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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Chapter 2: Drawing and Artwork Book Study

I decided to split up Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 because I just loved both Chapters so much! So here is Chapter up with my friend, Elizabeth, to check out more about Chapter 1 & 2!

“When children play-draw, dance, and sing—they engage every sense and help wire the neurons for learning successfully.” (Sousa, 2006) Wow! Now that makes me stop and think….. What has happened to play, art, blocks, and even recess in many classrooms? As I travel around the country training teachers, it is always a little sad to hear them say, “My principal says we don’t have time for art.” We don’t have time to NOT have art! We have to teach with urgency. We have to do more authentic teaching. We have to see the value in what has been perceived as “wasting time.”
Reading this chapter made me thing of a few activities that we are doing that are “spot on” with this chapter.
Academic Vocabulary
We use the Marzano framework for academic vocabulary. In his thinking, children should show a linguistic and non-linguistic representation of the word. This means they should draw a picture to show their understanding of the word. This is not done with every vocabulary word…just the ones that the children need to take to a deeper level of understanding. Here’s how we do it. 1. Define the academic vocabulary words. The words in your standards that the children need to know.
2. Make word wall cards for each of these words.
3. Identify the most important words. These are the words that you will conduct a lesson for. These are the ones that the children MUST know to be successful in the content area. Have the children draw a picture to show their understanding. Work together as a class to determine a definition for the word.
4. Children make an academic vocabulary journal. Here they practice the word independently.
Another way to use this strategy is to engage in “craft” type activities. In reading we are working on “What do you do when you come to a word you don’t know?” Since I really want to turn my boys into book lovers, we decided to take a “tools” approach. Here’s what we did.
1.First, we thought about the reading strategies and picked a tool to represent each of them.
2. After teaching a lesson on each strategy, we made a tool box as a reminder of what we know. Cut and fold a paper bag like the one in the picture.
3 We made a little book with the tools and each strategy.
4. Then, we made the tools. 
5. Now, as the children get ready to read a book, invite them to look in their tool box and pull out a tool that they want to remember to try. Have them lay it by their book while they are reading. This will remind them to use the tool like a good reader does!
We use artwork as a way to demonstrate comprehension of the stories we read. Here’s how we do it.
1. After reading the story, we say “Authors help us in special ways when they write their stories. One thing they do is they let us know where the character goes in a story—what the settings are. If we can remember the settings the character travels to, we can use that to help us retell the story.”
So now we make a list of all of the places that the character went.
Now we say, “Good readers know to go back to the text to help them recall what happened in the story. Let’s go back and look to see where Rosie went. Let’s get them in the right order so we can retell the story.”
2. Invite each child to make one of the “settings” that Rosie travels to. We used the scrap box of paper, but children could draw, paint, etc!
3. After the pieces have all been made, invite the children to sit around the paper. Using the book, like good readers, have the children sequence the settings.
4. Now using the paper Rosie and the fox made by a few of the children, invite the children to tell the story by passing the characters around the circle. As they get the character, they tell what happened in their part of the story.
You can also do this as an independent activity like we did here in the Gingerbread Boy:
or here for The Three Pigs
Loved this idea: Have children draw a class mural to show what they remembered from yesterday’s class. I think this is a great way to check for understanding and to be sure they are grasping the ideas. I’m thinking this would be a great way to do a formative assessment!
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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Brainstorming and Discussing Chapter 1

I'm linking up with my friend, Elizabeth, over at Kickin' It In Kindergarten for today's book study chapter.

