Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Balloon Rockets

Today we made balloon rockets. We blew up balloons and taped them to straws. Then we ran a ribbon thought the straws and stretched the ribbon across the room. When we let the air out of the balloons, they zoomed forward along the ribbon. It was fun to make predictions and record what happened. We used Scientific Method Graphic Organizers from our tpt store to write and draw what we saw.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Fish prints

We made fish prints in our class as part of our trout unit. The students painted old trout from a trout farm and pressed them onto white t shirts. Apparently it's an ancient Japanese art form. They turned put very cool!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Kangaroos in first grade?

We had a local animal rescue center called Zoo to You come to visit our school this week. They brought a monkey, owl, porcupine, kangaroo, and alligator to show us. It was so cool to see them in person! The kangaroo was 9 months old, but he still liked to stay in his pouch( a bag that his handler carried him out in). We learned how important it is to respect animals and nature.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


Our class has been raising trout in our classroom for the past few weeks. We raised them from eggs and have watched them go from Alvin to fry. In about a month we will release them at a local lake. It has been so fun to learn about life cycles firsthand from this experience!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Teaching with anchor charts and posters

I love using different posters and anchor charts in my classroom! Art has always been fun for me, and I enjoy opportunities to be creative in the classroom. I started using them when I taught at a Spanish immersion school. The illustrations and organization of the posters makes it easier for students to grasp concepts.  Anchor charts are not just helpful for English learners, however.  So much of what we learn is visual, and anchor charts provide valuable scaffolding in the classroom.

Seasons input grid

Anchor charts don't have to be fancy.  K-W-L charts, venn diagrams, thinking maps, and Frayer diagrams are basic looking charts that work really well.

I have to admit that I can be pretty spontaneous with when I make my posters. Sometimes I will prep a chart in pencil ahead of time, then I go over it in pen while I'm teaching the lesson to my students. Other times I will make them on the fly when I have a teachable moment.

Recently a lot of students in my first grade class were struggling with the difference between seasons and weather.  I kept hearing them say things like "my favorite weather is summer," or "snowy is my favorite season." It was cute the first time, but when it persisted I knew that I needed to try something else.  I used an input grid chart to show the difference between seasons and weather, and since then my kiddos have been doing much better.  

A writing ideas anchor chart

One tip that I have is to let students help you with the anchor charts. This creates buy - in and they are proud to see their work on display. However, make sure that the information is accurate. If they say something that is incorrect, you can lightly say "That is a great idea, but I am going to write something a little different on the chart."

Another tip is to draw the chart in front of students while you teach.  Some charts take a long time, so it is better to break them up into multiple days of teaching.  Your students will get restless if you have your back to them for too long.

Happy charting!