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Opinion Books

IMG_0425My first graders spent the last 2 months working on persuasive/opinion writing in their classroom.  I thought it would be a great partnership between my classroom and their classroom to merge our writing to reflect what they’ve been doing.

I strategically selected books from Reading A to Z that had similar stories, but different enough to form opinions on which book they preferred.  Some books we read to write about were:

  • Shoes Men Wear and Shoes Women Wear
  • Going To The Dentist and Going To The Doctor
  • Bonk’s Camping Trip and Bonk’s Big Splash
  • All About Farms and All About Factories
  • City Animals and Country Animals
  • Rude Robot and Penny the Rude Penguin

IMG_0428We read more than just those books above, but that gives you a general idea of some of the ways we partnered books up to be roughly the same topic but different enough for students to form opinions.  We started by reading both books and then following the OREO format (Opinion, Reasons, Examples, Opinion restated) students picked their favorite book and then had to write about why it was their favorite book.  Each week we would read a new set of books and then write an opinion on one of the books.   We started with their favorite book and then moved to favorite part, then favorite IMG_0431character, then student choice.  Students could also choose to write about their least favorite book, part, or character as well for student choice.

Once we finished our 6 opinion papers, students compiled them into a book order, made a table of contents, and cover page, then we sent the books out to be spiral bound into real books.

The 1st graders then were able to share their books with all the other kids in the classroom before being able to take their books home.  They were so proud of the finished product after 7 weeks of hard work.

Contraction Surgery

IMG_0407I’ve been noticing with my 1st graders we’ve been having a lot of troubles while reading when we come to contractions.  Students say, “it is” when we see “it’s” or “do not” when we see “didn’t”.  Sometimes we’ll even get something a little more wonky like “didn’t not”.  I’ve done some word work with contractions, but it hasn’t really stuck.  I decided to do something with these 1st graders that I did with my 1st graders about 6 years ago–contraction surgery.

IMG_0419Students each got their own surgical mask, gloves, and “scalpel” AKA scissors.  We turned words into contractions by taking out the letters we didn’t need, “stitching them back up” (gluing them to the paper), and giving them a “surgery scar” (AKA the apostrophe).

We did a couple of examples together and then students were able to do 5 of them at their own pace with my support as needed.  They LOVED this and I think it helped because I haven’t noticed as much of the issues when reading as I have previously noticed.

They were extra excited because they got to keep all of their surgical gear AND I called each of them doctor. 🙂

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We are cruising along in Kindergarten.  At the beginning of March we transitioned into READING BOOKS!  This is such a big deal.  Learning to read is such a monumental life experience when you think about just everything you need to do at once to be able to read.  For the last several months we’ve been “practicing” getting ready to read by labeling, word by word matching, learning letters and sounds, putting sounds together, learning word parts, building simple words, and finishing sentence starters.  We’re reading basic patterned books and still working on those word by word matching skills, but we’re getting there.

IMG_0413One thing we’ve had to work on is keeping our eyes on the text unless we need to check the picture for help with a word.  Many friends memorize the pattern and only look at the picture, but when a page changes the pattern of the text then students have difficulties.  We’ve had to really work on even if we think we know the pattern making sure we are correct by looking carefully at words.

IMG_0417We’ve even transitioned from finishing a sentence Ms. Acuff has written to students actively participating in the Interactive Writing and writing the stories themselves.  They practice words on their white boards while another student adds the word to our chart.  I help with more difficult words I know they don’t know.

We still do the cut up sentence portion of the lesson, but instead of students copying the cut up sentence, they then write their OWN sentence about the story we wrote together.  Most of the kids are doing a great job of using parts they know (ee, ou, ow, oa) and applying them into their writing.  Some IMG_0416students still need a little more support and structure with the writing as this is very new for us.

I’m starting to notice students writing in capital letters as they are more comfortable with those than lower case letters and we’ve had to work on when we use capital letters and also working on letter reversals.  These are common and we just keep practicing the correct way to write them.  We’re also working on different punctuation–periods, exclamation points, IMG_0415and question marks–when do we use them and how do we make them?

We are seeing lots of great things in Kindergarten and are overjoyed with how well students are applying their phonics knowledge every day.

Social Stories

IMG_0394It’s getting to be that time of the year when friends are going a little stir crazy and patience for each other can sometimes be low.  I’ve noticed in 1st grade especially patience for dealing with peers has been a challenge for students.  We took this as a learning opportunity.

I had the students read Calming Down and The Rude Robot to learn about ways we could practice patience and kindness to each other.

In Calming Down students learned that it’s ok to get angry, but to channel that anger into something positive and find ways to calm down.  Once we finished reading the story, we created a group anchor chart of ways we could calm down at school to help us stay positive and on task.  Each student then received a pocket-sized version of our chart to keep in their book box as a bookmark to use when they found themselves getting upset with another classmate.

IMG_0395We also read The Rude Robot about a boy who gets a robot for a birthday present, but the robot is rude to everyone so the boy has to teach it manners so his friends will want to come back and play.  When we finished reading the book we came up with a list of ways we could be more kind to each other in the classroom.  They also got a pocket-sized version of this anchor chart to keep in their book boxes as continual reminders on how even when we get mad at someone in the class we can still be kind to them.

I was impressed with all the great ideas students had.

Nerf Sight Words

IMG_3082I’ve been trying to get a little more creative in ways I can get students applying sight words they need to know along with movement and fun.  I saw on a teacher webpage advertisement the idea to use Nerf to sling darts at sight words.  This has been a HUGE hit.  The kids have been begging to play.  I call out a sight word they are still a little shaky on and they have to use the laser pointer to aim at the sight word and then try and get it.  Only a few darts have bounced off and hit Ms. Acuff! 🙂

Whack-A-Word

img_0371I came across this awesome ipad app called Whack-A-Word and thought it was the cutest thing ever.  I don’t have ipad for all of my kiddos so I tweaked what I saw on the app and created my own using sheets for ABCs, blends and digraphs, and Jolly Phonics.  (If you want any of my materials, let me know!)  My teammate also found some stuff on Teachers Pay Teachers, but we created our own to match with what we wanted.

I took a pool noodle and cut them into about 2 inch wide slices and inserted jumbo craft sticks into a slit I made with scissors.  img_0372

The kids LOVED THIS!!! “Ms. Acuff, why haven’t we played this before?  This game is AWESOME!”  The way it works is you tell them something to find and they have to locate it and “whack the word” or in this case–the sound.  “Whack the sound that says ch-ch-ch.”  This has been a great way to reinforce letter identification and word parts for the Kindergarten kiddos who have needed some extra practice without it being so “skill and drill” with them.img_0373

Smell the Smelly Markers

If a Kindergarten student wants you to smell the smelly marker just smell it before he makes you smell it and leaves a nice little mark on your nose!img_0386

Welcome Ms. Young

Ms. Acuff’s Title 1 Classroom is getting a student teacher for the next 8 weeks and we are REALLY EXCITED!  Please help me welcome Leslee Young from the University of Northern Iowa.  Leslee comes to us with a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education and a Literacy Minor. img_0385

Welcome Back…

That moment when you return back to school after 2 weeks off, ask students to write about what they did over break but give no length requirements…img_0368

Merry Christmas from the Title Team!

img_0366Merry Christmas from the Title 1 Team at Lowell Elementary in Waterloo, Iowa!  We are Mrs. PK’s Snowmen and she is our Winter Wonderland Princess here for our Winter Festivities!