Grade 1 – Mrs. Fischer
Spelling May 14-18
unpack, unsafe, unlike, retry, reuse, remake, cause, saw, build, goes
Our class project for the dinner auction is complete. Thanks so much to my mother-in-law, Jill Fischer and Quilted Blessings for creating a beautiful quilt for us this year! The bible verse on the cross is “We walk by faith, not by sight”. Every student has their footprints and name on the quilt. My footprints are also on the quilt. Fr. Todd and Mr. Ferriero put their hand prints on at the bottom of the cross to “bless” our walk of faith.
Give From the Heart
We are thankful for community helpers who give of themselves to help others. First grade took time to thank the Stevens County Ambulance Service for all they do! Staff members from the ambulance service stopped into our classroom on Thursday, February 15 so we could thank them!
We have also been participating in money wars, collecting coins and dollars to help raise money for the Gibson Family. They recently lost their house and belongings to a fire. We are hoping to make a nice donation to them to help them rebuild their lives.
***Masters Update Posted….May 2018***
Journey to earn my MASTERS DEGREE
It is my goal to provide weekly/biweekly updates about what I am learning in my Masters classes and how I am applying this in my classroom. Since beginning these classes in September, I have so much more enthusiasm for what I am teaching and the first graders are always excited to see what we are going to try after I come back from my weekends of classes. These classes are pushing me to think and teach more creatively and really reflect on why I do what I do each day. They truly are changing me as a teacher for the better!
This month brought graduation! I graduated with a Masters of Science in Education with an emphasis in Teaching, Learning and Leadership. I am done! I am so grateful for this experience and for all the people who have helped and supported me along the way! I am such a different teacher and person because of this program. Thank you to my family, who has been the biggest support through all of this. Life has been so busy and you all have been so wonderful and patient with me. I am truly blessed to have you in my life! To my students and the families of my students, thanks so much for being so supportive and trusting these last two years as I took this journey. An to my Willmar Learning Community group, you are the best group of educators I have worked with! You guys inspire me to keep working hard at being the best teacher I can be for my students!
This month I got to present my research project! It was so much fun and I have learned so much about the importance of incorporating movement into the day. It makes such a big difference in the learning readiness of my students. On April 21, I presented my research project at SMSU! This was a big step in being done with this Masters program. Please contact me if you would like more information about my research!
This month has been very busy! I had my practice presentation for my FINAL research presentation in April. My practice presentation went so well! I am so excited about my research and excited to share with with other educators! My final draft of my research paper was also completed and it has been sent in to my professors. It is a very rewarding feeling to have come this far and accomplished this much. The one thing is that I am going to greatly miss meeting with my Learning Community group and my professors. They really have pushed me to grow as a teacher and I will miss their inspiration.
This month also brought some more opportunities for cooperative group work in our classroom. We did a spelling review on some words that were really proving to be difficult for the students. We had worked with r-controlled vowels, -ir, -ur, and -er. The students were having a very hard time remembering when to use which vowel, as they all make the same sound. I came up with some silly sayings for them to help remember when to use each one. Still, three weeks later, I hear them repeating the silly sayings to themselves to help remember how to spell the words. (-ir “I R and bird in dirt“, -er “She took her fern to the ER”, and “U R burning the fur“). Another way we reviewed before the final test was that the students had to work in their cooperative groups to make sure everyone in their group had the spelling words spelled correctly. If they all had it spelled correctly they earned a cup. They could earn up to 12 cups. With their cups they had to communicate and plan how to make a tower of cups. They had 2 minutes to talk about a plan. Once building time started they were not allowed to talk anymore. They had to remember and rely on their listening skills from their 2 minutes of planning time. This activity went so well for the students’ first time doing it. They were so encouraging and helpful to their classmates. They were very cooperative and planned well.
This has been a very busy month! As a teacher, it has been very fun and rewarding. I am seeing my students engaged in so many fun learning activities and they are making such great progress! February 14th was Ash Wednesday, Valentine’s Day and our 100th day of school! For math, each student had to sort and graph 100 candy hearts. They then had to work with a partner to ask and answer some comparison questions about their graphs.
This month also brought the finishing of my Portfolio for my Masters Program. It also brought the drafting of my final chapter of my research paper. This means the end is in sight! It is truly exciting to look back and reflect how far I have come as an educator because of this program. It is also a little sad to think I am almost done. I will greatly miss the teachers and professors I have met through this journey. They have helped me be the best I can be. They have encouraged me and pushed me to try new things! I will miss them so much! I will do my final presentation in April, 2018. That is coming up quick!
Catholic Schools Week – a great time to celebrate our faith-based education! We had so much fun skiing, bowling, and playing bingo with people from the Developmental Achievement Center!
