Friday, October 25, 2013

Five for Friday- Jack Frost Came

      TGIF!  I am so excited to be able to link up to the Five for Friday linky party...mostly because that means it's finally Friday. :)

Five random things from this week...

1.  Jack Frost came today!

So, as we did the weather today during morning meeting, one of my students was sharing how she noticed ice on the grass this morning.  The other kids filled her in that this is called frost.  

One of the little girl's in my class shot her hand in the air.  "Mrs. Kerola, guess what?  Something weird happens every time there is frost outside.  A visitor comes."  (She is so animated and cute!)  I asked her who visited and she said, in a very matter of fact, how could you not know this kind of way, "Jack Frost!"

2.  The Great Candy Corn Race

We started studying long vowels more in depth this week, and we focused on the long a sound.  Next week I'll introduce long i and I have a super fun, festive game for the kids to play.  I have updated the game and you can get it in my TPT store.  Click on the picture below to check it out.

Students draw a card and get to move their candy corn game piece around the board, trying to lay down their cards as they find words with matching vowel sounds (long or short i).  The person with the most cards at the end of the game wins!

3.  Pumpkin Math Freebie

I found a great freebie (that I did not make) to use next week on Halloween for math.  The kids have to measure the height in cubes, count the seeds, and count the lines on the pumpkin.  Thanks Hiba Mustafa for the free resource!  You can click on the picture below to get a copy.

4.  Frog and Toad Together- a classic.

We finished reading the chapter called Cookies yesterday, and my kids were so disturbed that Frog joined in and ate the cookies, too because he has always been the nice, responsible one so far.  Love us some Frog and Toad.

5.  Halloween costume- what should I be?

       Alright, I could use some suggestions.  My new school does a Halloween parade, and so I have to dress up at school.  I need something fun, easy, and cheap.  One of my team teachers suggested we go as dominoes.  What do you think? Ready....go. :)


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Our Schema's Like a Web!

       This week we had a very short week with kids because of conferences.  So, in reader's workshop all we had time for was to introduce schema and begin to think about what is already in our schema.  The book Comprehension Connections by Tanny McGregor has some great ideas about to introduce the concept of schema and is a really easy read. It also has lots of pics of charts. :)  Click on the pic below to check it out.

       I used her analogy of a spider web to help kids understand that our schema,or background knowledge, is unique to us based on our own experiences.  They totally got it.

       First we talked about what they know about spider webs....they are sticky, they catch bugs, and they can get bigger and bigger as the spider keeps spinning.  Then, I told them that that's just like our schema.  It catches everything new that we do and learn and it just keeps on growing!

       We added our ideas about what schema is to our chart (just the top half).


        Then, today I shared some things in my schema and explained that it's probably different from everyone else's because I have had different experiences.  They each got a sticky note to add one thing from their own schema and stick it on our web.  Here are two of my favorites.

"Dogs like to growl at loud things." 
(don't you love the phonetic spelling, especially when they can't make the 'th' sound yet?) 
"Bugs are gross!" (We are still working on sight word 'are').

I have no idea why those pictures do not appear exactly centered.  Grr...

         Finally, we decided to add a sentence on the bottom that would explain why there was a spider web on our chart for anyone that comes into our room.  

"Our schema sticks to our brain like bugs stick to a web!

Have a great night!


Monday, September 30, 2013

Math Monday 2: The Very Hungry Caterpillar

       Math Monday 2: Short and sweet.  Last week we finished up our first math unit, which was focused on counting accurately, solving story problems, and fluency with plus or minus one from any number up to 10.  Some of my students are still working on fluency and I am creating a couple of games to help them practice.  But, I wanted to share with you a few tidbits from our story problem work.

        The kids really came a long way in a short time.  Recording their work was really challenging in the beginning but many of them made huge gains in being able to accurately solve an addition story problem and show their work.

        One activity that we did that they absolutely loved was based on The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.  We read the book and made a list of all of the fruit that he ate as we read.

