Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Families are different.

Part of the First grade curriculum in my district is to teach about families. So every year at the end of our families unit I have the kids draw a family portrait. Boring? Maybe. We've all done it. I realize I'm not being innovative or even creative. I just wanted to share some of our work.

Teaching about homes & what goes in them.

Part of teaching ELL is getting to teach all the little things we take for granted that our native English speakers know.

Right now in Kindergarten we are talking about what a "home" is. I also go into what rooms are inside a home. Seems like a simple concept but for children that just arrived from a refuge camp in Burma that have never had a bedroom or working bathroom, it is not. So I teach about the different rooms in a home, what their purpose is and what furniture we keep in each one. After a week long of this, we make our own houses. Here is what they look like.

This is only 1/2 of them.
 A close up.
They are so proud of the little town we made. We even named it after our school. I felt guilty that I didn't allow them to color in their furniture. I think that would have made them even cuter. However, we were short on time. Maybe next year.

What do you think?

Thanksgiving Activities

Here is what students made for Thanksgiving.

Here are my Kindergarten Turkeys.
 A close up.

My First graders wrote a bit more. They had to finish the sentence starter and illustrate.

A close up.

My second graders had a sentence starter on the first page. 
Then they had to elaborate on the second page.
 Inside shot.

I wish I could put up these templates online for you. However, I am still learning to attach documents on Google Docs with out losing all my formatting. Once I figure it out I will put them all up.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Holiday Celebrations

December Is a very stressful month for me at work. Not because I have to buy gifts or because the kids get excited. It is stressful for me because I feel like there is so much to teach and not enough time. Now some of you may not be follwing me so let me explain further. (I currently teach ELL and only see my students for 1 hour a day.) There is Hanunkka, Christmas & even Kwanza. I want to talk about Frosty, The Grinch that Stole Christmas, The Gingerbread Man, Fancy Nancys Splendiforus Christmas, Splat the Cats Christmas & The Polar Express. Not to mention the countless of other holiday books that I never get to. In addition to this my students come from various cultures and don't celebrate these holidays. However, I feel it is my duty to expose them to these celebrations and traditions that are a part of American culture/ tradition. All of this in addition to the regular curriculum.

Usually I pick 3 books and do a week on each one. However, yesterday when I pulled out my holiday books I had a VERY difficult time decideing on which ones to choose. What I finaly decided was that I would spend the first week in December talking about the different hoidays. The second week talking about Hanukkah & lighting a bulletin board menorah. Finaly the remainder of December we will discuss Christmas and it traditions. I will read two holiday books a week, even if they don't match the hoidays. I will finish it all upwith the Grinch which is not a Christmas story but a story about being accepting, thankful and loving no matter what you have.

What do you all think? How do you decide what to teach in December?

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sorry no pictures I'm writing this on my iPhone.

I wanted to wish you all a happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Veterans Day

I am not going to lie. I was not going to celebrate Veterans day because I was WAY too busy getting ready for parent conferences. However, Veterans day arrived and I was so worn out by the previous night of back to back marathon conferences that I needed a break. This is what spontaneously happened.
I talked about Veterans day with each class and saw a 12 min video on the history of Veterans day. Kindergarten colored flags, First grade drew what they thought was important about Veterans day and I had my 4 second graders tell write and tell me why we celebrate Veterans day. Then I got a bright idea and threw it all onto to some bulletin board paper. They LOVED it. Not every paper got on to the banner but the ones that did were representatives.
I liked it, I think I will have to do a repeat performance again next year. What do you all think.

Very late Fall activities.

I realize I am about a month late with these but I thought I would share before we took down our Fall activities.

Let me start with our Leaf Men. 
My Kindergarten students LOVED going out and collecting the leaves. We got to have some great discussions about the colors of the leaves and why they fall. We got to study different kinds of leaves and their sizes.
 So we took a sentence from the book, out of order and we put it back together in the right order.
 Then we thought of our own (pattern) sentences about leaves.

Next up First grade.
With my First graders I discussed Fall and what it looks like. We took a walking tour around the school and when we got back we got a sentence starter "My favorite thing about Fall is..." and they had to finish it on their own.

