Saturday, May 30, 2015

Weekend Warriors: Favorite EOY Activities

Welcome to this very special MAY edition of Weekend Warriors!  I am so stoked to be joining this amazing group of teacher bloggers to share one of my most favorite times of the year with you!

 I've realized that as a first grade teacher in her 13th year of teaching first grade, there was NO WAY I could choose just one EOY activity to share with you....  I have too many that I cherish so grab that cup of Joe and settle in because I have a ton to share with you today!
First up: This snazzy Countdown to Summer Chain.
 I start the chain the first day of May and the kids have had quite the reaction to it.....You would expect a certain level of anticipation and excitement building up with each new chain that is added....but this year, my kids are looking pretty darn sad as the chain gets longer.  My heart is breaking as I begin to hear moans and sighs saying, "Oh no....not yet!" or "Mrs. D, can you come in over the summer so we can stay in school with you!"  Talk about tugging on your heart strings!!!!
My next EOY Favorite was shared last year by a truly fabulous blogging buddy and it is a keeper!  The very vivacious Haley O'Connor has this OUTSTANDING EOY pack FILLED to the brim with fabulous activities. In mid-May, I run a class set of her Summer Practice Packet to send home with each of the kids.
 See those lovely piles and piles of papers?
Any time we have delay days, snow days, or times where activities did not get completed, I simply add them to my "Summer Pile" in my work room.  I never throw them away.  
During the last full week of school, the kids take out the folders we have used for various reasons throughout the year, and those folders now have a NEW PURPOSE!  We call them our
 Those piles of papers are sorted into 4 Folders:
Reading Folder
Math Folder
Writing Folder
Phonics Folder
I type a very simple instruction list to the parents so they know what each folder is about and then the kids take them home with pride and eagerness to hopefully continue their learning over the summer months.
The purple folders have a very special purpose in our classroom all year!  Each student has used this purple folder to keep track of their Sight Word Mastery using my "Wild About Sight Words" Program.
Click on any image for more details! 
I had a very special volunteer that came in every week this year to check students word lists.
With each new level passed, students moved up and earned brag tags to show off their skills on a reading ribbon displayed in the hallway.

 We used the same incentive for Accelerated Reader too!
 Now, that we have reached the end of the year, it is time to send this special folder home.
 First, we had a big celebration for students to show their growth from the beginning of the year until now.  Talk about excitement!  Giving the kiddos a chance to reflect and look back at where they started was definitely an eye-opener to say the least!  These kids were feeling very proud by the end of the day!
 Inside the folder is the student's growth chart,
 and the new levels to practice over the summer months.
 Students also get to take home the remaining brag tags.
 As they pass each new level, they can continue to add brag tags to their ribbon.
The kids  thought this was so exciting and couldn't wait to take their Sight Words Folders home to share with mom and dad!
 Another EOY favorite that I just found is this sweet little writing pack by Miss Decarbo.  Just click on the image below for more details.
 I am having my kids do 2 pages every morning for morning work and they just LOVE it!
This page is my favorite!  It's called the Rockin' Reader and meshed perfectly with my Critter Cafe strategy learning!

 Beanie Baby Reading Strategy Posters for the Common Core C

Daily Read alouds are so special....Especially at the end of the year.  Finding books that really drive home all that learning that has taken place throughout the year is what I try to pack in as much as possible in those remaining days.  A true favorite is "Dear Mr. Blueberry" by Simon James.
 I have found some very fun and engaging follow-up activities to do with the story-
But my favorite is making a writing connection from teacher to student and student to teacher. 
 This is the point where I invite my now almost second graders to write a letter to me....and tell me what they loved about first grade.

 This is often the part where I begin sobbing uncontrollably...
What do I do with all the special trinkets and letters I have accumulated from the students each year?  I put everything in a Binder that I can then make a snazzy cover for and display proudly in my office.  
Oh, and speaking of favorite read alouds....
I attended one of Lester Laminak's seminars several years ago and boy did he WOW me with his take on adding fabulous vocabulary to stories and read alouds.  I purchased this gem-
 which comes with a CD of Lester reading aloud my favorite summertime book called "Saturday and Teacakes".  
In first grade it was a challenge to pluck out the Genre of Memoirs until finding this treasure....  It makes the connection so clear and easy for our littles!
 I also had a very sweet connection to the story because it reminds me of all the summers I spent with my grandparents...... baking summer favorites like Grandma's Teacakes!
 On the last day of school I have a very special ritual that includes reading aloud this time-honored favorite-
 Followed by a Glamorous Awards Ceremony where I get to hand out and recognize each and every special first grader in my class!
Then I pass out my farewell letter to the kids and again, the waterworks are hard to control......
 I also invite each student up to pick up a special summer treat!
2 Favorite books from Scholastic and a really fun book mark!
Then my room mother is coming in to set up a Drive-In Movie themed pizza party and movie treat for the kids!
It's going to be a memorable last day...
Here's to making every moment count in the eyes (and hearts) of our little ones!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Catch the Latest BUZZ in Room 102!!!!