      Then, students were given the task of figuring out how many pieces of fruit he ate altogether.  We briefly discussed some ideas for tools they might use and strategies they could try.  Each student worked independently to figure it out and at the end of class we shared strategies.  A few students even wrote which strategy they used to show their work.

She started at 5 and counted on to 15!

She showed all of the pieces of fruit and counted each one.  She wrote, "I count all."

This one is from a student who could not accurately count a set of 20 objects at the beginning of the year.  When I asked him to draw 20 circles, he drew 36 and counted them for me and said there was 20.  He didn't have any one to one correspondence.  A few short weeks later, he accurately solved this problem and showed his work. :)

       When all of them finished, I put all of their work up on our bulletin board so that they could see all of the different strategies and ways to show their work.  This is part of that board.  Sorry about the blurry photo.  I took it quickly with the ipad.

            Alright, that's it for now.  We are now in our second unit which is on geometry.  So, I'll be back next Monday to share some of our work from that.

Have a great week!


Monday, September 16, 2013

Math Mondays: A Beginning Look into First Grade

       I have been thinking about doing a series for a while and so I'm excited to start one today called Math Mondays (super creative, I know). :)  I plan to post about anything that has to do with primary math and is Common Core related, so please check back each Monday to see what's new.

       Let's do a quick recap of the first 22 days of school.  Yup, I am so jealous of happy for all of my friends who didn't start until after Labor Day and have only been in school for about 10 days. ;)  Okay, so we started out the year just getting to know our different math tools and thinking about what math is.  We launched the year by thinking about what we already know about math.  Here's what my first graders came up with...some great ideas and misconceptions.

           The Post-its are hard to read but here are a few of their thoughts: math is fun, cool, learning about shapes, about numbers, 100, etc.  A misconception- math is letters.  It will be interesting to come back to this later in the year and see how their thinking has changed.

            They had time to explore the math tools and figure out how
we can use them to help us with math.

          The first few weeks we spent a lot of time practicing counting accurately and comparing numbers.  They played lots of games to practice these skills.  So, they are working toward Common Core State Standard 1.NBT.1- Count to 120, starting at any number and 1.NBT. and 1.NBT.3- Compare two two-digit numbers based on place value.  Obviously, the beginning of first grade activities are just laying a foundation for proficiency in these two standards.
         One of their favorite activities was re-creating the number line on a string.  I gave each student a number, and we put the number 0 and the number 30 on the ends of our number line as benchmarks.  Students had to tell where their numbers went on the number line and how they knew.  They worked hard on using the language greater than and less than when explaining their thinking.

        In the bottom picture, you can see that she was having difficulty figuring out if she should put 15 before or after the 12 that was already on the number line.  We took some time to think about the following as a class:  Is 15 larger or smaller than 12?  Does it come before or after 12 when we count? The life size number line is an activity that we will do over and over again because it is great practice in counting, ordering, and comparing numbers.  It could easily be adapted and used in many ways.  A couple of ideas for adapting the life size number line activity include:
  • counting by 2s, 5s, 10s
  • using a different range of numbers (i.e. 1-5 or 1-10 for kindergarten, larger numbers for higher grades or later in the school year)
  • providing different benchmark numbers each time 
  • solving a story problem whole group on the number line
       Finally, I introduced solving story problems in the last week and a half.  This meets standard 1.OA.1.  We started by orally doing a few problems whole group over a few days and then students solved problems independently.  At the end of each class where they solve story problems, we have a discussion about strategies.  Here is a chart we created together during one of the discussions.  I intentionally began by asking a student who counted all to share because it is the most basic strategy.  Then, I led them through the discussion by choosing students who used higher level strategies like counting on and making a ten.  As students share their strategy, I record their thinking on our class chart.

           Alright, I have more to share but I'll save it for next time.  I would love to hear about activities you do with your classes to help them practice counting and comparing numbers.  


