My teammate found this adorable elf at Target. We decided to have a Kindness Elf instead of the Elf on a Shelf this year as our district mandates not to celebrate specific holidays unless we celebrate them all.
One of the reasons I love teaching first grade is how they are constantly changing. When they begin the year, most are babies. They need help with everything. But, by November, they are on their way to independence. First graders aren't kindies anymore. They are more confident, knowledgeable and proud.
By November, most first graders have developed automaticity with letters, sounds, numbers and sight words. They are ready to apply what they know. It is so exciting!
We are 17 days into school and I finally feel as if I can catch my breath! There are so many procedures to teach, model, practice, give feedback, re-teach, model, practice . . . WHEW! I feel like we are finally getting it.
Why is summer break the fastest time of year? Ten weeks flew by and we are back into the swing of things. What better time to share my classroom? I rearranged the room and am loving the new floor plan. This is right outside my classroom. It is in the main hall of our pod and the cubbies on the left lead to the door.
Writing in first grade is ever changing. When students first enter our classrooms, the range of abilities is diverse. We have students who cannot write their names, those who don't know all their letter sounds, to those who are really writing. Common Core standards are written for the end of the year so it is hard to tell if students are progressing and will meet those standards. Over the past couple of years I have been documenting student growth so I may successfully predict whether a child will meet or exceed end of year expectations.
My colleagues and I spiral writing instruction so students will remember the three major types of writing. We enjoy teaching how-to writing mid-year in our second round of informative writing. Students know how to write so we can focus on introduction and closing sentences as well as transition words.
I had been using various TPT products to teach how-to writing but they did not include room for topic sentences (which in first grade is just introducing the topic) nor did they include room for a closing. First graders need to provide some sense of closure by the end of the year.
This year we focused on engaging, hands-on activities to teach writing.
First, I modeled how to make something. Then, I broke down each part of the writing step by step. For the introduction, I showed students what we were making and what is needed to make it. Students told the introduction to their elbow partner and then switched. They show me they are done like this: