Friday, June 15, 2012

Summertime and Quick-Draw McGraw

It's been my first week of summer vacation and I've loved it! I've actually stayed up past 9:00 pm and slept in past 6:00 am! Like so many teachers, I'm already preparing for next year. (There's something not right about that!) My school "to do" list is growing (I blame Pinterest) and I have all those home and garden projects that I kept putting off until summer - and now it's summer! I also want to make time for the Guided Math and Daily 5 book studies. So much to do . . . so little time (sigh).

One of the projects I worked on today was organizing/making high-frequency vocabulary cards and activities for my 2nd graders. One of their favorite activities is a very simple one I call "Quick Draw McGraw". (I know most of you have no idea who this is, but I am old, people, and Quick Draw, Mighty Mouse, Sherman and Mr. Peabody have a sentimental place in my heart!)

To play, students have 5-6 vocab. word cards face up on their desks. I have the same words on the white board (I use magnetic cards but using a pocket chart works, too). Now it's me against the class: who will be Quick Draw? I call out one of the words and students try to find and pick up that word card and raise it up high before I pick mine. After several turns, I let students call out the words. It's a lot of fun and the class especially likes it when I can't peel the magnetic card off the board quickly enough! It's also great for a quick informal assessment - seeing who is slow in finding the words, who has to look at the cards of others before choosing their card, who is holding up the wrong word, who quickly finds the words.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Not - so - Routine  Part 2

One of my favorite things is Daily 5. However, I've added another little piece into it. I organize my "Check in" name list into reading groups. Before asking individual students what their choice is, I dismiss the reading group I'll be meeting with. They go to the reading table and wait for me to finish "Check in" with the rest of the group. Even though the wait is short I still wanted it to be productive, so I always have a job for them to do as a group or as partners. When I get to the reading table we quickly go over the task  and then on to the reading lesson. The kids love it. The tasks are usually specific to that group's needs, but if I don't have something ready, my go-to job is to set a bunch of word cards on the table for them to put in ABC order

Some of the jobs:

*put word cards in ABC order 

*sound and word sorts (long/short vowel, digraphs, parts of speech, etc.)

*card matching (contractions, compound words, synonyms, antonyms, vocabulary and meaning)

*my lowest group practices their sight word Super Stars word lists (they LOVE this)

*sort story vocabulary - I often do this  before they start a new book. Sometimes the group is asked to sort the words into 2 or 3 groups based on their choice. Other times I ask them to read over the words and be ready to predict what the story will be about and what some of the story events will be. This generates a lot of disagreement  discussion and is a great motivator for reading the story. In this picture the group had to predict if the word cards would be on the side of "Good" or "Bad" (from the book Secrets of Droon

*here the group had to sort vocabulary into "horse words" and "not horse words" from the book Wonder Horse

I've found that these short tasks are a great way to practice skills, promote discussion, and encourage interest in the book to be read.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Word Wall Linky Party

Jen R. from The Teacher's Cauldron has a "word wall" in some need of an intervention.               

Join the party(click the picture above and it should take you to the party) and help her and all of us "word wallers" improve on this teaching tool!

Here's my word wall pic from a previous post. I have to admit I don't have a regular routine for using it. It's more of a resource for the students. 
We do play "I Spy" (You know . . . "I'm thinking of a word that __") or I'll give 4 clues and they try to guess the word after each clue.
I'm looking forward to seeing and reading other ideas!
(I don't have wall space so my word wall hangs from the ceiling)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

"Not so routine" Routines

Wow - life got in the way the past few weeks and blogging became low priority. But I'm back and hopefully will get blogging into my routine. And speaking of routine . . .

I like routines - they keep you on track and provide some stability in the day to day craziness of the classroom. BUT, I don't like boring! So I've developed some routines that are favorites of my second graders and will share them over the next few days. 

First up . . . Bowling! 
Every Thursday I go bowling during our literacy block and try to knock down as many bowling pins second graders as I can. Each student stands with a white erase board/marker/eraser in hand. I post the 3 or 6 "academic vocabulary" words we are currently working with. Each student chooses a word and writes it on their white board. I randomly choose a bowling card on which I've written the meaning of one of the vocabulary words. I say the meaning of the word - class says what word the meaning matches - all students that wrote that word are "knocked down" and no longer stand. We repeat this for a total of 6 turns. My goal is to try to get all the pins students down. Those that are knocked down still choose and write a word and keep a tally count of how many times their chosen word is picked. The goals of this routine are to practice the vocabulary words and their meanings and to have a little movement (and fun)   involved. The kids ask to do this practically every day - it's definitely one of their faves!

Here are the cards I use (they're very basic). I've laminated mine and then just use dry erase or overhead markers to write on the back.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Diving for Treasure

The treasure? . . . better readers that love to read! I have an "at home" reading routine I call "Dive for Treasure". Students read and accumulate minutes. When 200 min. have been recorded on their reading log, they turn in the log, move their diver on our class display and receive a small prize. (And grab another log and go for it again!) The goal is to reach the Treasure Chest (2000 min.!) before the school year is over. I have many students that have reached the chest and are now on their second or third diver! In past years I've done "Reach for the Stars" and students moved a rocket through the solar system to get to the sun.

Here's a close-up of part of the "Dive for Treasure" bulletin board in our classroom library area. There are 10 "stops" in the dive with the 10th and final stop the Treasure Chest. Each stop is a different ocean creature.

You can see the treasure chest in the pic below. Each stop has its own reward. These are just small prizes based on an ocean theme. Some examples of the prizes are pencils, bookmarks, shells, starfish, memo pads and small ocean creature toys.

Another (very poor) pic of the bulletin board. (This was taken in Jan. - the penguin is now gone!)

When (and if! - Remember: big-time newbie here!!) I can figure out how to post documents, I'll share the parent letter and reading log (and better pictures).
I have found this to be an easily managed and highly motivating way to get kids to read outside the school day. 
What do you do to get your students to read?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Pinspiration and Tweaking

I love Pinterest and get so much "Pinspiration" from the pins I see and from the many awesome bloggers I follow. However, like most of you, I usually take the great ideas and "tweak" them to make them work for me and my class. Here are a few pics to show ideas I've tweaked.

How many times have you seen this on Pinterest? I didn't really change it much except to add a writing activity (What to do if your snowman came alive)

Making crate seats was all the rage this summer. I had planned to make some but saw these at Big Lots ($14 each) and bought them - saved me time, energy, and frustration in making them. I like that no one can see what is stored inside. 

Chair sacks: My students have desks so I didn't really need chair sacks for desk supplies, but I wanted something to hold individual white boards, markers, and erasers. Chair sacks are so expensive, especially for the purpose I needed them for (and I didn't want to make them!) Instead, I use stretchy jumbo book covers. They work great - no horde of 27 kids all trying to get white boards at the same time. Now everyone has their whiteboards and are ready to go in just seconds.

I don't have wall space for a Word Wall so I hang the words from the ceiling. There was an idea on Pinterest to put the words on the ceiling, but putting words up there each week didn't sound like fun. The word ceiling, though, got me thinking and this is what I came up with. 

I've seen teachers posting guided reading group assignments on the whiteboard. I've tweaked that idea by putting colored paper (my groups are organized by color) into page protectors - the smooth ones. Then I just use a dry erase marker. Now the kids have a short reminder of what independent reading/writing they need to do for their reading group that day and whether or not they are meeting with me (the black numbers).

How have you tweaked a great idea you've seen on Pinterest and/or blogland?