KinderGals: September 2015

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Sunday, September 20, 2015

Developing Higher Order Questions

Ever find yourself not really knowing what kinds of questions to ask your kids? I mean, like you just read a story and you want to ask some really good questions. How do you get past, “Who are the characters? What is the setting? What happened first, next, and last?”
Several years ago our school decided we wanted to get better at asking questions. It was our “project” for the year. We spent some time during our planning visiting other classrooms to tally the questions the teacher was asking. I know, I know…you don’t want anyone to listen to you when you are trying to ask questions much less tally them! But, really it wasn’t like that AT ALL! We had picked the project, we ALL knew we needed to improve. Then, we went to work. We posted Bloom’s Taxonomy where we could all see it—more for us than for the kids. We made flip books, dice, spinners, rings…. Then, at the end of the year we visited those same classrooms! WOW! What a difference!
Here’s what I took away from that experience---
  • First, I did get better at asking questions.
  • Second, when you have a focus you can see improvement.
  • Thirdly, you need a plan.
  • But, most importantly….it is okay not to know! It’s just not ok to not do anything about the fact that you don’t know.
Recently, I was working in a school district in Louisiana. They wanted me to work with the teachers on this very thing! They each had a bag of supplies and we went to work!

Questions for Reading Books

First we made these sticks. You can put these sticks in a can. Then, after you read a story, any story, you can pull a question from the can to ask the kids.
You can download the reading questions as a free download at the bottom of this post.

Questions for Math

One “eye opening” thing that we did was to read the questions and sort them by the levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.  It wasn’t the sorting, per say, that was the most helpful…it was the discussion. It made us to start thinking about the levels and what kinds of questions would be at each.
Then, we made a flip book for our Math Questions. You can download these at the bottom of this blog post.


Questions for Centers

The last thing we made was a ring of questions we could use during the share time after literacy centers. These questions are part of Centers Made Simple Unit 2.
Here’s a peek at Kristie’s week:
You can download the plans here.
We loved making the Pet Glyph last year. Here are a few pictures:
Reading the glyph to make our dogs.
Made our own little books to analyze our data.
Made a class chart to analyze the data of the class. This unit has all the things you need to make this craftivity.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Teaching Kids to Love Science: Learning About Stars

So let’s be honest….I’ve  never had science as a top priority! Teach them to read. Teach them to write. Teach them to count. Teach them to add. You get the point.  But this year, we are really trying. And…..WE LOVE IT…and so do the kids! Here’s the plan…Use a structure we believe in and teach the science standards! So here’s what we are doing:Slide1
We start each science lesson with a mini lesson….A mini lesson lasts only 10 minutes so we have to be quick and focused. Here is our anchor chart that will guide our unit on Stars. Then, we break of the physical attributes into more detailed points. We started with Star Brightness. Wow! I didn’t know there was so much to know about Stars!
Slide28Each lesson starts with a quick connect to yesterday’s learning. “Remember yesterday we we said….” When I am scripting my plans, I always bold whatever I am going to say, leaving the rest of the text not bold. This makes it easier to use as a script. You can get a copy of this plan and the activity pieces at the bottom of this blog post.
The “teach” portion of the plan  is where you quickly teach the concept. Kids learn by doing, yet we spend the majority of our lessons worrying about what WE are saying instead of what the kids are saying!
I keep the structure of the workshop the same—same sequence in the structure and same wording to introduce each of those steps. For the teach I say, “Today, I am going to show you…”
You can read in the script exactly what I said for the teach so I’m not going to take up space here typing it. These are the cards that I used to do the lesson. You can get these in the same download as the scripted lesson.Slide17
I start this section of the lesson by saying, “Now, it’s your turn.”
Here’s what we did. We gave the kids cards with different groups of colored stars. Their job was to figure out which group was the hottest group.We gave them tens frames and unifix cubes to figure out the value of each group. The lower the number—the hotter the star. Now, this is a very simplistic way to explain a very complex idea. But, guess what!? They got it!!! Insert teacher happy dance here!
For the link we say, “So remember boys and girls, today and everyday, scientists know…” This is where you are repeating the focus of the lesson.  It is important that you leave the lesson with the REASON you did the lesson being the last thing that they hear!
Application is often referred to as work time. This is when the kids move to centers or stations, or whatever you have set up, to apply all that they know about science. Here’s what we are thinking….How can we set up the centers for stars when we haven’t taught them about stars!? So, we set up our centers for science tools. Our Application time is going to be whatever we taught in the preceding weeks.
We love using the task cards. This makes it super easy for our kids to know what to do in each of the areas. Here are a few of the science centers that we have going. We run these centers for 20 minutes each day. It is really about enough time to do one activity. Then, we have tubs of science books they can read if they finish early. We set up 5 centers, they do one each day.  This makes our science block 30 minutes each day.  One of the centers---measuring with bears.
Another one of the centers was using magnifying glasses. They looked at the tiny picture in the circle. Then, on their recording page, they drew what they saw.Slide8Slide9
In this center they had to “find” the science tools in our nonfiction Science Tools book. Then, they recorded the page number beside the tool. Easy way to model how to make an Index.
Can I just say that we are really excited about science? It has been a ton of research, but it is worth it!  For the first time we feel that we are really teaching it! 
Here are the science resources that we are using:
Simply Science - The Scientific Method and Science Tools v1.0_Page_001Simply Science - The Sun and Other Stars v1.0_Page_001
We just finished planning for our next unit The Moon.
Simply Science - The Moon v1.0_Page_001
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Sunday, September 13, 2015

