Sunday, March 15, 2015

Google classroom ... For FIRST grade!

I love 4th quarter!  It is often referred as my "experimental" quarter.  I have taught most skills needed and just have remediation groups, and enrichment groups.  It is also the PERFECT time to try new things in the classroom.  They have already learned the minimum they need to learn in first grade-  so trying something new is WAY less scary. 

I went to an educational tech conference 2 months ago and have been "itching" to try out a couple of things.  One of those has been Google Read and Write.  Google Read and Write is an extension that you can add on to chrome.  

My school is HUGE with Google.  We use gmail- live on Google Drive (which is the most amazing way to collaborate on things!) and even some teachers have "bit the bullet" and have "Google Classrooms."  I've been to many PD sessions about Google Classroom and thought- "oh- that would be great!  I HATE grading all of those tests and seem to ALWAYS be grading- during lunch, recess, home, walking down the hallway."  However-  I know that I still read the tests to my students and I don't want to read it 3 times.  We are EXTREMELY lucky and have 10 chrome books per classroom-  but with 27 kids and test taking online-  it wouldn't really help.  So I have "brushed" the idea of ever using Google classroom under the rug.  It just seemed like another PD that we attend that is not applicable to pk-1.  We are in our own little world in pk-1.  ...That is until I learned about Google Read and Write.  (I know it is Read and Write for Google- I just love writing it my way for some reason.)

Google Read and Write is the answer to my constant first grade teaching complaints. 
  • *"They can't do online research!"  
  • *"I found a great article on time 4 kids but only half of my class can read it!"  
  • *"I can't do a real PBL because I would have to do all of the research for them!  I don't have time for that!"  
  • *"I can't use Google Classroom because I would have to read them everything!"  
  • *"I just sometimes wish I taught second grade-  so in the first month of school they could come right in and read the morning message!"

Google Read and Write is not only making my kids more independent regardless of their reading level but also making me a better person.  I have WAY less complaints.  I didn't say I don't complain anymore-  just less.  ;-)

You might ask-  okay what is it and how much does it cost?

Google Read and Write can be added to any registered Google account on chrome in less than 5 minutes. Click here to see a 3 minute intro video.

 I am not the most techy person out there and I could easily figure it out.  Within 5 minutes a green rectangle will appear to the right in your search bar (I had to sign out and back in for it to appear.)

If you are online and want to read the webpage-  just click the green rectangle and a toolbar will pop up.  

Press the "play" button and the entire page will be highlighted and will be read to you.  There are many other options like taking away pictures so it is less distracting with just the text, changing voice type, voice speed, highlighting material and even a writing tool that has word suggestions pop up similar to my iPhone does when I'm typing plus much much more!  Reading items is just a small part of what this extension actually does.  

Now back to my Google Classroom complaint, "It isn't possible for first grade."  Boy-  was I ever wrong!  

All of my students have my classroom website bookmarked on their Google accounts.  All I did was add an easy to find clickable link to go to the Google classroom sign up page.  Students clicked the link.  Then clicked- "join classroom" and finally hit the plus sign at the top.  They entered in my class code- and were instantly enrolled into my Google classroom.  (My classroom took 5 minutes to set up on my end.)

On my teacher end I created a simple Google form with multiple choice answers that took 2 minutes to create.  I got the "link" for the form and entered it on my Google classroom page- (only taking 30 seconds.). I pressed "send" and it was sent out to my students.  (Well my one "guinea pig" student.)  This is similar to looking at a facebook wall.  There is a feed and if someone has a link-  it will appear under it.  (I HIGHLY recommend watching the Google Classroom overview that is located at the bottom of this blog post.)
With the Google Read and Write extension- all my students have to do is open up the test.  Then they click on the green rectangle to bring up the tool bar.  Then press play to have the test read to them.  They can pause it or go back and have it repeat sections.  My students can now take tests independently.  It doesn't have to be the same time and it even makes differentiating assessments faster.  I can just send specific tests to specific kids or create a test that advances you to a more difficult question if correct.  The possibilities are endless.  The best part-  with Flubaroo (a Google extension). It grades the assessment for you!!!!!  To communicate scores to parents- we just send home a quarter sheet paper where we circle their score or skill they need to work on.
Now  about the cost which is a HUGE factor!  There is good news and bad news.  The good news is that you get the reading feature for free to read Google Forms/ Docs.  The bad news is that the awesome web reading and other fun features are for the pay version.  You do however get the "premium" version free for a few days after signing up.  You can choose if that is something worth it for you.  I kinda want at least my teacher version to be premium (which you can get for free now) so kids can read their research for projects right on the computer.  
This week I am making a Google form version of our weekly Journeys comprehension assessment and going to try it out!  The Google classroom test form that we did last week worked so well!  I just need to make a quarter sheet p├órent communication form to send home regarding the student test results.  
Hopefully if you have been on the edge of Google Classroom you have been inspired to give it a try thanks to Google Read and Write!  

