Friday, 26 June 2015

Dare to Dream

Well friends it has finally come - I am officially on summer vacation!! I feel like my brain has already shut down and slipped into vacation mode. This week was an extremely long week with my daughter's graduation, my school's graduation, end of the year slideshow, trying to clean and organize my classroom etc.

I saw this on Erica Boher's Instagram and it about sums up the state of my house right now:

So before my brain completely shuts down I thought I would complete the second week's challenge for the TPT Sellers Challenge with Third in Hollywood and friends.

So they are pretty self-explanatory but here is a bit more detail just in case : )
1. We have not had tons of family vacations. My husband has not had much, if any, vacation time in the summer and we have not always had the money to do anything big with our kids. I would like to make and save enough money so that we could do a few big vacations before our kids our too old and too cool to be seen with us.
2. My daughter is off to high school in the fall - which means just 4 short years till university - I would love to be able to put more money away for this.
3. I really do LOVE the idea of something I created being used and enjoyed in other classrooms. I love being able to share with other teachers. I LOVE learning from other teachers. I know that people say that blog reading is declining - but it is still my favourite way to learn about other classrooms and share what is happening in mine. I hope to that people continue to blog and that people continue to read my blog or see my ideas on Pinterest and come and check them out.
So those are my dreams. My other dream is of course to lose weight without trying and with eating fries, cheesecake and bread....I think it may happen soon!!
Have a great weekend - I can't wait till Sunday night (to watch True Detective!) and to be able to go to bed knowing that the next day is mine, all mine!!

Friday, 19 June 2015

Poetry Posters - Makeover Madness

So I am participating in the TPT Seller Challenge and this week's challenge is a product makeover. I have to admit Makeover Madness did not hit me this week as I am in the middle of End of the Year Madness and Daughter's Graduation Madness. But I did have a product that I wanted to revise based on some feedback from a customer so I took some time this week and revised my Poetry Posters to include black and white versions of the posters.

These posters are my best selling item and I still like the font and I love the frames and papers (I do not get tired of Megan's products, I am a bit obsessed) but I do understand that not everyone wants to print them in color so the pack now includes a black and white version of each poster. I think they look great when printed on bright paper or even just black and white on a bright background. I think the black and white version would also make it easier to print them a few to a page and use them as notes for interactive notebooks.

Check them out - they are on sale till Sunday. Hope you have a great weekend!!

Monday, 15 June 2015

Exit Board - Made It, Tried It, Love It (Freebie)

I am so happy to be linking up with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics (before I am even done school!!!) for her linky.....

and (finally!!) with my friend Holly at the Fourth Grade Flipper for her linky......

You would think that moving to a new grade for the first time in 15 years of teaching would have provided me with a lot more made its and tried its....and honestly I did make and  try a lot of new things this year...they just did not make it from classroom to camera to blog : )

So today's  made it/tried it is not something totally new for me, it is more of teaching strategy that I have used and kinda stopped using in the move to a new grade. It seems that in moving grades I ended up stopping doing things I knew worked, tried to figure out how to use them in this grade and then started doing them again!! The exit board is one of these things.

When teaching Grade 3/4 I was able to write down a short list of exit instructions for my students - a few quick reminders about success criteria, expectations and routines so that I did not have to answer the same questions over and over during a work period. But writing down a short list of reminders did not work so well in Grade some students were still learning to read. I sort of stopped using an exit board and used the oh so pleasant strategy of repeating the same directions over and over and answering the same questions over and over....ugh!!

So it was time to make a few changes and bring back the exit board. I loved how my teaching partner ran her exit board and stole some of her ideas and added my own style.

So here is what I am trying (with success I might add!).

I am still using headings....

But now I am also giving students visuals of the tools they need (this is the part that I stole from my teaching partner). I am using the actual tools that they use. I just hot glued some magnets to the back of the tool and bippity boppity boo - a great visual reference is achieved.

