Monday, April 22, 2013

Be a Fly on My Wall

I am linking up with Jodi from Fun-In-First to offer you a look at a day in my classroom. As you know days vary and my schedule has some flexibility in it. This particular day we did not do centers ~ although we often do.

Top left is Rockin' Roll and Read made by Dana of Polka Dots Checks & Stripes, top right is a Silent E Bunting Game by Melissa of Fashion Craze Learning Days,  and bottom is a Kung Fu Four by Mary of Pitner's Potourri. All three are excellent games for struggling readers.

We start our day at 8:55 with a quick extra jolt of reading. At the start of the third quarter I became concerned that a few of my students were still struggling readers. They now enjoy a 15-20 minute extra small group reading lesson each day as soon as they walk in the door. We begin each lesson with a short round of  word game (shown above.) Followed by passage reading. While this group is meeting with me my other students are reading about the room in pairs working on developing fluency and expression.

On this day we played Rockin' Roll and Read.

We then work on reading fluency using Sight Word Fluency Passages for Reading Intervention created by Christine of Sugar and Spice. These passages have proven to be worth their weight in gold. Everyone of my students in this group has made great gains in reading :)

While I am reading with this group my other students are pair reading poems, plays and passages from April Fluency Passages created by Amy of The Resource(ful) Room. My children really enjoy them and love presenting them to the class. See video below.
After 15-20 minutes we all meet together for morning meeting. One of the reasons we did not get to centers today was that our morning meeting ran late due to 3 reasons ~ 2 good and 1 major goof up by me :( As the children gathered in our meeting spot there was quite a commotion (unusual for this group.) When I asked what was going on they said one of the boys said the "f" word, other students were quick to confirm this and the student himself said he did it. So without thinking I started on my we don't say those kind of words in school and sent him to the behavior chart to move his name. Big mistake on my part. I know better. Well he returned crying and I finally came to my senses and decided perhaps I should ask why he would say such a word at school. He was so distraught he couldn't speak so I asked if any of the other children knew why he said it. One boy spoke up and said he was trying to read a word on the map. I asked him to bring me the map ~ turns out this little guy with some speech issues was trying to say Africa, not quite sure how it ended up sounding like the "f" word, but I do believe this is what happened. So now I had to change gears. Apologize to the poor little guy and explain to my students that saying a naughty word is not really bad if it was truly an accident. I felt sooooooo bad.

Here's my Collection of Elmer books. Really amazing books written by David McKee. If you don't have them check them out. You won't be sorry.

After I tried to repair the damage I did to my poor little guy we moved onto lunch count and story time. We are working on fractions in math and I always try to ask a math question that has something to do with our lunch count before moving on. Today's first question was, "What is half of 12?" Well I called on one of my little ones who's hand was up, but I really wasn't sure she knew. She promptly answered, "6 is half of 12 because 6 plus 6 is 12." Well gotta love that Whole Brain Teaching, not only did she get the correct answer, she said it in a sentence and added the because clapper! I was doing the teacher happy dance there so I decided to up the anty and asked, "If I have have 4 friends and 12 candy bars how many candy bars will each friend get if I share them equally?" I was really surprised when one of my little guy's hand quickly shot up and he answered, " 3 because 3 plus 3 is 6 and there are 2 sixes in 12." Wow I am sure I could not have come up with that in first grade! Okay happy moments here:)
Next up my absolute favorite part of the day... story time. This year my students could listen to stories for hours. They love making predictions and connections. They really love when characters appear in multiple books. Today we read the last Elmer story I have. Then we sat and talked about all we've enjoyed while reading Elmer books. Last week when we started the Elmer books we did a mini nonfiction unit on elephants by Megan of Mrs. Mitchell's First Grade.

I tried to insert a video of two of my students reading one of Amy's poems, but I just couldn't get it to work. Sorry. The students loved watching themselves on video.

