Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Whole Brain Wednesday: Make it Your Own!

Today I want to share with you how you can make WBT your own!

I've shared in many posts the gestures my class has made up for different words. Such as this gesture we created for Author's message...

Or these gestures for story elements...

I want to share now what some of the first grade teachers in my building have created, making WBT their own after attending the 2 WBT workshops I did at my school!

One of the first grade teachers (Mrs. M) loved how the kiddos were getting right to it when using Teach, Okay and she wanted a way to connect this immediate turn & teach action with directions such as getting to work!
Teacher: *clap clap* Go get started!
Students: *clap clap* Okay!
And she tried it for lining up too!
Teacher: Let's get ready!
Students: Okay!
 Mrs. M said it has made a HUGE difference just by having the students give a verbal & physical response. They are reminded what they need to do and they get going immediately!

Mrs. M is also using capital letter, comma and end mark brainies when students read & write sentences during their phonics program (Fundations) to reinforce these important parts of sentences.

Another first grade teacher (Mrs. J) has created a list of "rewards" under the scoreboard as a reminder to students why they want to earn smilies! This is such a simple way to make WBT your own, but has been working wonders in her class... they REALLY want to be able to earn one of the choices on the board!
Some easy choices that you could include on a "if smilies win" chart are: extra brain break, chat time, around the world, game on the promethean/smart board (my kiddos love, mind soccer (see WBT website), and ANYTHING else that is fun, motivating and only lasts a few minutes.

I hope you enjoyed another reason why I love WBT... you can make it your own and still be activating the WHOLE BRAIN and creating TEACHER HEAVEN!

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Book Talk Tuesday: Fables

I'm linking up with Mrs. Jump for another Book Talk Tuesday...

I'm going to share some of the work we do in my classroom with Fables. I love teaching Fables because of the lessons the kiddos can learn from so many of them! We use this great book that has tons of fables in it. I'll be honest, I have to pick and choose which fables we read, but there is definitely a big selection!

The illustrations are pretty wonderful... which makes sense since it won the Coldecott!

Reading Level:
Guided Reading N
DRA 30
Lexile 540L

Web Resources:
  • Fables Discussion Guide: this guide through Scholastic offers great discussion points for during and after reading any fable
  • Fable Resources: check out this blog post for a variety of links to help you teach fables
  • Fairy Tales & Fables: this link has a TON of links to learn more about teaching fairy tales and fables
Vocabulary: teaching vocabulary for this book really depends on which fables you choose to teach. I would suggest teaching: message, moral & lesson so the kiddos understand what they are looking for in each fable.

Before Reading: Like I mentioned in the vocabulary section, teach the words: message, moral & lesson because they are so very important when teaching about fables. Here's the anchor chart I created (inspiration from Nicole Shelby's Interactive Reading Notebook) that I shared last week!

During Reading:
  • Have students use this checklist while you read to make sure your students are listening for the different fable characteristics.
After Reading:
  • Use this organizer for your students to identify the message/moral of the fable and "prove it" using details from the text.

Enjoy! Be on the lookout for a Tall Tale post soon!

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Mentoring Minds - A website review

Hello teachers...

Today I'd like to share a new (to me) educational resource website called Mentoring Minds. Although the biggest purpose of the site is to promote their Common Core Aligned ELA and Math products, as well as various other educational resources... I was drawn in by their blog posts.

 You can find their blog most easily by going to their homepage, and scrolling to the bottom of the page and on the bottom right, under About Us, you will find a link to their blog posts.

 The blog is very teacher-friendly in that it is organized so you can find what you want quickly and efficiently by using their Categories list at the top right of the blog. Each category is specific and allows teachers (who all have limited time) go directly to what they need and are interested in.

I spent some time reading their blog posts and here were my 3 biggest take-aways:

1. The posts are a reasonable length - Let's be honest, as teachers we don't always have time to sit down and read lengthy articles, blog posts, etc.
2. Although many of their posts are promoting their products, employees, etc. most posts focus on day-to-day helpful ideas and tips for any teacher.
3. There is a big focus on technology in many of their posts. If you're interested technology in your classroom you'll find lots of information on their blog under blended learning.

Finally, here are the top 3 Mentoring Minds blog posts you should check out:

1. Student Infographics - this post talks about a website that makes great (and free) infographics you can use in your classroom. I learned about the excitement infographics can create in your classroom in one of my grad classes and seeing Mentoring Minds encourage the use of infographics in the classroom was wonderful to see!

2. Keeping Up With Tech - this post offers 3 quick and easy ways you can best keep up with technology to use in the classroom. There are constantly new apps, new websites, new resources and although it is impossible to keep up with them all, these 3 tips make "keeping up" feel manageable.

3. The Age of Digital Storytelling - This post was of extra interest to me because of the grad class I am currently in. We have a project in which we will use digital storytelling, so I imagine I will be posting again about digital storytelling. This post talks about the value of using digital storytelling within the classroom.

There are MANY other posts with lots of great information on Mentoring Minds' blog. I'd also love to hear from anyone who has used their products as the company seems to be very current on the needs of classrooms in a technology-age! If this is the first time you're hearing about Mentoring Minds, go check them out!

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*All images/screenshots were taken from Mentoring Minds website*

Saturday, October 25, 2014

You Oughta Know October Blog Hop!

Welcome to my post for Mrs. McClain's blog hop...

I think you oughta know about the MANY uses of STICKY NOTES!

I love love love sticky notes and I use them in a ton of ways in my classroom! I'm going to share a few of those ways with you today...

