Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year! We are Visualizing! (this could be a long post, but I've attached a few goodies at the end)

Today is my last day of vacation which means I have to sit down and plan out what I will be teaching tomorrow.  I've done a fantastic job of not thinking about work too much; which I thought was great until I realized I have nothing ready for my students tomorrow.  That means today I have to:
  • make my weekly lesson plans
  • get the materials ready for my lessons
  • write my newsletter
  • plan out my math stations
  • write out my monthly homework
  • etc.
you get the picture.

My one saving grace is that my student teacher (Ms. C) will be in our classroom full time from now until April!  She is so wonderful and with 26 or is it 27 kindergartners, having a second teacher is life saving!  She will be taking over math which is also great because it's one less subject I need to think about right now. 

So I'm focusing on reading and where we are going in our Reader's workshop.  Teaching reading using the workshop method is very challenging in kindergarten.  I'm finding that my focus lessons are split between thinking strategies, phonemic awareness and concepts about print. This is new for me and at first I was not adjusting very well.  It was hard for me to understand why my students were not able to make meaning connections to text or why they were having difficulty reflecting on a book we had read together. I was getting  frustrated with our progress as a class. I had to come to terms with the fact that I really just need to give  my students an introduction to the thinking strategies, but my main focus should be teaching them to read and teaching them how to think about their reading. 

A few weeks ago I got the chance to work with the first grade team at my school and come up with a k-1 reading continuum.  This was the best!  I could plan out what 2 years of reading instruction would look like so I would not leave anything out and could provide opportunities to build upon their understanding of reading.  This helped me see the bigger picture of teaching reading and what my job was as a kindergarten teacher.  (Please remember this is my first year teaching kindy, so if you are shaking your head and mumbling idiot, please be kind)

To sum of my rambling I've finally come to terms with the idea that right now my focus lessons are very "surfacy" I cannot "dig deep" with my students because I'm laying the foundation.  I'm setting the tone.  I'm providing their schema on reading that they will be able to use in years to come so that they can dig deep and have meaning conversations about reading and their thinking.

This also meant I could not pull out my unit on Mental Images from previous years (which I used with 1st and 2nd graders) I had to start from scratch.  So I did what any reasonably minded teacher would do; a Google search on teaching mental images in kindergarten.  I also thought about Common Core Standards for reading and what foundation I needed to set to create strong readers AND thinkers.

Thank you to all the kindergarten teachers that have blogged about their ideas for teaching students to create a mental image in their head!  I found some wonderful poems and lesson ideas that are perfect for kindies.  Here are a few I found:

Kathleen at Growing Kinders posted this anchor chart that she made along with a poem called "Ding-A-Ling".

Mrs. Williamson at Welcome to Room 36 has some FANTASTIC resources for teaching mental images using the poem Green Giant. She even has a copy of the poem you can use in a pocket chart.

This poem by Jack Prelutsky"My Neighbor's Dog is Purple"  is from Deanna Jump's blog and I love the idea that she broke the poem into 2 parts so that students could really see how their mental images change through the course of reading a text. 
Then I created some response sheets to help teach my students how to think and write about their reading.  When I taught first & second grade my students kept a "Reader's Voice" journal.  I quickly realized that kinders are not ready for this and need a more scaffolded approach to writing about their reading.  So I revamped my response sheets for mental images creating pages where there is more drawing and less writing so that ALL students have an opportunity to share their thinking.

5 Senses Chart

Drawing Mental Images

My Changing Mental Image

Using Mental Images to Create Connections

Thank you for reading through my ramblings on a Monday morning and if you have any great ideas/books/poems/resources you use to teach visualizing PLEASE let me know!  I just ordered one new book I thought would be great called Bedhead by Margie Palatini.  Don't you LOVE reading new books?


Holly said...

You just made my day - we're talking about schema right now and will move into connections. After that - mental images. I just downloaded your goodies and can't wait to use them. Thanks bunches!!!!!

Crisscross Applesauce in First Grade

Miss Foote said...

Love your blog and all your ideas. I am awarding you the Versatile blogger award.
Check it out:


Mrs. Smyth said...

Love, love, love! I can't wait to use these :) I'm so glad I found you! Your blog is great! I'm awarding you the The Versatile Blogger Award! Here's the link with the post and the acceptance questionaire:

Deb said...

Hey! I just awarded you the Versatile Blogger Award! Hop over and check it out! :)

Oh My Little Classity Class

Amy said...

Love that book! The freebies are great too, Can't wait to use them :) Thanks for sharing!

Jeannie said...

wow - what great activities! I am glad I found your wonderful site! I am your newest follower! Come see me too!
­ Kindergarten Lifestyle

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