The 2nd Half Hour of Our School Day.

The 2nd half hour of the day I do the “Practice Book” out of the Houghton Mifflin Literature Basal series. Lots of teachers don’t use it but I think it is valuable. We do it every day and read the stories in the book once a week. There is tons of comprehension practice in there, lots of language and grammar, and almost everything in your scope and sequence for Language Arts.
Houghton Mifflin Reading Practice Book: Level 2.1

If, for instance, I need to practice antonyms, there are a few practice pages in the book  and if I need to go deeper for understanding I can, but it helps remind me what else I still have not taught yet. It’s good for that “checklist” of things you need to cover.  Plus my kids can easily learn to tear the pages out on their own. I don’t understand why teachers feel they must tear out all the pages for kids. They can learn to do anything you teach them over and over how to do. A link to a fun ANTONYM GAME is HERE from S.W.Laurie at Crestview School.

The 3rd  half hour of the day I have the kids get out a chalkboard. I repaint these 9 x 11 boards about every other year with a $5.00 jar of green chalkboard paint. I buy lots of colorful chalk and white chalk. The bribe is… a good job and you can come pick some hot pink or lime green chalk to use. Then we do double digit math with regrouping or we do 4 spelling words in a word family “chunk” to practice phonics and sounds. Or some days we might do a little MATH AND PHONICS AND SPELLING!

For instance, we might be working on sh and th. I will have them do a word family like “ine”. We will write down all the words we can think of with the” ine” chunk and we will go over the “teacher sound” which is SH for sh!  Then we will go over the “tongue cooler” sound which is TH.  Kids learn all the digraphs in the first 2 weeks of my class by doing it every single day for 10 to 15 minutes on chalkboards.

I have them draw a criss cross on the board (a vertical and then horizontal line so there are 4 areas to write 4 words. Then I call out words, “shine, thine, fine, brine” etc. I sound out slowly and ask kids “what is the 2nd sound you hear. That’s right an R. What is the 3rd sound you hear? That’s right, a short i sound.

They get better at segmenting each phoneme and then we move to 2 syllable words (clapping and snapping syllables) and then 3 and 4 as the year progresses.   I add prefixes and suffixes like “ed, ing, er, able, re, dis,  un,” etc. By mid year my first graders could write words like “under-stand-able” with ease and tell me how many syllables. When you teach them to segment first each sound, and then syllables, and then prefixes and suffixes, they start to see how easy spelling can be.

Last thing we do every day in the morning is a writing mini lesson on something I’ve seen the kids do the previous day.  I might show a sample of great writing from the day before, or give some examples on the board of mistakes I saw.  We talk about them, set some verbal goals for the day (today I want everyone to write 3 adjectives in their reports on Owls.  Can you do it?

Then before 10:00 rolls around we have covered Language, Grammar, Spiral Review and Word Problems in math, Comprehension strategies and spelling, phonics and story vocabulary practice. We read the basal once a week and do a writing mini lesson. After recess we start writing workshop and guided reading.  It’s always routine in the morning and we do some of our hardest work then.