KinderGals: August 2012

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Reader’s Workshop Discovering Patterns

I love Reader's Workshop. It is my favorite time of the day! After Michele and I published our first units, we were excited to see that so many other teachers loved Reader's Workshop, too. This  post answers some of the most common questions we get about the first 3 units. After "meeting" unit 4, we will answer those questions below.

Michele and I are excited to have completed Unit 4-Discovering Patterns for Reader’s Workshop. This unit took quite a bit longer to do than the others. You might wonder why! Well first of all, school started! Those summer days of working on projects came to a stop as we got ready for the busy school year. Secondly, this unit was much harder to narrow down. As we began looking through our books, we discovered there were more patterns than we could ever cover in one month of mini lessons. So here’s our thinking: It’s not about learning a pattern. It’s about being able to identify that there is a pattern and then use that to be a better reader. I read somewhere, “It’s not about reading that book, it’s about learning what good readers do while reading that book.” We are teaching kiddos to be readers. What we do should not only be about that book, but should impact them as a reader.Slide2
Now…I know many of you have sent me comments and emails about the first three units. This week I got an email that had quite a few questions. Since it was going to take quite some time to answer the questions, I decided to do it as a blog post. That way, if you have the same questions, it will help you, too.Slide3
Unit 1
1. When do you typically begin in a kindergarten class? We begin on a Wednesday this year? Would you start on Thursday or wait till Monday?
This is really up to you! In Megan’s room we started on the 2nd day of school. The first day we were just trying to get them to school, get them fed, and get them home! Oh, and have a little fun, too!
2. In regards to elbow partners- you say to assign them- do they stay the same everyday- so those children are 'assigned' to sit by each other or does it change day to day depending on who they are sitting next to? 
I assign my children a spot on the carpet to sit. We sit in three rows. I want those students who are going to need my help right on the front row. Plus, I want to be sure that certain children aren’t sitting beside each other. Know what I mean? Sometimes I have to move children to another spot on the carpet for one reason or another. Their elbow partner is whoever is sitting right next to them on the carpet. The only reason their elbow partner would change is if I moved them to another space on the carpet.   
3. When you refer to reading books for concepts about print (l-r, t-b, etc) do you typically read just the pages facing the children, read the whole book, use a book you've already read or it doesn't matter bc skill is CAPs?
Michele and I have tried to not name particular books that have to be used except for familiar tales that we think nearly everyone will have access to. So any book usually works. For CAP, you would want a big book with a limited amount of text. I would say to read the whole book before the reader’s workshop time. Then, when you call them to the carpet for Reader’s Workshop, they have already enjoyed the book and are ready to focus on the concept you are trying to teach.
4. For baskets/tubs of books- should they be 'trade' books, leveled readers (PreA, A) a mix, doesn't matter?
At the beginning, music books, nursery rhyme books, familiar tales, and such work great. These help the children to feel like real readers. As you children move through the year, their bag of books will have a variety of books—some that are on their reading level and some that they just love and tell the story as they look at the pictures.
5. When distributing same copy of familiar reads- is a photocopy/b&w book OK or should it be a colored/bound copy?
Your decision, but I use only bound copies. Not everyone will have the same books. I collect all that I can find from my own collection and the library.
6. For the anchor chart- 3 ways to read- in your lesson you indicate to teach use picture, tell a story and then read words but the anchor chart copy to put in student notebooks doesn't read that way- it has tell a story first. Does it matter which way you do it or should i use the anchor chart i create with the kids as my reference for their anchor chart notebook.
Oops! Not sure I totally understand. The student notebook chart is a picture of the anchor chart. I will have to go take a closer look.
7. How do your units of study align with Lucy Calkins units? We were given her units of study to follow but she has 10 units. I know you are coming out with Unit 4 soon- will there be more on the way?
We will have 9 units when we are done. We are following the scope and sequence provided by Michele’s district. All of the lessons, etc are our own work, but we are using their outline as a guide for the unit theme. I think they actually used the Lucy Caulkins units as an outline.

8. I have used 'reading fingers' in the past (like the Halloween witch fingers but not as 'creepy' and come in assorted colors)- just wanted to let you know you can buy them in bulk through Oriental trading if you want to indicate that in your future publications!
I love it!
Unit 2
1. Elbow partner- same as Unit 1's partner, switch partner, who sitting next to?
see above

3. Do you actually say 'EEKK' or the whole thing
I say it both ways.

5. For retelling- do you do all the components during rw and an indep read/share? Seems like it would take way too long for the allotted time for RW.
At the beginning of the year, Reader’s Workshop will be very short. You will have time left over when Reader’s Workshop is over. So, you can use that time to do the “activities”. Then, during Reader’s Workshop you can use the projects during the active engagement part of the lesson. Later in the year,  when your reader’s workshop is longer, some of the “make it” activities can be made as a center, etc and then used in reader’s workshop during active engagement.
Slide5UUnit 3
1. Do you continue to have the stickys you taught about in Unit 2 available and encourage to use or just have them focus on characters?
The stickys will stay in the folder all year to encourage kids to talk about books.

