One Year in 1st Grade

Monday, February 20, 2012

Reminders of Kindness

This time of year we can get overly comfortable with each other. Our comfort can be taken for granted when friends do not cooperate or say unkind words. I found these reminder posters from a blog titled Technology Rocks Seriously. Sometimes we need to remember to work hard at the friendships we have made. I also like the last one of how to say good-bye. Every child should leave every day with a good feeling about school. You can download the files for free.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Wax Paper Hearts

I have a couple of students who love the hand held pencil sharpeners. This is a great project from Martha Stewart Living.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Assessment on a Paper Budget

Our school is on a photocopier and paper budget. Being on a paper budget with 1st grade is tough. Students usually need a frame or a model to produce work on. In my class it also serves a duel purpose for both me to assess and the parents to see what we are working on. Being on a paper budget makes it tough for assessment, since I cannot get around to each student during a work time in order to assess the needs of my class. Also parents think we are not doing anything when no papers come home. Here's how to plan for this big change.
Last year I started using class checklists more for assessment. Each day I would assign my learning targets across the top of 1 page of paper for the day. Down the side on each row would be the students names. During work times, I would look for the behaviors to be demonstrated in other ways than what could be written or drawn on sheet of paper. For example, oral statements, individual questioning and group observations. I would give a plus, check or minus if I found the behavior.

Monday, January 23, 2012


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Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Office for Journal Writing

1st Graders love the office. During journal writing time, students place the binder standing up to create a private mini office. The first week of school students can demonstrate some independence with the office. I use a variety of workshop approaches mostly adapted from Lucy Calkins playing close attention to individual literacy development outlined by Richard Gentry. When students become more proficient in writing I use a Step Up to Writing framework to help them organize their writing ideas. At the end of journal time I have students remove journals and stack them open on the current page so I can work with individuals or chunk some skills into small groups later. Below is an easy list to help your students develop some writing independence early on. I laminate and reuse pages 2-8 so students can have a color copies each year. Thanks to Beth Allen for this great idea!
Supplies Needed
1. 3-Ring Binder
2. Read Well 1st Grade Picture/Sound card laminated
3. Writing Topics Favorite Places card laminated
4. Common Misspelled Words card laminated
5. Fry Word List 1-100 laminated
6. Fry Word List 101-200 laminated
7. How to Print Letters Zaner-Bloser, Modern Manuscript or D'Nealean Handwriting sample page laminated
8. Blank page for words special to student laminated
9. Blank Journal
10. Mini Spelling Dictionary for later in year

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Laurel Burch Cat Project

This art is inspired from the work of Laurel Burch and created by 1st graders in Patty Palmer's art classroom in Goleta, California. She has many ideas and lessons she highlights for all ages on her website Click the link for Laurel Burch Cat Project.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bridges Number Corner Math Journal Templates

"The Weekly 5". In the past, I have found students need repeated practice in these skills. I use these templates for each day of the week to help students focus their thinking while building the skill of becoming responsible for their learning. I also use students responses to to measure growth over time using a variety of ways to show their work.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chinese New Year Dragon Mask

Chinese New Year begins January 23, 2012.
My students love making a mask for Chinese New Year out of a pre-made template run on construction paper (see blackline below). Glue a popsicle stick for the handle and decorate them with crepe paper streamers and bright colored markers. There is also a wealth of resources on and

Monday, January 16, 2012

Place Value Number Sense Freebie

Both of these games are a ton of fun for 1st grade Number Sense. You can simply draw a table on a blank sheet of paper to save copying.