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Back in First Grade and Loving It

   So, in the last two months, I finished the last school year as a second grade teacher in my old district, took a one credit week-long graduate class, packed up all of our belongings, moved 9 hours from home to Kansas, closed on our first home, unpacked all some of our stuff, and started a new school year teaching first grade.  No stress at all...:). But, I am feeling so blessed to where we are and after the first 11 days of school, I am soooo loving being back in first grade! They are so fun.

   I thought I would share some before and after pics of my new classroom.  It is a lot smaller than my room last year but I don't really mind.  It's cozy.



Close-up of the CAFE menu.

     If you would like the headings for the CAFE menu, you can find them in my TPT store here.  They come in a pack with all of the strategy cards to print that are part of The Cafe Menu from the Two Sisters.  I usually just make the first couple of cards in front of the kids.
CAFE menu after the first couple of lessons
Before view from the door
After view from the side of the classroom.  That is the main meeting area in front of the board with the calendar board on the left and CAFE menu on the right.  The bins on top of the shelf will house all of their writing folders by table.

Close-up of calendar board.  This is the very basic board we start with and add to as the year goes on.
Schedule next to calendar

This shelf divides the meeting area from the table area.  It holds our pencil cups, folder bins, and
writing paper bins for each table.

      Oh, and you know that moment when it hits you that you are just overwhelmed because you just can't seem to have everything you need all in one spot at the same time?   I just realized I don't have any pics of the library area or back of the room with the word wall.  I'll have to take some and post them later.  
    And finally, for those of you who have not gone back yet or just haven't finished setting up your new room, here are a couple of resources from my TpT store that might help.  Or, if you are just looking for some new management decor, check them out. :)

CAFE Menu Pack

VOICES Writing Menu Board

Chevron Classroom Jobs Clip Chart

This packet includes a classroom jobs heading and 16 different classroom job cards with descriptions.  It comes in 9 different chevron colors and looks super cute on a ribbon with clothespins.

Ok, TGIF (tomorrow)!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

People Magazine (Mom of the Year)

         I just couldn't resist sharing my students' adorable Mother's Day Projects with you...but first I have to brag on my mom and grandma for just a minute.  I am so blessed to have been able to share Mother's Day with my mom at my little brother's college graduation.  I am so very grateful for her love, support, and encouragement always.  She is a nurse practitioner who serves very sick inmates every day.

       I also was thinking about my gram, who I miss and love so very much.  One of my fondest memories is how she would always genuinely light up when I walked in the house to visit her and be so excited to hear what was going on with me.  She taught me so much about how to take care of family, cook, and just enjoy life.

Wasn't she so stylish? :)

    Alright, I could go on for awhile but let's move on to my students.  Last year I found this great idea on (none other than) Pinterest.  It is from The Polka Dotted Teacher.  Even though the project was done with fourth graders, it fit in perfectly with my second grade unit on persuasive writing so I decided to give it a try.  Last year they turned out so cute that I did the same project this year.  I love projects that fit into academics and don't just feel like something "extra" you have to fit in. 

    To begin, I showed my students a copy of a People magazine (a school and age appropriate one of course) and we talked about how people that do important things get to be on the cover of People.  Then I told them they were going to write a magazine article for their mom about why she deserves to be on the cover, decorate a cover with her on it, and they were hooked.

    We went through the entire writing process and since it was at the end of our persuasive unit, most of my students already felt very comfortable writing a persuasive piece with a few paragraphs.  I created a checklist for them to use to help with revising.  It's nothing fancy but definitely helped them.  Click on the picture below to download it from google docs.  

       Finally, students edited and were ready to publish their final copies.  Check out how a few of them turned out.  They are so sweet!

"That is all I asked for was a great mom." :)

Carson was really trying to use character traits to describe his mom like
I modeled.

I love his closing.

       It amazes me how much many of their drawings really do look just like their moms.  Happy belated Mother's Day to all of you who are moms.