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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Leap Year Sale!

Hey, y'all!  Have you ever tried to explain the concept of Leap Day to a room full of six and seven year olds?!  Phew, that's a tricky one!  I'm sure they think I'm crazy after that conversation.

Anyways, back to this sale... I just couldn't help myself and had to join in the Leap Year sale on TPT!  On Wednesday I will be offering 20% off EVERY item in my store.  That's in addition to the extra 10% off that TPT is offering with their coupon code!  This will be the perfect time to stock up on some items that have been sitting on your wishlist.  :)

Check out my lastest items:

See you at the sale!

--Mrs. Pollard

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Kids Say the Darndest Things {President's Day Edition}

My kids make me laugh!  This week we are learning about President's Day.  Today we were specifically discussing Abraham Lincoln.  I began by reading a simple non-fiction book full of fun facts about Lincoln.  An entertaining discussion followed before brainstorming in our Circle Map and writing.

Here are some discussion highlights....
Student:  What's slavery?
Me:  A long time ago, some people made other people stay at their house and made them do work for them-- even if they didn't want to.
Student:  I'm like my mama's slave.
{Lol-- good connection!}

Student:  Why did someone shoot Abraham Lincoln?
Me:  Some people didn't like that President Lincoln worked to end slavery so they wanted to hurt him.  Remember what we learned about Martin Luther King Jr.?  Someone did the same thing to him.
Student:  Like what happened to Jesus?
{Again, good connection.}

In the middle of our Lincoln discussion, I called on a child and this is what she had to say:  "The Blockbuster store is closing."  {I'm not quite sure where that came from, but it made me smile!}

I absolutely love the things they come up with and trying to figure out their thought process!

--Mrs. Pollard

Friday, February 10, 2012

Literacy Block Facelift

Ok, so in my last post I mentioned being inspired to give my literacy block a little facelift.  A week and a half ago I went to another school in my district to visit a T1 classroom.  When these kids came into this classroom they were about 5 months behind where a first grader should be.  This wonderful teacher has obviously worked extremely hard because her students seem to be right where they need to be now.  She has the amazing blessing of having 3 adults in her room-- teacher, assistant, and tutor.  Clearly, this allows her to do a rotation of 3 intensive small groups daily.  Call me crazy, but I felt determined to take this idea back to my classroom and make it work.... even if I do have 4 more kids and 1 less adult.

So, here's what I came up...
I have 3 groups of 8 {leveled homogeneously}.  I gave each group an animal name-- Lovely Lions, Marvelous Monkeys, Happy Hippos.  The students never know this, but I named my groups to match their levels {low, medium, high}.  It helps me keep it all straight in my head.  I do 4 rotations of 20 minutes each.  During this time, I see my lowest students twice and my medium and high students once each.  My assistant sees my medium students twice and my lowest and high students once each.  When a group isn't with my IA or myself they are doing independent work.  Want to know the secret to successful independent time?  I gave them a notebook to do their work in!  They think those notebooks are the best thing since sliced bread!  Not a peep from those indpendent workers!

{These are all of the sheets I am using to make
my groups and plan activities.}

In my IA's group, she does the phonemic awareness tasks from our reading basil, leads games and word sorts, and other review reading and word study activities.  All of this is led by an adult so students are on-task and corrected when not understanding.

In my group, I also do a variety of reading and word study activities with a focus on reading fluency.  We spell words on whiteboards, read leveled books, reread previous books, put together cut apart sentences, and much more.  I try to keep it really fast moving to keep interest and minimize behaviors.

My independent workers go to the tub and find their group's folder.  They are to first open the folder to look for any practice sheets or assignments I've put in the folder.  If they finish that task or there is nothing there, they move on to work in their notebooks.  On the front of the folder I have a sheet with their tasks.  Each group is similar, but slightly different based on their level.  First, create a Circle Map and write the room for ___________ {insert various tasks such as beginning and ending letter, long vowel patterns, etc}.  Next, write me a letter.  {I'll respond to their letter each day!}  When all of the other tasks are complete, they are to read quietly until it's time to change.

So far, so good.  I'm really excited that my lowest students are getting 40 minutes of direct instruction each morning.... compared to my old way of doing stations with 24 kids randomly scattered around the room getting louder and more off task as the minutes passed, making it very difficult for me to pull my reading groups.  I only have 8 kids unattended at a given time which is wonderful.  I'll keep you all posted on how it's going or any speed bumps I hit along the way.  Thanks for visiting me!  :)

--Mrs. Pollard

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Just checking in....

I feel like it's been forever since I've posted anything!  I've been busy, busy, busy! {As I'm sure most of you have been, too.}

Last week I had the pleasure of observing a first grade classroom in another school.  I left very inspired to change my literacy block so I worked hard to implement it this week.  More details to come on that.

My class has been loving our Valentine themed activities this week.  The biggest hit was writing the directions for how to cut out a heart and then... actually cutting out a heart.  Seems simple, right?  But, they thought this was the greatest thing ever!

I'll post some pictures and more details later, once a get a better handle on all of this craziness right now!  :)

--Mrs. Pollard