 Whole Group Lessons:

I use sticky notes for whole group lessons a lot & students will stick one of their sticky notes to the "Sticky Note Parking Lot" at the end of the lesson.

Often I will use sticky notes during a read aloud for students to stop & jot. I will give students a certain number of sticky notes, have them number them, then stop during the read aloud, ask a question, ask students to make a prediction, ask a question, etc. and they will stop and jot it on their sticky note.

At the end of the lesson I will ask students to park a certain numbered sticky note or their "best" sticky note. I can easily use these to gauge which students are on, approaching or not on the target. I use the organizer above to easily sort out which students have mastered the objective, standard, etc.
I keep these organizers in a binder. Simple sticky notes can be a great (and easy way) to assess students' learning. You can grab a copy of these organizers by clicking the photo above.

Small Group:

I also use stickies a ton in reading groups/book clubs. The kiddos love to write on sticky notes so what better way to get them to write about their reading than writing questions on sticky notes an sticking them inside their books. When the students get to the sticky note, they stop and answer the question.

In order to ensure quality answers, we use the above T.A.P. bookmarks to rate our answers. Students can receive a point for turning the question around, a point for answering the question perfectly and 1-2 points for proving their answer using details from the text. You can grab these book marks by clicking the picture above.

Individual Conferences/Goals:

My students also use sticky notes when they are working on individual reading goals from our C.A.F.E. board. Many of the strategies they are working on lend themselves to writing their thoughts while reading on a sticky note. I.e. Ask questions, make predictions, summarize a chapter. The kiddos love that they have some ownership over these stickies and it isn't just stopping and writing when I decide they should. The stickies are nice too because they serve as natural book marks, so when I individually conference with my students, they know right where to go in their book to prove that they are working on their goal.

I even carry around a little bin of "supplies" to my individual conferences so kiddos can restock on stickies and so I can create "model" stickies for kiddos who need them.

There are SO many uses for stickies including tons beyond what I'm sharing here. How do you use stickies?

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Five for Friday: Journals & Charts & Freebie!

I'm linking up with Doodlebugs for Journals & Anchor Charts & a Freebie, oh my!

Our grade level started using interactive math notebooks this year. I recently found THIS amazing resource from Blair Turner and it was worth EVERY penny! I really mean it too, because I'm not one to spend a ton of money on TPT products, I'll try to figure out a way I can make it/do it myself or ways I can make it fit my teaching style better, etc. But this is second grade math interactive journal perfection!

The kiddos LOVE adding to their journal. We do a version of Math Centers/Math Workshop and they LOVE when I tell them the teacher rotation will be their math journals.

I hope this will eventually be an independent rotation but for now they need my support so I use it as an opportunity to expand on/reteach my mini lesson while they cut & glue.

Our grade level has also started using (at the reccomendation of one of the 3rd grade teachers) interactive reader's notebooks. I bought THIS amazing resource from Nicole Shelby  to help with that.

I've been using it in small pieces about 2-3 times a week. So sometimes it takes a full week to complete an entry, but I'm finding it's working well because it isn't taking away from any of my "normal" lessons.

I also am using parts during reading group - i.e. summary entry was made after completing a book in a reading group so we could talk about that story in relation to what we learned about summaries.

One of my girlies says: so can I look at this page when I'm reading to make sure I'm thinking about what's important? I could of hugged her! YES YES YES, that's what these journals are for!!!!!

The toughest thing with the interactive notebooks is all the cutting... so I've started to really put the paper cutter to use when I prep for an interactive journal day!

I was inspired by Nicole Shelby's interactive notebooks and used her "What stuck with you?" bubblegum theme for author's message. My kiddos were even impressed with my artistic anchor chart... it made my day that they noticed my hard work :)

On the anchor chart note, I'm loving our addition and subtraction strategy anchor charts this year! Last year we included "count on fingers," "use manipulatives," etc. but this year my kiddos are more proficient with their math facts so we have included more "complicated" strategies! Our subtraction one isn't quite finished yet!

Finally, the promised freebie! Although this is not an "anchor chart" per say, it is certainly a chart that is a huge part of our daily routine. Each day we complete this "number of the day" chart for the number of days we've been in school. It has really helped my kiddos with their number sense, especially when it comes to 10 more/10 less! I have the cards printed and laminated then taped to one of the giant post it note chart papers so I can move it to the easel during morning meeting and stick it up behind the easel during the rest of the day. This would also work really well to gear kiddos up right before math! I hope you can find it useful in your room.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Whole Brain Wednesday:

Welcome to another Whole Brain Wednesday!
Today I'll be sharing another quick and easy strategy. It's one I use daily and one that I can't believe I haven't shared yet...

The 10 Finger Wooh!

When kiddos do something great in a whole class setting such as: a very thoughtful answer, putting forth extra effort, being a helpful classmate, etc.... in a WBT classroom, they get a 10 finger wooh. The teacher says "Give _____ a 10 finger woooh! & everyone wiggles their fingers at the student and say "Woooooh!"

Even better... if a student deserves more than a 10 finger wooh, they can get an 11, 12, 13 or even 14 finger wooh!
The teacher will say: "Give ____ a 12 finger wooh!" and the class will respond: "Woooooh" wiggling all their fingers at the person, then "Woooh" wiggling 1 finger, "Woooh" wiggling 1 finger.

You can put some variations on it too... like when we were skip counting, I'd ask kiddos to give a 15 finger wooh counting by 5's or a 10 finger wooh counting by 2's. This is SUCH an easy strategy and can SO easily be implemented in your classroom!!!

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