Friday, April 21, 2017

Teaching Sequencing with First the Egg

Using First the Egg, by Laura Vaccaro Seeger, as a Mentor Text for sequencing, teachers can make connections with 2- and 3-step sequencing and writing.This is such a cute book. The text is deceivingly simple and so are the illustrations. BUT, the book can be as complex as you'd like to make it. This book was a Caldecott Honor Book in 2008. 

Using First the Egg, by Laura Vaccaro Seeger, as a Mentor Text for sequencing, teachers can make connections with 2- and 3-step sequencing and writing.
On the surface, this book is a list of sequences..."First the egg then the chicken." The simple text and accompanying simple illustration can be read by even the earliest of readers.  It covers life cycles of the frog, butterfly, and plant. This book can also serve as an introduction to the writing process, "First the word, then the story. First the paint, Then the picture." Finally, the book ends with the cycle it started, "First the chicken, then the egg." 

The words tell a two-point sequence: egg-chicken, tadpole-frog, seed-flower. BUT the illustrations tell a three-point sequence: egg-chick-chicken, tadpole-polliwog-frog, seed-seedling-plant.

Here is a video read aloud for "First the Egg."

Using First the Egg, by Laura Vaccaro Seeger, as a Mentor Text for sequencing, teachers can make connections with 2- and 3-step sequencing and writing.




This book is obviously all about sequence, but the students can read the book themselves because there is heavy picture support. Using pictures will also help your students create a sequence.

1. Two-Step Sequencing

Using First the Egg, by Laura Vaccaro Seeger, as a Mentor Text for sequencing, teachers can make connections with 2- and 3-step sequencing and writing.
Using the provided picture cards, students can each have a picture and find the partner that creates a "first-then" sequence. As partners the students will collaborate on the sequence, the sentences, and the illustrations.

Using First the Egg, by Laura Vaccaro Seeger, as a Mentor Text for sequencing, teachers can make connections with 2- and 3-step sequencing and writing. 2. Three-Step Sequencing

Using the provided picture cards, students can find their partner in a "first-last" scenario, but they will have to collaborate on the "then" part of the story.

3. Writing Process

Using First the Egg, by Laura Vaccaro Seeger, as a Mentor Text for sequencing, teachers can make connections with 2- and 3-step sequencing and writing.Using the pages "First the word, then the story," students can practice with sight words. Students can choose a word, write a sentence, then write a story. This can be a fun way to practice sight words at an independent center.

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I have.

If you would like a First the Egg FREEBIE, click the title or the picture below.

Using First the Egg, by Laura Vaccaro Seeger, as a Mentor Text for sequencing, teachers can make connections with 2- and 3-step sequencing and writing.
Follow our blog hop and make sure you click on the rafflecopter link...you know you want all these books. My rafflecopter word is FIRST.


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Using First the Egg, by Laura Vaccaro Seeger, as a Mentor Text for sequencing, teachers can make connections with 2- and 3-step sequencing and writing.


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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Books Introductions: Take 2

Book Introductions are so important. Here is another way of introducing a book for small group instruction combining reading, vocabulary, and a little word study, too.
 I've talked about book introductions in past blog posts.  My first post was 4 Book Introductions You Don't Want to Miss gave 4 ideas for introducing a book. Too often we skip the introduction and jump into vocabulary and reading, but the introduction sets the stage.

Here's another book introduction that combines the introduction with the vocabulary (and adds in a little bit of word study for good measure).
Book Introductions are so important. Here is another way of introducing a book for small group instruction combining reading, vocabulary, and a little word study, too.
You've "met" Mallory before. She was my model for the CVC practice in action "I Don't Know This Word...Now What?" She is such a hard worker and I love working with her. She is just starting a Level D reader. She struggles with reading accuracy and sight word recognition and automaticity, but her comprehension is wonderful.

Step 1: I found four short i words and four short o words from the text.
Step 2: I gave her a sort sheet (I have a stack of these scrap card stock papers, so I use them a lot.)
Step 3: I said a word. She had to decide if it had a short i or short o, then write the word.
Step 4: I gave her an very short introduction and asked her to use the other words to predict what would happen in the story.

Here's a video of the introduction. I know, I know I held the phone the wrong way...ugh!

