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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fiction, Opinion, Adjectives, OH MY!

Phew, my world has been CRAAAAAZY busy over the last few weeks.  Conferences, paperwork, birthday party, paperwork....it just never ends!

But with conferences and parties behind me, I thought I blog about the goings on in the world of first grade.  So get ready for some random thoughts for your Tuesday afternoon!

Several weeks ago now, we started talking about fiction stories and their elements.  We had already discussed and charted {sorry, no picture, but grab the anchor chart masters HERE} the difference between fiction and non-fiction stories.  So, our kids were ready to focus on fiction and retelling stories.

We started reading various versions of Cinderella stories.  Yes, you heard right.  If you are following the Common Core Unit suggestions, then you know the Cinderella unit is last.  That's how I also have in it my TPT store.  But, at the end of last year, our district decided to change up the Common Core units.  So, this year, instead of doing 6 units, we are doing 4.  And they are in a new order.  The bottom line is...yes, I taught comparing versions of Cinderella in May last year.  And, yes, I'm teaching it in September this year because we are following what our district has asked us to do.  However, it has been messy for us because we still have two units that were left out in this new set up and those 2 units have some of Arkansas Science and Social Studies state standards.  So, we are having to do a lot of combining and are learning as we go!  This first quarter's unit has basically been rights and responsibilities {from our state standards} and Cinderella {from our district's Common Core Unit}.  Two things that don't really go together, but we are doing the best we can!  Every year is a new adventure, right?!?!?

Okay...back on track...

We charted each of the 4 elements of fiction.  I added a new element each day and we focused on that element with our read aloud.  So, the first day, we really talked about the characters.  The second day we reviewed characters, but focused on setting.  The third day, we listed the characters and setting in the book we read, but focused on the problem.  Day 4, we reviewed the first three elements in the book we read and focused on the solution.  Day 5, we reviewed all of them, and really looked at the idea that the solution needs to match the problem.  This was especially important because most read aloud level books have multiple problems and solutions and when we retell, that can get confusing.  Making that connection really helped the kids!

They loved brainstorming other ideas for each of these elements...and putting it in the context of a movie really helped get lots of ideas going!

I have several graphic organizers that I use during whole group and during guided reading groups {get them HERE} to reinforce fiction elements and retelling.  Since we had just started guided reading during this time, we used some organizers whole group.

Moving around our Common Core Units, also means that we are teaching opinion writing at the beginning of the year instead of the end.  So, here is what opinion writing looks like at the beginning of first grade!  We first discussed the difference between fact and opinion.  We charted the differences.
 Our first "real" experience with writing opinion paragraphs was last week.  Before last week, we had been working on writing a complete opinion sentence with a supporting detail.  We did this as we were wrapping up responsibilities in our School, School, What Do You See? booklets.  The wrote, "I like ______.  She _______."



Then, last week we "beefed up" our opinion writing and turned it into a paragraph.  We also changed the opinion sentence to a more first grade sentence instead of those silly kindergarten "I like..." sentences. :)  You can read more about the OREO organizer HERE, but I love this graphic organizer.  And the kids love that I buy Oreos as rewards for writing complete paragraphs! {Those who have only half of the paragraph only get half of the Oreo. :)
It's hard to see, but I write the sentence frames on the black part of the oreo.  And, yes, I forgot the "s" on "That's," but I've fixed it now.  My white chalk marker was not being very nice to me during the lesson.  But once I laminated the chart, I was able to go back and fix it!

Later in the year, we will add the other sentence frames for the first opinion sentence {The best ____ is _____, and Did you know _______ is the best...?}

I do not put sentence frames on the reason sentences.  And we do not use "because."  Those linking words are in 2nd grades standards and, honestly, it is just too hard for them to understand.  Especially in September.  I always tell them it is possible to start a sentence with because, but when they write, "My favorite sport is football because...." it either becomes way too long of a sentence and I can't tell the difference between their opinion and reason sentence, or it becomes an incomplete sentence.

Last week, our focus was on character traits.  By the end of the week, our kids needed to be able to describe a character from a familiar Cinderella story just by looking at a picture {This was a task our district asked us to do!}  So, we spent a good part of the week talking about adjectives.  On Tuesday, we talked about what and adjective was {a describing word}.  We brainstormed 3 of the categories on our anchor chart {feel, smell and sound}.  I had one of our class stuffies, "Moosie," for us to describe.  First, we described his feel, then smell, then sound.  After 15 minutes of discussion and sharing with partners, I could tell we were getting restless {it was also 2:00 in the afternoon...hello???}  So, I decided to stop at those 3 categories.  I dug through my reward tubs and found 6 objects--one for each table group.  I had them go back to their tables and describe the feel, smell, and sound of their object.  And they made webs describing them.

This was the basic "on the fly" idea here and it wasn't "pretty!"  I didn't even take pictures.  But it was REALLY good.  I could easily see which groups were getting it and not.  And having the 3 categories gave me a frame for scaffolding my questions: "How does it feel? Smell? Sound?"  After they had written at least 5 adjectives, we went back to the carpet and I quickly shared {for time} each poster.  They actually really liked this and even liked finding groups that came up with similar adjectives.

