Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Dave the Potter: Book-of-the-Month February 2015

Book of the Month is a long time Chets Creek tradition.  Each month the Principal introduces a new book to the faculty as part of our on-going professional development.  Each year the books are picked specifically with goals in mind.  Some years they have been about school culture.  Other years they have been about vocabulary strategies or good read aloud strategies.  This year the emphasis has been on deepening comprehension to ready our students for the rigor that is expected with the implementation of  the Common Core Standards.

Today we were treated to the new Book of the Month. The mood was set as we walked into a darkened Media Center with a center spotlight on a potter's wheel.
You could hear the steady hum of the wheel as Chet's artist Karen Willet shaped a pot while we watched in total fascination. Soon Principal Susan Phillips began to read with dignity and grace ...  We followed along as she read the beautifully illustrated Caldecott Honor book, Dave the Potter, the story of a prolific South Carolina slave whose talent and strength shown through the great pots that he created.
After the reading we were challenged to use a  close reading lens (illustration, word choice, history, what was not stated...)  with small groups to discuss and come up with the central message of the book. This inspiring story captures the human spirit, overcoming all obstacles and flourishing.  What a treat this professional development was!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Combining Old Learning with New

Today we start our new author study on Kevin Henkes books. Kevin Henkes is a favorite first grade author and one first grade teachers have studied for ten years. Today, however, the learning technique was new. Mrs. Ruark used "stop and jot" which is a new technique for first grade teachers and students to help them keep their minds active and engaged while they are listening to a read aloud. Now that's called "rigor."

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sleepover Standard-based Bulletin Board

During our first grade Sleepover we were in the middle of our opinion writing unit, so it was natural to use this shared event as a writing assignment.  What was your favorite part of Sleepover? So... the papers that resulted were a quick 1-2 day project with very little conferring.  It gave us a quick window into how the students were transferring the skills we were teaching.

We chose four pieces to display on our Spring bulletin board bordered by the Sleepover pajamas that the students had water colored.  We posted the first grade standard for opinion writing: Write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or name the book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply a reason for the opinion and provide some sense of closure.

Below is Sophie's adorable opinion about the fun day!

(Check out all the speech bubbles!) 
Do the Disco!  Have you ever had a P.J. day at school?  Well, I have!  At my school first graders
get to dress in their P.J.'s.  We even get to do the Disco.  We call it Sleepover. 
My favorite part of Sleepover was when we danced in the Media Center and ate popcorn.  We watched a 
 movie and we saw a play.  The play was about a little boy that had a sleepover, but my favorite part is dancing.
My friend said to my other friend, "Put your hands up like you don't even care!"
We were tired after.  It was a lot of fun.  I give the Media Center 5 very good sleeping bags up. 

Sophia’s Commentary


Sophia meets the first grade standard for opinion writing.  She writes her opinion about the Media Center being her favorite part of Sleepover. She gives reasons (Reason 1: dancing, Reason 2: eating popcorn, Reason 3: watching a movie, and Reason 4: watching a play).
Sophia gives the reader a hint as to her topic in her opening sentence, Do the Disco!  She engages the reader as she asks the question, Have you ever had a PJ day at school? and then goes on to put Sleepover in the context of first grade at her school.
Sophia uses and to connect two thoughts.
Sophia closes her piece by telling that she was tired after the Dance Party She rates the Media Center with her top prize of  five stars, or as in this case, five sleeping bags.  The sleeping bags tie in nicely with her last comment of being tired when the Dance Party is over.
Sophia certainly writes an introduction to grab the reader’s attention and she also has parts where she tells more, such as her dialog about her friend at the Dance Party.


Sophia elaborates in her introduction as she talks about Sleepover including wearing PJs, the first graders at her school, and getting to disco.  She also elaborates about the play that she sees in the Media Center about a little boy that had a sleepover, and, of course, she includes her friend saying, “Put your hands up like you don’t even CARE!” when she describes dancing.  This element actually meets the second grade standard.
Sophia uses craft when she capitalizes and bolds the word DISCO.  She uses labels and speech bubbles in her illustrations to tie in with her text.  She also bolds the word CARE! And then puts the word fun inside the circle of the exclamation point.

Language Conventions

Sophie’s writing is easy to read.  She spells many high frequency words automatically.  Words that she misspells are spelled phonetically, such as pejas for PJs, dres for dress, scooll for school.
Sophie is a fluent writer and uses periods at the end of pages automatically.  She adds capitals and periods in the middle of the page during the editing process to keep from having run on sentences.  She uses question marks appropriately and exclamation points to express excitement.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Sleepover, 2015

One of the things I love the most about our annual First Grade Sleepover is the way that family's get involved in the event.  This year our theme is "...lions and tiger and bears. Oh my!" to go with our Wizard of Oz school theme.  One of the things that families are asked to do with their child is to make a lion, tiger or bear - stuffed animal for Sleepover.  The directions are emphatic that you don't have to sew and that the idea is simply to have fun with your child.  The week before they are due, we make stuffed animals/pillows with the children that come from the large mobile home community.  These children are mostly second language students and so we incorporate making the animals/ pillows during the day that we tutor after school in their community.  Parents are invited in to help stuff and make the creations but we supply all the "stuff."   The picture on the right below with the big bear show the pillows that the students made together after school at the MARC. 

A parent in the classroom volunteered to make four extra pillows, just in case another student showed up without one, and of course, they did, but for the parents that are actually able to work with their children to make something special, this becomes  a wonderful shared experience.  The pillows and animals come in the week before the event to they can be displayed in the lobby on the evening of Parent's Night.

On Parent's Night students come with their family to make a keepsake pillowcase.  Each student sends in a pillowcase (and we ask that parents that are able, to please send in an extra), so that we make sure to have a pillowcase for every student that shows up.  We had over 100 children show up with their families to make pillowcases!   The first grade teachers have plenty of stamps set out with acrylic paint so each child can work with his family to make a pillowcase.  As they leave, the students are given a little bag of Teddy Grahams.
It's just such a nice tradition!  Teachers who now have grown children talk about still having the pillowcase that their child made in first grade.
The actual day of Sleepover began with a parade filled with first graders in pajamas, dark halls, flashlights and glow-in-the-dark bracelets.  The students ended in the Dinning Room watching and meeting the Wizard of OZ characters while they ate breakfast and the Principal (in her red sock puppet pajamas... with footies!) lead a dance party where first grade teachers danced on the stage and students danced to all the popular kid songs.  

Then it's off to Center about literature run by the Resource Team.  The music teacher reads a children book about a party under the moon that includes singing and dancing, of course.

Coach provides an active outside game that included a read aloud!

Art read the popular Paddington Bear that ended with a painting art project.

And Mrs, KK, our Media Specialist ended our day with a shadow puppet show of one of our favorite books, Ira Sleeps Over complete with popcorn and dancing with a disco ball!
What an amazing day!