Kwame Alexander’s video kicked off our poetry unit of study. After they watched, the kids asked me if I knew how to make fried chicken and mac and cheese as well as Kwame (You will have to watch the video to understand Kwame’s joke.) Through this video, students developed a beginning understanding of ways to… Continue reading Thank You, Kwame Alexander
It's just the simplest form; the kids complete it about once a month. All I do is put it on their tables one morning, so they can fill it out after they put their things away. The students know the routine. They can bring it to me and share what they wrote or put it… Continue reading Feelings Check
It all started because I didn't enjoy the transitions that are a part of classroom life. For whatever reason, clapping, chimes, and even silent signals just didn't feel right. So instead, I play music. When the students hear a song they end whatever they are doing and head to the meeting area. I really don't… Continue reading Turning Transitions into a Favorite Part of the Day
Before the kids arrived for the first day of school, I filled this display shelf with books I hoped to read aloud. Then I watched. Which books would the children grab during free time? Which ones would they ask me to read aloud? Here is the book display I created for the first few days… Continue reading Which Books Will They Choose?
Hi Everyone, TBR is taking the summer off and will be back online in September. We hope you are getting a chance to relax, rejuvenate, and laugh this summer. Happy Reading!
I am reading lots of books with my second graders to help them notice and name injustices, introduce them to people who took a stand (many who still are), and recognize the power they have to stand up for themselves and others. As we read books and watch videos, the children have hands-down conversations either… Continue reading Justice and Action
Now, I am a big believer in authentic text, but there are times when readers need practice with a specific phonics skill. Applying newly learned phonics skills can be tricky for some, which is when I pull out a decodable text. A decodable text lets students focus on applying the phonics skill as they read.… Continue reading Decodables My Kids Can’t Stop Reading
Thanks to my grade-level colleagues, I have a new collection of Aesop Fables that changed the way I teach traditional tales. You see, this book isn't a typical collection of Aesop's Fables. The text begins with a story about Aesop – how he was enslaved, how his family was treated, and he created these stories… Continue reading A Book that has Changed my Teaching
The minute I put books from the Explore the World series out in the classroom library, the kids grab them and start reading. These texts keep getting passed around the classroom, and I love that many titles are easy to read. These books are also my students' favorite go-to mentor texts. Today, a child created… Continue reading Explore the World
In August, I shared plans of how my second graders would create an identity frame to showcase their work throughout the year. I hoped that these personal frames would become each child's unique place in the classroom - a spot that was all about each of them. As I've gotten to know these learners, I… Continue reading Celebrating Every Week
Beginning the year feels BIG to me, and I want it to feel BIG to kids too. To prepare, I reread my notes from a professional development session about deeper learning, and I paused at this list: AntiracistCurious and CreativeAdaptable and CourageousEmpathetic and Equity-MindedAdvocates, Collaborators, and LeadersAbility to Build a Life of Possibility This list… Continue reading Launching Reading and Writing Workshop with the help of Ekua Holmes
Hi Friends, Thanks for reading and thinking along with all of us at TBR Blog. It is time for summer break. We will see you again in August with new books, new ideas, and new insights about teaching and learning. Happy Reading and Happy Summer!
As school comes to an end, I can't stop thinking about what these first graders will remember about this school year. I want to know their thoughts. Did they feel welcome, included, and valued? Did they feel that I listened? I can't help but wonder what I could have done differently to honor each one… Continue reading Listening and Collecting Feedback
"Wow. Look at all those books!" This is exactly the reaction I want as kids enter the classroom and find a giant pile of books on the rug. Yes, before a new unit of study that is exactly what I do - I let the children wade through a pile and touch all of the… Continue reading Look at all Those Books! Co-Constructing the Classroom Library
All year I've tried different ways to organize small groups with my first graders while teaching in a socially distanced classroom. Finally, I think I've figured out a system that I'll keep even when staying six feet apart is a thing of the past. At the beginning of the week, I create a slide to… Continue reading Who Would Like to Join Us?