Of course, this introduction isn't for every book. It just depends on the book, but I loved it and she did, too.

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Monday, March 27, 2017

Kindergarten Fact and Fiction: An Article Review

Kindergarten: Fact and Fiction. Using an article by Mesmer and Invernizzi, one can make the argument for the importance of Kindergarten.
So last weekend I was going through my Twitter feed waiting for a session to start at the Virginia State Reading Association Conference, when I noticed an article tweeted by a friend, Laurie Elish-Piper. It was about kindergarten, so I was skeptical to say the least.

I truly believe kindergarten is the most important grade. "People" in education talk about how important a solid foundation is, but don't draw the same lines about kindergarten. The days of sand tables and nap times are gone and putting an emphasis on early learning is imperative. I have the highest respect for Heidi Anne Mesmer and Marcia Invernizzi, but I wasn't so sure about what they would call the "Myths" of kindergarten.

I am so excited to say: It is spot on!

MYTH 1: Kindergarten literacy instruction is teaching reading or pushing down the first-grade curriculum.

Fact from Mesmer and Invernizzi: "Kindergarten literacy instruction is responsively teaching young children the many facets that support their literacy development in many areas."

They do a great job of breaking down all the skills we teach in kindergarten that truly lay the foundation for learning. They also explain the not so subtle difference between the terms "literacy" and "reading." Students are exposed to "listening, speaking, reading, and writing, as well as motivation, comprehension and vocabulary."

MYTH 2: Kindergarten literacy instruction is developmentally inappropriate. 

Fact from Mesmer and Invernizzi: ""High-quality literacy instruction in kindergarten is developmentally appropriate and backed by decades of solid research."

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have said a million times with my arms stretched out wide "developmentally appropriate" is THIS range. What is development for one child is not for another. Should we always cater to the lowest common denominator? I don't think so. Do we have to differentiate? Absolutely. If a child is developmentally ready to pull up on the side of the couch BEFORE the baby book says he should, should we push him down? No. If a young child sits at a piano and starts to play earlier than his peers, should we tell him to stop? No. Likewise, if a child is ready, why should we stop. I think the biggest problem in the "developmental" argument is far too many people making decisions about what is and is not developmentally appropriate, have no idea what they are talking about.

MYTH 3: There is no time for play, fun, or socio-emotional development.

Fact from Mesmer and Invernizzi: "Kindergarten literacy instruction should be FUN and engaging.

Kindergarten should be engaging and exciting and fun. It should include repetition and practice. Students should be allowed to talk, interact, and problem solve in real situations. I won't talk about the utter ridiculousness of half-day kindergarten and the lack of time for conversation and problem solving. Here's a great quote, "Literacy itself is inherently social; it is sharing information, stories, and ideas."

MYTH 4: One size fits all.

Fact from Mesmer and Invernizzi: "Kindergarten literacy instruction cannot be the same for everyone."

The story of two kindergartners: One student needs actual instruction with letters and sounds to gain understanding and clear letter/sound associations. One student has been reading for a while and is reading chapter books. The only thing inappropriate about these kindergarten students is that someone deemed a one size fits all curriculum. We should honor their time and their abilities and give them what they need.

MYTH 5: More testing OR no testing.

Fact from Mesmer and Invernizzi: "High-quality literacy instruction is driven by certain types of literacy tests."

Tests, tests, and more tests. All tests are not created equal. Should we have tests, of course. Should we test EVERYTHING. No. Should we test with running records and benchmark tests to know exactly what the student knows and what they need. The first criteria for determining if a test is necessary should be this: What will be done with the results? If the results are not used for understanding the student and forming instruction, don't give it.

MYTH 6: Other countries are doing kindergarten more effectively than the United States.

Fact from Mesmer and Invernizzi: "Literacy instruction in the United States is challenging for a number of reasons."

There is no blanket answer for this one. The most important thing about comparisons is making sure we are comparing apples to apples. Other countries have other limitations on education, limiting who is educated, how they are educated and when they are educated. High success rates in these countries is based on the population they educate, not the whole population. We allow education for all and inherently we report all educational needs and results. Educators must look critically at results from these studies and make sure we are apples to apples.

