Monday, September 30, 2013

A Second Grade Tabletop Community!

I have so many fun things to blog about! I'm going to try to *squeak* time in to share the fun happenings in my classroom throughout the next month. 



We started social studies with a unit on communities. This is the third year in a row that I have started the year with a communities unit since it is a perfect companion to building a classroom learning community. This time, I changed it up and gave my students A LOT of freedom to create a community of their own. I was very impressed with the results!

After learning about urban, suburban, and rural communities, it was time for my kids to create a community all their own. They were so excited to learn new vocabulary! Each student voted on the type of community they wanted to create with evidence supporting why they were voting this way (connecting this unit to common core standards). The students stacked their note card votes to create a giant bar graph. An urban community won by a landslide (they did almost EVERYTHING without my help)! 

I explained to my students that we couldn't just build a community. It was important to work together as a planning committee to plan what was needed to create a functioning community. Our essential question is seen below! 




I created a chart with 4 columns, each column included a part of a community. Students worked in table groups to discuss and place a post-it note on each column with what they believe is needed in a community. My sweet second graders came up with an amazing list! They even thought to include a nursing home, dog park, and garbage cans to help eliminate pollution... so thoughtful! 

I then had volunteers choose what they wanted to create. I chose a small {capable}group to map out our community and include spaces for all of the buildings. 






This group did such a great job mapping out the roads, building locations, parks, and even train tracks! I was very impressed! They thought of everything! I can't tell you how lovely it was to just sit back and let them do their thing, knowing they totally understood what I was aiming for. 



Again, I gave my kids almost complete freedom. The houses and community buildings aren't perfect, but I think that makes their community even more special! It's not a cookie-cutter look... it's all them. 





The final result is very sweet and uniquely theirs! My kids were so proud of their creation... I overheard my kiddos talk about how amazing it was to one another and how they couldn't wait to show their parents. I couldn't help but smile at their ownership and enthusiasm :)

Tomorrow, we're going to work on mapping skills and map out our community. Lastly, I'll include a non-fiction writing project to assess their understanding of what makes a great community! I'll have more to share soon!

Do you teach communities in your classroom? What fun community ideas do you have to share??

Monday, September 23, 2013

I Love Math Games!: Number Sense Math Game Freebie

 It's Monday... not just any Monday... a Monday after having a sub. Yes, it was a crazy day and I had to use my stern teacher voice several times. I was so ready to relax when I got home (and thankful that I had enough planned to take a little break to blog). 

I'm a math maniac! I love teaching math and love looking at data to help improve how I teach math! I try to keep my math block as consistent as possible so my students know what to expect; this really helps with keeping learning student centered.

 Here's what my 60 minute math block looks like:

Math Game (15 mins)
Guided Practice (30 mins)
Math Workbook/ Problem of the Day (15 mins)

Math workbook and the problem of the day alternate. I use the problem of the day to gather data on whether or not the majority of my students understand our objectives. I pull the students who aren't showing evidence of understanding the objectives during the last 15 minutes of math to work with me in a small group.

I also have an additional 30 minutes of math before the 60 minute math block where my students do math facts and daily math review.

Enough with the nitty-gritty! Let's get to the freebie!



I'm sure many other primary teachers struggle with helping students develop their number sense. This is a game made especially for helping my kiddos with their number sense, patterning, and counting. Students roll a ten-sided dice to get a number and must fill-in the five numbers before and after that number. Easy, right? And, since it's a game... the kids totally loved it! The classroom was filled with smiles and lots of rolling dice!




Just click on the game board above and you will be taken to this freebie

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Bringing Out the Sub Folder

Sneezing, coughing, runny nose, fever, chills... yup, I've got the flu! It's only September, but it's already time to bring out the sub folder! 



In the past, I've gotten compliments from substitute teachers on my sub plans and information. What a great feeling of relief! It is so hard to leave my kiddos behind.  I feel like the more informed your sub is, the more likely they will finished the lesson plans you share with them. 

Here's What's Inside:
  • Schedule
  • Students with notes about each one (behavior, if they're a helper, if they will need academic support, etc.)
  • Lesson plans for the day
  • General lesson plans for emergencies
  • Attendance form to be turned into the office
  • Worksheets that go with our themes and objectives (*sigh* I know, I don't like worksheets either!)
  • A place for a substitute to leave notes on how my second graders behaved
  • Extension activities for fast finishers
  • Sponge activities if things get finished early
  • Attention signal
  • Information on individual and classroom rewards

Whew! I think I listed it all! This is organized, of course! I forgot how long it took to plan for someone else to  teach your kiddos! Luckily, I know my sub and know she'll do an amazing job!

