Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Food For Thought

I haven't posted in a while, but I don't have tons of time so here's a quickie.   We started blends and digraphs last week.  After an "I don't think they had any idea what I was talking about" lesson, I wanted to find a way to explain it to them so that it "clicks" and speaks to them on their level.  My brilliant husband came up with the idea to compare blends to milk and cereal and digraphs to chocolate milk.  Lost?  Let me explain...

A blend is two or more letters that go together (we say them fast together), but we can still pick apart their individual sounds.  Similarly, milk and cereal go together, but we can still separate the milk from the cereal.

A digraph is two or more letters that when combined make a completely different sound.  You cannot hear their individual sounds.  When chocolate syrup and milk are mixed together, they make something different.  You cannot pick out the syrup or the milk once they've been combined.  

I brought in the different ingredients and used the analogy there in front of them.  TA-DAH!  They really seemed to understand after having that concrete example to go by! Way to go, husband!  He's always been smarter than me, but now he's starting to out-creative me, too!  Jerk! 

Here's the little anchor chart we made as a class...not my finest work, but it's something to go by!  I also included a fun chart we made after reading Dishy Washy and brainstorming all of the digraphs we found.  I've created monsters. They can't STOP pointing out blends and digraphs...even at the most inopportune times (i.e calendar math..."Mrs. Guillo!  Thursday has a 'th' digraph!").  But if they're going to interrupt a lesson, I'd rather them interrupt me with those thoughtful comments :)  I'm proud of their hard work these last few weeks.  I feel like we're really starting to make some big progress these days...getting away from the 'beginning of the school year' feel and really into the heart of the year!  Yippee!

You may be wondering, "Why is her chart cut all weird like that?"  I'd like to tell you that it was because I was 'going green' and used that part for something else, but I'd just be covering up the fact that I totally butchered the cat's tail, so I had to draw another one and cut the original off :)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Christmas Came Early

I created this over the summer and since I'm wide awake, I figured I might as well share it now so that you can print, laminate, and cut when you have the time and have it ready for December!  I created a game using a calendar as the game board itself.  The question cards emphasize calendar knowledge/skills.  The first one to "ring in the new year" is the winner!  I have NOT used this yet, so there is always room for error, but I think it will be fun!

If I have enough interest from my followers, I might create a few more with different months/themes.  What do ya'll think?

Also, if you like reading my blog, would you become a follower and/or recommend it to others?  I want to build a big follower base.  The more followers, the more giveaways, so bring 'em on!

Here's the game:

So when Christmas rolls around, don't say I never gave you anything! :)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I've Got the Power(point)!

So I was lying in bed this morning and I had an idea for my literacy centers.  I decided I would make a PowerPoint presentation to help manage the rotations and hopefully provide a silent cue for the transitions.  I used the same icons as the labels I have in my classroom, for consistency's sake.  And although I have their names in a pocket chart in my classroom already, I decided to use their numbers and put them on the slides as well, just as one more reminder of where they need to be.  

I decided to have each slide display what group should  be with me at guided reading, and where everyone else should be.  I have it set to automatically switch slides after 18 minutes so that I don't have to do a thing!  Then there is a different chime that occurs after a one and a half minute delay, and the words on the slide blink.  This will indicate that they should be finished with their transitions and beginning the next center.  I like having the buffer time to ensure that they clean up correctly and have time to get where they're going...but not too much time ;)  I have the whole slide show set up so that I don't have to touch a thing once I get it started!  It will (hopefully) be a great tool to have to keep me focused on my kiddos and their reading and the kiddos focused on their jobs.  I can't wait to try this!  

Click here to see the PowerPoint!

By the way...

Here's an explanation of how my literacy centers work.  Each student goes to two centers a day.  They start out at one and it lasts about 2 of my guided reading groups.  Then they switch with the center whose icon is right next to it for the last two rotations.  Of course, during part of that time, they will be pulled back for their own guided reading time, so that averages them at each center for about 30 minutes.  During those centers, they have some sort of work that they have to complete in order to keep them accountable.  They turn this work in at a designated spot in their center folders.  I check it every day and they have a sticker chart where they will get a "happy" or "saddy" depending on the quality of work turned in.  When their chart is filled up with mostly "happies," they get to pick out of the treasure box.

Also, to keep them busy with purposeful and productive activities the whole time, I copied an idea from Renee Edwards, a great teacher who provided an inservice for us this summer.  I created a task chart like this:

Then I prioritized the activities for them to do in that corner.  Of course, the items in box 1 and 2 are the ones I want they to finish and turn in by the end of centers.  Numbers 3, 4, and 5 are less important, but still equally as purposeful.  They might be things like targeted literacy games, activities they've previously done for review, or other activities that don't require a written answer. This way, students who work quickly will have an itemized list of what to do next and keep busy.  The students who take longer to work have the time they need and they know what to work on first to make sure they have the most important work done in time.  What a great management tool!