Monday, March 28, 2011

Thank you Debbie Diller...

After attending the Debbie Diller Literacy Workstations conferences this summer in Houston, it changed my entire concept on workstations. Before attending the conference I had many questions: how does she manage all of those workstations, how do the kids stay focused spread out throughout the room, is the teacher really able to work in small groups during this time, are the kids actually independently working, and how is she not pulling her hair out. Well as usual Debbie didn't fail me. Now before I show you pictures of some of my workstations I must say a lot of these pictures are from the start of the year... so as you know, as my students have grown... so have the workstations. Also, I have a problem with getting the itch to rearrange my room mid year... so workstations have definitely migrated to different areas in the room!

Anyways, here is the rotation chart I bought from the conference. Dear lord this thing is bananas. I mean it really is the heart to my workstation rotations. I just move the cards down each day. I went over with my students that they may or may not see each workstation throughout the week depending on small groups and various other things that may happen... however IT IS OKAY! It was important for me to learn this as well. This also meant I needed to be sure the materials in each workstations were meaningful throughout the entire year. This has saved me from making copies and laminating new activities! I heart it. Big... no, Huge! Which of course cuts down on having to organize lots of papers and materials. :)

* I would also like to add that I introduce these workstations over WEEKS of time, slowly and carefully until EVERY student is able to independently work at each workstation. Also, I group my partners by students who can help each other (My small groups are based on ability).
*Click the picture to see the product at really good stuff, I promise it's worth the money! 
(The left side is for our literature workstation, the right is for math)

My biggest tip on organization and keeping my workstations in order: hold your students responsible! My students know that they are responsible for making sure everything is placed correctly back to the way it was before. If not, they would not have the privilege to continue onto the next workstation. It only takes one time to sit out for them not to do follow the clean up procedures correctly! 

My big book workstation. The books are stored on the shelves that are located inside the back of the big book stand. There is a large variety of books and the I can list gives students a list of things that can choose to do at this workstation. I keep pointers behind their as well for the students to use as they need. Beside the stand is also a stack of reader response sheets that the students may fill out. 

One workstations that constantly grows and changes throughout the year is the pocket chart workstation. It started with creating sentences with our favorite candy and sorting the student names. Later I added different grammar practice games (contraction match-ups, completing sentences with punctuation, etc) I also added silly sentences... which the students always enjoy doing. There is such a variety of practice skills the students can choose to work on here, so it really keeps the students engaged and learning!

Here is our Listening workstation. Students can choose from a variety of stories and complete listening response sheets.

The writing workstation has tons of activities for students to complete! I really wanted this workstation to be time to practice creatively writing! 
I added my Journaling sticks and writings webs/ writing paper to this workstation. It is amazing to see the writing that takes place here. No matter what my students ability level is, I have seen such great leaps happening from just practice, practice, practice! There are examples for the students to use but I mainly focus on my children using a topic sentence, details, and a closing sentence. Then they need to make sure it makes sense! The kiddos LOVE to choose their own topics and be creative!

 (You can find out more about my journaling stick in this post or my TPT)

At the computer workstation students usually go to a lesson on Education City. 

My Poetry Workstations: Students can copy the weekly poem displayed or choose a poem from the poetry binders, they can illustrate, highlight rhyming words, read poetry, practice reading for fluency. My students copy their work into their poetry journals which sit in a bin beside the workstation.  

Not pictured are the:
 *Library Workstation- Students may choose books from the classroom library to read to self, buddy read, take a picture walk, or complete a readers response sheet.
*ABC/ Word Study workstation- students may complete activities using the word wall (some of which are the clip board activities from babbling abby), create spelling words with magnets, colored pens, glitter letters, or rainbow write. They may also complete a scrabble spelling activity which I discussed in a previous blog here

All of the sheets that my students may need during any of the workstations are organize in this filing system

My students know if they do not have any extra copies at their workstation, that they may simply help themselves to the extra copies located here! This has really saved me from interrupting my small group time! It also helps that I wear a flower head band to remind students that when I am in my small group they need to ask their partner for help first and try to figure out how to solve their problem before coming to me (and it needs to be an EMERGENCY!)

Hope this clarified somewhat what takes place during our workstations, I feel like I rambled on... but seriously I could have gone on for days!

Also, I created these literacy workstation task cards which are a HUGE help to my students! You can learn more about them in this post or this post, or check them out at my TPT

I love lookomg at all of your organization tools! Thanks Mrs. Patton for the great idea/ linky party!

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Happy Birthday Ffi!

So it was my BFF's birthday today, Ms. Thomas from The First Grade Jungle. Yay. 
It is truly the best thing to open my sliding door and see her face each day! It is such a blessing having someone who has the same views on teaching! Not to mention I feel like I have constant fun with her, I am always laughing throughout the day! Seriously thought, who else would prance around the room and do a high kick with me in the morning when were excited about something? Yeah, we do that. We have also shown up wearing the same outfit as well, thats when you know you're too close! ha
So Happy Birthday Ffion! Hope it was the Best day!

