Sunday, February 28, 2016

Super Readers Celebrate

This week we began a new unit in reading where students are learning how to use multiple strategies in reading to help us read harder and harder books.  So far students have learned:

Super readers:

  • always look at the picture to think about the words that may be on the page (Eagle Eyes)
  • get their mouths ready (Lips the Fish)
  • try something right away (Tryin' Lion)
  • stretch the sounds (Stretchy Snake)
  • find a chunk you know (Chunky Monkey)
  • flip the vowel sound (Flipper the Dolphin)
  • back up and reread (Rewind Turtle)

Stay tuned as your child learns to confirm their attempt (yes, I am right or no, I'm not).  The three parts that will help students to know if their attempt was correct that we will be learning are:
  • does it look right (do the sounds match)
  • does it sound right (grammatically does it sound right)
  • does it make sense (all authors write books that make sense)

Check out the amazing Super Reader pointers/book marks that we made this week to celebrate all of our hard work and to remind us that no Super Readers are at the same place with their reading and that is the beauty of having a variety of reading partners throughout the year.  Learning how others solve unknown words can help us to refine our own practice as Super Readers!

Students help edit their partner's "How to" book

Students shared their first attempt at a "How to" book.  This type of writing is a huge shift from where we have been for the past five months.  This writing is giving directions to a reader on "how to" do something.  There are not characters, setting and dialogue.  We will be using our partners more frequently to help us edit our steps and make sure we have words for a reader to be able to do whatever it is that we are teaching them.  This writing is much easier to use and understand peer feedback, as most of the time students are skipping steps, pictures are not supporting the steps or the writing is not easy to read.  This type of peer coaching allows students of all ability levels to be confident and push their partner to make their how to book more precise and clear to the reader.   Some topics include:  how to walk a dog, how to feed a dog, how to make pizza, how to sleep, how to make cereal, how to ride a horse, how to make a snowman and many more.  

Our current understanding of "how to" books:

  • they teach readers to how to do something
  • they do not have characters in them (typically you do not see the words: I, me, we or names)
  • they have step by step directions
  • they have pictures that match the steps to help with reader understanding
  • the steps are numbered

This week we will be adding a few new steps in our thinking to help refine the process and make it easier for students to plan their writing and be successful in including all necessary steps for their readers.  

  • being an expert on the topic makes writing how to do something easier
  • making a plan for items you need can help make sure you include all necessary steps
  • steps often take more than one sentence to clearly explain how to do 
  • label and arrows help clarify items in pictures
  • warnings and tips are fun to add after all steps are complete to give your writing a touch of you

February is dental month

We had a special visitor from the dental office of Dr. Lewis in Interlochen.  Kelly Olson (a present in Mrs. Johnson's room) volunteered her time to help teach the students the importance of proper dental care.  The students met Flossy and he reminded them the importance of flossing daily and brushing their teeth twice a day.  Each student left with a care package from the dental office and several great reminders about the importance of not only brushing and flossing but eating healthy nutritious food and drinking lots of water.  Thank you Kelly Olson for your visit, we loved it!

Learning about attributes of shapes

Students explored shapes after learning about which attributes help define the shapes.  This week we explored geometric solids (3 D), attribute blocks (2 D) and drew shapes (1 D).  Students learned new vocabulary to accurately describe shapes:  faces, edges, corners, and solids.  We will conclude the unit this next week by composing simple shapes to make another shape (2 triangles to make a square or a rectangle).   

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Love Monster

We have started to think about author's purpose when reading books in our classroom.  We read two Love Monster books this week and shared our ideas about what we thought the author was trying to teach us.  This is a complex skill for a 5/6 year old, however, with opportunity and conversation the students are able to dig much deeper than the words.  We will be looking at author's purpose as we continue on our journey of reading comprehension. As a class, we decided the purpose of the books we read was everyone will find someone to love and that loves them for them.  Below are the Love Monsters we created to go with our stories.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Peanut Butter and Jelly How to Writing

Students worked in groups to tell Mrs. Walter "How-to" make a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich.  This was the launch to our new unit in writing.  They decided on steps and then I did exactly what they told me to do.  Mrs. Bank caught the last few minutes on video, enjoy a glimpse into our fun on Friday of learning about "How-to" books.  We made three sandwiches this way and each one got better as we thought about the process of teaching someone to do something.  Oh the fun of learning a new style of writing!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

100s day

Hooray for the 100th day!  Today we celebrate 100 days of learning.  We counted our collections of 100 by creating groups of 10 and then counting by tens, we read books about the 100th day of school, drew pictures about what we want to do when we are 100, colored 100 objects, created crowns and just enjoyed talking math all day long. By the end of kindergarten the goal is for all students to be able to count to 100 by 1s.  We would also like students to be able to start on any number 100 or less and be able to successfully count up by 1s.    

Reading and Writing Celebration

Students in our class celebrated both their growing in reading and writing with Mrs. McPherson's kindergarten class.  Students read a book that they made come alive by reading the words using the punctuation.  They have been working on reading smooth like talking to make reading more enjoyable and increase their comprehension and maintain the meaning of the story.  

Our super readers have learned several strategies to solve words in both phonics and reading and now they are working on using more than one strategy when they encounter a word they don't know.  Reading is an extremely complex task where students are orchestrating using visual information (the letters and sounds that they make), meaning (does the attempt of the word make sense) and structural information (does this attempt at solving sound right).  Being able to use all three of these requires the students to do much more than decode words.  A great way for you to help at home continue this learning would be to talk to your child about the books you are reading together.  What does that make you think of and why, what was your favorite part of the story and why, what other book does this story remind you of and why.  This conversation when modeled enough becomes part of their internal dialogue and can help them solve new words, comprehend stories and think beyond the text.  

The students also shared their final personal narrative that they published in Writing Workshop.  This unit focus on writing stories from the heart that actually happened.  The students learned about the importance of easy to read writing (spaces, stretching sounds, using the word wall and forming letters correctly).  They also learned how to elaborate their stories to include who, where and what when writing the stories.