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.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Listen to Reading - Hate it? or Love it?

Ever since I started Daily Five three years ago, I have dreaded "Listen to Reading."  Though I knew the benefits and how much the kids enjoyed it, managing it was such a hassle!  I was using TAPE players with students who didn't even know what a cassette tape was, let alone have experience using them.  I tried everything I could to make it easier - red/green stickers on the stop/play buttons, a sticker on the side of the tape they should use, pictures of the book with the tape so they wouldn't get mixed up.  Tapes wouldn't get rewound, they'd get stuck in the player, we'd have to replace batteries.  All of this took away from precious time I could be spending teaching kids. 

Enter  Last year I applied for, and received, a grant to purchase 6 MP3 players and 8 books on CD to convert into MP3s.  (Insert angelic singing and a warm glow here.)  It is AMAZING the difference these have made in my classroom!!!  I load one book at a time on them and put them in a gallon-size plastic bag with the book.  The kids grab a bag, plug in their headphones, and push "play." Most of them have at least seen an MP3 player used before even if they haven't used one themselves.  It took about 2 days for them to get the hang of it and now Listen to Reading runs SO smoothly.  If you don't have them, I strongly suggest you look into possible funding for them.  

Here are some pictures of the MP3 players in action:  

I also bought 2 'splitters' at Wal-Mart for about $4 each.  They allow 2 students to plug headphones into the same MP3 player. 
We also use our 1 classroom computer to do Listen to Reading.  Most of the time the students listen to books at Storyline Online.
If you also do Daily 5, how does Listen to Reading look in your room?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Reading Buddies

I seriously need to get better at posting on here.  I don't know how people find the time to do it every day!  They must be better at time management than I am.

Every Friday, my class gets together with a 5th grade class to have "reading buddies." Each first grader is paired with a fifth grader who listens to them read.  The kids (both 1st and 5th) LOVE this time and look forward to it.  Plus, it's a nice break for me because the 5th graders are really doing the teaching. 

This week, we decided to do something a little different.  Recently, our school purchased subscriptions to  Each student gets a log-in and I can set what level they read at.  Then, the site gives them books on their level to read.

We have a set of laptops that the school shares and I've never used them with first graders before, but I've wanted to get more technology in the hands of my students.  So, with the help of the 5th graders, my students were able to learn how to open them, turn them on, and get to the raz-kids website.  Then, the first graders read the online books to their buddy for the remaining time.  It was an awesome way to introduce the laptops and the website to my firsties!  Here are a couple pictures. Enjoy!