In conclusion:

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this article. As I present to educators, administrators, professors, and people making education decisions...this article gives great basis for the "real" kindergarten. The kindergarten that is developmentally appropriate for ALL students. The kindergarten that is filled with quality in America. The kindergarten that uses assessments for real reasons and not just scores. The kindergarten that is filled with educational play and excitement. The kindergarten that has become the very foundation of all other learning. We can't dismiss it. We can't diminish it's value. We can't shrug it off. Mesmer and Invernizzi give all us "kindergarten enthusiasts" hope.

If you would like to read the entire article...and give it to everyone you know, here it is.

6 Myths About Kindergarten Literacy Instruction by Heidi Anne Mesmer and Marcia Invernizzi.

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Kindergarten: Fact and Fiction. Using an article by Mesmer and Invernizzi, one can make the argument for the importance of Kindergarten.

Monday, March 6, 2017

5 Ways to Create a Love of Reading

5 Ways to Create a Love of Reading... one of the best gifts you can give your child.
This is my favorite advice to parents. Create a LOVE of Reading and you'll never regret it. I am heartsick when I hear students say they don't like reading. I think they are just reading the wrong books and they are just one book away from finding a love in reading. We have to help them find that book. Here are 5 ideas to create a LOVE of Reading that will stand the test of time.

It's Simple Math

5 Ways to Create a Love of Reading... one of the best gifts you can give your child.That's a reading joke (hehe). But, one of my favorite quotes is, "Readers are born on the laps of their parents." It's soooo, soooo true. When we snuggle and add reading, we share a love of reading. Children will associate reading books with that snuggling and love. We can share funny stories like "Pete the Cat" by Eric Litwin and let them giggle. We can share friendship stories like "Chicken Sunday" by Patricia Polacco and teach them the value of true friendship. We can share stories of sadness like "I"ll Always Love You" by Hans Wilhelm. We can even share nervousness like "First Day Jitters" by Julie Danneberg to prepare them for life using books. It's a great way to share love.

Let them Listen...to you read.

5 Ways to Create a Love of Reading... one of the best gifts you can give your child.Let them listen to you! Sometimes when our children start to gain reading skills we tend to make them read everything, but they need to hear you read. They need to understand things like voice (how should that dog sound when he's talking) and intonation (making your voice show the ups and downs of language that can be shown in just text). They need to hear you read breathlessly when you are reading about a race and they need to hear you whisper when they are reading about a quiet time. Their first reading experiences sound like robots, but when they hear you read with expression, they will, too. You will get a kick out of hearing them read with your expression, before it becomes their expression.

Let them "read" it first...to preview and predict

5 Ways to Create a Love of Reading... one of the best gifts you can give your child.Before you read, have them look at the book. They can preview what will happen by looking at pictures. If you want to share the fun of a specific part of the book with them, let them look at the pages up until a certain point, then tell you what they think will happen. When you discuss the book before they know the answers, you are helping them predict and draw conclusions. You are their first teachers, so using words like "make a prediction" or "what do you think will happen" will give them such a head start on reading. 

Have Fun...when you read

5 Ways to Create a Love of Reading... one of the best gifts you can give your child.Why not make a schedule for family book time.  Monday is the start of a new week, so start it with a new book. Tuesday can be "Where are we going to" day. Pick a destination and dive in. Read about the zoo, the ocean, or the mountains. Wednesday can be all about "when" did the book takes place. Choose a book about the morning or the night, or maybe a book about the summer or the winter, or maybe even something that happened long ago or maybe way in the future. It could be fun to explore the "when" of books. Thankful Thursday can build a capacity for caring in your child. What are we thankful for? Read books about food or houses or pets or families. Friday is such a relief. It's a good time to relax and choose a pre-read book to read again. It makes the reading easy and they can even help you. Being creative with books, makes reading fun.

Reading is a Reward

5 Ways to Create a Love of Reading... one of the best gifts you can give your child.
One of the WORST things I've ever heard is: "I have to read when I'm being punished in my room."

WHHHAAATTTT???? 

Say it isn't so. Don't make reading the punishment. Please, please, please make it a reward. Why would we ever want to associate reading with punishment? You have had a fantastic day, let's read a book before your bath AND after your bath.



I hope this gives you ideas about creating a love of reading. It could be one of the best gifts you give your child.

