Thursday, September 10, 2015

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Share reading is quickly becoming one of my absolute favorite parts of our day.  Each week, I am choosing a new picture book to share with my class.  My goal is to not only teach reading skills, but to share some wonderful picture books and teach my students to love reading them!

Our second week of school, we read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.

On day one, we read the story just for fun.  The kids absolutely love the repetition of it and the part where the "mommies and daddies and uncles and aunts" all kissed their booboos and wiped their knees.

Day two, we reread the story for fun.  Then each student decorated a large letter for the first letter of their first name.  We attached a sentence strip that said "is for _____" and they traced their name.

On day three, we read the story once more.  Then we made our coconut trees with foam letters to spell out our names.

Day four, we did a shared writing.  By this point, my kiddos basically had the story memorized.  I wrote onto chart paper, as the kids recited the basic lines "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Will there be enough room?"  As I wrote, we talked about how we start on the left and work our way right.  We talked about how we put spaces between each word.  We even practiced some one to one correspondence.

On day five, we did a retell of our story.  I gave each kid a letter of the alphabet.  My assistant and I took the extras.  We went through and decided which letter climbed the coconut tree first.  The student that had the first letter got to bring their letter up to our big coconut tree and put it on.  Then the next student, with the next letter and so on.  The kids loved it!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Classroom Reveal

I have been in school for 3 weeks now and I am just now finding the time to sit and update you with all that has been happening!  I thought you might like to know that I am still alive.... I am surviving Kindergarten!

I wanted to share with you my new classroom.  I have been teaching for 9 years now and there have only been 2 times that I have not had to change rooms.  Let's just say, I am getting good at packing and unpacking!  My theory is that they just keep moving me around so that I will clean out the classrooms and throw away all of the non essentials that get left behind.

So here is what I started with:

Please take note that the built in bookshelves and all around the bulletin boards were painted LIME GREEN!  I love some bright colors and all, but having the walls painted that way was just a little much.

So the first step, was to paint.  I wanted a more neutral and calming color for the classroom walls, that I could then brighten up with accents.  Here is how it turned out:

So much better!

I decided the door and my drawers needed some color too!

Then to finish packing and hang some bulletin boards!  When hanging bulletin boards, I really changed out my fabric and boarders ten times because I just couldn't decide!

But here is my final look:

My bulletin board at the back of the room with all of my class pictures.

I couldn't decide what boarder to put on this big bulletin board, so I went with some left over fabric and bunched it all up around the bulletin board.  It looks great on our word wall!

I used the closet doors to hang my birthday banner and class helpers.

I use a shoe rack for storing water bottles.  I hung it with command hooks and it works great!  The little cookie sheet is for keeping magnetic names for each kid.  Then can then move their name to the square on the door on the bathroom to show that someone is in there (we have metal doors).  If they are waiting for a turn to go into the bathroom, then they can line their names up along the side of the door frame.

Here is mine and my assistant's area.  I chose not to have a desk this year because I never actually sit anyway.  She has a small desk and I keep a small table for my computer.  That is pretty much it!

Our reading nook

Our play area is between our cubbies.  It keeps the toys out of the way and still gives us a place to play.  My goal is to give them some play center time at least once a week.

Our center are going to go here.  It isn't quite organized yet but it will get there.

Our view from the door.

Our view from the back of the room.

I decided to use little name tags this year since we are using tables.  It gives us more table space.

Our lunch chart and a pocket chart for sight words.

Our daily question for graphing.  I used dry erase sentence strips so that I can change it each day.

This wall will be for hanging brag tags.

Our first day of Kindergarten sign.
We are ready!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Guided Reading Series: The first 6 weeks

So often, teachers want to know how do I start my groups?  How do I teach them to do what I want them to at the center?  How do I get them to listen?

The first 6 weeks of guided reading are the most crucial for setting up consistency and routine.  This is when you are teaching them HOW to be in centers.  You are NOT pulling any groups at this point. 

Jan Richardson has an amazing schedule for those first 6 weeks.  This is what I live by.  If you have been following this series, you will already know that I make my groups heterogeneous, so the actual grouping does not matter those first few weeks.  Just make sure they are groups that will behave well together.

The first step is to find 5 centers that do not actually require any learning or knowledge.  These are TEMPORARY centers.  This was the hardest part for me to get past.  It is that realization that I am going to allow them to play for 30 minutes or so every day during reading time.  It seemed like such a waste of my ever so precious time.  But I promise you it is SO worth it!  This 30 minutes a day will set you up for real uninterrupted learning for the rest of the year.

The centers that I use are:  coloring books, puzzles, building blocks, pattern blocks, and unifix cubes.  I know lots of these are math tubs, but I am killing two birds with one stone here, because they get time to play in the math tubs before we begin math centers!  You could also use a play area if you are a lower grade that has imaginary play centers.

