Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Polar Vortex? What?

It has been such a crazy January in Wisconsin! We have had 4 days off from school due to wind chill warnings! Needless to say, we have used up our days off and will have to extend our school year. The first two days were nice and relaxing and I really spent those days reading (for fun! what?!) and spending time with my husband who is also a teacher!! :)

During these last two days that we had off due to cold temperatures, I have been BUSY! I had my creative (and organizational!) juices flowing and there was no stopping me!! Here are a few ideas that I prepared over my days off and put into action today! Woohoo!

My living room yesterday... ten projects going at once! Oops!

Project #1:
New Daily 5 Word Work Center: Student use letter beads on pipe cleaners to practice their spelling words! I picked up two different types of letter beads and colorful pipe cleaners at Michael's Craft Store... love that place and they offer a TEACHER DISCOUNT (two of my favorite words)! Take a peak at my students trying their new center today! They LOVED it!

Project #2:
Musical Chairs Comprehension Game: Throughout the school year, we talk A LOT about comprehension strategies while we are doing read alouds, reading groups, partner reading, etc. I wanted to come up with a way to get all of the kids involved in talking about our read alouds (it always seems to be the same kids raising their hands in my class to comment on stories that we read). I created a set of comprehension prompts that I printed on cardstock and laminated. I placed the prompts around the room and after our read aloud today (The Cat in the Hat-- LOVE), kids walked around the room with a partner while music played. When the music stopped, they sat down by the nearest prompt and discussed that part of the story. SO FUN! Here's a link to the prompt cards!

Project #3:
Informational Writing: How-To Books
Earlier this school year, we collaboratively wrote an informational text about whales. We are now beginning our second informational writing unit of the year, HOW-TO BOOKS! Today, we began by reading a nonfiction how to book, "Let's Make Pizza," and discussed the key characteristics of how-to writing. Here is a photo of the beginnings of our How To Anchor Chart.

At the beginning of last school year, I downloaded a product from TPT for First Grade Writing Units linked to the Common Core. I am embarrassed to say that I am finally diving into this product and I LOVE IT! Great ideas, mentor text recommendations, and graphic organizers!! The product was created by Andrea Knight. Here is a direct link to her product! Highly recommend!!

I hope to do a full post in the future about our How-To Books after we finish the unit!

Project #4:
Dr. Seuss Read In and Pajama Day!: Started planning for one of my favorite days of the year!! This is what I LOVE about FIRST GRADE! Can't wait for February 21! :)

Loving my job right now! (and loving my Rhonna Designs app on my iPhone for editing photos!) Couldn't resist this last one...
At a wedding last September

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Here We Go!

Welcome 2014! Feeling blessed as we begin this new year! I had a fabulous Christmas with friends and family and now I can't wait to get back to school tomorrow!

Our tree with packages tied up with strings,
 these are a few of my favorite things!

Spent a few relaxing days at my parents' cabin in Northern Wisconsin.

Over break, I began tackling my big math project for this year. My district uses the Everyday Math curriculum and each student has a math journal to go along with the lessons. There are "math boxes" for each lesson as well that review previously learned skills and preview skills coming up. I have found that there are several students in my class that breeze through those math boxes. I began creating a more advanced version of the pages: using the same types of problems, but making them more challenging.

We are currently on Chapter 4 in our math series so I began by making the math boxes that correlate to that unit. I hope to make each chapter as we come to it during the school year. Pick up your copy of Chapter 4 for FREE from my TPT store!! Keep checking back for more chapters. As my principal would say, "We are building the airplane while we are in flight."

Something that I try to instill in my students every day!

Until next time,
Mrs. O'Connor