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Archive for the ‘1st grade’ Category

First Grade Smarticles in New York

Image by Sebastian Niedlich (Grabthar) via Flickr

Have you ever heard a term or a phrase and fallen in love with it instantly?  Well that happened to me today.  I read a story about The Greedy Python to a group of students.  Afterward I asked the students if they thought the story was fiction or non-fiction and they instantly replied fiction.  I was so amazed that such a young group of students knew the answer so quickly.  The teacher responded that her class is working on their smarticles.

The word reminded me of barnicles from Spongebob.  I love the word so much and the way that she used it, that I am going to use it.  I have a group of students that I tutor in reading everyday that are working on their smarticles and they certainly are smart.

Today I had the wonderful pleasure to read to Mrs. Magyar’s 1st grade computer class in New york.  I was so jealous to hear that many of the students have had the wonderful opportunity to see the Thanksgiving Parade live instead of just on t.v.  What an awesome opportunity for them.

These students have been learning about Eric Carle and have read some of his amazing books like Pancake, Pancake, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Very Clumsy Cricket, and Papa, Please Get me the Moon. I explained to the children that Eric Carle is both an author and an illustrator.  In the book that I shared with them, The Greedy Python, Carle is the illustrator.  The Greedy Python is sooo greedy that he eats many animals including an elephant.  Click on the video below to see what he ends up eating.  The surprise ending is hilarious.

Fun with Technology and Snow

the children's blizzard

Image by mhartford via Flickr

What an interesting day we had via skype!  The technology did not quite work the way I thought that it would, but wow, I sure learned a lot and some great teachers made connections today.  We tried to get 9 classrooms from around the United States and Canada to Skype all at once.  What amazing educators there are out there to dive into this fantastic endeavor.

I would like to personally thank all of the classrooms that were part of this historical call.

  • Ms. Shield’s 3rd grade class in Alpharetta, GA
  • Mr. Greenberg’s 2nd grade class in Bridgeport, CT
  • Ms. Elder’s 1st and 2nd grade class in Coronach, Saskatchewan, Canada
  • Ms. Kidd’s Kindergarten class in Kernersville, NC
  • Ms. Bond’s Kindergarten class in Walled Lake, MI
  • Ms. Anderson’s 1st grade class in Missoula, MT
  • Ms. Griffith’s 3rd grade class in Linden, AL
  • Ms. Sheffield’s 2nd grade class in Linden, AL
  • Ms. Good’s 3rd grade class in Tescott, KS
  • Ms. Well’s 4th grade class Meriden, KS

There were other amazing classrooms that wanted to be a part of this call as well, but unfortunately there is a limit with Skype.

Have you ever had the experience that when something didn’t work you ended up learning a lot?  Well, that is definitely something that happened today for me.  I learned that when you are skyping with multiple classrooms you definitely want to make sure that you have one person designated as the speaker.  All other classrooms have to be muted, otherwise, you hear a lot of kid voices and it is hard for people to listen/present.

We also learned that you must have Skype 5.0 installed in order for other classrooms to see you.  If you do not have 5.0 installed you can still be a part of the call, just people will not be able to see you.  Another thing that I learned is that if you are not able to communicate with words, you can still communicate with the typing feature to at least let everyone know what is going on.  However, the way to get to the Instant Message feature is different for Mac users and PC users.  PC users have a speech bubble and Mac users have an arrow with a box.

To sum up what I have learned today about group calls;

  1. Everyone must have 5.0 installed
  2. All users must mute their mic to listen
  3. All users must unmute their mic to talk
  4. Mac Skype and PC Skype looks different
  5. If there are problems use IM to communicate

A sincere thank you goes out to all of those classrooms that were brave today and trying out this feature.  It was definitely a wonderful learning experience for me and many others.

There were a couple of classrooms, that really wanted to skype today and after 25 minutes of it not working they still wanted to get together with another class and make it happen.  I ended up getting the opportunity to Skype with Ms. Giffith’s 3rd grade class and Ms. Bond’s Kindergarten class simultaneously.  Ms. Griffith’s class is in Linden Alabama and they hardly get any snow.  It is a rare occasion for them and when they get snow they can definitely appreciate it’s beauty.  Ms. Bond’s class is on the other side of Lake Michigan from me in Walled Lake, MI.  They ended up getting hit with 9″ of snow from the blizzard that just got Wisconsin earlier this week.  So , they were well in tune with the wonder of snow.

Next week, we are going to try this group skyping thing again, but with just five classrooms instead of nine.  We definitely knows that it works with three classrooms and we are slowly going to build up to a large group as time goes on.  Until then, stay warm and have fun!

Take a look at a brief clip of our large group Skype.

Fairytales All Tangled Up in Canada

Cover of "The Three Little Wolves and the...

Cover via Amazon

I just spent about 20 minutes with a very enthusiastic class.  They were so much fun.  This group of students is from Coronach, Saskatchewan,Canada.  One of the things that they are grateful for are their houses and food.  I told them that I am also grateful that we have houses and food here.

I learned that Coronach, Saskatchewan,Canada is right above Montana and that they are right over the border.  The closest city to them is in the United States.  Wow, that must be so cool.  I wonder if they think that is as cool as I do.  When I mentioned that this class is 1,072 miles away and that it would take me 18 hours and 57 minutes to get there they were completely amazed.  I am still amazed that I can talk to people so far away all from the comfort of my home.  I love technology and what it is capable of doing. (In the near future I am going to be working with some students in Germany).

