Sunday, October 12, 2014

"Teacher {insert your name here}, How Do You Spell...??!!!"

Okay, I KNOW I am not the only one that hears this, right?!?!  I hear it each year in kindergarten and I also heard it in my First Grade class last year.  I caught myself saying, "Go sound it out..." or "Try your best...", but it didn't stop them asking and I knew that I was not being as effective as I could be as their teacher.  

In trying to come up with a solution, my memories flooded back to a WONDERFUL mentor teacher, Mrs. Bledsoe, I had "Back in the Day" when I was a student teacher in her second grade class.  She would have her 2nd grade students "try it" first and then she would either check it if they got it correct or spell it for them on the paper if they didn't. Then ... the BEST PART... is they kept it as a resource when that word came up again. 
Sooooooo, last year I created a little "How Do You Spell - Try It/Check It" sheet for my First Grade Smart Tarts to keep in their writing journals. I COULDN'T BELIEVE how much they a) used it & b) referred back to it!  Some of kiddos that used it the most frequently were my second language learners Smart Tarts & Smart Tarts with learning disablities.  When watching them use the Try It/Check It Sheet, it truly brought a tear to my eye b/c of how such a simple thing boosted their confidence & helped them become more successful writers.  Some of my kids had books of these front and back sheets that I kept stapling together... I mean BOOKS!  They would literally cheer when they got a checkmark b/c they had spelled the word correctly. 

The cool thing??  They would pull that reference out during science, social studies and even math if it included a writing piece.  You will, however, have to set up ground rules about how and when they use it that suits your classroom atmosphere. I allowed my Smart Tarts to slip the page to me even when in small group b/c it is really quick and I don't always have to respond verbally.... 

Here are some of my rules:
1. Be selective. You cannot put every word that you are writing in your paper on your list. 
2. Use the classroom first.  If there is a resource in the room already, you cannot add that word to your list. {sight words, color words, number words, etc...}
3. You really have to try to spell the word... i.e. not just "s" for Superman.
4. Stay honest. If you really know how to spell it, it can't go on your list.
5. Have good manners. No waving the paper in Mrs. Tomme's face! HA!!
6. Sorry, but this can't be use for spelling tests! :)

I am sure that there were other bits we discuss, but these are the main guidelines.
I really hope this builds your Smart Tarts confidence and keeps your sanity at the same time. ENJOY!

Get Your GOODIE here.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Math Activity for Fall, Y'all!

I don't know about you, but I love crossing the curriculum in the classroom.  My hubby picked up these bag of leaves at one of my favorite places.... DOLLAR TREE ... for our study of Fall & Leaves.
My li'l Smart Tarts created a tree trunk and branches on a background of blue construction paper. They then made a knothole & chose a number from 4-10 to write in the knothole.  They matched the correct number of leaves to the number that they selected.  Guess what number most of them wanted to pick... 10!  They all wanted A LOT of leaves. HA!
These are so cute that they made me almost FALL over... Hee Hee!
I think they turned out pretty cute and my little Smarties didn't even realize how much they were learning! :)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

This Year's Shape Scarecrows

I had to post some of the shape scarecrows that my little Smart Tarts created this week b/c they turned out SUPER cute. I just love them! The kiddos were asked to identify each shape before building their scarecrows.  We then wrote a story about our scarecrows in our writing journals {I'll share those another time.} I LOVE crossing the curriculum... it does wonders for learning and retention of taught material. This activity crossed the following subjects & skills: math, art, science, fine motor, spatial relationships, following MULTI steps and FUN!

Is this something that you would do in your class?
Now, BOO! Go build those scarecrows!

UPDATE: Thanks to a comment below from pwenger, I added this example that has the typical dimensions that I use. This year's were a little bigger. 4 1/2" is what you get when you fold a piece of construction paper in half. Then the arms are 2 1/4, which is half of that. :) Hope that helps!