First grade is many things: learning to read like we talk, adding & subtracting, counting money, and becoming independent learners who make good choices in their learning (among many other things!) These things are important but, to this teacher, the most rewarding of these is independence. If a child can leave my classroom as an independent learner, all of the other learning will follow! With that in mind, I’d like to introduce you to our “Weekly Checklist” for Daily 5/Guided Reading Rotations (for more information, find the “We♥Reading” tab).
Each morning, first graders plan what they will be doing during Daily 5 and Guided Reading. When they’re not meeting with the teacher, there are several activities that need to be completed. Choice develops independence and, since that’s a HUGE part of first grade, I say, “CHOOSE AWAY!”
Students read their mini-book and "Meet with Teacher" every day. After that, the remaining highlighted areas are Word Work. They complete one per day. Students write twice per week and the rest of the choices are theirs to make! Some students prefer listening to stories and others prefer reading to themselves! These choices allow them to practice reading in a way that interests them and (hopefully) encourages them to read, read, read.
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Your first grader is required to meet with the teacher and read their mini-book every morning! So, these two tasks are at the very top of the checklist and highlighted – emphasizing their importance. The next shaded areas are the “Word Work” for the week and, usually, one must be completed each day (thus their ‘closeness’ to the top). These centers either review content already taught or skills that we are currently learning. There is usually some type of vocabulary practice (spelling) and, eventually, the class will learn to use “Tic-Tac-Toe Spelling” (but more about that later!)
If/when you see this document in your first grader’s maroon folder, ask them about their choices this week. “Can you tell me what you learned at each of these centers?” A favorite is usually “Listen to Reading” so ask them what book(s) they listened to during this time. I challenge you to have these conversations with your first grader. It will not only indicate to them the importance you place on their education but it will empower the choices they make! Good choices such as these not only lead to independence, but to life-long learning and that’s what we’re really here for, right?