Saturday, January 21, 2012

I lost my mittens!

Have you ever noticed that sometimes the acitivites and centers that take the least preparation are among the students' favorite? Following our reading of The Mitten, a  simple, narrowly planned activity for the art center included tracing a mitten pattern( it was interesting to watch as they realized they had to manipulate the patterns to make a left AND a right mitten) cutting it out, and decorating it with ribbon, lace, or trim remnants of their choice. I was again pleased to see the logic as they created various patterns and repeated them on their matching mitten. Not really sure what we should do for a display or just send them home, they begin to pile up on the counter nearby. Hummm, I wonder if they might like to find the matching sets especially since most mittens had no name on them! I displayed them on the wall and much to my surprise the students began to identify thier mittens adding descriptive detail such as "Mine are blue, with green stripes." Ah-ha, I thought, lets add some writing here! Cloze sentence frames provided opportunity for students to use descriptive words as their peers searched to find the mittens, then add a description for thier own. Again, I found affirmation that following the lead of my students created extended open ending learning. 


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How many parts?

Clapping the parts of words is a fun way for children to hear syllables, segment, and chunk word families. This week in our literacy center students used gloves( Helps with the noise, and it's fun!) to clap the name of the pictures on the cards, then sort by the number of syllables or word parts. Students then record their answers by writing the words or drawing pictures on a graph that corresponds with the number.

(oops, one of the cards is on the wrong row...Can you find it?)


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

You might be a penny if.....

We began our money unit in Math this week. The children love working with money.. Who doesn't? Although we practiced identifying coins daily as part of our morning meeting, we extend the skill during our math lessons/centers. Today as we focused on the penny and it's value, we played " You might be a penny if..." Each child took a coin from the money bag. After time for observation and think-pair-share with their peers, each child sorted their coin into the correct sorting ring. ( I love sorting rings..soooo many ways to use them!)The choices were: is a penny, is not a penny Before the coin was placed in the ring, each child told somethat that justified their choice. I wrote the responses on sentence strips and the student placed it next to the chosen sorting ring. I was most impressed with their responses. With minimal preparation, we now have a student made money center for later practice!


Saturday, January 7, 2012

How do you measure up?

Are you taller, shorter, or the same height?
To review and order sizes from largest to smallest the students worked cooperatively to make three different sized snow balls. Much discussion went in to stacking them strategically so that he, Frosty, could stand. One child noted " If we don't put them in the correct order he will slide off and he won't balance!" Of course details including the bow tie, (There was actually a debate if the bow would go on the head and he become a snowgirl- the guys seemed to take charge and won!) the nose, eyes, buttons,mouth, and arms also generated much discussion and resulted in a rather jolly looking lad. Quickly the students noticed the "snowboy" as they called him was rather tall and began to compare their sizes as they layed next to him. He was somewhat tall and they ask to trim him, again being specific about how and where, so that he remain "balanced". After only a few snips the class decided to let our tallest student compare heights. Imagine the excitement when they noticed Frosty was now shorter! This led to a measurement/comparison session including all the students. Fortunately I had some snowman shapes pre cut with anticipation that we would need them for the art center. With a flashback to a posting I saw on Pinterest with a snowman graph, I took this opportunity to review our graph skills and incorporate our measurement vocabulary. Students wrote their name on the snowman shapes and sorted them into groups of taller, shorter or the same as they measured each other. Already knowing the outcome before we made the graph, they worked with pride and urgancey to glue the shapes and confirm their results. The lesson was so student driven it made missing recess due to super cold South Georgia weather go unnoticed. Fun!


Small Moments

"Small Moments" are actually "Giant Steps" when in reference to developing the emergent writer. Before I proceed I must give credit where due. Small moments is a process used in the writers workshop first shared by Lucy Caulkins. I had the pleasure of meeting and hearing her present steps for getting beginning writers to write while attending a reading recovery workshop several years ago in Savannah, Georgia. I found it affirming that she insists students actually begin to put planned thoughts on paper to connect print to meaning. While some consultants and educators are extreme in believing writing is developmental, and children are not ready to write particularly in kindergarten, I find this unfair to my students. Lucy walks the students through "watching the movie" in our mind, seeing it, hearing it.....telling about it and finally recording thoughts on paper. I teach my students to "think it out, talk it out, write it out" ( I will post a visual of this soon. I am away from school as I write this) All of these steps in getting the child's language and thought process working toward writing are indeed small moments. Of course the conventions of writing develop as the child aquires a larger repretoire of phonemic awareness and phonological knowledge. This is where modeling, coaching, and most importantly, individual conferences( DAILY) play a major role. Encourage the language that supports the "Movies" in our minds and watch your writers as their small moments become Giant steps! I attached a photo I found on Pinterest ( don't ya love that site?) posted by Kim Adsit at I was totally excited when I saw it and immediately knew that she and I must share common interest! Thanks Kim!
4 Small Moments 2

Check back soon for more small moments.

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Friday, January 6, 2012

Word Finders

Learning to read is so exciting in kindergarten or for any emergent reader. Often we get caught up in the excitement and fail to notice if students are actually reading the indivdual words with tracking or just using the repetitive language that matches the pictures. While repetition and tracking are vital to reading, students need to recognize individual words within a sentence. Wikki stix have been around for years but are still a hit with my beginning readers. They provide a hands on tool for students that struggle with understanding the concept of "this is a word" and actually "seeing" it. I also use the stix to show the difference between words and letters and later identifying a complete sentence. I find these an asset to my supplies at the reading table. They are reusable, with no need to write in a book, plus it saves me time and reduces paper reproducables. Wikki Stix allow the students to use the "real" book to practice the skill in a meaningful way and they often ask for them during centers to apply and practice independently with BIG books!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Student's self checking writing rubric

As a part of my writing workshop, the NBCT in me is constantly reminded that it is my duty to create lifelong learners,( a National Board common core standard and basically just good teaching practice). Through this process of writing I encourage my students to take responsibility for their work by checking our class made writing rubric. Yes, during a group session the students DID indeed decide on the elements that make up our rubric! I find it exciting that the process of writing for my kinders now demonstrates their understanding that print has meaning and it is important to edit so that the reader can make sense of their writing. This chart is posted in our class and we refer to it daily during modeled sessions and as a part of our closing and student conferences. I also use printed copies of this rubric ( I will upload this weekend) that make our conferences easier to note their progress and next steps. Feel free to use if you find it helpful and adapt to your writers needs.