Throwback Thursday: Election 2012

Though we have school on Election Day this year, and no elections to speak of, we are still planning on doing some fun Election activities with our students. Last year was a ton of fun. However, I know that just a few people saw that original post, so I am going to re-post a post from November 3, 2012. :-)

 Original post:

On Friday, we learned about the election process.  First, we read a book about voting (which was really way too hard for them, so I skipped around a lot!  I need some good voting books for next year!)

After we read the book, which talked about registering to vote, I let my students register to vote.  Holy cow, they were excited!  You would think I told them we were having Christmas right then and there, they were so excited!  Each kid filled out their registration card, drew a picture of themselves, and "signed" it.  They called them "drivers licenses" until I corrected them.  Too funny!

Here are a few pictures of my kids registering to vote.


Then we read some books about characters running for president, including Duck for President and My Teacher for President.  The kids really got a kick out of comparing me to the teacher in the book. :-)  Then they created posters for the character they liked the best.  I made them give one reason why they would vote for that character.  My favorite was the student who said they would vote for me because I'm "peritey and nice" among other things.  I forgot to take a picture before I left work, but I will take one on Monday and post it because it is pretty much awesome.

My students worked really hard on these posters!  They loved that I told them to make them bright and colorful!



Then they got to vote for their favorite character using a ballot I created.  We put the ballots in a ballot box.

Once we finished that part of the day, I let them (of course!) vote for President on paper ballots.  The students had to vote for their favorite candidate, fold the paper in half, and place it in the ballot box.  

Here are our results: 

I have 20 students in my class right now, as we are a small class size school with 20 students in each class 1st-5th grades.  It's great!  One of my students has been in another placement for the past 5 weeks and will be coming back on Wednesday, so I'll be back up to 21.  1 student was absent on Friday and 1 left early, so we had 18 students vote.  I guess the kids in the class knew one of the kids who voted for Romney, because when I pulled that vote out, they all yelled her name.  I had to explain that voting is a private activity and you aren't supposed to tell who other people voted for.  I don't know who my other friend is who voted for him, and obviously the other kids don't either, so that student didn't get their name yelled out when I pulled out their vote.

(I used the stars from The School Supply Addict to decorate my graph- I don't remember where I got the pictures for the graph- but I think they are so cute!)

The best part of the day for my students, I think, was going out into the hallway to vote for President.  I created a voting booth out of my refrigerator box, and the kids loved it!  We stuck a desk with a laptop in there and the students voted on a website called National Mock Election.  As a teacher, you can go in and create a ballot for your class that is specific to your state.  For example, I could have my students vote for members of Congress, President, and other local elections in my district.  I chose to keep it simple and just have the students vote for President.  All the candidates, including those from third parties, were on the ballot.  The first grade assistant stood out in the hallway to help the kids from all 3 classes vote.  One of the girls from another class actually stood in the booth and helped the kids type the codes in, since our assistant was a little bit too bit for the booth. :-)

This is my beautiful refrigerator box booth. :-)  It was a hit- all the teachers in the building were coming to look at it and even the ladies in the office came to see!

This is our first grade assistant showing the students the website they would be using to vote.



The second child in the booth was helping the kids log on to the website. 
 Going in!

  They waited their turns patiently...

These are my students flashing their voter registration cards! 

And voting! 

You could tell by the smiles on their faces that they loved it!






Yep, it's official!  We thought voting was a thumbs up! 

Once my students finished voting, I gave them an "I Voted" sticker that I printed on cardstock.  I couldn't find any sticker paper to print them on.  We attached them using double sided tape, but you could also use a safety pin.  Since I don't know how to embed things using Google Docs (anybody want to teach me?!), I just added them to TPT for free.  You can find them here.  There are 2 versions to choose from.


I am totally planning on dragging my Election Booth to school again next week.  I can't wait. :-)

Also, I am a part of a great birthday giveaway that I wanted to share with all of you!

Go to Tara's Facebook page and go to the Birthday Giveaway tab to enter to win!

Happy Halloween, and Happy Throwback Thursday!

How I Organize Guided Reading in my Classroom

I finally had time to write this post today!  It is one I have been working on for awhile!  I had to take the day off work because of a horrible toothache I had.  Turns out my tooth cracked internally and abscessed, so I get to find out if I have to have my tooth pulled or get a root canal once I finish the antibiotic the dentist gave me.  But my unexpected and unwanted day off is a good thing, I guess, because I managed to get something positive done today!  I am so excited to share about how I organize Guided Reading in my room with you!

Guided Reading used to be one of my favorite things to teach.  While my experience with reading last year kind of ruined that for me, I am trying to learn to love it again.  I recently received my Masters in Education with a concentration in reading, if that tells you how much I love reading and teaching reading.  I love being able to work in small groups with my students.  I feel like I get to know them so much better, and I love getting to know my students as readers and writers during Guided Reading.  Plus, the independent work gives the students the opportunity to work on their own and it's nice to see students complete an activity without me hovering over them. :-)

I feel like a MAJOR component of Guided Reading is organization.  You MUST be organized if you want to be an effective teacher, but this is even more important when you are teaching Guided Reading groups.  You must have lesson plans that are laid out and targeted to the skills your students need. There is so much to Guided Reading, and it is so important to get it right!  There are some really great books out there to help guide you if you are struggling with Guided Reading.  A few I really like are Making the Most of Small Groups by Debbie Miller and The Next Step in Guided Reading by Jan Richardson.  If you aren't familiar with either of these books, you should be!