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5 Ways to Create a Love of Reading... one of the best gifts you can give your child.





Sunday, February 26, 2017

100th Day: A School-Wide Event

Want a new idea for 100th Day? Here's a fun school-side idea.
I know, I know...I'm late again! The problem with "special days" in school is I think of things at the last minute, and then I like it, and then it's too late to post it.

But this time, I'm going to post it anyway.

First and Second Grade

Want a new idea for 100th Day? Here's a fun school-side idea.
We decided to have a 100th Day School-wide Idea. There is a bulletin board on either side of the student bathroom outside our school cafeteria.  I posted the title: "How many words can you make out of GREAT BRIDGE PRIMARY? on a Friday afternoon. Monday morning, I added 10 words to the board. First and second grade students received a hand-out with the same question. Tuesday morning, I added 10 more and added 10 more each day until the 100th day of school (ours was February 21st). On the 100th day, I added the rest of the words. Students who completed the paper, were given a homework pass.

Kindergarten Alternative

Want a new idea for 100th Day? Here's a fun school-side idea.
I thought the idea would eliminate most of our kindergarten students, so we sent home an adjusted assignment for K. They needed to write 100 letters or words. The explanation told students if they wrote each letter, upper and lower case, they would be more than half-way there. They could write color words, shape words, word wall words, names in their family, and more.

Students were also allowed to dress up on the 100th day...as 100-year-olds. They were super cute, but I don't have pictures, sorry.

This was fun. If you'd like to download and save this 100th Day idea for next year, click the link or picture below.
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Want a new idea for 100th Day? Here's a fun school-side idea.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Raising the Expectations - Half-Way Through

We need to Raise the Expectations for Independent Centers now that the year is half through. We take "process" centers and raise the expectations on the process.It's time to up the game. BUT, that doesn't mean changing the game.  You know I'm a "process center" girl. I believe in centers where we can teach a process and then change the product. That's exactly what we do half-way through the year. We don't throw out the baby with the bathwater, but we do have to raise the expectations.

Read it, Write it

We need to Raise the Expectations for Independent Centers now that the year is half through. We take "process" centers and raise the expectations on the process.
This is certainly a great process center, especially at the beginning of the year. It helps with reading, writing, and ordering the words. It is also great for making connections with illustrations and meaning. However, this is way too easy now...and it will take them two minutes to do it. How can we up it? Require more than one sentence. Require they write a new sentence. Require the illustrations be more detailed. There are lots of ways to up the game. I love this illustration. The cookie is on the fox's back and we know that won't end well.

Labeling

We need to Raise the Expectations for Independent Centers now that the year is half through. We take "process" centers and raise the expectations on the process.
This is another process center where the expectations can be increased. Students can be asked to write more sentences, label additional items, and more. They can be asked to add an new picture to the paper and label the new object. 

CVC Boards

We need to Raise the Expectations for Independent Centers now that the year is half through. We take "process" centers and raise the expectations on the process.
I LOVE CVC boards. I believe in this center. Students must be able to stretch and slide their way through words as they read and write. This center helps with encoding and decoding. As students get quicker with this skill, up the game. Choose a word and write about it. Choose two words and write about both in each in one sentence. You can also increase the word choice adding blends and digraphs to the center.

Stencils

We need to Raise the Expectations for Independent Centers now that the year is half through. We take "process" centers and raise the expectations on the process.
This is a "throw away" center. I call it that because my students did this center as a final center. It was "just a fun" center. Students have to trace the stencil with a pencil and add details, then they have to write sentences. They can use more stencils, but they have to write more sentences.

Don't forget the 4 Square Center, Squiggle Center, and Listening Center should also be upped. Each of these centers could demand 4 or 5 sentences at this time of the year. 

If you would like to have a sample of Raising the Expectations, click the link or the picture below.
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We need to Raise the Expectations for Independent Centers now that the year is half through. We take "process" centers and raise the expectations on the process.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

5 Ways to Create Independent Children - Home/School Connection

Home/School Connection: Creating Independent Children. The goal of both parents and teachers should be to create independent learners and citizens. Here are 5 ideas.
I am starting a Home/School Connection series on here. My intention is to empower parents to help their children by building a strong Home/School Connection. One of the biggest concerns I hear from teachers is about students who rely on the teacher for everything. We have to build a sense of independence in children, but we also need to build a sense of desire to be independent in children, as well. Parents are partners in this. I am often surprised by the parents who are surprised their child is independent in my class. For the most part, I think that's based on expectations. I expect independence, create routines to support independence, and a praise and reward independence.