This month brought a lot of exciting things and a lot of cold weather! Incorporating movement breaks and the results of my research project have helped my first graders stay on-task longer, improve their work completion rates, and decreased behavior referrals. My students are beginning to recognize in themselves and then verbalizing to me that they feel they need a movement break. They are starting to notice that they are able to focus on their work much better after they have moved for a bit. We do 3 movement breaks a day, and they only last 1-3 minutes each.
This month also brought come group work and cooperation activities into our math lessons. The students had to work together in groups to count out large numbers of objects. They had to break these objects into groups of ten and then count out the total. Their teamwork was awesome! When they worked as a team, their accuracy was also better!
This month has brought a lot of activity. Along with the excitement of the holidays, we have been busy, busy, busy! On Tuesday, December 12, we had the opportunity to go see the CP Holiday Train in Glenwood. We brought food shelf items and were there when the food shelf was given a $4,500 donation to help families in need this time of year. Plus, we got to enjoy an awesome Christmas Concert from the stage that came open from the train. The students really enjoyed it. There are some photos at the top of the page.
On Thursday, December 14, our whole school had the opportunity to go see the movie “The Star” at the Morris Movie Theatre. It is the story of Christmas – Jesus’ Birth. The music in the movie was amazing and the kids very much enjoyed this animated film. It was a great movie with a great message about the true meaning of Christmas.
Pipe Cleaner Challenge
This week the first graders read the poem “Over in the Meadow”. We read it several times, identifying the rhythm to it as well as the rhyming words in it. After reading through it several times, the students were told they needed to create something from the poem with only the use of what was in their baskets – pipe cleaners of various lengths, aluminum foil, and tissue paper.
The students were excited at first. But when they realized they could not go get a scissors or glue stick or tape, some frustrations came out. However, they worked in their small groups (4 students in each group). They shared ideas and encouraged one another and they created some pretty cool things!
In November, we also worked more on teamwork. For Thanksgiving, we had to work in teams to create turkeys made from our hands and feet. We had to work with a partner to trace our hands and feet so we could complete these fun turkeys! We love teamwork!
Another fun thing we did was read “Junie B. Jones, First Grader, Turkeys We Have Loved and Eaten and Other Thankful Stuff”. In this book, the characters created a thankful list. We tried one of the things on the thankful list – cranberry jelly in a can that stays in the shape of the can:) Some of the students did not know what it was and never tried it.
Another important learning experience was learning about the very first Thanksgiving and how difficult and different life was back then. The students had to work really hard to make home-made butter by shaking cream in a jar. They they go to try the butter on some home-made bread.
Just a quick update…over the summer I worked on my literature review for my research project. My project is about incorporating scheduled movement breaks throughout the day to see if it will impact student engagement. So, for the first 6 weeks of school I will be collecting data on off-task behaviors, work completion, and behavior referrals. There will be no movement breaks incorporated into our schedule for the first 6 weeks of school. Then for weeks 7-12 I will incorporate a movement break every 60 minutes. The movement activities will last 1-3 minutes. I will track the same 3 things (off-task behavior, work completion, and behavior referrals) and then compare the first 6 weeks with weeks 7-12 to see if the movement breaks make a difference in the engagement of my first grade students.
I am very excited about my research and can not wait to see what the results will be!
This month has found me very busy. I have picked out my research topic for next fall! I am so excited to be researching the impact scheduled kinesthetic brain breaks will have on student engagement.
I also attended the Learning Community Conference at SMSU and got to see presentations from students who are all finished with their Maters Program this year. It was a great learning experience and will help me so much in preparing for next year. I can not believe I only have one year left and I will have a Masters Degree in Education!
The other exciting thing I did this month was present at the EMS Teaching and Learning Conference in St. Cloud on Friday, April 28. My husband and I presented about Project-Based Learning and how it can be used in the EMS (Emergency Medical Services) classroom. Because of this Masters Program, I was so much more confident in presenting in front of a group of people, other than little kids! I was very happy to share all I have learned about the benefits of Project-Based Learning.
This month has found us very quickly and we have been so busy! We presented to our Project-Based Learning book on Thursday, March 8. We were so nervous and so excited to share all that we have learned! We might be even more excited to finally get our book published so we all can have our own copy. With that being said, here is what my awesome first graders came up with for the driving question “How Does Location Affect How People Live?”
ABC’s of How Location affects how people live
A – animals, air
B – beliefs
C – clothing, community, culture
D – directions (Cardinal), doctors
E – equator, environment (physical)
F – foods, fishing
G – get places, globe
H – homes, holidays
I – ice fishing
J – Jobs
K – Kids
L – language
M – Minnesota, money, maps
N – names
O – ocean
P – people, population
Q – Question – How does location affect how people live?
