A Day in First Grade

A few years ago I wrote this post about our day in first grade. That was back in 2011 and our days have changed a bit, so I thought I’d take you through a typical day and include as many photos as I could, to give you a little peek of a typical day in my room.  Hopefully it helps.   First, here is an overview of what our day looks like, and some resources I use.  You can click any of the pictures below to check them out. 

So lets, begin! Each morning I greet my students at the door and usually I have some music playing.  I recently found a song that is perfect, thanks to ONE FAB TEACHER. The song is Good Morning by Mandisa and I can’t wait to play it.  
After students enter they walk over to and find their name on our magnet board and move it to their lunch choice. This is also how we’ll know who is absent.  
When students are finished, they check their GO BOOK for important papers and get a new nightly reader and then they get started on a Morning Menu Activity.  I love these activities because they are Common Core aligned and give a quick assessment of each of the standards. I also mix our mornings up with other fun little activities too. Sometimes my students walk in to playdough on their desks for making their weekly sight words, or alphabet cereal to make their spelling words.  
After the announcements have ended and attendance has been recorded, we meet on the carpet to start our morning meeting.  My meeting time each morning lasts about 45 minutes and includes my calendar.  In the morning, we start with our morning message. We use the same message all week. We change the date, and focus on one skill each day.  On Monday’s we often fix mistakes in the message to practice editing, the next day we might circle nouns and discuss the type of noun they are, the next day we might find words with short vowel sounds, etc.  I really try to hit a plethora of skills and work on what’s challenging my kids the most.  We use different color markers each day to differentiate the skills throughout the week. 
Next my students turn and read our poem.  We not only use our poem for reading fluency and phonemic awareness activities, but also for language, spelling and phonics skills. 
Here we often use pocket chart highlighters. 
Now it’s time to get up and grab our white boards and markers! My kiddos favorite time of the day.
This is the time when we review!! We review everything!!! Remember you are not teaching a skill for it to be forgotten tomorrow.  You have to constantly be cycling through the standards and hitting them over and over.  And this can’t be done effectively with worksheets. Make it meaningful!  During our whiteboard time, I play lots of fun math, sight word and literacy games.  We also put those boards down and sing and dance to review skills as well.  And when someone does something amazing (or just does well on something they may have been struggling with), we celebrate. I constantly have my Spotify account ready with “This girl is on Fire!” or “Boom Clap” and just those 5 seconds of song, celebrate my kiddos and they feel so proud.   Here’s a sweetie writing her doubles facts after we sang the Doubles Rap by Harry Kindergarten.
In one morning we might play a sight word game on our white boards, practice vowel sounds, solve a few number bonds and play a number game.  
Next we review our day and more skills by checking out our Focus Wall.  You can read a more in depth version of how we review here
Then we do a little bit of calendar. I try to spice calendar time up as well, with songs, dances and games to engage my kids.  I even get them involved with the teaching. 
Here’s a little calendar game where groups race to fill their chunk of the hundred’s chart first.  It practices +1,-1, +10, -10.  Even though money isn’t a first grade standard, I still help our 2nd grade teachers out by playing a little game of feed the piggy after we sing a money song.  
Calendar leads really well into math. We currently use Investigations and have for about 9 years.  I love that my kids are constantly playing games to learn, but often beef things up where I see fit.
 Now it’s time for a potty break! My kids know that this is their time to take a break, grab and drink and go so we can come back and focus on Shared Reading.  Here’s a post about Shared Reading time.
Basically, each week we choose a piece of literature to read for the entire week.  During the week, not only do my students build fluency, vocabulary and practice decoding skills, but we also hit a ton of Common Core reading standards.  
 We partner read. Work in differentiated groups on retelling/sequencing.
 Identify character traits and give examples from the story to support our answers.
 Hit important vocabulary standards.
 And practice more comprehension through retelling, all with just one book.  
This is absolutely one of my favorite times of day because of the huge gains I see my kids make during this time and their true understanding of the standards they gain, while enjoying quality literature.  
But by now, we’ve worked up a huge appetite from all the hard work, so it’s off to lunch and recess. 
When we return from lunch we chill a little by reading from our book boxes, while I call up my sweet little people individually to work on skills they need. 
And then it’s time to write.  We use a workshop model.  I teach a mini-lesson, sometimes modeling or showing mentor texts and then my students return to their desk to write as I conference with individual students on their writing.  This is a little sample of what I get by the end of the year from a typical child.  It’s amazing their progress.  
Then we have Science or Social Studies time. While a lot of the content of Science and Social Studies is often covered through a nonfiction text during Shared Reading, we reinforce skills during this time and try to do lots of hands on learning! 
And finally, we end our day with centers and guided reading.  This is another favorite part of my day.  I love teaching kids to read and watching them work independently and together to review skills while I meet with groups makes me so proud of them.
So other than passing out papers at the end of our day and signing behavior charts, that is our day folks. I’ll tell you, they are busy days, they are filled with activity and learning and they are fun, and some days they are exhausting, but a day in first grade is so rewarding.  I hope you all have a wonderful year.  
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Michelle Oakes

Wife, mom of 2 boys and a bulldog, reading specialist, Target frequenting lover of fashion, home decorating, Cincinnati girl.

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