Friday, September 28, 2007

Mrs. Wishy Washy is Queen of our Class


Another one of our favorite classroom books is "Mrs. Wishy Washy" by Joy Cowley. The children love hearing the stories of her farm animal's adventures. The books she writes not only have a great story line but also are loaded with sight words, sentence patterns, and clear punctuation. The above picture shows our Reader's Theater today with the narrator, Mrs. Wishy Washy and her farm animals: the duck, the cow, and the pig. Other books that we have read by Joy Cowley include "Wishy Washy Day," "Splishy Sploshy," "Mrs. Wishy Washy's Farm, and "The Scrubbing Machine." These are books that I use daily in the shared reading portion of the morning and also throughout the day as read alouds. Children often choose these big books as a literacy station activity. They can "read" the books because they have heard them repeatedly and they can practice using a beginning reading strategy "Look at the picture" to help with the word. Joy Cowley has written numerous children's books and from the reaction I've gotten from my class when I say, "...the author is Joy Cowley" I will be reading many, many more!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Our Bulletin Board is Bursting with Writing


Bulletin boards are a fantastic way to showcase your classes' work. At our school we use bulletin boards as a teaching tool for students, parents, and other teachers. For example, in our class, we visit other boards to see what students are doing in other kindergarten classes. The children get very excited when they can "make a connection" to the student's work that is put up. Parents like to come by and visit boards so that they can learn about the tasks, standards, and work that is highlighted. Finally, teachers visit bulletin boards on a monthly "board walk," not only to get new ideas, but also to learn and grow from them.
The bulletin board in the above picture showcases four student's writing from the past few weeks. There are some beginning sounds, but the point of the mini-lessons of these early writing workshops was to instill confidence in my young writers. From there, they learned that a story is more than one page (just as in the books they hear and see everyday). Their writing is planned, talked about, sketched, and shared with their classmates. Our bulletin board this month is bursting with the seeds of great writing -- I can't wait to see how my young writers bloom!!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

We are Stars - Reading Star Books


Every day since the first day of school, kindergarten students have been listening to and acting out a series of books that we call, "Star Books." Star books are a collection of great classic stories that the children like to hear over and over again. In fact, they hear them and love them so much, that they can retell these stories (almost word for word) after a short while. They can look at a picture and "read" it because they are very familiar with it. Some of our Star books include: "Caps for Sale", "The Three Billy Goats Gruff", "Where the Wild Things Are", and classic fairy tales such as "The Three Little Pigs", and "Goldilocks and the Three Bears". During our partner reading today, the children in the picture were very much "reading" "Caps for Sale" and enjoying every minute of it!! For more information about partner reading, please visit Mrs. Timmons blog at timmonstimes.blogspot.com.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Adding Technology to the Mix


In todays Math lesson, we were working on patterns and discovering all the different ways to make them. At the end of the work session, students were invited to share their patterns with the class. By integrating an ELMO machine with projector, students were able to come up to it, place their drawing under the light, and explain to their classmates each of their pattern drawings. The ELMO shows exactly what is under the light. It is excellent for sharing books, drawings, and items that are sometimes hard for the whole class to see. Gone are the days of the overhead projector and welcome ELMO -- my class loves it!!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Patterns, Patterns Everywhere!


Being able to recognize patterns is an important tool in mathematics. In Math, students are given many opportunities to copy, create, and extend patterns using materials such as pattern blocks, color tiles, and interlocking cutes. For the past week, we have looked for patterns on our clothes, in books, and around our classroom. Today students compared what they noticed about two different pattern trains and predicted what they thought came next. On a chart, I listed student responses to the question, "What is the same and what is different about these two pattern trains (8 interlocking cubes of varying colors)?" Then the children went back to their seats and created their own pattern trains and afterwards,shared their pattern creations with their classmates. Patterns, patterns, everywhere in Room 104!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Who Said Kindergarteners Can't Write?


Our Writer's Workshop is another one of my favorite times of day. It begins with the children coming together for a mini-lesson on the floor. I always start out with a review of the lesson from the day before. Then I model a new specific learning point. A sample lesson might be, "How do writers decide on a topic?" After the lesson is taught, the students turn-and-talk to each other for a few minutes to discuss what they learned. Then I "link" the lesson back to the learning point. Students then go to their seats where they have their writing folder. They can either work on a piece that was started the day before, or start a new piece of writing. They have about 40 minutes to practice what they have learned during this workshop period. It is important to keep the lesson very specific in order for the children to stay focused in their writing. A few writing samples are shared with the class during the closing of the workshop.
Right now children are are drawing pictures to tell their stories. Soon they will be labeling their stories with a letter or two. Then it will emerge into words and soon sentences.
Every bit of progress is monitored and celebrated from orally telling a story, to adding random letters, to letter strings, to that magical moment when a sentence comes together. Who said, "Kindergarteners can't write?" Please don't tell them that!!!