Sunday, April 13, 2014

Let it be KNOWN…

…my lesson plans are DONE while the sun is still shining! Say what?! Boy, do I feel accomplished! Before my head swells too big, it’s truly probably because this week is dedicated to our EOY benchmark testing, but HEY! They’re done, lol! So, maybe…..just maybe, I’ll go to bed tonight BEFORE midnight! Nah!

Speaking of lesson plans, I have no idea why it takes me so long to write them! I tend to follow predictable patterns when it comes to prepping for the school day. It may have something to do with my attention span. It’s short……..SQUIRREL! See?! Ok, where were we….hmmmm, oh! Lesson plans! What’s your process like? Each week, our team gets together to throw around ideas for the following week. On Friday, I am so ready to get to the couch because I am ex…..haust….ED, BUT the joyful, genuine collaboration that signals the end the week is something that I really look forward to. It’s also the beginning of my planning process.

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My lesson plans start out with those shared ideas, then take shape based on goals set throughout the week made from observing student behaviors and skills we must cover from our adopted curriculum. When I sit down in front of the computer, I generally have my plans from the previous week before me, my instructional focus document, my TEKS (standards for non-TX folk) verification document, graded work, and our timeline for the current grading period. It seems like a lot, but it’s all contained in my teacher binder so it’s really not. Though lesson plans start out neatly organized and printed, they end up very written upon, scribbled on and sometimes scratched out and edited for re-teaching. The following Monday, when I set out the new set on my teacher table to refer to, the set from previous week is placed in a little basket that sits behind my table.

This week, plans are slim because our focus will be completing EOY testing. Isn’t the timing for testing just a little hilarious…the week before Easter….a shortened week….and you KNOW the kids’ minds are on eggs, eggs, and MORE eggs!

Slide1

One of the greatest motivational tools that helps my lesson plans to flow is something our class has affectionately called “Smart Art”. There are so many expectations students are expected to meet throughout the school day. One of them is completing work station activities so that we can effectively conduct small groups to become better readers. Early in the school year, we experienced some struggles in completing quality work.  They completed work, but the quality was lacking sooooo, we had to come up with a little encouragement to be our best selves. Enter Smart Art.

Slide2

These little cuties were our Smart Art activity from last week. Each week, students have  1 required task (from word work and work on writing) that they must complete in order to participate. Just one…is a must do, not an “IF I get to it or IF I want to”….it’s a must. These two completed activities are students’ ticket to complete the fun art activity on Friday.

Our story this week was about the life cycle of a butterfly. This little project served a two fold purpose. Fun/Reward and a reminder that my students are changing and growing just as quickly as the little caterpillar. In just under 40 days, they will be ready to flutter away as 2nd graders. The thought of it makes me get a little teary eyed because we’ve accomplished so much together!

For each student I folded two 9x12 sheets of black construction paper in half and cut out the shape of a butterfly using an exacto knife. Each one unique. They’re a bit of a pain to prep, but the end result and the kids’ excitement about making them is worth the effort.

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After labeling one side with their name and one with the 4 stages of the butterfly’s life cycle, students’ received glue to create the wings. I provided the glue for them. All they had to do was place the tissue paper in the pattern they wanted. As they completed the activity we discussed what we had learned about butterflies…their parts, how they use them, how they look, eat, can do, etc….

I thought my girls would be the most excited, but not this week! My boys were thrilled! They told me this was the best Smart Art activity we’ve done and they can’t wait to see what I come up with next week! I play to a pretty demanding crowd, lol! Love them to pieces!

Slide4
 After each student finished placing the tissue squares, the remaining black outline was glued on top. We placed them on the floor to dry. At the end of the day, the extra tissue pieces that hung off the sides were trimmed away, antennae were added and students drew additional white spots on the butterflies wings. I love surprises….fun surprises. My kids are used to coming in on Monday’s “looking up” to see what’s changed. When they return in the morning, they’ll see all of their butterflies fluttering around our classroom…

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…and through our little garden!

Like watching them create these little butterflies, it’s been a total joy watching each one of my students grow and change this year. We’re completing EOY testing to measure the growth, but there is so much that has been accomplished, said and done that testing won’t measure. It won’t measure the relationships, the hugs, the willingness to take risks, get messy and make mistakes in order to learn. It won’t measure the love I feel for this group of littles that will forever be one of “my kids”. It won’t measure how much I will truly miss them in a few short weeks…..they’re getting ready to flutter away and I’m content as we sit down to test because I know they’re ready!

