It's the time of year to finish each child's portfolio. We have been collecting work all year so now it's a matter of choosing the pieces that each child wants to include in his final first grade portfolio to represent the year's work. In writing we include a piece of narrative, a report and a persuasive piece. These will go in the orange portfolio folder that is kept in the cum file. It's interesting to look back at the kindergarten work and see how far the students have come. Specific pieces are added at the end of each year and then at the end of fifth grade the portfolios are given back to the children. Fifth grade teachers say that the children are fascinated with looking back at the work and often walk down Memory Lane, remembering writing some of the pieces. Parents also seem to really appreciate the packet when it comes homes.
Saturday, May 25, 2013
Thursday, May 23, 2013
I work with amazing colleagues and one of those is Carrie McLeod, a second grade teacher. She put together this incredible list of Internet games and worksheets for children to use over the summer to warm up to second grade!
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
To bring our Readers' Workshop Author Study of Mem Fox together with the persuasive/opinion writing we have been doing in Writers' Workshop, the children wrote persuasive essays this week about their favorite book, character or author. Some of these young writers still tend to make connections instead of using text evidence for their reasons, but they are moving in the right direction. Enjoy some of their writing.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
As I have been reading Kathy's book, I too have been rethinking how I use the technology I have in my classroom. Sometimes I would just rather complain about what I don't have and what I do have that doesn't work. It's a constant frustration but Kathy deals with that early on. She didn't start with a million dollar grant and a technology genie that granted her every wish either. She started in the same way that I am, with a little of this and a little of that, lots of curiosity, and probably a better disposition for working around problems. Of course, she always seems to see the glass half full and turns "mistakes" into just another learning opportunity. Her honesty and openness have made me to rethink how I am connecting my own class.
So... since I started reading Kathy's book...
- I have purchased a mini ipad because I got tired of getting out of my comfy chair with my paper copy of Kathy's book to go to my computer to check the live links! I have now read several books on my little mini ipad (something I never really thought I wanted or would use) and find it really is quite convenient! Who knew?
- I added my name to a Skype project and have connected with a first grade teacher in Brazil!
- I use Blogger for my class blog and I have figured out how to add the blog to my iphone which has made blogging so much simpler. I carry my iphone everywhere so that I can snap a quick picture and add a few words. Parents really have almost instant access to what is going on in the classroom. (I have worried that some of my colleagues might think I'm texting friends throughout the day instead of blogging, but I hope they call me on it so I can teach them how to do it too!)
- While the children are not allowed to have their own blogs in our county, Kathy's book helped me move to letting the kids do some of the blogging on our class blog. We are in a unit on persuasive writing, so I let the ones that wanted, blog their letters. They have been so amazed at the comments they have gotten and it has really helped them understand that they are writing for an audience. You can see what they have been blogging. I also learned about the hashtag #comments4kids on Twitter and have been spending time at night commenting on other children's blogs which has been quite entertaining and informational.
- I reacquainted myself with Twitter and found the hashtag #1stchat - which has been such a great way to see what other first grade teachers are thinking and saying. And that's just the beginning...
A Work Over Time
All the right ingredientsThis student entered Kindergarten with a big smile and all the right ingredients. He came from a supportive nuclear family and had been exposed to a wide range of experiences with numbers, letters and sounds.
Mix and stir
Frosting the cupcakeAs a first grader, this little live wire began to read chapter books and enjoyed talking about what he was reading. In Writing he easily took in the basic structure of narrative, informational and persuasive writing. He understood strategies and craft and began adding them in his writing.
Adding the cherry on topFirst graders embrace deeper reading and written comprehension assessments in the second half of the year, and this very bright first grader has breezed through this transition. He reads a broad range of genres with accuracy and fluency. As he has developed as a writer, his natural sense of humor has become evident in his writing. He uses craft in his writing that make his pieces engaging to the reader. One of the most interesting things about him is that he is also a very strong Math student. He is the total package.
We present a graph on the bulletin board that graphs this student's reading levels through his first two years of school.