Welcome to this Special Edition of "Catching the BUZZ" in Room 102!  Last week was AMAZING!  Our focus wall was jammed-packed with new learning-Take a peek!
Our sight words are Antonyms! 
This was the perfect time to bring out the Really Good Stuff flip chart and practices our Synonyms & Antonyms chants!
Our Phonics focus was the Long Vowel E with a spotlight on two special vowel teams:  (ee) and (ea).
Students searched for these vowel teams in our daily poetry-
Then got to make words with the patterns too!
We also use these fluency passages to "see" the vowel teams working in text.  These passages are awesome for partnership activities! :)
Here we are practicing good fluency with our daily phonics poems-
The kids absolutely LOVE our daily read alouds!!
Since the vowel team (ee) was so awesome, we decided the theme of BEES would be a great reading topic for the week!
We read some interesting articles on Bees and discovered that Bees are very busy insects! 
Together as a class, we created this bee hive to organize our thoughts and ideas to create some informational writing on our topic of Bees.
Then the students got BEEsy writing on their own!

I absolutely LOVE how students are going back to the text and looking for interesting vocabulary words to use in their writing!
My favorite part of the writing process is this:
Pictured above: We revised our writing rubric to showcase what first grade writing should like at this point in the school year.  We again incorporated our Levels of Learning to label each of the four samples and this made the job of student-led self assessment EASY-PEASY!
 Student-Led Self Assessment: Marzano Levels of Understanding
Our  rubric is rated from 1 to 4.  (4 being the "Expert Writer")
Students were invited to come up several times throughout the writing process and "rate their writing!"  It made my heart melt to see them using this self-assessment tool to rate themselves so effectively and the meaningful conversations they were having during this interaction was extremely inspirational! :)
After writing was done, we used this adorable SMART ART project to create some bees for the hallway bulletin board!

Here are the featured Writers of the Week!

 Now I need to give a HUGE HUG to my very sweet friend Katie Knight over at Teaching to the Core for sharing her latest BUGGY unit with me!  It inspired all this BUGGY learning in my classroom recently!!!
 We Are Bugging Out {Reading Comprehension, Art, Writing, a
 I already own Katie's Busy Bees unit because the 
SMART ART Bees are to die for!!! :)
 Power Passages {Busy Bees} Comprehension, Fluency, Close R
  I also purchased Katie's incredible seasonal units which include her Close Reading passages, comprehension quizzes, writing organizers and Smart Art that is so engaging and fun...My kids keep begging for more each week!!!   Be sure to check it out by clicking on the image below.
Spring Into Writing, Reading, Fluency, and Art Bundled Unit
In other news...the teachers at my building have been BUZZING with excitement this week!  I am so Proud and Honored to share the following Press Release with all my blogging friends!

Press Release from OAESA:
(Columbus, Ohio) (April 15, 2015). The Ohio Association of Elementary School Administrators announced that Coy Elementary in Oregon City School District has been selected as a 2015 Hall of Fame School.  Principal Amy M. and her staff will be presented with the award, including $1,000 to be used at the principal’s discretion.  OAESA will recognize ten winners of the Hall of Fame Award during an Awards Luncheon to be held June 12, 2015, at the Hilton Columbus at Easton.
The Hall of Fame School award recognizes schools that go above and beyond the call of duty to get students, teachers, and community members excited about education.  The school staff submitted an extensive application documenting the quality of their educational program in the following areas: instructional system, student achievement, student development, personnel, administration, school management, and stakeholders.
Hall of Fame Schools were chosen by two committees of OAESA members; one of which read and scored the applications and the other which conducted on-site evaluations of qualifying schools.  Committee members wrote that, “Each stakeholder group reinforced the strong message of family and relationships, from the students to parent volunteers; from the principal each staff member to the Superintendent of Schools.”
Located in Columbus, the Ohio Association of Elementary School Administrators serves Ohio’s pre-K, elementary, middle level, and central office administrators by providing professional development, legal consultation, professional publications and networking opportunities.

I am so stinkin' excited to be apart of an incredible 
Hall of Fame School!  :)  WooHoo!
Have a fabulous week!
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