Monday, September 23, 2013

Small Victories!!

Hey there!  Well, I will count day one of literacy centers a success.  All of the students were engaged, and learning.  I saw some smiles, too!  I've written other blog posts about how I do centers.  But I'll give a quick summary again in case you don't know.  I've been teaching first grade for 11 years and it took till year 9 to finally figure out how to make centers work for me and my classroom.  It always bothered me to have a rotation of 15 minutes at each center because I'd have some centers that took less time and other that took more.  I felt like I was always tracking kids down to finish things.  Sometimes I needed less time with a reading group, sometimes I needed more.  I needed more flexibility.  

A few years ago, I tried The Daily Five.  I LOVED the theory behind it but, I found that I with our basal program, the students needed a little more practice and formal activities.  I still use the Sisters' steps for establishing independence for Read to Self, Read to Someone, and Listening to Reading.  I do feel that the key to a classroom that runs like a well-oiled machine is really taking the time to set up routines and procedures.  So for the past two and a half weeks we have worked hard to become independent at those three areas.  This week, I decided to take the plunge and introduce our checklist.  

Each week, my students have a checklist of activities that they work though.  I highlight activities that are a "must do" and then other non-highlighted activities are "may do."  As the year progresses, I will differentiate the activities on the checklist for students.  Students enjoy having the choice over which order they complete tasks and I enjoy having the flexibility that it affords.  It just works for us!

I wanted to share some pictures of the kiddies hard at work.  I did not do any reading groups today so that I was available to assist students and trouble shoot.  I'm so glad I did that because I would have been interrupted a million times.  We'll see how things go tomorrow.  I might try for one reading group.  

Students working on rhyming word matches (short i words).

Self-selecting books for Read to Self and doing Read to Self.

Word Family Sorts (ig and ip words)

Write the Room

Labeling Pete the Cat

More Write the Room

Students select various centers from baskets on the windowsill.  Any materials and/or record sheets are available in each basket.

Here is a close up of word cards and record sheets for rhyming word centers.

I use several different sources for my center activities.  We use the Houghton Mifflin Journeys series and I was happy to discover the wonderful work of Dawn at First Grade Shenanigans.  I use her activities to supplement my creations because they match the Journeys program perfectly and make my life a million times easier.  I also added a couple activities from these packs, too.  Back to School Blast by Amanda Rich   The Groovy Cat Math and Literacy Unit by Christine at First Grade Fever.

Here's hoping my kiddos keep up the great work and continue to build their independence so I can do more.  Have a great week!