 Kindergarten also got to visit the Pumpkin Patch this year. We did a similar sentence building activity as the leaf man. This one says "Pumpkins are orange & round."
 So then my First graders were not happy they did not get a pumpkin activity so we learned about how when we carve a pumpkin it is transformed into a Jack-o-lantern. Then they wrote about Halloween.

Now we are working on our Turkeys and our Thankful activities that I hope I can get posted soon.

Color Coding Organization

I am currently teaching ELL and because I teach multiple levels, kindergarten & first grade, I have two sets of almost every thing in my room. Two sets of lesson plan books, workstations, anchor charts, word wall words, writers notebooks, well you get the idea. It can get pretty confusing but I've found a system that works for me. I've decided that Kindergarten materials would be red and First grade would be blue. So now when I buy folders, pocket charts, etc... I get a red and a blue set.

Here is a picture of my word wall. The Kindergarten words are in bright red and the first grade words are in blue. At first I thought it would be difficult for my students, especially because they are so young and just learning to use a word wall, but they got the hang of it real quick. An added bonus is that my First graders have their Kindergarten words on the wall if they need additional help, and my Kindergartners get VERY excited when they can read a First grade word.

 If you look closely at my word fish, you will see two sets of our weekly words, easily identified by their color. :)

 These two mini-pocket charts from Target's $1.00 section hold our talking buddies. To the left you can see two purple anchor chars that I will talk about later, but keep them in mind.
Here are two pocket charts that hold our assigned numbers and line order.

I thought I had a picture of how I post my workstation but I can't seem to find it. I cut out red and blue construction paper and place the workstation icon in front of it. It sounds more confusing than it really is. I will have to get a picture to post  sometime soon. I also have pencil boxes color coded red & blue at each workstation that hold leveled activities to at each center.

There are some exceptions. Anything that is used by both grade levels is purple and occasionally green, when I can't find purple. So below you can see one of my anchor chars in purple.

It makes for a VERY colorful room and sometimes I feel like it might be too much color, but it works, at least for now, and helps my students and I to put things back in their rightful place quickly.

There was one other picture I could not find, our class library. Once again my reading tubs are color coded red, blue and clear/ transparent.

Now, I realize that many of you don't have multiple grade levels but you can still organize by color coding. When I taught First grade I used to color code by subject.

Friday, November 19, 2010

My Classroom

Here are a few pictures of my classroom.
 This is my Computer work station. The kids can go to websites like Starfall & One More Story.
 This is my Charts, Songs & Poems workstation. These are songs & poems that we have previously learned in our class. As you can see we have many kinds of pointers. I think I will write another post about those all together. 
Here is my Making Words work station. Children can make their weekly high frequency words, build seasonal words from the seasonal bulletin board &/ or build sentences. They do this on magnetic white boards &/ or the side of the file cabinet.
 This is my reading workstation/ class library. It's not very orderly at the moment. It seems I should review how to properly shelve our classroom books.
Here is a look at my teachers desk/ space. I have a bulletin board all to myself where I keep track of all my meeting and special events. No students are allowed back there.

 This is my seasonal bulletin board with my DJ inkers weather bears and stick tree. I teach ELL so we talk about that we wear each season and label the clothing items. The students can reference this all season long.
 A closer view
 A far away shot of my Overhead workstation and easel where I do most of teaching.
 We track how many book we read for homework every month, as part of the BOOK IT! reading program. Once they meet their goal they earn a Pizza Hut coupon for a free pan pizza. They love being able to actually see how close they are to their goal.
 These 2 pocket charts display my number system. We use these numbers for several organization reasons I will have to post later about.
 My room is a bit odd. It used to be an observation room in the distant past so it has a short hallway leading into my room. It is the cause of much of my frustration, but one good thing about it is that I have some room to display some student work. This is an interactive bulletin board where the students get to write messages to one another in the speech bubbles. They LOVE it and I get a quick view of their writing.
 These are some anchor charts that I use with our writing program. The pictures in the pocket charts display our talking/ sharing buddies.
 Here is a view from the back of our room.
 This board displays our weekly HFW in our fish, our months & days charts, as well as our weekly songs & poems.
 A side view of my room.
 Because I teach multiple levels I have color coded my word wall. The read words are Kindergarten words and the blue words are first grade words.
Finally this is our writers bulletin board. We keep our 6 traits writing anchor charts here all year long so that we can reference them daily.