Sunday, September 23, 2012


So I've never liked how my TE expects me to introduce reading comprehension strategies at the beginning of the year. They're like... "Hey, you could jut quickly teach one strategy a day for a week and be great! Your kids are definitely going to learn each strategy after reading one story!..." This year, I decidedto do things my way (thank you private school for allowing me the freedom to pretty much do whatever I want)!! Here's to hoping I made the right decision!

Last week we only focused on summarizing (we'll add synthesizing later... one step at a time). After attending a short, but helpful seminar on reading comprehension, I put together a new summarizing anchor chart.

With each step, the kids and I say what we're doing while simultaneously performing a small hand gesture. For "stop," we hold our hand up. We point to our big brains while saying "think about the story," and we cup our hands around our mouth for "say it on your own words." Let me tell you, it's a lot easier to see who is particpiating and who isn't when there's movement involved!

The first story we tried out this strategy on was There is a Bird on Your Head! by Mo Willems. This is one of my absolute favorite stories to read alound!! I really get into the different character voices and the kids are shocked when I actually yell!! Since it was a short story we didn't need to stop and summarize throughout. We read the whole thing (twice because it's so much fun) and then summarized. I have mentioned that for longer  stories we will stop after reading a few pages. Anyways, after reading, together we recited the steps for summarizing. Then we did it! We used our own words to retell what had happened. Since this was our first go around, I went with a simple picture answer. Again, this story is perfect because the illustrations are simple enough that the kids feel comfortable attempting to recreate them. Plus it helps that I do my own rendering on the board :) Exibit A...

The next day we remembered the steps to summarizing and read another story. Again, it was short enough for us to read without stopping to summarize. This time I had the students write sentences. They were able to tell about what happened using their own words. I know it doesn't show below, but trust me... wer're going to need A LOT of work on retelling ONLY the important parts. I present you with Exibit B...

Wouldn't you know it, I forgot to take a picture of this :/

On Friday, we read Bear's Loose Tooth. This time, we worked as a class to write one fluid summary instead of a couple of sentences that answered questions. Exibit C...

If only I can get them to draw with more effort. I've NEVER had this problem!! Usually first graders love to draw!! But this class, they really like drawing in only one color and leaving out most details. Yikes! Any suggestions? 

On a completely unrelated note... I just finished my Common Core Collection for first grade! Wow!! This is by far the most time consuming project I have taken on! I was excited when I began, extremely fatigued and doubting myself in the middle, and now relieved and proud that it's finished!!

This journal is 88 pages long and the perfect way to showcase your students' skills! I plan on working in this journal all year long, addressing one standard at a time after it's been taught. Our school has a book binding machine so I'll be laminating the covers and assembling them tomorrow. I'm soooooo excited to actually see the hard copy! And as a treat for my beloved followers (and for those of you who somehow happened to make it to the bottom) I'm giving away 5 free copies! If you would like one, please leave me a comment (including email address) letting me know how you teach one  (any) reading comprehension strategy. I'm always looking for new ideas to incorporate into my lessons! So, whatcha got?!

Best wishes,

Friday, September 7, 2012


I'm having a sale in celebration of the 10th anniversary of my 21st birthday!! Everything in my TpT store will be 20% off all weekend! So head on over and stock up!

Best wishes,

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Have you filled a bucket...

One of the perks of working at a small private school is getting to know all of the students, not just your own. I can name everyone on the playground which comes in handy when someone climbing dangerously high on the jungle gym or trying to flood the sandbox... again. I know most students pretty well before they ever step foot through my door. With that being said, I knew exactly what I was getting myself into when I began school this year. And I knew that this class was definitely going to need a lot of positive reinforcement right off the bat. I decided to finally try this bucket thing I've been hearing soooooo much about. In years past, I've always had a "Something to Smile  About" board. I would put pictures of the kids up, they would draw and color their bodies and then anyone could attach a note to it at any time. Let me tell you, the kids absolutely light up when they see something clipped to their doll!! What I like about this bucket idea is that there is a cute story to go with it. So, here's how I've implemented bucket filling in my class so far...

First, I played a YouTube video of someone reading the story. My students always pay more attention when my projector is on, so I figured I would take advantage of it!

Then we recalled details from the story about how to be a bucket filler and a bucket dipper. We wrote our thoughts down on post-its and stuck them on the door. That night, I typed up their thoughts, cleaned up a few spelling and grammar errors, and laminated them. They now permanently hang as reminders of what to do and what not to do.

We also colored our own buckets. This is where we put our "bucket notes."I hot glued them to the paper on my closet door. At the top of the bucket I attached a paper clip (also with hot glue) so the notes can slide on and off easily.

The next day we watched the story again talked about how we feel when our buckets are full. After deciding it makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside, we brainstormed a list of ways to fill others buckets. Then we wrote...

I love how she tried to make the bucket look like the one in the story!

Some kids couldn't quite understand that the bucket was imaginary!


Ah, yes... a video game reference. What day would be complete without one??

And my favorite! I wonder if she knows my birthday is this weekend?!

I can't remember where I got the worksheets from. I actually printed them last year, but never used them. I'm sure if you do a google search you can find something comparable out there. If it's ours, or you recognize it, let me know and I'll leave a link!!

So far, the kids are LOVING this bucket filling! They take their bucket notes out to recess to show them off to their friends. I've even caught a few girls writing bucket notes in class!! Let's just hope they keep it up. Plus, I'll be letting the parents know about our"bucket notes" during back to school night next week.

If you would like to see another awesome post about bucket filling from another awesome teacher, visit The First Grade Parade. She's always a great resource!

Well, I'm off to get an early start on my birthday celebration! Be on the look out for an upcoming TpT sale and some great tips for teaching summarizing! Have a great Hump Day (what's let of it)!

Best wishes,