Organized for Success

Home/School Connection: Creating Independent Children. The goal of both parents and teachers should be to create independent learners and citizens. Here are 5 ideas.I'm not saying EVERYTHING in your life needs to be completely organized and scheduled. Life is messy and unorganized and, well, life. BUT small steps in keeping your child organized can help them become independent. The bookbag always goes on the table. The shoes always go by the front door. A friend told me, "The weekly homework goes on the front of the refrigerator under a certain magnet until Friday. When we work on it, it comes off. When we're done, it goes back in the folder.  Everyone knows where it is and what we do. We all know the routine and no one gets upset." This is a great plan. Children are upset when they don't have what they need, but organizing things like homework helps them be independent. When my boys were young, we bought a 5-drawer plastic cabinet for their rooms. Sunday night, we picked our clothes for the week. They had to put socks and underwear in each drawer. Then, they had to make 5 piles on their beds with shirts and pants. My husband and I would double-check their choices, then one outfit went in each drawer. This was a life-saver for mornings. We didn't have to debate what to wear, but more importantly, they could dress themselves without my help. Teaching small steps in independence, encourages larger ones.

Let them Collaborate

Home/School Connection: Creating Independent Children. The goal of both parents and teachers should be to create independent learners and citizens. Here are 5 ideas.Children can do so much more independently than they think and sometimes, more than we think. Let them help you make list of what they are in charge of independently. When we let them make the list, they will be more apt to do it. Look at small parts of your day to make the list. When it is breakfast, ask them what they can do for themselves. Let them help you decide. Don't do everything for them. It will work against everybody in the end.

Have Accountability

Home/School Connection: Creating Independent Children. The goal of both parents and teachers should be to create independent learners and citizens. Here are 5 ideas.If you are making an Independent Chart...make them do it. You can't expect them to be independent when YOU want them to be. They need to be held accountable. Here's a biggie: there isn't necessarily an award for doing what you are supposed to do. It's just what you are supposed to do. You can compliment them and brag about them. BUT allow that to be the reward. Help them take pride in their work. Here's the other part: Don't make excuses for them either. Sometimes, they need a consequence to build a need for independence. We tend to want to protect our children from consequences, but we're teaching them how NOT to be independent.

Give Choices

Home/School Connection: Creating Independent Children. The goal of both parents and teachers should be to create independent learners and citizens. Here are 5 ideas.Another part of being independent is not always "getting your way." The world isn't that way, so creating a world that is will be doing you and your child a great disservice. Giving choices is a perfect way to allow them input, without allowing them to "rule the roost."
"Would you like to pick up your clothes before or after your both?"
"Would you like to help with cleaning the kitchen today or tomorrow?

Build Stamina

Home/School Connection: Creating Independent Children. The goal of both parents and teachers should be to create independent learners and citizens. Here are 5 ideas.You can't expect independence all at once, but you also can't expect to go from relying on you to completing large tasks independently over night. Start small and build on success. Tell them to write their name on their homework while you are out of the room, and expect it done when you go back. "You complete the first row of math problems, then we'll check it." Another idea for reading time, is giving your child time to preview a book before you read it. When your nighttime reading begins, ask them to predict what will happen or ask if they have any questions before your start. A fun way to start the story is with an "I wonder..." statement. "I wonder what will happen to Jack and Annie tonight." They need to have time to themselves to become independent.

Now, parent-to-parent, this is harder on you than it will be them. I understand the mom-thinking or the dad-thinking, "This is my baby. I don't want to rush him/her to grow up." This is sabotaging talk - for you and them. If you do everything for them, they won't build problem solving skills, won't need to be self-reliable, and they won't become independent...and that should be your goal.

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Monday, February 6, 2017

I don't know this word...Now What?