Here are more great informational videos:
*About Google docs (this was BEFORE classroom!)
*This is about how to set-up Google Classroom and capabilities on teacher and student side (This is a fast version- there are plenty of long tutorials out there- I REALLY like this one!)
*This is about how to create a Google form (This is what I use to create assessments that I add to the Google Classroom.)
***If only they gave me some free premium versions for singing their praises!  If you have that power and are reading this.  I will gladly accept some premium versions for free.  :). ***
Anyone else "experiment" 4th quarter?  What are you doing?  I need more projects to try!  :)


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Read Across America Comprehension FREEBIE

We have a lot of fun things planned all week for Read Across America.  We will have literacy night with bedtime stories and fun activities all week.  

These are 2 organizers that we will be using this week with Dr. Seuss books.   

Click to go to my TPT to download these comprehension organizers.

Have a great week!


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Math Headbands Review Game- pin it to win it

Do you know the Headbandz game that you buy in the board game aisle?  It is the game with vocabulary cards and blue plastic headbands.  This game brings back days sitting around with my siblings and grandparents playing "Indian Poker."  For the non-player- you seem like a group of fools with cards stuck on their head- however to those playing- it is a TON of fun!

My students LOVE playing this game!  As soon as the words, "Recess" are uttered out of my mouth- my students make a mad dash to get out the game and Legos.   If you have Legos in your classroom- you have to know that you can NEVER have enough Legos.  At least the Headband game gets an equal play from the stash of toys.

After I reread my FAVORITE book by Dave Burgess- I was inspired to try to make this game more first grade educational friendly.  I started making math cards for the game a few months ago.  I tried it out with my kiddos and they did great!  Well- some still try to play it charades style and give the person a hint.  Either way- they are still learning and showing their knowledge of the vocabulary word and are BEGGING to play.  "You know- I guess that we did have a great day today- maybe we can play a for a little bit."  lol- inside I am thinking, "Yes!  More math practice!"

If you have never played this game- this is what it is all about:
1.  All game players have a plastic headband (or you can make your own!)
2.  They insert a card without looking at it into their headband and start a sand timer.
3.  They are to ask questions to try to figure out what is inserted into their headband.  The other players can only answer, "yes" or "no."  Once they get an answer correct- they take it down and insert a new card- trying to get as many correct as they can before the time is up.  

To assist students with asking questions, there are helper cards.  They can flip through the cards and ask the question at the top.  If their peers answer, "yes"- they know they can ask the questions below. The headband card will be the same color as the helper card.  This can be used to give struggling students a hint.  

Since the FREE Pay it Forward math items end tonight- .
you can get this FREE if you pin it on Pinterest until next Sunday and come back and leave a comment with the link to the pin and your email.  :)

Have a great week!  :)


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Genius area

This is a new management piece incorporated this year.  The Weekly Genius'.  This seriously has helped with managing a large class, motivated hard work weekly, and rewarded students for excellent behavior.

As you can tell it is not very high tech and it took me about 10 minutes to set up the system.  I used an old graphing pocket chart, wrote out the different chunks of our day and placed it to the left.  Then wrote out each child's name on a little piece of card stock. Seriously 10 minutes and it has REALLY changed the classroom environment.

I learned about this first from a friend with the great idea (The same one who made the video at the bottom of this post.)  I tried it out by "interviewing" students for positions and they stayed the same each week.  It really didn't have the desired effect that I was going for... Then I discovered a teacher at my school who has 1 genius but changes them weekly.  She said it worked well.  I thought- "hey why not?"

We have been using this since after winter break and it has worked so well BEYOND what I even thought would be possible.