So here we go…let the book talk begin!
I finally figured out why I am so smart (don’t judge, read on!)Winking smile…Marcia tells us “when people open their mouths to speak, they send more oxygen to the brain.”   For anyone who knows me, they know I love to talk. So what are we doing to get our kids talking? Here are a few ideas….
Turn and Talk
I think we have probably all heard of  “turn and talk”. Whenever we want the kids to engage in conversation, we invite the children to turn and talk with their elbow partner. Lots of modeling was needed for our kids to learn how to engage in conversation on a given topic!!!
What is an elbow partner?
  • Elbow partners are assigned and they keep the same one all year.
  • Elbow partners sit beside each other on the carpet.
  • Elbow partners are cognitively similar.
Lean and Tell
  • They also use their elbow partner for “Lean and Tell.”
  • Lean and Tell is used when there is a quick response.
  • We use this instead of having our kids raise their hands to answer.
  • This allows for active engagement of everyone.
Marcia tells us, “students who have opportunities to brainstorm a variety of ideas with their peers without the fear of criticism or sarcasm are those who naturally improve their comprehension and higher-order thinking skills.”
Developing Families
Another strategy that Marcia talks about is using “families”. I love my family set up!
Here’s how I do it:
  • Each family has a group of kids who work well together, without playing.
  • Each family has all abilities.
  • Each family has a natural leader.
  • Spread out the children who are “talkers” or more active children.
  • Children work with their families for centers and any time we are doing group activities.
Each family has a meeting area. When I need them to get with their families, they know where to go!
Working With Partners
  • During Reader’s Workshop and Writer’s Workshop kids work with a partner.
  • These partners are based on running records for reading and rubrics for writing.
  • Partners are “close” to the same level.
  • New partners are assigned every two weeks.
  • Partners have their “private working area” in the same location as their partner working area.
  • This way, no one has to move when we transition to partner time.
  • We use this chart to help us keep up with partners.
  • We have one for reading and one for writing.
  • When I first started having kids work with partners, I was frustrated.  I would tell them to “read with their partners” but they were simply sitting side by side not engaged.
  • So that’s when we developed these two anchor charts. We spend a week on each chart. We model each technique and have time for them to practice right there in the lesson. 
  • Marcia tells us, “When students talk about a topic, they will understand it better because their brains not only mental process the information but also verbally process it.”
Here’s my summary….
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Friday, February 27, 2015

Which Teacher Would You Rather Be?

Slide3Wow! Just started reading the book, “Worksheets Don’t Grow Dendrites”  while on the airplane to California. This question, “Which teacher would you rather be?”, was asked on the second page! Makes me really stop and think about what kind of teacher I am and which kind I want to be.  Just by reading the book introduction, I am already feeling motivated and excited!
I think back to when I first became a teacher over 30 years ago. Do you recognize this machine? What color are the pages?
Why do the kids have the pages up to their noses?
Just like most teachers, I “ran” my fair share of dittos and more recently “copied” my share of printables.  Everything in moderation, right? But, I didn’t become a teacher to pass papers to children.  So why did I become a teacher, more specifically a kindergarten teacher? Because I love kids! I wanted to play, talk, interact…all things that are more difficult to do with a piece of paper between us.
I am so excited about this book study. It is a good reminder of the things I am doing right or things I “use” to do but have quit doing. It also promise to teach me a few new tricks!
Here are a few of the key points that I have already picked up, just from the introduction!
  • “When students are actively engaged in experiences with content, they stand a better chance of learning and remembering what we want them to know.”
  • “Worksheets and lectures teach lower level concepts.”
  • Teachers are gardeners.  “Every time students learn something new in their classroom, they grow a new brain cell, known as a dendrite.”
  • Lessons should “incorporate multiple modalities.”
  • “If students do not learn the way we teach, we must teach them the way they learn.”
  • “Every student comes to school with an inherent gift…it is the teachers job to unwrap this gift.”
This book contains:
  • Activities that “increase academic achievement for all.”
  • Activities that “decrease behavior problems by minimizing the boredom.”
  • Activities that “make teaching and learning fun for all grades.”

Be sure and come back to follow along with the book study. Here is the schedule! To say I am excited is a little bit of an understatement!!
Kickin it in Kindergarten- Chapters 1 &2 (February 28th)
Mrs. Wills Kindergarten- Chapter 3 (March 7th)
Queen of the First Grade Jungle Chapter 4 (March 10th)
Fabulous in First Chapter 5 (March 14th)
One Extra Degree Chapter 6 (March 17th)
Mrs. Jump's Class Chapter 7 (March 28th)
The First Grade Parade Chapter 8 (March 31st)
In April, you will be visiting these girls for the remainder of the study:
Mrs. Ehle's Kindergarten Chapter 9 &10 (April 4th)
What The Teacher Wants Chapter 11 (April 7th)
First Grader At Last Chapter 12 (April 11th)
Erica's Ed Ventures Chapter 13 (April 14th)
KinderGals Chapter 14 &15 (April 18th)
A Rocky Top Teacher Chapter 16 (April 21st)
Mrs. Wills Kindergarten Chapter 17 (April 25th)
Little Warriors Chapter 18 (April 28th)
Falling Into First Chapter 19 (May 2nd)
Kickin' it in Kindergarten Chapter 20 (May 5th)
You can join in for whatever part you like! If you are not a blogger, that is OK! We will want you to join in on the fun. You can participate in the conversation in the comments. We want this to be a positive collaboration between teachers! The whole point is to encourage each other with inspiring ideas while still using research based best practice.
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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Non-Fiction Text…and saving ink!

