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Sunday, July 26, 2015

First Grade: Unit 3 - Where I Am

Here it is!  Finally!  It seems like I started working on it such a long time ago, but it’s finally done and I’m very happy with the way it turned out.  After I completed my second grade social studies units last year, I decided to take on the task of tackling first grade social studies.  It has taken some time (oh hello, grad school), but I’m getting there!  Now that Unit 3 is complete, you know that means Unit 4 is just around the corner – always looking for the steps ahead.  Enough with the chit chat…
Like previous units, this unit includes all of the vocabulary cards that are used within the unit.  The vocabulary for this unit includes aerial view, map, globe, land mass, bodies of water, location, address, direction, direction words, relative location, region place, natural characteristics, human characteristics, human & environmental interaction, adapt, and seasons.  There are 12 different activities in this unit and even a few poster printables that I know all of us teacher’s love.  There are also page size directional arrows that can be printed out (left, right, up, and down).  I may teach 2nd grade, but I printed them out to go with my NSEW arrows.
First and foremost, I wanted to give you guys a little preview of some of the activities in the unit. If you'd like to see any of the rest, feel free to check out the preview in my store.  The first activity is really fun (I think)!  It shows students the difference between an aerial view and an eye level view.  What a great way to introduce the concept of maps by including some serious vocabulary words!  I decided to do a glass of water in my example - it was on my desk at the time!
I am such a huge fan of flap books.  I love them.  My students love them.  Plus, anything to assist in those fine motor skills is a major help in my classroom!  One of the best parts of this unit happens to be the discussion about positive and negative consequences to our environment when human interaction takes place.  I am always so surprised how thoughtful kids are when it comes to the environment when we just take the time to ask them and talk about it.

It's funny how kids know the right thing to do with our environment sometimes, but adults can't seem to figure it out beyond the dollars and cents.  The bonus with flap books - you aren't limited to only the answers I provide!  You don't even have to use them at all!  If your students come up with great ideas, use them, add them to what I have, make an anchor chart and get the discussion moving!  Those discussions become really inspiring lessons.  I think a great book to tag along with this lesson and a great intro to human and environmental interaction would be City Green by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan.  I read this book to my students every year and they LOVE it! The fact that I teach in a big city helps, too.
I am a fan of comparing and contrasting, but I don't always use the venn to do so (although there is one in this unit).  This could be used to review after the flap book or even before - that's up to you!  You can always do three for each together as a class and have students come up with more ideas on the back.  I plan to use this with my students this year, because we do cover this a little further in 2nd grade, and I think it would be a great warm up to get their ideas moving.
As you can see by my drawing, this is why I am not the artist behind any clipart.  Drawing is not my super skill, but I do my best and my students think I'm the best artist they've ever seen!
Okay, so this little book discussing the importance of preparing your body for different seasons.  Here in Michigan, it's a little different, because that winter coat is always in the closet just in case and you never let a pair of shorts go too far.  You just never know!  I went over this with my niece the other day, who is starting 1st grade this year (ahhhhh!), and she read through it and was really into talking about why it's important to wear different types of clothes in different seasons.
I mean, if that's not an awesome drawing, I don't know what is (hahaha!).  If you want kids to just draw clothes, or them in clothes, or write descriptions, the page is left blank for you to decide.  I will probably have my kids draw themselves in seasonal appropriate clothes after we've discussed and made a four square chart for each of the seasons.  This is a great chance for students to draw and label or draw and write captions!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Wow, I can’t believe that I have neglected this pretty little blog for three months!  How did time go by so fast?  Before I get to the real meat and potatoes of this update (I love that ridiculous phrase), let me just update you on the craziness that is JAG!  My school year ended about three weeks ago and I’m missing my kiddos already (I always say I won’t, but then I do).  Immediately after the school year ended I went into my summer internship as a part of my grad school program to become a certified reading specialist. I worked one-to-one with a little boy who was repeating first grade, but couldn’t identify all of his letters and very few sounds.  In three weeks, we made a LOT of progress and we finished our time together with him at a DRA level 2.  I’m crossing my fingers and toes that he will continue to grow over the summer.  

Speaking of grad school, I am nearing the end of my summer session (2 weeks left, yes!) and then I have 2 courses in the fall and it’s graduation time in December!  I’m already thinking of another MA program I’d like to challenge (I have a strong love and minor dislike for continuing education).  When I'm in school, I'm so busy trying to keep ahead and on top of things, but when I'm out of school, I miss the craziness and the process of it all.  I literally could make college a career - except not not he professor end.  I don't think that's for me.  I love being a student.  

On the creative side, I still have a million little projects I’m working on and I’m growing used to my big girl computer upgrade.  I have used a Macbook for the last seven years and it’s just slowing down. I took the plunge and bought a pretty new iMac that is bigger and better than my Macbook.  On my Macbook I had always used powerpoint, but I’m going to give things a go this time around using Pages/Keynote.  Essentially the iMac was a business purchase because my little Macbook couldn’t keep up with my demands.  I need to look up some tips and tricks and finish transferring the mass amount of graphics I have.  

So to sum up my excuses for being a slacker…
  1. Grad school is kicking my behind in the “keeping me busy” category
  2. The end of the school year was a bigger challenge than I had anticipated
  3. New computer, new programs
  4. It’s summer.  I can’t help it.
  5. No really, it’s mostly grad school.  It’s life at this point.

Lastly, can you guys believe that the TPT Conference in Vegas is just a few days away!?!?  I am leaving on Wednesday, the 8th, and arriving fairly early.  I am SO excited and nervous at the same time.  I can’t wait to meet everyone and make some new teacher friends!  (Does anyone else get excited for teacher friends???)  I am traveling with my grandma (my favorite person ever) and her four daughters (one of them is my mom).  One of my aunts lives in New Mexico, so they thought it would be a great family trip together.  Should be interesting! 

I have a big long post coming up about why I teach where I teach.  I’ve had this on my mind for months because I’ve had so many people tell me “you’ve got to get out of there” in regards to where I’m teaching.  Maybe a few readers will have a change of heart after I dig into the real reasons of why I choose where I teach.