Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Our First Stories

If you teach Kindergarten you know that teaching writing can be quite a task. First of all, many students do not know their letters and sounds when they enter, so that's step one. Once they've learned their sounds, then they can sound out their words to write using invented spelling-however, it can sometimes be like pulling teeth to convince a child they can actually do that. And the expectations just keep getting higher and higher. Can you believe our 2nd 9 weeks report card expected kiddos to have mastered punctuation and capitalization? Seriously?! The criteria to get a 3 (we grade on a 1, 2, 3 scale) was "student capitalizes the first letter of each sentence in the paragraph". Paragraph? I'm still trying to get some kids to just sound out 1 word!

But it all pays off in the end. The first time they bring their writing to you and start to tell you what it says and you say "I can read it". Their faces just light up! You can't beat that.

We read several Jan Brett books this past week. I know everyone is familiar with The Mitten.

But there are also 2 other stories about accessories. The Hat is my favorite Jan Brett book. I love the illustrations, especially at the end. I encourage the kids to look at her foreshadowing and see if they can figure out what is happening. Just an all-around cute story!

The 3rd one is the Umbrella, set in the rainforest. Very much like the Mitten only with more tropically-inclined animals. Great for comparing and contrasting lessons!

So I asked the kids to write their own story with events surrounding an accessory, paying attention to the settings.
What's a more creative setting than a pizza parlor?!

Sound like the beginning of an O. Henry story.

We've been talking about including resolutions to problems, so I love that he added one!

Monday, January 28, 2013

100th Day Rigor

Our 100th day is quickly approaching (can you believe how fast the year is flying by?!). When I plan my lessons, I do it in kind of an unusual way. You see, I work at a magnet school. Technically, I'm the Kindergarten GT teacher (although this year I only had 7 GT identified kiddos out of my 26). Even if I was teaching a "regular" class, I still think I would have the same expectations for my munchkins. One of my passions is finding ways to really challenge kids-I'm a nerd, I know! Most teachers roll their eyes when they hear that word, but I just love finding new ways to really help develop those brain cells! :) They are really capable of doing so much more than we typically ask of them. My biggest pet peeve is when I tell people what I do and the response is "awwww, what a fun job. You get to fingerpaint all day!". This past weekend, my hairdresser literally said something to the effect of "well, at least you don't have to worry about really teaching them anything". Um, actually......grrrrr.

Anyway, I digress. When I plan I do a little bubble-map-like chart for myself including Kaplan's concepts of Depth and Complexity, creativity and also just general critical thinking. This is my plan for the 100th day and I just thought I'd share.

Critical Thinking: Give them exactly 100 legos/cups/toothpicks and marshmallows-they have to use them all to make a structure-great cooperative workstation

Art: collage of 100's, using 100 brushstrokes/beads/little squares to make a masterpiece.
Math: Dice to 100-they take turns rolling the dice and counting on (can use dry erase boards) to see who reaches 100 first. (My kids are just fascinated with dice this year, I'm not sure why).

Patterns: Identify patterns in the 100’s chart (obvious, I know), have 10 or 20 children stand in the circle and count around to 100 like playing the Buzz game. Why does the same student say the 10's every time?

Ethics: If you found a $100 bill, what would you do? Is it right to spend $100 on something frivolous? Is it fair the way we treat people who 100 years old?

Perspective: If I were 100 years old, if I were a $100 bill, if I were the number 100 –how would it feel, etc.

Rules: for being the number 100, rules for counting to 100

Over Time: write about the changes in a person from age 0-100, write about changes to $100 bill over time, changes in the world in the past 100 years

Language of the disciplines: Think like a mathematician-how would you have interpreted something like the Starry Starry Night painting or a specific book/movie.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Fairy Tale Rules

So we have begun our fairy tale unit (probably my all-time favorite unit to teach). We used Kaplan's concept of "Rules" to write about what is always true about fairy tales. I just love that they came up with so many different answers to that question!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Whopper Cake

I've posted before about loving to go to the library on the weekends and just browse titles. I got this one just for fun! It's called Whopper Cake by Karma Wilson:

It's a story about a grandpa making grandma quite a cake! It reminded me of a time when my sister and I were little. My dad wanted us to help him make my mom a cake. We read off the ingredients, mixed everything up, put it in the oven before we realized we had forgotten a few things. Nothing important really, just the baking powder, chocolate and sugar! So we took it out after cooking for like 5 minutes, mixed in the other ingredients and it turned out to be the best cake ever! :) It was our own secret recipe, don't think we'd ever be able to duplicate it.

Anyway, it's a cute story-perfect story for a Friday! So I asked the kids to write down what the rules for making a Whopper Cake would be. Here's what they came up with:

I'm not sure what this says, but I love the colorful details in her illustration. Those are some cakes!

This one was my favorite. I have been working with this student every day to sound out her words to write. She knows her sounds, but doesn't want to apply it to writing. For the first time, she did it! I can see I, can see "like", I can see "chocolate"....I was so excited, I sent her to show her Pre-K teacher from last year.

Good Things Friday

....a day late, unfortunately. I came home from work yesterday and just conked out-I have not been feeling very well this week. My poor puppy has been so neglected--she brought me one of her toys at like 3 am last night "please, someone play with me!". I have to attend a training today too, fortunately it is a good one-an early childhood conference, lots of speakers to choose from.

So here are my pics from this the good things this past week:

This is a journal entry from one of my students. I had to share with his mom who is a fellow teacher. The prompt was: When I hear music, I.....

It starts early y'all! :)

Saw this on our playground. Not sure how long it will last there, but what a testament to nature!

We had just beautiful weather this week! Not to rub it in or anything (I watch the news and can't believe how cold it is in some places) but we had 80 degree weather yesterday!

Hope you guys had a great week as well!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Weather Perspectives

So I had a bunch of take-out trays leftover from making Gingerbread Houses (I'm mathematically challenged-we have over 100 students on our grade level, so I think well, I have to get 100 take-out trays, duh! we are only using half of it!). Anyway, I wanted to use it to compare something, but wasn't sure what. Then the kids asked me where snowflakes come from....and there it was, the difference in perspective of a snowflake and a raindrop!

Here's what they came up with:

I will freeze like an ice cube/I would be sad because my family won't be with me.

I'll feel happy because I will fall and melt.

I will feel sad because people jump in puddles---I guess she forgot the other part.

I will be hurt because I will fall/I will be happy.

they are beautiful

I feel happy because I can see everything. 

I will feel happy to be re-used (I think she's talking about the water cycle)/I will be sad because I melt when the sun comes up.