Thursday, June 18, 2015


My name is Ginger Wilson and I teach 1st grade.  I've been teaching for about 10 years, in many different states and Germany.  I'm excited to start this blog about my experiences in implementing the Daily 5 and Café.  I am about to finish the graduate course that is offered through Upper Iowa University and endorsed by the sisters!  I look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions as I fully implement both for school year 2014-2015!

Monday, May 26, 2014

A Little End-of-the-Year Research

I'm sure, like me, you're ready for your summer break!  We have four more days of school, whoohoo!!  I've completed all of the end-of-the-year assessments and I have input the grades in all the correct online data files and I am wiped out.  So what are we doing for the last four days of class you might ask?  All year, I've been wanting to do an animal research project with my students and I never seemed to be able to fit it in to our schedule.  I actually started a couple of weeks ago and we are going to finish it this last week of school.  The students love learning about the animal they picked and they are doing a really nice job of completing the pages for their "All About_____" book.  I got the idea from Mrs. Wheeler's First Grade Tidbits: Writing.  I loved the nonfiction notebooks also so I bought the bundle Non-Fiction Reading and Writing Bundle.

Then, to help my students prevent the Summer Slide, I purchased Summer Review NO PREP (1st Grade) made by The Moffatt Girls.  I also love Annie's Ready2Read program and I plan on incorporating it into my centers for next year.  I'm revamping how I teach Reading Street based on The Daily 5 and Café, but that is definitely for another post as it will be a little bit longer and I need to write it all out so I can wrap my brain around it.  I'm super excited though and I will definitely share when I have it all planned out!  Until then, Have a safe Memorial Day!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

New Daily Math Routine

Ok, so a little bit about my new math routine.  Earlier, I posted about my old way of teaching math; 30 minute whole group lesson followed by everyone working on the same pages.  Chaos usually showed up towards the end of our math time, with some students finishing early, and some who just weren't getting it.  This equaled frustration for me and off task behavior for them.

When I enrolled in the graduate class for Daily 5 and Café, I learned about their Math Daily 3 which also has an entire chapter dedicated to it in the Sister's 2nd edition of the Daily 5.  Their Math Daily 3 time follows the Gradual Release of Responsibility Model.  For math, it looks like this:
Short focus lesson that explicitly teaches the concept being taught, with students listening or following along using manipulatives.  For first grade, this focus lesson would last between 7-10 minutes.  The 1st focus lesson is followed by a math rotation where students choose from Math by Myself, Math Writing, and Math with Someone (I added Math on the Computer, also) while the teacher meets with a small skills group.  After the 1st rotation is over, the class meets again for the 2nd focus lesson which includes the students interacting more in the lesson.  A second rotation follows with students choosing where they want to go and the teacher working with individuals or a small group.  The 3rd focus lesson is the You do part of the lesson.  This is where students practice the concept on their own or with a partner.  The teacher is monitoring students' interaction and understanding of the lesson and taking notes on who needs more help or instruction.  The third rotation follows, just like the other two.  The fourth and final focus lesson ends the math block time with students sharing their thinking and strategies for the day.

If you're like me, teaching a 30 minute math lesson was frustrating.  You could tell when the students weren't listening anymore and were more interested in their shoe strings, or the carpet fibers on the rug.  I love the way Math Daily 3 works.  The focus lessons are just the right amount of time to hold the students' interest and the rotations allow for a short break of getting up and moving around while getting what they need to complete the rotation.  I love being able to work with the students who need more help with the concept. 

I used to group my math groups by test scores.  My first three math groups worked ok, but my fourth and lowest group never quite made it to where they needed to be.  I changed my groups to social groups.  The students complete the math pages at my table and I usually only have one student in that group that I am working with explicitly.  The others have my help when and if they need it. 

And my test scores that I promised I would reveal - 92% average on the last two tests where before, teaching the old way, the averages were around 86%.

I definitely feel more like I'm reaching every child in math now.  It's a great feeling!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Let's Talk About Math

Let's talk about math, baby.
Let's talk about 1, 2, 3.
Let's talk about all the good things
and the fab things, that can be,
Let's talk about Math!

Ok, so I probably just dated myself if you picked out that tune, but seriously, let's talk about math. 

Earlier this year, my math block consisted of a 30 minute whole group math lesson followed by everyone completing the same math journal pages.  My district uses Everyday Mathematics and this is actually the way the Teacher's Manual wants you to teach it.  With Units 1-4, my class average on test scores was approximately 85%.  That was teaching a 30 minute whole group lesson followed by whole group working through the math journal.  I guess 85% isn't that bad, but I wasn't happy with the scores.  How could I increase our class average on test scores?

At my school, the 1st and 3rd grade teams are participating in a PLC implementing Debbie Diller's Math Work Stations.  I started looking up how other teachers conduct their math time.  I came across Clutter Free Classroom's Guide to Organizing and Managing Math Workshop with Guided Math.  I used this to help get me started with a bulletin board that would help me keep track of everything while also letting the students know where they are going and what they are doing for our math block.  I feel this helps run things more smoothly and even the substitutes that I have had commented on how much they liked the rotations.  Right now I'm waiting on some smaller pocket charts to arrive in the mail so that I can complete the bulletin board, plus I'm also putting together the math tubs with activities from Debbie Diller's Math Work Stations book.

In my next math post, I will talk a little more about how I conduct my math time and reveal my new class average on the last two math unit tests we have taken.  I was very pleased :-)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Classroom Design

Happy Saturday!  I guess I'm going to have to add a new lily pad because I want to talk about classroom design and I don't have a label for it. 

Before I get into Classroom Design, I want to give a big THANKS to Tessa Maguire from Tales from Outside the Classroom for designing my blog page.  I explained what I wanted as best I could and she did a wonderful job of designing it!  If you want a blog design, I highly recommend you contact her at Tales From a Blog Designer!

Anyway, I've been completely enthralled with the classroom designs by Melanie Ralbusky from Schoolgirl Style. Out of all her wonderful designs, I absolutely love her Sweet Bluebird design.  I love the color combinations and I think I'm going to have to change my classroom from Frogs to Sweet Bluebird, or so I thought.  Melanie has started unveiling her 2014 collection and she unveiled a Fabulous Frogs Classroom Theme!  The decision is going to be a tough one, but I'm bound and determined to make a choice by June! 

Hop on over to Schoolgirl Style!  Which design is your favorite? 

Have a Super Saturday!