Sunday, January 29, 2012

Writer's & Word Workshop

One of the most difficult adjustments for me when I started teaching kindergarten was how I taught writing.  When students came to me in first and second grade most of them had some understanding of writing. I think it is safe to say that most kindergartners do not.  SO I had to start from scratch.

After many months of having the same lessons over and over again, I'm am so excited to announce that my kindergartners have turned into real authors. All of them are attempting print on the page and are clearly expressing their ideas on paper.

I think "the change" happened when I read the book Library Mouse by Daniel Kirk. Then we charted what we saw the mouse do in the story.  If a mouse could be an author - so can we!


After the reading the story many students were inspired to write stories about mice!


"The Mouse That Fought"

"Squeaky can fight cats."

"Squeaky won!"

"The cat pounced at the mouse."

Next I started teaching small moment stories.  Currently I am teaching writing conventions.  Here are some of my "awesome authors":






I love that this author called this her "my moment story"



One of the other things I did was revamp my daily schedule so I could fit in time to work with more small groups (having a student teacher in my room doesn't hurt either)


Jan 30 lesson plans


I have been using the Fountas and Pinnell Phonics Lessons: Letters, Words, and How They Work during word workshop time and then the students work independently practicing those skills while I work with small groups or individuals.  I also introduced our popcorn words or sight words and made some practice sheets to use with my intervention groups. It's amazing how much progress they are making!

Read Write Create Set 1

Read Write Create Set 2

Read Create Write Set 3

Read Create Write Set 4

Read Create Write Set 5

Read Create Write Blank

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Art in the Classroom ~ A look into our kinder art project in pictures

One of my goals for the school year was to incorporate more art into my classroom.  First step?  finding some fantastic art projects on Pinterest.  Step two?  Implementing them into my classroom. I realized after my post last night that it has been a long time since I have posted any classroom pics and it was long over due.  Here are some art projects we worked on and a few other pictures from around my classroom.

The first few pictures are from December - we learned about Georges Seurat.  His birthday is on December 2nd and he is one of my favorite painters.  The students learned about his technique of pointillism , using small points of color to create pictures.  We tried our hand at pointillism too.





Our next project was a family project.  I try to send these home once a month - it's a project that families can work on together that relates back to a piece of literature that we have read. In the beginning of January we read Snowballs by Lois Ehlert.  This book inspired us to make out own snowman out of materials from around the house.


Knight in shining amour snowman

Girl in a cookie dress snowman


I loved that this students used coconut as snow!


 This next project we started today.  Every Wednesdays is an early release day and our schedule is a little wonky.  We don't quite have enough time for a full workshop so I've been doing art. We read 2 books about Vincent Van Gogh, one fiction and one biography.


Then we looked at some of his work, and looked at how he used lines to show movement.  We then made our own versions of A Starry Night.  I found the idea here on Deep Space Sparkle.  If you have not looked at this blog I highly recommend it.  Some of my favorite art projects have come from here.







Finally here are a few pictures of some charts from our Writer's Workshop.  I have to say Writer's workshop is my favorite time of the day, well one of my favorite.  I cannot believe how much my students have grown as writers.  I will show some of their work tomorrow.  (I thought there was already enough pictures). When we returned from winter break I took a few days to review the components and expectations of writer's workshop.  I made this chart that I found on this blog; Chartums.  It's a great resource on how to effectively chart your students' thinking.



Then we worked on the expectations of workshop and setting goals for ourselves as writer's  I've been keeping the students' goals that I set for them in my conferring notes, but it never occurred to me to post them until I read this post at Joyful Learning in KC. We talked about what a real author does and how each of my students are turning into real authors.  Then we charted all the things that we can do to be real authors and turned those into goals.




This students got to pick their goal and this way I can conference with them in guided groups according to goals.  They did a fabulous job and almost all of them chose the goal that I would have chosen for them.  So smart!!  Mrs. Clancy has a printable copy of the goals posted on her blog.  And I will include mine below!



some clipart by Scrappin Doodles



Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tuesday Top Ten ~ Mentor Texts for Making Mental Images

Currently we are working on how to make mental images while we read. We have been reading My Father's Dragon and today we finished the final book, The Dragons of Blueland.  These short chapter books are such a fun read aloud and lend themselves very easily to making mental images.

Here are ten more books I love to use when I teach about making mental images:

1. I Stink by Kate McMullan

2. The Salamander Room  by Anne Mazer

3. The Animal by Lorna and Lucia Balian (Thanks Mrs. Berg for introducing me to this fabulous book!)

4. Close Your Eyes by Kate Banks

5. Imagine a Night by Sarah L. Thompson

6. Almost any Jack Prelutsky poem

7. Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

8. If by Sarah Perry

9. Bedhead by Margie Palatini



10. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Click HERE for a printable copy and a list of lesson ideas.


Here are a few reading responses you can use to capture student thinking on making mental images.

What books do you like to use to teach about mental images?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Top Ten List (I know it's not Tuesday, but it's about time for a top ten)

Today was one of "those" days.  We had a snow day yesterday (thank you cold front for moving in to provide that!) So today was adjusting from being out for a snow day (which is rare here in the Couv') Keep in mind we were also out on Monday for MLK day . . . and it's kindergarten so they are easily excited.  It was one of those days that went from fantastic to horrible faster than the snow melted on Wednesday (which was fast). 
This is what I felt like today!

Our Writer's Workshop was wonderful!!! We read Library Mouse and talked about what real authors do and the ways that we can be real authors (I will post about this later when I have some pictures - it was a fabulous lesson) The students were all working so hard to write their books.  It was LOVELY!  By the time we got to the afternoon (only 1 hour later) there was coins being swallowed and bugers being rubbed onto the carpet, you get the picture.

My Top Ten today is inspired by an incident that happened at the very end of the day. These are the top ten things necessary to teach kindergarten that no one ever tells you:

1. Every kindergarten teacher should take crossfit training!  I just started and although it's kicking my bootie, it came in handy today when I had to stop a child from slamming a fence into my class.
This was me on  Monday night, minus the bikini and my weights were only 5 pounds and two of these women equal one of me, but I'm getting there!

2. Every kindergarten teacher should watch Kindergarten Cop - it's really closer to the movie than you think!

3. Every kindergarten teacher should expect the unexpected - like when your students use calendar time to vote on whether they like your hair curly or straight (curly won).

4. Every kindergarten teacher should learn that it's OK to cut students off - don't feel bad when you ask them to stop talking. It's OK to not be nice and tell them that if they keep talking you will literally be here all day.

5. Every kindergarten teacher should carry tissues.  You NEVER know when something they say or do will make you cry. They have a way of getting into your hearts and camping out there.
Where is Pacey when you need him?

6. Every kindergarten teacher needs to have a team - don't think you can do it by yourself.  It truly takes a village! (and it's nice to have someone to take you for happy hour at the end of a LONG week)
Here's my team - I love these guys!

7. Every kindergarten teacher needs to take yoga - just as important as crossfit - but it helps you learn how to breathe and strengthens your core for when you have to sit at the carpet for long periods of time. (or for when you have to carry a child to the office )

8. Every kindergarten teacher needs to vent - it's OK to share about your day and vent when something goes horribly wrong.  These vent sessions often lead to new ideas and inspiring moments!

9. Every kindergarten teacher needs to be OK with dancing - I was NOT a singer/dancer/chanter.  I have since changed my ways and on some days you will find me singing/dancing/chanting my day away.  They LOVE this!
This is what I look like dancing.

10.  Every teacher should teach kindergarten!

What is your advice for teaching kindergarten?