When I dropped off today's sub plans, I found this sweet little note from a very smart kiddo:



Definitely made me feel better! I'm hoping the body protectors come soon to defeat this flu bug!

How do you prepare for a substitute teacher??

Monday, September 16, 2013

Launching Read to Self: The Daily 5 in Pictures!

Are you Daily 5 crazy like I am?? I couldn't imagine not using Daily 5 in my classroom and have been implementing it since I first started teaching five years ago. 

Every year I learn a little bit more and get a little bit better at teaching the five reading choices. One thing I learned is how important it is to make sure Read to Self is down pat. Most of my time is spent launching Read to Self and building student reading stamina. Once my second graders thoroughly understand Read to Self, learning the other 4 choices quickly fall into place. In my opinion, Read to Self is the glue and foundation of the Daily 5. 

Here's a peak at some of my anchor charts and little more about what The Daily 5 looks like in my second grade classroom! 



I start The Daily 5 with my kiddos learning Read to Self expectations. We have a lot of fun role playing the right and wrong way to find and reading spot and build independent reading stamina. We create our T-Chart and continue to add and modify it until we, as a class, agree that it is perfect! The picture on the right is the final draft of our Read to Self I-Chart. I will hang our final chart up in my library so we can continue to refer back to it throughout the year. 


Each day, I continue to do mini-lessons on CAFE reading strategies. My second graders learn different songs and hand motions to remember these important strategies. I encourage my kiddos to do the hand motions while reading so that I can clearly see which strategy they are using during Read to Self time. I just LOVE seeing my students do this and they are so proud of themselves for doing the reading strategies!



 After we practice the reading strategies, I add them to our CAFE board which is near my guided reading table (I'm chomping at the bit to start guided reading and reading strategy groups!). To close our Daily 5 time, students share a reading strategy they used with a partner and I randomly call on students to share what strategy they used with the entire class. I cold call on students to hold them accountable and to remind them that every reader needs to practice reading strategies every time they read, even their teacher! 


For the first couple times students Read to Self, I choose their reading spots for them. Once I feel like their ready, the students and I work together to come up with a list of places they can and can't sit during Read to Self and how they're going to get there. We practice finding our reading spots quickly and quietly again and again until we have it down perfectly! I don't want my students to lose any time from their reading to find a place to sit and practice make {almost} perfect!

Student Book Boxes:



Giving a book box to my second graders is like giving them a Christmas gift... they were so excited! Before Read to Self, I place about 5 books in each students book box. Each day I rotate the books. By doing this, my kiddos don't get bored of the books they have and continue to stay engaged while reading. I let them keep two of their favorite books, if they want. 

Now that Read to Self is going pretty darn good, I'll add writing, word work, and partner reading this week! I will have more pictures to share of these reading choices soon! 

What does Read to Self look like in your classroom????

 If you have a blog post of what The Daily 5 looks like in your classroom, please share! 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

SLANT Box & Winning!

Now that school is back in session, I value that weekends that much more! I was so happy to sleep in today! When I woke up, what did I do?? I went to my school to clean-up and laminate... yup! I just can't get away from school no matter what day it is! AND, I will be back again to print off reading assessments tomorrow. What can I say?? I love my job!

I am LATE to the party, but I wanted to share what I got in the mail several days ago... my SLANT box from Amanda and Stacia from the blog Collaboration Cuties. They knew just what I needed and I can't thank them enough for such an amazing SLANT box!

If you haven't heard of SLANT box, you've gotta check it out and join many other teachers next month! SLANT box is hosted by Jameson from Lessons With Coffee. I am secretly jealous that she came up with this idea before I did; it's a pretty cool way to interact with other teachers! 



SLANT stands for Sending Love Across the Nation to Teachers. You are paired up with two teachers, one to learn more about and to send a box to, and one teacher who will learn more about you and will send you a box! 

Here's the fun I got this month!!



My SLANT box partners learned that I have a pirate theme in my classroom. That's why I received some fun skull and cross bone decor in black and white. I also got a ton of super cute post-it notes and Duck tape! Who doesn't love fancy Duck Tape!?!


Here's the crazy thing, I told them I was looking for a black crow to go with my pirate theme, and they actually found one and sent it to me... I couldn't believe it! 

