Weekend News!

One of the ways I like to get my students writing is to have them write about something they have done.  My favorite way to do that is Weekend News.  Every week on Monday we spend time writing about what we did over the weekend.  It can be anything that they did - played with a friend, visited Grandma and Grandpa, ordered pizza for dinner - it doesn't have to be super exciting, they just have to tell me what happened.
During the first few weeks of school I let them write pretty freely-not focusing on mechanics or length.  In about the middle of October though, we start using some sentences starters to set up our writing for the day.  They don't have to use the ones we come up with, but they do need to start their writing with something similar.  At this point in the year they are also some mechanics and should be writing at least three full sentences.
This writing from the same student.  You can see the growth they have had in just a few weeks!
Sometimes they really get going on the writing and don't get time to work on their-which is totally fine.  It's writing time, isn't it!
This is a great way to see their writing grow and change throughout the year.  It's fun to pull these out at conferences and look at the growth they have made.  By the end of the year they are often writing more than one page and their sentences have gotten much more interesting and complex.  
(Can you tell these two hung out over the weekend :-) )

Another part of this is the sharing part.  They absolutely LOVE this part.  We sit in a circle and each person gets to read their Weekend News.  I give them the option to pass, but it rarely happens.

Click here to get a copy of our Weekend News!
The pictures show my old copies, but since I have no idea where I got that newspaper graphic I decided to make a new cover :-)

Happenings this week . . .

We are gearing up for Halloween and FINALLY got our door decorated.  October kind of snuck up on me and so we were a little late getting these bats up!  
This 'batty' idea came from A Cupcake for the Teacher.
This activity gave us another chance to practice writing acrostic poems, which we have done a few times lately.  They are getting really good at pointing out these types of poems when they seem them and are proud that they remember the funny name.

We also FINALLY finished our apple books which took awhile but it's OK, because they are super cool and the kids took a lot of pride in finishing them.  

They are filled with tons of fun facts and all sorts of great apple information.  We got these interactive books from Regan Tunstall.  
There is also a pumpkin version which the kids are really looking forward to now that we're done with the apple one ;-)

Scaredy-Cat, Splat!

This week we read the book Scaredy-Cat Splat!  The kids love Splat and it was a great way for us to get in the Halloween mood.  
After we read the story we talked about what happened in the Beginning-Middle-End and then also discussed what the problem was and how it was resolved at the end.  Then we put it all into this fun little Splat booklet.
They also drew pictures of Splat's costumes throughout the story.  I have some really great artists!
They really liked getting to design their own Jack-O'-Lantern faces on the pumpkin.  They turned out so cute!
Our hallway is looking very spooky now :-)

 Click here to get this activity from my TPT store:

Class Pet!?!?

WOW did we have an exciting thing happen today!  This afternoon we're going about our business, working on our apple books (another post about them soon) when someone from the office brought a package to our class . . . 

Immediately one of the students read that the box said "LIVE ANIMAL" and chaos ensued.  I actually almost dropped and caught the box (honestly totally by accident) but the kids thought the box had moved suddenly and went crazy!  One of my little cuties was even a little nervous of the unknown, live animal in the box.
(I love this picture! They were trying to see in to the little air holes...)
One of the students suggested we get in a circle (so everyone could see) to open it.  Before we opened it I asked them what they thought it might be.  They were stuck on birds so we had ideas like a parrot, a canary, even a vampire bat (hey, it's October).  Then a boy thought it could be a snake and everyone screamed!  Finally I cut the box open and let one of my students finish the process!
After we read the enclosed note we voted on a name - the winner was County Line Monkey.  We are going to call him CL for short.
Per the instructions he did have to go home with someone today and I can't wait to hear all about his first trip home with somebody.  When they come back next week we'll let him read about their adventures together!

I cannot take credit for this idea - I got it from Regan Tunstall who is basically the master of first grade!  I'm really excited to use it this year :-)

Daily 5 is up and running...

As of yesterday we officially have our Daily 5 routine up and running (and I might add...somewhat smoothly).  It really does take an entire month to get all of the routines down and practice them separately before I let them go totally on their own.  I am SO glad when we get to this point because it means they are already becoming more independent (yay, yay)!
The way I run Daily 5 in my classroom involves colored necklaces!  There are five colors and each color group has a different order for the Daily 5 activities.  I hand these out at random each day so they are not grouped by reading level or in any specific way.  I do keep track of the color they have each day so they get a different color every day of the week.  This keeps the groups mixed and interesting!!  
(I got the cute little Daily 5 Frogs from Jennifer Tice)
They absolutely love using the iPads-although it will still take us some time before they can problem solve all the fun issues technology brings :-)  This is when I have parent volunteers in my room because they are a HUGE help in dealing with these types of things while I'm reading with a group.  
We usually don't get through all 5 Dailies every day - honestly, its probably about three maybe four if we're lucky.  The necklaces are nice for keeping them on track without me having to switch names or groups on a big wall chart.  I am all about simplifying things :-)
When I take them for guided reading they just skip whatever their necklace says for that round.  I know it's kind of a bummer for them to miss one round, but it's not that big of a deal and it allows me to mix up the groups instead of having them move together with their guided reading group.