Sunday, 30 September 2012

Back to School- Creating a Culture of Belonging

Setting the classroom climate at the beginning of the year is a key component to a successful year. I think that students will buy in to whatever behavior system, rules, and culture that you present to them if they feel that they BELONG.

Students are sometimes a bit nervous and worried to start school, especially in the first grade. They may not know the other students and they have to leave the safety of their family on this new adventure. They aren't sure if they will make friends, like their teacher or enjoy class. If as a teacher we can help them to feel that they belong with their school family, then everything else seems to settle into place. How can we do this?

The first place we feel that we belong is with our family. I think it is so important to include their family in the first days of school so they can transfer that feeling of belonging from home to school. I bring in pictures of my family and encourage my students to do the same.
After sharing pictures of our family and why they are special, many students like to keep them in their agenda, desk or backpack to look at throughout the day. It gives them comfort and makes them feel more able to take on whatever the day might bring.

The next step in belonging to a group is that students feel like they are a contributing member of the group; that they have an important role to play in the classroom. I know that many teachers have a large job chart for each student, but I keep it simple. I put my students into groups of five and each student in that group has a special job to do for the week. We switch cards each week. Through these jobs students take ownership of their supplies, materials, classroom and behavior.

I find this area challenging to help students without seeming forced. I encourage partner work in the classroom, so we pair up by matching hands, feet or elbows and meet a new friend in the process! I love to do celebrity of the week, which celebrates each student in the class every week. We do warm fuzzies (sit in a circle and say one nice thing about each student) as well as Friendship lunches (sit with a new friend at lunchtime). Teachers can't make friendships happen but then can help students to manage relationships by creating a classroom of caring.

This theme of belonging also continues into our academic work. In Social Studies we talk about belonging to our family, school and community and different groups that we belong to. I like to reinforce these concepts through stories, discussions and hands on activities like this one. Click on the picture to use this activity in your classroom!

 How do you influence the climate of your classroom? What does belonging mean to you and your students?
Mrs. Dunn

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Using songs for transitions in the classroom

I love to sing in the classroom... I don't know if my students love it because I'm not the best singer, but it is one of my favourite parts of teaching first grade. I find myself using songs for everything; moving from one place to the next, remembering all the things we need to bring/pack, academic ideas that need to be remembered and simply just for fun!
Why sing?

I find that students will sing along and the chatter will often lessen or stop. What we are singing often gives directions for what to do next, so I think it helps students to be verbally expressing the instructions while doing them. I always get compliments on how well my students walk in the hall, and the little song we sing before walking in the hall seems to help a lot!
Sometimes I sing the same song repetitively so that students can know it by heart and say it along with me, and other times I make a song up on the spot to teach them something new.
There are a few songs I didn't want to forget and use on a regular basis, so I made posters for my classroom. They come in all different colours to match your classroom theme. How do you use music and songs in the classroom?

Mrs. Dunn

Pinterest inspired!

I have recently made a few pinterest inspired things for the classroom and I thought I would share my spin on them.

Focus Sticks
You can find the link here. I love this idea, so I changed the format, printed on labels and made different versions. Here is what mine look like:

Student name call sticks
I got this idea from Kindertastic, so cute!
I got my paint sticks from a very nice lady at Benjamin Moore. I went in and said " I was wondering if you had any paint sticks."
She replied "Oh yes, here" and gave me two.

CHEEKS RED... um can I have about 25?


Indeed the things we do as teachers.

Anyways, the students names are on one colour and when they have been picked I flip it over. The jar says, Children are painted in the image of God.

AND my yoga on a stick resource that I created. I have now fallen in love with gluing things to coloured popsicle sticks. Who woulda thought? It all started with Cara Carroll and her awesome reading strategy cards. Again, you can get these yoga cards on my Teachers Pay Teachers site.

Have fun pinteresting!!

Mrs. Dunn

Colour Mixing Butterflies

We did an awesome colour mixing activity today, here is how it turned out! The students coloured in the background and while they were colouring I pulled groups to paint the butterflies.

 We put a dab of two colours of paint, one on each wing, folded it together and then rubbed, When you open it the colours have mixed. 
Here are all of the butterflies drying. Aren't they beautiful!!

You can purchase the activity, as well as the SMART board lesson that goes with it, on my Teachers Pay Teachers site.

Mrs. Dunn

Shaving Cream...

We had printing centers again today and of course the shaving cream station is always a big hit. Today, along with writing the letter d, one of my students decided that it was an excellent time to also draw a picture in the shaving cream. When I came over to check and let them know it was time to clean up, he proudly stated, "I have made the body of Christ". 
I did a double take, WHAT, I asked again and he repeated "It's the body of Christ". I told him that it looked quite lovely and sent him off to wash his hands.
Oh how shaving cream inspires creativity!!!

