Sunday, December 18, 2011

Common Core Assessment {Freebie}

I created these Common Core Reading & Math Assessments for my grade level team. The standards assessed are those that we felt should be mastered in the first and second quarter. Third quarter coming soon! Feel free to download and use them with your class! 
UPDATE: All four quarters are now included in this download!

Launching Writer's Workshop

Writer's Workshop Routines

Here is a simple poster I created of workshop routines, inspired by 
Mrs. Meacham. I enlarged it to poster size and laminated.
First, we gather on the carpet for a mini-lesson. The children watch as I model certain aspects of writing. They are encouraged to try these new techniques in their own writing. After the mini-lesson, the children get their writing folders (see below) and begin by illustrating their story. It tends to be easier for them to draw first, and then write the words to describe their drawing. As they work, I confer with a few children. Finally, we gather back at the carpet for a short sharing time. Children are allowed to make compliments and I offer lots of praise as well! 

Writing Folders

Before we began writing workshop, I put together the children's writing folders. I created a letter formation chart, a personal word wall, and also included an alphabet chart. Here is what I included:

Writing Folders

What Do Authors Write About?

I began our first writer's workshop by telling the children they are going to become authors and illustrators just like Eric Carle, etc. Just calling them authors got them so excited! First, we went over workshop procedures and rules. Then I told the children that the first thing we need to figure out is, "What do authors write about?" The children and I browsed through various books and talked about the types of things authors write about. Together we created a poster of topics to write about.

Then I looked at the different topics and gave examples of what I would not want to write about (for example, "I could write about bats, but I don't really like them and I don't know much about them. Is that a good topic for me?" NO!). I told the kids that authors don't just write about any old topic, they write about things that matter to them, things that are close to their hearts. I then hung a large Heart Map on my easel. On it, I sketched pictures of things that I care about and might want to write about. Then, each child got his/her own heart map to complete. These went into their writing folders for future reference. 
In the next workshop, we reviewed the workshop procedures. I referred back to my heart map and modeled how to choose a topic to write about. I then showed them how to illustrate a story by thinking aloud as I sketched. Before sending them off, I asked each child to choose one topic from his/her heart map and turn to tell their partner what they will write about today. I showed them where to find the writing paper and they got straight to work! I only had them illustrate this time around, and then dictate the words to me. In a later lesson, we learned how to label our drawings with words.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Lesson Plans

Here's a sample of how I write up my lesson plans. This layout is quick and easy to change each week and it helps to keep me organized. Click the arrow in the corner to download.

Math & Literature

I am crazy about integrating math and literature. I'm on a mission to find books for every single math topic! Using literature to introduce math concepts really helps the children to see math in different contexts and to understand that math is actually useful in everyday life. Besides, they love hearing stories!

We started off our unit on shapes by reading "The Shape of Things."
We went on a shape hunt around the classroom
using these shape pointers that I made.
We even used our bodies to make shapes!
  We made shapes from toothpicks
  and clay.


We learned about equal parts with the story  "The Doorbell Rang." This is a story about children who share cookies with their family and friends. Then we figured out how to share our own "cookies" equally with our friends.

First, we figured out how to share a cookie equally between two friends. We each got one half.

Then we figured out how to share a cookie among four friends. We each got one fourth.


"A Pair of Socks" was a fun story about sorting. The kids were excited when I brought out a whole basket full of socks, which we sorted by color, pattern, and size. 


We also made some class counting books based on these stories. I will post pictures of our work soon.

Phonics & Music

I try to integrate music into my teaching as often as possible. I love this Phonics Song by KidsTV123. My class sings it everyday. One child gets to come up and point on the alphabet chart as we all sing along. This is much more engaging than flash cards. The kids always want to sing it again. 

The kids also love Marching Around the Alphabet by Hap Palmer. We do this with letters and also with letter sounds. 

Oh, and I just found this great DVD from There are songs (with movements) for each letter of the alphabet, as well as two songs that include all the letters and sounds. I'm going to have to buy it now!!

