Friday, April 29, 2022

How I Survey My Young Kiddos

I have taught Kinder and 1st Grade throughout my 20 year career (yes, I am OLD ;) It is important to me to take a pulse of our classroom family and how things are going. I could not give them a survey that says how many stars do I deserve because everyone would give me all 5-they want to please me. So I do this instead. I ask the following questions:

My teacher always says.....if they write things like "be quiet" or "get to work" I know I'm not giving enough praise and positive feedback. You feel like you fuss all the time but I don't want that be their perception.

My teacher year I had half the class write one student's name. The teacher likes Mia. This really bothered me. I truly like all my students I didn't want them to think I liked one more than another.

My teacher does not like.....    again if they say a student's name I am just mortified. I don't want them to think I dislike any one student. I also don't like when all the answers are focused on behavior.

My teacher feels happy when......

My teacher is.... completely open-ended question

Here are my responses from this group this year.

Like most teachers water bottle flipping just gets on my last nerve!

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Our Own Poems

If you know me at all, you know I LOVE using poetry in the classroom. I am passionate about poetry and one of my goals is to pass that along to my students. We read a new poem every week. Reading and re-reading each day is a way to practice fluency. Poems are rife with amazing vocabulary because poets need to be succint with their thoughts. It's also great for critical thinking skills as we analyze the meaning and themes.

My district curriculum has us reading Pete the Cat as a poem. Pete the Cat is NOT a poem. It's a story. Yes there is repetition and yes it rhymes but that does not make it a poem. Otherwise every Dr. Seuss story is a poem. I will die on that hill. :) We use real poems-Robert Frost, Maya Angelou, Shel Silverstein, Langston Hughes. We read the poem Monday-Thursday and then on Fridays we add it to our Poetry Journals. 

All this leads up to the unit where the students write their own poems. I let them choose the topic-although I encouraged them to steer away from things like Pokemon. We practiced using sensory language. The students started with brainstorming-they wrote down all the words they could think of about that topic. Then they wrote their rough drafts. We had a conference to revise and then they wrote their final drafts.

My students have some poet in them, don't they?

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Writing Graphic Novels

I am a huge fan of using graphic novels in the classroom. I have seen them motivate reluctant readers and help ELL students comprehend because of all the visuals. In the past few years, the publishing of very powerful graphic novels covering some deep concepts has really advanced. There are books about tolerance, racial justice, disabilities, history and many more.

We explored several different books. Rollergirl, BabyMouse and El Deafo are some of my favorites. By the way Texas has a list of books they have cultivated for both lower grades and upper grades. Their archives go back several years:

Maverick Graphic Novel list  for our older kiddos

Then I asked my students to write their own stories. We analyzed the common attributes of stories written in this format-short phrases, lots of exclamation points, speech bubbles. Then they came up with a concept and braintormed some ideas. Then they made a rough draft and we edited it together. Publishing was going to be a little bit different for this activity. They wrote their story on a tri-fold board. Title and cover in the middle, story on the sides. I was so proud of their creativity and all the different ideas they came up with.

The Big Fat Cat

Annoying Pig

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Which Came First-the Chicken or the Egg?

Want to blow your students' minds?! I love bringing philosophical discussions in with my young kiddos. They would say-easy, chicken. Then I would ask "how was the chicken born". They'd say "ok egg". And I would say "who laid the egg"? They kept asking me what the right answer is and I told them to write their opinion-no right or wrong, just justify your thinking.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Gratitude Journals

A few years ago I began using gratitude journals with my students. Studies have shown that practicing gratitude regularly can actually help reduce stress. Sometimes we just write about something we are grateful for, sometimes I give them a prompt.

What are you grateful for that you can't see?

I am grateful for earthworms.