Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Daily 5 in Primary Classrooms

Over the last 8 weeks, we have covered a lot of ground. We've explored each other's classrooms, traded ideas, asked questions, and remembered why The Daily 5 matters. Creating lifelong readers requires daily, dedicated time to read. We, as teachers, must give students time to fall in love with books. 

In this post, I've shared where we have gone and given you a 'hub' for all things Daily 5. You can click on any of the pictures to be taken to take specific post for a refresher or reread! 
We started the study laying the fountain for what we need to actually begin Daily 5 in our classroom. What physical materials? This was a simple post with the nuts-and-bolts of Daily 5 - What do I need to get started? I've shared some of my favorite materials for Daily 5, and then, at the end of the post, you can enter for a chance to snag these things for yourself. With that said, know that the bare bones of The Daily 5 is BOOKS...and a lot of of them. If you want kids to love reading and spend time reading, you've got to have books from which they can choose.
We explored how we build independence throughout the first weeks of the Daily 5. Building independence is the most critical part of setting-up Daily 5 in our classrooms. Without independence, we would never be able to pull small groups, confer with students, or assess growth. There would be off-task children, there would be talking and off-task behavior, and most importantly, there would be no reading and writing taking place. As we're building independence, my 1st graders hear me ask (over and over) - "If we do __________, will that make us better readers and writers?" This is our driving question.
We talked about the explicit routines and procedures we teach students for each round of the Daily 5. These procedures set the ground-work for independence and are the lynch-pin of a successful reading block.
Knowing the foundation lessons that need to be taught and how to foster independence, we learned that the crux of the Daily 5 is students spending time reading real books. Read to Self is the first choice we introduce and the most important. Students don't become readers with computer programs and busy work. Students fall in love with reading when they are given time to read and learn in a classroom where books are valued.
Throughout the study, I have heard several teachers say - "I do Daily 5...I just don't let students choose. It's too much for them." Friends, I'm going to be really honest. If you have layed the ground-work, built stamina, and fostered independence, choice is the inevitable conclusion. If choice is 'too much' for your students, it's likely you need to go-back and practice. Choice is a CRITICAL part of Daily5 because it provides students with ownership of their learning and freedom in the classroom. Our students are capable of SO much, and we need to trust them. This can be scary and intimidating (especially with little friends) but it's VERY possible. 
Later in the study, we were introduced to the math component of The Daily 5, The Daily 3. The Daily 3 and Guided Math are a small-group approach to learning mathematics, just like we meet with students daily during Guided Reading, we meet with students as mathematicians. It is a deviation from whole-group math instruction. While there is still time for whole-group, you invest your efforts and resources into meeting with small-groups of students each day.
Although not an official chapter in the book, Word Work is a critical part of teaching children to read. Students need repeated practice and exposure to high-frequency words and phonics patterns. In this blog post, I shared some of our favorite Word Work centers - sentence scramble, word sorts, pyramid writing - and how I differentiate so all my students are working with just-right words.
Additionally, Listening to Reading provides students the opportunity to hear fluent reading and through listening to reading, students have access to more books than they are able to read independently. Listening to Reading provides an incredible opportunity to engage with any book they are interested in; rather than just what they are able to read at that time. 
With less than 2 weeks until my new 1st grade friends arrive, I am excited to hit the ground running with Daily 5. Are you ready? If you're not using a full Daily 5, what parts of the study are you putting into action? What do you want to make work this year?

I'd love to hear your ideas and your take-aways from this study! As I begin a new year of Daily 5, I'll make sure to share how it's going and what it's looking like with a new group of friends. Until then, good luck friends! 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Classroom Organization: Tips and Tricks