I use a magnetic clip to show them the duotang or book their work goes in (cause they still ask which book during your math book....the blue one we have used all year!!).

I do use some word prompts, but we spent time going over them and what they mean in our classroom and they are very short so they are working out really well.

 I printed my headers and prompts on magnetic sheets (which everyone knows I love). I love the clean look of the magnetic sheets. You could print, laminate and attach a magnet to the headers and prompts though. When I print on magnetic sheets and then cut them they do curl up a bit - I just hold the magnetic piece down with....more magnets until I achieve a nice flat item and it is good to go.

If you are interested in trying an exit board with the headers and prompts I made (sorry you will need to make your own tools!!) you can pick up a free copy here.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

What's On My Bookshelf - Mapping Books and a Great Resource

Happy Sunday. Congratulations to all of you who have made it to your summer vacation, I still have 15 teaching days to go!!

We have been having all kinds of fun with our ABC countdown to summer....Frisbee day, joke day, Koo Koo Kangaroo day. This Tuesday will be our M day....for Math Games and Mapping. Which is a perfect way to review math concepts and wrap up our unit on mapping and our local community.

Here are a few of the books we have been using for our mapping unit....


In addition to these great books I have been using a fabulous resource that me and my kiddos are loving!! It is this Local Community and Community Helpers resource from Tina's Teaching Treasures.

Here are some of the things we have been working on with this unit...

On the first day we used the question prompts to brainstorm about our local community. Notice the "strong and stable structures" idea that was added....perhaps we just finished our unit on structures : )

Then we looked at the needs in our community and which features help us meet our needs. It was great to focus on not just the buildings we find in our community but the "why" - why do communities have these features, what is their purpose.

Then we used some of the "What If" prompts to think about how our community would change if some of the features were removed. This really made the students think about cause and effect and chain reactions. They had to work independently on the prompt "What if there were no road". Their pictures and ideas were great.

We are using the map feature labels and definitions to label a class map.

.....and the best part - we are building a class map. On one of our large class tables we are building a map. I added green paper to the table and they made water features, roads and a railway line. I made the community feature cubes included in this unit (building on one side - symbol on the other).

After seeing what features we already had each student made another feature to add to our map. We gathered around the map to talk about where they should add their feature and why (why should it be near other features etc.)

This is my is hard to see but it is a "place to get your hair done" Those are blue scissors above the window.

Here is a shot of the symbols.
This is the far end of the table. They added a barn and pond in one corner. The other one is a vet clinic. They knew that these features should be far away from the downtown area. The vet clinic has a lot of land and a pond for the animals to go outside and heal!!

My students love this group map. They are constantly making additional features for the map when they finish their work. This is a close up of a parking lot that has been added. We also have bridges and street labels now.

This is one of the BEST purchases I have made on TPT and if you need to teach about local communities, community helpers or mapping I highly recommend this unit. It is so easy to use, with clear lesson plans and tons of extras (like anchor chart headings and guiding questions!!) that made my unit easy to plan and totally engaging for my students.

Even though it may be summer vacation for a lot of you, I would love to know....

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Persuasive Writing in Grade 1, Part 1 - What's on My Bookshelf

Woohoo, it's here, it's finally here. A new apple watch for Summer It's our persuasive writing unit. Yes, I really am excited about this, persuasive texts and writing is my favourite unit.

We are just getting started but let's go ahead and take a look at....


 Seriously, this book is so stinking cute and there is sooo much you can do with it. On our first read through I stopped before the last animal was revealed, when we just see the shadowy outline of the animal and see Gilbert's reaction. I had my students use the picture clues and what they knew to infer what animal would be revealed next and what would happen between Gilbert and the new pet.

So, of course many of my students thought it would be a cat, but ***SPOILER ALERT*** it is a catfish and they become friends!! My students loved the reveal of the ending of this story!