Certain books fly out of the classroom library and into the hands of readers, and I love how these books change as the first graders grow. Right now, a few series baskets are empty, and I need to “quarantine” the books overnight so that other readers can have them ASAP. The Hello, Hedgehog series is… Continue reading Series that Fly off my Classroom Shelves
This week, my first graders said goodbye to a classmate who moved away. For these children, moving in and out of communities is part of their lives as they are children of military families. They know how it feels to be new, and they know what it means to start over. When a child leaves,… Continue reading Being a Military Child
I sit down on the couch to write my post for Thursday. Guilt is the feeling inside of me, as I know it has been a few weeks since I’ve written. The words don’t come. I know my topic - writing about the different ways I’ve tried to give students more choice and ownership during… Continue reading A Surprise at my Kitchen Door
To launch informational writing, we began with a mystery QR CODE, and the kids worked together to figure out how to unlock the code. A student mentor text children studied throughout the unit. These first graders were so excited to “crack the code.” They were excited to write informational chapter books. But this exploration didn't help… Continue reading Day 75: Cracking the QR Code
It still surprises me how when problems arise, unexpected opportunities follow. I would think at my age, I'd anticipate the silver linings on the other side, but somehow they still sneak up on me. Over these past weeks, my class needed a few tips on navigating some tricky social situations. After trying many different moves,… Continue reading Day 65: A Little Humor Goes A Long Way
As a staff developer, I taught the pre and post on-demand assessment process in the Teachers College Units of Study formally. On day one of the unit, students wrote in the genre we were going to study and on the last day of the unit, students wrote a final piece. Then they used a checklist… Continue reading Day 60: A Little Informality Goes A Long Way
Connecting with families during COVID-19 is tricky at best. There are no daily interactions and no face-to-face contact unless I meet with a family over Google Meet. Families and caregivers do not come into the building or the classroom, so they have very little information about what happens each day. To help families understand what… Continue reading Day 54: Connecting with Families
It's been quite a week. Last Thursday, my entire school went remote. With fifteen minutes to pack, these first graders grabbed their books, writing folders, extra math manipulatives, a whiteboard, and headed out the door. Oh, how I miss moments of listening to what the kids have to say. Online, I only get minutes when… Continue reading Day 47 – Listening Remotely
On the day before winter break, a student shared with me that school felt hard, and I left for break without a chance to listen (To read part 1, click here.) This comment surprised me, as reading, writing, and math seem easy for him, and I am continually thinking about how to extend his learning.… Continue reading Day 40 Part II – “Now It All Makes Sense. That Is Why It Is Hard.”
I can't remember exactly how the conversation began, but I know where we were. The kids were lining up for recess, and a child asked, "Where did you work before you became our teacher?" I respond. "I used to work with all of the teachers at this school. We would meet and plan what to… Continue reading Day 30: “Now It All Makes Sense. That Is Why It Is Hard.”
It all started when I ran out of time taking a running record. I asked Samantha (name changed), "I need to start morning meeting, can you write and draw what happened in the story?" When I finally got back to the table, this is what I found. Samantha worked so hard, and it was so… Continue reading Day 26: Kids Create Their Own Learning Wall
It's first thing Monday morning, and one first grader asks, "Mrs. Mulligan, do you know who we are going to meet today?" When I heard this comment, I knew that Meet Someone New Monday was having an impact. I learned about #MeetSomeoneNewMonday from Melissa Quimby, a 4th-grade teacher in Natick, Massachusetts, and now it is… Continue reading First Graders and #MeetSomeoneNewMonday
Kids all over the room popped out of their seats yelling, "I'm done! I'm done! Mrs. Mulligan, I'm finished" Now, I know Lucy Calkin's saying, "When you are done, you've just begun," but these kids needed a quick win. Yes they do need to write many more books, but at this moment, they wanted to… Continue reading Day 22: How Editing Became Joyful
I have a love hate relationship with GoNoodle. Yes, it gets the kids’ moving while they are required to stay near their seats, but I don’t love that the kids are following rather than creating. So, I’ve been playing with how to make movement breaks more child-centered and bring a little laughter into the room.… Continue reading Day 17: When GoNoodle Became a Mentor Text
When I envision partner reading in first grade, I see children sitting side by side holding a book across their laps, joyfully reading together. They point to the parts of the text they love, laugh together, and coach each other as they problem-solve. I know that vision doesn't work with COVID, but I was determined… Continue reading Day 10: The Ups and Downs of Partner Reading in a Socially Distanced Classroom
It is day four of teaching first grade, and one tool enables the kids to be more independent writers - Seesaw. I can't describe how much I love this platform. Right before writing workshop ends, students log into Seesaw. First, they take a photo of what they wrote, and then they read their writing. Now… Continue reading Day 4 – A Writing Workshop Tool that Builds Agency and Independence