Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Three Part Stories

Did you attend the Kindergarten Teacher Expo this weekend? I did and loved every minute of it! What an easy, affordable way to learn from other teachers!  I'm sure you went away from the Expo with lots of new learning and insight that you couldn't wait to share with your students.  I know I did!

After watching, Crystal from Kreative in Kinder, I knew exactly how I was going to change my approach towards teaching story writing to my students. I launched my lesson by telling them that I was going to show them how to write Three Part Stories.  I modeled what I wanted them to try.

And then, I let them have at it. I reminded them that it might be a little challenging but that I wanted them to take a risk and give it a try.

For their first attempt, I was so pleased with their results.




The kids felt the need to write.  So, I provided PostIts.




They were very happy and willing to use this tool.





There is still plenty to teach about the mechanics of writing.  

But, I see stories forming.
So thank you, Crystal!  
My students and I thank you!

Kreative in Kinder
I can't wait to learn more from you about writing.  
 Be sure to check out her blog!  :)

Were you inspired by the Expo?  Share your stories and insights.


Happy Teaching and Learning!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Wanna Play? Tag! You're It!

I've been tagged.  TWICE!  Thanks to Miss Foote from Chickadee Jubilee and Shawna at The Picture Book Teacher's Edition.

The Rules:
1) Post the rules.
2) Post 12 things about yourself
3) Answer the 12 questions sent from the person that tagged you.  Then create 12 new questions for the people you tag.
4) Tag 12 people and link them to your post.
5) Let them know you tagged them.
1.   I wear black or gray almost everyday. It is my go to color scheme.
2.   Somedays, I wish I was 2 inches taller.  I'm only 5 feet.
3.   I'm taller than my mom!
4.   I can't sing, play an instrument, or dance!
5.   Not many people know that I blog.  
6.   I stop by Starbucks for a grande coffee which I sweeten and add lots of half and half.
7.   I worked at a museum briefly before teaching.  
8.   I love spicy food; mostly Thai dishes.
9.   I'm a minimalist when it comes to classroom environment.  You won't see much hanging up because I find it distracting.  But beware of my closets.  They are packed.  I need to organize that space better.
10. I get up automatically by 6; even on weekends.  
11. My son makes me the happiest.  
12. I really want to visit DisneyWorld. 



1)  What blog do you most look forward to new posts from? I have so many favorites.  My favorite once a week posts comes from this blogger and this one.  
2)  What is your favorite teaching topic/unit? Wow!  That's a hard one!  I love to teach any content which makes my students look forward to learning.  Sometimes, I will plan a theme based on their interests.  I really don't like teaching the same things over and over again. I'm always tweaking.  
3)  What is the 1st thing you do once all your students are gone? Check email and tidy up my desk.
4)  What one thing would you buy for your class if money weren't an issue? A SmartBoard.  
5)  What is the best thing about your classroom? The students.  
6)  What is your favorite movie? I'm not a big movie watcher.  I like romantic comedies.  
7)  If you had to choose one book to REread, what would it be? As a teenager, I read Roots many times.  I haven't read that in decades.  So, perhaps, that one.
8)  What are your favorite shoes, for school? Anything comfortable.  Today, it was boots.
9)  What is your "go to" school lunch? Whatever is in the cafeteria. I never have time to make lunch.  :(
10)  What is your best childhood memory? Visiting my grandmother in Texas.  It was like being transported to a different time.  I can still remember waking up in my grandmother's bed with ranchero music in the background and the scent of fresh tortillas being made for breakfast. It was magical.
11)  How did you come up with the name for your blog? Kinda obvious.  A little boring, though.
12)  What is your favorite canceled tv show? Lost.  I hated to see that show end.  One of the few I watched from the first episode to last.



