Monday, July 30, 2018

Those Tricky High-Frequency Words

The school supplies are out, the teacher discounts have started, and the coffee is flowing.  It is that time of summer.  The time when we begin to pull out our curriculum and dust it off in order to give it a fresh new look.  It is a time to reflect on what worked and what didn't from the past year and begin to make some planned changes.

A few years back we adopted the McGraw-Hill Wonders curriculum for language arts and now that we feel like we have a handle on its ins and outs we have started to make it our own.  This summer we have been working hard on some new phonics and high-frequency word resources.

We don't know about you but we absolutely LOVE any sort of trick or short-cut that can help our students.  Over the years we have discovered that using visual and mnemonic tricks can be really helpful for student when learning words that just "don't fit the rules."  These high-frequency "rule breakers" are a pain to spell and an even bigger pain to teach! So this year we have decided to put all of those tricks and shortcuts together and organized in one place.  We have put together a great resource designed with the first grade McGraw-Hill Wonders curriculum in mind but adaptable for any first grade curriculum. Check out these handy High-Frequency Word Memory Cards that we just uploaded into our TPT store!
Each week we give ours students the blank high-frequency cards for that week’s lessons. Then, during one of our whole group mini-lessons we introduce each high-frequency word and model each trick on our interactive white boards.  We usually have our students write and draw along on their own white boards.  Once we have gone over all of the tricks for the week we post them in the front of the classroom where we can refrence them over and over again throughout the week.  For our struggle-rs we use small group instruction time to help the students draw the tricks right onto their blank cards.  On level and beyond level students are encouraged to fill out their own cards during their word work time.

We encourage students to utilize these tricks as they write and read their high-frequency words.  They keep their cards right in their take home folders where they can access them throughout the week and reinforce at home.  It is amazing how much our students actually use these tricks.   Often times they even draw the tricks right onto their spelling tests! 

So, if you haven't already, grab another cup of coffee and start that planning!

As always,

Keep on dancing in your teacher shoes!

Deanna and Jenelle is a sneak peek of our next TPT project!  Enjoy a free download and keep a lookout at our blog for updates!
Phonics Word Construction Practice Preview: Short a

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Our Very Own Plays!

This year has flown by and we were TERRIBLE about blogging!  We tried so many new things this year that we SHOULD have blogged about but for some reason we just never got around to it.  To our loyal followers we humbly apologize...

at a math conference when I was introduced to the app Puppet Pals ...
Puppet Pals 2: School Edition
Now that that is out of the way, lets move onto something really neat that we just finished trying out on this year's guinea pigs first graders.  Just like many of you we really try hard to squeeze in technology all throughout our curriculum.  Unfortunately, many of the activities out there that we have found are just not "meaty" enough.  They feel like filler or the technology is just an add-on.  We feel like we are always shouting "Give us the MEAT AND POTATOES!" But alas, the technology is either boring or not educationally worth the time and energy.  After much time researching in the the blog-o-shere for a completely unrelated technology initiative (that we will talk about in our next blog post) we happened to come across an i Pad App called Puppet Pals 2: School Edition.  You can find it in the Apple iTunes store.  They also have a free version but for $5.99 we thought that the purchase was worth the extras that were included in the school version.  As we explored the App we thought "What a great way to have students publish their writing!"  Since we had been reading some short plays and reader's theater stories in our reading curriculum, we thought that it was fitting to have the students write their own plays as well.
Available on TPT

So we created a TPT unit called "Our Very Own Play: A Writing Project" to help our students plan and write their own plays.  We spent a lot of time discussing the text features that make a play or skit a unique type of text.  When the students completed their plays we let them act out and record their plays using the Puppet Palls 2: School Edition App.
Character Options
The App allows the students to choose a background, choose their characters, move them around the background, talk, enter and exit vehicles, and move from the foreground to the background and back again. This App would also work great for non-fiction reports on major historical figures since the character choices include select historical figures such as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks and some others.

Please feel free to view our awesome sample of a published play below.  Keep in mind that these plays were written by first graders...beware of the cuteness!

Keep on Dancing in Your Teacher Shoes!

Deanna and Jenelle

Monday, September 22, 2014

Super September

Wow!  School sure has gotten off to a super start here in first grade.  We decided to start fresh with a new theme this year.  Out with sock monkeys and in with...much to our students delight...SUPERHEROS!  We even went so far as to dress up as superheros on the first day of school, capes and all.  We took pictures of the first graders using a gigantic cardboard superhero cutout (we had to have them stand on the table because it was so TALL!) cut them out and had them finish the sentence starter "God made me a superhero.  I can..."  They added a background picture to finish it off. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

"Daily Five" Math

This year we set a goal to REALLY try and best meet the needs of all of our students.  We had language arts down...daily five had us in our groove.  Next was math.  We were pre-assessing math and using the information to differentiate the best that we could and our students were showing growth, but we just felt that we could do more.

Deanna went to a conference and ended up meeting a teacher who was implementing the Daily Three.  She brought the idea back to school with her and....we played with the idea...a lot....and well we made it into "Daily Five" Math.  We have just begun this journey, but are super excited to share our successes and our failures with you as we embark on this adventure.  Stay tuned for our email to parents, our organization tools, and some of the games that we will be using!

Keep on Dancing in Your Teacher Shoes!

Deanna and Jenelle

Thursday, January 9, 2014

New Year's Resolution

Well, many people vow to exercise, eat healthier, become organized, or give up a bad habit.  We on the other hand resolve to get back into the habit of blogging.  We don't even know what happened to us.  It should have been SO much easier this year seeing as we are ACTUALLY in the same grade teaching the same thing ACROSS THE HALL NOW FROM EACH OTHER!!!! Or is that the actual problem...

Regardless, we promise to be better bloggers AND creators.

Keep on Dancing in Your Teacher Shoes!

Deanna and Jenelle

We've Been Grinched

It been a while...sorry about that.  We have been having so much fun in first grade this year that we have been too busy (a.k.a. Exhausted) to blog.  Since our last post was in the fall we thought we should at least get a Christmas post in BEFORE Christmas.  So here it goes...
On one of our many adventures through Pinterest-land we came across a photo that blew our mind and inspired us to go Christmas crazy.  It was a photo of an Elf on the Shelf who had tied up a Grinch stuffed toy.  So fun!  So we decided to go all out and had our stuffed Grinches wreak green havoc on our classrooms.  He even taped the Elves to the wall so that they could not escape!  When the students came into the classroom it was like an explosion of excitement and panic (Our poor elves!).  We took action right away and wrote top secret letters to Santa letting him know that the Grinch had been very naughty in our classrooms!  Of course we made sure to say how smart and wonderful the Grinch was out loud so that he would not suspect that we were tattling on him.   The Grinch also left us some really fun outfits to wear in his honor..AKA gave us a really great excuse to dress up!!! We followed up the next day by having our elves tie up the grinch and then finally on the last day of school before break they were both sitting together reading a story about the true meaning of Christmas (magically throughout the day the pages even kept turning).  We know that this post is BEYOND late, but we wrote it and never posted!!  Oops!!!!
Keep on Dancing in Your Teacher Shoes!
Deanna and Jenelle

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Happy Fall From Scooter and Socks!

Scooter and Socks welcoming the First Graders on the first day of Fall!
Now....if only the weather would cooperate.  Or the leaves would change colors and stay on the trees for a while so that we can actually enjoy them....and then fall off so that we can jump in them!  
OR maybe we will just love the fact that there isn't any SNOW in the forecast yet!

Keep On Dancing In Your Teacher Shoes!
Deanna and Jenelle