We did a retell of the story - just to reinforce the skill : )

Then we moved into the beginning stages of persuasive writing. Now it may seem silly to be using this book as part of a persuasive writing unit, since Gilbert doesn't actually do any persuading, but I have found that in Grade 1 you need to take things down to the basics and help build up their understanding of the concept. In Grade 1 you can not assume that they understand a concept or have the same background knowledge. So we start at the beginning - identifying what we want!! This is a simple concept that the students of course have lots of experience with and can make connections to....we will move on to the ways to get what we want...but not quite yet!

I had my students identify what Gilbert wanted and why, something that they want and why and a pet that they would want and why it would be a good pet for them (see - still not at actually persuading - just what we want and why!!).

You can pick up a free copy of the activities we used by clicking the picture.

We started an anchor chart that we are adding to as we learn....

In this book Jake asks his mom for a pet and she agrees immediately (which seems like a crazy thing to do...only she knows what she is about). The trick of course is that some of his ideas are not too practical which his mom calmly points out time and again. We use this book as a springboard for discussing the importance of making sure our want is specific and "do"able. We highlight examining different options and looking at characteristics that make something a good fit. 
 So we wrote about a pet that would be a good fit and one that would not be a good fit. Our focus - giving reasons why. Click here to pick up a copy.
Add caption
Yes, you guessed it....our persuasive writing unit is focussing on pets! This book (still!!) does not contain persuasive elements. What it does contain is short (like 2 words short) descriptions of the different types of dogs. We used this book to practice the skill of picking a specific type of dog and generating reasons why it would be a good dog for us. Click here to pick up a copy of the activity.

So that's it so far, the beginning steps of our persuasive writing unit. It may not seem like much yet but we are building the blocks, honestly!! I will be back with the books and activities in the next part of our unit : )

As always, I would love to know....

Friday, 22 May 2015

Fractions & Powtoon: Five for Friday

We started our ABC Countdown (although we are calling it a celebration to try and keep anxiety low and our own glee hidden). We are two days in - so only 24 to go!! To share a few things from our week  I am linking up for Five for Friday with Doodle Bugs Teaching.

I finally got around to using Powtoon with my Grade 1 class. I love this program and used it with my students last year in Grade 3/4 and taught my own daughters to use it to create presentations for their assignments. This is the Powtoon I made to introduce fourths to my students.



Here is the work my students did with the cookie question.
First we talked about what we knew about half and fractions. Then I gave them the word fourths and we brainstormed what it might mean. We watched the Powtoon - I could not get the voice recording to work so I read it in my best announcer voice.
We had some good discussion about what we knew from the picture - that there were 12 cookies, if we split them in half there would be 6 and 6. Some students thought it would be a good idea to cut each cookie in 4 pieces. We talked about how messy and crumbly and not exact that could be.
But of course some of my students could not move past the idea of cutting the cookies in four equal pieces. So after sharing our thinking - the two ways of solving the problem - I took 12 paper cookies and cut them in fourths. Then we shared all the pieces on four plates. Each person got 12 cookie pieces - which could be put together to make 3 cookies!! Lightbulb moment : )

We started our ABC celebration (as I mentioned above!). On Thursday we brought in an animal stuffy. What I love about the ABC celebration is that you can do so much learning around the theme and the kids are totally engaged!! Here we are measuring and comparing our animals - mine is the dragon - I may have known the learning we would be doing and ensured I would win - but the snake was a close call : )

I found a great book for next year for launching reading workshop Hank Finds an Egg by Rebecca Dudley. I have it in my class right now - as a great review of what good readers do when they are reading - make predictions, infer, ask questions, use picture clues etc.
I am not always a huge fan of wordless picture books but this one has a lot of details in the photographs so it is easy for students to tell the story and make predictions. This book makes the story clear and perfect for a read aloud.

Lastly we finished our letters to our favorite local community restaurants - I can't wait to get them in the mall in the hopes that they decide to send us some free food or coupons or something!!

Be sure to check back in this weekend to find out how we are using the book Gilbert Goldfish Wants a Pet to kick off our persuasive writing unit.