The bulletin board also shows four pieces of student work. The first piece is from early kindergarten
and includes this commentary on the work.
Beginning Kindergarten Commentary
By September of the student’s Kindergarten year he was able to draw a picture and write about a small moment.
The time I went to Orlando I went on a boat to get there.
In this early piece he writes about his trip to Orlando. He can already spell a few sight words such as the, to, Mom, Dad, me, and on. He draws a picture to match his words and labels Mom, Dad, me, the wind and water! He hears sounds in words and is able to write the sounds that he hears.
Nicky entered Kindergarten able to retell a familiar fairy tale at a Level 4 on the Sulzby scale. This means he could recall the events of the story but did not tell the story in “story language.” He did not use detail in his retelling and was not yet able to tell the story in a way that sounded like he was reading it.
The bulletin board includes two additional pieces with commentary at the end of Kindergarten and the middle of first grade. By the end of first grade, the original writing for the following story was included, along with commentary.
One time there were four hamsters. Their names were Leo, Mark, Jack, and Snacky. They were special hamsters.
“COOL,” said Leo. “But what’s that?” said Mark. “That’s a warning light,” said Jack. “I want a snack,” said Snacky. “What’s that lever for?” said Snacky. “Don’t touch that!” said Leo. But he touched it…
“NO! We’re not ready to go to Venus!!!” said Leo. “How do we steer?” said Mark. “I want a snack!” said Snacky. “I think I know how to steer?” said Jack. So he tried and he did it…
And he stepped on the gas pedal and he wasted all the gas! They screamed, “Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah!!!” “I wanted a snack for this whole trip and now I’m going to die!!! So now, can I have a snack?” said Snacky. “NNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOO!!!” said the others. BOOM!!! “AHAHAHAHA…” “Wait a minute. I think we’re alive,” said Snacky. Jack felt a tap, tap, tap and he screamed. “Ah ah ah ALIEN!” said Jack. He jumped into Leo’s hands! It was another space hamster!
“Oh, hi,” said Jack. “What’s up?” said Leo. “Hay!” said Mark. “What’s your name?” said Jack. “Giovanni.” “WWWWOOOWWW!! Nice name!” said Jack. He was sarcastic. “Where’s your spaceship?” said Mark. “Over there,” said Giovanni. “Have any gas in it?” said Leo. “Yup!” said Giovanni. “Yay!” everybody said. “Let’s get on and go!” said Jack. “Okay then, let’s go,” said Leo. So they lifted off!
Late First Grade Commentary
As we come to the close of first grade, this student’s narrative portfolio piece is characteristic of his fiction writing. He has imaginative characters (space hamsters) and settings, and he adds his own personal touch of humor ("Snacky" is a space hamsters that repeatedly asks for a snack!) The piece has a definite problem and solution. He does a nice job of moving the story along with dialogue and punctuates the discourse correctly. He even uses the vocabulary word sarcastic correctly! This first grader uses onomatopoeia and all caps to show the character is saying the words LOUDLY! He even uses several revision strategies. He uses a variety of punctuation including an ellipse to build suspense. When you look across the two years, it is AMAZING the writer he has become!
As this bright young man leaves first grade he is a strong reader, reading at a DRA level L, which is an end of second grade level. He enjoys a variety of genres. He can talk about what he reads with enthusiasm and depth, and always with a smile. He enjoys life and his friends and has a broad range of interests! Keep an eye on this little reader because the sky’s the limit!
Today we harvested our carrots.
We were thrilled at the number of carrots we had from our two seed packs and single row of planting.
The children were each given a carrot to look at, smell, draw and record in their Science journals.
We cleaned the carrots and finally it was tasting time! Yum!
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
I think this may be the first year that Feathers and Fools has been a class favorite. It's a dark story about peacocks and swans that fear their differences and end up killing each other. Peace seems forever lost. Then two little eggs hatch, one swan and one peacock, who have no memory or experience and walk away as friends. The kids just seemed to "get" this book. Think we'll revisit it again before we write about favorites to see if we can draw out even more of the deeper meaning.