Sunday, August 31, 2014

What's In Your Data Binder? (An Assessment FREEBIE)

I've just completed my fourth week of the new school year.  Four weeks that are always so jam packed with establishing routines and procedures with my new first graders.  Weeks that are also full of assessments . . .  formal assessments, informal assessments, assessments that can be administered whole group, and some that have to be given on an individual basis.  The info that I gain from these assessments is so important to me.  It gives me a starting point for my instruction.  It also gives me data that I can share with parents as we progress through the year.
Like many of you, all this info goes into a giant binder.

This binder has a tab for each student and most of the materials (such as extra recording sheets and various flash cards) I need to complete assessments.

Some of the data I include in this binder is:  letters (naming, writing, & sounds), sight words, running records, STAR scores, numbers to 120 (naming and writing), time, fractions, shapes, place value, and math fluency.
I collect some of this data through whole group whole group assessments.  However, a good deal of the assessments are one on one.  It certainly is a challenge to fit them all in, but totally worth it.

My data binder also houses student goal and achievement pages that help guide our data chats.  Students keep track of certain skills and set goals for themselves with these pages.  Students love it when they get to color in a prize ribbon for mastering a skill.

If you are interested in a closer look at the assessments and recording sheets I have in my data binder, click on the picture below.  I have put everything together into a packet that you can have for FREE.  

I hope some of you can get use out of this packet, even if it's just inspiration.  Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful long weekend.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Back to School Math Ideas (Plus a Free Math Center)

While everyone is heading back to school, I thought I might share a few math activities we've been working on in class.  I really like to use the first three or four weeks to review and lay the ground work for the rest of the year.
We usually spend a lot of time on numeracy by counting, writing, and identify various representations of numbers.
One way we practiced these skills is by using Wikki Stixs.  There are so many ways to use Wikki Stix and the kids love them.  We made number bonds on white boards using Wikki Stix.

We made part part whole mats using white boards, Wikki Stixs, and counters.

We made ten frames using white boards, Wikki Stix, and counters. 
Using Wikki Stix was a great hands on way for students to create these models.

We also used Wikki Stix to practice memorizing the touch numbers.  
We always spend the first weeks of school putting the touch points on the numbers (over and over again), mostly with pencil and paper.  Using Wikki Stix to form all the dots and circles that go on touch numbers is a perfect ways to mix things up a bit.

Beside getting Wikki With It (where is the smiley face button on my keyboard?), we also started our first Calendar Connection Journal.  It is a supplement to our calendar math time.  Students have to work with calendars, counting, number representations, and graphing.  This month we'll work on most of the activities together.  Of course over time students should will become independent with these tasks.

We also used bubble maps to work with numbers 1-10.  Students had to decide which bubbles were ways to show each number.  Representations included addition & subtraction equations, ten frames, touch numbers, pictures, dice, tally marks, and number words.

I bagan introducing our math centers for the month.  I must admit, my goal was to have them up and going by now.  However, my new class, as a whole, is not quite ready.  So, I'll continue to introduce them to the group and know that we'll get started with them eventually.

If you are interested in math centers for the first months of school, check out my Bright Beginnings  {10 Math Centers} and September Smarties {10 Math Centers} packets at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  They are filled with centers that are perfect for this time of the year.

If you would like to try out a center from my Bright Beginnings packet for free.  You can click on the picture below.  Ten Frame Turtles is a basic ten frames matching activity that will help students start memorizing ten frame patterns.

I hope some of these ideas are helpful.  Thanks for stopping by.  Happy Back to School Season!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

3..2..1...Blast Off

The first three weeks of school, don't count on me cooking dinner and plan on lots of laundry piling up.  Let's face it, it's just that time of year.  It's go time at school and a lot of other things just get put on the back burner.  
What has been getting done?  Well, we are totally into our Daily Five launch.  We basted off on the first day of school and haven't looked back.
Lots of mini lessons and modeling sessions and starts and stops have marked our days.  I made plans of how I would pace the launch and those plans went out the door after day one.  But that is OK, we are making progress.  Even though we are not quite following the pace of the launch plans laid out in the 2nd edition of The Daily Five.

On the first day I had all of the book boxes packed and ready to go for Read to Self.  I modeled three ways to read a book.  We discussed our I chart and expectations.  Students then modeled the correct way to do Read to Self and I modeled the incorrect way to read to self.  The students told me all the things I did wrong (you know they loved doing that).
After our mini lessons, we Read to Self three whole minutes.  We've gained steadily since then and are now up to 11 minutes.  To be honest, not everyone is perfect every time.  But I'm really happy with our accomplishment.

After a couple of days, I started model writing on chart paper at my easel.  The writing was very simple, one to two sentences.  I modeled what to do if you are writing and do not know how spell a word (sound it out the best you can and then underline it).  I modeled this same lesson for three days.  We also discussed our Work on Writing I chart.  After all the modeling and discussing, my young authors finally got their hands on their journals.
With our Work on Writing time I'm trying out a little something new this year.  Instead of composition books, I'm making monthly journals.  Students will keep their journals in their writing binders.  Eventually, the binders will contain lots of topics and ideas for students to draw upon as they write.  Each month students will turn in their monthly journals and get a new one.  I plan on putting all of them in their end of the year portfolios.  

