Friday, December 12, 2014

Mini Lessons...Where to Start?

When I first started teaching mini lessons I struggled with where to start.  I found this book and it helped me through the process. After doing several of the lessons in this book, I found I was developing my own.  Now, I feel confident in creating my own mini lessons that are quick and meaningful for my students. I just needed a little something to get me started.  Just thought I would share...HAPPY FRIDAY! 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Daily 5 is Common Core

RSAC Masthead Image

We came, we saw, we presented! Thank you all who came to our presentation. We are so honored that you chose our session.

Preconference "selfie"

We had so many great questions.  One question at the end of our session has prompted me to write this blog post.  A participant asked, "When do you teach the Common Core standards?" Well, that is simple...the Daily 5 is Common Core.  Let me explain a little more by giving you the full picture of my day.

Here is a rough schedule of our day.  

7:55-8:15 Morning Work and Attendance
8:15-9:15 Daily 5 block
9:15-10:15 Math block
10:15-10:45 Shared Reading Block/Mini Lesson Time
10:45-11:15 Silent Reading
11:20-12:10 Recess and Lunch
12:15-12:30 Fundations (Phonic/Spelling block)
12:30-1:00 Special
1:00-1:30 Special
1:30-2:00 Writing
2:00-2:30 Science/S.S.
2:30-2:55 Snack and Assignment Notebook
2:55-3:05 Pack-up and go home

Where do I teach the Common Core?  At the start of the Daily 5 block, I do a quick mini lesson. Remember mini lessons should be about as many minutes as your students age, but no more than 10 minutes. I reteach a reading strategy that I have taught previously during my shared reading block.

I save my new teachings for my shared reading time.  I have blocked off 30 minutes for shared reading time, but as you can see I don't scheduled in bathroom breaks or flex time. My shared reading block usually is NOT 30 minutes because of this.  My shared reading lessons are longer than 10 minutes, but I do try to keep them shorter for my students attention span.  I often tell my students, "To be continued" if we need to end the lesson.   However, I always challenge them to try the strategy that I am teaching them during this lesson.

This year we were given a work book!  Eeek! Cue the scary music.

I am NOT a fan of workbooks.  However, this one has almost been a blessing.  (Never thought I would say that!)  This book addresses all the reading Common Core standards in it.  I start off my week with a lesson from the workbook.  This is an introduction to one of the Common Core reading standards. The rest of the week I create shared reading lessons that helps up dive deeper into the standard and practice the various strategies.  This book has given me a sort of scope and sequence to teach the standards in.

Here is an example...


Here was the first page of our workbook.  It addressed CCSS RI.2.1. 
On Monday we did this as a whole group.  We added the strategy Ask Questions to our CAFE board under comprehension. This is why I highly reccomend reading and implimenting The Cafe Book.
On Tuesday we read a nonfiction book about spiders.  Before we read the book, we wrote questions that we had.  As we read the book we added more questions and  wrote the answers down to our questions as we found the answers.
We continued in the same way with other non-fiction books on Wednesday and Thursday.
On Friday, just to spice things up and show the students that this strategy applied to fiction as well, I read the story, Where's Spot? by Eric Hill. We continued the same as we had all week.

After each shared reading lesson, I would challenge my students to ask questions before they read and to try stopping to check for understanding, by asking themselves questions about a book they were reading from their book bags.

While students are doing their Daily 5 task I am working with my guided reading groups.  During guided reading groups I reinforce the shared reading lessons and strategies that we are working on in class.  Again...teaching of the Common Core standards.

During silent reading students are practicing their reading strategies....common core in action!  While they are reading independently, I am conferencing with students one on one.  We read, discuss, and practice their strategies, which are all common core aligned.

At Pecatonica, we use Wilson Language Fundations program as our phonics/spelling program.  This program is aligned to the Common Core standards.  During this block is where I teach the foundational reading standards of Common Core.  During word work for Daily 5 students are working on repeated practice of previously taught word wall words or "trick words" as they are called in Fundations.  Sometimes, I will also have my students do word sorts, syllable sorts, or do other activities that were previously taught during my Fundations block. I never have students work on something that they have not been exposed to during our Fundations block!


We also use Write Steps Writing program to teach writing. This program is also aligned to the Common Core writing, language, and foundational standards.  During this block is where I model writing for my students.  Students also write during this time while I conference with individuals.  During my writing for Daily 5 students have writing activities that reinforce previously taught writing skills. 

