Saturday, October 17, 2015

Sit Spots in First Grade

I'm so excited to tell you about the Sit Spots I've been using for the last two weeks!

 view from the door

When my students come to the meeting area for a mini lesson or to use the Smartboard, they sit on the floor.  I've already got a completely carpeted classroom, so when I was new in primary world, I had the kids just randomly plop down anywhere.  That lasted a few days.  Then I decided to assign them "carpet spots."  It was a way for me to keep the talkers separated and give the wigglers a close spot where I could put a hand on their shoulder.  In order to keep track of everyone's spot, I made myself a chart with velcro dots and pictures of the kiddos.

 my reference chart

They were pretty good about remembering who they sit next to or behind, but occasionally there would be small scuffle about placement.  I thought about getting one of those $300 carpets with the big squares.  I thought that would solve the problem, but I couldn't get passed the huge price or the fact that putting carpet on carpet would be weird... and it would shift/slide... and be hard to vacuum over... and someone might get sick on it.  So I never ordered one.

Then I see post after post about Sit Spots on all my favorite educator blogs.  At first I thought they were just rubbery-plasticky circles that sat on top of the carpet.  I thought they were like the ones our P.E. teacher uses on the gym floor.  Didn't seem like a good idea for my classroom.

Fast forward one year, and picture me finding out that Sit Spots are like VELCRO!  They actually "stick" to the fibers of my commercial carpeting!  Luckily, I was able to use funds from my school budget to purchase 24 spots.  I decided to go with half green and half blue.  We often "turn and talk" to our partner.  Having two colors makes it easy to determine who goes first.  

in our carpet spots

If you're looking for an easy way to organize your students in your meeting area, I recommend ordering the free sample from the SitSpots website.  Once you know it works on your carpet, go ahead and order them, you won't regret it!

Happy Teaching,

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Our Class Calendar

I know many first grade teachers who use number cards on their calendars.  Each day they move a marker to show what day it is.  Some even use yesterday and tomorrow markers.  Maybe it's because I came to first grade after teaching fifth grade for several years.  But just having the numbers up there didn't make sense to me.

I don't know anyone who uses a calendar like that in their everyday life.  We all write on our calendars, don't we?  We keep track of events and count down the days until birthdays and holidays, right?  So, why shouldn't first graders use a calendar the same way?

I use a laminated blank calendar.  It just has the days of the week at the top.  I fill in the numbers and the events we need to know about.  This includes holidays, birthdays, assemblies, field trips, picture day (big smiley on the 15th), and days off of school.  At the end of each month, I wash the whole thing down.  I use Expo markers.  I used to use Vis a Vis, but I never need them anymore (goodbye overhead projector, hello smartboard).  Dry erase works just as well. 

At the end of each day, I cross off that square on the calendar.  My students know that "today" is the first box not yet X'd off.  They are getting so good at looking to the top of the calendar to see what day is written there.  I also do a variation of the  Teacher Tipster's "elevator game" routine too.  

I also like to ask, 
"What day of the week was our field trip/assembly/etc?"
"How many days until __________?"
"How many days ago did we ____________?"
And then we count them as a group.

You can see other parts of our calendar routine on the board too, including weather, coins, base ten blocks, and today/tomorrow/yesterday.  We also have some elements on our whiteboard.  We move the ribbon on our thermometer after checking Weather Puppy on my ipad.  I upgraded to the Boo version.  We love that dog!

We also add a number to our empty 100 grid.  We are working toward 100 days of school, of course.  We add a tally for each day of the month.  And something new we started last year was using ten frames.  I printed out five small ten frames and glued them going down a strip of construction paper.  I have two stampers (dogs of course) that are different colors.  Each day I add a stamp.  On the top row of the ten frame I stamp the red one.  On the bottom I stamp the blue one.  Each day we use the current ten frame to do two math number sentences.  Red + Blue  and Dogs + Empty boxes.  That way we are working on our addition skills and making tens.

We always end our calendar routine by going over the schedule.  These are the free cards I use.  I love them.  My students rely on them and are always catching my goof-ups!  I put magnets on the back and use them on my whiteboard.  I love telling my students about all the great learning I have planned for the day.

Happy teaching!