Mrs. Dunn

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Birthday Link Up

I am linking up with Erica Bohrer on the Blog Hoppin website for this Birthday Post. I actually got the idea to use pictures from her so THANKS Erica!
Basically we have a birthday song during calendar time, and the students make a little booklet about what they wish for the students birthday. They then get to take a balloon and their birthday booklet home with them.

Mrs. Dunn

Linking to Rowdy in Room 300

Ok so maybe I can't sleep... and maybe I'm creeping on blogs...
I have to tell you about some great finds. Stop over at Rowdy in room 300 for some wicked fonts. I may be slightly font obsessed and these are ridiculously cute and free. Also she is doing a laminator give away. Ok so in teaching world that is pretty much a life necessity, so check it out!

Mrs. Dunn

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Chair Pockets

So with this business of having tables I needed to find a way for the kids to store things that they need all the time at their table without it looking like a disaster. I happened to find Mrs. Carroll's wonderful idea to use textbook covers as chair pockets and I couldn't be happier with the result. Make sure to buy the big ones, as they come in different sizes. I also came up with the idea to put their classroom jobs on magnets so they will stick to the table and are easy to move.

 Here is the table shelving with all of the books and labels finally completed. It is neat and tidy now, we will see by Christmas time how it looks I suppose. Underneath of the "Pickle jar" are their red "Ketchup bag" folders.
Mrs. Dunn

Printing Centers

Practicing printing can be torturous, so I like to make it a little more fun by incorporating centers with our printing practice. Today we tried, we made a mess and had some fun too!
Today's letters (c, o and a) were brought to you by the magic c, the letter that can magically turn into other letters! So we used:

SHAVING CREAM; sigh, I am very brave. This came with a long preemptive speech. Me- This is NOT whip cream, or cool whip or anything delicious grade ones. Please don't eat it!

Noodles; not so sure that making curved letters out of straight noodles works the best, I will probably need to use macaroni or maybe I will just give them cooked noodles, but then they may eat them, dipped in shaving cream I'm sure, so maybe not the best idea.

Wrote on the white board, and then found the matching magnets to go with the letters.

 Play doh, one of my personal favourites.

So those are my printing centers. Thankfully they had music right after, as there were some shaving cream monsters coming out to play while we were trying to clean up and I was concerned that the students may be going home with shaving cream all over them. Try explaining that to parents . . .

Behavior Linky Party

I am linking up to Behavior Management on What the Teacher Wants for this next post.

Oh classroom management, how I struggle with you every year. I seem to change my behavior management system ever year, dependant on the class and how much "managing" they need. Here is what I am using this year.
For the little ones who always seem to have something to say and believe that it is their job to inform you at that immediate moment every little thought that appears in their brain.

When students have two magnets removed then they move down to a warning, then time out etc on this chart.

This is my time out chair. So far, haven't had to use it this year, phew! The posters I have are from the Leader in Me program.

I also have been using whole brain teaching and LOVE this one. You can see my whole brain teaching rules posted above.

I say to the students "class", they say "yes". Then I say "class class class", or "OOOOOOO Class" or "Oh classity class" (the goofy possibilities are endless). If they answer quickly they earn a happy face point, if not sad face. With a mighty OH YAHHH, or an OOOO MAN, depending on which they earn they get a circle on the ten frame. They love this part. They work towards something special at the end of the day.

Finally, I use table points. At the end of the week, if their table has earned the most points they pick a stickerless / treatless prize. Examples: Sit at the teachers desk for the day (oh la la), sit with a friend during work time, bring a show and tell, free center time at the end of the day and other wonderful things.

Check out all the other ideas at the What the Teacher Wants Blog. It's so much fun to share!
Mrs. Dunn

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Yoga For Kids

First graders need a LOT of movement breaks, especially at the beginning of the year. It often feels like I have them up moving every 32 seconds so that they are ready to focus. I know it is longer, but sometimes it feels that way! After we move around, the students are ready to focus and work. But every once in a while, we get up and move and they become noisier and sillier than they were before!
That is when I get out my yoga cards. I get a student leader to pick 3-4 of the exercises and we quietly do them as a class. After doing the poses, the kiddos lay down and I turn off the lights. Sometimes I play music, sometimes I do a guided relaxation and sometimes THERE IS ABSOLUTE SILENCE!!! I find that once we have completed these cards, we are ready for the learning to begin again.

 Sometimes I let the leader make up their own actions to go with the cards, and other times I have them follow these direction cards to show the class.
I love using doing these activities for our daily physical activity time. It doesn't need much space, it calms the students down and they love it! If you want to do Yoga in your class, click the picture below to get your own Yoga cards!