Here was our problem….we wanted a way to teach the same non-fiction features and science or social studies concepts to ALL of our kids while still being able to provide them with text that was “close” to their  “just right” level.
So here’s what we did:
  • We looked at each month to see what we were teaching.
  • We picked 5 topics to fit our standards for science or social studies.
  • We wrote a non-fiction text at three different levels-intervention, on target and challenge- to fit each those standards.
  • We used the same pictures, the same non-fiction features, and the same science or social studies concepts in all three levels.
  • We created printables for practicing the non-fiction feature, word recognition, and phonics/phonemic awareness skills.
  • We created pages that provide our kids with the opportunity to practice the non-fiction feature in their own writing.
So….now the problem of printing….they are full color! Here are a few suggestions to help with that:
  • You can always print in black and white. There are many photography books that are specifically in black and white!
  • You can print the books in various sizes to fit your needs and ink restrictions.
I posted this some time ago to show how you can print pages in various sizes. Here is a review.
  • Pull down your print menu and select the page numbers you want to print. Then, click on multiple.
  • Then, adjust the numbers to print the number of game boards you want on each page. You can print 2 per page, 4 per page, etc.
  • The picture at the top of the post shows what it looks like when we printed the same book in all three sizes.
  • I print one copy of the challenge level large.
  • I can use the large version with my shared reading and as a way to guide discussion for the other two levels.
  • My friend Bert started printing her books on the 1/4 page. I was using the 1/2 page. So I tried her way! And… is plenty big enough! More ink, cardstock and laminating….saved!
We did bundle all the units it that is easier for you.
AND finally…guess what? Just like I predicted…the sale has been extended through today!
I’m headed to Southern California today for a quick thaw before heading to PA and Chicago next week! BRRRRR Where are you spring?!?!?!?!?
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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How's Your Calendar Time Going? and.....a TPT sale!

It’s a SALE! TPT is having a sale! Thanks to my friend Amy Lemons for this cute sales button!
Since I was working in NJ on Monday and Tuesday and so was my friend Shari Sloane….we decided to head up on Saturday for a little friend time and a little work!
I have known Shari for a long time. We first met in NJ at a conference and have been friends since. One of my first things on tpt was the Student Calendar Notebook that Shari and I wrote together. Here are a few pictures of the calendar notebook “at work”.  Slide6Slide7
Higher order questions are used to guide discussion about each part of the calendar.Slide48Slide46Slide50
This is questions for just a few parts of the calendar. We wrote questions for each part! can you ask all those questions, do all those pages and it not take an hour!?!?!?!  Here’s what we do….
  • When we start at the beginning of the year, we are not doing every page.
  • Pages are added gradually over the months.
  • Each month they become faster at the pages previously introduced so it moves quickly.
  • We pick a few parts of the calendar to talk about each day. For example, on Monday we may really focus on the weather graph and how many days we have been in school. Then, on Tuesday we may focus on the calendar grid and the dice roll.
  • We don’t try to ask questions about every page, every day.
  • On the pages we aren’t asking questions about, we simply record the information and move on.
Like I said, this was one of my very first tpt items. So needless to say, it was in need of a major update. Here’s what we did:
  • We updated the look with cuter graphics and frames.
  • We also added pages so that we now have the pages for every month.
  • We added more song and book suggestions.
  • We also added the standards.
What is in the unit?
  • Pages for the calendar notebook—calendar grid, hands and tally marks, dice roll, weather graph, days in school, day of the week, temperature, clocks, months, seasons, days, name games for helpers,….
  • We also included pages with directions.
  • Higher order questions are included for the various parts of the calendar.
  • There are suggested activities for each month.
I know that calendar isn’t a common core standard, but that isn’t the point. The calendar is used as a tool to teach tons of number concepts!
Slide1 Slide3
One of my good friends, uses our calendar on her smart board (This is the older version! The new version is sooooo much cuter, Thanks Melonheadz!)Slide63
But…you can also use the notebook along with your more traditional calendar.Slide9
Have a great snow day to all my southern friends!
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