March 17, 2014

Shape Graphing

During our unit on graphing, I wanted to focus on having the kiddos create representations of their survey data (Read more about "Survey Day"!). I really wanted to make sure that my kiddos got practice with making different types of graphs to support the Common Core Standard 1.MD.4 ... so I created graphing anchor charts, a packet of graphing questions, and also a graphing game that kiddos could play during Math Workshop time!
The shape graphing game was a big hit!   I created small bags of shape manipulatives and the kiddos got to practice counting and graphing completely independently.  I used sheet protectors and dry-erase markers to make the game completely re-useable.  

{Grab this Shape Graphing Game FREEBIE!}

In addition to worksheets and games, I also added more whole-class survey questions to give my firsties authentic, relevant experience with graphs.  The kiddos always love getting to come up to the SMART board, so they were eager to answer questions.  We used many ways to represent our data and different types of graphs.

It's important for young children to actually see graphs as meaningful to their lives, so I've started a list of theme-related graphs to continue incorporating graphing skills throughout the year.  We've already started by graphing our favorite "Lilly" book, by Kevin Henkes!

Exploring Our World

 Back in January, we had a our annual Museum Exhibit Night (Read about previous Museum Nights here and here).  This year, the theme of our first grade exhibit was "Exploring Our World."  Through this theme, we incorporated our geography standards, field studies, and nonfiction reading unit.

Similar to last year, we created a map of the world on our shared bulletin board.  (Although this year I learned that I could use my SMART board projector to trace on to paper, making the continents much more to scale).  The kiddos labeled important geographical features, including oceans and mountain ranges.  Our sweet Art Teacher worked with each class to create 3D landmarks and topographies.

Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the whole exhibit so these close-ups will have to do!

On the night of the exhibit, the kiddos got their "docent tags."  They loved hosting their friends and families around the exhibit, pointing out their details on the map and their book club posters. We managed to pull in a number of standards and skills with this project and it was obvious with all of the connections that the kiddos made as they talked about what they'd learned!

Nonfiction Reading Book Clubs

We have yet another snow day, so I'm catching up on months of blogging...

I've already posted about some of the components of our last reading unit, including topic bins and anchor charts, but one important part of this unit was actually how we concluded it.  During the final week of the unit, the kiddos met together in nonfiction book clubs.

I started by asking my readers to write down 3 topic bins they would be interested in studying a bit more closely.  Fortunately, I was able to get nearly everyone into one of their top choices.  After they were all assigned to groups, they had a few days to explore their new topics.  The kiddos practiced identifying important vocabulary, taking notes, organizing and comparing facts, and planning questions to research more.

As the conclusion and celebration to this unit, the kiddos worked together with their book club members to create posters about their topics.  Each book club member chose some of the important facts from their topic to write and draw about.  They were so cute consulting their sticky notes and jotting down details!  Then I met with each group to choose a heading for their poster.  I typed up the titles for each poster, but let the kiddos decide how to organize their information.  They were very thoughtful about how to place each section and connect the ideas.

The posters turned out great and were an important part of our "Exploring the World" Museum exhibit (more on that soon!)

March 3, 2014

Botanic Garden Field Trip

Last week we had our school-wide Museum Night.  I have to admit that this year's exhibit was not as complete or cohesive as I would have liked.  Nevertheless, we did have some fun experiences as we prepared for our exhibit.  

One of our trips was to the National Botanic Garden.  Our goal for this trip was to connect our unit on living and nonliving things with our study of geography.  The kiddos were assigned to take pictures of plants from each of the regional areas featured at the Garden (jungle, desert, southern hemisphere, Hawaii).  Then they had to create a descriptive caption for the picture.  

We purchased some disposable cameras, but most of the chaperones also brought Smart phones or digital cameras which they let the kiddos use.  The kiddos loved being in charge of the cameras (and I got some adorable pictures of them taking pictures)!  After they had taken all their pictures, they also work with their group to answer few questions about the similarities and differences of the flowers, trees, and plants from around the world.  

If we do this trip again, however, we will need to get the pictures developed right away.  Although it was great practice for the kiddos to take a picture and write captions, by the time we actually got the pictures printed they had mostly forgotten the process.  In addition, I didn't have a totally clear idea of how we would use the pictures, so they mostly served as a resource.  Oh well.  I'll post about the final exhibit soon.

Nonfiction Reading Charts

I make a lot of charts for Writers' Workshop with tips and tools for the kiddos to refer to during writing, but for some reasons I don't have nearly as many charts for reading.  In our nonfiction reading unit, I really wanted to make some charts that could remind and guide the kiddos as they read.  Charts are also nice because they give some structure to our mini-lessons; when we have a chart to create or reference it helps the kiddos (and me) stay focused.

My goal was to create charts for the essential skills in this unit, including using text features, finding the big idea, connecting pages together, and reading with fluency.

I actually found this chart on Pinterest but, unfortunately, the link has been discontinued so I don't know where it was originally from.  I used this along with the "Nonfiction Reader Experience" lesson.  I think it was helpful for the kiddos to be reminded of the different types of voices they should be using while they read.  

This chart are definitely going to reappear each year!

Nonfiction Explorer Journals

Wow, well, February just came and went!  We actually just finished up our nonfiction reading and writing units, but since I didn't get around to posting them, I'm going back to review how things went.

I started out this unit by introducing new Nonfiction Explorers Journal.  I created this journal as a central place for all of the graphic organizers and reading responses that are part of our nonfiction unit.  I loved the explorers theme woven through this journal and the kiddos really enjoyed using their journals.  
More importantly, I had built-in exit tickets for almost every lesson.  Each page corresponded with one of the reading lessons I taught so my readers always had a place to record their notes. They learned to notice important vocabulary, record key facts, and connect big ideas with supporting details.

The kiddos kept these journals in their reading bins, along with leveled books and some nonfiction books from our topic bins (which we created here.)  In addition to getting a few leveled books (fiction or nonfiction) I encouraged my explorers to use the "Five Finger Test" to fill their bins with nonfiction books they could read.  I always find it interesting how this unit can push struggling readers to new heights as they seek to read challenging books on the topics that interested them. 

Once again, this unit allowed my readers to stretch their decoding and comprehending muscles and many of them move up at least one reading level during this month!