Next up morning work. I use Jodi's monthly packs because they offer a fluency component on one side and reinforce common core ELA and math on the other side AND they are already differentiated. Who could ask for more. At first it took my students a long time to complete these papers. Now they fly through them. This is the time I attend to student folders.

Last thing before specials and lunch ~ anthology time. I teach the strategies and skills as outlined by the program. We enjoy the stories, but I often add here and put my own twist on things. This weeks' stories had to do with insects.
At 10:45 my students leave for specials, they have a different one each day. At 11:30 I pick them up and drop them off for lunch. It makes for a short morning and a very long afternoon.

Now its noon and we begin math. Yesterday we made fraction pizzas that I have seen on several blogs. We started by reviewing our pizzas then we used this great fraction matching game by Michelle of Our Sweet Success, very cute and free!

The bulk of our math lesson was completing a fraction activity with kites created by Jennifer of Cuddle Bugs Teaching.
Next up - Guided Reading. I have 3 groups. My top 2 groups are working on this amazing pack called Find Us Forever Homes created by Tracy of Creekside Teacher Tales. I meet first with my high flyers, set the stage and send them off to work independently. At the end of the period I meet with them again to check on their progress. My middle group does the packet with me and sometimes in pairs after a strong introduction. I meet with my struggling readers for a second time each day now. This is when they read books. Today we were reading the little book that goes with our anthology.

A high flyer completing the activities for the dog Lucy.

The middle group working together on the dog Jack.

My third group reading their books.
While I am meeting with these three groups I offer the students a variety of activities to complete. On this day they were working on their Elmer stories. I find I get some of their best writing after they have heard several stories about one character, and I ask them to write their own adventure for this character. Elmer has sparked the most writing I have ever gotten!

Some of that beautiful Elmer writing.

We are also working on a collage to display with our stories.

After guided reading we go outside for a 10 to 15 minute recess.

This is normally followed by our RTII groups. All first graders are grouped based on DIBELS scores and sent to appropriate teachers in small groups for interventions. I teach a group of 12 tier two children using My Sidewalks On Reading Street.

But..since our poor upper grade children were state testing for two weeks we did not do RTII during this time. Instead I took what I was already doing at the end of the day Jodi's Spring Fluency Pack and expanded upon her weekly themes.

On this day we spent time learning about ladybugs. The paper on the left is from Jodi's pack, there is a nice ladybug poem on the other side with some questions to complete. The Ladybug Life Cycle book and worksheet below come from Michelle of Apples and ABC's free Ladybug Life Cycle pack.

At 3:25 I walk my students to the door, no buses here, everyone walks.

There you have it, one day in my classroom, similar, but different from all my other days.

I leave you with these gorgeous flowers from my garden...

My wish for you is that all bleeding hearts from last week ~ those in Boston, Texas, Kansas and where ever you may be find peace and begin to heal.
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  1. I loved reading your post and seeing all of the wonderful activities you do in your classroom!

    MrsMc from Buzz! Buzz! Buzz!

  2. Wow! Your classroom is busy. I love the Elmer writing activity. I only have the original Elmer. Looks like I need to go shopping.
    Thanks for sharing.

    School Is a Happy Place

  3. I love your day :) Their writing is amazing!! Thanks so much for linking up :)

  4. I'm not that familiar with the Elmer books. I'm going to take a closer look!

    Thanks for the heads-up with the reading passages. Off to look for them.

    Grade ONEderful
    Ruby Slippers Blog Designs

  5. Aaaahh! I just saw that you used my "Rockin' Roll and Read" activity! I am so glad that it worked for you! I am your newest follower! Have a great weekend!

    Polka Dots, Checks and Stripes

  6. Love this post!! Thanks for all the great ideas!!! I am your newest follower and a Whole Brain Teacher! Just wondering if you would like to be part of a give away I am hosting? I would love it if you would!! Send me an e-mail at

    My Whole Brain Teaching Blog

    A Grade One Nut and Her Squirrelly Crew