There you have it folks. Our day in a nut shell.  Please, don't let the Common Core standards steer you away from the Daily 5 and CAFE!  Daily 5 is COMMON CORE.  The integration of the standards are done through out the Daily 5 block and our day.  I refuse to sell my soul to the Common Core Gods and sacrifice a balanced literacy program. I use Daily 5 time as the time where students are allowed to have the repeated practice of the strategies and standards that I have taught previously.  That's what makes the Daily 5 program rigorous.  If you have any questions, please feel free to email me any time and I will do my best to answer your questions.  Please share your Daily 5 experiences with me as well so we can learn from each other. 

In case you did not get your coupon for your free Graze box, here it is!  If you have not tried Graze yet, here is your chance with no obligation. I look forward to checking my school mailbox every Monday to find my week of healthy snacks nicely packed in the Graze box. For $6.95 each is TOTALLY worth it!

Monday, November 17, 2014

We Give Books

I stumbled upon this great site called We Give Books! WOW! There are so many children's books that I can project onto my SMARTboard and read with my students for free! YES I said FREE!!! I found it when I was searching Pinterest for ideas for Two Bad Pilgrims. Imagine my surprise when I was able to view the entire book, but many more. All I had to do was create a free profile and BAM...I was in! Check it out for yourself by clicking on the image below!

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Best Summer EVER!

This summer has been the best ever as I  have spent my time with my AH-MAZ-ING 3 year old daughter.

We have spent time swinging, playing outside, learning our alphabet, swimming and of course...

playing with HER pet duck!

Yes, you heard my correct.  We have a pet duck.  It all happened when we were hatching duck eggs in our classrooms last year. One of my dear teacher friends was getting ready on her wedding day.  Ashley and I stopped by to check on her eggs and to our amazement, a duck was hatching right before our eyes.   The duck, now known as MR. Peeps, even though I am pretty sure he is a MISS, came home with us for the long weekend. Well, he/she has been with us ever since.

Mr. Peeps thinks Ashley is his mother.  He will literally hug her back, sit in her lap, and "cry" when she walks away.  He is also developing a GREAT friendship with our 11 year old Lab Drake.

Drake and Peeps in the Kennel.  Mr. Peeps is hard to see, but he is to the right of Drake.

I have not blogged lately about anything school or really done anything other than pinning...SORRY! This year it is my goal to grow my blog and make it more of a priority.  Like, I said earlier thought, I have been working with Ashley on letter recognition.  I made a Chicka Chicka Boom Boom tree in our living room.  

Each night we put an empty coconut in her room. 

When we wake up there are letters inside.

We identify the old letters we know.  Then, we add the new letters.  

After the letters are done we have been singing the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom song as we point to the letters.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Kinda Golden

Well today is my birthday and I am not ashamed to say that I am 33.  Since, I don't remember turning 3 on my golden birthday, I am designating today as my golden birthday.  Boy have my students made it something to remember and it is only 9:00.

Some of my sweet little firsties came in this morning with gifts. 

I love handmade cards...they are the BEST!

I even got a hand wrapped gift plus a handmade card.

Love reading their precious words.

Love what was inside!

I think it is safe to say that my students really know me well!  Chocolate is the way to an A in our room.  Thank you Wonderful Whales for making me feel super special!

Now on to my trouble making colleague and friend. She convinced my students that I am really 38 today.  She told them that I just did not want them to really know how old I am. Her plot started yesterday.  To support her story, she sent up some of her students with a gift for me.  Noticed what she wrote on the card!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Mrs. Wanke's Wonderful Whales: Amazing Animal Projects!

I can't say how proud and excited I am with what these kids did!  Can't wait for round 2 of their presentations tomorrow!

Mrs. Wanke's Wonderful Whales: Amazing Animal Projects!: Today day we showcased all of our hard work for the past few weeks.  When I started this project with my firsties, I had a list of expectat...

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


I have been working really hard with my students on using evidence from a text to support their answer.  Today, I gave each of my students a copy of an article about koalas that I found on  I also put a copy of it on the Smart Board.

I first had my students use their red, yellow, and blue crayons to highlight answers to questions that I asked in the text.
Use your blue crayon to highlight the two things that Koalas eat.
Use your red crayon to highlight where Koalas get their water.
Use your yellow crayon to highlight what the work Koala means.