We started Read to Someone at the beginning of our second week of launch.  I was really unsure of how it would go.  Read to Someone can be awesome, but it can also be a disaster when students decide to socialize or not cooperate with each other.
After going over our Read to Someone I chart, my TA and I did some modeling of poor Read to Someone behavior.  Again, the kids loved pointing out all of our mistakes.  Then two of my girls that came from a Daily Five Kindergarten class, modeled perfectly the correct way to Read to Someone.
We talked about how to pick books and share books with a partner.  I also addressed how to decide which partner reads first (make a deal or every body's favorite, rock paper scissors).
On a side note, I assigned partners for the launch and they do not change.  I also placed students in their special spots around the room.  At this point taking those choices away allows us to focus on the core behaviors for successful reading with a partner.
We are now up to seven minutes on Read to Someone.

Word Work and Listen to Reading will come later this week.  I usually do not spend much time launching these components of The Daily Five.  Mainly, I take time explaining how to use the materials and technology.
Although we are not formally working on Listen to Reading, my firsties have been able to listen to lots of read alouds during these past couple of weeks.  Read alouds are my number one favorite thing to do, especially at the beginning of the year when you need to keep everything moving along.
Below is a picture of some of the books we've read so far this year.  They are mainly related to back to
school, class rules, and The Daily Five topics.

By the end of this week we will wrap up our launch and I'll be really glad when it is over.  But I have no doubt that the time we put in now will pay off all year long.
Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Peek Inside My Class and Two Freebies for Yours

Back to school means many things to teachers.  Probably at the top of our lists is organizing and putting together our classrooms.  I always want my room in decent shape before I can even think about planning.
It dawned on me that I've never really shared pics from my classroom.  Each year I do some tweaking, editing, and rearranging.  These pictures reflect where I am today.  I'll live with it and probably make changes.  But for now, this is what my class is looking like . . .

Here is my new (and hopefully improved) calendar.  I relocated it to my magnetic whiteboard.  The actual calendar is from Carson Dellosa.  I liked the black background to go along with the chalkboard calendar piece I created.  It had a zebra trim on it that I cut off to better go with my decor.  
I'm also using a simple calendar connections daily packet to supplement the skills that are not on display on the calendar wall.
If you would like a FREE copy of the chalkboard calendar pieces to use in your classroom, click here.  

I also made a new alphabet to display above my whiteboard.  The cards also have a chalkboard theme.  I have these available for free at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  (A link is at the bottom of this post.)

I incorporated more chalkboard elements this year because of this chalkboard I found on sale at Pottery Barn Kids.  It's learning on the wall at the entrance to my room, near the students' mailboxes.  I plan on using it for a Star Student display later in the year.  The tote bag has my recess goodies in it.

Here is a shot of my desk.  I have a lot of shelves behind it.  My school is pretty old and there's no built in storage, plus there is a (let's just say) not so attractive curtain wall.  So I've lined this wall with shelving for much need storage and to block some of my view of the curtain.

I do quite a bit of instruction at my gathering area.  Here you'll always find a basket of books for read aloud.  There is also a basket of pillows students can use during The Daily 5.  
I do not have a Smartboard in my class (insert frowny face).  However, I do have an Apple TV.  We do any work with the Apple TV at the gathering area.  My easel is also in this space.

Currently student work and some math anchor charts are hanging on my one large bulletin board.  Under the board is many of our Daily 5 supplies.  On the far end, in the canvas totes, is the Word Work activities.  The center shelf houses the students' book boxes (Multi Purpose bins from the Container Store).  The closest shelf has old school cassette players, personal cd players, and books on cassette and cd for Listen to Reading.

This is my class library.  The books students choose for their book boxes are in the clear totes (also Multi Purpose bins from the Container Store).  The top totes hold some of my book sets from small group reading activities.

In efforts free up some floor space, I did some editing this year and now only have two computers.  It is really important to have plenty of floor space during The Daily 5, math centers, and literacy centers.  I tried to plan so that my firsties could spread out.
The quilt hanging behind the computers was the jumping off point for the colors in my classroom.  I've had it for several years and still enjoy it.

Below are a couple of whole class pictures.  As you can see, I try to keep things pretty simple.  My goal is for the space to feel welcoming, calm, and organized.

I guess that's the end of today's tour.  If you would like a FREE copy of my class alphabet, you can click on the picture below.

I'll leave you with a couple of pics from some recent big days for our little family.
My daughter started first grade this year.  She is again blessed with a wonderful teacher.  
She turned 7 this week too.  We celebrated with a Fancy Nancy themed birthday party.  It was super glam and so fun.

I suppose that's it for now.  If you are still on summer break, enjoy.  If you are back to school already, best of luck with your year.
Thanks for stopping by.