My name is Catherine, and I am an organization addict. It's true friends. I love procedures and order and know my classroom runs smoothly because of these things. Today I'm sharing with you how organization helps maximize learning in our classroom and how I maximize my time as a teacher. Now, my room is definitely not 1st-grade ready, but the key organization pieces are up and running from last year or have been added this summer. Since I'm not ready to show the big-picture, this post may jump around a bit. Still, I hope you enjoying seeing how my classroom runs! :)
We'll start in our classroom library where you find our wooden display shelf and our student book bins (from Really Good Stuff), as well as, Sterelite containers for themed books. If you search #1stgradebookshelf on Instagram you can sneak a peek at our weekly themed-bookshelves. I love these shelves because they expose students to a wide variety of books and authors, and build excitement. My friends can't wait to see what books I've chosen for us on Monday mornings! Plus, my friends BEG for extra reading time on Monday mornings.
I store and organize all of these books by month or general theme. I try to keep one theme in each bin, but sometimes small themes (like teeth or Valentines Day) double-up in the containers.
For student book bins I label them by number and attach the labels with permanent Glue Dots. Over all of last year, I only lost 3 labels by using the glue dots...making library set-up a breeze this year!
Next, onto our library: I have two LARGE metal cabinets. When you open them up, you find my Reading Street Leveled Readers (on the first shelf) and then, hard-back books (Seuss and Willems) and Listen to Reading Books.
I place listen-to-reading books in plastic bags if I have multiple copies of them. If I only have a single copy of a book, it goes in the bin solo. I sort the books into three groups - fall, spring, and anytime books. This makes trading out books for listening to read simple. I typically keep 5-6 different book choices in our listen to reading center. (To learn more about our Listen to Reading center here.)
For all of the listen to reading books, I use Glue Dots to attach the CD case and CD to the inside cover of the book. Although these CDs are loaded to my iTunes account, attaching the CD allows me and other teachers to always have access to them.
On the right in the above cabinet picture, you see a bin labeled "Weekly News". Last year, our team was blessed to receive Scholastic News from Donors Choose. We split up a subscription (5 copies per classroom), laminated the magazines, and saved them for future years. These are FABULOUS nonfiction articles, and we didn't want to lose them! This summer, I organized my magazines and clipped them together by month, so they are easy to grab this year.
On the bottom shelf, you see our Reading Street leveled readers. I keep these organized by story (meaning I mix the colors) and rubber band them so they are easy to reference. You can read more about how I make Reading Street work in a Daily 5 classroom here.
Directly across from my metal cabinets are floor-to-ceiling built-in green cabinets. I store my personal things coats, umbrellas, school bag on the left side and then, school things on the right. The bulk of the space is taken up by Guided Reading sets. Our school does not have any book room or guided reading sets, so using Scholastic $1 books I've started my own 'book room'. Be warned this is the least organized space of my room! I keep the books in plastic bins by guided reading level (my picture books are in plastic bags on the back of the top shelf and my chapter books are on the bottom shelf. Attached to the inside of the door, is a list of guided reading levels and what books I have. It's too easy to forget what I have, so this makes it much easier!
Moving to the right 3 feet, we're met by my Wall-o-Cubbies. I have 30 cubbies in my 1st grade classroom and use the last 6 cubbies for storage. I store things that I want my students to have access to in these cubbies because they are 1st grade sized. Even if completely stacked, students can reach the top bins. 
I clearly label every bin so my friends know exactly what to grab and where to put materials back. This helps keep things organized and allows students to be in charge. My friends know that anything with a label can be touched by a 1st grader. If a bin doesn't have a label, they need to ask me before touching! (The bins on the left are size small and the ones on the right are size medium.)
On the left, you see a thin, unlabeled bin. My friends know they must ask first to open this container (because it's unlabeled). It holds all the dice I use for math games and differentiating math centers. I picked up a bead container from Michaels (with a coupon and my teacher discount) and it's the perfect way to store dice!
Then, we have our Math Center tubs and our Word Work tubs. I use the Large Sterelite Clip Top Tubs for centers and absolutely love them. I know they are definitely an investment...BUT take it slow and collect them one unit at a time. (A unit included 6 containers). My first year of teaching I purchased 2 units (12 bins) and they are still in perfect condition. They are big enough to hold a sheet of paper without folding/bending it, as well as, the bins don't open when dropped..a key detail in 1st grade! ;)