Here is the schedule for week 1:

 You can see that these are just for fun centers.  This week is for teaching students to stay at the center they have been assigned.  It is for teaching them that they are not done until you say that center time is over.  Time for teaching students that they must continue working the entire time.  During this week I keep my center time at 10-15 minutes.  Students have to build up their stamina.  Each week, I will add a few more minutes to their center time until I can get them to the 20-30 minute time that I will normally have allotted. 

Week 2: 

Week 2 I introduce my first center.  This is usually an easy center like listening center.  I do not teach the center whole group.  I teach the center to each individual group.  Before splitting into centers, we go over the rules that we learned from last week.  Then I sit with the group that will be doing the literacy center.  I explain how to take out the center, how to complete the center, and how to put the center away.  Meanwhile, I should be able to simply monitor the other groups during this time.

Week 3:
Week 3 I introduce another center.  Again, I usually try something easier such as word work.  Students can use the words that we have been reviewing from the previous year (or their names if they are Kindergarten).  

I review the rules and last week's center with the whole group before splitting into centers.  Then, I spend about 2 minutes with the group that is doing Literacy Center 1 just to make sure they remember how to do everything.  Then I travel to the new group that is learning Literacy Center 2.  We, again, go over how to take out the materials for the center, how to complete the center, and how to clean up.

Week 4:
Week 4 I introduce another center, following the same routines as before.  I do a quick check in with last week's new center group and then head over to introduce the new center.  By this point, students should be starting to build a stamina and an understanding for the routine.

Week 5:

Week 6:
By weeks 5 and 6 you may be able to begin pulling students for some testing and/or running records.  This really depends on your group of students, but I often find that my kids start to get the hang of it by this point.  I can introduce the center and then pull a couple students for assessing.  It also helps that by this point, students are pretty much up to the full 20-30 minutes that you have allotted. 

One other tip:  I usually save my library center as one of the last centers that I introduce.  I know that this may seem silly to some because it is such an easy center.  My reasoning for this is that I want to get to know my students before introducing them to my books.  I want to know their reading levels so that I can help them find good books.  And I want them to really understand how important it is to take care of our books.  Saving it for last builds up their anticipation of it and helps them to "cherish" it a little more. They realize that it is special to me and so it becomes special to them.

After your fist 6 weeks, students will be ready to begin doing 2 and 3 centers a day.  They will also learn how to do other centers.  You can introduce more than those original 5 through mini lessons.  You can also add new activities to each center that you can introduce through mini lessons.  For example, in word work center, you may just begin with stamps.  Then you will add in stencils and play dough later.

These first 6 weeks are the time when you are training your kids.  Think of it as boot camp!  Show them the ropes and keep it consistent!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Guided Reading Series: Centers and Organization, part 3

Today I am going to share some tips for center time.

First, make the centers so that they DON'T END!  They need to be open ended centers so that your students don't ever get the chance to "finish early."  One of my biggest pet peeves is when children say "I'm done!" long before I am ready for them to be done.  During center time, my students are never allowed to say "I'm done."  They are not done until I say they are done!

One of the easiest center examples is library.  Students can read a variety of books during library center.  You may even have some graphic organizers for students to fill out about what they are reading.

Another center I have is the sight word center.  This center is stacked full of activities that students can choose from.  If they finish one, they get out another.  I change it out every so often with new sight words but it is a never ending center.  Students can hunt for words in one of my many Spot and Jot pictures.  They can create sight words from play dough. They can search for sight words in a book they have been reading.  They can play sight word Tic-Tac-Toe.  They can Read and Write the room.  So many choices.

I also have a Superkids center.  We use Superkids as our "reading program" in our school.  While it is not my favorite, it does have some good things about it.  While this center is directed towards Superkids in my school, it could be directed toward Journeys or Harcourt or whatever you might be using.  In this center, students get with a partner and partner read their choice of one of the stories from the basal (it must be a story that we have already read together as a class).  Then they may choose to do a graphic organizer about the story or one of the other activities that I have.  I took photos of the pictures of each story from the basal that we read.  I glued them to index cards and labeled them with the name of the story on the back.  Students can use these cards for sequencing, retelling, or writing (pick a picture and write what is happening in the picture).  I also laminated several of the sorts that came with the series and put them in this center.  These sorts were blackline masters that were supposed to just be extra worksheets for the kids.  Instead, I put them in a center.

Daily 5 also provides some great center ideas so that students can stay focused and working through the entire center time.
They include:
  • Read to Self  (Library Center)
  • Read to Someone (Partner Reading)
  • Work on Writing (Writing Center)
  • Listen to Reading (Listening Center)
  • Word Work  (Spelling, Phonics, Sight Words)
Some other centers that I used include Computer Center and Fluency center.  At the computer center, students get to use the Chrome books.  They LOVE RAZkids, Superkids, and Starfall.  For fluency center, students have fluency folders that they can practice with a partner, sentence strips that they can practice, or fluency games that they can play.  You can check out how I do fluency folders here.  I got the fluency games from The Moffatt Girls and my kiddos love them!  I just laminated them so that they could be used over and over with dry erase markers.

What centers are your favorite?