The 12 questions for my 12 picks...
1. Are you a reading workshop school or do you teach using a reading series? Reading series.  We are about to adopt CA Treasures.
2. What are your school hours? Kids 8:25 to 2:50.  Me: 7:30 to 4ish.
3. What is your favorite subject to teach? Social studies and as of late, math.
4. What is your favorite picture book to read to your class? It depends on my mood and theirs.  I try to find books that fit "our" personalities.  We are just getting into the Pig and Elephant series by Mo Willems.
5. Why did you start blogging? It started out just as a new thing to try.  It's turned into a lot more.  :)
6. How many students do you have in your class? 22
7. What is a typical lunch that you bring to school? I usually don't bring lunch.  I grab something from our school or pick something up.  Bad, I know.
8. Do you watch the presidential debates? Nope.
9. Coffee or tea? Coffee.  Formal tea with girlfriends 4 times a year.
10. Who is your favorite Sesame Street character? Why? Snuffy.  I love his eyelashes. :)
11. Would you rather get roses or daisy's? Yellow roses.
12. Salty or sweet? Umami.  I love the taste of salty and sweet together.  

Many blogging friends have been tagged already.  Here are a few I'd love to hear from:
6.  Frog Spot
12. YOU!!

1.   What is your favorite outfit to wear to school?
2.   Would you rather cook or go out to eat? Why?
3.   Do you have a favorite blog post?
4.   Do you read blogs before school?
5.   What do you love most about the school you teach at?
6.   How long is your commute?
7.   What is one area you would like to improve in your teaching?
8.   Are you a morning person? Or night owl?
9.   What is your favorite day of the week?
10. Is teaching your first or second career?
11.  How tall are you?
12.  Do you have a color scheme for your class? 



Sunday, January 29, 2012

American Symbols

This month I will be teaching my students about American symbols.  I will be using many of the books listed in my February Book Picks.  (Please sign up.  I am starting to feel symptoms of the Weakest Link Syndrome. )

Tomorrow, we will launch the unit.  We will begin with our flag.  I plan to read this book and this one.  Then, we will complete a tree map about our learning.  Would you like a copy of the tree map?
Click image.
I love teaching this unit to my kinders.  What are some things that you do to make this engaging for your students?  I am looking for new ideas.

Happy Teaching and Learning!

Friday, January 27, 2012

February Book Picks

February is fast approaching. Do you know what you are reading? Here are a few of my favorite picks for the month. Link up and share yours too.

All About the America and More
February is the perfect month to learn about American symbols and what makes our country great.  







Love is in the air.
Many of these books will make an appearance at our listening center.  Kids always love them!
 




And they lived happily every after.
I will be using these books with my ELD students to teach them about describing people, places and things.  I hope to use lots of circle maps to teach this concept.





Now, it's your turn. I look forward to hearing from you about these books but most importantly, seeing your book picks.

Happy Reading!
 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Peek into Literacy Centers

I don't know about your students, but my kiddos seem to be really getting into the rhythm of school.  It is somewhat magical to see how independent they have become.

I have used Daily 5 as part of my literacy center program for several years.  Here are a few photos of what the kids are doing while I work with students during literacy centers.

Buddy Reading:  
This child is reading an enlarged version of our Phonics Library books.  Her buddy is listening waiting for her turn to use the pointer.  Reading is always better with a pointer.


Word Work:
This child is making words using stampers and Play-Doh.  I decided to try keeping the Play-Doh in the container to alleviate some of the mess that it makes.


This child has made CVC words with a and i using these dog bones to go with our shared reading story, This Old Man. 

Isn't it great when all the work you've put in about expectations and procedures finally start to pay off?

Happy Teaching and Learning!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Balancing Act

A few years ago, our school had a "math consultant" come and coach us in some "new" ways to teach math.  I must admit, that at first, I could not see the "value" in the work. My kids could count, add, etc. We were asked to incorporate some routines into our math time.  I kept it simple and added this.



What I found myself doing was talking about number in a different way.  I know longer told kids that twelve is a 1 and a 2.  I now say, it's one ten and 2 ones.  And guess what?! Many of the kids get it because of that little gem.  We visually see the number!


Well, this leads me to this week's math focus...addition.  In our math book, it is introduced as pictures stories. But, what I really find is that the kids just count the items.  So, I decided to try something different.


A few weeks ago, I read this blog post and it got me thinking. How do I teach this?  Well, I challenged myself to find out just what do my kids really know about number with this.


