Investigating Arctic Animals Posters!

I have the world's smartest, cutest, sweetest first graders, ever.  I know you think yours are pretty great, but I promise... mine are absolutely the smartest, cutest, funniest, sweetest, most amazing group of first graders ever.  How in the world does one teacher get so lucky?

*Cease bragging*

I promised my first graders I was going to brag on them.  Well, I bragged to everybody in the school, so now I have to brag to the entire internet. :-)

When I took a class over the summer appropriately called "Informational Books", we did something called in "investigation."  While we didn't do it as in depth as a student might, we got the concept of how students can take information and "investigate" it and make a poster with this information as a sort of visual display of the information.  This got the wheels in my head turning.  After our Winter Break, I decided that my class would do an investigation of their own.

You know as well as I do that asking first graders to do research on a topic is pretty much futile.  We did our research as a class.  We started doing research as a class on whales to go along with the book "Our Whale Watching Trip."  I even mentioned what I was going to be doing to my librarian, and she helped my students look up information in the encyclopedias and on the internet. :-)  Then we did some research on penguins and polar bears.

We read some informational books, and I gave my students one of these "Cool" Facts sheets on a clipboard.  We would read a little bit of the book, then I would stop and give them time to write down facts they thought were interesting or that they might want to share with others.  I let them share their facts with their partner, and their discussions about what they had learned were so cute!

I learned from my mistakes the first round, so when we wrote about the polar bears, I showed my students how to use bullet points to help them with their note taking.  So cute!  I told them it wasn't necessary to write "polar bears can" every time, but that they could just write the fact on the paper with a bullet point.  This really helped them organize their thoughts in a neat way.

Once we did all of our research, we practiced writing sentences using the "Can, Have, Are" graphic organizers.  I added the "Eat" and "Live" sections as well.  We compiled our interesting facts onto these graphic organizers, and then used it to help us write complete sentences about the animal.

Fast forward a few days, and we started to work on our posters.  Holy cow, I was so impressed!  To help them organize their thoughts, I gave them 4 squares to do their writing in.  At the top, we wrote the "topic" they were writing about.  Then they had to write 2 facts in each square.  To help them think about the topics, we brainstormed some topics we could use.  It was hard at first, but they figured out what they were supposed to do, and we came up with a great topic list.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of it!

Then they got to work writing in their squares!  I asked for a minimum of 3 squares, though many (most!) of my students wrote in all 4 squares!  I checked their work to make sure it was factual and correct, as well as neat.  I also checked to make sure they had at least 2 facts on each topic.

Before we began actually making our posters, I modeled how to lay out their posters using their squares, the pictures I provided that they COULD use (not had to!), and their text feature.  We talked about leaving space for a border and title.  We discussed laying things out where we wanted them before we glued, so we didn't have to pull things up.  The students watched as I took my pieces and laid out my own poster and thought aloud about how I wanted to arrange it.  It must have worked, because almost all of them listened to the directions and didn't pick up a glue stick until after they had everything where they wanted it.  I was so proud that they listened so well and took the time to lay out their posters so they were nice and neat.  We talked a lot about how they needed to be neat instead of messy and sloppy.  Nobody wants a sloppy poster!

The process took a lot of time, I admit, but it was worth it.  When it was time to assemble our posters, it was easy!  Each student cut out their squares and arranged them on their poster.  Then they had pictures (clip art) available to put on their posters if they wished.  They also had to use one text feature; most of my students chose a map that showed where the animal lives.  A few chose pictures with a caption or label.  I would not let them glue anything down until I had checked them.  Once they had arranged their poster pieces and made sure they left room for a title, I allowed them to glue and add a border to their posters.  Watching these posters take shape was nothing short of awesome.  Every student (except one, but I'm not talking about her!) was working so hard on their poster.  The students who were still working on their writing worked so hard so they could get started assembling their poster.  And every single kid was working so hard, they didn't even notice when I stepped out of my door to flag down our Writing Coach so she could come see what they were working on.  She was also super impressed!

They even used books as resources when they needed information to complete their poster.  One of my students is helping another figure out where her animal lives on a map.

I was so super impressed and proud of their work!

Would you like to see some of their awesome posters?

Love the picture with labels!

This little cutie used a picture with a caption.  Penguins like to toboggan. :-)



Tell me those aren't absolutely amazing?

I am SO PROUD of what my babies did!  I just love it when something comes together and is absolutely perfect.  I have literally been working on this unit for weeks and weeks!