Morning Meeting

Greeting & Sharing:
In our class, we start every morning with a greeting. Sometimes we do a simple handshake greeting or high five greeting. Most days, we do the "Hello Neighbor" song and dance by Dr. Jean. On Mondays, we also have sharing time, where we pass a stuffed beanie animal around the circle and children can share if they would like to. This is a great time to practice speaking and listening skills. 

We always sing a song specific to the current month. I love the ones from Growing KindersThen we sing Months of the Year (Tune: Ten Little Indians) and Days of the Week (Tune: Oh My Darling). CanTeach has some great songs.

For our morning routines, I choose helpers using these cute star sticksWe do yesterday/today/tomorrow, read the date, count the days in the month, read the pattern on the calendar, count the days in school by tens and ones, and do the weather. Everyday, we also practice counting by ones and tens by clapping or hopping to 100. Sometimes I will also mix in some review of other content. 

Morning Message: 
Finally, we read our morning message. I invite children to come up and circle certain letters or sight words that we are currently learning. They also help me write letters and words, or fix errors. Usually, the message contains a question or fill in the blank statement. The children turn and talk to a partner to discuss the question and then children can volunteer to share. Finally, we break for some stretching or dancing.

Work Stations Management

Here is my Literacy Work Stations Management Chart. I love Debbie Diller's Chart , but at $60, it's pretty pricey. So, I ordered this Pocket Chart (for only $12!) and I created my own picture cards. 

I usually work with small groups during stations time, so I have a timer to keep track of time and to let the kids know when it is time to clean up and rotate. When we rotate, I just move the station cards down one row. The kids work in pairs and they go to each station for 15 minutes. I find that there is less off-task behavior when only two kids work together.

For math stations, I do not have a separate pocket chart. I have numbered cards that correspond to my numbered math tubs (I will post pics later). I just place them on top of the literacy station cards during math station time. 

Click the picture below to download my center rotation cards!
These two books by Debbie Diller are awesome resources for planning and setting up math and literacy stations:


Classroom Library

This was our library at the beginning of the year. The empty plastic tubs now hold our ABC and Word Work Centers. I'm still hoping to find some cute pillows or beanbag chairs to make the area a little cozier. 
I have the books organized by topic in plastic tubs (the tubs were only $1 from Walmart)! 
I created the labels for the tubs (see below). They fit perfectly on 2"x4" address labels.

Classroom Library Labels

Brown Reindeer, Brown Reindeer

I love this cute story from Littlegiraffes, modeled after Eric Carle's "Brown Bear, Brown Bear." The kids enjoyed joining in and reading the repeated text. They were so excited to take it home to read to their parents!

Snowman Handprint Ornaments

I absolutely LOVE these snowman handprint ornaments! They were pretty easy to make and I'm sure the parents will treasure them forever. 

Materials for Ornaments:
-Glass Ball Ornaments
-White Acrylic Craft Paint 
-Thin paintbrush (use tip to make snow)
-Sharpies or Pain Pens for decorating

Materials for Gift Bags:
-Brown Paper Bag
-Tissue Paper
-Construction Paper (green, brown)
-Yellow Star die cuts or stickers
-Scissors and Glue

Calendars - Parent Gifts

Some of the teachers on my team shared this calendar activity with me. They came out pretty cute.

 We helped the children wrap them with tissue paper and attach a cover page to make it look like a present.

Reindeer Headbands

These reindeer headbands were adorable and the kids just loved them! They couldn't wait to put them on! 

-Poster board or cardstock cut into long thin strips
-Brown construction paper (6"x6" squares, cut in half to make triangles)
-Black construction paper (9"x12")
-White construction paper (small scraps)
-Red pompoms
-Glue & Stapler

Christmas Tree Craft

We made these Christmas trees from paper plates. So simple and easy! 

-One paper plate per student
-Green paint and sponges/brushes 
-Red construction paper (9"x12")
-Brown construction paper (cut into small rectangles)
-Yellow star die cuts or stickers
-Glitter, Glue, Sequins

Welcome to our classroom!

Here are some pictures of my classroom at the beginning of the year.


Whole-Group Meeting Area
Math Center
 Reading Center / Library

 Housekeeping Center
 Small Group Table

 Our Class Pet