KinderGals: July 2012

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Hip! Hip! Hooray! Getting Ready for the First Day!

So last week was a crazy week! I was in FOUR different schools.  I wanted to share all that I saw in each of the exciting classrooms! First I went to Megan’s room. Above is what it looked like when we walked in the door!Slide2
And here are some pictures of the things we did! I think we got a whole lot done. The way I set up a room is to push everything to one side and move things to the cleared place. I just love all the rugs and comfy places in Megan’s room. It is so inviting! A place where all kids want to hang out!Slide3
Megan puts fabric on the back of all her bookcases. She usually doesn’t take it off at the end of the year, but this year they had a lice outbreak and their principal made them remove and wash all fabric! What a job! The table picture is where I had the things piled that we still needed to decide on. The piles on the floor are the beginning of the sort!Slide4
We put fabric on all the bulletin boards! Below is Megan’s monkey shelf. I had a photo of it on my blog before, but it just makes me smile! Her dad made that for her before she was even born! Such sweet memories! The shoe bag is for the mail center! Organizer above holds paper, envelopes, etc.Slide5
I just love all the added touches. Animal buddies to read to, picture frames to hold family photos taken at open house, and sweet little containers to hold “stuff”!Slide7
This board is to hold the anchor charts for literacy and math. Each of the two sections on the left are 2 pieces of poster board wide. Megan is making headings to go above each section. I can’t remember what she is putting in the third section! I hate all those tv cords and wires. Any suggestions on how to hide them?Slide8
At the end of the day, this was the pile of trash! We left the rest for another day! Come back tomorrow to see another great room makeover!
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Friday, July 27, 2012

Teaching Kids To Use Illustrations

Illustrations are used by illustrators to evoke a feeling within the reader. When we read books, the we have different responses depending on how the illustrator drew the images.
Chapter 10:   Tone, In Pictures and in Words 
Katie Wood Ray reminds us in this chapter that it is not always what you say, but it's how you say it.
Long Night Moon by Cythnia Rylant is a book about 12 different types of moons throughout the year.  Lovely!   Her beautiful prose matches the tone of the illustrations.   A wistful meandering.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Literacy Center Management


When I set up my centers, the first thing I did was to decide which centers were MAINLY teaching reading, writing and word work. Then I divided them into those three groups.


Then, I divided my room into 5 different areas. The top row on the grid below has areas that teach reading, the second row is writing, the third row word work (abc), the fourth row book centers, and the bottom row play centers. The children will visit one “area” each day being able to choose from the different activities in their area—one for reading, one for writing, one for word work, a book center, and a play center (only open in the afternoon during free choice time).


The pictures below show each of the 5 areas of the room. All the centers are in the same area so that children do not need to roam around the room. Their choices for the day are right there together!Slide5Slide6Slide7Slide8

Then I made a board to show the children what their choices were. The one on the left shows a board in the process.  Photos are only added when that center has been explained and practiced! The photo on the right shows the completed board. A few things, like the photo on the left, adding a symbol at the top of each row helps them know where to go. And, number the groups of kids. This way you know to start with Group 1 in the first row on Monday and then move them down one row each day. If you go to my website in the download section there is a classroom tour that has each center area labeled like the photo below.



In the photo above, you see how I made my “families”. These are groups of children—all levels, all personalities, all behaviors, etc. Kids that can work well together! Then, the kiddos visit the center areas with their families. These groups are “fixed” unless there is an issue. Once that part is working smoothly, I start to pull small groups of kiddos based on my formative assessments. These groups are very fluid. They may be with some children this week and with different children next week depending on the assessments. Hope this helps those that were in Vegas and those that weren’t! I am in AR tomorrow working with a group of teachers. Super excited---

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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Teaching Characters with Chicken Little