Wednesday, we brainstormed the other 3 categories {taste, look, how many} and I used my left over almonds for us to describe whole group.  Since Tuesday's group work was so successful, I was able to plan a little better and decided to give each group an Oreo to describe.  They had one Oreo and I told them we were leaving "taste" for last!;)  They did SO well again!  And, really, their hand drawn webs were just as cute, so I didn't even make up a handout for this.  They just did it on blank paper again.  Nothing fancy with 2 late nights of parent conferences! *wink*

Here is the anchor chart we made together!

Adjectives are not something I normally do a whole lot with at the beginning of the year, but the group work made it fun and accessible so early in the year.  And it was great background building for describing characters in a story.

Because of our great adjective work, they have done an even better job writing about their favorite character this week. {We have been reading a version of Cinderella and then they are choosing their favorite character to write an opinion piece on.} The supporting details for their favorite character writing have been great describing sentences and I know it's because they got so good at using adjectives last week!



Sunday, September 28, 2014

Party Time: C is for Cooper

My baby turns 2 today.

I'm just gonna take a break and cry for a moment...or two... *sniff sniff*

Okay, I'm better.  For now!

At 2 years, Cooper...
*is potty trained and wearing underwear all the time {except for sleeping} and rarely has accidents.
*knows 50% of his capital and lowercase letters.  Probably closer to 75%, I just haven't officially counted.
*can rote count or count objects to 10 {and sometimes 13} all by himself.
*recognizes the numbers 1-9.
*cries every time someone screams or cheers...whether for good reasons or not. {From what we can gather from him, he thinks when people get loud or scream that they are hurt.}
*Talks A LOT--just in the last 2 weeks his speaking vocabulary has grown so much!
*still loves to be rocked for naps and bedtime.
*Can help me quote 3 of our Bible verses we work on daily.
*loves to be the center of attention and if we don't laugh at him, he will just laugh at himself...although he will not perform on command. ;)
*can put slip on shoes and his flip flops on by himself.
*is very close to taking his pants/underwear on and off.
*is silly, smart, serious, and sensitive all wrapped into one little sweet boy!

My favorite "Cooperisms" are...
*"Oooo-Too." --> love you, too
*"I hold." --> hold me
*"Per-Per" --> Cooper
*"Ha-Ha" --> Help
*"Beep Beep" --> Wheels on the Bus

Thank you for indulging in my bragging session...I just don't want to forget all of those precious memories!

Saturday, we celebrated Cooper's 2nd birthday!  Since we are at an apartment this year waiting for our new house to be built, we decided we needed to be simple and NOT at our apartment! Ha!!

So we used our wonderful clubhouse patio!  It was the perfect size and a beautiful day for celebrations!

Here are the invitations I made... you can get your own custom invitations or thank you notes HERE.

 I decided to go with an alphabet theme because it was simple and cute.  And I think it turned out perfect! Here is the food table.  I tied scraps of fabric to a string to swag behind the table for some color.  Repurposing and cheap decor.  Just my style!

Chalkboard ornaments from JoAnn Fabrics made the perfect food signs {with the ornament hanger cut off, of course!}

I used clear cylinders from my mother-in-law for the pretzels and cheez-its and filled the bottom third with vintage wooden blocks from my childhood toy collection. {Thanks for keeping some of our old toys, Mom!}  Then cut a cardboard circle to put in between the blocks and food!




On to the cake table...The wooden "C" is the door hanger on his bedroom door.  Another reason why I chose this theme and color scheme...easy and cheap decorations when I can use what I already have!


How perfect is this old crate my father in law uses for photo props?  I just added some small pennants to dress it up!




 Once again, Shelby Lynn's is the best cake in the country.  Period.



The "Thanks" table...which every other day is a side table in our living room!  It matched the party so well I just had to use it! ;)

 If only my mom's vintage block collection could've included a colorful "T" and "S."  *sigh*  Oh, well, I think it's still cute!
 Alphabits!!!!  I loved that cereal!

Family pictures!



Fishing for letters was a HUGE hit with our little guy.  He wanted to do this the whole time!!







He loved the fishing so much, he even fussed when it was time to eat!  And he NEVER does that!  Note to self: Fishing for letters might be some awesome summer entertainment next summer!!


Playing "Boo!" with his buddy, "Nick-Nick."



 "Cake-Cake!"

 After opening all of his presents {slowly, but surely!}, it was time for a little "Boo!" game with the audience!

 Tricycle!!!

Justin got Cooper a watch because he is obsessed with Justin's watch and always wants to wear it.  He loves the light and "beep beep" buttons.  This was one of the few toddler watches he found with buttons on it.  And it is HUGE.  Like I could easily wear it on my wrist!  He loved it anyway though!





After most everyone had left, it was time for a little golf on the putting green with Doc and Pops!