Monday, December 13, 2010

A Proud, Proud Writing Teacher

Today we had a celebration! Today we had a publishing party!
Our class has been working on personal narratives for what seems like forever. We worked on them for weeks and then took a much needed break to explore some response to literature. Right around Thanksgiving we started working on them again. This time we began looking at model student work in the America's Choice rubric book and noticing what those student authors did well. We took those noticings and the standard to create a class rubric. This rubric became a tool for each child to see in a concrete way what was expected of him or her in regards to a personal narrative. Because of our farming theme, we decided on the levels of performance as "seed," "sprout," and "cornstalk." I've seen so much growth and more importantly to me- EFFORT- in the past few weeks. I am so proud of them and I can't wait to see what they will publish next!
Young Publishing Company is proud to say that all the students' pieces have been accepted by the company and therefore all our writers were celebrated today in our publishing party! Our party included reading our stories to eachother, a microphone, awards, and even a snack! :)  It was a great chance to encourage them to keep on writing and to remind them that they ARE authors!

On a personal note, I've spent many years teaching fourth grade writing, which in Florida means state testing in the form of FLWrites. Every year I push my students and was pleased that last year 2 of my students received top scores (which means I get to go on a limo ride with them in February!) First grade writing has been a big change. Fourth graders write nothing like first graders! Can you imagine? LOL So on one hand my expectations had to change, but the degree to which I push my students has not. I'm so excited to see my first grade friends already trying out a number of strategies in their writing that I've usually taught my fourth grade students. Woo hoo!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ideas for Home

The following are a few ideas for extending or reinforcing learning at home. This will be a short list and I will add more at a later date. I don't want to overwhelm anyone :)

1. Of course, READ READ READ with your child!
        A. Your child is now bringing books home with them to read. After they read them to you, if they aren't smooth, help them in their weak areas and encourage them to reread again and again until they can read it as smooth as a sports car. (The opposite would be a jungle jeep that bounces around at every word!)
          B. Talk to your child about the books they are reading or that you read with them. They can retell the events to you just as the story happened. Make sure they remember character names and keep the events in order. Can they tell you the problem? the solution? How did the characters feel? Did anyone learn a lesson?
         C. Try checking out books on cd from the public library! This is a great way for your child to hear a great reader read to them. The key is making sure they have the book in front of them when they read. Just hearing a good story won't improve their reading. It should be expected that they follow along in the book.

2. Word Winner Challenge with the Vocabulary- When I introduce new vocabulary, I will put it in the newsletter. Make a tally chart at home for how many times your family sees or uses the words in conversation. The word with the most tally marks wins!! For even more fun, everyone in the family can guess from the beginning which word they think will win. If their word wins, they win!!

3. BOOM! Sight Word Game- We've started a fun and quick sight word review game. Just write the sight words on index cards with a small handful of cards with BOOM! written on them mixed into the stack. Flip through the cards, having your child read them as  you go. They pay close attention, because as soon as BOOM! comes up they get to shout it out! BOOOOOOOM!!  It is fun and they love it!  The following are some of the words we are reviewing from kindergarten and introducing this first nine-weeks of school:













Have fun!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Busy, Busy on the Farm

Today was the seventh day of school and I realized today that we are really getting into a system! Rituals and routines are becoming the glue to our day and our schedule is taking its shape with perfection. We are well on our way to learning so many great things in our skills block, reading, writing, math, and science. Today, for example, we talked more about what an independent reader and writer looked like. The number one element that resonated was "DON'T STOP!" That's right, whether reading or writing, it is each child's job to consistently read or write for the appropriate workshop. This year I will continually be challenging them to build up their stamina to read and write for longer periods of time. I believe they will be showing growth in no time!
We have been having fun getting to know each other, too! I am enjoying seeing our class build itself into a family! Today, Coach Hall gave us an amazing compliment for being such team players and encouragers during Character Ed resource. I'm so proud of them for working so well together after only 7 days!

Friday, August 13, 2010

All Things New

Well, I've already spent hours getting ready for this new school year! Yet, there is so much still to do!! This is a really exciting year for me as I branch out into first grade! This is my tenth year teaching, but my first year in first grade! I'm really just excited to be able to sing songs and chants and not have my whole class look at me with quizzical, "you're-not-so-cool" looks!! Hahahaha (Yes, fourth graders tend to do that!)
I'm pumped to be a part of my new first grade students' lives. They are still in the beginning stages of their adventure in education and I hope to use all my experience to train them up beyond what anyone thinks they are capable! That's my biggest mantra, by the way: Children can do way (waaaaaaay) more than grown-ups give them credit for! My goal is not only to teach my first graders how to learn, but also to teach them how to be independent! It is going to be so fun watching them grow and surprise all the grown-ups in their lives (including me). I'm sure they will end up surprising themselves along the way too!

Let the fun begin!! (and the singing!!)