Mrs. Dunn

Student Profile

I send home this student profile as well as my newsletter on the first day of school. I ask that parents send it back to school before the first set of oral interviews. This is a great starting point for chatting about expectations and how they are as a learner for these interviews. You can download it for FREE on my Teachers Pay Teachers page here.

Mrs. Dunn

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Using Literature to teach Patterns in Math

Have you ever notice that there are patterns EVERYWHERE? If you haven't, a first grader can tell you all about it! Once we begin this unit (it is the first one in math for us) they are like pattern detectives, they can find them anywhere. One of our favourite places to look is, of course, in a book!

One of my absolute, all time favourite books to read is Pattern Fish, and Pattern Bugs, by Trudy Harris, shows many different kinds of patterns, and the translation lessons that you can do with this book, well let me tell you, it is so much fun! The kids love to make their own pattern fish and pattern bugs after we are finished reading these stories.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear is a classic story that I love to use for my patterning unit. Students enjoy reading this book because of the easy to remember word pattern. It is a valuable tool to teach that not just shapes, numbers, and colours can be patterns. We can also find words and sentence patterns in stories.
After we read Brown Bear we create our own story about shapes that follows the same word pattern format. I show the students the ABC pattern with pictures first, then we put the sentence strips in order on a pocket chart. We read this new pattern story as a class, and then I tell the students that they will now be the Author and make a story as a class all about patterns! 

They love creating class books and reading them over, and OVER again from the class library. Once each student completes a page, we put it together and read it. The kids feel so much ownership and pride when they hear their page being read in front of the class. Do you want to do this activity with your class? Click on the picture to find the activity.
Do you have any other favourite pattern stories that you love to read to your class?

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Art Mosaic

I got this excellent idea for a beginning of the year project from Dali moustache. Again, I show instructions step by step on the smartboard.
 I pre-made the circle and drew out the students first name initial.
Students cut out shapes with straight edges, pick one colour.

Select another colour and fill in the missing spaces. This is my teacher sample of course!

Mrs. Dunn

Monday, 10 September 2012

Whole Brain Teaching...In the Beginning

So we are about a week into school, and I have begun Whole Brain Teaching already, and I am LOVIN IT!! I think the kids are more motivated to learn, and my lovely ELL students are really benefitting from this repetitive process. They all know the five rules and often recite them to each other when they are not following them. We use the happy face, sad face, with a big OH YAH when we get a point and an OH MAN when we get a sad face. Mirror= amazing! I love it. Teach, OK we are still working on. I have some students with little language and so they are uncomfortable talking to others. I have been practicing Teach, OK with mirroring me, and that seems to help them out. I also started Teach, OK with just going over directions for an activity, 
Class, Yes, Classity Class, is very much fun and they are getting quick with responses. It is hard for me to believe that they are catching on to this so fast, I am having so much fun with it!!

Mrs. Dunn

Classroom Pictures Take Two

Well after much construction and various other things, my classroom is finally looking a bit more settled. We now officially are not allowed to put paper, fabric or basically anything on the back of our wall, so we are stuck with what we have to make the best of it. Here is the new view of Grade One with Mrs. Dunn. Don't mind the boxes still left over from unpacking as well as the fact that it may actually be dark outside...

Mrs. Dunn

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Labelling Books and Supplies

I always find it difficult to be efficient in labelling school supplies; I want it done quickly but I also want it to look good! I have a new system that allows the students to label their own books while still looking like I did it (most of the time)!

I have colour coded each subject, and so they put the blue label on the book and it goes into the blue bin. There are also some that have shapes so I can just say get out your triangle book. Students have all their labels on 1 and a 1/2 pages, with 14 labels on each page. I made a template so each year I just have to put in names, and they are ready to be printed!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Classroom set up photos

Our school was under construction over the summer, and so we had to move everything out of the classroom at the end of last year. The cleaners and movers came in yesterday (Friday) and got everything back in place, and so this is the state of my classroom with a full day of fixing as of today.

SCARYYYYYYYYYYY.   .   .    .   kids are coming on Tuesday.

So I have set up some things, this is my reading corner, I am going with a green and brown polka dot theme this year.

I have tables this year, I normally have desks so this could get interesting. I decided to have a shelf at the end of each table with only the five students things all in one place.
 So going from left to right, there is a bin for sharp and unsharp pencils, and storage for glue sticks, scissors and white glue in the bin at the back. Students hand in completed work in the pickle bin and hand ins (book orders, homework etc) in the other bin. 

The bottom shelf is where all books are kept, math, social and science scribblers etc. They are not yet labelled of course but will be with colour coding. 
More pictures will follow in the next couple of days as I get things organized.

Mrs. Dunn