Thursday, August 5, 2010

Serve it Up! What's On Today's Cafe Menu

This summer I spent an extensive amount of time researching best practices in reading instruction. I have always used a mix of whole class, small group and individual teaching approaches; however, I have struggled with how to mesh them all together. Another area of personal struggle for me keeping the rest of the kids working independently while I meet with groups and individual students. I have tried centers in the past, and I know many teachers who are able to use them successfully, but I am not one of them. I find centers to be a ton of work to set up and manage. So, I was very excited to find Daily 5 and CAFE.

You will be amazed with the focused reading instruction that your student will receive this year. If you would like to know more about it, I have attached a parent letter here

We began Daily 5 today with "Read to Self". The students worked on how to correctly read to themselves. We practiced for 3 minutes. Tomorrow we will increase our time, and in the next few weeks, work our way up to 20 minutes. By slowly increasing the amount of time the students are expected to work independently we are building reading stamina. I expect all of my students to eventually read for 20 minutes without getting up, talking, or "wasting time" and I know they will all accomplish this goal.

During CAFE today, the students learned two reading strategies that they should be able to tell you about, Check for Comprehension and Cross Checking. I will post about each of these important strategies in the next week or so. After we learned about each strategy, we placed them on the CAFE menu so that we can all access them on a daily basis. Tomorrow we will practice these and learn two more.

Please talk to your child about Daily 5 and CAFE. Ask them which reading strategies were "served" on today's menu! See you tomorrow!
The Cafe board. Where reading strategies are served daily.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Photo/Video Release

Here is the release form. I will also send a hard copy tomorrow. Thanks!

Photo/Video Release Form

What a Bunch of Clowns!

What a successful first day! All of the children were very well behaved. I was especially pleased with how well they used manners and spoke kindly to each other. I always make sure to point out to the students when I hear someone speak in this way.

All of the children earned time this afternoon to "clown" around. Not literally, but we are learning how to juggle! Juggling is great for eye hand coordination, timing, and learning how to be patient and persistent. The students earn a few minutes of juggling time each day if they can beat me on the daily scoreboard. The daily scoreboard goes along with "Whole Brain Teaching", which is the method I use for classroom management. If you would like to learn more about it you can go here. Click on "first steps" to view the techniques that are used in my classroom. If you would like to see how some of these techniques work in a first grade classroom, you can view a video here.

I took a video clip of our little clowns juggling, but I can't post it until have permission from all of you! I will be sending home a form tomorrow. If you do not want your child on this blog (no names will ever be used with pictures/video) please make sure to indicate that on the form. See you tomorrow for our next update!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


What a day! Another Open House officially bites the dust. It was so nice to meet all of my parents and students! All 23 of you showed up, which is a better turnout than any other class in the school (well at least that I know of!). 

I hope the students enjoyed the classroom. It seemed like they were having a good time exploring the room, playing with their balloons, and eating a cookie or two. I took a few "before" photos of the classroom prior to the students arriving so that I could look back on how clean and organized it is. I know from experience that it won't quite be the same the rest of the year! Anyone like to clean? :) See you tomorrow!

We're a little out of balance this year! The blue balloons are boys and red are the girls. 15 boys 9 girls!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sneak Peek!

I worked today for several hours to put the finishing touched on the classroom. Tomorrow I will put the labels on all of the reading baskets, and get together copy work and folders for the first day of school. I think everything turned out great! This is by far my favorite classroom. I think I learn a little every year about what the kids (and me) want a classroom to look and feel like. This year I added more rugs, lamps, Christmas lights, flowers and plants, pillows, and more seating. So without further delay...I give you, a sneak peek inside the new home of Mrs. McComish's Monarchs!

The right side of the classroom library and Homeworkopoly board

The view of the left side of the library and the Monarch of the Week board.

Non Fiction Section

The Butterfly Garden

New seating area in front of the Butterfly Garden

Seating insde the Butterfly Garden

Seating area in the front of the Meeting Area

The Meeting Area

CAFE Board (Reading Strategies)

Daily 5 Board (Not quite finished!)

Part of the Word Wall, Small Group Reading area

Calendar, Reading charts, part of the chapter book section

When we find interesting words in our reading we will add them to this board.

Let me know what you think!