Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Joy of Reading!

Are reading logs killing the joy of reading in your students? “Reading is important!”  That is not up for debate!  But stealing the joy of reading from young children and families does not have to be part of the experience! 

So here’s the scenario: 
It’s 7:00 and your kiddos are winding down.  You’ve established a wonderful bedtime ritual of reading before bedtime.  Your children are in their cozy pajamas and you’re snuggled up together reading some great books.  You finish the last book and your children may or may not remind you to complete the reading log.  You don’t want them to miss out on the reward!  (Yes, I’ve even been THAT teacher!)  Now, the search for the backpack or the reading log begins!  Maybe you complete the reading logs and put it right back in the backpack.  Maybe you complete the reading log and leave it on the kitchen table and then it gets tossed in the recycling when you collect the newspapers.  Now it’s the next morning and you’re rushing to get ready for work and school and your searching for the backpack and the reading log. 

As a mother of 4 daughters, I have completed my “unfair” share of reading logs.  That’s right, “I have completed them!”Typical reading logs are all about the parents, right?  The parents write down the title and the minutes read or record the page numbers.  All of this usually happens right at bedtime which disrupts that moment of connection between parent, child and book!

And this is supposed to encourage our students to read?!

As a teacher for 20 years, I've assigned the weekly reading log.  I've even had parties for reading minutes and celebrated those recorded minutes!  You know...the celebration for the parents that had it all together and completed the reading log!  Well all that's in the past...

I want to encourage reading not make it a chore.  I created reading logs for my students that are fun and kid-focused!  Students take ownership of "logging" minutes and are responsible for completing the reading logs!

I want my students to read every night.  I start by asking them to read for 10 minutes a night.  But soon they realize that they have built their "stamina" and like to read longer!  These reading logs allow for students to record their reading in increments of 10 minutes.  Students, not parents, color one picture for every increment of reading.  In the picture below, students would color one Christmas light bulb for every 10 minutes!  Then after coloring five bulbs, they would have read 50 minutes!  

It's easy for them to add their own minutes (counting by 10s)  and record the weekly total!  I like how they are practicing counting, as well as reading lots!  I have several students asking for extra reading logs each week!  They love being responsible and seeing their success!  The results in my class have been great!   

Tips for Success

  • I teach my students how to set the timer on our iPads at school.  I encourage parents to show their children how to use a timer that's available at home...phone, tablet, kitchen timer...anything that the child can use INDEPENDENTLY!  
  • Practice at school first!  When I introduce Read to Self, we color in our reading logs for practice!
  • Encourage your students to read to younger siblings, pets, or stuffed animals!  It's fun to have an audience!
  • Celebrate class success instead of highlighting individual minutes!  Everyone gets to enjoy a celebration after the entire class reaches a goal.  This removes the competition!
If this sounds like something your students would enjoy,  click on the picture below for a free reading log to try!  

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thanksgiving Vacation Writing Freebie

The day back from vacation is always full of excitement!  We've missed our friends and the predictable routine of school!  I love sharing with my students all about my vacation happenings and hearing about their experiences!   I use the excitement of our vacation breaks to launch a new writing piece!  

I like doing this by mingling to music!  I have the kiddos spread out around the classroom.  I start some fun music and they begin to mingle.  When the music stops, they stop and share something that happened over the break!  Then repeat!  I let this go until I can feel it getting too noisy and not focussed!  

Then we get down to business, writing about our break!  We write one thing we shared in each bubble!  This helps organize our writing!  Then we use the Thanksgiving Vacation paper to create a page for our class book!  

Here are some examples from last year!

First, we completed our graphic organizer.

Then, we wrote about our vacations!  I love the complete sentences and "first grade spelling"!


You can download this freebie to use in your classroom this year!  Happy Writing!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Fall into M.A.T.H. Stations!

I love this time of year!  The beautiful fall colors, cooler air,  Pumpkin Spice Lattes and knowing the holidays are right around the corner!  I also love seeing the growth my students have made in this short time we've been together!

During the first trimester of school, we have focused on subitizing, showing numbers in different ways, and making 10!  I've been forcing myself and my kids to slow down and really focus!  I want to make sure they have a solid foundation in these 3 areas of math!

This is by far the BEST I have felt about my students' math understanding this early in the year!  Each morning we gather on the carpet for our calendar time!  This is more than the day of the week, etc.  This is the mini lesson before our MATH time.  We make the most of this time by following this daily routine!

I'm so impressed with my students' math minds and plan to continue with this routine!  Here is an outline of what it looks like in my classroom!

For MATH time I use the acronym M.A.T.H. to organize my groups.

            • M - Meet with the Teacher
            • A - Activity Journal
            • T - Technology
            • H - Hands on Tubs

Meet with the Teacher is my time to work with small groups.  During this time, I introduce new games, strategies and/or reinforce concepts.  Often the activities we cover in my small groups will appear in Hands on Tubs for independent practice!

Activity Journal provides an opportunity for independent practice and is often pencil paper.  I try to provide more than a worksheet though.  Usually it is more of an interactive page.

Technology:  I am fortunate to have 5 Chromebooks and 6 iPads in my classroom.  My students use the Chromebooks to access our adopted curriculum's on line portion during MATH time.  We also use the iPads to explore apps.  Some of our favorites are:

Hands On Tubs are filled with games that review concepts previously taught.  Students play games with partners or complete activities independently.  Occasionally, one of the tubs may have an independent activity such as puzzles, tangrams, or pattern blocks.

Hands on Math Tubs offer the perfect time to provide engaging fall themed independent and group activities for students!  Here are some of my students' favorites and a FREEBIE for you!

Print and add DICE!  My students love these!

Get your kids up and moving while practicing math strategies!

Click the Picture to Download Your Freebie!