Thursday, 12 June 2014

Throwback Thursday

I am linking up with Randi over at The Teaching Tribune for Throwback Thursday.

I am currently teaching First Grade and here are a couple of photos of me in First Grade. They are photos of photo, because I grew up in the days of 'real cameras'.  The first was taken on a special day celebrating eduction. Parents had been invited into 'open classrooms' to see our work. I am standing in front of my desk - and that my friends, is my winter school uniform. Must have been a cold day, cause I have my skivvy (long sleeve, roll necked top) on! 

It is also a photo from around the time I first knew I wanted to be a teacher. I feel very blessed that I had 13 years of amazing school teachers. 

As a teacher now, looking back, I often ask myself, were they really all perfect? Probably not. But at the time, I thought they were. I thank my parents and their attitude towards school, education and teachers, for that. I never once heard my parents whinge or complain about my school, teachers or their expectations. It was a total, 100% unquestioned, 'given' that teachers were respected in my home. Perhaps that is why I only ever saw the good they did and took it all so seriously. 

It is no coincidence that I have so many fond memories of First Grade. This teacher went the extra mile to make learning fun, engaging and most-importantly for me, visual. A lot of what we learnt was  integrated with 'craft' or art, and displayed in the classroom - not just on the wall, but hanging from the ceiling and on interest tables.

It was this teacher that also sparked my initial interest in a good quality worksheet. The school had just got their first photocopier, and the purple 'stencils' were no more. Special worksheets were made for students struggling with letters of the alphabet as 'extra' homework. I wanted one badly. I remember pretending to form my letters the wrong way one day so I could take home a worksheet! 

Looking back, I think she saw straight through me. 

I remember so much more from this class - the little levelled readers that we started taking home to read, and contact-covered empty cans we used for pencil 'tins', wooden 'rods' to learn number concepts, my first 'spelling list' and Mr Pea Mooney (a puppet used for language and communication lessons). He came out of his box to help the teacher with lessons and activities. One sad Monday we were told that he was not coming to our lessons anymore. A 'baddie' had broken into the school on the weekend, stolen him, made a fire and burned him. 

Let me tell you, we were all in shock and that story haunted us all for years!

I remember silly things from that year, like when I got a splinter in my bottom during PE. We had been asked to slide along an old timber bench seat. At the time I had no idea why my bottom was in so much pain. I will forever remember standing in the staff room, pants down as 3 teachers peered, inspected and debated about why I kept holding my bottom and crying uncontrollably. 

I also remember tasting glue for the first time. Glue sticks had just been invented. Seriously. 

It was quite the topic of discussion at our table for quite a few weeks. I remember chatting away to two of my very social friends and we were discussing what 'non toxic' meant. "It means that you can eat it and you won't die" I proudly told them. So we tried some. 

I also remember red pencils, and how insanely valuable they were.

I remember the van that pulled up once a month or so, into the school yard, filled with fabulous teacher resources - stickers, stamps, books and fun stuff! I remember my teacher wearing stilettos and the clip-clop sound they made as she walked through the yard.

I remember sitting in the blazing hot sun without any shade. I remember making daisy chains and looking for four leaf clovers. I remember wonderful days with my friends. 

Those were the days. 

Head over to TTT for more 'Throwback Thursday' posts! Thanks so much for stopping by!

Let's Learn Numbers - Teaching Numbers for the First Time

When it is time to start teaching your students numbers for the first time, you may quickly determine that they 'know' their numbers to 10. So many students come to school with the ability to count and recognise numbers up to ten and beyond.

But, I challenge you to look deeper into their understanding. When a child sees the numeral '2' and says '2' - they have mastered 'numeral identification' - but not necessarily a deeper understanding of the number 2. The 'number-ness' of 2 if you like. The 'two-ness' of 2. 

Little ones learn very quickly to say 'McDonalds' when they see a giant yellow 'M', and in a similar way, learn to say the word 'two' when they see a numeral 2. 

They also learn to say 'onetwothreefourfivesixseveneightnineten'. But can they count, and understand the quantity of what they count? Do they know the total quantity that represents the word they have said?

A good solid introduction to the numbers up to ten is essential for later mathematical learning.

I have recently updated one of the first sets of worksheets I listed at TpT - Let's Learn Numbers 1-10. 

This set has been designed to use with your class, for your first introductory lessons on number. They are also ideal for students that need remedial assistance. 

They work perfectly with your hands-on, active learning about numbers. With each worksheet, I would strongly recommend lots of practice, building, making, sorting, creating, grouping, and manipulating equipment to develop a solid awareness of the 'number-ness' of the number. Your students NEED lots of practice becoming aware of how the number 'feels' in their hands. What is FEELS like to make it and represent the numeral with actual objects they can touch. 

There are 5 worksheets for each number, sequenced to help develop the conceptual understanding that you can scaffold over the week.

I will explain the week, by showing you the '2' worksheets. 

On the first day, introduce the number. Practice counting as a class, asking students to point to a number line and match each word with a numeral. Note the focus number on your first counting. Point out the numbers that come before and after. 

Ask students to find things in the classroom that are in a '2' arrangement. Make groups of a variety of numbers to show your students, and ask students to tell you if it is '2' or not. Why? Is it too many, or not enough? On the worksheet, students try to find groups that show 2. The groups are shown in different arrangements. 

On Day 2, students need to create/build groups of 2 from scratch. Make the number with objects in the classroom. Ask students to make them at their tables with small equipment like counting bears. 

Also, do some activities on recognising the numeral 2.

On Day 3 students work towards understanding that 2 can be a part of a larger group. So, make some groups of objects to show students and ask them to select part of the group to show 2. You may like to give them piece of string to place around the part that shows 2. 

On Day 4 students work on completing part of a group to make 2. This is the beginning of an understanding of addition also. Students add more objects to a collection to make a number. Also, introduce the idea of representing the number with a numeral. Practice writing the number and the correct formation of the written numeral. 

For Day 5, the set includes 2 worksheets that will help revise the number you are working on, and the numbers you have learnt prior to this one. Students will need to recognise the numerals, shade part of a group to match the numeral, identify a numeral to match a set and finally, draw a set to match a numeral. 

The worksheets are clear, uncluttered and will focus your students attention on the numbers and numerals. 

I have included a cover page, so you can create workbooklets for your students to work through.

You can find this file in my TpT store HERE

You can download a free sample of this set, by clicking on the image below:

Find more great free worksheet samples, over at The Teaching Tribune for Worksheet Wednesday!