R – recreation, resources
T – transportation
U – use resources
W- water, weather
X – X marks the spot
Y – Yes! I can find my location on the map.
Z – zoos
The students wrote about each letter and words they come up with and how it all tied into our driving question. The students we so curious and so creative through this process. We touched on 3 Social Studies Standards with this project as well as several writing and reading standards. This pushed me to think outside the textbook and let my students take some control over what they wanted to learn about. They pushed me to find information that they wanted to learn more about. It was awesome! Photos will be added soon!
Starting in January and into this month we have been hard at work on a project-based learning unit in Social Studies. Actually, it ties in Social Studies, Reading, Writing and Art. That is the great thing about Project-Based Learning – it ties in many different subject areas! We started with a big question – How Does Location Affect How People Live? And we have been so busy learning that we are able to create an alphabet book as a class of things/ways A-Z about how location affects how people live. We can not wait to share our book with an audience! Stay tuned for when we have a finished product!
The other thing we have done so far this month is have a ‘snowball’ fight! What?? Yes, we had a ‘snowball’ fight! Well, paper snowballs anyway. We used the snowball fight activity in math this week. We were reviewing how to use the make-a-ten strategy in both addition and subtraction problems with teen numbers. The students had to work with a partner. One partner wrote an addition equation with a teen total and an unknown partner (example 9+_=15) on a piece of white paper. The other partner had to make the drawing using the make-a-ten strategy showing how to solve the equation (but they could not include the equation in their drawing).
Then I told the students to crumple up their papers. Their eyes almost popped out of their heads! We don’t usually get to crumple our work up so some looked at me sort of worried. I explained we would use our crumpled papers to have a ‘snowball’ fight. They would throw the ‘snowballs’ for two minutes. Those 2 minutes were filled with laughter and giggles! It is one of the happiest sounds as a teacher…I love to hear my students laughing together!
After two minutes was up I told the students to FREEZE! Using whispering voices only, they had to pick up one snowball and open it up. Then they had to find their matching partner, either their matching equation or their matching drawing, depending on the paper they picked up. The students did so good using their whispering voices, carefully searching for their correct partner. Once they found their partner, they had to come to me and show me their equation and drawing and verbally explain why the two went together.
After this, I told the students to sit down for Speed Meet. The students have become so familiar with this activity that I did not have to help them at all this time. They came up to the rug, organized themselves into two rows facing each other and were ready to go in no time. We used Speed Meet to then practice the make-a-ten strategy for subtraction problems with teen numbers. The students were very well engaged and on task. They were practicing the skill, talking each other through the problem if they got stuck or confused. I love these moments when I see my students helping each other learn and encouraging one another!
Brrrr!! It has been so cold this first week back at school. What did I put into practice this first week back? Well, we did use Speed Meet again in math to practice understanding groups of tens and ones in 2-digit numbers. I know I use this activity quite a bit now, but it is a great one to see how all my students are doing rather quickly, and it gives the kids a chance to get out of their chairs (which they really needed this week because we could not go outside for recess due to the cold temperatures).
Another way that I have been pushing outside my comfort zone, is really encouraging more open-ended art projects to really allow for creativity in my students (thanks to the books, “Cultivating Curiosity” and “Teach Like a Pirate”). This week for art, we did winter scene drawings with chalk. Most of the students had never used chalk before and I was able to teach them how to rub the chalk to make it look like it was foggy or snowing. I allowed them to draw their own winter scene. In past years I have always had the kids cut out circles and make a snowman all in the same way. This year they drew everything by hand, and only put a snowman in their picture if they chose to. All of the drawings were so different. There was so much laughter happening during the project and the students really took time to think about creating a winter scene. They enjoyed rubbing the chalk and how it made their picture appear. They asked if we were going to get to use chalk again this year, because it is not something they are used to using and it was fun!
Ok…so this month I put a few things into practice. Man, this program is really pushing me to challenge myself and my students! This month I again used Speed Meet to practice the counting-on strategy in math. My students love this activity and it is such a good way to get everyone practicing the skill for the day.
The week before Christmas break, our schedule was a bit crazy. Only a 4 day week and concert practice everyday. Plus, with the excitement of Christmas and needing time to finish projects we made for our parents, I decided we would not do a full week in our reading curriculum. Instead, we read different versions of the “Gingerbread Man”. We read the classic version and “The Ninjabread Man” and “Gingerbread Friends”. The students then thought and had to write/draw about if they were a gingerbread person, what would they look like, who would they run away from, and what would their gingerbread house look like. Then, I gave them a gingerbread shape to cut out of brown construction paper and I gave them free range to most of the art supplies I had and told them to be creative and create their own gingerbread person. Oh my goodness, did I see true creativity come out in my students! They loved not being told what their project had to look like and they absolutely loved being able to choose the materials for their projects. Did they make a mess? Yes! A year ago, this might have driven me crazy…now however I use these as opportunities to let their true creativity and self shine! And they knew they had to clean up the mess and they gladly did! Within no time they had the room back in tip top shape, and they had gingerbread people that they were extremely proud of. Reading the book “Cultivating Curiosity” had helped me relinquish some of this control I thought I had to have, and give some of that control back to my students. It has really made me look for more opportunities to spark their curiosity and creativity.