Then I asked my students, What would happen to a koala if all of the eucalyptus leaves smelled bad? (This question came with the passage, which you can download for free at

I asked my students to first give their answer.  Then, I had them use part of the question in their answer. Next, they had to add the word because and evidence from the text to support their answer.

Check out some of their answers...pretty good for first grade and only our second time doing this sort of activity.

After my students had attempted their answers I modeled for the students how I would write my sentence.  I used three different colors to break down the three parts of the answer.  Black for my answer, blue for the part of the question restated in my answer, and the green for the evidence from the text.  (They will be using the fancy colors from now on when we do this together. It really seemed to help them visualize what I was asking.)
Here is my answer...

The Koala would die if all the eucalyptus leaves smelt bad because they will not eat eaves that smell bad and eucalyptus is a Koala's food source.  

I explained to my students that you can add more information from your own head or schema, after you have provided evidence from the text. is a free website where you can download grade appropriate text and lesson plans.  You should totally check it out!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Art Party

What do you get when you combine, the coolest art teacher, watercolor paints, and Alka Seltzer?
Exploding Art!
My class earned an art party from the art teacher for having the highest attendance at the art show.  They had so much fun!  I think I will be doing this with my daughter this summer.  I wonder if it would work by mixing chalk paint and Alka Seltzer?  I will report back this summer!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Persuasive Writing

We read the book, I Wanna New Room by Karen Kaufman Orloff. In this story a little boy and his dad write letters back and forth as the boy truss to convince his dad that he needs his own room.

We were inspired to write letters to our parents to convince them that we should have a later bedtime. Check out these two, I literally laughed out loud.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Eggstrodinary Week!

Today we did the first candling of our duck eggs.  Our eggs have been incubating for 8 days now.

Our incubator hard at work, keeping our duck eggs at 99 degrees Fahrenheit.

This is what the inside of the duck egg looks like at day 8.

When we candled the eggs today we were looking for veins and possibly some slight movement of the developing duck.  If we didn't see any veins then we knew that the egg was not fertilized and there would be no duck.  

Based upon our observations, we predicted the following
Egg 1:  no veins, no duck
Egg 2: veins, duck!
Egg 3: veins, duck!
Egg 4: no veins, no duck
Egg 5: veins, duck!
Egg 6, veins, duck!
Egg 7: no veins, no duck
Egg 8: veins, movement, duck!
Egg 9: no veins, no duck
Egg 10: no veins, no duck

Below is a YouTube video of a duck egg candling at Day 7.    She gives lots of good information about candling.

We have also been hard at working learning all we can about ducks.

My attempt at humor.

We have been reading articles about duck.  Then, we have to answer questions about ducks and find evidence from the text that supports our answers.  
One question was, Could a duck survive in Antarctica?  We said no, and because we looked back in the article we were able to support our answer by adding... because ducks are found all over the world except in very cold places.  Some ducks even migrate during winter.

This is the article about ducks that we read.  Notice how we highlighted key pieces of information!
Click on the picture for the link to the TPT store A Year of Many Firsts.  This close reading packet has it all! 

This is the fun fraction activity we did with ducks!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Five For Friday!

 This week I had a lot of fun with my students.  All of my 5 "things" from this week are not academic...which I do feel bad about. However, I assure you we had lots of learning taking place. 

April showers bring May flowers!

Got to love a little camera fun!

We were lean mean roping machines! 

We had fun learning to use a lasso as we wrapped up our Tall Tales unit. We had to try and also a cow, a goat, and a tornado.  If we lassoed the cow, we had to write a "noo" word. (That was my attempt at humor.)  If we lassoed the old goat, we had to write an old word.  Lastly, if we lassoed the tricky tornado, we had to write a trick word. 

I scream you scream, we ALL scream for ice cream!

I treated all my students to ice cream since I think they are GOLDEN event though the judges didn't select our class for the Golden Apple.

Sing, sing a song...

I was so proud of all the first graders on Tuesday when they sang for 1st Congressional Church.

Who's going to second grade?

We are going to start a persuasive writing next week! 
Students will plan and write a persuasive essay/speech about why they should go to second grade.  After they have written their essay, they will take it home for fine tuning and to practice giving their speech. On a given day, TBA, each child will give their argument to the judge, that's me!  I will decide if I believe their argument.  ;)  
This should be a lot of fun! I am going to wear my black graduation robe so I can look the part of a judge.

Today was the photo shoot.  These pictures will be attached to each child's completed essay and hung in the hallway.