Michele and I are excited to be starting our third unit in Reader's Workshop. In this unit we are going to focus on characters and settings. We are also going to start introducing some of the beginning strategies that readers use. This post is all about characters.
First we start with our anchor chart. Each item on the anchor chart is a key point of what we want to teach. Each item will be a separate mini lesson. The pictures are a great way for the kids to remember what the words say.
We used our story "Chicken Little" as our mentor text for learning about characters. What better way to learn that the characters are the people and animals in the story that talk, than to role play the story!  I love these bibs! Instead of spending tons of time making costumes so that they will know who is each character, simply let them wear a card with a picture of their character. Role playing is also evidence of comprehension!
To learn that the characters are who the story is about, we used a bubble map. We discussed words that described Chicken Little as we wrote them on the chart.
The children cut a strip of the characters. They sequenced the characters. Be sure to have a copy of the book available for children to use as a reference. It isn't essential for children to memorize a story. Children need to learn that good readers go back to the text.
How fun! During centers, the kids made a toilet paper roll Chicken Little in the art center. They turned out so stinkin' cute!
So often, teachers are told no art! But, actually art is a brain power activity.  Art increases a child's potential to recall information. 
The kids roll up the strip of characters and slide it inside the toilet paper roll Chicken Little. We all know that when we send papers home with kids, the end up in the trash can with very little discussion. But, when the child takes home this toilet paper roll Chicken Little, the parents say, "What's that?" Wow! This means that they will have a conversation about the learning from school! Win-win!
We learned that if we sequence the characters, we can use that to help us retell the story.  This gives kids a purpose for sequencing characters!

Want to see these lessons? They are part of Unit 3 Digging Deeper.
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Friday, July 6, 2012

In Pictures and In Words, Chapter 8

In Pictures and In Words

This week’s chapter, Precision and Detail, demonstrates how details really do matter. You might of heard, don’t sweat the small stuff, but this chapter shows how details help the reader really understand the mood  the writer and illustrator are trying to convey. I always tell my kiddos, authors and illustrators do things in a way to let us know the things they would tell us if they were standing right next to us. But since they aren’t, they must use their words and illustrations to make meaning.  Teaching Small Moments in Writing Workshop was always a challenge to me. Children often didn’t have the vocabulary necessary to express the detail we were looking for. Next year, Megan and I are really going to use illustrations as a way in the door to have our children illustrate their small moments.

A few quotes from Katie Wood Ray that I really liked are:
“A detailed description is not about the quantity of detail, but rather the quality.”
“A habit of noticing and paying attention is essential to good writing and good illustrating, especially when it comes to noticing details."
And she quotes another source, Escaping into the Open: The Art of Writing True, “”To really see something is to let yourself move beyond the narrow place of words and into a 360 degree kind of noticing.”
Technique 13: Facial expressions and gestures are meaningful details. “For a writer or illustrator to truly bring a scene to life, attending to the details of gestures an d expression is critical.” In the story “Bark George”, the reader is keenly aware of how the mother is feeling about her puppy George! Oh No! When I went to get my “Bark, George” book to scan the pictures, I remembered it is packed in my Vegas bag! I am using it in one of my presentations! Go see photos on Kathleen’s Growing Kinders post from last week!
Technique 14: The physical detail of characters—clothing, hairstyles, adornments—are revealing. As I was reading about this technique, I immediately thought of Tacky, the Penguin! Children are keenly aware of the fact that Tacky is different from the other penguins—both by the words used by the author and the way the illustrator has dressed him! This technique became very obvious one day while my children were writing. Not sure exactly why, but the children were all drawing a picture of me! As I walked around the room, I noticed that almost every child had drawn me with the black square earrings. I was amazed that they were paying such close attention to the details of my clothing. When I mentioned it, a sweet little cherub said, “You wear the same ones every day!” Oh well!

Technique 21: Creating the Illusion of Sound with Detail. When I went and got my Tacky book to scan the picture it was crazy how many detail techniques I was able to find. Here is one that shows just how awful Tacky does sound when he tries to sing!

Technique 17: Showing the Effects of Weather on a Scene—details can show the effect of weather on a scene. I think I read “The Napping House” a zillion times and never really paid attention to the “window”!  By looking at the window, the illustrator has let us in on why the family is napping. Have you never paid attention either? Go look and see what I mean!

Technique 18: Crafting Details from the World of People—Using details from the world of people brings authenticity to a setting. Here Ray tells us about using environmental print in our writing and illustrations. This reminded me of Santiago, a new immigrant from Mexico. Here is a writing sample of his from the end of the year. Notice the “Walmart star”?

 Finally, I returned to “Dory Story” from last week’s post. These two illustrations show the illustrator using several techniques.
Technique 21: Creating the Illusion of Sound with Detail. 
Technique 13: Facial expressions and gestures are meaningful details.
Technique 20: Creating the Illusion of Motion with Detail.

Books discussed in this post are avaliable on the Clever School Teacher website.
Click the image to see the book.

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