Sunday, October 28, 2012

Reader's Workshop Routine

It has taken us ALL 36 days but I can finally say my class really has their Reader's Workshop routines down! It is my favorite part of the day. I don't know if it's Daily 5 (my modified version), a great group of kids, or my diligence in creating and scaffolding routines for them but what ever it is, and it's probably a combination of all 3, things are going just wonderfully. Figuring out my schedule has been the most difficult part. I think I discussed that a little bit here. I've just posted all of the posters I use and the cards I made to display my center rotations on a chart in my room. They are split up between two products:

I decided to do it this way because I know not everyone has access to technology for their centers. I hope it doesn't make it to confusing. If you have ANY questions please don't hesitate to email me. thewholewheatclass@gmail.com
I also broke them up because I wanted to be respectful of The Daily 5 and its creators. I have a freebie for those of you who use Daily 5 terminology when labeling and discussing your center routines. Click ANY of the pictures below to download Read to Someone and Read to Self posters, pocket chart cards, and a center check list.


My classroom is on the smaller side so wall space comes at a premium! I can only post things I REALLY need and they are constantly changing. That's why I love my smartboard. Although I do have some of my routine posters posted and I do have a pocket chart for center routine cards they are mostly there for backup.

I display all the posters and center routines directly on my smartboard to review procedures and the daily schedules for centers. Something that has really been working well is my Center Choice board.
The kids simply drag their picture to the center they'd like to work on. (pardon the creepy, blury pictures) I do assign my technology groups so it is fair and to cut out and grumbling but everyone else gets to choose and I can't believe how well it's working. It was hard to give up control at first but now I am kicking myself for being so stubborn for so long! I'm sure others who have begun Daily 5 probably feel the same way.....right? Below you can click on the picture to download your very own Center Choice Board. I hope you and your students love it as much as I do.
** CONFESSION** I found this idea on Pinterest but it was a "dead pin", meaning it lead to nowhere. I love to give credit where credit is due but this time around I can't. :)
Thanks for stopping by! I love to hear your comments about how you manage centers in your room. :) Mrs. Wheat


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Organizing Frenzy!!

A few weeks ago I came home and randomly blabbed on my Facebook page about my cassette players. Years ago I got them from Donor's Choose, and while I loved them, they were always a classroom management issue. Before I began implementing Daily 5 they were not in daily use in my classroom so it wasn't THAT big a deal. But now that they are in use every day, and one of the most popular centers, I was having more and more problems. Tapes were being eaten, kids just weren't understanding how to rewind, put tapes in, etc... Anyways, I vented on Facebook and a dear friend of mine surprised me buy purchasing 6 CD Diskmans right there, on the spot. They arrived last Sunday and my goodness, what a change!
Not only are they so much easier to use but I also found the perfect storage solution for them!! I LOVE a good, useful, and labeled container like none other. I honestly think I may have a touch of OCD. From the moment it popped into my head I could think of nothing else. A friend of mine had recently purchased these Sterilite containers for her classroom. I had coveted them for quite a while. They are the perfect size for pretty much anything. I spent most of Sunday night dreaming about stopping by Walmart on my way to work the next morning.
 LOOK!!!! How perfect, right? The book, CD player, and response sheet fit perfectly. (I don't have any books on CD but the library has a TON. I was so happy! I love it when I don't have to spend a fortune. Now I can take my time and purchase books on CD a few at a time. AND spend my money on plastic containers. sheesh! ;/)

They look awesome stacked and with a super cute label. I'm a SUCKER for a label.Click the picture below to get yours, FREE!


And, last but not least, they also fit perfectly on my leveled library book shelf. *sigh* They make me so happy.
You would think this would be the end but I was so pleased with how they worked for my listening centers that I had to run out again, early in the morning, before school, and this time I bought Walmart OUT of these. See the picture below and it should become clear why.
^^^^This WAS my math center shelf!! UNACCEPTABLE!!^^^^
Honestly, I don't know how I lived with that clutter for 30+ days. After a little makeover using my new, favorite containers, this was the end result.
 Doesn't that just make you feel happy and calm all over? Or, am I the only weirdo?
Click the picture(s) below to download the math center labels and M.A.T.H. Routine cards I posted about here.

Organizing, I love it. Probably #3 on the list of reasons why I became a teacher.  

I hope you enjoyed the freebies. There are more to come so be sure to follow me. :)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Managing Technology

I have more technology in my classroom than I could have ever dreamed. First my beloved smartboard, then my 4 iPads, and now I've got two desk-top computers. Wow! To go from nothing to this has been awesome. But now, how to manage it all? I developed some posters and visual cues to help my little ones with the proper procedures for handling and working with technology. I thought I'd share it with the TpT world. Here are some snapshots of what's included in the packet.
I put these posters up at each center to remind my students of the procedures. 