Partner Reading: Peek at my Week

I remember the first time I told kids to read together….It went something like this….”Okay guys today you are going to get to read with a partner. Won’t that be fun?” It didn’t take me long to realize that we had very different meanings for the word fun! To them, fun meant play time! To me, fun meant talk about books. I even tried to repeat “Hey guys! We are READING together.”  I tried saying the word read a gazillion ways—like that would matter!  It didn’t take me long to realize I needed a new game plan—one with a little more detail! So here was my new plan.
First, I realized that I needed to teach them what it meant to READ with friends. Here’s the anchor chart that we use:
  1. Read together: This is when we can read a book saying the words at the same time. This works great with rhythmic books like Brown Bear, Brown Bear. It is also great for song books, nursery rhymes and poetry.
  2. Take turns with the same book: This is when I read a book and you listen, and then you read the same book and I listen. This works great when children have the same book in their bag of books. For example, if you had two kids in a guided reading group and they had the same book, they could use this strategy.
  3. I read a book, you read a book: This is when I read a book from my bag while you listen. Then, you read a book from your bag while I listen.
  4. Stay busy the whole time: I needed to model what to do after you had a read a book one of these three ways. You see….they thought they were DONE!  We practiced reading one of the three ways, then deciding which way we wanted to read the next book.
Next hurdle….talking about books.  They didn’t have a clue what this meant! It sounded like this…”Okay guys, great reading! Now, I want you to talk about books with your partner.” They tried, they REALLY tried. Here’s what I heard, “I have books.  I like books.  My brother eats my books.” Note to self…..need more detailed directions!
Here’s the plan….teach them different things that they CAN talk about:
  1. My favorite part: This one is pretty easy for them. Find the part of the book that is your favorite. Share it with your partner.
  2. That’s cool!: This one is great for sharing nonfiction books. Find something that is way cool! Share it with your partner.
  3. I didn’t know that: This is another great one for sharing nonfiction books. Find something that you didn’t know before seeing it in this book. Share it with your partner.
  4. That happened to me: This one is about connections! Find something that happened to you. Share it with your partner.
Next problem…”Okay guys, it’s time for partner reading. Find something that you want to share.” (Play music!…Play more music!) “Guys, find something! ANYTHING!” The problem was…they were turning and turning and turning….looking for one of these things I had told them to share with their partner. We needed a plan to be ready when it was time to share!
Here’s the plan:
  1. During private reading time, as you are reading, think about the things you can share with a partner.
  2. When you find something, take a sticky note from your sticky note folder and stick it on that page.
  3. Lay the book beside you, if you are done with it, and find another book to read.
  4. You can mark more than one thing.
  5. When it is time for partner reading, you are ready.
  6. Turn to the page with the sticky note and you can share!
These anchor charts and mini lessons are from this unit:image
Here is a peek at our week in Kristie’s room. We are just starting our partner unit. Here’s to hoping for better success!
Centers is going great. We are going to start pulling a small group during centers and see how it goes. We don’t have too high of expectations. If we have to leave our table…so be it!
We are still working on shapes in our math time—with a few other things thrown in! You can download these plans here.
Here are some of the resources that I used to plan this week:

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