Thursday, March 28, 2013

Writing Anchor Charts

Despite the foot of snow on the ground that is beginning to melt I have really been enjoying my Spring break! This is the first time in the in my entire teaching career that I've had a week off in the Spring...although it doesn't seem very Spring like.

I've also taken a bit of a break from the blog world but am anxious to begin checking out all of the exciting things that everyone has been up to in their classrooms! So many great and inspiring ideas out there!

In the meantime I was getting some plans together for my kiddos next week and began to reflect on what has been helping them with their writing lately.

This class LOVES to write.

Loves it!

However, they are not the most advanced writers that I've had. This is just fine with me and we are moving along quite nicely.  They do however benefit from some little helpers on a daily basis....

So in comes our writing anchor charts! I know there are some great ones out there on Pinterest.  I'm probably going to be on the hunt for some new ones soon myself!  For today I just wanted to share the ones that have been a huge help to my writers this year.

We review our "What good writers do" chart before our writing workshop time each day.  With some classes this may not be necessary, but my kids really need it.  We also use this when editing our morning message or reviewing student writing pieces together in a large group.  

We've recently just  begun using our "What are you working on ?" anchor chart.  When I used this with my class last year we met before writing time and I put a name clip for each child on the section they were working on.  This class is not as far along, however they are doing great with discussing with their shoulder partner what part of the writing process they will be working on that day.  As I walk around the room during writing time and meet with kids I'm observing that they are really sticking to their writing plans and goals for the day! Such an exciting thing to see. =)

I've shared this chart before but it continues to be a HUGE help with reminding my kids about spacing. Again, we use this frequently when editing morning messages and student samples.  

Now that I've shared my current writing anchor charts I can't wait to explore the blog world and Pinterest and see what else is out there! If you have something great that is working for you please let me know! 
                                                                                       Mrs. M

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Goldfish Unit...Math Stations

Several weeks ago my kiddos became very interested in this book...
I recently posted about the many literacy center activities / daily five choices that my team mates and I planned for our classes. You can check that out here if you would like to take a peek. This posts also shows what the kids were up to in our science center.
In the picture of our fish Gordon above you can see his bowl needs to be cleaned. (Not my favorite job. )
Anywho...the kids decided that he was having a foggy day in his bowl even though it was a sunny day outside. This sparked a whole conversation on weather, which then led to several to write about the weather and foggy days.  I just love how these things work out! 
Today I wanted to share some of the math stations that Mrs. B, Mrs. T and I put together for this story. 

My kids LOVE the little fish from Oriental Trading! They've used them in various ways (adding, sorting, etc.) but the station above seemed to be the most popular.

For my kids that need some remediation with number writing they worked on this variation of the first station.

Addition fish bowls!!

We also have subtraction fish bowls. =) 
For the superstars in my room I also had them write story problems on dry erase boards to go with their fishie addition or subtraction equation.  This was HARD for them but they did great!!
Our fish unit extended into many of our traditional centers as well. 
For instance in our block area....
The kids planned their fish bowl / tank structures together before building them. Once their masterpieces were created they recorded them in our block book. =)

 Here are a few of the gems from the art centers in our three classrooms...

Glitter makes everything beautiful!!

Finally, here is a mural that my class last year completed with my wonderful student teacher Ms. W!   I have it hanging up for the kids this year and they are dying to make one of their own. We are working to earn points to make our own mural this year. =)
So now that our unit is complete we are starting to show some interests in other topics. I can't wait to see what our next adventure will be. Stay tuned...
                                                                                                                Mrs. M

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Memoirs of a Goldfish.....Literacy Activities

I love this book! When I first heard of this book last Spring I couldn't wait to get a copy of my own. =) Recently I worked with Mrs. T and Mrs. B down the hall to develop some activities centered around this very cute story.  Today I'm just posting our literacy activities. We came up with so many activities that could be connected to goldfish that I'm going to split it into two posts.  I hope you find something here that could work in your room too. We had a lot of fun with this one!

Literacy  Choices / Center Activities:
     * Listening Station... Our principal read the story aloud and put it on a CD for the kids to listen to during our Daily 5 time. They LOVED this!!!! The room was so quiet when they could hear his voice...I may have to have him read some more books on CD for this purpose! =)  We then had the kids draw what happened first, next and last in the story. 

     *  Pocket Chart.....we took sentences from the story and the kiddos had to put them in the correct sequence using the book as a reference.  Without using pictures on the sentence strip this was a challenge for some students but they did GREAT with it!

*   Names and Post Office...

For this activity the kids simply matched a first name fish to a last name fish bowl.  They used our post office name book as a reference for finding the correct last names for each of their friends. 

After name matching each student could pick a friend to write to to tell them which CHARACTER from the book was their favorite and WHY. 

Our class seemed to love CHA-CHA!!!

     *  Working with words....

      *  Pointers for our reading center ...

The Science Center...

Here's our little buddy Gordon. We did vote on his name and Gary didn't win.
Too bad...I liked Gary.

While working in the science center the kids were asked to either write an observation of Gordon or a story about him.

Later we will turn these into a class book.

     *  Writing Work Shop ....
          Together  we wrote how to take care of a goldfish. During our writing workshop time many of the kiddos began their own "how to " stories about taking care of pets.

Soon I'll be posting some of our  goldfish math station activities and what we've been up to in our art and block areas.  I love creating centers around such a great book! So many possibilities!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Word Books Vs. Word Walls

Our Writing Center with our new word books
I'm trying something new this year. I've always been a HUGE fan of word walls. Huge fan....
However, for some reason this year the visual clutter in my room was driving me crazy. I even had made my thematic word wall lists color coordinated to avoid this problem. 
Also, for the first time in a LONG time I have a class that doesn't seem to want to use the word wall as a resource. I've always had a popcorn word wall and a thematic word wall.   Even though we referred to these quite frequently during whole group and small group lessons, they just didn't seem to remember to use them on their own during individual writing times.
Soooo....I decided to try something new and create thematic word books to keep in our writing center.  I simply took all of the word lists that we had on our thematic word wall and condensed them onto one page to keep in a word book. The word books are housed in our writing center. 
Here's just a few examples of our thematic books. 
So after I put the words in the front of the word book the children are free to add their own thematic writing to the book.  This is really encouraging the children to write about topics that we haven't discussed for a while.  I love that they can revisit these topics and write about them in more details than what they were able to do last fall. 
Another plus of using the books instead of a word wall.....they are PORTABLE! The kiddos not only love using them in the writing center but can also take them to their individual writing spots during writing workshop time.  So far we haven't had issues with multiple kids wanting the same thematic book at one time. They've also been very good about returning the books to the proper shelf once they are finished with them! :) 
When we first began using the books I still found it important to introduce new word lists to the class in a larger format. So we are using a word wall list just for our NEWEST words.  Once the children are familiar with them I'm then transferring them into a word book.  Below you can see our current fish word list that is housed in our reading center with some of our most recent popcorn words.
Here's a peek at the inside of some of our books and the writing that the kids have begun to add to them.

But what about the popcorn word wall?
Well since our thematic word books were such a big hit I decided to make a popcorn word book.  They LOVE using this as a resource! I find them using the book much more frequently then when we just had the wall. I am keeping some of the popcorn words on a chart in the reading center for quick reference....just not all of them.   In the future I plan to make several popcorn word books....they are a such a hit I need several for the whole class. 

So far I am loving this new system for a writing resource for my kids. An added bonus is open wall space for displaying their writing and art.  Have a great week!
                                                                                              Mrs. M

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