Saturday, April 25, 2015

Baking Equivalent Equations

After working on number sense all year we were ready to find out if they could make equivalent equations.  We were pretty confident that they would.  But with each new introduction, we have really tried to make it a real world experience.

Equivalent equations...equivalent equations...
We decided to go with cookies because in a few weeks we will begin our cookie story problem unit.

Jess and I broke the class in two.  Each group worked at a different bakery.  We let them pick their bakery name :)  The bakeries received one equation.  They had to set up their cookie sheet to represent the equation.

Then they had to decide if their cookie sheet equations were equivalent.

Luckily, this was pretty easy for them. So we quickly jumped to equivalent equations with a missing addend.

We made up little bakery stories to go along with each problem.

Looking back on the lesson, we felt like it was a good introduction to the skill.  They had a purpose to the skill but also a lot of background knowledge to understand how to solve the problems.

Do you have any good tricks to teach this skill?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Bringing Trash to School

With Earth Day being tomorrow, it seems most appropriate to discuss how we can reuse our trash.  Just bring it to school!

After our experience with the metacognition lesson , Karen and I decided we wanted to try out some direct inferring lessons with our firsties.

We decided to spread the lessons out over four days and leave the fifth day open to find out what they learned from the week.  After rereading the chapter from "Comprehension Connections" on inferring, we made our plan.  Each day we wanted to open the lesson with a different shoe.  The repetitive nature of that lesson would really help our students become confident in looking for evidence and using schema. We knew that they would enjoy this but wanted to quickly jump into making inferences within text.  So here is what we did:

On Monday Karen brought in her son's shoe:

We asked them..."Who do you think wears this shoe or what do you know about the person that wears this shoe?"  Immediately they came up with lots of ideas.  But with these ideas came another question..."how do you know?"
As they provided information to us, we recorded what they were saying as either evidence or schema.

 Then I read "The Secret Shortcut" by Mark Teague.  We made inferences about the text citing our evidence along the way.  I was really happy with the transfer of knowledge to the book.

Karen brought in her dog's shoe on Tuesday.  The kids had a lot of fun with this one.  Another Inference/Evidence chart was made.  Then they moved on to images.  There are a lot of great images out there on Pinterest or Google that can be used for inferring.  We had used some with a child that looked bored with his plate of food or an image of sunburned feet.  Basically, the kids need to gather evidence from the photo to infer.  Here is an example (of my child):

What can you infer from this image?

On Wednesday, we used a flip flop from Karen's daughter.  But our little firsties had confidence in this routine and came up with some great inferences quickly.  We did not write them down on chart paper this time but moved right along to more visual images.  We ended the lesson with the book "Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothes."  My sister had suggested it for this lesson and it was a great fit!

Thursday is when we brought in the real challenge, the real test.  Could they infer about my new neighbors across the street from the trash that I stole at the end of their driveway?  (This is just a made up story that I actually stole from the "Comprehension Connections" book).
Of course, we started the lesson with another shoe: my 4 year old's gym shoe.  They were getting good at this :)
Then came the trash.  I dumped out the whole black bag on the ground.  There was quite a bit of shock and disbelief on their faces. 

 After some discussion, we decided to organize or group the trash.  Then make inferences based on the groups of trash and evidence that we had.

Recording: My sister suggested using big butcher paper to place all the trash on and write the inferences right there next to the trash.  I ended up just making the same chart that I made for the shoe lessons.  This worked out fine for us.

By Friday we felt pretty confident that they did understand what it meant to make a good inference.  We decided not to do another shoe.  But our firsties had a different idea about that.  It could not be skipped.  So we inferred about a water shoe.
Then we watched two commercials that my sister recommended to us.  They were very powerful commercials to us (the adults!) and the kids were able to make some interesting inferences about the videos.  But we did keep asking them..."What is your evidence."  Here is the first one from YouTube:

Here is the second one from YouTube:

I think this is a good one to stop midpoint and ask them to infer about what is happening.  Then after the video I asked them "Do you think the adult planned this or the children?"  This was a very challenging question for our first graders, especially when I asked them to provide evidence.  I would be interested to hear what your students have to say.

