Sunday, January 29, 2012

January News

      It's been hard for me to write anything on here lately.  I think that is due to being new to blogging and my skills are limited.  Also, I'm having a hard year in a new grade and being scrutinized by my principal.  Friday was the end of the first half of the school year.  I can do it!  I will try to update what's been happening and write on here more often.  Another problem is that I forget to take pictures at school.  I finally have some to show!

     We began January learning about new year's resolutions.  The kids set goals for themselves.  We used some papers that many bloggers offered for free and I also had one that I bought.  I don't remember who made them.

     In our district, Winter term in first grade, is when we teach nonfiction literature and nonfiction writing.  We began this unit learning about Martin Luther King, Jr.  It was exciting teaching to first graders who have never heard about him before.  They got upset at what happened.  I read several books to the kids.  One of my favorite books is Martin's Big Words.

After reading this book and a couple of other ones, we began to use charts to show our learning.  We used two organizers that I got from Erica Eberhart's Martin Luther King unit.  In the first one, we drew a picture and then wrote 3 facts that we learned.  Sorry!  My drawing skills are limited, but it helps when the kids get hung up on their drawing.  

The second one we charted Martin Luther King was - had - wanted.  This is our second time of doing this type of chart.  It is a wonderful way for the kids to show what they know.  The students wrote their own chart on paper to be used when they began their writing about Martin Luther King.  Here are a couple samples of student work:

The students began to write sentences about Martin Luther King using their graphic organizers or the ones on the wall.  This was a big step to get the students to write more than one sentence.  They are learning about the writing process and writing a draft, re-reading for meaning, proofreading, editing with the teacher, and publishing.  We are in the middle of that process.  I should have some samples to show on my next post.

     I have been wanting a better place for the students to write their drafts.  Right now I give the kids either notebook paper or handwriting-type paper.  They put it in a folder, which I have found they have a hard time managing this because other papers end up in there.  They have a binder that the published work goes in or completed ones that we don't publish.  I observed a teacher last week and she used primary composition books.  I asked my principal about it and she said she could order them.  I'm so excited about that!  Now, I'll have a place to compare how they are doing and it will be great to show at conference time.

Here are two students working on their writing.

     In my district, Winter Term in first grade, is teaching nonfiction literature and writing.  Right when I needed to begin Amana Nickerson from One Extra Degree posted her Arctic Animal Nonfiction unit.  I bought it right away to teach the kids the nonfiction features.  I am introducing one or two each day.  We began the unit by comparing fiction and nonfiction books.  We recorded what we found in a Venn Diagram so that they could see their similarities and differences.  I also am using Deanna Jump's Arctic Animal unit.  I read her book All About Walruses.  The kids loved learning about them.  If they finished their Martin Luther King writing, they were to begin writing about what they know about walruses.  Next week we will continue and label the parts of a walrus.  This will be our first time in labeling.  Something I've been wanting to teach the students.  The kids are looking forward to learning about these animals.  We will learn about the walrus, polar bear, and finish with the penguin.  We use the GLAD method of teaching and I'll incorporate a penguin GLAD unit.  This will be our first GLAD unit for the year.

     Exciting things are happening in our classroom.  The kids are learning and love coming to school each day.  I just need to get them to not talk so much.  Does anyone have ideas that would help me on the management of 31 students who like to talk during work times and while I teach?  I'm up for ideas.

     Well, this is a little long.  Hopefully, in the future I'll share more often.