Sunday, September 28, 2014

Falling into Centers

Fall is my absolute favorite time of the year! I just love everything about it. This is the time that I am really getting deep into groups in my class. I am a huge group work gal. I have five groups, all based on their reading level, and I work with each group on specific skills.
While I am working with a group, I have to have my other kiddos doing something. We have iPads and computers, but sometimes they grow tired of the apps or sites we use. I decided to make some Fall Literacy Centers that would add a little fun to our group work time. I based it on major things that I need them to be working on.

In these centers, we work on sight words by putting autumn leaves and apples on a tree. When they are at this center, I have them, not only say the word, but they need to use it in a sentence. They loved trying to create a big fall tree!

Next, I had them working on antonyms and synonyms. I made Acorn Antonyms and Sunflower Synonyms. Students need to work quietly, finding the synonyms and antonyms for each word. Once they have found a match, they need to record it on the sheet provided. This was a great "teamwork" center.

Then, I had them working on the ending -ing. I used words where they just needed to add -ing to the end, no changing letters. They need to say the word on the apple, write it on the sheet provided, they need to put it in the -ing apple basket, as they do this they need to say and write down their new word.

I also added a fun syllable sort. Students needed to say the word, clap it out, put it in the correct number column, and then write it down on the sheet provided. I think they enjoyed this one the most! The love to clap out those words!

I needed some sort of writing activity. I decided to have them choose a Fall themed word card and they had to create their own story about that word. The students got a kick out of this creative writing center. They were all so creative with their stories!

Last, I had a sight word coloring sheet. They just used the key and colored according to that key. This was a great reinforcement of some simple sight words.

All in all, my students had a blast doing this. In fact, they have been asking to do them every single day! I have been trying to do them at least two times a week. They love it and I love that I can work with groups while knowing my students are working on skills that they need to strengthen or reinforce! The centers are in my TPT shop, go and check them out. Happy Fall! :)

Friday, September 5, 2014

Spinner Fun

Mrs. Davison! Mrs. Davison! I need help! This is what I was used to hearing day in and day out. I thought, there has to be a better (and quieter) way to help my kiddos without them distracting others. So I decided to make these spinners. I wanted to find an easy way for my kids to let me know when they needed help without shouting across the room. Here is what I came up with:

I love the diamond shape and they are not bulky at all! I use these with every single student. I just tape these on the side of their name-tags. This is how I use it. Everyone starts on green, this tells me that everyone is on track and doing good. 

When a student starts to feel that they are getting stuck on a question or a direction, they can spin to yellow. This tells me that they aren't quite stuck yet, that they are trying to work it out, but that they may need my help in a little bit.

When a student is absolutely stuck, they can now spin to red. This is a great and easy way for me to see who needs help asap! This is also a great way for a kiddo to tell me they need help without announcing it to the class, this really helps with that confidence piece.

As I was making these, I was thinking to myself "Self wouldn't it be great if you did this exact same thing but with a self assessing piece?" I love to have my kids assess themselves on their work. I use this as a conference tool when I meet with them on their writing. I also love to use it to see how confident they feel over certain concepts we touch on. Lately, I have used this on how they feel their understanding is with place value. I used to do this with a finger system (1-4). Now I do this:

When I have the students assess themselves, I really work on them to be honest with themselves, how they feel about the concept, and their quality of work. We go over what each one means each time we assess.

Rookie (1) means that the concept is still new and they are not very confident with it yet. It also means that they do not feel their work quality was strong with this assignment.

Apprentice (2) means that they are starting to understand the concept but it is still pretty new to them. This also means that they feel their quality of work could use a little more.

Scholar (3) means that they understand the concept but they aren't quite ready to be tested on it. This also means that they feel good about their work, but could use a little more practice on it.

Master (4) means that the student completely understands the concept, feels very confident about it, and is ready to be tested on it. This also means that they are proud of their work and feel that they did what was exactly asked of the them.

This is what the spinners look like beside a name-tag. The kids love to use them every chance that they get!

Now I completely understand that there are some kids that want to give themselves a 4 every single time. The first time this happens, I always have a "test" ready (it might be on paper or it may be orally). This usually sets the tone for making sure they are honest with themselves about where they are at.

I have also made fun classroom posters to explain each spinner. I have these hanging in my classroom.
You can find these fun little spinners in my TPT store. Enjoy and Happy Spinning! :)