Thursday, March 28, 2013

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Word Study Questions and Word Family Charts

Hi everyone. I hope ya'll are having a great week. I had a pretty good day today at school. My kiddos were really well behaved even though they are getting excited. I say that because it's only 3 days before spring break and the weather is getting nicer and Easter is on Sunday!!!

I've had a few questions regarding my word study post from yesterday. So I'll try to answer them.

1. Homework: Do we do anything special for homework with the study words?
Our homework is a packet that we send home on Monday. Students have the whole week including the weekend to complete it. (I've been a mom of 4 kids and sometimes it's just really hard to get all the homework finished from Monday to Friday. You need the weekend to get caught up) Our packet consists of a writing sheet which includes the spelling words and sentences, a poem or song that usually goes with the word family, a math practice sheet or math game, and a reading chart. We ask the kids to reading 20 minutes each night.
 Here is a sample of the writing/spelling sheet.
Here is a sample of the poem/song. This is from the Scholastic Word Family Sing Along Flip Charts. We just typed them on a sheet with a picture for the kids to practice.

If you click on the picture it will link you to Amazon.com for more information.

I also send a Spelling Activity list home at the beginning of the year so my parents have lots of ideas and resources to practice the spelling words. Many of the activities we do in class also so the kids are familiar with them.
If you'd like a copy of this list click HERE to download.


2. Word Family Charts: Where can you get the word Family Charts and/or word wall?
You're in luck! I've been working on these charts all year long and they are FINALLY finished and on my shops!
I don't have a lot of wall space. So I made my charts 8 1/2 x 11 and after the week is over I put them in a binder that the kids can have access to during reading and writing.

3. Smart Board Activities: Where did I get them?
The dice activity is just from the Smart Notebook software  'Gallery' called "Dice- Keywords". You drag it into your Smart board page. Then click on the arrows and type in your words.
 This slide I made with the Word Family Charts from my TpT/Teacher Notebook packet. I just used the 'Snipping Tool' to take a picture and then I drag it onto the page.
This slide I made in the Smart Notebook software by typing the sentences in a text box. The words that fill in the blanks are locked in on the 'allow to move' mode. My kids just drag the right word onto the blank. 
I am still learning the Smart board and I would like to make and sale some of the things I do but I'm still exploring all the copyright laws and stuff. Hopefully, I'll be able to get my act together soon.

THANKS for all your wonderful comments and questions. Let me know if you have more and I'll try to answer them.



Monday, March 25, 2013

My Word Study with FREEBIES

As promised here is an explanation of my word study/wordwork/spelling, whatever you want to call it.

WARNING: this is a long post but there are freebies!

Like I stated in yesterday's post, my district is really great about letting us use our expertise in teaching our kiddos. They give us super support with lots of resources, awesome workshops and training and then let us do what we've been educated to do-TEACH!

I have access to Literacy By Design and Words Their Way, but I use them only as a resource to teach the common core. This year we jumped into the new core with both feet. As a grade level team we decided to rewrite our curriculum map. Man, was that an under taking but a very needed one. And let me just say right here that I have an awesome bunch of ladies on my team!!! I didn't do this by myself.

The first thing we did was decide upon what words we needed our firsties to learn to read and spell. We used several different lists- Fountas and Pinnell, Dolch, Fry to name a few. Then we divided them up in what we thought were easiest to hardiest. We picked 4 words for each week and called these our spelling words. Then we looked at the most common word family lists and chose about 57 to add to our weekly spelling list. We started the year off with just one word family but increased it to 2 each week by the 4th week of school.

Click HERE if you'd like a copy of our word list.

On Monday we introduce the words and word families.
During class meeting I introduce the words on my Smart Board. Then I have little interactive things we do each day with the words.