To complete our week of inferring, we asked the kids to do a sort.  They had to read/listen to a sentence and infer whether the event occurred during the day or night.

I will say it has been a lot of fun to co-teach these types of lessons with our first graders.  I feel so lucky that we have the opportunity to learn so much from each other.  And I truly think the kids enjoy having two teachers up there acting goofy and pulling information out of them.

One final note...two or three weeks after this lesson one of my students found some random flip flops in a desk (we move classrooms).  And someone shouted out "we need to look for evidence!"  Ha!!!
Maybe we did something right.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Lesson By Tanny McGregor

Earlier this week I posted this picture:
 I'll was totally a teaser.  We had such a great time watching Tanny McGregor's lesson on Wednesday that I just couldn't wait to share all about it.

But then this little one turned five and wanted a dragon my post had to wait.
But I think my time has finally come to to share this amazing experience.

Tanny McGregor is the author of Comprehension Connections and Genre Connections.  She is a co-author of Comprehension Going Forward.  The reading teachers within my school have read her book Comprehension Connections.  They have discussed it, marked it up, tagged it, and taught it.  It has changed the way that we approach our introductions to new comprehension strategies.  Honestly, it has changed the way I introduce many topics in all subjects (but that is for another day, another post.)

Let's dig in...Tanny's topic: THEME!

The lesson began with a discussion around the word theme.  Immediately a hand shot up..."You mean like a birthday party theme?" Yes!! Our first connection was made!
To build a better and more concrete understanding of theme, Tanny dug into her bag.

She pulled out a container of sand with a note card at the bottom that said "theme."  Using her fingers to touch the top of the sand, Tanny explained that the sand is the surface thinking that we do.  But when we dig deeper (with a small shovel), we use deeper thinking.  We uncover the theme.

This was illustrated right away with a short poem by Jeff Moss. 

The kids analyzed all the surface level things about the poem with Tanny: there are 14 words in the poem, capital letters, and 2 contractions.  As these things were pointed out, my students touched the surface of the sand.

We chorally read the poem, the teachers chorally read the poem, and the students chorally read the poem.  Then it was time to take the shovel and "dig deeper" into the poem.

Students discussed what they thought the theme of this poem may possibly be.  As the possible themes arose, they were written on this chart.  The triangle represents the three text cousins: poem, pictures, and book.  The heart represents the possible themes that they all contribute to.

We moved on to the pictures.  These were found within the text Each Kindness.  Tanny did not read the book or even look at all the pictures within the book.  She just showed a few of the illustrations and briefly explained what may be happening in them.  Students were asked to "turn and talk" about what the possible theme of the book.

The theme ideas that were generated were added to the chart.  Then it was time to turn to the last text cousin: the book, Red.

Students listened intently and made some great inferences and predictions about what was going to happen as Tanny read the book.  This was my first time hearing the text, so I was eager to see how it connected to its "cousins."  As the book came to a conclusion, the students and teachers were once again asked to conclude what possible themes the three texts share.  All of these ideas were recorded:

We never decided on a definite answer for the theme.  She allowed students to make their own connections between the text cousins.  These were possible themes and she did not discount any of them.

To bring the lesson to a conclusion, Tanny brought one student up to the front.  She discussed surface level things about the child as she played with the top of the sand.  He has on a red shirt, he wears glasses, etc.  Then she asked the teachers to "dig deeper" with the shovel and share deeper things about the child.  What a great way to bring the lesson full circle!

It was powerful, meaningful, and we enjoyed every second.  When our students traveled to their next class, math, they were busting with excitement.  They said, "We met a REAL a REAL one!"  I have to agree with them..."I met a REAL INSPIRING one!"

P.S.  I would like to dig just a little bit deeper into my personal learning from this lesson.  I would like to talk a bit more about the text choices that Tanny made.  You can find this post at Adventures in Literacy Land on Wednesday.  Another topic I want to discuss: the power of observation!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Special Guest

It was an exciting day at our little school today.   As our firsties explained it... "WE MET A REAL AUTHOR TODAY!!!"