Today the story that I read was The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig. Ms. Elder’s class has been finishing up a unit on Fairytales.  The students shared with me that they got the opportunity to go to the movies and see Tangled.  I explained that The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig were just like Tangled because they are versions of a fairytale, but not the exact original of the fairytale.

When we got to the part where the pig brought out the dynamite, I was scared to go to the next page.  The class was very eager to see this house explode and you will have to read it yourself to find out if indeed the explodes or not.  Take a look at the video of our wonderful adventure together and see the enthusiasm emanate from this group of students.

All I Want for Christmas are my Two Front Teeth and Non-fiction Books

Cover of "Going to the Dentist (First Exp...

Cover via Amazon

If you can tell me what is cuter than a student who is missing their two front teeth singing, “All I want for Christmas are my two front teeth,” then you win a prize.  I was reading a non-fiction book about going to the dentist with Christa Anderson’s 1st grade class in Montana and they surprised me with a fantastic song.  The song that this teacher chose was absolutely fitting since we had just talked about the dentist.

When most people think about reading books to kids, the first thing that comes to mind are our favorite fiction books.  That is fantastic.  Kids need to hear really good stories, but did you know that most boys typically enjoy non-fiction books.  If all of the books that we introduce students to are fiction, then we are doing our students a grave disservice.

Christa Anderson absolutely knows the importance of introducing her 1st graders to non-fiction text.  In fact, she even teaches them the different elements of non-fiction text.  See, we don’t actually read non-fiction text the same way as we read fiction text.  There are many features in non-fiction text which are never seen in fiction books.  The following features of non-fiction text make great mini lessons

  • Table of Contents
  • Headings
  • Bold Print
  • Captions
  • Tables
  • Graphs
  • Real Pictures
  • Labels
  • italics
  • Bullets
  • Zoom in pictures
  • Glossary
  • Index
  • Lists
  • Appendix
  • Sidebars
  • Preface
  • Subheadings
  • Diagram
  • Cross-section
  • Time line
  • Color Fonts

Students need to be taught about these features, since most homes in the early years are comprised of fiction text.  I often see that when struggling readers are reading, they will completely skip nonfiction features like bold headings and captions and go right to where the paragraphs are to read.  This deeply impacts their comprehension because these are details that add so much to the understanding of what we are reading.

Christa Anderson was a great teacher to work with because she totally valued the importance of non-fiction text.  In the book that I was sharing there was a list in a chart form and she wanted to make sure that her students saw the list and recognized it as a feature of non-fiction text rather than glancing over it.

I love having the opportunity to work with such amazing teachers and see the wonderful things that are going on in their classrooms.  Take a look at part of our experience together.

The Most Amazing 1st Grade Class on the Planet

Doesn’t “the most amazing 1st grade class on the planet” sound like something that a mother would

Skyping with my daughter

say?  Well, my bias may be getting in the way, but I skyped into the smartest group of children today in Merton, WI.  The class consists of 40 children and 2 wonderful teachers named Mrs. Venskus and Mrs. Dallman-Repp.  It is a total of 1.2 miles away from my house and my 6 year old daughter happens to be in this class.

Web 2.0 is awesome!  In fact, as I was connecting with other educators on Twitter I happened to meet the tech coordinator for my daughters class completely by accident.  As we started chatting we realized that my daughters are in her class.  It is definitely a small world.

She helped me set up a mystery reader of the day with my daughters first grade class.  We planted Becca in the front row so that we could see the expression on her face when she realized that her mom was going to be on the screen.  See, Becca gets to watch me work with other classrooms on occasion and she hasn’t had the opportunity to experience this for herself until today.

Her face was all aglow when she saw me and when I told the class that I was going to be reading The Gingerbread Man, their faces were all aglow as well.  The students caught onto this wonderful pattern in Jim Aylesworth’s version rather quickly and took over the repetitive patterns like a well worn glove.  The children enjoyed the story and I had a fabulous time surprising the class.


I Wrote a Book for You

Back in 1989 my dad was the first place winner of the Gigantic Pumpkin Contest known as the Topsfield Fair. My dad was quite famous in our little town for his amazing pumpkins. He donated them to schools and proudly displayed them in our yard.

I was talking to a teacher in Chippewa Falls, WI through e-mail and she invited me back to her class to read books about pumpkins to her 1st graders. She thought it would be a great idea for me to read a fiction and a non-fiction book about pumpkins. The idea for a non-fiction book about my dad’s pumpkins was brewing in my brain so much last night, that I decided to write a book about the Giant pumpkin experience and share it with these students. They absolutely loved it! I think that they were more impressed by the non-fiction book than they were by the fiction book. My Dad Grows Giant Pumpkins

Check out these wonderful student’s faces.

A Wonderful Reader’s Theater Performance

Canada was in the house today with the Skyping Reading Tutor and they did something I have not experienced yet that was super cool.  The students in this wonderful class performed for me.  They did their own version of Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do you See?

I had run across this wonderful teachers website and saw her students perform and asked if we could connect.  So, I got to read Zoo Looking for them and they got to perform for me.  I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to volunteer in classrooms all over the world.  Without further ado, I am going to let you experience this wonderful Reader’s Theater from Canada.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? from Mary Ellen Lynch on Vimeo.

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