 My kiddos are totally immersed the whole week reading and writing these words through various activities. (Keep reading and I'll show you some of the things we do- plus give you some FREEBIES). Then on Friday, we have a 'spelling' test. I know there is a lot of debate out there about 'spelling tests' and I've read a lot of the research on it. Most of our parents are really good about helping their kids and feel spelling is a way they can do this. So to please parents, we do a 'spelling test' on Friday. I don't really feel this shows what my kids know or if there will be transfer and recall in a couple of weeks but it makes the parents happy. What I care about is that for 5 days my firsties are totally immersed in 4 high frequency words and 2 word families. Surely, a little practice at home with parents will help too. We also study the words in sentences through out the week and we give the kids 2 of those sentences as part of the test. I love this part because it lets the kids encode which is a very important skill and it lets me see what their strengths are and how they are progressing.

This is what our spelling test paper looks like. 'Popcorn words' are what we call their 4 spelling words because they are words that just keep 'popping up' all over in our reading and writing. We pick 4 random words from each word family for the test also. I know some will ask, "what about your high kids or the low ones who can't do these words." Sometimes I have to adjust the list for my low kids and give them less words. Occasionally, I'll have a parent say the words are too easy for their child so then I'll give them additional challenge words.

I have a focus board where the words are displayed for the week and then the word cards are added to our word walls. I have two, one for the word families and one for the sight words.
(My darling word wall is from Fredia's TpT shop over on Frogs in First)

I do Daily 5 and the wordwork component is where a lot of the word study takes place. Each day my kids have a different assignment with their words. These are activities that I've gotten from many of you or from other teacher's blogs or Pinterest. I'm sure all of you do the same or similar.
When they finish the assignment, they have 'choice time' with several familiar activities that they use this week's words with. Such as: wikki sticks (bendaroos), clay, magnetic letters, stamps, letter necklaces, and word games to name a few. I have a list of the week's words and when the assignment is finished they are free to choose an activity to form the words from the list.
(I got these letters and strings from Lakeshore)
We also do some fun activities whole class at other times of the day like Read the Room. I love this activity because the kids are reading, writing and sorting the words as well as moving around the room.
This is the form I use. I just place the 14 words around the room and let them find and write them. This is a great self-starter.
This activity I call 'Write Here'. I adapted it from a Reading Recovery idea. It's quick, very easy preparation, fast paced and takes about 5-7 minutes to do all the words for the week. My kiddos all have a white board and I tell them to write a word some place on their board. Then we check it by spelling the word aloud. (Sometimes we even use the silly voices: cowboy talk, baby talk etc) Then I say, "Write Here" and point to a new spot on the board and they write it again, then we check it again. I do this 5 times. Then I say, "anywhere go" and they write the word over and over again until I say stop (about 10 seconds). Then they erase their boards and we do another word. I used to do this with a little white board but now I do it on the Smart Board. It's great because it's so much bigger and everyone can see it. I even have the kids come up and be the teacher. 
This is another very easy game for Daily 5 wordwork or whole class called Roll and Spell. 
Click HERE to download some of the activities mentioned in this post. I've included the spelling test paper, Read the Room recording sheet, Trace It, Word Family Find, and Roll & Spell.

So there you have it. That's how I do my word study. I'd love to hear your ideas and comments.
Thanks for stopping by.
Have a great week!

I've had several emails about the word family charts and where you can get them- they are on my Teacher Shops. Just click the TpT or Teacher Notebook link on my side bar.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

My District and a FREEBIE

First off, I want to thank everyone for the comments and emails on my last post about Go Math vs My Math. You guys are amazing! That is what is so fantastic about the internet and blogging. I can collaborate with people all over the country!! We had a HUGE parent meeting and several committee meetings last week and will make the final decision this week. Honestly, I think they are both excellent programs and we won't go wrong with either one because of the way our district lets us teach.

With that said here is a little background on my district- Alpine School District. We are the biggest district in Utah and on the top 10 list for being the biggest in the country (USA). We have over 70,800 students with 53 elementary schools. Our district leaders are GREAT at teaching us (the teachers) best practices, giving us excellent resources, exposing us to new research, in-service training with some of the best educators in the country, and then lets us teach the core the best way we see fit. So when it comes to a new math program, it will be another great resource we can pull from to teach the common core.