I set up the thinking by talking about balance.  I even modeled being imbalanced.  Then,  I told the kids that I wanted to challenge their thinking about what they know about number.

And, guess what!  They do know a lot!


We discovered that there are many ways to make both sides equal.



In the coming days and weeks, we will continue to use this but I will add numbers.  For now, I am happy that they are exploring how numbers work.  This will be one of our math work stations next week.

How do you teach beginning addition?  Do you have any great book picks? Please share.

Happy Teaching and Learning!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Trees. Everywhere!

Lettering Delights graphic

We have trees displayed in many places in our room.  
Tree maps have become a rich part of our learning experience.
Here are a few that we made this week.

First up, MLK.
We read several books which helped us learn about the life of MLK. I was inspired by many, such as this, and this wonderful resource. The kids loved the new word that they learned; equality.  The ideas presented on this tree map are all student generated.  It came from their learning.

Here is our completed bulletin board.



Next. Penguins!
These arctic animals made an appearance during our English Language Development class.
I love this time because the students are a mixed group from every kindergarten class.   I teach the highest level of English speakers.  As a  result, my goal is to move them towards English fluency in all areas; listening, speaking, reading and writing.  


Here are some samples of the writing.


 
I am so proud of the writing that they produced with guidance and support from the use of the tree map.   

We can do it! Yes, we can! 


Happy Teaching and Learning!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Math in Photos

I'm linking up with Marlena at Lil' Country Kindergarten. Here is what math looks like this week.  Almost all of these activities were found via blogs, require little prep and are free.


1.  Scoop and Count
2.  Snow Cow
3.  Penguins Sequencing numbers 1-16
4.  Domino Parking Lot
5.  Counting Teen Numbers
6.  Roll Mr. Potato Head 

Happy Teaching and Learning!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Soaring to New Heights


As a teacher, we are probably by nature reflective types of individuals.  We tend to think about what went well, what could go better and what not to do the next time.  Many times, though, we may not share that reflection with others; especially the little ones we teach. I feel that it is important that my students begin to understand the importance of reflecting about their learning.



First, we analyzed our data results from ESGI.  

Basically, I explained that we wanted to fill up the pie with as much green as possible.  I had shared the results with the class prior to break and many students had seen their individual results during parent conferences. As you can see, there is room for improvement.  



Then, we talked about what it is like to set a goal. I gave them the analogy that many people want to loose weight in 2012.  What are some things to do to accomplish this goal?  My favorite answer; call 1-800-Get-Thin. I asked if eating at McDonald's would help meet the goal of loosing weight.  They all answered no.



My UP inspired door


Next, we read this gem.  As I read, I paused and stopped about the things Leo could do to meet his goal.  To help Leo learn to read, students said that Leo would need to practice or ask for help.  To become better at drawing, a child suggested that he trace over pictures from a book.  Towards the end, as Leo accomplished the goal, the kids began to smile and cheer for Leo.  They were so proud of him.  I couldn't help but to think how some of my students were like Leo; waiting for the right moment when they, too, will "bloom."





Finally, we discussed our learning goals.    I was amazed by their candor and honesty.  One student remarked how their learning goal was to write their name correctly.  This child was absolutely correct.  No more CAPITALS.  Another student said, "I need to practice my rhyming."  Ding. Ding. Ding.  Right again.  So, now, we begin our journey.  Together.  Working with one another to meet our goals.  Let's just hope that we all succeed.


By the way....just in case you were wondering. Here is my goal. 


Happy Teaching and Learning!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Winner Announced!

Congratulations, Miss T!  
Please email me so that you can claim your prize.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Happy New Year!  

Chinese New Year is not for a few weeks 
but I thought I would share this simple math center idea.  


Did you know that noodles are traditionally eaten at the Chinese or Lunar New Year feast?  Why? Because noodles symbolize a long life.

This math center was created with that tradition in mind.  To create, I simply cut white yarn into various lengths and put them in a bowl.  Add chopsticks, measuring tools, a Math Talk card and you have an instant center in minutes! (If your kiddos have not used linker cubes as learning tools make sure you give them time to play with them first.)

Happy Teaching and Learning!