Hello and happy Tuesday from Stacy at Mrs. Johnson’s First Grade. I say “happy” Tuesday because the 1st quarter has finally come to an end for me and my students! And can I say what a CHALLENGING one it was. I am sure there are plenty of you who agree! My little Firsties are sooo adorable but can also be such little testers of my patience!!
When I first started teaching, I taught 4th and 2nd grade. I am in my 4th year of teaching first grade and absolutely LOVE, LOVE it!! But I have to say that this new bunch I have are probably, by far, my most challenging…knock on wood because it will probably happen again next year...ha ha!
Has the Daily 5 got you down?? It got me down about 2 weeks ago when NOTHING was keeping their attention longer than 10 minutes in any of the centers…so I decided to make a few changes and I am loving the classroom life now!!!!!!
The first thing I changed was read to self and read to buddy. Rather than just sending them off with a book box full of books and expecting them to keep their attention on reading the words the whole time, I added a little twist. We have been learning about Main Ideas, Characters, Setting, Cause and Effect, and making Predictions. So I added a chart with one of those headers and some sticky notes. When they read a book, they have to fill out a sticky note with notes about their story. They LOVE IT!! I have students asking if they can read to self and read to buddy as a first choice in centers!
The second center that the students were the most “off task” was writing. It was because they would finish quickly and not know what else to do and would play around or it was too hard for my struggling students. Well, I got myself a small white board and have 3 activities now that I know will keep their attention through at least 2 writing centers. I also differentiated the activities so my struggling writers could do it. I labeled items with numbers to indicate which ones are for the struggling students and which ones are for the on level students. That way it doesn’t label them as strugglers or being better than anyone else. If they don’t finish, they have a folder with unfinished work that they will need to complete first the next time they go to the writing center.
I did the same thing in word work. I got myself a 3 drawer bin with activities in each drawer. They like the variety and the fact that it is not the same thing every time.
For my listening center, I use two players so when they finish one book, they can listen to another. Sometimes I add a writing activity so they can answer questions about what they just listened to so I know they were paying attention.
It does take time coming up with some good activities and games for the centers, but it is worth it to be able to have a calm class for reading groups and readers workshop.
I hope this helps you with any ideas of how to make a few changes for the better! It has done wonders for me!