August 11, 2014

The First Few Days

Ok, soooo...

I have a question. 

Do I teach in the only district in America that has already started school? It kind of feels like it, based on Instagram and blogs. And, really, I'm kind of jealous! 

Because, we're three days in already. And, so far so good! Still loving my kiddos. We actually switched for Reading today and those kids are super sweet, too! So, overall, I'm pretty happy with the start to the year.

I wanted to share a couple of things we've done over the last few days. Before I do, I need to tell you that I have a great little student teacher who started the year with me. And, since she isn't really teaching right now, she's been a HUGE help! I've been able to do a lot more this year because I have an extra set of hands in the classroom every day!

This year, we had some PD on Thinking Maps. Now, I've been through this PD before and these awesome maps are nothing new. In fact, if you look over on the side of my blog, you'll see all the first grade posts that I wrote two years ago that incorporate Thinking Maps. But, it's just one of those things that I just kinda dropped. And I honestly don't know why!!!

My school and my team have made a huge effort to start using these maps every single day. I truly think these maps are more effective than worksheets when used correctly. So, if you're not a fan, you probably aren't going to enjoy my blog very much this school year. 

We decided to start with the simplest one: a brainstorming map. Aka, a circle map. (We don't call it that because we want the kids to know when to use each one. Circle map doesn't mean anything to them, but brainstorming does.) 

So, we started the first day with these:

The middles say A Good Teacher and A Good Student. So, during morning meeting, we've brainstormed things that make a teacher good and make a student good. The kids have come up with some great ideas! 

On Friday, I modeled how to make a brainstorm map about myself. Then, I let the kids make one of themselves with construction paper. 

The cool thing about Thinking Maps is they are great for writing! Today, I had the kids write sentences about themselves using their maps on index cards. We're going to spend the rest of the week turning those simple sentences into a well-developed paragraph about themselves.

We also made My Important Numbers brainstorm maps in Math. These include all the numbers that mean something to my kids. I felt like this was a good activity to do the first day of math because it created some great discussion about why math is important and ways we use math in our real lives. 

I also started a Thinking Map bulletin board. The plan is for the kids to eventually be in charge of making their own maps and deciding which ones they need to make. So, hopefully, this board will help with that once we've practiced all the maps together.

In Reading today, we did two other things. First, we worked on building our stamina for Read to Self. (I know this is not a popular opinion, but I'm not really the world's biggest fan of Daily 5. But, the one aspect I LOVE is Read to Self. I don't always follow exactly what the book says, but I've just kind of rearranged it so that it works for me.) We made this anchor chart to help the kids understand what I expect while they're reading independently. 

Once we got started, they did soooo good! One little boy got a little off-task and quit reading, so we stopped. But, overall, they did great! 

We're charting their stamina on the anchor chart below. The goal is 25 minutes. Fingers crossed we'll get there sooner rather than later :) 

The last thing I want to share is just a quick, fun activity. But, I think it was a good way to start Reading class because it gave my kids a chance to reflect and understand why we're doing what we're doing at school. (I saw the original idea on Pinterest and just changed it a little to make it work for my kids.) 

I gave my kids three index cards. On each card, we started one of the following sentence frames: 

-I'm the kind of reader who...
-I want to be the kind of reader who...
-To be a good reader, I need to...

Then, when they finished all three, I gave them a card to draw a picture of themself and to write their name on. Then, I had my student teacher staple them onto a strip of ribbon and hang them on our bulletin board in the hall. 

Here are some close-ups...

I feel like this was great to do today because it really helped me see my kiddos' ability levels. Also, it's something cute in the hallway for Open House Thursday night. So, win/win, friend.

We've got some other good activities planned for this week, so I'll do my best to get pictures and do a blog post this weekend. 

Ok, I'm off to watch the Real Housewives! Have a great week!!


Jordan said...

I'm right there with you! I've had kids since last Thursday. I'm ready but I'm not. Haha. It's hard leaving my daughter (7 mo.). Plus, I have an ENTIRELY new team...that makes things REALLY interesting. Good luck this year!

Kristi McInerney said...

im a homeschooler and we started this week!

great job on your classroom. before kids I taught third and fourth grade and I always loved when they gave me a student teacher too! So helpful

Have a great year!

Erica said...

Soon, I will be a student teacher and I can't wait to help with all things classroom/teaching related! The more experience, the better, right?

I love all your ideas in this blog. Maybe I'm just being a sponge and soaking them all up, but they look fantastic!

Beth said...

I can see that the topic goes into the middle of the circle and then details goes into the larger circle, but what goes around the circle??
Thinking of Teaching

Jeff said...

Thanks so much for all of the wonderful ideas! I can't wait to use some of them when school starts next month. We start the day after Labor Day. Lucky here.

Lindsay said...

Beth, the outside is called the frame of reference. It's where the kids write how they know or why they put what they put. It's the Common Core part and I plan to use it this year as the place where they cite evidence. I plan to post many more Thinking Maps as we make them, so hopefully that will help kind of explain it.

Jen said...

How do you do this Thinking Map with picture?!

Lindsay said...

They just put important things about themselves in the smaller map and then they put people who influenced their lives in the outer frame.

shontell said...

I thought I was brilliant. About three weeks ago, I was running an ECE for a non-profit. I thought to myself, "Let's start school the day after Labor Day. Sweet!" Then I fell into a job with the district that I couldn't pass up. I've been working since August 7th. Poo.