Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tick Tock Track Out

     I teach in a year round school. So for those who are familiar with this type of system, you know that these mini track outs are heaven in terms of getting life's little errands completed (who has time for medical appointments and checkups?!) Usually, I try to not do a lot of school work over these track outs, but I was just too stinkin' excited by the thought of planning for my favorite classroom holiday...Valentine's Day...and the possibility of not living working for 12-13 hours a day in my classroom, to not plan as far ahead as humanly possible! So posted today you will find a couple of my Valentine's Day products that are available as free downloads at my tpt site. Please rate my products, and I hope you will choose to add me to your followers list because oh man, I promise to deliver with my next upcoming unit! 


     For those of you who don't know a lot about the year round school system, it has its advantages and drawbacks. It is a fabulous thing for the little learners who never stay away from school and a formal learning environment for more then a few weeks. It is also a lifesaver for teachers because usually about the time you feel completely and 100% spent you are able to start looking forward to a mini track out! However, there are some complications...I won't delve too deeply into the political challenges for the sake of sounding grumpy, but most issues result from the true purpose of why we have year round schools: lack of space and funding. We operate on a multi-track system so that the entire student population is never present at the same time. This cuts on operating and building costs while simultaneously capitalizing on the need for more space! Challenges occur in this regard when issuing "make-up" days...there literally are not enough rooms for every class. Also, the newly mandated law that extends our school year from 180 to 185 days for the coming year. Where are the kids going to learn if we don't have enough classrooms? There has been talk of Saturday school to cover the extra days in year round schools...I won't even mention my thoughts about that!

     The last interesting thing I will share with you in today's post about multi-track year round schools is that teachers literally move rooms. So next week on my work day, I will be unloading ALL of my resources, materials, chair pockets, EVERYTHING out of a storage closet and redecorating my classroom. I do this five times a year! Phew, I have become an expert on moving and keeping super organized to make the moving out and back in again process as fluid as possible! Do any of y'all work in a year round school too? What are your best organization tips for student paperwork?

     Tick tock...my track out time is running out. Back to running errands and planning for my next big unit! Become a follower so you can get it first and receive a special promotional offer!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Ringing in the New Year!

 So it was back to learning as usual on January 2, 2012, and we spent the first week of the new year celebrating new opportunities! I am posting a couple different work stations I created to keep students enjoying this festive time of year that also align with our literacy objectives and fit in the Daily 5 model.

Party Hat Word Families

The first item posted is a 'Word Work' rotation where students first cut out each of the word family "party hats." Then, they wrote on various colored strips of construction paper (I suggest pre-cutting strips so that your kiddos have more time to dedicate to the heart of the activity) different words that are in the same word family. Students had a blast trying to think up the most creative, fancy words. One of my firsties recorded "NC State" as a word that belongs in the "ate" family. I thought that was just precious. After all the craftiness of pasting word strips to their party hats was complete, students filled in their thinking maps with the word family words.


"I want to ring in the new year by learning to spin on my head because it is cool. I also want to ring in the new year by being a scientist because it is cool too!"

Ring in the New Year Writing Package


The second template attached was completed by students during their 'Writing' rotation. We had previously discussed the idea of "idioms" being silly expressions. Students put their heads together and thought up idioms we use in our classroom all the time: hit the lights, piece of cake, see you later alligator, etc. Then, I introduced the idiom "Ring in the New Year." Students were forthcoming with responses such as "Come on, how can you REALLY ring in a new year? It's not a bell or something!" This was my cue that they had the concept of idioms down pat! 

They wrote all about how they would like to "Ring in the New Year" by setting goals for how they could make this year the best yet! My favorite part was being able to read through all of their hard work at the week's end and see how motivated all my firsties are!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Mousin' Around!

If it must be cold outside, than we BETTER all be in the festive, winter time spirit!

Pre-christmas season I started to get hooked on the idea of bringing cutesy back to my first grade classroom...they LOVE it after all! I was finding that in the never ending pursuit of perfection, efficiency, and the ludicrous number of assessments happening, I was too often losing sight of how to enjoy guiding my kids through the learning process. It is just so hard to find time to slooow down enough to enjoy those ah-ha moments when worrying about getting everything done. 

In this post you will see just a small showcasing of some of the work the bumblebees completed while reflecting on "If You Take a Mouse to the Movies." It must be said that my first few "cutesified" undertakings before Christmas time were borrowed from posts by a teacher at thefirstgradeparade.blogspot.com. Upon visiting her site you will immediately find that she must be a great share-er, and I have been working hard to create fun, challenging units to...of course...repay the favor!

Students wrote response "If you take ME to the movies..." during Daily 5 writing rotation. Such great writing! I love how they remembered to use commas when writing a list of things for which they would ask!

                                                                                                           After reading the book, students were told how they were going to be movie producers! They had to recall every "scene" from the book. Each pair of students were assigned to a scene of our movie. They included details about the setting and characters while also writing dialogue for the movie characters. After finalizing their movie "scene" students sequenced the whole movie onto our filmstrip. They had a ball lining figuring out how to line themselves up in the correct order. They even practiced acting out the movie aloud using their sequencing words: first, next, then, ultimately! Fan-flipping-tastic comprehension lesson!
                                                                                                     Filmstrip outside of our classroom.