When working with struggling readers, we MUST empower them with tools for creating independence. Using cvc labeling and then the sound and slide strategy, we are building a reader.
I talk a lot about students becoming decoders and readers. A LOT. I know I do, but I am so passionate about giving students the tools to become independent and successful readers. I have a student who is new to me and our school and she is behind in reading. Really behind. I would like to make the most of my time with her. I have been using LLI and our fix-it strategies, but I needed something else in our tool belt.

Labeling and Coding

When working with struggling readers, we MUST empower them with tools for creating independence. Using cvc labeling and then the sound and slide strategy, we are building a reader.
I have been spending more and more time thinking about the "rules" of reading. You know, all those things you teach like, "When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking." Except it isn't exactly a rule. It only occurs 47% of the time. 47%. That's not a "rule." So what can we do instead? With "Mallory," I want to make sure she has tools that will help her. She is reading on a Level B and we are working hard with decoding cvc words. We have discussed how cvc words have a short vowel sound. I asked Mallory to label the words with c and v, if the word had a cvc pattern, she should circle the word in green. If it did not have the cvc pattern, she would x it in red. After she was done, she would read the cvc words using sound and slide.  ***By the way, we are only looking for "cvc" at this time. We aren't looking at words that are cvcc with a digraph, like "fish." We'll get there.***

We're getting there.

I am really proud of Mallory. We are making progress.

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When working with struggling readers, we MUST empower them with tools for creating independence. Using cvc labeling and then the sound and slide strategy, we are building a reader.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Classroom Makeover: Making a Space for Learning

Classrooms need to be spaces created to optimize student learning. It's our first line of defense. This classroom got a make-over in January. Let's make this space work!
I've been spending the last few days in a small school district in our state. We got the idea to do a Classroom Makeover for a teacher while I was visiting. Evidently, there was a lottery for all interested teachers and Jessica Watts was the winner. She was excited and I was, too. 

Classrooms need to be spaces created to optimize student learning. It's our first line of defense. This classroom got a make-over in January. Let's make this space work!

Before

She was excited and so was I. I was in her classroom Thursday to lead small group instruction and demonstrate whole group writing. She was more than open with what she wanted from her classroom. Jessica and I met in her classroom at 9:30 yesterday morning and walked around the room and talked about what areas in the room were working and what areas were not. She doesn't spend a lot of time in the whole group area, but wished it was better organized. She wanted each desk to face the front of the room, so seeing the Smart Board wasn't a issue. She also wanted a writing center that the students could use.

Word Wall 

Classrooms need to be spaces created to optimize student learning. It's our first line of defense. This classroom got a make-over in January. Let's make this space work!
Although looking at the first picture, you can't tell how big the blue pocket chart is, but it's a three-sided pocket chart stand. It stands about 4 1/2 feet tall. When I was doing a whole group writing lesson, we were going to write the word "everything." I asked the students if the word "every" was on the word wall, they all looked around to see. The funny thing was, they didn't all look at the word wall immediately, they looked around to find the word wall. Jessica was quick to say, this was such an a-ha moment for her. They obviously weren't using it because they didn't even know where to look for it. Some of the students in the front corner of the room couldn't see the word wall (because the blue pocket chart stand was in the way), so they had to stand to see it. When we found the word wall and found the word every, I asked them to spell it out loud for me. Another thing we realized during the writing lesson is that her words were too small. The students had a hard time seeing the word. I also talked to her about not laminating the word on the word wall. When we sat at the student desks there was a glare on some of the words and they were hard to see. During our re-do, we added black paper to wall between the bulletin boards, so we could expand the area. We also looked at spacing the letters strategically. Don't get me wrong I'm so type A, I like things spaced evenly, BUT all letters are not created equally on the word wall. There were going to be ALOT of words under F, H, S, and T. We had to make sure we could use that space well. Likewise, there aren't any words under Q, X, and Z. The words on the wall now are just unit 1 for Journeys, their reading center. She will add more later. ***This is just a thought. The words provided by Journeys(C) don't all have to be put on the word wall. Word walls should be used for high frequency words. Some of the words provided aren't necessarily "high frequency" words. I just ask that you are selective about what words are on your wall. I believe when the word walls are too busy with too many words, students don't use them.*** We also moved the whole group area under the word wall and moved the color and shape posters above the word wall. Now, all our anchor charts for words are in one place and she can use the word wall in her whole group lessons easily.

