Mother's Day!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

IT IS ALMOST MAY! The end of the school year is quickly approaching and I am trying to cram in every last writing activity that I possibly can!

Over the last week we have been working on our Mother's Day books and Treat bags. I had MANY laughs reading what they wrote about their moms! I know that moms treasure these books forever, and I was so proud of what my students created for them. 

Here is a little peek at what our Mother's Day book looks like!

We did a guided drawing lesson to create the art for the front cover of our book. Here are a few samples of what that looks like.
The first page is titled "Meet My Mom"
 I put four blank writing pages in our book this year and we wrote the following prompts:
1. My mom likes to....
2. The best thing about my mom is...
3. My mom is happy when... My mom gets mad when...
4. My mom and I like to...

Then we finished our book up with a coupon page and a treat bag full of Hershey Kisses!

Do you have an instagram account? 
You can find me on instagram using user name fallintofirst

More Marzano Student Rubrics

Sunday, April 21, 2013

I posted a picture of my BEE themed Marzano student rubric a few days ago and several people asked me to create some other themes.

Here is a thumbs up/thumbs down one. Click on the picture to get it!

Here is a Circus theme one! Click on the picture to get it! 
If there is any other theme you would like, please don't hesitate to ask!

ZooPals Animal Reports

Friday, April 19, 2013

We finished our ZooPals Animal Reports today! These are my favorite reports to write because my kids do ALL of the work and they are so proud when they are finished. 
 Let me tell you there was a lot of training involved. We spent a week writing an animal report together our the desert tortoise. Click here to read all about it.

Here is a outline of how our Animal Reports went:

I made groups with 2-3 kids per group, I tried to mix ability levels so the groups would be more successful. To determine which animal each group got, we used these "Grow Capsules" that I found in the dollar bins at Target! 
(I gave one capsule to each group)
 Simply place the capsule in hot water and watch as the magic begins! 
(We only have access to cold water in our classroom so it took slightly longer for the magic to begin, but they kids were mesmerized and SILENT as they were watching and waiting...AHHH quiet time) 
So cute right?!
Then we wrote our planning page for our animal report. We did this whole group and students just changed the animal name to fit their report.
Page 1: What a __ looks like
Page 2: What a ___ eats
Page 3: Where a ___ lives
Page 4: Cool facts about ____.

Let the research begin! We began whole-group by reviewing the topic we choose on our planning sheet.
Each group was given 2 non-fiction books about their animal. They had to work together to write 3 facts about what their animal looks like. They did an amazing job of working together! 
Here is a sample of what the lion group wrote for page 1 (What a lion looks like)

DAYS 3 - 5
Research and writing days. Each day we began by reviewing the topic on the planning sheet and the kids got to work scouring their books for facts that fit the topic. 
 DAY 6
We spent day 6 editing and revising our reports. I met with each group that day to read and help them revise their reports. 

Day 7
Publishing and Presenting! 
I am a techie teacher and I try to get my students really excited about using technology. We went to the computer lab and typed our reports. It took a little time but the kids were so proud of themselves!
(WARNING: THIS IS NOT OUR FIRST TIME TYPING and this may set you over the edge if you don't have helpers). Having students work in their groups to type is also a great way to publish these reports. 
To be sure kids are engaged during their peers presentations, I have created a little Wild About Animal Reports Book that students complete while their peers are presenting. This just revised my ZooPals Packet on TpT to include this book. Please re-download if you already own this packet.  
The kids were little animal experts reporting their information to the class. It was AWESOME! Click on the picture below to get this packet! 

2014 Update: We took our projects one step further this year and created a large diagram for each animal. Here is the diagram and report that the giraffe, cheetah and elephant groups created. LOVE!  

Give the EARTH a Helping Hand!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Have you read this book?!
I LOVE Todd Parr! His books are incredible! This is one of my all time favorite books for Earth Day. In this book, Todd writes about some of the small things that we can do to make a big difference for our EARTH. 
His kid-friendly language and art is so engaging to first grade students. One of the pages in the book says:

 "I remember to turn off the lights and shut the refrigerator to save energy because....I love the polar bears and I want the snowmen to stay cool."

We had an amazing discussion about global warming today in our first grade class! 
WOW, thank you Todd Parr! 

