Saturday, January 14, 2023

My Favorite Wordless Books

Wordless books can be misunderstood. I've had parents tell me that book was too easy for them because it has no words-but I think it makes it more challenging to have to make inferences on each page at each step of the plot. The past few years we have seen some very deep, challenging themes depicted in wordless books.

These are my favorites:

Cute story about Daisy who is obsessed with her ball.

Love this clever book about taking risks and leaving the nest.

A story about kindness and selflessness.

A new student is bullied so another student makes a plan to help them. Great example of what community can do to protect others.

Beautifully written story about overcoming your fears.

Classic story depicting a problem and a solution.

Little girl finds a magical red crayon that brings to life everything she draws. Author uses color to propel the story.

A fox takes a little girl's stuffed fox and adventure ensues.

I like to read these books over the course of a week, analyze them with the students. It's teaching them about a new genre of books they did not realize existed. They get excited to find and read other books. One of my students who struggles with reading said "I can even read this book". 

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Our Own Pigeon Stories

My students LOVE the Pigeon books by Mo Willems! My theory is not only does the Pigeon act like them they are books that are easy for young students to read and reread.

So we read the books, we identify the rules for the Pigeon and then I ask the students to create their own Pigeon stories. You can definitely see the way our techonological age is reflected in their answers. 

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Depth and Complexity and Edward Tulane

My favorite part of the day is our chapter read-aloud. We do it at the end of the day and if I choose the right book for the right class they hang on every word. They develop a relationship with the characters and we are able to do reading response activities. 

This is one of my favorites for applying Kaplan's Depth and Complexity. 

Over Time: this character has a major transformation over time. He is narcissistic and selfish in the beginning and well, I won't do any spoilers-but he majorly changes. 

Multiple Perspectives: 

1) How did each of the characters see Edward-compare.

2) Write a letter from Edward to Pellegrina or from Abilene to Edward, etc. 

3) If I were Edward, I would....

Big Idea: Huge Big Idea as the theme of this story. Should you love even if there's a chance you will 
                                                                                          lose them and have a broken heart.

Was Edward Brave?

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Depth and Complexity-Rules

This concept from Kaplan's Depth and Complexity is a hard one to implement with young students. Rules to them means "don't run in the hall". Rules with this concept from depth and complexity means more "what is always true". I introduce this by talking about cars. What is always true about cars? We make a list.

You can use this to identify what is always true about non-fiction books, Eric Carle books, the number 10, adding, plants, rain, etc.

Here is an example for our Mo Willems author study. We read the Pigeon books over the course of a week. What is always true about the Pigeon? This is hard for them-you can see some students focused on one book-he wanted to drive the bus or he didn't want a bath. The goal is to get them to think about all the books and identify what is the same-what is always true?

Here are some examples from the Pigeon unit:

He likes to change his mind.

The Pigeon persuades us.

always wants something

he is so crazy

He does not wear clothes.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Classroom Resolutions

 Like most teachers, the job has been pretty challenging these past few years. People ask "what is your why?" and if I'm being completely honest-I'm not sure what mine is. Maybe the fact that I've been doing this so long that I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I see the videos of teachers quitting and I admire their bravery and know it would probably be less stressful, but I am in this for the long haul. :) 10 more years until I can retire (not that I'm counting or anything). 

My class this year is one of my favorites. They are so kind to each other and it was easy to create a classroom family and develop a positive classroom culture. We have meetings every morning and they all know how much I care about them.

They also have had their struggles. Day One our data trackers showed I had 7 students already identified for Urgent Intervention. I have one student who has not been in school at all before 1st Grade. Of course the goal posts are the same for these kids and it is so hard to create lessons and assessments that can help them be successful and fill in gaps while not losing everyone else. 

My class this year is full of questions-which I LOVE! They ask about other countries, animals, world records. They love using technology and enjoy the tech programs we use for games like and Blooket as well as learning how to type in programs like word and powerpoint. 

So as I think about how far we've come and where we need to go, what are my resolutions?

1) One of the things my school is expecting more of is student-led learning. I have started having students teach our warm-up activities in reading and in math-but I need to find other ways to have them take the lead. Two students get chosen every day to be the "teacher assistants" (so they won't feel self-conscious alone) and everyone has a turn-I am adamant about that.

2) Differentiation-this is the hardest thing in a 1st Grade classroom. I have a student who taught himself how to use powerpoint and cut and pasted a slideshow of what he wants for Christmas. All the way to a student who has not ever attended school before this year. Their needs are very different. I'm good at differentiation in small groups, but during whole group instruction and assignments is harder. I need to work on that. 

3) Organization-last year at our last faculty meeting my award was "Organized Chaos". I have to admit it really hurt my feelings. I feel like I contribute a lot to my campus and this is what you think of me. But I digress.  Yes, I am not the most organized. I start of the year with those intentions but teaching 1st grade I do not have a minute to file something. And after school I'm exhausted. So my goal is to try harder with this.

4) Goals-I want to find a better way for my students to track their goals. I have an issue with the grade level standards and how much harder it has become for our young students to be on grade level. Over half my students are labeld for intervention on Day One of 1st grade. So I don't want to make the kids self-conscious and give them more anxiety. But I do want them to be able to see the progress they are making.

What are your resolutions this year?