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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

1st Grade Comparison

img_03291st graders spent the last 2 weeks learning about penguins and snakes.  Both books are from the “All About…” series.  We’ve been working on noticing similarities and differences in books.  1st graders are working on characters and setting so even in a non-fiction book we are still able to talk about where these animals live and how that’s a “place” just like we look for settings in fiction books.

As the first graders make progress through the year we are looking for them to stretch words out and hear multiple sounds in words along with using words or parts they know to build new and unknown words.

Bad Zeus!

img_0261Ms. Acuff loves to write stories about her dogs Zeus and Hercules.  She read us Bad Zeus about when Zeus steals food from around the house–like pizza, pop-tarts, bagels, cookies, and more.  We like when she reads aloud to us.  She shows us where to start, which way to go, where to go at the end of a line, and models fluent reading.  These are all things we’ll be doing very soon when we start reading books at group with her.

img_0259When she was finished reading to us, we had to write a sentence about the story.  We decided we wanted to write The dog is bad.  The sentence seems simple, but it gave us lots of opportunities to use sounds we know to build words like dog and bad.  We each got a spacer to put in between our words.  We looked at our old writing to see how much easier it was to read our sentence today with those nice big spaces.

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When we were finished writing Ms. Acuff did a conference with us to talk about things we did really well and things we could work on next time–like starting our sentence with a capital letter.

img_0251Kindergartners continue to work on labeling pictures but now we add in letters/sounds we know in the word.  We are starting to know more and more letters and sounds so we don’t let Ms. Acuff do very much work anymore.  In fact, she often says, “I don’t even have a job anymore because you are doing so much on your own.”

img_0253We continue to cut up our sentences and put them back together.  She has us write our sentence underneath our cut up.  It’s still a little tricky getting spaces between our words.  Sometimes we use spaces and sometimes Ms. Acuff draws a line for each word we need so we know where to put words.  We’re making a lot of progress.  Most of us know almost ALL of our upper and lower case letters and lower case sounds.  Kindergarten is fun.

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1st Grade Writing

img_02401st grade has been transitioning into only doing Interactive Writing to doing some independent writing applying CAP (Concepts About Print).

We’ve been working on transferring skills from the classroom to the work we do in groups by writing about the books we are reading.  In the picture above, we read a book called Yes We Can about things we can do at school.  We wrote a group story about different things we can do at school and then writing an independent story about things we can do at school.

We’ve had to work hard on stretching words out to hear multiple sounds in the word, using word parts we know to build words, and using words similar to build new words.  This has been a struggle, but that’s why Ms. Acuff has us doing a lot of magnetic letter work to help us build up our word knowledge and known word bank.

img_0247In Kindergarten we are getting better and better at matching our words.  We still aren’t ready to write our own words and sentences yet, but we can make up sentences.

Ms. Acuff still has us label pictures and finish a sentence she started about the picture.  She then writes our sentences on a sentence strip.  She cuts it up, mixes it up, and then we have to put it back together.  She has us searching through words and looking at the beginning of the word to make sure we are right.  She has us re-read our story over and over again.  Once we have practiced our sentence and matched it then we can glue it into our writing journals.  We love using glue sticks!

img_0248After we glue our sentence into our journal then we have to write that sentence below it.  Ms. Acuff says this is the time where we can practice letter formation and spacing between words.  Making sure there are spaces between our words is still really tricky.  We need lots of reminders, but we’re getting better at remembering.  When we are finished writing our sentence then we can draw and label a picture in our journal that goes along with the story we wrote.  We love using the smelly markers.  We usually leave with lots of dots on our noses from smelling every color we use.  Ms. Acuff HATES the licorice smelly marker and we always try to make her smell it and then giggle when she says, “YUCK!  No licorice!”

img_0257In 1st-grade we are still working on Interactive Writing and learning those foundational skills.  Ms. Acuff has us reading books and applying concepts we are working on in the classroom.  In our class, we are working on the beginning, middle, and end of a story.

This day we read a story about a frog that can’t find his red pajamas.  He has to tear his room apart looking everywhere for them.  We started by making -ed words with magnetic letters.  We’re doing a lot of work with “chunks” to help us problem-solve our reading much more efficiently and quickly.

Next, we read the book and then talked about the book.  The next day we wrote about the book after re-reading it.  We wrote the story together.  We got to write the words we knew and Ms. Acuff wrote the words that are still unknown.  We practice those words on the white board so they become known words in the future.

We practice one-to-one matching by using the large pointer and checking Ms. Acuff didn’t forget anything.  (Sometimes she does and we have to fix it for her!)  We’re working really hard on good spacing between our words so it’s not just a string of letters.  It’s hard work, but we’re really proud when we do a good job.

img_0230I spend an hour of my morning teaching groups to 1st-grade students within the classroom.  We’ve been working on lots of Interactive Writing skills to build up the foundational skills early readers need to become more successful and independent later in the school year.

img_0231We’ve been working on labeling pictures and then writing a group story based on our picture.  This helps show students CAP (Concepts About Print) such as where to start, directionality, return sweep to the left, spacing, capitals at the beginning, and periods at the end.  Students write known words on the chart paper and practice nearly known or new words on the white board in front of them.  This helps build up known reading and writing vocabulary.

Welcome back!

Hi!  Welcome back to the 2016-2017 school year.  This year is looking a little differently for me.  Normally I teach Kdg-5th grade with an emphasis on 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade pull-out interventions.  This year I am pushing into the classroom and co-teaching in Kindergarten and 1st grade in the morning and then pulling out for Reading Recovery in the afternoon.  I end my day by pushing into 2nd grade and helping with writing.  Join me this year on some different things I’m doing!

Zeus and Hercules Books

IMG_8675I have to give a big shout-out to Ann Hollingworth.  She has been a big supporter of my blog and has inspired me to write some of my own books.  It’s one of my long-term dreams to write books about my chihuahuas, Zeus and Hercules, for Reading Recovery.

IMG_8676I’ve finally written a couple books and shared them with my Reading Recovery students as a read aloud.  THEY LOVED THEM!  They have really enjoyed seeing pictures of my dogs and love when they interact with my son, Houston.

While we are no “Bella and Rosie” books, I hope one day I get to share my books beyond the wall of Lowell, but for now I will continue to be inspired by the work of Ann and many other authors around the world!

Happy reading!