2. Do you start to have them pick indep readers with sight words at this point so they can be used well in conjunction with what you are teaching in the mini lessson? Or continue to allow them to shop for whatever interests them?
They will have both kinds of books in their bags.
How many units are you planning on making- i ask this just because if each unit is about a month, 4 units would be about 4 months of material- leaving 6 months with no 'guide'.
We will have 9 units, enough for the whole school year.

Do you pull g.r. groups during your rw time? If so when do you begin that? For about how long? Do you also do centers outside your rw time and pull groups?
We start pulling groups when the kiddos have a stamia for independent reading of about 20 minutes. Then, we can pull one group during that time. Be sure that you are also spending time walking around and making sure that your children are actively engaged in the reading process. I do pull groups during centers, too.

Now, there are still 3 questions she asked that aren’t in this post. I will handle those tomorrow. Need to do a little checking on them. You can see any of these units on tpt by clicking on the cover of the units.
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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Therapeutic Thursday! How do I relax?


If you were to ask my family how I relaxed they would say, “She doesn’t know how to relax!” And this is about right! I pretty much am on go all of the time, mostly with things related to school. Kind of a boring person to some! But when I do get away from teaching, I am a sun bum! I love anything to do with being outside. Andy and I have discovered the Caribbean and just love to go there in the fall. The first year I retired we went to St. Lucia. I wanted to go in October so that I could be drinking a frozen Margarita while my friends were teaching guided reading! SmileSorry guys your turn will come someday! We have also been to Hawaii and to Maya Rivera in Mexico. Our children introduced us to cruises and we have enjoyed two with them and two with my sis and her hubby! The sad thing is, no vacations this year. With Andy back in school, we will be staying put in Washington DC. A different kind of vacation!


When at home, I am usually outside in the yard. I love to dig in the dirt, plant a few things….It is a good feeling to stand back and look when you have spent most of the day in the gardens. It is a great way for me to totally get my mind off of everything else. Slide2

I also love anything to do with holidays! I start decorating my house for Christmas in early November. Each room has a theme with a tree in every room. Now if you think that is a little much, I taught school for 30 years. Most of the things in my home are gifts from kids and other teacher friends from over the years. That makes it extra fun to put out and remember all those great times. This past year I gave Megan and Tyler all of the ornaments they ever made to put on their own trees. Kinda made my cry, but it was so fun to see them hang the ornaments on the trees they were starting with their new families.


But what is most therapeutic? Good friends and hanging with my family is what keeps my grounded. They keep me in check and remind me of what is really important…them! (This is my dog Katie and Megan’s dog Lily Grace. They are a tad spoiled!)Slide6

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Let’s Learn About Number and Developing Fluency

What is subitizing? It's the ability to instantly recognize a set.  One of the first math games I learned was called, Say it Fast. We would flash cards with sets of dots and we wanted the kids to be able to quickly tell us how many dots they saw. That is subitizing.  This post has a fun subitizing game that I shared with a group of teachers at a recent training. This is a great activity to use each day as part of your daily routine.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to work with the kindergarten teachers at Bleckley County Primary School, in my own home state, GA. We worked on math standards.
This is a new game that they just loved. I got a headband from the dollar tree and added a piece of velcro. Then, I put a piece of the velcro on the dot plate card and attached it to the headband.
The teachers gave her clues about her “number” and she had to guess the number on her headband. What a hit! This idea is from the new packet, “Yee Haw! Wild About Numbers!” It has the dot plates already made, just have to copy and you are ready to go.  I play the same game with tens frames, fives frames, rekenreks, and dominoes. They are also in the packet. Once the kiddos are familiar with this game, it is great as a partner activity during centers.


I also posted another new packet a few days ago called “Cut, Stack, Staple, and Read”. It’s a super easy pack to implement and is a great way to practice fluency. To get started all you  have to do is to hit copy and it is ready to go. The slide above shows the steps and the slide below shows the cover of the new packet.
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Friday, August 10, 2012

Big Spring Lake Elementary School! Just Beautiful!


Okay, so better late than never! I presented at the conference at Big Spring Lake Kindergarten back in July. Yep, that’s right, a whole school of kindergarten classes. It was pretty amazing. Here are some photos that I took there. First of all, I love a school that has well kept grounds. To me it just says we have pride in our school. The photo, bottom left, is an outdoor theater area. I love how they used the hill to make the seating. All I could think is how fun would it be to do reader’s theater there.Slide3

Inside the school was just as beautiful.  Murals were painted on many walls and all the teachers had signs like the one in the photo, top right.


Here were some photos from their library. Love the painted door! Both the car and the castle provided cozy places for kiddos to get comfy with books!


