guided drawing and a simple sentence under a document camera. We use twistables (crayons) which make them look so nice. The book on the right is an emergent reader that we are working on this week. It is simple but effective. I love easy stuff! 
I have been working hard on teaching my students how to work collaboratively and have been building activities for them to practice these skills. It has been challenging but the pay off has been huge and they are really doing a great job. We practice these skills frequently and they are making so much progress.
At this time of the year my students are working on counting, writing, and identifying teen numbers. I have been busy making games to keep them engaged and interested in practicing these skills. This is challenging but they are coming along... I love talking about those "mean teens" that are so hard to deal with.

This is another "write the room" activity back by popular demand to help my students build their academic vocabulary. They love taking their clipboard and searching for our wacky weather words. Enough for now. I hope you had a good break from school and now I am off to bed.
Have a great week of teaching and let's stay connected! What weather activities do you love to do?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

"Weather" You Want to Read This Or Not!

It was a busy week in my room as we opened up a unit on weather and started reviewing the seasons and weather. Try talking about the seasons when you live in southern California! We were laughing ourselves sick over this but we grounded in with lots of photographs from the internet and some great books. The biggest hit was making a child the meteorologist of the day! The kids loved this so much and we used this little number to record their thinking when they stuck their heads out the door: 

 I asked them how hot or cold it felt outside and what the sky looked like. They were so invested in answering me! We review this chart so the children have the academic vocabulary to do this. I posted these cards on a magnetic board within their reach so they can use bright round magnets to show their response!

Once our meteorologist has determined the weather we record it in our little book. I model how to draw the weather under the document camera and we write a simple sentence together. This provides an opportunity to talk about the conventions of writing. The students love this simple, little journal.
We had some much fun reading about snow and polar bears this week and the best part of the week was doing a blubber experiment where students put on a glove (filled with Crisco) and stick both hands in ice water. Oh my goodness this was hilarious and so much fun for them. We told them the polar bear is able to live in such a cold climate because of his blubber which keeps him warm. Let's not go there with my blubber. No wonder I am always hot.
My students cannot get enough of "Write the Room" activities and ask me for these all the time. I taught them how to do this during small group instruction where I could guide them. I let them use clipboards but I could see what they needed more help with. Now my head is spinning with ideas to keep their enthusiasm going!
We are still plugging away on beginning sounds but many of my students can do this independently so we are moving on to ending sounds and those CVC words. I have so many packets to support their learning that I can't wait to show them.
Have a great week of teaching... teach like your hair is on fire!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Open My Door... Come In To Explore

Happy New Year to all my teacher friends. I have many resolutions, including blogging more often but I swear life just rolls along at top speed for me. Here are a few things I have created that have kept me busy.

Wow, are you having trouble getting back into the swing of things? Two weeks and getting out of my pj's and putting on real clothes feels cruel and unfair to me. When that alarm went off Monday morning I felt tortured but was excited to be back with my students. Talk about mixed emotions.
I sent a winter packet home with my students during this holiday break and was anxious to see who would come back with it. I designed it to review many of the concepts that they need to move forward in the new year. Guess what? Most of them did the packet and did it well. We went over it on our first day back (or why bother) and it was well worth the time. It was a great teaching tool to review concepts and let them share their work. I recommend doing this if you are concerned that your students might lose ground over the break. My FB fans had mixed feelings about me doing this and I loved reading their reasons!

Here are some of the things I made to return to work to get started with a new trimester and new skills. I now build my own homework week by week so it is customized to the needs of my own students. This has made a huge difference! We go over it every Friday and it really gives me a huge sense of what my students can do independently! Wooza! It also lets me know if parents are supporting their learning! Talk about an old dog learning new tricks!
We are moving on to a new set of sight words now so I sent home the list for parents to keep and use with their child. Finally, I wrote a new emergent reader about snow using the sight words big and small. We are just starting a new unit on seasons and weather so this was a nice way to introduce snow and arctic animals. They loved this little book.
In top of all this blending sounds to make words is a skill that my students need to start working on. This can be so challenging for an English language learner and I have to pull out all the bells and whistles to teach this.

Don't I look organized... not so much. However this is set up for the kids to work on collaboratively in small groups of 4 once I have worked on it during guided reading. These are Open Court letter sound cards that I group to make simple cvc words. Students work on a mat to lay down the letter that makes the sound on the card, blend them together to figure out the word. We call this "riddle me" and my students will love this. When students help each other many of them acquire skills faster and it feels less threatening. Each team has their own set of cards and a recording sheet. Once they finish their set they will rotate to a new set of cards. Could be a disaster or the most fun in the world! I will let you know... pinky promise. Now off  to start my Tuesday! What are you doing in your room? Open your door and let me see...
Oh I almost forget... look what I got over the holiday break from my husband! It was the best surprise ever but I will let you in on a secret. Come a little closer. I think he was dying to own this but worried that I would not be too enthusiastic. The man loves me but he loves cars (a little more), just sayin'.

Have a great day of teaching!