Sunday, February 1, 2015

Composing a Ten

I have recently heard from many parents, homeschoolers and teachers about teaching firsties to compose a ten.  Do you want to know the secret?  It's really quite simple: remember that first graders must follow the concrete-pictorial-abstract progression! ANNNDDD remember that they may not get to the abstract-only stage in first grade! :)

1- Build numbers with base ten blocks                               
1- Draw the pictures of the base ten blocks
2- Build two numbers, count to find the total                     
2- Draw two different numbers (try two
    colors- it helps!!) Count to find the total
3- Build two numbers (that compose a ten);                     
    count to find the total
 3- Circle groups of ten-- label it, count it :)

 If your kiddos are struggling, figure out where they are going wrong on this continuum-- go back to that and give them some more practice.

A few tips:
#1-Have them use a different color for each number and a third color for circling-- especially great for visual learners! :) 
#2- Have them draw the "ones" in the center-- this takes direct instruction-- and it's easiest if you have them get in this habit before they start *needing* it to be this way. 
#3- Encourage them to keep their ones organized-- five in a row works best. :)
#4- When counting the picture, START with the newly composed ten. It is so easy for them to skip it after all of that hard work :)

It is complex.  It is multi-step problem solving. But, it is POSSIBLE! Yes, your first grader can learn to do this independently.  Just take it slow-- follow good teaching practices-- and encourage them to try it on their own! (Even if you aren't sure they are ready-- let them see what they can do!)

What tricks do you use for teaching your students to compose a ten?

Happy Sunday!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Gingerbread Community Helpers

This year I wanted my social studies unit to tie into the holiday season.  So I had my students take home a foam gingerbread person cut out (from the dollar store-- I bought a pack of 8 on clearance after Christmas last year for $0.50!).  They were to dress the person to represent the job they hope to have when they are grown up.

Oh my heck. They turned out so fun!

We then worked on the writing part-- we wrote a topic sentence, 3 details and a closure about the job they chose. 
We met up with our fifth grade buddies and they helped us type them.  The first grade kids thought it was magic and it was good practice for the fifth graders. 

I made one copy of their writing on cardstock and hot glued their person to it.  That copy was hung in the hall (and stopped traffic for WEEKS!)
I photographed each person and glued it to the copy we printed in the computer lab.  Those were put into a class book (the kids LOVE being able to have an up-close look at the details!)

We will do another project like this in the spring because it turned out so well!

Police Officer


Police Officer

Balloon maker


Police Officer

Police Officer

Fire Fighter

Police Officer

Basketball Player




Dog Trainer


"Doctor Scientist"

Police Officer

Mail Carrier

Golf Pro

Sonic Worker

Flower-Shop Woker

Fire Fighter



Police Officer

Police Officer


(A few still missing, but you get the idea!)
Have a terrific week!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Writing Rubrics

Slacking again...

Okay, slacking isn't exactly what I would call it.  I am almost to the 50% mark on my M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction-- and I just started 6 months ago.  I have been working like crazy-- and there are only so many hours in a day... Unfortunately that means my little blog has been left to fend for itself.

But I am here now! Taking a study break, I am ready to share about writing rubrics.  Believe it or not, I have three different drafts of this post.  I am not sure what the hold up is, but here we are.

We love writing at my school... especially in first grade.  We have worked very hard to make sure our students meet or exceed the expectations of the core standards in order to prepare them for their future writing needs.

A few things about writing--
If you can say it, you can write it!
Start by having your students TALK about what they are writing, before they are expected to WRITE it.

If students know the expectations, they will rise to them
We have our rubric posted on the wall, it is also printed on their writing paper.  The students have been introduced to it, we discuss it before we begin a writing project that will be assessed with it, and we use the same rubric for self-assessing as well as when the teacher is assessing.

We have a handwriting rubric and a general writing rubric.  We also have rubrics for specific writing projects, but sometimes default to the general rubric since it is the best way to track progress.

Want to print one?  Leave a comment below! Then click here.

Want to print one? Leave a comment below and click here.


Want to print one?  Leave a comment below and click here!

What rubrics do you use? How do you introduce them to your students?

Have a happy Thanksgiving-eve-eve!


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Calendar Routine: September

Hello, Friends!
With the first week of school done, I am so excited to get September underway!!
This is what my calendar looks like as we get ready to start September! (It is all ready for the sixth day of school!)
If you want to know more about how I keep my students SUPER engaged during this important time of day, check out my routine for August.  The biggest change is that they are taking more responsibility every day.  Also, note that I have place value cards on my Number of the Day Chart.  It has really helped them build their understanding over time :)
(I am all about engagement! Choral responses, actions- you name it, I use it during Calendar!!)  
Enjoy your Labor Day!!