Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Science Journaling

Journaling with My Firsties: Science

        This year my kids have a journal for practically every subject. While it’s a lot for them to keep in their desks, I think it is better than having one journal that holds everything haphazardly. Our science journals have already been put to good use this year!
        We have been learning about living and nonliving things, habitats, and things that help plants and animals live in their habitats. My students have been busy illustrating pictures of various habitats and vocabulary words in their journals. I thought I had pictures of the habitats they drew, but apparently I don’t, so I’ll skip right to what we have done so far this week:

Yesterday we illustrated our six vocabulary words

Today we illustrated pictures of mountain goats and hermit crabs- we read about their special features: thick fur and shells.

I am looking forward to using our journals to record observations of some of our hands-on activities and experiments!

How do you use science journals in your classroom?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Common Core Math

Common Core Math
          In my last post I briefly mentioned that K – 1 in my district switched to Common Core for math this year. So far, I have mixed feelings about it. I like the overall concept of a hands-on approach to math (though math in first grade is VERY hands-on, Common Core or not). I also like the idea of math journaling, and had already planned to use a math journal this year. However, I am struggling with the fact that many of the lesson seeds seem to be the same. I understand that in order for students to achieve mastery they need to practice and repeat a lot, but I am slightly frustrated by the fact the first few lessons deal only with adding up to 10. Many of my students have also become frustrated; no matter how present the material, or the manipulative, there is no fooling them… they know we are still doing the same thing. I am also frustrated that each lesson says, “Math journals required,” but then nothing is said on how to use the journal with the lesson (because that’s so HELPFUL). Part of me wonders if I am annoyed with the fact that we changed before I realized we were, or if it’s just the change itself. I am trying to be very open minded and positive, but I don’t know how long it will last.
          Continuing with being open minded and staying positive, here are a few pictures I snapped of an activity we did in our math journals on Monday:

           After reviewing ways to make 5, 6, and 7, I had each student show one way to make 8, 10, and 12 (for a challenge) in their journals. First they had to use their red and yellow counters and PPW mats to show one way to make the number. Then, they drew a PPW mat in their journal and used their crayons to record what they were showing on their mat (WOW… could that be any wordier?) Finally, they used a black crayon to show the whole. They did GREAT!
          Well- that’s all for today! I am headed down to Ann Arbor to celebrate my sister’s 21st birthday! (YAY for being back in Michigan!)
        Here are a few shots I snapped this morning in my parents backyard:

Friday, September 7, 2012

Homework and Houses

Pictures, and Homework, and Houses… Oh My!
          I HATE that I haven’t had time to post in almost two weeks. Needless to say, things have been CRAZY! Last week my fall classes started, which added a thin, additional layer of stress to the first few weeks of school… but what’s stress?!? Since I’ve been absent, I’ve been trying to collect pictures of the many things we have been doing in first grade. Here it goes:

          Last week I hung my first Star Work display of the school year. I posted the writing students did about the first day of school with their mini-me’s. I think they look pretty nice:

             We did a lot of reviewing the first two weeks and dove into the fresh stuff this Tuesday… which means Common Core Math! Before I get too much into that though I want to show some pictures that I snapped of some ’shape puzzles’, as I called them, that my kids did one morning last week. I found these great dinosaur ‘puzzles’ in one of my mailbox magazines. I copied the pages, so each student could have one. I also passed out trays of my foam pattern ‘blocks’ that I made during my undergrad. The stegosaurus has lines to show the students how the shapes interact, and made it more like a traditional puzzle. The T-Rex only had the outline of the dinosaur, which initially intimidated some of the students. I had them complete the stego first and then we were eager to try the ‘challenge’ T-Rex.

                              Here's a picture graph we made last week!

          Now onto the Common Core Math! Both Kindergarten and first grade in my district switched over to the CCSS for math this school year. I have to be honest, I do like it, but so far I feel like it is very repetitive (though I suppose that’s how mastery is reached). This week we focused on Lesson Seeds 1 & 2… but mostly just 1! Here is some work we did in our math journals yesterday:

We used our PPW mats and cubes to make various numbers and then recorded in our journals.

          We started homework this week, and so far so good. This is actually VERY impressive, as I have always had difficulties getting all students and parents to understand our homework. I was even more worried about beginning homework this year because my new teammates and I completely revamped the first grade homework. This year we are using homework journals and calendars. I LOVE it! I like that the students’ homework is all in one place, and I will NEVER (hopefully) have to hear that they lost their homework again. I snapped a few pictures of student work:

Monday: Rainbow write each spelling word

Tuesday: Pick two spelling words to write in sentences 

Wednesday: Pick two spelling words to write in questions

Thursday: Write each word three times

         This week we began learning about maps in social studies. We, well I, made a large map of the classroom. Then we added desks, and labels, and the kids each came up and wrote their name across their desk. Yesterday they colored their own min-maps of the classroom and today they colored a map key to match!

Social Studies ‘wall’ with our map of the classroom

Our welcome board in the hallway

Mine & Rachel's matching name plates outside the classroom

       Finally, we made those cute paper bag houses that you've probably seen on Pinterest! We made them yesterday morning in preparation for Back to School Night... oh yeah, that we had that last night! Rachel and I decided that it would be best to stuff the bags prior to passing them out to the kiddos. I am so glad we did this! I mean, it is ONLY the third week of school. We also cut out all of the paper and then arranged it on trays for each team. Then I walked them through a step-by-step how to. They LOVED every minute of it! Once we had put the houses 'together' and on the grass, I let them decorate with crayons and paper scraps. They got VERY creative!

Here’s my house!

I hope you had a GREAT two weeks, and I have to be honest I probably won't be back until the weekend or after! I have another busy week ahead of me. I will be home in Michigan next weekend for my sister's 21st birthday!!