How it works:

  • Each week I "watch" students during the work chunks and determine someone that is really good at following the directions, working hard, and problem solving issues.  I tell students that I am looking for a good leader to be the Genius for the following week.
  • Each Friday we make a GIANT production out of announcing the next weeks' Genius people. I really take the time to say, "This person is someone who I noticed...."  This way the allure of being chosen doesn't wear off.  My students get excited, cheer and congratulate their friends. 
  • I secretly keep a class list that I check off each time they have been a Genius.  I don't even mark what area they were- I just mark that they were a Genius.  This way I know to try to find a way to choose some students that haven't been a Genius much.  I still really choose students by who did well.  Some students have been a Genius 8 times, while some have only been twice.  I really do rely on these students to do their job so that I can do mine without interruptions.
  • My students know when to go to their Genius "job" without me telling them.  Their shift is anywhere between 15-30 minutes.  If students in the class have a question or need assistance- they go to the Genius.  The Genius assists them.  
  • The Genius is still responsible for doing their work as well.
  • Two weeks ago we added a "The Genius is on Break" sign.  Under it says, "Ask 3 other friends for help.  If they can't figure it out- then complete a quiet choice."  The Genius can put this up if there have been too many questions or they need to finish their work.
  • As an added bonus our Genius' have their own little office.  We share the office with some word study materials etc.  During their shift, they sit in the office.  Clipboards are hanging on the wall for their convenience.  

I HIGHLY recommend implementing this into your classroom.  It really takes little preparation for the HUGE amount of positives that come from it.  

Just a reminder as a PAY IT FORWARD- all (well I think at least 18) of my common core math items are free until tomorrow!  My entire store is also 20 percent off as well.  :)

A little off topic but wanted to share a really cool video my very talented friend made for our district: CLICK HERE.

Here is hoping that it inspires voters!  :)  LOVE my district!!!


Friday, February 20, 2015

Paying it Forward: Creating Graphs and Answering Questions

We are on cold day #2 in Ohio.  The first day I was REALLY lazy and watched movies and did laundry all day. Okay.... I was REALLY excited to do the laundry!  Our AMAZING friends that are living with us as they remodel their new house bought us a BRAND NEW washer and dryer!  :)  Last week our old set finally decided to give out.  My friend went shopping with me to pick out a new set.  As I was busy filling out the warranty information- apparently my friend was secretly paying for our new machines!  I feel so bad for the salesman.  I went from almost yelling at her, "Why did Mr. LaSota give you the card?  Wait- did you pay for that???"  To sobbing and saying, "Wow- thank you- that was the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me!!!!"  So I REALLY didn't mind doing laundry since I was so excited to use the nice new and shiny machines.  ;)  Hopefully my husband doesn't catch on to how to get me to love doing chores.  :)

Today I figured that I better do some work!  I am out on Monday for a district meeting and I realized my math plans were not that great.  I figured- for me... I'd be ready to fly by the seat of my pants.  However I have a substitute who has never been in the first grade classrooms before.

So lo and behold- I have spent about 7 hours making some!

Here is a peak:

Simple whole group lessons and Monday sorting activity.

These may not be the MOST attractive things but they walk the student through creating a graph.  My goal was to make this as easy for a substitute to use as possible!  The students have the graph and questions as well as the booklet out for whole group on Monday and Tuesday.

These are the Wednesday and Thursday whole group items.  The "try math" sheet is really a midweek assessment.  The talk cards are asking students to have a discussion about a current skill and a review skill.

Students only have 2 days of Math on My Own since the other two days they are working with their whole group graph.  These independent work items are differentiated.

Finally there are 2 Friday exit slips.  One focuses more on first grade graphing skills.  The second one focuses on second grade graphing skills.  The students are taught more of 2nd grade graphing during whole group for the week.  This is the second time we have visited graphing.  They REALLY understood it the first time so I decided to teach my students more of the 2nd grade standard next  week.  

Want this for FREE????  

I want to PAY IT FORWARD from the VERY nice deed given to me this week and give this away!  This and all of my other common core math items are going to be FREE on my TPT store from Feb. 20th until Feb. 22nd.

Hopefully some of these items are useful to you and it inspires you to PAY IT FORWARD as well!  Enjoy your weekend!


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Common Core Whole Group Math

Since common core math has "sprung" up a few years ago, it seems that I have constantly been working on math.  I started with creating assessments, then moved to independent work, and finally have began working on whole group lessons that incorporate the common core math practices. 

My lesson plans a very simple and the whole group lesson is very simple and 10-15 minutes long.  These serve as almost a "guide" and doesn't have specific skills.

