Sunday, September 18, 2016

Teaching Respect

Friends~One of the toughest things about teaching is managing children.  We never get a cookie cutter class.  It is always like a box of never know what you are gonna get. 

To me, that makes teaching exciting and challenging. 
(Exhausting? YES!)

I am a firm believer in teaching the whole child.  Not just academics.  Manners, social skills, behavior, and so on.  So many times we jump on board with these "behavior" systems for a quick fix.  We never take the time to teach what acceptable behavior is.  Truly if a student is having behavioral issues, a clip to red over and over is NEVER going to fix it.  
Do we need reminders?  YEP!  But those reminders need to be authentic.  They need to be meaningful. 

Look at this picture, read the words, let it speak to you!  I love the message Mandy Neal, from Teaching With Simplicity shared.  It is so powerful!

At my school, we have 4 school wide behavior expectations.  We review them every morning during our morning meeting. 
I have been working to teach each expectation indivudially.  This past week, we focused on RESPECT. 
I LOVE this Respect Rap! 
 So do my kiddos. 
 It totally spells it out!

My students connected quickly with this rap because it was made by students.  I love that the words are posted so they can hear and sing along.  Such an awesome reminder about how we need to be treating each other.  

Warning!  I have been singing this all weekend.  It totally gets stuck in your head!  So, while rapping all weekend, I got to thinking about how I can reinforce respect with this rap. 

I created this Respect Reminder
(Grab a FREE copy by clicking above.)

My plan is, if a student needs a reminder about how to respect others, our classroom, or our school, I am going to give them some quiet time to scan this code and listen to the rap privately.  They will then write a response and have a short conference with me. 
 I will them send it home for a parent signature. 

I plan to keep a copy for documentation as well.  It is such a simple idea but I think it is going to send an important message to my students.  

If you are looking for more behavior management tips, you can click below!

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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Wordless Texts & Inferences

Friends~We spent the week examining wordless texts!  I loved how the texts led my students right into the world of inferences! 
 Totally seamless!
I just had to choose my FAVORITE wordless text Tuesday by David Wiesner!  

 (Grab a copy by clicking the image!)

I photo copied a few images from the text on large paper and we broke up into groups.  We focused on examining the illustrations to determine key details from a text.  We combined the details with the text and created inferences to understand the story!  This is such a tough skill for 2nd graders!  I am so very proud of how the class did with this.  

Here is a video read of the story! 
 The kiddos loved it!
We then practiced the skill by creating an illustration and adding details that would help a reader understand what they were reading! 

Grab a FREE copy of my skill practice sheet bellow! 

Read more about how I teach inferences by clicking the image below! 

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Sunday, April 3, 2016

What is Singapore Math?

Friends~What is Singapore Math?  I asked the exact same question when my school announced that we would be using Singapore in our elementary classes.  
It took me quite a while to figure out how to make it work in my first grade classroom.  The tricky thing is Singapore is change in thinking.  A change in how we think about numbers.  

What is Singapore Math?

Singapore Math focuses on children not just learning but also truly mastering a limited number of concepts each school year. The goal is for children to perform well because they understand the material on a deeper level; they are not just learning it for the test.

Singapore Math takes the student beyond the basic algorithm.   It is about mastery not memorization.
Students work through a 3 step learning process.

Concrete: Use of manipulatives like base ten blocks, dice, and chips.
Pictorial: Drawing pictures of mathematical concepts.
Abstract: The use of numbers and symbols

 In first grade, we spend a good amount of time working on number sense.  It is the foundation for future math.  Students learn to decompose and compose numbers with ease.  

In first grade we use the Math in Focus program by Singapore.  It has been fantastic to follow and implement in class! Below are some of the beginning skills that my kiddos worked with to build number sense. 

Now this is my 2nd year with Singapore and I will tell you the first year I felt like we were number bonding FOREVER!  I didn't see the benefit and was super worried that we were not teaching other skills. (We were digging deeper!)  

Here is the moment I became a true believer in the Singapore Process!  We moved to double digit numbers and began regrouping.  (I resisted teaching regrouping they way I always had and went with the Singapore way.)  All of a sudden they were regrouping in their heads!  Mental Math!!!!!

Check out this video of my kiddos regrouping on paper.  So incredible in first grade!

This school year math is my students favorite time of the day.  They love our math centers and each day I meet with a group or 2 at their level.  We work a daily word problem and practice our mental math.  

I am so thrilled with how this year has gone!

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Sunday, February 28, 2016

First Grade Electricity and Art

Friends~I am so excited to share soooo much with you all today!  We finally moved into our new school after 100 plus days at an alternate location.  Check out the pictures below!  We moved in and set up in 2 and a half days.  A total record!!
If you have been following me along on Facebook, you may have heard that I have been moving into a rented classroom at a church on Mondays and moving back out on Fridays EvErY week!  This is the first week that our classroom has stayed in tack and when I go into school on Monday, it all will be in place!  I can't tell you the relief! (That is the major reason I have been missing from the blog world all year-please forgive me!)

This week in our beautiful room,  we started a mini unit on electricity!  We had so much fun reading and watching videos about this powerful form of energy! 