As my students make their reading and math choices, they grab the correct tub and during Word Work they also grab a word ring (as seen hanging from a Command Hook in the picture on the right). You can read more about our Math Centers here and more about Word Work here. If there are extra 'pieces' to a center that don't fit in a container (i.e. a 100s board as seen on the left or magnetic letters as seen on the right) I keep them on the bottom of the containers. Students will look at the visual directions (math and word work)  on the top of each bin and know they are missing something!
Additionally, our number lines hang from a Command Hook.  I purchased mine from Carson Delrosa, laminated them, hole-punched the end, and hung them. This keeps the number lines organized and easily accessible to my small friends.
Turning another 90 degrees, you see my teacher-table/guided reading table. I use my desk as a writing center, so I maximize the space behind and under my guided reading table for storage. Two years ago, I purchased a 10-drawer rolling cart that sits behind my desk. (You can buy it on Amazon or at Sams...although it's only $25 if you grab it from Sams!) Each drawer stores materials for the week. My drawers are labeled - Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Copy, Laminate, Scholastic Reading Club, Extras, and a blank label. I use this blank label or 10th tub for emergency sub plans. Should I ever need to be out unexpectedly, I have 2 days worth of materials/lessons prepared...just a little peace of mind for me!
Across from the rolling cart, you have my teacher table. I keep a black 3-drawer Sterilite container under each side of my teacher table (I snagged these on sale from Target for $9 a piece). The one on the left (below) stores Guided Reading Materials and the one on the right remains unlabeled because they are my personal drawers (notes/cards, teacher data, and then, snacks). I organize my guided reading materials by my colored groups - green, yellow, blue, as well as, the round the group meets. I add the rounds for any guest teachers (substitutes) we might have in the classroom. Keeping materials below my guided reading table, allows me to easily grab materials and get started when a new group joins me. (If you're not familiar with how I color-code my groups, you can read more about it here.)
On the top of my desk, I keep a tri-container (a gift from a student) of writing utensils. I don't like students bringing any materials to my teacher table other than their blue work folder because it typically takes a lot of time and results in a messy learning space. In one container I keep highlighters and markers, in the second container I keep dry-erase markers, and in the third container I keep pencils and pens. 
Right behind my teacher table, I also keep these color-coded bins organized and stocked for Guided Math. Often the manipulatives travel from bin-to-bin, but the assessments and mini-lesson materials are group-dependent. I love having my materials at arm's reach, and it's easy to restock them at the end of the day.
Organization is the key to a smooth-running classroom. It helps students know what to expect and gives them structure when working. My biggest takeaways from this year are (1) label things that you want students to be able to use independently (2) keep things at 1st-grader height and (3)figure out a color-system that makes management easy.

So, tell me, is organization something that comes naturally to you? What tips do you have for keeping it manageable? I'm always looking for new ideas, so I'd love to hear what works for you!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Guided Math in 1st Grade

Happy day, friends and welcome to Chapter 8 of our Daily 5 book study - The Daily 3 (the math portion of The Daily 5).
If you've missed any of the chapters before this, no worries! You can catch-up using the links below, and then come back to this post. :)

The Daily 3 and Guided Math are a small-group approach to learning mathematics, just like we meet with students daily during Guided Reading, we meet with students as mathematicians. It is a deviation from whole-group math instruction. While there is still time for whole-group, you invest your efforts and resources into meeting with small-groups of students each day. Teaching 1st grade for the first time, I was using whole-group math with a single math center at the end of our math block. Then over Winter Break, our team felt like something wasn't working. While our students were growing in math, it was definitely not at our reading rate. So, I started to compare the 2 blocks. For reading, we use a Daily 5 model, so 80% of my instruction is in small groups during guided reading. Rather, in math, 80% of my instruction was whole group with enough time for a math center 3-4 times a week.

The transformation was AMAZING friends! For the first time, I felt like I knew my students as mathematicians like I knew them as readers. If a parent, teacher, or administrator asked me about math, I could go on and on. Meeting daily my my friends allow me to push harder and for our learning to go deeper.

With small-group math, our math block does take a little longer (around 75-90 minutes), but it is completely worth it! Our math routine looks like this - Number Talks (5-7 minutes), 3 Rotations of Small Groups/Technology/Centers (17-20 minutes/each), Reflection (5 minutes).

Based on our unit reassessments, I group students into three math groups - green (struggling), yellow (on grade level), blue (above grade level). This is the system our 1st grade team uses for reading and math and it's fabulous! (Read more here) I always start meeting with my green group first to ensure that they are never skipped - regardless of surprise fire alarms, change in schedule, or assemblies. Additionally, I try to add 4-5 minutes of instructional time onto this group. (Grab a free editable version of this rotation board here)
When planning and organizing for small-group math, I use color-coded library bins - one for each of my math groups. Often the manipulatives travel from bin-to-bin, but the assessments and mini-lesson materials are group-dependent. I love having my materials at an arm's reach, and it's easy to restock them at the end of the day.
When students come to my teacher table, I don't want them worrying about bringing supplies. I did this when I first started small-group math, and it killed a TON of time. With such a short time for mini-lesson, I now keep all our materials (pencils, highlighters, expo markers) in a tri-container I found at Ikea. All students need to bring is their Blue Math folder.
I'll be honest, small-group math is definitely messy. My teacher table routinely looks like this - piles of unifix cubes, ten frames, and number lines strewn about...but that's okay! We accomplish so much in our 17-20 minutes together. I love teaching targeted skills to my small groups and feel like we are able to dig so much deeper.
So, the question- What are students doing when they're not with the teacher? While I am working with a group of students (6-8 students at a time), my other friends are working at the other parts of the Daily 3 - math by myself and math with a friend. I do substitute Math By Myself for DreamBox (a District Math program - technology based) as my friends are expected to log time on this program each day.