Tanny McGregor, author of Comprehension Connections, taught a lesson to our first grade class today.  It was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!!!! I can't wait to share the lesson that they participated in and all the learning that went on (by the students AND teachers!) 

But my question to you is....what do you think she brought with her today?

Check back soon to find out!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Tired Teacher?!?!??!

You know you're a tired teacher when.......  you finish grading a paper, but fall asleep with the marker still OPEN and wake up after midnight to a paper that looks like this.

So sorry little firstie.  :)

I would LOVE to hear your story.  You know you're a tired teacher when........

Happy Friday my tired teacher friends!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Adding More Movement

 Good morning everyone!  I just wanted to let you know that I did my first post today on "Classroom Tested Resources."  It is all about adding more movement into your lessons and activities.  This is a little different than brain breaks.  I hope you can hop over and check it out!

Friday, April 3, 2015

How Do You Teach Fluency?

Fluency instruction.  I have to admit there are some things that I am doing well in this category and some areas that I need to strengthen and grow.  Fluency is in the forefront of my mind today because we just had our end-of-the-year Aimsweb assessments.  Yes, these should not be given until May.  But we are evaluated on the growth that our students make; therefore, the tests are given in March.  Looking at the results gives me the motivation to reflect back and think ahead.

I feel like I do a good job of introducing fluency and what it is.

Through movement, we model what fluency sounds like.  Students squeeze together and stand far apart to visually show what different readers may sound like.  Then swoops are introduced with a ribbon.  Anchor charts are created together to help us gather our thoughts about skateboard versus robot readers.

There is modeling... repeated modeling. Choral, echo, and independent reading are all incorporated into my guided reading lessons and Karen's whole group lessons.  Poetry, nursery rhymes, and songs are all part of our daily routine.

I try to make sure I am using high interest, colorful books from our leveled book room. Students complete interest surveys at the beginning of the year and I observe carefully throughout the year to the books that they respond best to.

Recently, I found these F&P leveled passages by Learning to the Core.  After using them for a few weeks, I really love them.  I use them in my reading group as a quick choral read and a quick independent read.  I know the exact level of the texts, the graphics are appealing, and the stories themselves are engaging.  They have been very helpful to me and I will be using them right away next year.


Fluency is one of those things that you can only attain by reading.  You can introduce it, model it, practice it, encourage it.  But, in the end, they just need to READ.  The following excerpts are from Richard Allington (click on the links to read the whole articles).  He is right, completely right.

Self-selected reading activity seems to be about twice as powerful at generating reading development as teacher-selected reading (Guthrie & Humenick, 2004; Lindsay, 2010).
Struggling readers need precisely what good readers receive—lots of high-success reading experiences (Allington, 2009). These experiences provide evidence of the self-teaching hypothesis (Share & Stanovich, 1995), which proposes that children develop a variety of reading skills—such as phonemic segmentation, decoding, and vocabulary building—when they engage in high-success reading.
-Educational Leadership (ASCD) March, 2011

In typical classrooms, it is not unusual to find that kids read and write for as little as ten percent of the day (30 minutes of reading and writing activity in a 300 minute, or five hour, school day).
-Reading Rocks, originally found in Phi Delta Kappan, 2002
So looking ahead...
*I would like to do more high-success reading (Allington says this is reading with 98% accuracy) with lower leveled guided reading books and the engaging passages I shared above.
*I would like to ensure that I optimize the amount of time students are reading in my guided reading groups.
*I would like to look into using some reader's theater stories.  A Teeny, Tiny Teacher has some partner passages that I have heard are really good and already highlighted (thank you!).  I also received a Robert Munsch book of plays that could be helpful.
*I would like my students to just read, read, read, read, I will keep thinking creatively to make this happen as much as I can when they are with me and hope that I can make it happen in their homes too.

How do you teach fluency in your classroom?