I thought that maybe some other people might want to use this unit in their classrooms, so it is now in my Teachers Pay Teachers shop.  In the effort to NOT turn this post into a commercial, I will post a link to it here, but I will make another post about the unit itself later.  I want you to focus on my SMART STUDENTS!!! :-)  But I did work really hard on this, and I'm quite proud of it.  So if you would like to at least check it out, there it is!

What do you think of our little project?  Have you ever done anything like this with first graders?  It was a lot of work, as I said, but the outcome has been amazing.  Just wait until you see their books... :-)



I posted before that I received 6 Chromebooks from Donors Choose.  They were awesome and I was so excited, but there was one slight problem:  I didn't have anywhere to put them!
So I built a shelf for my new laptops out of a 2x12 board.  It was about a half an inch too big to fit into my car, so one of my awesome coworkers came by this morning with his truck and hauled it to school for me!  He even brought it into my classroom, though I told him that was completely unnecessary.  (I hauled it out to my garage alone- I can bring it into my classroom!)

I spent some time this afternoon laying on the floor, leaning over so my head was underneath the shelf, and basically trying to get it prepared for the students to use.  My neck was killing me when I finished, but it was so worth it!  I had to drill holes into the wood, then screw the bike hooks into the wood for the headphones to hang on.  I also put some cord wrangler-things on the back for the cords to stay on so they aren't hanging all over the place and making me crazy.  I only hammered my thumb about 10 times or so.  Ha!  

Now there are 6 brand new laptops available for the students to use!  I need to paint the bottom of it and give the rest of it another coat of paint, but it got a little knocked up during the drive to school, so I'm glad I didn't finish painting it at home.  I'll probably do that one weekend when I know the kids won't be around to breathe in the paint fumes!

The best part is, it takes up just a little bit of space!   I have some carpet squares the kids can use to sit on, and we all know kids don't like to sit in chairs anyway, so this way, they can sit on their bottoms or on their knees, whichever way is more comfortable!

The kids are going to be so excited when they come in tomorrow and see this all set up!  They watched my co-worker carry it in, and when they found out I built it all by myself, they were quite impressed.  I can't wait to see their reactions tomorrow when they come in!  I personally am quite excited! :-)

TPT Sale!!!

To all my new followers:  Welcome!  I am up to 48 followers as of today, and I'm very excited to have you all here!

First of all, I want to say thank you to all of you who ready my High/Low post and left such kind words!  I appreciated each and every comment you made.  I felt a whole lot less silly crying when I knew there were people in the world who understood.  I really, really appreciated reading what you had to say.  Thank you again!

Second of all, I'm sure you all know about this huge Teachers Pay Teachers sale going on today.  I feel a little late to the party, but I'm still going to show up fashionably late!  (I've been trying to get something finished all morning and all day yesterday!  Yikes!)

Click the button to head to my TPT store!

(This super cute button was created by the fabulous Ashley Hughes!)

Last night, I added some cute little Valentines you can use in your classroom if you like.  I don't know about you, but I hate those "cookie cutter" valentines you can buy at the store with Spongebob and Dora on them. Or whoever comes on valentines anymore.  So I made a few of my own.  I thought that other people might be interested in them.  Since it's like 24 pages long, technically I'm not allowed to offer it as a freebie, so I am selling it for $2, plus it is on sale for 20% off plus the extra 10%.

Plus, they're adorable!  (They don't say my name on them, for the record.)

You can find them here.

I also added some new math and literacy centers today that I'm getting ready to use in my own classroom.

There are 6 math activities.  Some of the standards included are:  fact families, missing addends, place value, adding with 3 addends, and true/false equations.

The 6 literacy activities include: compound words, blends, long and short vowels, and shades of meaning.
 I'm not sure about you, but I'm scrambling to find activities to teach shades of meaning!

I have a combination pack that has both the math and literacy activities together for $6.00 (on sale for $4.80 plus an extra 10% off!) or just the math or just the literacy activities on their own for $3.50 each (on sale for $2.80)

Also on sale in my store are my 2 cute graphic sets!

These are both on sale for $1.60 plus the extra 10% off!  I would love it if you would check them out!

Personally, I have some shopping I want to go do right now and clean out my own TPT wishlist!

I have absolutely no plans whatsoever to watch the Super Bowl, because my team (the Pittsburgh Steelers!) aren't playing today. :-(  But I told one of my little sweeties that I'd root for the Baltimore Ravens just for him, even though it hurts my feelings to do so!  So... go Ravens!  Who are you rooting for tonight?  (I'm just rooting for getting a few things finished while the game is on!)

I've got a bench to go build, and some graphics I'm dying to finish, but I'll be back tomorrow or later tonight with the February Currently!  I can't believe it is already February!