Okay, so now for the FREEBIE. I'm working on a new fraction packet which I hope to have up on my shops by next week. But here is a little sample from it. My kiddos picked up on fractions very quickly and it was fun to teach.
Click HERE to download a copy.
I will be back tomorrow to tell you all how I teach work study. I had a request from Jane to explain. Now that you know how our district operates, I'll explain how I'm able teach my wordwork.

Thanks everyone! Have a great week.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Go Math vs My Math

Greetings everyone! I hope everyone is having a fantastic week.
Our school is doing our math textbook adoption. We have narrowed it down between Go Math by Houghton Mufflin Harcourt or My Math by McGraw-Hill. I need some feedback from all of you in this wonderful bloggy land. If you use either of these programs, I'd LOVE to hear from you! Please tell me the good and bad, pros and cons, likes and dislikes for first grade. Just comment below.
Thanks for your help!



Thursday, March 14, 2013

Paper Airplane Learning

Okay so the district electrician came to my room today to mount my projector in the ceiling. So we had to be out of our room for 3 hours. Yes, 3 hours. Luckily, an hour of it was lunch and specialty and the weather was beautiful. So what do you do with 29 first graders without a classroom?
 Paper Airplane Learning!   
I showed them all how to make a very simple paper airplane. I wasn't sure if they'd be able to do this or not but most of them caught on very quickly. And those that could do it helped the ones that couldn't. My 20 boys were in 7th Heaven. They couldn't believe their teacher was actually teaching them how to make paper airplanes let alone fly them. Little did they know there would be learning involved. After everyone had an airplane, they had to think of a number from 10-99 and write it on their plane with their name.
Then I explained the rules:

  • Stand in two lines facing each other. 
  • No flying until I say "go". 
  • Everyone picks up an airplane.
  • Everyone fills out the place value chart with the number on the plane.
  • Get ready to fly it again.
  • Repeat. (We did it 7 times.)
 Here was the BIGGEST rule: 
  • No paper airplanes allowed except when I (teacher) say. (That was so I won't have paper airplanes everywhere after today and paper airplanes are not allowed in our school unless the teacher is using them for teaching purposes.)

We had a BLAST! We stayed out of our room and we practiced our place value. Who knew paper airplanes could be educational?
Here are the instructions for folding a very simple paper airplane.
This is the recording sheet we used.
Click HERE to download the recording sheet.
My brain is just a going with all the other subjects you could do this with: contractions, compound words, fractions, number sentences, spelling or sight words, antonyms, synonyms, homophones, blends, just to name a few. You wouldn't even need a fancy recording sheet, just a piece of paper with numbers to record your answers. You can even do it in your room, just line up on opposite sides of the room and fly away.

So if you ever get kicked out of your room and need a fun learning activity, here's one you could try. I know my kiddos want to do it again and again and again.
Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday, March 10, 2013

What We're Reading

We just started a great chapter book this week. The kiddos are LOVING it. I'd never read this series until my granddaughters told me about it. Where have I been?
It is perfect for 1st grade. Ivy and Bean are kind of naughty, a lot like Junie B. Jones but very fun to read. Even my 20 boys are loving it.

We reread this awesome book to help us remember to pick Just Right Books. It's also fun for predicting and compare & contrast.
One of my favorite books to use for inference and prior knowledge is by Chris Van Allsburg.
A teacher friend of mine found this book in a library discard pile. Evidently, the librarian thought someone had scribbled all over the book with crayons. No way, it's part of the story. My firsties are amazed at the ending of the story. We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!

One of my boys found the Chester series in the library and would just laugh and laugh as he read it. So, of course, everyone wanted to know what was so funny. Now they take turns passing it around come library time. Great motivation for becoming a writer too.
My class was very excited to learn that there was a new Library Mouse book. Actually, it was released a year ago but they hadn't seen it.

We LOVE Sam and Sarah and all their great adventures. These books are great for teaching writing too. This one deals with writing in journals and I like to read it before I start my big non-fiction writing of animal reports.

I'd love to hear what you're reading in your room. I'm always looking for new books.
Thanks for stopping by.