Using Google in my First Grade Classroom to Build Phonemic Skills

 About a year and a half ago I decided to take the plunge and push myself outside of my comfort zone. Our school district was working hard to get Chrome Books into the hands of our students. They were slowly getting rid of the desktop computers and I knew I needed to find a way to utilize them in my first grade classroom. Lucky for me, there are many educators out there who had already taken the plunge and were super helpful in the learning process.  Once I began using them, I realized how easy it actually was, and how motivated and engaged my students were.  Living with 7 of my own kiddos I realize how driven they are by technology. In my own home we have limitations and I feel the same in the classroom. They do not consume us daily but they are definitely a small part of our day.

I knew I wanted to find different ways to make my phonemic learning and word work more digital.  I came up with 4 different activities I use consistently with my students. Usually we practice them together in whole group using the SMART board.  Then I go and assign them using Google Classroom. (The best invention EVER).  I won't harp on Google Classroom too long but I will make a few amazing points on this Google App. It is super easy to send an assignment to your students. It automatically makes an individual copy for each student. The coolest feature is that it allows me to differentiate. I can pick students I want to send assignments to. Not everyone needs to work on the same thing! 

One of our favorite activities to work on is called Turtle out the Word.  This activity is a great way to work on phoneme segmentation. It begins with a word. The students look at the word and say the sounds a turtle. Once they have the word identified, they drag the matching picture for the word. In this picture we were working on the diphthong ow for the week. You can see the students up at the SMART board here completing this as a whole group.  By the way..if you have a SMART board it is easy to drag and drop if you make a fist. I have 48 different assignments for Turtle out the Word.

 Here is a sample of what is looks like up close.

Another fun activity we do is called Build a Word. With this activity we focus on segmentation and spelling specific word patterns. Students look at the picture provided. Then they drag and drop the letters to spell the word in the boxes provided. Sometimes the pictures can be tricky so I do like to play them together whenever I get a chance. 

 Here is a before and after picture.

Clip activities came to me from the traditional activity where you use a laminated card and a clip. The process of cutting and laminating all of the cards, only to have them last a year or so was not appealing. Instead my students will work on the same concept but digitally instead. No laminating, copying or cutting for me. During this activity, students look at a picture. They drag the clip the correlating sound in the picture.  Here you can see that we are working on r-controlled vowels. 

Here is an up close picture of an s blend activity.

Finally, one of my favorites was also created to use less paper, time and glue. They are called digital word sorts. I have over 200 different sorts that I can send to my students throughout the year. Students drag and drop the words into the correct column. There are also little yellow frames that can be dragged over the specific phonic focus for the week. 

Here is a photo of us completing it together on the SMART board and individually on the Chromebook. 

I can finally say that I have completed all of the skills I use in my first grade classroom and have them organized for each week of our learning next year. It was a long process but so worth it. Once they are done, there is only one thing left to do, send them to the kids.  This MEGA BUNDLE contains 333 different assignments you can use with your students throughout the entire year. It is an all access phonemic pass. It covers initials sounds, final consonant sounds, cvc words, short vowels, cvcc words, long vowels, cvce words, vowel teams, digraphs, diphthongs, r-controlled vowels, blends, and word endings. I took the plunge on Google and have never looked back.


First Week of School with Rules and Routines

What will you be doing your first week of school? We  usually have a few days on our first week of school. During that time I usually read "First Day Jitters", "Kissing Hand", "If you Take a Mouse to School", or "Froggy Goes to School". On the first full week of school we begin our Rules and Routines Unit from Guided Reading with a Purpose. The focus of this unit is to discuss classroom rules and routines while we learn about characters and setting from a story.  Below you will see the 5 anchor text I use to teach characters and setting.  

To make it extra exciting and fun for the students, I try to dress up like a character from a book and create different settings daily. This gets them really excited to come to school each day and creates anticipation.  Last year they were trying to guess who I would dress up like the next day. Here are a few pictures from last year. It is nothing elaborate.. I just bought a few hats off of Etsy. I do realize this is a little over the top but that tends to be how I roll.

On the first day, I only focus on characters. I begin with a game called "What's in my Bag?". Slowly I take an image out of my bag and put it on our chart. Once we have all of the characters out of the bag, we brainstorm what they all have in common. The idea is to get them to understand the term character.   Here is an example.

This anchor chart is then on display for the week. On day two, we learn about settings.  We play this game again but this time the pictures include different settings. 

I also set up a mystery setting at their tables. Each day they come in and they have to guess where they are at for the day. I just went to the dollar store and purchased items around the same theme. Here are a few snapshots of some of the settings I created. Can you guess what they were?
(beach, bathroom, pet shop, birthday party)

During the week, we read a different story each day and worked on shared activities. We do 1 to 2 worksheets each day and discuss parts of the story using the colorful cards I have created. 

Of course we had to sneak in a few crafts throughout the week. Here are the ones included. I never have time to do them all so I pick and choose. I like to provide choice also. My students picked which teacher they wanted to make from Miss Nelson is Missing and which student from The Recess Queen. 

Here is their finished work. I love their cute.

Finally, we ended the week with a fun sharing project. I don't like to give out homework or projects that ends up being a parent project. Since I have 7 children I feel the parent's pain in that area.  This assignment was optional. I told them to bring in something that represented a favorite character or setting from a book and we would try to guess it.  This is the perfect activity to address the "Speaking and Listening" standards. It was almost like show and tell for them. They loved it. We had a variety of things brought in but I'm pretty sure Captain Underpants got the most laughs.

This is the first week in a 40 week series of units that teach a specific standard and skill. Some teachers call it "Shared Reading". In my school this is our large group guided reading time. It is a wonderful opportunity to present a new concept to the whole class and work on building listening comprehension. In all honesty it is my favorite part of the day. It leads into our writing and sets the tone for the day. 

Here is what others have said about this unit.
"I loved the first GRWAP file that I bought so much, that I purchased others! Lots of resources to choose from. Clear teaching points and great ideas!"
"Very thorough and engaging! The students love the book choices."
"I love the literature connection! Very enjoyable and complete!"

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