Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Backstreet's (aka I am) Back, Alright!

Hi There!

....and cue the awkward realization that my last post was over a month ago and in that last post I wrote, and I quote, "this post marks the beginning of routinely posting what's up in first grade."  It looks like I didn't really hold up to that promise I made to myself unless you consider "routinely" to mean "once every month"...

I did have blogging on my to-do list.  And I totally WANTED to blog.  But I just found that every day it somehow got pushed down the list in an effort to get "I absolutely have to get this done right now" things done!  Does that ever happen to you?  Ugh, hopefully that will stop happening and life will stop being so busy so that blogging can get back to being a top priority.  

Have I mentioned that I love my class this year?  Do you ever have those frustrating years where you don't even feel like your teaching because an unbelievable amount of your time is spent managing?  And then managing more. Oh and then just managing a little bit more?  Well this class is not one of those classes!  Sure, we all have our fair share of first grade problems but overall they are a really fantastic group of kids and I am feeling so lucky and like I'm actually able to maximize the learning and FUN in my classroom!

We are right smack dab in the middle of our weather unit and we focused this past week on the seasons!  Since there doesn't ever seem to be time to do the fun theme-y activities that I used to do with all the new common core craziness, I tried my best to integrate our science learning into our Reader's Workshop time using some of the common core standards as well.

Here's what we were up to the past two weeks:

We went on a picture walk around the room to figure out what our next theme was!  I wrote about this during my rainforest unit last year here.  I put out cool weather pictures and had them walk around to observe the pictures first, then they could write thoughts, questions, comments, whatever they wanted about the pictures on the butcher paper!  They LOVED this activity and were able to figure out that our new theme was all different types of weather!

We read the book Moonbear's Shadow by Frank Asch.  This book is PERFECT for introducing light and shadows and is fabulous for discussion and schema-building.

After reading the story, we went outside for a little shadow learning!  We observed our shadows and what happened when we stood in the sun vs. the shade.  We turned and and moved and watched how our shadows turned and moved with us.  And we learned the three things that you need to make a shadow: light, an object, and a surface!

We also made shadow puppets and, when the sun wasn't shining, adapted and used flashlights at our tables to observe their shadows.  Unfortunately, I didn't grab any pictures!

This past week we focused on the four seasons.  On the first day, I read aloud a simple non-fiction seasons book and focused on some non-fiction text features.  I then put some butcher paper labeled "Summer" and "Spring" up and had the kids stick post-it notes with their knowledge/schema about the seasons up on the papers.  

One of the common core standards we were teaching last week was, "I can describe the connection between two pieces of information within a text" and I thought this was the perfect opportunity to discuss how the seasons can be alike in ways and different in ways!  So we shared our sticky notes and talked about how some of them could stay on the paper and others could be moved between the two papers because they were examples of how the seasons were alike.  They did an amazing job and really caught on quickly!

The next day we used our ideas and sorted them into a venn diagram to show the connection between the two different seasons.  

If you'd like to grab a free copy of the Spring/Summer sort, you can click here!

The last thing I managed to get pictures of this week was when we became "Season Experts!"  I have done something similar to this activity in the past but it went SO much better this year than in years past!

After reading books about the seasons, I split the kids into small groups of six.  Each group was put in charge of becoming "experts" about a season!  I have these awesome big books in my classroom that give specific information about each seasons.  I modeled how they could use the words AND the pictures in the book to do a "research project".  They LOVED this!  I put together some season expert books that I gave each kid as they did research on the seasons.  Here's some pics of the kids working SUPER hard on their "research" projects. :)

I uploaded this awesome activity into my TpT store and I'm super excited about it because it really was tons of fun!  In the file I included all 4 season books as well as a "Season Expert" award certificate to present to kids once they finish!

Well, blogging world, I'm happy to be back and will be back again very soon!