Character Traits with Mrs. Labrasciano

The kids LOVED our character traits kick-off lesson this week!  They each did an amazing job.  To start the week off I explained to the kids that character traits were words that could describe us on the inside or outside.  After brainstorming positive traits I had the kids make their own character traits on personal busts.  This lesson led into more character trait lessons with picture books.  Students were able to describe a character's actions in the beginning of a book through the end of the book.  After they describe how the character changed or completed a character analysis.

Character Traits With Mrs. Labrasciano

After introducing personal character traits, we moved into Wemberly Worried.  I have a student who is just like Wemberly! This was a great opportunity to help them through their anxiety and work on our comprehension at the same time.  The kids love to put together projects so I made them a folder activity that helped us to see how Wemberly changes in the book.
Wemberly Worried

Wemberly Worried


Informative writing about Johnny Appleseed

Student Project - Finding Key Details About Johnny Appleseed

Asking Questions While We Read
I have all of my posters and resources set for Apple Week next week.  This week also coincides with the opening of our unannounced observations.  Rigor is a must at all times.  (Insert my eye roll.)  Stakeholders believe that fun in the classroom is synonymous with inept teaching.  Well, this is a post on apples so I won't tell you my personal feelings on that.  However, I would like to offer some suggestions on keeping engagement up in your classroom while  you teach with rigor.

During the beginning of the year we have focused on accountable talk and are moving on to asking and answering questions throughout our reading.  This week we will be reading informational books on John Chapman, the apple life cycle and apple harvesting.  My mentor text will be Apples by Gail Gibbons.  Every day I will model asking and answering questions in the mentor text.  The students will be released for group work afterwards to create questions in a text.  Once they have their questions, they will move on to answering their questions.  When this process is done, they will produce posters with facts about their topic.  On Friday, we will enjoy warm applesauce while each group presents what they learned.  This process encompasses several standards including speaking and listening.  Students love making something that they get to present to the class.  This really boosts their self esteem. Along with increased self esteem, they also will also have increased engagement.
Apple Posters

Did you know that you can print poster size on your printer? I didn't know until my good friend Amna from Teach Two Reach told me about it.  Doing this allows you to produce larger images for the students to use for their posters.  It also allows you to print anchors that might be important for the topic.  I have included a visual below for you.
Print in Poster Size from Your Home Printer
Flash back to First Grade.
Apple Stain Glass

 Last year we used die cuts to produce empty apple templates.  I cut contact paper to place over the templates.  The students were then able to place tissue on the contact paper and make "stained glass" apples.
Applesauce For The Busy Teacher
 Here's my tip for being a rock star teacher without all of the extra work.  I could not fit a "How-to Make Applesauce Unit" into my week last year or this year.  If you can, I highly suggest it.  (Food really can wake up the senses in the classroom.)  So I bought two large jars of applesauce and warmed them in the crockpot.  I allowed the students to eat the applesauce and write about it last year.  This year I will allow the students to eat it while their peers present their posters.  No instructional time will be lost to this process.  (Insert another eye roll.)
Persuasive Apple Writing - Which one should we try?
 This was a fan favorite last year.  The kids sampled red and green apples.  Then they decided which one Johnny Appleseed should eat on his birthday.  It was a blast.
Apple Picking


The kids loved their hands-on time with inferencing this week!

Inferencing Books


Monday I read a short story (pictureless) to them and we made a graphic organizer whole group.  We put our evidence in one column.  Showed our schema in the next column and placed our inference in the third. This chart is shown to the right of my word wall below.  I apologize for the picture.  This was the only picture that I had of the anchor.

Inferencing Anchor


On Tuesday we read Henry and Mudge and made another class graphic organizer.  This time we went down to a t-chart.  We included evidence and our inference.  After we worked as a class, we paired off and students rotated through inference bags.  They were able to make t-charts in their reading notebooks to organize their information.
Inferencing Bags


On Wednesday I read them a  poem and they worked in a group to make inferences.  They recorded their answers on a t-chart in their notebook.  Afterwards, they went back into pairs to work through the inferencing bags.
Inferencing Bags


On Thursday we worked with wordless books.  I modeled using "The Red Book".  Afterwards, each group was given one book and they worked together to make inferences throughout.  My planning partner Amanda, tabbed places in each book for them.  The tabs were to show them great pages to infer.  They did a wonderful job.
The Red Book


Assessment day! Tests don't have to be boring or scary.  On Friday I put "The Red Book" on the document camera.  They used a t-chart to make inferences throughout.  I was so proud that they each made an inference.  One cutie even used her Writing Office to reference a contraction.  Love her!
Writing Offices

Here's what they did every day:
Every day they have to use the skill that we learned in shared reading during their independent reading time. So while they read, they also made inferences from their books.  I met with them all individually to check in on them.  These personal conferences helped me to gauge how much modeling I needed to do each day.

Here are some other ideas that we didn't get to:
There are quite a few inferencing lessons in Comprehension Connections.  I love these lessons.  I know that I had taught them the lessons last year in first grade so I went another route.

We considered covering a Big Book and having them infer as you rip one piece of the paper off the cover at a time.

My planning partner Amanda used the inferencing images to make a poster.
Inferencing Work

Inferencing Work

A big thank you goes to Amanda who worked so hard to help me plan these lessons.  The thank you will be continued through the year being that we will do it every week! Also thank you to Annie for sending me the pictures!

Let's talk Teaching and Mothering

Baby Cradle

Nailpolish Holder

Learning how to work

This week is all about my family.  It's hard being a teacher mom.  Spending all day working with children and then coming home to your own.  Having the patience and energy to meet everyone's needs from sun up to sun down.  Thank God I have a wonderful husband who is an amazing father as well.  He is very hands-on.  This allows us to tackle life and still have a bit of sanity when we come out of it.  A few times a year, we like to carve time out of our schedule to do something special with each of our girls individually. Hubby decided to teach them to make what they need out of wood.  They were so happy!  Each of them chose something true to them.  The oldest is making a nail polish holder.  The middle made a gymnastic's beam.  That leaves the youngest who made a doll cradle. I love that she is hanging on to her younger years longer than her sisters.)  Now I get to step in and help them paint and finish them.  After many years of trying to find out the deep dark secret of mothering and teaching, I think that I finally have it.  Very simply put, you just have to put your kids first.  Spend quality time with them each day.  I will update the pictures when they finish. 
We made it through the week without any injuries so I consider that a week with no lows!

Phonics in 2nd Grade

I'm teaming up with Julie from A First For Everything for the highs and lows of my week.

We finally got into our groove during reading this week!  The kids were doing a great job responding to their reading in their reading notebooks.  I was able to get a schedule out for them.  On Mondays or the first day of a new standard, we glue a mini anchor into their notebook and tab it.  This way they can find the anchor if needed.
Responding to our reading in 2nd grade

While I absolutely love moving into 2nd grade, it has created a lot more work for me.  I had my phonics schedule and materials well organized and working like a machine in first.  It was definitely a high this week that I was able to create a phonics schedule and update my phonics games for our word work.
Word Work Schedule

L Blends Phonics Game

Phonics Games for an entire year

Alright, so I really dislike messing up.  Picture my sad face.  My family participates in a very tricky carpool schedule.  Lots of kids going to lots of places in a very tight schedule.  Over a year ago all of the moms agreed that someone would mess the carpool up (it was inevitable)  and we wouldn't be mad when it happened. So I took a child to the wrong place. Sigh. It was me!! I did it.  It won't happen again.  (Of course it was a place that they go to 4 days a week so they were perfectly safe.)