Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Character Traits

Our last unit before break was Character Traits.  I have been meaning to post this for quite some time but I was so busy with end of quarter testing, and then I got sick with strep throat just before Christmas (which I'm just now beginning to get over).  I created several activities that I thought I'd share.

First we discussed physical, or outside, traits.  We listed the physical traits of several characters on chart paper (sorry, forgot to take pictures).  A couple of great read-alouds for this were Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon and Moosestache. We also did these sheets:
Click here to download
Click here to download

The, the students designed a creature. I downloaded several coloring pages of aliens/monsters from the internet and had the students color them.  Then, they filled in this sheet describing their creatures' physical traits.  I wish I had some pictures of the finished product.  They were adorable.
Click here to download

Then, we began talking about character traits.  We had a specific list of trait words to work on.  We did several T-charts listing the trait and the evidence from the text or pictures.  I made this worksheet as a checkpoint to see who was "getting it."  (I read these aloud to them.)

Click here to download

Click here to download
Most students were doing well at identifying traits, but weren't being specific with their proof from the text, so we did several examples of being specific and then did this sheet. 
In the end, only about 60% of my students were proficient/advanced on the post-test.  Not great results.  So, the other half of my class gets to go over it all again in small groups! 

Hopefully someone out there can use these.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

ClassDojo Saved My Sanity!

I have seen many posts about ClassDojo lately, which encouraged me to finally try it with my kiddos.  I signed up and set up my class back in September, but it seemed like I never got around to setting up the behaviors and introducing it to my students.  We were just getting into the routines of first grade and I didn't want to add something new on top of it.  I wish I had.

Last week, I decided I just couldn't take any more of the talking!  I have a wonderful group of kids, but they like to talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk.  They have a hard time focusing and finishing work on time.  It was driving me insane! Enter ClassDojo

That little "plink" sound it makes when I award a positive point is just what my little darlings need to remind them that they are off task.  It focuses their attention back on their work.  I can take my phone with me into the hallway and they are quiet as we walk because they know I can give them points right there on my phone. 

There are so many features I love about this tool.  You can customize the behaviors you want to use, print reports or email them straight to parents, customize students' avatars, and best of all, it's FREE!

Plus, the students love it too! When I award a point, I can see a smile cross their face or hear a whispered "yes!" with a clenched fist.  They'll tap their neighbor and point to the screen.  If I have to change my screen away to use another window or use the document camera or DVD player, I here a chorus of "Awwww, bye little monster!"  At the end of the day, their points are translated into "Bird Bucks," which they can spend at our school store. Did I mention that they LOVE it?

I was so excited by how well it worked in my room, that I showed my principal as she passed my class in the hall for a restroom break.  She went down the hall to watch in my room as I awarded a point from my phone.  She was so impressed with the tool that she told all the other teachers in the building.  I had lots of visitors that day and my students were excited to get to show off!

If you haven't yet checked out ClassDojo, please do.  It might save your sanity too!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Writing Process Posters

I've been teaching the writing process to my first graders and I wanted some cute posters for each stage that we teach.  I couldn't find any out there that had all the steps my district includes in its curriculum, so I made my own.

You can get them on my Teacher's Notebook store here.

This is the first item I've posted on there, so please let me know what you think.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Parent Teacher Conferences

For the first time in ten years, I had every single family show up for conferences at their scheduled time.  It is an awesome feeling!

I have mixed feelings for Parent Teacher Conferences.  I dread all the extra work.  All the paperwork I have to organize, scheduling times for everyone, in some cases making sure both parents can be there or each get their own time (thank God for my wonderful secretary who does the preliminary scheduling!).  Not to mention the extra hours spent at school, no time to eat dinner, and a sore throat when I get home!

However, I also love getting to talk to my students' parents.  Most people think of conferences as a time when you talk about grades and behavior.  Of course there are always those conversations too, but if a student is having problems in my classroom, their parents are going to know about it before they come in for a conference.  So, I like to use this time to help build a relationship with the parents.  I enjoy sharing stories about their child, learning how they act at home and what they enjoy outside the classroom.  I like to tell stories about their child at school and see the parents smile with pride when they see great work their child has done.

How to you view Parent Teacher Conferences?   Love them?  Hate them?  How to they run at your school?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Writer's Workshop Mentor Texts Linky Party

Funky First Grade Fun is having a linky party and this is one I can really get in to! The hard part was narrowing down the list of books I LOVE to use during writer's workshop.  So, here a few of my favorites:

 I use Owl Moon for SO many lessons!  It is perfect for teaching about a small moment.  It's also great for adding details or describing words.  Plus, I use it for Reader's Workshop - especially for visualizing.  It's great for including all the senses.  

The Best Story is one of the first books I read each year in Writer's Workshop.  It's great for teaching where writer's get their ideas.  In the end, the main character learns that the best story comes from your heart.  After reading it, I give each student a paper heart and they fill it with words/pictures of the things/people they love.

I love any book illustrated by David Catrow!  His illustrations are so funny and cute!  I Wanna Iguana is a great book for teaching letter writing or persuasive writing. 

I read The Important Book during my poetry unit.  It's great for teaching that you can write about anything and for adjectives. 

These are only a few of the great books I love for teaching Writer's Workshop.  I can't wait to see what other people post.