This is how I organize my Guided Reading in my classroom.

At my table, I like to have all of my materials organized and at my fingertips.  This allows me to maximize my 20 minutes with each group so that we get everything accomplished!  I have a basket near my table that has most of the materials I will need in it.  Everything is right where I need it, and the students know where things are too.  I can easily lift it up and move it to my table if I need something from it.

In my basket, I have a ton of different materials.  Some of them are self explanatory, such as the timer and whiteboards.  I also have a sand timer that is 1 minute, so I can use it for little sight word quizzes or to time a student for fluency.  The strategy bookmarks help remind the students to use their strategies to figure out unknown words.  I also keep reading response prompt cards at my table for a quick reference for me, and it allows them to have something to copy from.  The blend cards are to practice our blend sounds.  I simply hold up the card, and the students can say the sound or give me some words that start with that sound.  The magnifying glasses are for finding chunks we know in words.  The textured paint chips my have you scratching your head.  I have had students with poor motor skills, so I write a letter on the card and allow them to trace it.  Since they are textured, it's like using sandpaper- but these were free!  I got them from Lowes a few years ago.  I wrote a post on how I made and have used the reading response gloves here.

Reading also needs to be fun, so sometimes I pull out these fun materials, both in guided reading groups or during whole group lessons.  The glasses remind us to look through the whole world when reading, or when we are looking for particular words or sounds or whatever.  I popped the lenses out of a ton of $1 Target kids sunglasses, and I have one for each student.  The pointers are for 1-1 matching.  I have smaller pencil pointers that look like the larger pointers I have.  I use the highlighters for highlighting words or chunks.  Sometimes we use these whole group as well.

Most of these materials are kept on a bookshelf beside my table.  Each group has a basket that holds the materials they will need for each day.  I teach 4 groups a day, and our ECE teacher teaches the other group.  We switch every 6 weeks or so, and then I get to meet with the other group I hadn't been meeting with.  We both meet with the lowest group, so they get 2 groups a day.

Inside each basket holds the book they are reading, familiar books that they can re-read for fluency, graphic organizers or reading response prompts, and sometimes there are other materials that I keep in there as well. I keep magnetic letters handy in a compartmentalized box that slides next to Group 5's crate.  I also keep extra whiteboard markers and crayons here as well, as I sometimes have students work on small projects at my table and they need crayons or pencils.  It is a lot of stuff to keep track of, but having it handy and organized really helps!

  The students love coming to "my table" each day and working on reading!  They are great kids, and I am loving working with them!  4 of my students receive Reading Recovery as an intervention, and I love watching how much they have grown each week!  I do running records on one student in each group each day, and on Fridays, I do sight word assessments.  I also check the students center work for the week and give them a grade.  This keeps them accountable for the work they are doing.
I love my kidney table.  It allows me to get close to my students while still giving them room to work.  I keep just a few things on my table (most days!):  
1. My guided reading binder, which holds my lesson plans, copies of graphic organizers, running record forms, etc...  I need a bigger binder!  
2.  A pocket chart that holds the "I Can" statements we are working on, vocabulary words from the book, and any sight words we are working on.  I can change it out easily for each group, or prepare it for 2 groups and turn it around.  There is another small crate inside that holds the "I Can" statements, sentence strips to write vocabulary words and sight words, and markers to do the writing.  I created the "I Can" statements by printing my Visual "I Can" Statements 2 to a page. They can also be printed 4 to a page, and I use those in my centers. :-)

The students sit on the stools I made from 5 gallon buckets.  I like them, because they hold supplies, and they force the students to sit up straight!  I have learned that the buckets should stay full so they are heavier and harder to move!  (Most of them are, but I have 1-2 that are empty or close to empty.)  I have 6 stools, and my largest group has 6 students in it, though that is getting ready to change!  YAY!  I have a range of students who are reading at a 3/4 to a group of students who are working at a level 16/18.  I like having a range of readers in my room.  It allows me to diversify my lessons a bit.  It's nice being able to work with a group of students I have to challenge, but sometimes it's nice that I don't have to come up with challenging activities for 5 different groups of kids!  And then I'm not stuck reading the same books over and over again!

I hope this post about how I run guided reading groups was helpful to at least some of you!  Please comment and let me know if you have any questions or found anything helpful.  I will be back soon with a post on how I run centers in my room!  

But tomorrow is Throwback Thursday, and I'll be posting a post about our Election Day fun from last year that I know most of you haven't seen! :-)

I am having a little Trick or Treat Flash Sale in my TPT store today and tomorrow!  Check it out!

Happy Halloween, everybody!