In my classroom I have individual cassette players at my listening center. I got them from Donors Choose years ago and they are so cute! However, they are starting to eat my tapes and, for some reason, SOME of my kids this year don't get how to work them! I made these little "tags" to tape to the trays I store them in as reminders of what NOT to do.
They were causing me such problems I vented a little bit on Facebook. To my surprise, a friend of mine commented on the post- "6 Diskmans have been ordered for you. I'll let you know when they come in." I nearly fell on the floor. This particular friend has been BEYOND generous with me and my class in the past but this was just too much. I'm so excited to start using CDs instead of cassettes. I think my kids will understand them much better, no rewinding, no flipping the tape over, etc. Anyways, I made these labels for my soon-to-be Diskmans.
The packet also includes cards for storing student passwords and login IDs. Word to the wise, when writing the information on the cards (which I keep stored on a hook on the computer- see above photo) be sure to write in all caps. I made the mistake of writing in lowercase letters and some of my struggling readers had a tough time finding the letters on the keyboard which, of course, is in all capital letters. *new to technology teacher fail*
  
I also included some little visual icons to attatch to the monitors. I like the kids to close out of whatever program they are using and turn the monitor off when they are finished. Visual cues are a must for my group. I could not, for the life of me, get a good picture of them. I hope you get the idea.
 Last but not least, there is a poster with all the icons found on my desktop that my students are allowed to click. Like I said, visuals are a must with my group. I didn't know how to make this user friendly for all. I mean, not everyone uses the same programs. So, I included mine and a BLANK copy. My original thought was, if you planned to buy the packet, you could simply print out the icons you use and glue them to the desktop poster. But, then I got thinking. Some people buy things on TpT because they don't know HOW to do things like that on their computers. Soooooooo....I'm going to give this new idea a try. 

Custom Computer Desktop Poster
Here's how to get yours:
#1 Become a follower of my blog. :)
#2 Purchase my Managing Technology packet from TpT
#3 Email me the sites that you would like on your poster. Please be as specific as possible. I will use the image that comes up when I google the site unless you specify a particular icon.
#4 Be patient with me. Give me at least a week long turn around. 

I'm going to do this on a trial basis. If it becomes too much and takes away from my mothering duties I'll have to stop. BUT- I've only got 14 followers, I'm no Deanna Jump in the TpT world, and I REALLY enjoy making things for other people, so I think it'll work out!

The email address is:
thewholewheatclass@gmail.com

Here is a copy of the poster I use, as a freebie!
 I leave you tonight with two things that made me happy this week.
We made these crazy pumpkins today. I borrowed the idea from a pin I found on pinterest, duh! They make me laugh every time I see them!
(2 of my kids do not celebrate Halloween- hence the pumpkins without faces and the sign that says "pumpkins" not Jack-o-lanterns.)
I took my "Bubba" to a local apple farm and a friend took this picture of us running. It makes my heart melt every time. He'll be 22 months next week and I just can't believe it. What a joy he is! 

Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Really Good Stuff... not so good!

Well, maybe it's not their fault but I am growing soooo impatient with Really Good Stuff. I ordered my chair pockets in early August and they are back-ordered until DECEMBER 11th!!!! Oh man, I don't know if I'm going to make it. I do realize I'm being over dramatic. I also realize I've made it the last 11 years of teaching WITHOUT them. I just had my heart set on NEVER PASSING ANOTHER FOLDER OUT AGAIN! And now, every time I do, I grow a little madder at Really Good Stuff. Do you hear me, Really Good Stuff?? I want these babies SOON!!!
K? Thanks! *smiles sweetly*

Mad scientists!

