Saturday, November 30, 2013

Favorite Things

So a few of you may remember when Blog Hoppin' did that Thankful linky party a few weeks ago?  Where teachers were supposed to link up each day with a post about things they are thankful for, helpful stuff, activities they like, etc...  Well, I kind of dropped the ball on that one, and I never did get to post anything.  But I had taken some pictures in my classroom of some activities that my students and I love, so I decided to go ahead and write the post instead, a few days weeks late.  Oh well!

I can honestly say that my favorite thing to teach tends to change each year, depending on whatever I've decided to focus on that year, or the dynamics of my classroom, or changes I've made to my classroom.  But I do have a few things that I do each year that haven't changed, and a few things that I've started to do that I just love!

One thing that I have always loved teaching is calendar time.  It may be one of my favorite parts of the day.  My students last year loved calendar as much as I do.  They would cheer whenever I said it was time for calendar.  They loved being the calendar helper.  One of my favorite things about calendar is that it is a great daily review of math skills my students need to practice.  I do a lot of different things in my calendar time, and they change throughout the year.

Some of the skills we practice during calendar are saying the date, writing the date, and talking about the day of the week and month.  We talk about what day is coming next and what day it was the day before.  We make the number of the day using tally marks, tens and ones blocks, straws, expanded form, writing the hundreds, tens, and ones in each number.  We choose 2 numbers and write the fact family.  We choose the number of the date and write addition and subtraction facts that equal that sum or difference.  We tell time and play "What's My Number?"  There are other things we do, but those are some of the big ones.  I tend to introduce new activities every month or so.

Another thing I love doing in my classroom is poetry.  I like using poetry when I can because it allows students to practice fluency while having fun reading a poem.  One of my favorite places to incorporate poetry is during phonics.  We have 2 phonics sounds we cover each week, and I have a poem that goes with each phonics sound we learn.  The first day, I introduce the sound, and if we have a Phonics Dance chant, we learn the chant as well.  We read the poem and highlight the words that have that particular sound in it.  If it is a sound that can be found in a different part of the word (both at the beginning and end, just at the beginning, etc...) then I discuss that with the students as well.

On the second day, the students get their own copy of the poem to put in their poetry notebooks.  They highlight the words with the sound of the week in them, sight words, and draw a picture to illustrate the poem.  Whenever they finish, their assignment is to re-read the poems in their notebook and practice reading them fluently.  If most of the students at a table finish, they'll all sit there together and read their poems in unison.  It's really cute. :-)  Sometimes I have to warn them to whisper read their poems because they get too excited.  I love the way the students are practicing their fluency and phonics at the same time!

 
My next two "favorites" are newer activities I've added to my classroom in the last few years.  The first is Family Journals.  I wrote an entire post about how I use Family Journals in my classroom awhile back, so if you are interested in more information, that's where you can find it!  I started doing them last year, so this is the second year that I've been doing them.  I send home the journal every week with a different prompt that is related to something that we've been learning or something seasonal.  The student and a family member respond and the student brings the journal back.  It allows me to learn more about my students and their families, which I love.  :-)  I usually respond once a month, simply because I have 20 students and I don't have time each week to respond to all of them!  I do read each and every one though!   And I love love love when I read something that I can connect to- like the fact that this parent and I both had a Baby Alive growing up. :-)

 

My last favorite activity is the fact fluency assessments we've begun doing this year.  In the past, one of our special areas was our Math Lab teacher, and one of the things she did was a math fluency program, so in my classroom we did some math flashcards, but not nearly enough with fluency!

So this year, I've started my own little math fluency program in my classroom.  We all began with the 0's addition facts and are slowly working our way through the facts.  Twice a week, we take our fluency assessments.  The students LOVE it!  They get so excited for that timer to go off and begin their fluency assessments!  Whenever they pass their fluency assessment, they get a certificate to take home with them, and a set of flashcards to practice.  :-)   I will have to put together a post soon on how I work with my students on fluency in our classroom.  

So those are a few of our favorite things!  

Hopefully you will be right there with me on Monday stocking up on some new favorite things for your own classroom!  I know I already have a full cart and I'm trying to determine which things I really NEED versus which things I really WANT.  It's HARD.  I hope you won't have such a difficult time!  

I will have my store on sale tomorrow (Sunday) - Wednesday at 20% off!  If you've had your eye on something, now is totally the time to get it!  
Happy Shopping!


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