Monday, 15 February 2016

Featured Teacher Tuesday ~ It's my turn!

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You may already know a bit about me but today I will be sharing a little bit about me and my journey so far. I have been teaching for 21 years (gasp!) Most of my teaching has been in Grade 1 but I have also taught Kindergarten through Grade 4.  I also spent 3 ½ years working as a substitute teacher at the beginning of my career.  I have been teaching in a small village just outside of Kingston, Ontario, Canada for most of my career.  

When not teaching I love spending time with my family: a busy 12 and 15 year old and a husband who runs his own business.  We love to travel and spend time time at the cottage.  Here we are in Central Park. We had a mini vacation there at Christmas time.
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I have always had a passion for teaching.  When I was growing up there was no question about what I wanted to do when I grew up.  A first grade teacher was my dream job and I has been fortunate enough to teach 6 year olds for the majority of my career so far.  

I have always had a passion for creating my own classroom materials and sharing ideas with my colleagues.  I stumbled upon Teachers Pay Teachers in 2012 and got the nerve up to post my own products in the winter of 2013.  Since then I has continued to add products and really grow my store.  I have many freebies to help early primary teachers out in Math, Literacy and Classroom Management.  Click on the covers below to check out some of my most popular freebies.  

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I loves to teach using centers to engage students and keep them practicing crucial skills.  Some of my most popular math centers are:

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I also creates products that support directed teaching as well.  These comprehension checks are perfect for whole group teaching as well for small group instruction.  The Word Jail is one of my favourite products.  I use it to help students learn to read and spell those tricky rule breaker words.  My students love it.  
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I has been blogging for about a year and half.  I enjoy sharing what is happening in my classroom and showing off some of my products in actions.  You can check out a few of my most popular posts below.  If you like what you read be sure to follow me to keep up with my posts!  
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You can also follow me on Social media.   Check out my accounts below:

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I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about my journey.  See you again next week when you will meet another first grade teacher.

How To Use Whiteboards To Get Students Excited About Learning

Using whiteboards with your students is a sure fire way to increase student engagement.  It has been my experience that any task that involves writing is always better when done on a whiteboard!

Do you love to use whiteboards in the classroom?   Are you looking for a few more ways to integrate them into your day?  If you answer yes to either question then you should check out my guest post on the Education to the Core blog where I share my favourite tips and tricks with whiteboards in the classroom.  Click on the image below to visit the blog and check out my post.

Until next time,

Monday, 1 February 2016

Winter Celebration! Blog Hop and Giveaway!

Welcome to the Winter Fun blog hop and giveaway.  Have you got the winter blahs?  Many of you have been buried in snow and others have dealt with extreme cold.  I have been pretty fortunate so far this winter, with no major snowfalls or icy days yet.  Like any teacher though, I could really use a snow day so I hope Mother Nature cooperates with at least one well timed storm. :)  Grab yourself a drink and read all about how I am spending my time in the classroom.  Be sure to read to the end to find a special surprise.

This is my favourite time of the year to teach. I find that the students are FINALLY settled in to the routine in a way that I can step back and let them go.  There are also light bulbs going off all over the place. Many of my first graders just seem to 'get it' in the time between January and March Break. It is a wonderful thing to see.

Right now we are in the thick of a Graphing unit as well as some word work using the Bandit Y sound.  I blogged {HERE} about the beginning of our graphing unit if you want to check out where we have been.

Once my students had a good understanding of what it means to 'collect data' and to generate survey questions I posed this problem to them:

I wanted to use an authentic classroom experience and have them generate survey questions they could ask that might help us answer this question. Our first step was a big brainstorming session.   We spent some time clarifying statements vs questions.  Everyone was happy to share want they wanted and liked.  They were very quick to generate statements like this:  I like trucks, we should get some of them.  The goal was to re-frame those statements into questions like these:   Do you like to play with trucks?  yes or no.  This took a bit of figuring out.  Once students were confident in how to reword their ideas into a question I provided them with prompts to start their questions with.  One little smartie noticed that when you asked a "DO" question the only choices were YES or NO and when you ask a WHAT question then you have go give people choices. {lightbulb moment!}

They wrote out their questions on large paper and had to choose how they were going to record the responses.  I was happy to see a variety of different ideas.  I had students use stickers and cubes.
Others wanted their friends to write their name or use their initials.  I set up my survey question with popsicle sticks and cups to show another way to collect data.  They had an absolute blast answering each other's questions.  For management purposes, half of the class remained at their survey station and while the other half walked around to each of the stations and then they switched.  It worked beautifully.