During math with a friend, I offer students 5 centers a week. Students choose which center to visit each day but they need to visit all five by the end of the week. One center is always math notebook, one center is always Versatiles or Solve the Room. I am only introducing 3 new centers each week (although we have practiced these activities in small groups at some point, so they're not completely new). Typically, 2 of the centers are spiral review and the 3rd center relates to our current learning.

I store our math centers in large Sterilite containers (I buy them in sets of 6) with all the materials students might need.
 To make guided math work, I know I have to maximize my teacher table time. So if students at centers are asking me questions or interrupting, my friends at teacher-table are losing out on their core math time. Therefore, it is essential that students know where to find resources in the classroom and they know how to use them. Our manipulatives are stored to the left of the math tubs for easy access. Students know they can grab whatever math tool they need to do their work.
Additionally, our number lines are hung in the front of the room from a Command Hook. This keeps the number lines organized and easily accessible to my small friends.
To help build independence, I also include visual directions on each of our math bins. These visual directions include an I Can statement, as well as, the center in action. This visual directions help students know how to set-up their materials, as well as, what materials they will need. (You can snag the 1st grade visual directions here and 2nd grade here.)
These Making Numbers and 120's Chart Puzzles will be 2 of our first 5 math centers for the year. we'll practice these activities with partners (whole group) before we start centers, and then, when we're ready to start rotating, students will practice with a partner.
Another component of independence during The Daily 5 and The Daily 3 is making sure that students are actively engaged in valuable work that is challenging to them. Differeniation is a key part to this independence. When they visit the individual centers/pick a tub, they know to grab their colored folder. Each bin contains the same activity, just a different set of numbers or a different pack of dice. (Green = approaching grade-level, yellow = on-grade level, blue = above-grade level)
I also use these dice that I snagged on Amazon for $20 and organize them in a bead container. My pound of dice came with over 80 dice each with a different number of sides and colors - from 3-sided dice to 20 sided-dice, I have just-right dice for all of my groups. 
Below you see my on-level group of friends working with fact families. They are using 2 yellow dice (a 6-sided dice and an 8-sided dice). My green group (approach grade level) did the same activity with the same recording page and the same Fact Family triangles, just using 2 6-sided dice, and my blue group (above grade level) used two 12-sided dice.

When planning math centers, I want to ensure that students are engaged and working with hands-on materials. Our grade-level plans together and we are fully committed to making sure our centers are not one-time-use print/cut/laminate activities. We work to create activities that allow for spiral review, use throughout the year, and provide fantastic practice. Below you see two friends working to Make 10 using cuiseniare rods.
Students will see the same center 2-3 times a year (depending on the skill and if it's needed). As a number-sense review, we often rebuild the 120s chart. I copy charts on color card stock and then, cut them into pieces. I color-coded the puzzles ROY-G-BIV with red being the most difficult and purple being the simplest (the more pieces/the more intricate the cut the more difficult). My kids are so 'gamey' that they love the idea of leveling up!
 We also love using our set of foam dominoes for sorts. They're perfect for adding and sorting types of strategies we might use to solve the addition sentences. For my above-grade level friends, they will often use double dominos and then, create word problems to accompany the sorts.
Solve-the-Room is one of our consistent centers each month. From subtraction to addition to greater than/less than, to missing addends, it is the perfect time to practice using a number line. Students grab a recording sheet, a clipboard, a number line, and a pencil. I love pulling from Crazy for 1st Grade and Thank God It's First for many of our solve-the-room cards.
So, tell me friends, how do you organize your math block? Do you use a Guided Math model with the meat of the mini-lesson happening in small groups or do you do more with whole group? What works in your classroom? With only 3 weeks until the school year starts, I'd love to hear your ideas! In the meantime, make sure to visit The Inspired Owl's Corner (who is hosting Chapter 8), as well as, the other awesome teacher-bloggers who are joining us. Even if you're not a blogger, please join-in on the conversation below! :)