Friday, August 31, 2012

Lovin' this life

As my class and I become more of a community I find myself smiling through the day and I'm thankful that I am lovin' this life I lead. 

This year I've changed things up a bit...

-I no longer rely on a behavior management chart.  I feel like I am more patient and understanding this year above all others.  A smart woman explained to me that she relies on natural consequences and empowers the students through positivity.  It's working and I'm happier :)

-There is more music in my classroom.  For years I have felt pressure to GO, GO, GO.  I'm relaxing a bit and letting my little firsties enjoy music.

-I am purely using Lucy Calkins Units of Writing.  In the past I thought they were to basic...but I'm trying it out and pushing the depth through writing conferences.  It is a peaceful time in our class.

-I am no longer depending on reading centers to keep my students active so I can meet with guided reading groups.  A friend, Angela, was sharing with me that she uses independent reading time for the first half of time and partner reading the second.  I wasn't sure I could make that work but we worked on building our stamina from the first day.  We sure have grown a lot...we went from 2 minutes to 27 minutes in two weeks in just independent reading alone!  The kids like the time and are really impressing me!  I feel like getting kids in books that they can read is my most important job in first grade.  When you really you feel that centers are more beneficial?  It took me a few years to get there but I know time in books is what kids need.

-We got a class pet.  I applied for a grant and was able to purchase a Chinese Water Dragon.  We won't know if it is a boy or girl for a while so the name game was a hard one.  It's name is Coo Coo Ca Choo August Jones.  The first part is from The Beatles song, the middle name August is for the month and Jones refers to Junie B. Jones (who we adore).  I love the experience it is bringing into our lives.
-With common core we are more integrated so inquiry has been playing a big role in our classroom.  We have been wondering and researching to find out.  Some questions the students have researched so far are: Why do cicadas buzz?  What does a moose eat? What's the difference between a gate and a fence?  What do we need to do to care for a water dragon?  Curiousity is catching!

-My math time looks different this year because it is reactive. My needs are different this year so my setup is too.  We activate, then work through gradual release with an area of math.  We go to centers that relate to the area of math and I pull small groups.  Last year I had only two groups but this year I have 4.  This years centers are Movement, Activity, Teacher, Hands on.  Do you see the MATH acronym??  Here is a freebie for you to get organized with math groups:  MATH center rotation

So far I'm enjoying this year and feel that the changes made have impacted my teaching for the better.  What are you doing different this year that you are just lovin??  I would love to can never get enough good ideas.

Here are anchor charts from the last 2 weeks:

I hope you have a relaxing weekend!


  1. Hi Jen!

    It sounds like you are having a wonderful start to the year! I hope mine is as enjoyable :)

    I loved reading this post--you are doing such fabulous things with your first graders :)


  2. I am so jealous of your water dragon! This post really intrigued me. It is really refreshing to read how teachers think out of the box. For 21 years I did not use a behavior management system with constant rewards. It felt like I would be bribing them to do their work. Rules were laid out and followed, consequences if not and the rewards were praise, displaying work outside the classroom, and special notes home.
    I'm always amazed at how much is done in grade 1. The anchor charts are wonderful! Your math chart can even apply in grade 3!


  3. I will be returning to 1st grade once again next school year (I'm a looping teacher) and I am so happy to have found your blog. I love your ideas, charts, resources...I will be "borrowing" many ideas. Thanks a bunch for sharing!