On the first day of the week, I try to incorporate a sort or some other activity to try to get students to figure out what we will be learning about this week. 

For easy to use whole group lessons- (especially if I have a substitute)- for most units I have a booklet for whole group.  Students also use hands on manipulatives as well. 

These booklets seem to make it easier for parents to understand that there are different ways to solve the type of problem.  I was just at a meeting last week where the facilitator put it rather clearly- "The social media articles about common core math seems to be that the teacher/ homework is focusing too much on the strategy rather than the standard." 
On Wednesday each week we have a midpoint assessment.  I LOVE these!  It was something new that I tried this year- and they have worked GREAT! 

It has a problem at the top highlighting this current week's skill.  The students try to answer it in the first box.  Then they get in line to show me.  If it is correct I draw a smiley face on it- they put it in their mailbox and get to play math review games until rotations start.  If they don't have it correct the first time- I quickly give them a hint and they have to go back and try to figure it out in the second box.  Finally, if they don't "get it" after 2 tries either I or a partner will sit down and help them figure it out.  This has really helped to "weed out" those students who need some extra support for the skill of the week.  It also is great communication to the parents since they can see how many tries it took them to get the problem correct. 
On Thursdays we have "math talk."  We have one card that focus' on the skill of the week and a second card which reviews a skill we have already learned.  Students work in their table groups.  I place the first card face down in the middle of the tables and students have their dry erase materials out and ready.  I tell them to turn it over- I read it and they start working.  Students are instructed to turn over and hide their answer when they are finished.  When students notify me that they are finished- I tell them to "talk."  Students then use our discussion rules and share their answers one at a time with also how they figured it out.  This is repeated with the second card.
Finally on Fridays we have a short exit ticket to assess student mastery of the skill.  Students who didn't master the skill are placed in my "second rotation" group for the following week so we can work on the skill further. 

Daily students are to choose which math group they need to follow for the day.  Since I have a large class- I DO NOT meet with the yellow students and instead I meet with remediation students.  However during independent work the students in the yellow group are allowed to work with a peer during their rotations.  Click here to download this poster for free.

In each unit I also have included differentiated math on my own worksheets.  These all work on the same skill but have different supports built in for students.  The "green group" worksheets often just have larger numbers to figure out. 

I have many math resources on TPT but here are the resources that are very similar to the materials listed above:
3 Addend Math Facts
Doubles Math Facts
Counting on Math Facts

Have a wonderful week!  Please let me know if you have any questions!


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Large Math Class: Math Centers

This is the part 2 post of my new math block.  Due mostly to a large class- I have changed my math block up a bit.  If you want to read about the management of a large class for math centers:  read this.

My students are in need of a spiral review so they now have a Weekly Math Work paper:
The Daily Must-Do consists of their differentiated Math on My Own papers and also Number of the Day work.  Just Number of the Day covers 4 different skills that we need to review in first grade.

Students are expected during their Weekly Work/ Math Workshop rotation to finish the Math on My Own worksheet and Number of the day each day.  When they finish they are to get the Weekly Work items completed. 

Here is what their rotation charts look like:

Here is a preview of the two weekly centers:
I had my students color their class number.  They are REALLY proud of their "artwork" and cannot wait for others to check it out.  :)
This center is all about writing a word problem.  A different "answer" is chosen each week.  The students have to write the "problem" on a post-it note and stick it on their class number.  Not only are their practicing their writing skills, but also their problem solving skills. 
This sign was used when we first started.
Who Am I?
This weekly center practices math facts and graphing skills.  All of the students filled out a paper in advance.  I pick one weekly to be the "mystery person."  Students have to solve the math facts to find clues about the mystery person.  When they have their clues- they have to graph in their guess of who it is from one of the five students written on the graph.  On Fridays we ask graphing questions like, "How many more people..."
I am a HUGE HGTV fan.  Lately they have been playing marathons of Love it or List it.  If you have ever watched it- you know that they are SUPER dramatic at the end about if they are going to love their current house or list it.  I do the same thing on Friday.  "Will the mystery person please reveal themselves?"  It is hilarious to see their reactions when you feed a bit into first grade drama.  :)
If you want to snag a copy of this simple weekly center- you can click here to visit my TPT store.
Not bad- 2 posts in 2 days!  :)
Enjoy your day!  :)