Wednesday, May 15, 2013

ipad Gripcase

 I bought an ipad to use for assessments this year. I am addicted to it. I do all my running records on it. I found this great app, Running Records Calculator by Von Bruno.
I press start, and it records the student reading. (It only holds one recording- there is no way to save more than one. =() Then when the reading is done, I enter in the number of words read and the errors made. 
The app provides the time, words per minute, accuracy percentage, and self-correction rate. I can playback the recording so the students can hear themselves reading. We talk about what they notice about their reading. I just realized I can email myself their recording and when they read for me again, we can listen and compare the recordings! 
You might be wondering what is surrounding the ipad...
Have you heard of Gripcase? Well, they make this AH-MAZING ipad case. I think the thing is indestructible! A lovely lady named Kelly, sent me one to use in my classroom. Can you say THANKFUL?But I have been scared to death, a nervous wreck, overprotective of my ipad. I have been so afraid the kids would break it. But check this out...Kelly sent me the case and the stand! I am IN-LOVE....
Now this boy uses the ipad a few times a week for extra skill practice. Before the Gripcase, he had to sit at a table with me to use it. Now...
I can leave him alone with it...and not have a panic attack
I even got really gutsy this week. (And if you know me at all, you know I am a control freak and overprotective of my electronics...)
 I even let him turn it...
and record other kids reading outside. 
Now I have not let him drop it or throw it around. I'm not that crazy. (Kelly says they can and the ipad will be perfectly safe.)
But head on over and watch this man do just that, and still have a perfect ipad! 
Now I am off to find some funding for ipads, 
now that I know there is a case to keep them safe!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

What Does Your Garden Grow?

For the past three years, my class and I have planted a vegetable garden. I usually apply for a grant. This year, with leftover grant money and a surprise package from Wal-Mart and Burpee, funding was a breeze! After a long weekend, I walked into my classroom to find this box of goodies! 
It came with a ton of seeds, some soil pellets, and planting cups. 
This year, we were a little late starting due to the crazy weather. Every time we thought it was warming up and got ready to plant, another cold front came in. About a month ago, we were finally able to plant! 
This bed has pumpkins, peppers, and green beans. 
(It has gotten too hot, too fast to plant the lettuce we were sent.)
 This bed has tomatoes, sunflowers, and marigolds.
The peppers are not looking too good! I do not think they like the hot days and cool nights we have been having. But these little guys were a surprise. Seeds were planted last fall, and they never grew. At the end of last year, we cleaned out the garden, tossed the soil and put down new mulch. The peppers appeared sometime in January. I guess they needed a year to finally sprout!
 I am not sure where the tomato plant came from either. Last year we had a plant, and it could not handle the heat. It died in a matter of days. Then when we suddenly had a pepper plant this year, the tomato plant sprouted a few days later. Not only did we get a huge one in the garden bed, we were surprised to find 2 tomato plants growing about ten feet away, near the parking lot!
I transplanted those guys right into the garden. I never thought they would survive, but they did. Now they are thriving! As of today, there are about 30 tomato blooms on it! 
 The mysterious tomato plant has been providing us with delicious tomatos for over two months now! 
For Mother's Day, we painted cups and planted marigolds for them. 
Can you believe we got another surprise this week? 
I guess when we were planting for Moms, we dropped some seeds. Again, this is by the parking lot! Look at the beautiful marigolds! 

When we began our garden, we created a what we know and our questions chart about plants. 
Instead of providing my students with the answers to their questions, I sent them off to research plants. 
We created a can/have/are chart.
Then we went about learning about seeds.
The students experimented with seeds by dissecting them. The goal was to find the coat and the embryo. 
I love her observation! "It was broke!"
They drew and labeled the seed parts. 
Then they made predictions about whether a seed will grow without it's coat.
Each student planted a seed with and a seed without it's coat. (Then they blew away in a storm, but that's another story!) FYI- both will grow. The seed without a coat will grow faster. 
Then we moved into what a plant needs. 
The students are taking care of the garden daily. They are also recording their observations daily, and researching how to keep the plants healthy. You can find my plant activities and observation journal here.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Common Core Opinion Writing

Here is how I am teaching writing this week. It will take us all week to complete the writing.
 Today my students walked in to see this anchor chart. (We have done several of these, so I was comfortable putting it all up at one time. If this is the first time you are doing a step-by-step lesson, I would just add the header necessary for the day.) 
First, I read the book, First Grade Here I Come! by Nancy Carlson. 
(My kids loved this book at the beginning of the year, so it was nice to revisit.)
Then we talked about how they felt coming into first grade. It was a great conversation about their fears and worries, as well as excitement. We talked about how the kindergarteners are probably feeling right about now. I introduced the writing lesson for the day by asking the students what they think about first grade now. What would they tell the kindergarteners to expect? We quickly reviewed opinions, with everyone having a turn to share what their opinion of first grade was.
As they talked, I wrote some of their responses.
I  reviewed what an opinion statement is. We also discussed how they will need to write reasons to support it.  Then I wrote mine on my chart.
My students wrote their statements. Next, we brainstormed a list of reasons of why we love first grade. 
Again, we had some review on explaining why we felt that way. Today, I expected just a brief reason. Tomorrow, they will add details with an experience to justify their reasons.
(We had many interruptions, so we only had time for one reason.)
Here are two examples of the students opinion statements and first reason. 
The students shared their drafts, and tomorrow we will pick up where we left off. If you need more ideas on how to use this lesson,  I blogged about their favorite ice cream here, here, and here.  

Working with Words is my newest product line, I guess you would call it. My students LOVE them! The plus to the students loving these activities, is that I am seeing AMAZING gains in their fluency and their ability to decode. Each set has the same materials, which require very little prep time. By using the same format each week, the students are able to work independent from me on each phonics skill. Now I know exactly what they are doing at word work, and they are held accountable  I love, love, love these. I am in the process of creating more and covering all the phonics skills. 

The writing lessons above follow the same format as Why You Will Love This Class lesson.
 Math packs are great for station activities small group, 
and whole group lessons. 
 My science products are FULL of writing and reading responses. They will go great with any science program. 

Thanks so much for stopping by! 

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