After reading the book, I challenged the kids to give the earth a helping hand and make their own Earth Day Pledge. Here is what they came up with! 
(So sorry about the picture quality, I only had my iphone camera today)
I pledge to plant more trees because if there are no trees we won't have oxygen. If there was no oxygen we would die. 
I pledge to plant new trees because I want to have paper. And I want to respect the earth.
I pledge to recycle and turn off the lights because I don't want to make the earth a disaster.  

To make the art project we used coffee filters and markers. After students drew the continents and oceans with their washable markers we sprayed the coffee filters with water to blend the colors together. Here is our Earth Day bulletin board! 

Marzano Student Rubric

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Our school district has adopted a new teacher evaluation tool this year. I just had my formal lesson observation and a HUGE part of the new evaluation tool emphasizes the idea of having students use a rubric to assess their learning throughout a lesson. 

This is not something new in my classroom, I am always asking students to show me their understanding of our learning goal on a scale of 1-4 but I wanted to create a visual for the students to reference and I wanted my administrator to have an idea of what we were referring to when the kids showed me their level of understanding. 

  I kept the rubric super simple with kid-friendly language. 
Of course I have the BEE theme going on in my classroom but I am going to be making a circus theme one soon for my teaching neighbor next door. Any other theme I need to make?

Animal Research Reports

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Hey All! 
We are working on Informative Writing and we are about to begin writing our Animal Research Reports! Before I let my students begin their report, we write an animal research report together from beginning to end so that I can model the steps to informative writing. 

Our whole-group research report is about desert tortoises because we have a desert tortoise as a class pet! 
Meet Shelldon! 
(For the record he has had that name long before the TV show The Big Bang started)
Shelldon became part of my class about four years ago. A former family called and asked if I was interested in adopting him because they were moving and needed to find him a new home. FYI a tortoise is a GREAT classroom pet, they are super low maintenance,  and the kids LOVE him! 

I went to the library and found several easy-read non-fiction book about Desert Tortoises.
(Desert Tortoises by Christopher Blomquist, Desert Tortoises by Sophia Lockwood and Desert Tortoises by Elizabeth Thomas)

We brainstormed the topics we would like to research and wrote them on our planning sheet. We decided to write about:
  • what a tortoise looks like
  • what a tortoise eats
  • where a tortoise lives
  • cool facts about the desert tortoise
Each day we read through our non-fiction text looking for facts that fit our topic. The kids did a great job. We tackled one page a day so we spent about one week researching and writing. 
Page 1 - A desert tortoise has a hard shell that covers its body. Their back legs look like little elephant feel. An adult tortoise is nine to fifteen inches long. 
Page 2 - A desert tortoise is a herbivore. They eat cactus, wildflowers and dried plants. They get water from the plants they eat.
 Page 3 - A tortoise lives on land. They dig burrows to stay cool. Desert tortoises live in Arizona, California and Mexico.
Page 4 - Desert tortoises live up to 100 years. They are in danger of dying out so laws protect them. A hatchling is about 2 inches long.
I wanted my students to get the FULL report writing experience so we did revisions then "published" our report by typing it in the computer lab! 
(I love technology and try to incorporate it whenever possible, this was NOT my students first experience using Microsoft Word) It took a little time and patience when they typed their report but they were so incredibly proud of themselves when they finished.
We made this cute little tortoise art project by painting a bowl brown and gluing on tissue paper.
Next week, my students are going to work with a partner to write their own Animal Research Report! We are going to use my Animal Research Report with Hefty ZooPals packet! I will be back to let you know how it goes! 

I shared this post at Critters In the Classroom! What a cute blog! 

April Fool's Day!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Have you seen Lesson Plan SOS's April Fool's Joke?!

 I tried it today, and it was AWESOME! I firmly believe that teachers should receive some kind of bonus pay for showing up on April Fool's Day! Listening to young children tell April Fool's Jokes all day is EXHAUSTING! 

But if you can't escape beat them...join them! 

I told the kids all day that if they were well behaved and tried their best I would give them a brownie at the end of the day. They were so excited, they called me the "best teacher ever!" They were well behaved all day anticipating their brownie! When they walked back in from specials today they found this on their desk
There was a (quick) moment of silence as the students tried to comprehend what had just happened, then the protests began!
  "Hey, we thought it would be the kind of brownies we could eat!"
They were so cute and my one little guy said "You got me Mrs. Neal, you really got me!"
Of course I felt bad, so I gave them real brownies.
Oh how I love Cosmic Brownies!  
Thanks Lesson Plan SOS for the awesome idea, if you have not been by their blog stop 
 by and check out some of their amazing ideas. 
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