Small Group Area

Classrooms need to be spaces created to optimize student learning. It's our first line of defense. This classroom got a make-over in January. Let's make this space work!
The small group area was in the back of the room. We wanted to be able to post the fix-it strategies behind her desk. She also tried to use the small table behind the desk for reading supplies, but it wasn't quite big enough. We also needed to have a place to store their independent reading book bags. We moved the table to the side wall of the classroom between windows. She has a place for fix-its, a place for book bins, and a clear line of sight for the whole classroom. We also moved the small white shelf to behind her table and rotated the file cabinet to the side, so they can use magnet letters on the side easily. As she starts to use this space, she will make the shelves work for her.

Center Storage Area

Classrooms need to be spaces created to optimize student learning. It's our first line of defense. This classroom got a make-over in January. Let's make this space work!
Jessica already had center buckets for her student supplies. Students had all their materials for that bucket in one place, but they bucket were all over the place. Some on shelves. Some on the floor. Some on tables. We moved all the center supplies to one place. The built-in shelf unit was out of the way, so the students wouldn't trip over them when it wasn't center time. She already had labels on the buckets and we discussed adding labels to the shelves for easy clean-up. She will be changing out two of the buckets (on the table) because they didn't fit on the shelves. Jessica also made the decision to take down the big pocket chart stand. It contained 3 pocket charts, 1 for reading center rotations, 1 for math center rotations, and 1 for a pocket chart center. We married the 2 center boards into 1...students in the red group will use the top row for reading centers and the second row for math centers. The students were used to this type of center rotations, so we wanted to have some consistency for them. We moved the third pocket chart to the back of a book shelf.

Writing Center

Classrooms need to be spaces created to optimize student learning. It's our first line of defense. This classroom got a make-over in January. Let's make this space work!
Jessica had great hopes for her writing center this year. She thought she had a place for anchor charts and writing supplies, but she quickly found it wasn't big enough. Students tended to get their writing journals and leave the area for a bigger space and then the anchor charts weren't as easily visible. We had moved the small group table from the back to the side. She had a rectangle table used for interventions where the whole group area is now. The rectangle table was now in front of the two doors and the rotated file cabinet. This opened up the counter next to the sink. We decided to move the writing center supplies and anchor charts to the back of the room. Students could take their journals to the rectangle table and have full access to the writing center anchor charts and the word wall. We were excited about this change.

Student Seating

Classrooms need to be spaces created to optimize student learning. It's our first line of defense. This classroom got a make-over in January. Let's make this space work!
An interesting thing about Jessica's class is that this is the third year they are together. Jessica has looped with them since their Pre-K 4 year. The great benefit to that is building relationships, consistency, and knowing what students have done and what they can do. She has seen growth beyond the average teacher. A downfall is that they are all VERY familiar with each other. They will talk to anyone beside them, no matter who is beside them. They are family. Jessica currently had students is rows because she wanted to make sure they all could see the front board. She said finding a way to organize them was the biggest game of Tetris. We moved her students to groups. They could all see the front and had the benefit of collaborative learning. Because this the real world and students have different learning needs, she has two students who need more space than usual. These students were strategically placed at the corners of the two front groups. There desks can be easily rotated for collaboration.

A New Look

Classrooms need to be spaces created to optimize student learning. It's our first line of defense. This classroom got a make-over in January. Let's make this space work!
We were happy with our day. 5 hours later we had made a difference. Some things will need to be crafted as they are used. Jessica will make the area her own. As she knows what she needs handy for small group, they shelves will be made more purposeful...some things can't be "designed," they have to be created. I was happy, but what I liked didn't matter. It was all about Jessica.

She loved it.

Classrooms need to be spaces created to optimize student learning. It's our first line of defense. This classroom got a make-over in January. Let's make this space work!
Jessica sent me a message later that night: "I'm putting a big bow on the classroom door Monday." I'm glad she liked it. I had a BLAST. Wonder if HGTV would consider a Classroom Maker show? If so, I want to be the host.

If you would like the Journeys(C) Word Wall Words for First Grade, click the link or the picture below.
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Classrooms need to be spaces created to optimize student learning. It's our first line of defense. This classroom got a make-over in January. Let's make this space work!