After lots of fun reading and writing about electricity we read Patricia Polacco's Thundercake! It is one of my total favorite books!  
Here is a great read by Patricia herself!

We discussed how lightning and storms produce electricity.  I had the students choose a favorite scene in the book and they drew it on a piece of construction paper.  We then added folded tissue paper over parts of the scene that might move in a storm.  

I added some thunderstorm sounds from YouTube and we were ready to make our art ELECTRIC!
We just added some man made electricity-meaning rubbing balloons against our hair and creating static electricity!

We held a school wide open house yesterday so that our families could come and see the new building. My teammate suggested that we put this Electric Art out for the students to show their parents.  It was a HUGE hit!  

Here is one of my cuties checking out the new room with her family!
If you are looking for more to go along with Thundercake, you can check out my file below.  It is filled with tons of literacy activities to enhance this book! 
Be on the look out for more fun posts from room 202!
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Sunday, January 3, 2016

Zaner Bloser Handwriting Review

Friends~With the age of technology,  I am seeing a major decline in handwriting development with our elementary students. We are all moving towards techonology as a way to communicate.  That is all well and good but there are times when a person/student needs to be able to write a response or sign a check. 

My school has begun a search for a new handwritng program for our elementary students. We hope that if we take just a few minutes a day to focus solely on letter formation our students will be free to focus more on the thought process of tasks and not get tripped up about forming the letters.  

Let's face it, improving their handwriting helps me out too!  Deciphering the phonetic spelling of a first grader can be tricky but if the handwriting is poor,  it can be almost impossible.  

My friends at Zaner Bloser asked me to review one of their new handwriting products and I couldn't believe the timing! 

After visiting their site and looking over sample materials, I found that the program runs from pre school to grade 6.  I love that the K-2 products are manuscript.  Manuscript allows students to make connections to environmental print and support literacy growth.  

Cursive comes into play at the end of 2nd grade and it is a gradual build from the manuscript fundamentals.  

 Below is the first grade student book and it came with a teacher manuel as well. There are great visuals for the students like the man on the lines below showing where letters need to fall.  
Desender Space 
(Desender is great vocabulary word for students!)

The Keys to Legibility are also a great visual for students to self check!

One of my total favorite parts is the Handwriting Tutor!  Scan the QR code to meet your handwriting tutor!
These little videos are perfect for the handwriting center!

The teacher's manual is filled with more goodies!  
The songs are fantastic way to give the students a brain break and also tap into auditory learners. 
Each lesson has occupational therapist support too!
One of my favorites was having students practice pushing push pins into foam.  The students were encouraged to use the correct pencil grip.  
Middle Finger
(GREAT for my kinesthetic learners!)
Be sure to click DIGITAL GOODIES to grab some FREE sample masters to try out in your classroom! 

I am really impressed with Zaner Bloser and their handwriting program.  Lots of great hands on lessons that meet manydifferent learning styles!

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Saturday, December 12, 2015

Impulse Control in the Classroom

Friends~Every Friday in my classroom we do an activity that goes along with our study of Executive Brain Functions.  This month, our focus was on impulse control. (Well, actually we will be working on this forever!)  I am so exited to share with you just how much fun we had! 

We had our guest speaker, Dr. Brain come in and give us the science behind impluse control and review how our brain works.  
We did a warm up game of FREEZE with some holiday music. (Click the link above to learn more about games that impact impulse control.)  I told the class that it was a very old game that helped students practice impulse control.  We talked about if you are falling on the floor, laughing, or moving you are being impulsive

We started with this video from The Cookie Monster! He is the perfect example of impulse control issues:)
In the video, Cookie Monster plays a waiting game and comes up with strategies to not eat the cookie so that he can earn another.  

We listed strategies that he used like:
Singing a Song
Pretending it was a Smelly Fish
Playing with a Toy

I then told the class that we were going do an experiment.    
The Shaving Cream Experiment!
Basically, all you need is some shaving foam and paper plates.  SOOOOO simple but SOOOOO powerful!
I told the class that I was going to give them some shaving cream.  They could touch it and play with it all they want.  BUT...I was going to leave and if they didn't touch the shaving cream,  I would give them more.  

So, I left.  Shut the door with 20 first graders and 20 piles of shaving cream.  

Round one went very well but as we progressed into round 2 and 3 their stress levels began to rise along with their pile of shaving cream.  It was AMAZING to see the strategies they naturally came up with to avoid touching the shaving cream.  
They were counting, reading, laying under the table, meditating and so much more. 
By the third round, they were exercising with push up and running in place to avoid touching the shaving cream.  It was fantastic! 
NO ONE touched it!  At all!  They were soooo determined!
They really practiced impulse control and I can't wait to see how their behavior changes as we continue to revisit the topic.  They now have a real life experience to draw upon when someone tells the to control themselves!
We celebrated by taking our plates filled with shaving cream outside and were totally impulsive!

The girls were a bit timid at first but don't worry!  They totally got into it!  
ALERT!!!!! We did have to go into the bathroom and have some adult help cleaning it out of hair, ears, and off clothes but it was all worth it.  My wonderful parents forgave me and I just know this is one lesson that will not be forgotten!

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