How do you plan? What’s part of your process? What’s YOUR great motivator?

Monday, April 7, 2014

April Morning Work

Hey, ya’ll! Computer problems…bad for me! Good for you! Living in the boonies has its advantages. Hit or miss internet connection is NOT one of them! I’m continuing to have trouble accessing TPT to upload April Morning Work…sooooo, I decided to share it with you here, BUT for a limited time! Please click the preview picture to download the file. If it is something you enjoy using, consider leaving a little love or LIKING my FB page to keep the updates coming! Pin away! =)

Thanks, all…ya’ll are the best and I appreciate every view, click, and follower. Blogging is a wonderful, creative release and connecting with all of you makes it all worth while.

Enjoy the file. It will be listed on the blog as a FREEBIE for exactly 24 hours. {Expired 04/08/14} Thank you for the sweet comments, downloads and shares! It's finally uploaded to TPT! If you missed the FREEBIE, please click the pic below to check out this item in my TPT shop!

Thanks, again!


Skills in this set include:
  • Phonics
  • Making Text Connections
  • Butterfly Life Cycle
  • Writing in Math
  • Creative Writing
  • Addition and Subtraction
  • Comparing Past and Present {Technology}
  • Wants and Needs
  • Making Economic Decisions
  • Easter
  • Text Features
  • Insects

Thanks, again!

Aprilmorningworkwithwatermark

Friday, April 4, 2014

Five for Friday~Pen pals, Pets and PLANTS

Hey, ya’ll! How are ya? It’s time for another Five for Friday with Kacey at Doodlebugs Teaching! It’s been a looooong week. Life happened; we’ve been busy with a capital B! I think this might actually be the very first night since last Friday we’ve had nothing to do, so this weekend is welcomed with open arms!
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I came home ready to tackle a post and got tackled instead, by my old computer that got stuck on stupid and my new one that I’m having trouble downloading new programs to. Tag teamed by technology! I’ve gotten some of the bits and pieces up and running, but need to get Microsoft Office installed to get cracka lackin’ on some ideas floating around in my head. I’m sure after I walk away from it for awhile, I’ll get it going and get busy creating. Wish me luck…cause ya girl is feeling just a bit uh-nnoyed!

Anywho…..here’s a peek at this past week!

Slide1
April ushers in testing season for our upper grade friends. When you’re not the grade level testing, it can be pretty darn tough to work as quiet as a church mouse. To help our 3rd grade buddies out, we welcomed them to join us for some “get up and wiggle” time.

I’m not sure who had more fun, the kids or Mrs. Patterson and I, but it was a hoot having them visit! We used to work together. Having her back on the 1st grade hallway brought back lots of happy memories. The 3rd graders were grateful to be able to move about and my firsties couldn’t believe the “big kids” were stickin’ around to play and work with them! We had just gotten letters from our pen pals and were preparing to write them back, so having some extra hands on deck for ideas and editing was a total score!!! Win-win!!

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From writing letters to pen pals and hosting fun friends….we wrapped up our week with smart art to finish off our author study of Ezra Jack Keats. We read several different stories by him online at his official website and from our library. If you click the link, it’ll take you to 4 animated stories read aloud and other resources.  The kiddos were SUPER attentive and did a really good job of making comparisons between each of the stories to Whistle for Willie. Can you see him shaping up?

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After reading a different story each day, students became very familiar with Keats’ style and created collages of their favorite part of the story. There’s Willie running to Peter! Do you see him hiding under the carton?

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It’s beginning to look a LOT like spring! Pets, plants, pen pals….oh my! This little chart took us 3 daysish to create. We read the book Grow Flower, Grow! After reading it, we discussed the 3 things that plants need to grow and added them to the chart. The next day, I shared the pen with friends to have them label the parts of the plant. On the 3rd day, we created a booklet from Mailbox magazine and then…..

Slide5
….our plant POPPED right off the page! I LOVE prepping surprises for my kiddos to find when they enter the room! Their oohs and ahhhhs spike the level of excitement and interest in what we’re going to do next. When they came back from specials today, I thought I was gonna have to throw my body over the table to keep them from attacking our real life examples of parts of a plant! Can you say best teacher ever? LOL! *Wink*….well, at least that’s what they thought once they knew they’d get to eat them! =)

Have a great weekend! Now that I’ve got one of these two crazy computers functioning for a few…I’m working on finishing morning work for April. Sorry for the delay….it may just end up working out in your favor though! Stay tuned…


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