Last week we began our science unit and I got to put my new science journal to the test. I'm proud to say, it's kid and teacher (me!) approved.
(Side bar- I'm loving this class. I can't believe it's only October and we've already got a routine down, we're having fun, and we have our first field trip in 2 weeks. This time last year...well, let's just say it was different. Thank goodness for a brand NEW year. One of the best parts of this job is that there's always the chance for an amazing group of kids. I think I scored myself one this year. I'm not taking it for granted either. I'm going to love the heck out of them!)
Okay, back to SCIENCE!! A few weeks ago, as I was walking my line of busers out of the building, one of them said, "Are those snakes?" and pointed at a tree along our sidewalk that leads to the bus loop.  The tree had large seed pods hanging from it that were black and squiggly. I could see how they looked like snakes! I told him I wasn't sure and we'd have to do some research. I knew our science unit was starting the next week and I thought maybe this would be a neat introduction. To my surprise, the next day, as I walked my busers out again, 3 or 4 more kids stopped to look at the tree. Pretty soon the whole group had stopped and was pointing. Instead of being annoyed that we were going to be late to the bus, like I may have been in the past, I was THRILLED! Here was the perfect kick off to our science unit! Don't you love teachable moments?! I told the kids that afternoon- "Boys and girls, I don't know what those are! I think we're going to have to find some scientists to help us answer that question." They agreed and we got on our way to the buses. Little did they know, they were the scientists I had in mind!
The next week we began by checking our schema. (My district curriculum combines ELA with science and social studies.) We'd been talking about schema for a few weeks.
This page is from my Reader's Workshop Folder Pages Unit. I just projected it onto my Smartboard, as I do most things. Our new learning is in green. You can also see where we went back and changed some of our schema. Our misconceptions, if you will.
We read Deanna Jump's freebie, What Do Scientist Do?,  the book, What is a Scientist?, and I created this anchor chart. (From my Science Journal Unit)
Finally, I introduced our Science Journals. I copied all the pages and used the book binder to make them look "official".  We did the first few pages that are all geared towards introducing what a scientist is, does, and uses. 
Now we were ready to be scientists! My classroom volunteer took these amazing pictures of my kids in "lab coats" (old white cardigans and dress shirts!), goggles, and magnifying glasses. I soooo wish I could show you their faces! PRICELESS!
The next few days were spent studying our "snake tree". We had learned that scientists question. So we began by coming up with some questions about these, so called, snakes. Then we spent time observing the "snakes".
By the end of the week we had determined they were seed pods from a Black Locust Tree. We still, lovingly, refer to it as our "snake tree"!
(pardon my handwriting on this hallway display...yikes!)
Here is a quick snapshot of everything that is included in my Science Journal unit on TpT. If you click the picture it will take you to my store where you can download the preview and get a closer look! Thanks!


This week was all about the three states of matter. I found the most adorable poems on pinterest, of course. I always like to give credit where credit is due so here's the link: http://mrsterhune.blogspot.com.au/search/label/Matter
I took the poems and printed them out, smaller, so they could become a center. The pictures can be sorted and put on the correct poem with velcro. Click the picture to download this freebie!
 We ended this 2 week intro to science with our first experiment. I kept it simple and brought in my electric griddle. We watched an ice cube change from a solid, to a liquid, to a gas and wrote about it in our science journals. Next week begins a roation back into Social Studies but my kids had so much fun with science I wanted to give them a special reward. Again, pinterest is my friend! I found this adorable idea for a "mad scientist" snack. I knew I had to make them for my kids.
In other news, as much as I'm loving my group, organizing them has really been a challenge. I have 24 sweet babies, the most I've ever had in my teeny tiny room! Plus, I've got speech push-in and pull outs to arrange around. APPR is a constant concern on my radar, I committed to trying The Daily 5 this year (admittedly it's become the daily 2 in my room!), and although my loves are sweet and happy, they present some real academic challenges. Figuring my schedule out has been a nightmare!! I need 40 more minutes in my day, minimum! We are just go, go, go ALL day. It doesn't seem fair to these SIX year olds. It is what it is and I still make time every day for play time. I don't care what anyone says!! This is first grade, damn it. They need to play. Even if it's only for 15 minutes.  So, I leave you with my group charts. I need to do most of my core instruction in small groups. There's no way around that. I've got such varying levels and needs. Once I've nailed down what I'm doing, in stone, I'll post about it. Hopefully I'll have some freebies to share and some new items up on TpT by then as well.
^^^What a bear this was to organize! ^^^
Thank goodness for my Smartboard. More on my choice time and Reader's Workshop routines to come!


Math Workshop is also still coming together. This display didn't turn out nearly as cute as its inspiration! I'm working on it! I'll be posting more on this when it's done!

Lastly, I leave you with two anchor charts that combine all sorts of ideas I've found on pinterest and some of my own. We're doing personal narratives in writing and we're writing "ouch stories". Pardon my handwriting again! I don't know what is up with me lately, everything looks like a sloppy mess!
Really- this is it, I swear. If you haven't watched this video yet, DO IT! I cried. Such an important lesson! I was afraid it would be too deep for my kids but after I showed it too them today, they clapped. I hope it sticks with them. Unfortunately, I think there are some of my kids who can relate to being "the kind of kid who's never had a birthday".

As always, I welcome your comments and I hope you'll consider following me! :)