Tuesday, July 7, 2015

I Teach 1st! {Day 1}

I am attending the I Teach 1st! conference this week.  I chose I Teach 1st (even though I teach K) because I had a "high ability cluster" and thought that I could find some different ideas to help challenge them.  I also thought it would give me a new perspective since I never taught first and would help me learn more about how to better prepare all my students.

I started off the morning the keynote from Todd Parr.  He was funny and "real".  It was a great way to start the morning off!  I also got a few books signed. :)

The first session of the day was with Cara Carroll from First Grade Parade.  This session was all about reader's workshop.  Cara talked a lot about how her room runs and it gave me some ideas for my own classroom.  One of my favorites was her "old friends" books.  This is a tub of books were the familiar reads go.  Even the nonreaders are able to read from this bin.  I also liked the "birthday book". Students have the opportunity to donate a book to the class library for their birthday.  The child holds the book and Cara takes a picture of them then puts it in the book as a bookplate and has the child sign the inside of the book. These books go to a special bin in her classroom library.  So cute!  I thought it would be great to read the book to the class or have the child read it to the class if they would like to.  Cara wrote a post about her day, you might want to check it out here with some freebies!

My second session of the day was with Reagan Tunstall from Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits.  This session was about writer's workshop and building writing portfolios.  She shared the mini-lessons she does each month and the seasonal ideas she does each month.  I loved how she pulled in important things happening in other subject areas of her classroom into her writing curriculum.

While I loved all the ideas and can't wait to try to incorporate writing more into my art (we don't have an art teacher), science and social studies, I really liked what she said about mentor texts in writing.  The slide below shows how she uses a mentor text throughout the week.  The first read is "for fun"; just the enjoyment of the story.  The second read is "notice it"- students share a reaction to the story.  It could also be that the teacher took note of a reaction from the first read and shared it with the class; I think this would be particularly helpful the first few times we tried this!  The third read is "name it"- students give a name to the strategy.  While it might be called "alliteration", give the kids the chance to own it by naming it themselves.   Last is "try it" where students try that strategy in their own writing.

The third session I attended with also with Reagan.  This one was about science.  I am not very good about science outside of reading books and an occasional experiment, so I thought this one might help.  She suggested Peep and the Big Wide World (YouTube link) for videos to teach a variety of science concepts.  She also shared that she purchases her lab coats from Mr. Disposable.  Her suggestion was to pull the verbs for your standards then think interactive.  We had the opportunity to do a make and take with her magnet pack.

This was something I thought I could use in my classroom, and it would work with my kids.  It seems like it would be easier and more efficient for my style of teaching and how my classroom runs.  I'm looking forward to trying something like this.

My final session of the day was with Donna Whyte, and it was about critical thinking.  Her "big idea" was to create a thinking, you have to stop giving all the answers.  The "bouncing ball theory" was mentioned several times- bounce the question back to them and make them think!  She gave an example of a question matrix, which was something I've never heard of.  It was basically just ways to ask questions that make kids think rather than simple questions that they have the answers to immediately.  I think this would be great for my building as a few of us have had discussions that having a few questions in the back of your mind ready to go makes you more likely to use them.  We also talked about having a mini chart (just for the teacher) somewhere that he/she could refer to with 5-7 questions that you could "fall back on" when you need a higher level thinking question.  I'm thinking these could be used for that too.

While this session was a topic that shouldn't necessarily be funny, Donna did a great job keeping us engaged (especially since it was the last session of the day) with real-life stories where this applies.

I had the opportunity to hang out with Mary Amoson from Sharing Kindergarten during a session- so much fun!  I love how down-to-earth she is and easy to talk to.  I won a prize from Kim Adsit at the teacher meet and greet tonight. My friends I am traveling with and I saw Cirque du Soleil's Mystere show tonight, which was awesome.

It was an amazing first day, and I can't wait to go back for more tomorrow!


  1. Great post!! I like the question matrix and think it will be helpful as I was "creating a culture of thinking". I can't wait to hear about all the other things you learn

    1. Looking forward to sharing the rest! Got a little side-tracked by other things going on. Hope to do the rest in the next week or so.