The cupcakes I got for her that were gluten free :)
Here we are after I took my class into her room and we all sang her happy birthday, complete with the "how old are you?... and may the good lord bless you, achoo" that my students added to the end of the birthday song which I never had heard, but I love.

Now on to some school stuff...
Below are a few pictures from the Babbling Abby Popcorn Adjectives Activity
I took my students into Ms. Thomas' room so they could watch her pop the popcorn with the air popper. (This thing is our new friend on Fridays for our Funday Friday activity. Funday Friday is a reward for those students who have had great behavior all week. We usually do something small at the end of the day on Friday for those students. So now with the air popper... Hello popcorn and a movie!)
 The students watched the popcorn popping on the Elmo!
And finally, here is one of my sweeties with her new Biscuit books. Seriously, these books have been an AHH HAA moment for some of my students! Finally reading clicked. After seeing Ffion use the Biscuit phonics books with her struggling readers I went and purchased them to try out as well. Bingo. My low readers finally gained confidence and found a love for this dog. I emailed the author to tell her my students love for her books, and she graciously sent us SIX books! So dang sweet of her. My angel was so pumped to get some new books to read during her read to self! What a great teacher moment!

AND...I know I have not posted much on teacher stuff lately, I feel swamped with school and our spring break is still too far away! Ugh. But I promise I will get back to posting ideas very soon!
Happy Friday tomorrow! 
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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Classroom Happenings...

Here's a few things happening in my room....

Here is an anchor chart I made to help my kiddos remember Plot. This is the first time it has been introduced but they have really gotten a good grasp on definition of the word due to the poster and the roller-coaster hand motion I make them do! 

I then created this graphic organizer. Since we were reading Dr. Seuss books last week I had the students give me the plot the "Green Eggs and Ham". 

In Math we have begun our unit on Money. One word- wow. I mean for students who love money... I thought they would at least have some background knowledge on the coins? Not so much. 
So after much discussion on the coins last week, this week I incorporated some money counting activities. One idea I found from ChalkTalk used the book "Jelly Beans For Sale" By Bruce McMillan. 
We read this book together in class and then I had students complete the recording sheet below. First the students drew 10 jelly beans in their left hand. Then they were giving coin printables, and were asked to create 10 cents in any way they wanted using their coins, color the coins the appropriate color, and glue them on their left hand. 

Also, here is the Cat in the Hat goes to a Mardi Gras Parade Writing activity I promised I would post yesterday. The kids came up with cute ideas... I guess they know how to cause a lil' chaos?

I am SO ready to start on all of my fun St. Patrick's day activities next week... here is the poem I introduced so far. More to come next week. 

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I cried, I laughed, it was better than Cats...

The Cat in the Hat that is.

With the combination of Dr. Seuss' Birthday and Mardi Gras shutting down the city, I am tuckered out. Here is a little update of some of the activities from last we did to celebrate the two holidays!

Here is my Teacher bestie and I, in our Thing 1 and Thing 2 outfits... would you expect anything else?

For one activity I read to the class, "Happy Birthday to You" By Dr. Seuss. 

The students and I discussed why it is important to be ourselves and how special we are because of our differences. We then created self portraits, which was inspired by Leslie Ann, she always has adorable ideas!
Afterwards, the students completed the following writing prompt: "I am I because____________." The students filled in the blank with traits they thought made them special and unlike any one else!

Sadly, I forgot to take pictures of the activity "If the Cat in the Hat went to a Mardi Gras parade he would..." that Ms. Thomas created for our team. We read the Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss and discussed how mischievous that Cat was. The students came up with great ideas of how he would cause a little chaos at a Mardi Gras Parade. 
(I will post those pictures tomorrow. )

Every year my school puts on a Mardi Gras Parade the day before the Mardi Gras Break. 1st through 5th grade line the hallways as the Pre-K and Kindergarden class parade their mini shoe box Mardi Gras floats down the halls and throw beans and candy. It's intense, I cannot lie... but the students LOVE it. 

Here are my students waiting on the hallway for the parade to begin!

Below is a picture of the parade going on.... 

and here are my students with big smiles and beads at the end of the day... and then I gladly welcomed my 2 day break! :)

I hope you got to enjoy Mardi Gras wherever you may be!
Like we say in the South, Le Bon Temps Roule or Let the Good Times Roll!
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Scrabble Spelling

In an attempt to make spelling practice more fun, I created this quick Scrabble Spelling Activity (which went with our Spelling words from 2 weeks ago).
I purchased the Scrabble letters from Scrappin' Doodles. Afterwards, I resized the tiles in order to fit these little plastic cups (you know the kind they usually give you your take-out condiments in). Then printed the letters on card stock and laminated.
I labeled the cubs 1-10. Therefore, if the student picked up the cup #2 they empty their cup and try to unscramble the letters to make a spelling word. Then, the student would write the spelling word on the #2 line. Simple activity and the students loved it. I attached the Scrabble letters I used and the recording sheet at the bottom! 

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