February 2016 - Susan Jones Teaching

Book Clubs in First Grade

Book clubs in first grade?!

It may seem like a stretch, but the Spring is such a great time to get your students ready and used to reading, thinking about, and discussing books with their peers instead of me, the teacher!

When done right, it can be such a fun learning experience for both the students and the teacher. I find that I learn SO much about my students when I sit back and observe their conversations and arguments about a topic without intervening. I can see the growth socially as well as academically that my students make in a year and I can see what my students still need to work on.

I needed a lot of guidance when starting my book clubs with my little learners, so I created a unit to share some of the resources and tricks that worked in my room!

After a week or two of running book clubs in my room, it was something that my students loved and really looked forward to. I didn't change up my reading block, but instead just carved out 10-15 minutes of book club time towards the end!

The biggest thing we needed guidance with in 1st grade, was "what do we talk about?" It was wildly unrealistic of me to have my students - even my higher ones - just get in a group and chat about their books! 

And yes... I learned that the hard way... I was way too optimistic ;)

In order to solve that problem, I made our book club rings. These cards have all sorts of discussion points and questions to help my students review what they've learned throughout the year and KEEP TALKING while in their groups!

Another thing I realized was that my students weren't always prepared when they would get to their book club group. To help that situation, I created our independent reading bookmarks. I showed students how to use them to get their brains activated and ready before they went to their groups.

Once my students did get the hang of our book clubs, I would switch it up every once in a while and run book clubs more like literature circles where everyone has their own job and added responsibility. I did this with these fun little job cards:
Students would read their books and prepare their thoughts before they would meet - I also created half page recording sheets for students to complete as an added step when I saw fit.

Naturally my "high-flyers" tend to loooooove book clubs since they are reading independently very well and they like to showcase their skills. I thought a fun extension for them would be to have their own book club binders!

This was something extra that they could grab every time they got a new book and students could choose between a bunch of different recording sheets to add to their binder showcasing what they had learned. It is a fun way to track their work and all the books they have read together!

Also included in this unit are some anchor charts, lesson ideas, a teacher evaluation sheet, and more tips and tricks that have worked in my room!

To see if you could use this book club unit in your room, click on the image below and download the preview!

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Nonstandard Measurement

Nonstandard Measurement can be such a FUN math unit in the classroom. It is relatively easy for students to learn and master and it can be a nice break from the continuous addition, subtraction, and place value that we teach all year long.

I wanted to share with you some of my favorite lessons and activities!

 Car and ramp races! 
This is a simple lesson that gets students measuring and building ramps - a little STEM action for the win! My students work in pairs to build ramps using a clipboard and whatever else they can find and race three cars down the ramp. They label where each one ends with a post it. Then, students measure how far each car went with a nonstandard tool of their choice (cubes, paperclips, erasers, pompoms, etc.) Easy and fun for my students to measure and compare lengths.
*This picture was recreated on my kitchen floor with my son's cars because all my stuff is in storage, but I usually use small matchbox cars from the dollar store*

 Stringy shapes is another fun one. I created a bunch of these stringy shape patterns and my students use yarn to recreate the shape. Then, they straighten out the yarn and measure how long each shape is with centimeter cubes (or any other nonstandard tool). I created 10 different shapes so students like to predict which ones they think are longer and then test them out!

 Misconceptions while measuring are super important to clarify while my students are accurately learning how to measure so I alwayssssssssss like to kick off a lesson with some "fix it" cards. [I use these when teaching all of our math units] They pose a problem that another student has completed incorrectly and I like for my students to identify what is wrong and verbalize how they would fix it.

Crooked paths! 
Using a large piece of construction paper I create two different paths and label them A and B. One line will be straight and the other will be crooked. The end of the straight line will appear longer than the crooked line. Students will first estimate and explain which line they think is longer and why. Then, students will measure the lines with a nonstandard measurement tool and see if their estimations are correct. My students are always surprised when they find out that even though the straight line appears to be longer, the crooked one is!

I put all the above lessons with recording sheets (and lots more) in a little nonstandard measurement pack for you! You can click the image below to see more and download the preview to get an idea of the other printables and activities included:

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