I was on the look out for dots! Ginny has the dot theme in her room and is looking for ideas. Love the cart on wheels! What  great way to roll around the supplies to where they are needed.Slide6

I have shared about the dots on the floor in my friend Michele’s room. (Photo, top middle.) Not sure how this teacher uses the dots, but in Michele’s room she would have the kiddos line up by giving them number clues…"get on a number that is more than 5.”  Or she might say, “Get on the number that is 4+1.” Or, “Get on the number that is one ten and seven ones.” You pick the clues to match your standards! Love it! A brand new teacher there covered boxes with wrapping paper to make her month display.



Okay, these seats are just too stinkin’ cute! Just love them. How special to come to the teacher table and get to sit on one of those!


How excited was I to see these poetry cards hanging in one teacher’s room. These are the poetry cards by Kim Jordano. The kiddos also make their own poetry book to go along with the larger cards. You can get them here on tpt!


This school loves Jack Hartmann, and I just love this cutout of him! It just made me smile. BSLK has hosted a Jack Hartmann concert for several years and I know they are doing it again Feb 2013. If you are in the Alabama area near Albertville, call and see if you can get in on that concert! I just love Jack. His music is spot on for those little boys who otherwise might not be too interested in singing! Check out his music here.

Jack gave me permission to make some of his songs into the little book format. I have those in my tpt store. They are a great way to bring that text to the song as you sing along. Also, they make a great listening center. Just put a cd pocket on the back of the book, burn the single song from your cd to match the book, and place it in the pocket. That way, the kiddos can get out the cd and listen to just that song as they follow along in the book. I have made over 20 of  his songs into little books. Here is one of the books:


Hope you enjoyed the tour! BTW, there were lots of bloggers and tpt sellers there! It was great to meet so many of them. If you were there, feel free to leave a comment if one of these pictures came from your room or if you attended the conference and want to share something you saw!

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Friday, August 3, 2012

In Pictures and in Words–Chapter 11, Linky Party

This week’s chapter looked at Layout and Design, In Pictures and In Words. As I was reading this chapter it made me think about teaching children Author’s Craft. I have always said to my kiddos, “Since the author (illustrator) isn’t standing right beside us, he can write the words (draw the illustrations) in special ways to let us know how he wants us to read them.” Sometimes authors want the letters written in different sizes or different colors, or they may want them written so that they move across the page in a way other than horizontal lines.
As Ray says, “The way a text looks significantly impacts how its message is received.” She also says that the visual impact of the page is important so the author and illustrator must think about “how it is laid on the page.”
One last thing I wanted to mention is that fact that Ray tells us that “layout and design is really the same for writers and illustrators—it’s where the two truly intersect.”
Here are the Techniques covered in this chapter:
Technique 40: Designing the Placement of Words and Pictures. Words can be placed anywhere on a page in relation to the illustration.
Thought for my teaching: Reconsider giving children paper and telling them to put the picture at the top and the words at the bottom. Let the children take design ownership of their piece!

Technique 41: Using Word Layout to Convey Meaning. Sometimes the placement of words in relation to the picture matches a specific meaning in a book. In “the Runaway Pumpkin” by Kevin Lewis, Illustrated by D. Schindler he writes the words as if they were tractor lines in the picture.
Technique 42: Using Size and Color to Convey Meaning. The size of color of print can convey meaning. In “The Enormous Potato” Illustrated by Dusan Petriclc, the size of the words show how desperate the characters are getting in their attempt to remove the potato from the ground. Each time they call another character to come and help, the words get larger.


And in Old Black Fly by Jim Aylesworth and Illustrated by Stephen Gammell you can see the use of color to identify the focus letter in this alphabet book.
Technique 43: Designing Print to Convey Meaning. Print may be designed in particular ways for visually meaningful effect.

How about this book, “Look Whooo’s Counting?” by Suse MacDonald? I think the way the numbers are written in the wings fits this technique.


Technique 44: Designing a Cover. Picture book covers are designed in a variety of ways.
Technique 45: Designing End Pages to Convey Meaning. End pages may be designed to enhance the meaning of the book.
Technique 46: Using Borders. Boxes and borders may be used in the design of a picture book.
Technique 47: Using the Space Implied Outside a Picture. Pictures may extend into the invisible spaces beyond the natural borders of the page.
Technique 48: Using Visual Elements in the White Space Around Words and Pictures. Small, meaningful images may be used as visual elements apart from the main illustration.
Technique 49: Using Paper Artifacts as Visual Elements. An illustration may look as if a paper artifact has been dropped or pasted into it from the world outside the picture book.

In “There was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” by Simms Taback you can see the use of artifacts in both the newspaper and in the ads on the barn.
Technique 50: Using Graphic Features to Show Information. Illustrations may include labels, diagrams, charts, maps, and other visual features designed to show information in particular ways.
Thought for teaching: While teaching kiddos to use these techniques remind children that whatever the technique, less is often better. Don’t let the technique become a distraction to the piece. Encourage children to be purposeful in their use of techniques and to be able to defend their use.

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