Thursday, December 30, 2021

My One Word Resolution for 2022

I don't make actual resolutions, each year I choose a word that I can use to focus on bettering myself. This year it was tough to think of a word. Like many teachers, this year has been the most challenging of my career. Our promotion standard for 1st Grade is passing the high frequency word test. I had 2 students pass on the first try in October. 90% of my students did not know their letters and sounds the first day of school. Intervention blocks have been squeezed into our already crowded schedules. And I am seeing progress-it's just been slow which is discouraging. I am not sure my students are going to be ready for 2nd grade despite my best efforts and that makes me feel very ineffective.

As the numbers of people infected with this virus continue to climb, there is a lot of anxiety that goes along with that. As many of you know, I went through treatment for breast cancer 6 years ago which included chemo treatments. My immune system is not what it used to be. I am very careful, but all it takes is one germ. We are being pushed into trying to go back to a "normal" instruction-students collaborating in groups, etc. it's hard for me to put that into practice.  Part of me wanted to choose a word like "survive". But that seemed too easy.

My word for 2022 is FEARLESS. I am going to fearlessly do what I need to do in order to give my students what they need. I am going to fearlessly continue to grow and try new ideas. I am going to continue to fearlessly share my ideas with my colleagues and followers. And I am going to try to go to school fearlessly every day (armed with my masks and sanitizer of course). 

What is your One Word Resolution for 2022?

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Edward Tulane and Love

I have posted before about my tradition of reading chapter books to my students. It is my favorite part of the day! The kids get to know the characters so well that they actually often miss them when the story is finished. I also believe it benefits comprehension and vocabulary skills greatly.

We just finished reading The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane-lots of ways to bring in Kaplan's Depth and Complexity with this book. One thing is it brings up many Big Ideas. One of those Big Ideas is love. Basically Edward goes through a bit of an existential crisis and at one point wonders like the famous quote "is it better to have loved and lost or never to have loved at all". I asked my 1st Graders to write about their thoughts on the subject.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

My Favorite Activity to Boost Creativity

I believe our students come to us with an innate creativity. For some students this skill has never been taught and we have to activate those powers. :) In my experience, we often ask students to "be creative" in their writing but we never teach them the skills that would make progress in being creative possible.

One of my favorite activites to do is I split the class into groups of 4 students. I give them some letters of the alphabet and they have to come up with an animal or a place or a food that begins with that letter. But here is the catch-your team only gets a point for your answer if it is different than all the others. If the letter is A and 2 teams say "apple" and one team says "asparagus" only the asparagus team will get a point because that was the creative answer. If all 3 teams have a different answer then all 3 teams will get a point.

We did animals yesterday-so proud of how creative their answer were-we play this game probably every other week-I really think it is helping them develop creativity skills!

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Santa Letters for Multiple Perspectives

In my class we don't write letters to Santa from us-we write to him from a character. We have been reading the chapter book The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane-one of my all-time favorite read-alouds. 

I think this is one of the best books to discuss big ideas like love and loss as well as seeing a character change over time. I asked my students to use Multiple Perspectives and write from the perspective of Edward-what would he ask Santa for. Here are their responses:

I was in a teacher group once on Facebook and someone was asking for chapter read-alouds for Kinder/1st Grade. I suggested this book and was told they would never understand it that it was too advanced for kids that age. Once again I think people underestimate our kiddos. Reading these responses you can see they understood the assignment. :) 

Friday, December 10, 2021

Characters at Dinner

We do a lot of character analysis. Why do they act the way they do? One of my favorite ways to test my students' ability to comprehend is to have them imagine a dinner between characters. Here we did Ebenezer Scrooge and the Grinch. What would they say to each other?

Grinch: I was bad at first and then I was good.

Scrooge: Me too.

Can you tell they understood the characters and the way they changed over time? 

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Perspective of an Ugly Sweater

I love including Multiple Perspectives into our writing activities. I truly believe it helps develop empathy and understanding in our kiddos who are often a bit self-absorbed.

This time of year we have ugly sweater contests and I wondered what those sweaters must feel like. Do they feel happy to be the champion of the ugly sweaters or unhappy because they are ugly. I asked my students to write how they would feel, what they would see and what they would wish for. We are still working in the perspective part (some wrote as themselves still).

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Gingerbread Characters

One of my favorite units is our gingerbread unit! I read these books:

And then I ask the students to create their own gingerbread story with a unique character. Here is what they came up with: