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Increasing Rigor and Engagement At The Same Time
19 Jan, 2014. 8 Comments. A Day In First Grade, Daily 5, December, First Grade, First Grade Language, First Grade Math, First Grade Science, Guided Reading, Kindergarten Science, Science. Posted By: Kristen Smith
This past week I was able to go to the SDE conference here in Austin and got to hang out with some of my close friends and blogging buddies. It was so awesome to sit under their tutelage and learn from them! My two favorite sessions touched on Guided Reading and Guided Math. This year I have been attempting to meet with all of my students every day and that just wasn’t always happening. (and I even have a small class!) So, this week, I changed how I ran my language block and math block in my classroom.  Reagan ( From Tunstall’s Teaching Tidbits) showed me this amazing powerpoint slide show that she uses to run her language and math blocks and I fell in love with it. I set it up the next day and introduced my students to the expectations and the procedures that were expected during it. It really wasn’t that much of a change for them, the only difference was that now there was a wheel telling them where they were going during these times during the day. (I used to use a pocket chart and they were able to choose where they were going.) 
I’ll be honest. I wrestled with changing the structure in my classroom. Mostly because I was trying to let my students choose what they wanted to do. (Like the sisters say to do in the Daily 5 book.) However, I really loved the idea of the wheel because it ensured that all my students would meet with me daily AND get to each station.  So… I tried it. And my students APPLAUDED the second day they saw “Daily 5 Wheel” on our schedule. 
The wheel consists of five things: Read to Self, Work on Writing, Word Work, Meet with the Teacher and Computer. (listen to reading) Each rotation lasts exactly 15 minutes and then plays some fun “get up and dance” music. This allows the students to boogie a bit while they clean up their center and get ready for their next “job.” 
You can get the wheel from Stephanie McConnell here: 
{I edited mine to work for my classroom!}
So how did this increase the “rigor” in my classroom? Honestly, in a few ways! I now have 15 solid minutes to work with each kid 3-1 daily. TWO TIMES A DAY. I run this wheel for language and then again for math. So I get to really work, work, work with my students on exactly what they need. I am in LOVE. Here’s what each language rotation of my class looked like this week: 
During Guided Reading we have been working on a few different things. First of all, my students are LOVING my Guided Reading Pack. They are mastering sight words QUICKLY now and they are loving the stories. They love that they can read them and this makes me so incredibly happy. I love seeing the “lightbulbs” go off.  
So what do we do? I start all of my Guided Reading groups with a quick warm up game and then, depending on the day, we do different activities. This week we were working on finding our words with chips, finding our words with bingo daubers, and then tackling our text. 
For work on writing, to keep my students producing quality work, I change out my writing center weekly. {I promise it doesn’t take that long to do!!} I use a filing shelf to the right of my center and each slot has a different writing activity that my students all know how to do. Also, on our pegboard, I change out our weekly pictures and words to spark some creative stories. I also change out the weekly writing activity sheets that are on the table. This is by far the best my work on writing center has EVER gone. My students love going there and are writing some awesome stories. I always showcase awesome work and my students strive to get showcased. It’s win-win! They are producing quality first grade work and they feel GREAT about it!
For Word Work, my students have a ton of options. One of their favorites is using the word wall. My word wall is completely interactive. My students can take the words off the wall and bring them to their seats. For this activity, my students build words from the word wall. They use the task on the card and find a word that meets the requirement. As you can see they are looking for words with 3, 4, 5, or 6 letters. They then place their word on their mats and then build their words with letter tiles. {This activity is also found in my Guided Reading pack.}
For listen to reading, I introduced a few new apps this week that were a HUGE hit. My students really enjoyed using Booksy this week! It’s so neat! The program records my students reading their texts and then emails me their rate! It is SO neat to see their scores. It also shows me what words they needed help on. They love the pictures and the stories are interesting and engaging!
To end our week we made snow! My students have been praying DAILY for it to snow in Texas since October… and it just hasn’t yet. So we made it instead! To make this you need baking soda and shaving cream. Simply mix them together until it clumps together. (I warn you: this is MESSY.) So messy, that I did it downstairs in our multi purpose room because I have carpet in my classroom and I learned my lesson from last year! My students LOVED making and playing with the snow. 
  
 This little girl goes, “Miss Smith, look! I’m making a line of symmetry!” {SCORE!}
After recess, we created a venn diagram comparing REAL snow to our snow! They came up with so many great things! 
Next week we will finish up learning about MLK and begin one of my favorite units: SPACE! We start with the Moon and then learn about the planets. I can’t wait to hand out their moon observation books from my Earth Science pack! If you are also starting this unit too, you will love all the science experiments I have for it! Just click on the collage to get taken to the product! Each experiment comes with directions, recording pages, writing extensions and more!
I hope you are having a great weekend! 

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8 Comments
  1. Hi Kristen, I wasn’t expected the shout out on your blog today! I follow you and when I was getting caught up on reading all my blogging friends, I saw it! Really made my day.
    Stephanie McConnell

    • Stephanie your “wheel” is such a huge hit in my classroom– I just had to share it! :) I’m so glad it made your day!!

  2. I get so excited when I see that you have a new blog post! Love your ideas! I checked out Booksy- did you use the free app or “splurge” ? I would rather do what works best. Thanks!

    • Melissa- I bought the “educator” pack. It had so many more books that I just couldn’t pass it up!!

  3. I LOVE your Guided Reading Pack and have shared your link with many of my friends!! It is such a great resource. My kids love playing Slap Jack!!

  4. I love all your posts! Do you have your classroom schedule posted on here anywhere? I do Daily 5 once in the afternoons and let my students choose. I would like to start using the math centers and break up my Daily 5 like I have read on here. Any suggestions? I’m just trying to figure out how to fit all the centers in. I am at a private school as well, so we are pretty flexible with our schedules other than our 2 enrichments each day.

  5. Deanna Wolford -

    I love the station timer wheel idea but I could not find it on TPT I clicked the link. Any ideas? Thanks :)

8 Comments

  • Hi Kristen, I wasn’t expected the shout out on your blog today! I follow you and when I was getting caught up on reading all my blogging friends, I saw it! Really made my day.
    Stephanie McConnell

    • Stephanie your “wheel” is such a huge hit in my classroom– I just had to share it! :) I’m so glad it made your day!!

  • I get so excited when I see that you have a new blog post! Love your ideas! I checked out Booksy- did you use the free app or “splurge” ? I would rather do what works best. Thanks!

    • Melissa- I bought the “educator” pack. It had so many more books that I just couldn’t pass it up!!

  • I LOVE your Guided Reading Pack and have shared your link with many of my friends!! It is such a great resource. My kids love playing Slap Jack!!

  • I love all your posts! Do you have your classroom schedule posted on here anywhere? I do Daily 5 once in the afternoons and let my students choose. I would like to start using the math centers and break up my Daily 5 like I have read on here. Any suggestions? I’m just trying to figure out how to fit all the centers in. I am at a private school as well, so we are pretty flexible with our schedules other than our 2 enrichments each day.

  • Deanna Wolford -

    I love the station timer wheel idea but I could not find it on TPT I clicked the link. Any ideas? Thanks :)

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