This book has been so motivational for me as a teacher. If you are looking for something to rejuvenate your teaching, I highly recommend this book. This book reminded me that it is ok to bring my passions outside of school into my classroom and share them with my students. During the month of November, I teach my students about the very first Thanksgiving. Along with this, we always make homemade butter and I usually make bread in my bread machine. This year, instead of bread in a bread machine, I brought in my passion for cooking and baking and we made pumpkin pancakes. So, we made homemade butter, which the students learned just how much work it really was long ago, and we enjoyed delicious pancakes. Sorry, so busy enjoying this time with my students that I did not get pictures.
Constructivism Lesson – Nov. 2106
This lesson pushed me way outside my comfort zone! I am very much in the habit of telling my students the learning goal (especially in math and reading) before we start our lesson. My school has been working on the Marzano Method of teaching and learning. My learning goals are posted on my marker board every single day. So, having to start a lesson by just letting my students have to figure out on their own (with the guidance of just the right questions to really make them think from me) what it was I needed them to learn that day was extremely nerve wracking for me. With that being said, it was one of the most fun science lessons I can remember in several years! My students worked together in groups to tell me as much as they possibly could about a fruit they have never tried (some they had never even heard of the fruit their group had). To preface this, we had been learning about the different ways scientists make their discoveries, and one of the ways we focused on was by using their 5 senses. All my students know their 5 senses and this was critical in being able complete this lesson.
Each group was given 1 fruit – kiwi, pomegranate, persimmon, mango. They were told that in their groups they had to figure out how they could tell me as much information as possible about their fruit. They all had a piece of paper to write down their information. I walked around and questioned them very carefully, not to give away the learning goal and to keep them thinking about more ways to tell information about their fruit. For example: Student – “Our fruit is red on the outside.” I would question them – “How do you know it is red?” Student -” I can see it.” I would question them – “Oh so you see that it is red. How do you see it? What did you use to see that it was red?” Student – “I used my eyes to see that it is red.” I would respond – “Oh, so you used your eyes to see that it was red. Hmm, what else can you tell me about your fruit?” And the questioning continued and the students were able discover on their own what the learning goal was. The students were able to tell me that the goal was for them to use their 5 senses and more so, realizing how we use our 5 senses everyday to learn about the world around us.
This lesson showed me what great thinkers my students can be. It showed me that I can lead them through a path of discovery and they can figure out the learning goal without it just being told to them. This lesson helped me really think about the types of question I ask my students everyday and how to ask questions that truly make them think! In great thinking comes great learning!
CUP STACKING ACTIVITY – October 2016
I used this activity first as a spelling review activity. The students had to work in groups to spell their spelling words correctly. They had to make sure every member in their group had the word spelled right without just telling them the letters but by helping them sound it out and find their mistakes. If all students in the group had it spelled correctly they earned 1 cup for each word. If the whole group got all 10 words correct their group earned 2 bonus cups. The students then had to talk together as a group and plan how they would build their cup tower. Once tower building began they were no longer able to talk and had to build their tower silently, working off they plan they came up with. This activity really showed the students how to work together as a group to accomplish a common goal. And we had the best results on the final spelling test (up to this point in the year)! Plus, the students’ true creativity came out and none of the cup towers were the same. Again, this activity had all my students fully engaged the whole time!
The students begged and begged to use this activity again and we have done it again as part of a math lesson. Contact about me if you want more information about how to incorporate this activity into your lessons!
SPEED MEET Activity – this activity can be used as a fun start of the year activity for your students to get to know one another. They get a chance to visit with every student in the class and each one gets a turn to share their answer. Questions can be fun ‘get to know you’ questions. We did this in September and each student was able to come away with something new they did not know about their classmates. It was also so fun to see them so engaged in conversations with each other, some so engaged in conversations with students they would not normally converse with.
The photo I am providing here is from when I used this SPEED MEET activity during a math lesson to practice counting-on to find an unknown partner in an equation. The students loved being able to be out of their seats and away from their desks. They were fully engaged in this activity the whole time. I did not need to redirect anyone! And they were practicing the math skill that was the objective/goal of the lesson and I got a great view of how well they were doing very quickly. We have used this activity a few more times since then to practice math facts and I plan on using it in reading for story discussion as well. It can also be used for spelling review.
Contact me if you want more information on how this activity works.