Now that the kids have some solid reading time each workshop, we began introducing our accuracy strategies. These strategies help our students decode tricky words while they are reading. The first strategy that we talked about was Lips the Fish. Get your lips ready and say the first few sounds of the word out loud. Next, Eagle Eye. Now that you have gotten your lips ready for the first sound, look at the pictures for something that starts with that sound.
Then, Chunky Monkey. If the picture didn’t help you, look for a chunk of the word that you know (ing, at, it, sh, ch, and). And then, Stretchy the Snake. Zoom in on the tricky word, s-t-r-e-t-c-h out the sounds in the words slowly. Then, crash the sounds together to figure out the word.
Flippy the Dolphin reminds us that when we are stretching out a word, to try the short vowel sound first and if that doesn’t work, FLIP IT and try the long vowel sound, and then the schwa sound.
If we still need help, then when you come to a tricky word, skip it (Skippy the Frog) and read the rest of the sentence. Once you have read to the end of the sentence, try it again (Tryin’ Lion) from the beginning of the sentence and make a good guess for the tricky word (using the context clues from the sentence).
We will review these strategies next week and practice a few more!
We have had a busy week in Writer’s Workshop! We know that good small moments stories have lots of details and one of those details includes using dialogue in our stories. We can add dialogue by either writing exactly what someone in our story said or we can add a speech bubble to our picture and write what our character said in the speech bubble.
We also learned this week, how to finish our stories with a special ending We talked about how when you give a gift, you finish by wrapping it up and tying a bow. Stories are similar, our endings help “tie a bow” to our stories and help the reader know that our story is finished. We talked about how sharing some thoughts or feelings at the end of our story is a good way to finish. We used some sentence starters to help us think of some good ideas for endings.
My favorite endings were the “I hoped” and “I thought” endings, and we had a chance to share some of our great endings with the rest of the class. We challenged the kids at the end of the week to see if they could start a new story that included all of the parts of a good small moment story.
This week we began our second math unit. Unit 2 will cover addition and subtraction strategies and provides the foundation for all of the math learning that will take place for the rest of this year and beyond. As a first grade staff, we are always striving to meet the needs of each and every student. In order to do this, we studied the data from our students’ pre-tests, and used this information to group together students with similar areas of expertise and areas of need. For this unit, many of our students will be taking part in a “math switch” in which they may be traveling to a different classroom, so that they are able to work in the group and with the teacher that will help them reach their full potential as a math learner. Each group of math learners will be working on the same math concepts each day, but the pace and practice may look a little different.
This week all of our math groups learned how to draw pictures to solve story problems. This strategy worked well, except it took us a R-E-A-L-L-Y long time to draw pictures of some objects, such as castles, pencils, and rocks.
Later in the week, we tried a new strategy: circle drawings. We used a break apart stick and circles to show the partners in a story. Then we counted up the total in a snap!
We also learned about the math symbols, equal (=) and not equal (≠). Numbers are equal (=) when they are exactly the same. This understanding of equality is an important math concept that students will apply when writing equations throughout this year.
This past week of Mind Up was spent focusing in mindful listening. We started by introducing the students to a new part of their brain. You may have heard your first grader talking about their Reticular Activating System (RAS). Ok, typing that sentence just made me laugh, but ask your first grader about their RAS and see what they have to share!
A few weeks ago, we had the students focus as hard as they could on their sense of hearing for a short amount of time and then discussed all the things they were able to hear. We came up with a long list, but that was just our sense of hearing. All of our senses are busy picking up different sights, tastes, smells, feelings, and noises and sending them to our brains. Our RAS is the part of the brain that gathers all those messages and decides which senses are important enough to be passed on to the rest of the brain and which things can be ignored. We talked about how when they are trying to listen to instruction in the classroom, we need to train our own RAS to know to ignore distractions like noises from other rooms, the hallway, outside, or friends sitting next to us and focus on the teaching.
To strengthen our ability to focus our RAS, we did some listening exercises and the kids had to work hard to focus on certain sounds and really ignore all other distractions. We took note of what our body does when we are focusing really hard and came up with the following list:
If you were to walk the halls around first grade, you will often hear us asking the kids to show us what mindful listening looks like or to focus their RAS…you can use that at home, as well!
We then introduced using mindful seeing. When we are mindful with our seeing, we are taking in all the details around us. We talked about how it is important to be mindful of what expressions you see on people’s faces.
We talked a lot about what facial expressions show which feelings. And then we talked about how we can be mindful see-ers and if we see someone who has an expression on their face that shows they are not feeling happy or good, then we can check in with them and see if there is anything we can do to help their feelings improve.
We, also, discussed mindful movement. We started by finding our pulse and talking about being aware of the rate that our heart is beating. After doing jumping jacks for 30 seconds, we noticed that our heart rate was much faster than when we were resting on the floor. We talked about how our heart pumps faster when we are exercising to get more oxygen to our body so that we have energy to keep going. But, our heart rate speeds up when we are nervous, excited, or scared as well. We talked about being aware of how quickly our heart is beating and learned a way to calm ourselves down if we notice our hearts beating faster than they need to. We talked about sitting up straight to allow for easier blood flow throughout our bodies and taking deep breaths (or yawning) to slow your heart rate and help calm ourselves.
We also talked about our body movement and how we need to be mindful of how we are moving. Often, first graders are on the move and bump in to people or furniture around them without realizing it. To practice being mindful of our surroundings, we each put a ruler on our head and walked around our room trying to keep it balanced on top. The kids were very aware of where the furniture was, where their friends were, and what speed they were moving so that their ruler wouldn’t slip off. Since having this discussion, we have talked about being mindful of our surroundings while we are moving around the room, especially around our mailboxes or iPad cart where space is limited (no pushing/shoving).