Next week each student is going to complete a sheet to tell about their results and then we are going to look at all of the data sheets to see if we can find the information to answer our over arching question.  It has been a great way to teach surveys and graphing.  We will also revisit our graphing centers so that I can pull small groups or individuals to do some assessment.  If you are interested in checking out my Winter graphing centers you can find them {HERE}

During our word work we have been working on what I call the Bandit Y sound. We have hunted for Bandit Y words and made a cute craftivity.

There will also be a few centers for review next week. I will have them ready and in my TPT store by the end of the week, with any luck.  We also did this sorting activity, which the kids loved. Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of one of their pages so here is mine :).

This page is part of the Winter E-book mentioned at the start of the post.  If you like this freebie please check out my newest package of ELA worksheets, which all use the same format, but practice many other skills. There are 20 pages of practice in all.

You made it to the end of my post :) As a huge thank you for stopping by all of our blogs we are happy to give you the opportunity to win a $100.00 gift certificate from Teachers Pay Teachers. Wow!  That is an amazing prize!  To enter, simply collect the secret word from each blog post and enter it into the rafflecopter below.  Each blog is a chance to enter, so the more blogs you visit, the more chances you have to win.  Besides, you don't want to miss any of the ideas that we are all sharing.  

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Tips for Using Picture Books to Teach Inferring

Welcome to the I Teach First monthly link up.  This is my first time participating in this link up and I am very excited to be bringing you some great tips.

This month I want to share a bit about how I begin teaching about inferring. This post is a taste of what I do at the beginning of our inferring unit.

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I love to teach about inferring because I can hook the kids with the idea of being a detective - we search for clues in the pictures and in the text and put it with what we know (our schema) to infer. We make an anchor chart to help us remember what we do to infer. If you don't see the anchor chart here then pop back in as I will be adding the picture as soon as it is finished.

I always start with inferring from pictures.  There are lots of great photos online you can use, but I like to use a resource we have at our school.  The resource is called Let's Talk About It  and the publisher is Mondo!  I use the large flip chart with pictures to provoke conversation.    I model how to make inferences by writing my inferences on post its and sticking them right to the picture.  You could do the same thing with pictures you find or by projecting them on your smartboard.  These are a few of the pictures I use. Some of my inferences for the first picture might be:
 -  I infer the two boys are brothers because they look alike.
 -  I infer that the younger boy is mad and yelling because his mouth is open.
 -  I infer the bigger boy doesn't want to listen because he is plugging his ears.

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Once we have a handle on inferring just from looking at pictures we move to picture books.  I have so many that I love to use.  I usually start with the David series by David Shannon.  First graders have no problem relating to him. After I read the book a number of times they have a chance to infer what David might be thinking while he is getting into trouble in the pictures. (this is also a great book to use when teaching Point of View)  You can provide your students with copies of the pictures from the book or they can draw their own scene.  Grab this freebie to use.  It applies to any of the David books even though it has NO David at the top.  Click on the image to get it now

inferring worksheet NO David

Once they are pros at inferring from pictures we start to work on inferring using text clues in picture books.  I love to use The Monster in the Woods and A Wolf at the Door.  These books are great because they have descriptive text that help students to infer about a character in the book.  However, there is a twist in each story.  The ending is not what they are expecting, so it provides a great opportunity to talk about how what you infer may change as you gain more knowledge (schema) or you find more clues in the text.

Grab this freebie to use with A Wolf at the Door.

                                     inferring worksheets

Another one of my faves is Farmer Duck.  There is so much to discuss with this book when it comes to inferring.  We always start with the leading pages that show the farm and the land around it and make inferences about the setting and then move into the text.  We love to infer what duck is saying throughout the text everytime he says QUACK. 

comprehension question cardsI hope you can take something away from this post to use with your students.  These ideas just scratch the surface with inferring.  There is so much more I dive into with many, many other books. When I am working on inferring I keep my comprehension checks ring close by.  This ring contains questions to use with any book for inferring, as well as all of the other comprehension strategies you teach.  If you are interested in this resource click on the picture to be taken to my TPT store.  You can also read more about them in another blog post by clicking {HERE}

Thank you for stopping by my blog.  If you think the content I shared here is valuable, use this image to pin to your Pinterest board.

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Be sure to check out all of the other first grade bloggers who are sharing ideas and information with you!