Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving from Mrs. Hornsby's class!

Hello everyone! I hope you are all enjoying some much needed time off and preparing for a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration. We had a busy week of learning in my classroom, as well as plenty of Thanksgiving fun! Here are a few highlights from the week.

I was so excited to find Erica Bohrer's Thanksgiving unit on Teachers Pay Teachers and I couldn't wait to use some of the activities in my classroom. We've been learning about fact families in math for a while now, and I LOVED this math/art project to reinforce that skill. I cut out the feathers, but the kids did the rest! I had to explain the concept of cutting out a template and tracing it on a separate sheet of paper, but once they understood how to do that, we were off and running! Each project had a different fact family problem to solve, and I was happy that the kids were able to solve them easily. After completing the problem and cutting out the parts of the project, they had to pick out the correct number and color of turkey feathers to match the fact family. It was the perfect combination of math, art, and fun!
We also focused on coin counting this week. This was the second week of our money unit, and the kids are learning a lot about counting combinations of coins. We have a pretty good understanding of pennies, nickels, and dimes, so I introduced quarters this week. I wanted them to have a a workmat that they could keep in their homework folders throughout the week as we practiced values of quarters, and I thought it would be more beneficial if the kids made it themselves. Nothing fancy, but it did the trick! We began learning about ways to make 25 cents and played some review games at the end of the week. Thanks Cara Carroll for your inspiration and awesome collection of coin activities!
We focused on a variety of reading skills in our Guided Reading groups, including finding the main idea, problem/solution, and author's purpose. I spend two days on a book with each of my groups. The first day is the introduction, picture walk, and first reading when we "work out" all of the words. On the second day, we focus on the reading skill and write in our Guided Reading journals. If time remains, we illustrate our journal entry.
During the Guided Reading block, the biggest challenge that I face is keeping everyone engaged in literacy activities while I teach small group. I have tried several different approaches, but I think the "Daily Five" has been the most successful. The "Daily Five" include read to self, read to someone, write about reading, listen to reading, and work on words. I usually tell the class which activities I want them to complete that day.  The books that the kids read during this time are Guided Reading books that we have finished in small group, and they are kept in "Book Buddy" bags and are accessible to the children throughout the day. When they finish reading to self and reading to someone, they write about what they read in their journal.

In social studies, we finished up our study of Thomas Jefferson. The Declaration of Independence, colonies, and Monticello aren't easy concepts for first graders to grasp, but we made a poster that was fun and informative!
All of our math and literacy centers had a fall/Thanksgiving theme. The kids enjoyed them!

Well, that's all for now! More fun to come when we return from break! Have a fantastic week!

Gretchen :o) 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Keeping Up with Students During the Summer

Summer Fun Activity Packet Cover
My first graders came a long way in their writing skills this year. The best part is that they really LOVED writing! We progressed from reversing many letters to writing some awesome complete and correct sentences. I could always count on my kids to write about anything, so I wanted to encourage them to keep writing over the summer.

 During the last week of school, I always send home an envelope filled with donated books, Weekly Readers, journal prompts, math games, and practice sheets. I decided to be brave and give each child a self-addressed stamped envelope so that they could write to me and tell me all about their summer adventures.  We just finished learning about the elements of a friendly letter, so the activity fit perfectly with our Georgia Performance Standards. I attached the envelope to the letter template we used in class. As I introduced the activity to the class, they were excited to learn that all they had to do was put the letter in their own mailbox and the post office would bring it to me!

School has been out for a couple of weeks and I have received several letters. I love reading about trips to the pool, airplane rides, and days at summer camp. One child even sent me a Silly Band in the shape of a mermaid with a reminder to be a "very good and nice teacher" for my class next year. Great advice, and I hope this blog will help me become even better at the art of teaching.