It was so great to be matched with Collaborate Cuties! I met some great new blogging friends! 

Last, but not least, last week I also got a gift from a giveaway! This was my first time winning a giveaway from another teacher blogger! I was really excited because it was a beautiful bracelet by Alex and Annie. It is beautiful and I've already word it three times! 

The giveaway was from Marcy at Searching for Teacher Balance. Marcy was one of my first blogging buddies and is from Oregon just like me! Here's the bracelet... 


Pretty, huh!?! 

I hope you get the chance to check out all of the bloggers I mentioned above AND join me next month for the SLANT box exchange! See you there!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Community Building Games for a New School Year!

I am just elated! My new class of second graders are just perfect! I could not imagine a more well-adjusted group. Last year, I had a class full of tough cookies, so this year seems to be a breath of fresh air. The first week of school is finished and I am ready to dive right into learning. 

During the first week of school, I tried to be very strategic with my lesson plans. I wanted to limited individual activities and plan for more activities with rotating partners and small groups. I want my class to be a community! I couldn't imagine building a strong community of learners without many, many, many collaborative activities where students can learn how to interact effectively with one another. 

I wanted to share a couple of my very favorite group activities from the first week of school! 


Roll and Learn! 


This game is easy-peasy, fun, and gets rid of some of your students' endless energy! Here's what you need...

1. Music
2. Large dice
3. Poster with a question for each number of the dice

We started the game by playing music. While the music is playing, my students walked around the room, smiling at one other. When the music stopped, the kiddos stood back-to-back with the person closest to them. I then chose a student to roll the dice. Whatever number it landed on deciphered the question/ statement my second graders would discuss with one another. When the music started back up, my students would once again walk around the room, making sure to smile at whomever they passed. We repeated this until all of the questions were answered. 

Match Mine!

This game was the funnest game we've played so far! The kids loved it and didn't even realize how much learning and vocabulary development was taking place... score!


In my classroom, my students sit in groups of four. To play this game, you need two partner groups working together, comprising a group of four. Each partner group gets a set of matching pattern blocks. 


Before my students walked into the room from specials, I made a design using a set of pattern blocks and covered it so my students couldn't see what I had made. I told my kiddos that I was going to carefully describe what I made and see if they can create the exact same design. I described my design, making sure I was using accurate vocabulary, one pattern block at a time... "The top of my design is a triangle. Below the triangle is a hexagon..."

I gave students breaks in between each description to allow my kiddos to discuss how they think the design should be assembled. It was so much fun listening to their discussions! I loved how some of the students were trying to persuade one another that they knew where a shape went. They were so engaged!!

When I was done describing the design, I revealed it to the students. They compared their design to mine and discussed why it may or may not match what I created. 



The next day, I set up the classroom so my second graders could play this game with their table groups. I put file folders on each table and connected them with a paperclip. This made the perfect shield for students to create and build their designs on. 


The first group made their design while the other group explored their pattern blocks. When the first group was finished creating their design, they began describing it to their partners. 


When they were finished describing their design, the other group took a peak and compared it with their own. They discussed what went wrong, or right! Then, the second group got to create a design! 

This was a great first week community building activity, but I know I will pull it out again when we are on our geometry unit! It is such a good way to reinforce vocabulary!!! Not to mention, listening skills, too!! 

What group activities did you do with your class on the first day of school?? 

Monday, September 2, 2013

September Currently!

Oh August! Where did you go? 
Tomorrow... Tomorrow is my first day of second grade! I am nervous, excited, worried, prepared, unprepared, exhausted... I can't pinpoint one emotion! 

With all this emotion (I am such a girl!) it was really fun filling out this month's Currently from Farley's Oh' Boy 4th Grade! I'm just thankful I got my planning done so that I can take a break and blog! 


I have never taught just 2nd grade! I've taught a 1/2 blend and a 2/3 blend, but not 2nd grade. I think that is why, even after four pages of lesson plans (I even wrote a script for myself) and my copies ready to go, I feel so unprepared! I am praying that I can get a good night's sleep! 

To be honest, I'm so jittery, I don't even know what to write!!! All I can think about is that tomorrow is the big day. I wish I could talk about something more thought provoking!

I will, however, leave you with a couple of pictures. A picture's worth a thousand words, right??



To all the other teachers who are starting their first day tomorrow, best of luck! I'll be posting all about my first day tomorrow! Yay!